Alyson's almost beside herself with the joy of today's encounter: She met — no, she talked to! — Helen Thayer, the first woman to cross Antartica on foot. In the past three hours, I've heard about the day Helen encountered three separate polar bears and what a brave dog Charlie she had. I've heard the details of her trek across the Gobi Desert. And I've heard the sweetest words from my youngest child's mouth: "She's right, Mom. You can do anything. I can do anything. She said you just need a plan." In a world that seems sadly lacking in role models, I've tried hard to expose my girls to different people and ideas and the concept that you can accomplish a whole lot if you make it a priority. I've emphasized, I think, strong women, because I want my girls to be warriors when they are convinced that something matters. And I want them to feel, like me, that equality is a given. They are bright, they have the world to offer the world and they should be surprised if someone expects less of them because of their gender. But I want them to have great respect for all people of accomplishment, regardless of gender or other factors. So I took Jen a few months ago to hear Daniel Schorr and Roxana Saberi, the freelance American journalist who was imprisoned for a time in Iran. I remind Jen that I knew, although not well, Rosa Parks. I interviewed her years ago. That my mother started a correspondence with Coretta King after her husband, Martin Luther King, was killed. The two women found they had a great deal in common, starting with love of family and passion for country. There are many things that will discourage my girls as they grow up. But today, Helen Thayer lit a fire in Al and sparked a conviction that everything truly is possible. What a lovely thing to give a child.
Sorry I've been gone so long. It's been a very, very weird month or so. More on that later. For now, enjoy the beautiful faces of some of the Haitian children I loved when I was there a few years ago. This is a little school at an orphanage in Haiti near Port-au-Prince. The little doll on the left is my lovely Bela, who was 4 -- the same age as my Jeni at the time. For years, they thought she was "Haiti" when I talked about the place. Say a prayer, send a gift, be mindful in some way of the suffering.