The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Shirley Temple Black

Shirley Temple Black, (b.1928) is most famous for the many roles she played as a child actress, but she went on to do many amazing things in her adulthood too. She served on the boards of organizations including The Walt Disney Company and the National Wildlife Federation.  She ran for congress, and though she did not win, she was appointed US Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and later to Czechoslovakia. Shirley Temple Black, a cancer survivor, was also one of the first public figures to speak openly about breast cancer and to heighten awareness of the disease. I really like what she says about the removal of risk below. To read more about her at her website.

Shirley Temple Black Quotes

  • I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.
  • One has to handle these negative experiences alone. You can’t get help from your friends or family. You’re finally alone with it, and you have to come to grips with misfortune and go on.
  • Our whole way of life today is dedicated to the removal of risk. Cradle to grave we are supported, insulated, and isolated from the risks of life- and if we fall, our government stands ready with Band-Aids of every size. 
  • The U.N. acts as the world’s conscience, and over eighty-five percent of the work that is done by the United Nations is in the social, economic, educational and cultural fields.
  • We would have to invent the U.N. if we did not have it, which is not an original thought.
Isn’t that first quote kind of sad? Santa-for-hire FAIL!

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Gilda Radner

 Gilda Radner (1946-1989) was an American comedienne and an original member of the Saturday Night Live cast. She won an Emmy for her work in 1978. I spent a lot of Saturday nights when I was in high school hoping that she would be featured on the show. We all loved Rosanne Rosannadanna. Radner was married to Gene Wilder. Cancer took her when she was still very young and Radner, who understood her disease, had many beautifully introspective things to say about life, in addition to the humorous bits she left us.

Gilda Radner Quotes:

  • I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships.
  • Dreams are like paper, they tear so easily.
  • I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
  • The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens, whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die, the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.
  • While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.
  • You feel completely in control when you hear a wave of laughter coming back at you that you have caused.


The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Did you know that Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) wrote over thirty books? I didn’t. I knew only of one of her titles: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is said that when Abraham Lincoln met her, he said, “”So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”  Uncle Tom’s Cabin was, of course, the little book. If you visit the website for The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, you will find out many interesting things you may not have known about this woman whose most famous book was published in 1851 and who continued working to fight social injustice for over four decades following its publication. The first quote below explains her rationale for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I think it’s a beautiful statement.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes

  • I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity – because as a lover of my county, I trembled at the coming day of wrath.
  • A woman’s health is her capital.
  • Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.
  • Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.
  • So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why don’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?
  • Women are the real architects of society.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Georgia O’Keefe

Photo by Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was the first American woman to really distinguish herself as a modern artist, paving the way for other women. My mother, who is a watercolorist, introduced me to O’Keefe’s work when I was a child. She particularly liked O’Keefe’s large paintings of flowers. I love them too. O’Keeffe, who married photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, had an interesting and unusual life and a long career. You can read more about her and see her work at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum site HERE.  She truly used painting as a form of expression, and that is reflected in her quotes below.

Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes 

  • I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
  • I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
  • Marks on paper are free – free speech – press – pictures all go together I suppose.
  • Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.
  • I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.
  • I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
  • One cannot be an American by going about saying that one is an American. It is necessary to feel America, like America, love America and then work.
From what I’ve read about O’Keefe, it is hard to imagine her being terrified, like she mentions in the first quote. But if she was, she certainly a role model for not letting our fears get in the ways of our successes. 

The Quoteable Nerdy Chick: Gertrude Stein

1934 Portrait of Gertrude Stein by       Carl Van Vechten

I think Gertrude Stein was one of those people who can aptly be described as a “force of nature.”  Born in 1874, Gertrude Steinspent most of her adult life in France. She was a patron of the arts who entertained and supported painters like Matisse and Picasso, and writers like Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Stein was a writer herself, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, was perhaps her most famous work.

