After returning from a trip, as I have just done (read my posts about our trip to London, Edinburgh and Glasgow), I find that it’s a good time to try some new things at home. I’ve decided to change my early morning routine and see what happens. Instead of reading the newspaper in the morning, which informs me but also agitates me, I’m reading books for twenty minutes while I have my morning coffee. I then read the newspaper later in the afternoon (with a cup of tea to soothe my soul). This morning I chose to read a bit from two books.
You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt has been in print for 55 years. Her stories, wisdom and advice are still timely. Here are some wise snippets from the chapter “The Right to Be an Individual”:
“I am inclined to think that being a success is tied up very closely with being one’s own kind of individual. …Now and then, people tell me that there is a lot of good in this pressure to live up to the Joneses. It provides incentive, they say; it is a goad to ambition. But surely this is the wrong reason for ambition unless one wants to be Mr. Jones, which is ridiculous. …Your ambition should be to get as much life out of living as you possible can, as much enjoyment, as much interest, as much experience, as much understanding. Not simply to be what is generally called ‘a success.’ …Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.”
Then I decide to travel back in time and read about Mary Lyon in Joy Hakim’s A History of US, Liberty For All? (Volume 5):
It was the early 1800’s. Mary Lyon wanted to go to college. But she couldn’t because there were none for women. Finally, when she had grown up, she founded one.
“It was Mount Holyoke College, and it opening in Massachusetts in 1837 with four teachers and 116 students. Lyon insisted that it be a democratic school and that the women do their own cooking and cleaning to keep the tuition price low. Because of that, almost anyone who wanted to attend could afford to do so. …She often had to reassure parents that their daughters were not learning subjects unsuited to their future role as housewives and mothers. For instance, chemistry was considered acceptable because its principle could be used in cooking.”
Mary Lyon urged early graduates to “Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do.”
Later, I went to Mount Holyoke’s website and learned more about Mary Lyon’s legacy: “Her impact on education was felt across the United States and in distant corners of the world. Graduates of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary carried Mary Lyon’s ideals and teaching methods into schools which they founded or taught at, in places such as Albert Lea, Minnesota and Marion, Alabama; Bitlis, Turkey and Honolulu, Hawaii; Umzumbe, South Africa and the territory of the Cherokee Nation; Kobe, Japan and Clinton, New York. One founded the first public school in Oklahoma; classes were held in a tent. Through the work of Mount Holyoke’s alumnae teachers, the quality of elementary and high school education improved nationwide; the presence of well-educated female teachers in the classroom offered role models for bright and aspiring girls and young women. Mount Holyoke provided the inspiration, the model, and often the leadership, for the many women’s colleges that followed. A few examples: Wellesley College was founded by a Mount Holyoke trustee, Henry Durant, and its first president was an 1853 Mount Holyoke alumna, Ada Howard. Another trustee, John Greene, was instrumental in founding Smith College. Susan Tolman Mills, class of 1845, and her husband founded Mills College in California.”
Have you found a morning routine for yourself that inspires you to begin a new day with hope and enthusiasm? I’d love to hear about it.
You can learn more about Mary Lyon on Mount Holyoke’s website: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/marylyon