A Gift from Author Jean Sheldon

Jean Sheldon, Author

Hello, readers. For Christmas, I would like to give you the gift of inspiration, as written in this guest blog by my friend Jean Sheldon.

When Lynne asked me to do a guest blog, I have to admit, impressed with my own accomplishments, I thought I would share how I started writing mysteries at the age of 53.

Then I reconsidered. Why? One reason was discovering books by authors Carol Grier, Veronica Esagui, and Devon St. Claire. Lynne’s invitation suddenly seemed less an opportunity to promote my own work and more a chance to spotlight the constant support and inspiration I see around me.

Grier and Esagui are both authors of memoirs. The stories of their struggles inspire awe and respect. In 1946, Carol took a train from Portland, Oregon to New York to meet her soon to be husband with $5 in her wallet. I recently took a train from Portland to Chicago armed with enough plastic in my wallet to cover three squares in the dining car and any crisis that might arise. In 1962, Veronica came to the United States from Portugal for an arranged marriage. No experience in my life can offer an analogy to that voyage. Recently, Dr. Esagui introduced me to Devon St. Claire’s writing. This came at a time when I found myself bored and disenchanted with fiction. I have read all three novels by St. Claire and was again delighted and inspired. Devon started writing fiction in 2005, when she was 80. Are you in your 50s and wondering if it’s too late to start a new project? Think again.

The other event that prompted my theme change was my 40th high school reunion. Except for one person, I hadn’t seen anyone from high school in over four decades. If we hadn’t been wearing badges with our school pictures, I wouldn’t have recognized a soul, nor would anyone have recognized me. But it was the energy of the gathering that truly moved me. I went to a Chicago public school, so our classes were large. The room was filled with a sense of celebration. We had survived. (Eighteen classmates hadn’t.) I listened to stories from cancer survivors, from people who had lost their spouse, and even children, and from people living with a variety of illnesses. Had we changed? You bet, but the essence that is our individuality shone in each of us. Everyone there had a unique story to tell, a story that could make the path a little easier for someone else. That, I realized, is the gift we have to give—the lessons of our journey might help others.

So inspired am I by the experiences, by women over 50 making a difference, and by blogs like ‘Any Shiny Thing’, I have decided to spotlight some of my own heroines. My goal is to create a site called ‘When Wise Women Speak’ and every month feature a woman over fifty whose very existence offers hope. There is no shortage! The first post will be January, 2011 and will begin by telling the stories of the three aforementioned women. For me, the only way I can see surviving our present mess is by sharing the stories of these inspiring individuals. People have endured much greater adversity than what we face and they are happy to share their hard earned lessons. When wise women speak, we need to listen.

Thanks, Jean, and we’ll look forward to your new blog about women who have inspired you. I’m grateful to you and to all my friends who gather here to share our experiences and learn from each other. I look forward to continuing our discussions in the new year. Merry Christmas, and love to all of you!


  1. says

    Lynne, I’ve been taking a break from the Internet for a few days, but wanted to say how much I enjoyed Jean’s guest post. She’s so right, you know — survivors have much to share with the rest of the world; they can, and they should! I’ll look forward to reading what she has to say. Merry Christmas to you and your family and let’s keep in touch in the new year!

  2. says

    Merry Christmas, and thank you Lynne for the opportunity to post. Thank you Kathy and Nanci for your comments. I agree that our fascination with ‘looks’ is mystifying. If women ‘should’ need a particular look, let’s hope the most popular one in 2011 is joyful!

  3. nanci says

    Merry Christmas and thank you for the gift of this particular blog . I love the idea of talking about the ways that our journeys have made us unique and useful. Re-inventing ourselves in a new era is so invigorating and reading about the “small stories” of women making a difference in their lives and others is such a wonderful concept. Most of us are “small story” people, but put us together and there can be big results.
    Jean, I look forward to reading the work of the people you mentioned. I love exploring new authors.
    I find it interesting that the blog about plastic surgery is the most responded to that I’ve seen here. At this moment I am with a daughter and son-in-law for Christmas and was looking at their magazines… Nylon and Allure, both having to do with fashion and mostly with how women should “LOOK.” It is just such a pervasive theme. There is so much of interest to discuss that doesn’t have to do with how we look. I would love for people just to choose their appearance for themselves and let’s talk about who we are and what we do. Jean’s new blog (and my highly esteemed friend Lynne’s blog) embody the deeply important things about who we ARE. I celebrate them for keeping us thinking and talking about what is essential and good.
    To a wonderful and engaging 2011!

  4. says

    Lynne~Thanks for hosting Jean. Her blog on Wise Women will inspire and add to your mission of boosting us all in journey… “Boomers Rule”! I look forward to more inspiration in 2011.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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