Creative Inspirational Wisdom: The Written Words of Women

This week, Connie Spittler encourages women to crack open their worlds—on paper.


The poet Muriel Rukeyser asked, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” Her answer: “The world would split open.”


We hold a universal knowledge within us. Telling it, sharing it, writing it down sets the commotion in motion. Like a breakfast egg, we crack open the sphere that is our world and find our truth, the simple wisdom that comes from our life stories.


We belong to an ancient tribe of storytellers, a long line of ancestors who washed clothes down by the river and remembered, who sewed at quilting bees and talked of the past, who cooked for harvesters and shared stories, who held children on warm laps and whispered true tales. Today in shopping malls and beauty shops, on cell phones and during coffee breaks, women talk of life’s unfolding events. No matter where it happens, this is storytelling, one of our oldest traditions. Our stories become a lasting tribute to the fact that we were here.


Since time eternal, women have told and retold family stories while we stir soup, wipe little noses, and comfort oldsters. We’ve accomplished great things, led countries, discovered radium, protected the environment, founded colleges, crusaded against birth defects. Think Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Virginia Apgar, M.D.


Closer at hand, we soothe teething babies and clean mineral deposits off faucets, make paste from flour and water in the morning and gravy thickener from water and flour in the afternoon. We know facts and events unknown by scholars and historians, possessing a tantalizing mix of information to offer others; family stories and heartbreaking secrets, like the reason cousin Maria doesn’t talk to cousin Edith, the medical history of miscarriage in our family, the reasons I was beaten as a child by my daddy.


Whether we’re thirty or 100, passing on the story of our lives—the wisdom we’ve discovered—is important. Remember Muriel Rukeyser’s question, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” I visualize the earth reacting gently to one woman’s story, unfolding her reality. Then the world reverberates to the buzzing of hundreds—why not millions of women?—telling the truth of their lives. The globe moves to the magnificent hubbub of happiness, sadness, love, laughter, grieving and anger as women’s words sing out, each story separate, yet connected. I imagine their words on paper, the sphere trembling in anticipation as pages go flying faster and faster, spinning and turning, cream into butter, straw into gold, life into stories, until Mother Earth splits open from the pure joy of it all.


Take up your pencil and paper. Turn on your computer. Crack open your world. When the writing is finished, say, “Yes, I was here.” Your stories can last as long as the paper that holds them and as long as the people read them. Long live this endless paper trail of women’s wisdom.


Connie Spittler’s literary mystery The Erotica Book Club for Nice Ladies won 2nd Place in The Eudora Welty Memorial Award in NLAPW’s Biennial Letters Competition 2016. She also has received recognition from The Chanticleer International Mystery and Mayhem Contest and Wishing Shelf Book Clubs in Great Britain and Sweden. Her essays appear in twenty anthologies alongside The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Desmond Tutu, Barbara Kingsolver, and Terry Tempest Williams. The video series that she wrote/produced is archived in Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. She is a member of Omaha Branch NLAPW.


“Abstract Colour Pencil” image by tigger11th/


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  1. Tracy Lanum says:

    “Cracking-the-egg” is a healing thing to do, although it takes courage and opens one’s vulnerability. I recently had published a memoir titled “An Awakening Soul,” which follows my life as a diabetic at the age of seven back in 1949. After reading the first draft my editor said that I was leaving some important details out and that I must be totally honest with myself and my readers. So I took the plunge, with great hesitation and am happy that I did. We have all made grievous errors in our lives but the Universe is good – we survive. I was healed and forgave myself and my parents. I encourage anyone to write down what troubles you for its cathartic effect.

  2. Sara Etgen-Baker says:

    thanks for your essay and sharing your words of wisdom; I am constantly reminded that we women have a responsibility to share our stores, for we know and understand things historians, politicians, and the like don’t comprehend. Without sharing our stories, those nuances about life and culture during our times will disappear forever. Thanks for your well-constructed words.

  3. Sara Etgen-Baker says:

    thanks for such a motivating, honest, grounded essay. You’ve helped me to continue today cracking open the egg. You’re right; we women know and understand a wealth of things unknown to politicians, scholars, etc. In so many ways, we have a responsibility to tell our stories. For without those stories, those hidden nuances about our culture and our times would disappear forever. Thank you!