Risk, Courage, and Women

University of North Texas Press, 2007


Edited by Karen A. Waldron, Janice H. Brazil, and Laura M. Labatt



This unique collection of narratives, essays, and poems includes an original interview with Maya Angelou and pieces by Naomi Shihab Nye, Pat Mora, Rosemary Catacalos, and many others. Each work relates how women have demonstrated courage by taking a risk that has changed their lives.



“I wish women could see themselves free. Just see and imagine what they could do if they were free of the national and international history of diminishment. Just imagine, if we could have a Madame Curie born in the nineteenth century, suppose that twenty other women had been liberated at the same time? That’s what I wish for women: See it. Try to see yourself free. What would you do?”—from “Sources of Courage: An Interview with Dr. Maya Angelou”




From my essay, “Walking Home”:


When I am stuck and cannot dig myself out of my problems, I go home to nature–whether just a rock on the edge of a mesa overlooking town or a remote wilderness. I head for a place where I will be alone and can hear myself think, where the noise and busyness of humanity can’t drown out the “small, still voice” of my inner wisdom.


Silence is an undervalued resource, a rarity in landscapes w her the myriad human-generated sounds–car engines, thumping stereos, jackhammers, cellular phones, video games, and televisions–overwhelm mind and spirit. Yet silence–not the total absence of noise, but restful quiet–is critical to our spiritual lives. It is in silence where we meet our inner selves without distraction, where we tune out the trivial and focus on what is at the core of our lives.


I needed that kind off silence, so I headed home, making a beeline for the mountains I knew intimately from my years as a field ecologist. Walking across them, I thought, I might find the wisdom I needed to live with my illness. …