Stein and her brother Leo moved to Paris in 1903 and began collecting art. At the Metropolitan Museum of art, there is currently a fascinating exhibit of the work Gertrude, Leo, and their other brother Michael collected. I saw that collection on my trip to NY, and you can see it now by clicking HERE.

Stein led an intriguing life, full of art, literature, and intellectual pursuits. She wrote operas and novels. She posed for Picasso. There is much much more to learn about her than I can include here, but you can find out more about her at

I love love love these quotes. Take a look.

Gertrude Stein Quotes

  • Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.
  • A masterpiece… may be unwelcome but it is never dull.
  • If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.
  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Let me listen to me and not to them.
  • I do want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to get rich.
  • For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts.
  •  You have to know what you want to get it.
  • Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?
  • One must dare to be happy.



Can I hear an “Amen”? I have never done this before, but I just had responses welling up inside me for all of these quotes. So out of respect for those who like purity, I am letting the quotes above stand alone. Purists, you can stop reading now. But if you are curious about my responses to these quotes, well, here they are.


“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing. ”Well, all writers feel this way. Thanks for representing, Gertrude!

“Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?”  This is why I love YA and MG. I can’t bear for a book to make me unhappy.

A masterpiece… may be unwelcome but it is never dull.  She absolutely nailed it! Some of our greatest works of art and literatures spawned tremendous controversy. Catcher in the Rye, anyone?

“If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.”  Really?  Gertrude Stein said that? I thought I saw it stitched on a sofa pillow at Cracker Barrel.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” Whoa! Is this poignant or what? And she said this before Twitter, FB, Blogs, and cell phones.

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” I couldn’t say it better myself.

“I do want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to get rich.” I know, right? It is such a problem.

“For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts.”  Human nature at its best. Or worst. Depends on what we’re accepting.

“You have to know what you want to get it.” Amen. Just Amen.

“One must dare to be happy. ” This is true, but why is it so hard? We have to dare to give up our worries, our obsessions, our guilt, our selfishness… and if we can swing that, we might just make it to happiness!

See why I love these quotes? Stein’s speech is simple and direct, and what she said 100 years ago is applicable today.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross in 1820) was an American woman who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist. Around 1844 she married John Tubman, who was free. In 1849 she heard that she was going to be sold, so she fled to Philadelphia. She had to leave her husband and parents behind. After making her way to freedom, Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad over the next ten years. There is a lot more information about Harriet Tubman HERE and it is fascinating. You should check it out!

Harriet Tubman Quotes

  • Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
  • I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.
  • I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.
  • I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven.
  • I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

Sometimes, I think I have courage.  But when I read about someone like Harriet Tubman, I feel like I’ve never known it.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Annie Oakley

Back when I was in middle school I found a book on my Grandmom’s bookshelf called Annie Oakley and the Wild Wild West, which I read from cover to cover. I loved the idea that a girl like Annie (1860 – 1926) could do something so remarkable that she stood out from everyone else. Annie was, in fact, the first female in America to achieve wide-spread fame.

So, can a sharp shooter who was most famous for touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show really be a nerdy chick? Well, she definitely flouted social norms! (See first quote below.) And she worked very hard at her skill, first as a young girl to kill game to support her family, and later to win shooting competitions.  She continued to win competitions into her sixties. She also championed women’s rights.

To find out more about Annie Oakley (born Phoebe Ann Moses), click HERE.

Annie Oakley Quotes:

  • My mother…was perfectly horrified when I began shooting and tried to keep me in school, but I would run away and go quail shooting in the woods or trim my dresses with wreaths of wildflowers.
  • For me, sitting still is harder than any kind of work.
  • Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s eye of success.
  • After traveling through fourteen foreign countries and appearing before all the royalty and nobility I have only one wish today. That is that when my eyes are closed in death that they will bury me back in that quiet little farm land where I was born.
  • God intended women to be outside as well as men, and they do not know what they are missing when they stay cooped up in the house.

My personal favorite is the one about sitting still. I can only sit if I am actively doing something.

The photo of Annie Oakley above is in the public domain because its copyright expired.