Monday, March 31, 2008

Strong Women: Strong Fathers – Lara Croft, Jessie Fremont, Condoleezza Rice

Happy Birthday Jessie Ann Benton Fremont

Jessie was born on May 31, 1824 in near Lexington, Virginia. She was the daughter of a famous and powerful U.S. Senator who not only doted on his daughter but included her in meetings with Washington officials and trained her to assist him in his work. Jessie's attention from her father falls under the Zeus-Athena category where the father is the one who helps his weaker-sex daughter gain power and prestige in society. It is because of the father's influence and power that the young woman is tolerated by society instead of ostracized, ignored or even in some cases burned at the stake as a witch.

Many movies and storylines today still feature women who owe their strength to their father. This archetypal thread is seen in Angelina Jolie's character, Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movies. In these storylines, the mother is either dead or negligible because of a weakness in character. It is amazing how many times a strong female character is attributed to a powerful father instead of a powerful mother. It is almost as if we see a woman who is successful and then discover that her relationship with her father was like an internship and we say "Oh, that explains it…" I am looking forward to a shift in society when a woman attributes her success to her mother's strength and abilities.

A couple of years ago, Forbes Magazine dubbed Condoleezza Rice "The Most Powerful Woman in the World." I wanted to learn more about her because I am amazed at how well she handles herself in front of the press. How did she manage to always present herself with poise? She is always articulate even when others try desperately to ruffle her feathers. It didn't take long for me to figure out how she became such a powerhouse. I believe Condoleezza is so successful because her parents already knew their daughter was the most powerful girl (woman) in the world. It just took Forbes Magazine decades to catch on.

I've studied what little information I could find about how Condolezza Rice grew up. She had an incredibly supportive mother and father but I felt that the biographical information emphasized her father's role in her upbringing more than her mother's role.

Condoleezza was the only child of John and Angelena Rice. Angelena named her daughter after an Italian musical reference to play music "with sweetness". With foresight, her mother aptly named her as Condoleezza's persona has been like honey in drawing a varied collection of friends into her life. Her ex-students, professional football players, Vladimir Putin, the Bush Family, and the children of the New Generation (an after-school program Condoleezza co-founded for disadvantaged youth in East Palo Alto) are just a few examples.

Condoleezza was born on November 14, 1954. Her father referred to her from that time forward as his "Little Star". From birth, Condoleezza was raised within a strong community and family life. Her father was the reverend of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, a high school coach, and a high school guidance counselor. Her mother was a high school music teacher and played the organ at the church. Her parents commitment to the members of their community gave Condoleezza a first-hand glance at the power that comes from making a difference in your community, giving her a place within the community as a star within the constellation – creating a whole picture with those around her.

"The multiethnic part [of American society] does not work without another important value: belief in upward mobility. The core of that has always been the ability to level the playing field through education. Unless education is provided to all…that part of the dream will be lost."[i]

Condoleezza summarizes her family's legacy in that statement. For generations, Condoleezza's family created opportunities for themselves and their children by committing themselves to education. Self-teaching and making sure they attended university was a tradition with her family. Her parents had very high expectations of Condoleezza. They exposed her to ballet, French, music, current events, football and other athletics. They felt as if her survival depended on a comprehensive education.

Condoleezza's father worked with many children in the community that didn't have the same home opportunities as she did. He was always encouraging someone to make the most of themselves. Condoleezza followed in his footsteps with several civic commitments, including, as I mentioned before, co-founding an after-school program in Northern California while she was a professor at Stanford University.

Looking for more?

Legend of Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story by Antonia Felix

"Passion and Principle" Life of Jessie Fremont

Find female role models
[i] Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story by Antonia Felix. p.23

About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

Friday, March 28, 2008

Privacy Policy


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Do You Have A Best Selling Book Inside You?

"Be adventurous. Try a lot of different things.
Who cares if it doesn't work out?
It is only paper."
- Mary Engelbreit, artist & business executive

Have you dreamt of becoming the next J.K. Rowling?

Do you have a story you have been working on but you just keep letting it collect dust?

Do you write, but don't think you have the time to write an entire book?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then I encourage you to try an amazing program called

"How to Write a Book in 14 Days"

I bought and tried this program. It is great. My writer's block vanished and my writing is better now that I use Steve Manning's techniques. I am still in the middle of my 14 day program, but I already several chapters written for my first book.

How to Write a Book in 14 Days has received endorsements from many writers including one of the authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Mark Victor Hansen.

You will find the fear of writing vanish as the words fly out of your mind onto your paper. My only criticism of this program is that he does send a lot of emails to you. However, you can unsubscribe to the emails if they get to be too much.

Do you have to dedicate all day to writing? No, in fact, he encourages you to write in short segments. He says that is when you get your best writing.

We invite you to
challenge yourself - remember, "It's only paper."

Register for Write a Book in 14 Days!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Foreign Film Review: All About My Mother

Few things are more powerful or influential than a relationship between a mother and a child.

A good relationship can be tremendously rewarding and a bad one can leave both of you limping through life. Why is the bond so powerful? Your mother is your first encounter with life, with nourishment, and with survival. All foods, emotions, drinks, and medications a pregnant woman has during pregnancy become the body and mind of the baby. In the womb, everything a mother does directly influences the child she is creating.

No wonder a mother's child grows up to scrutinize and evaluate every single move she makes. The child is still thinking that what his or her mother does directly influences their life intensely.

Literature and film abound with explorations of just who a mother is. A mother is always an enigma. The 1999 Spanish film "All About My Mother" starring Cecilia Roth and Penelope Cruz explores the intrigue of who a mother really is in a very creative way.

The acting is excellent, the story curious, and the characters lovable. There seem to be no true villains in this film even though there are plenty of people causing others pain. But the pain they cause each other seems to be explained; thereby softening the blows.

This film explores the complicated reality of some modern families much like the films Transamerica (2005) and Object of My Affection (1998). The relationships may seem an exaggeration for many but often it is easier to explore truth through exaggeration.

About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Determination to do One's Best: Gertrude Bell, The Mother of Iraq

Today one may hesitate to put "Mother of Iraq" on her resume, but that is exactly who English Explorer, Gertrude Bell was. You’ve probably heard of T.E. Lawrence but have you heard of Gertrude Bell?

Gertrude was a few years older than T.E. Lawrence and they both played a critical role in the formation of Iraq. Her legacy, her story is usually completely overshadowed by Lawrence even though her professional contribution was at least as important. She is an example of female character overlooked when history is written.

Gertrude believed in the formation of an Arab state called Iraq. The British government was intent on creating a western-type nation and government in the Middle East but few Western citizens who were in charge of this project understood the needs and psychology of this region better than Gertrude.

Our current place in history offers hindsight to the challenges that were to come because Westerners imposed their form of government and organization in a region who thought differently. I am reminded of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, when her ideal creation took on a life of its own and became uncontrollable and unpredictable. It may be some time before Gertrude Bell is fully recognized by people today because of the collective frustration and disassociation with Iraq.

Gertrude, born in 1869, was born into incredibly wealthy family in England. Her grandfather was a steel tycoon, Isaac Lowthian Bell. His wealthy fostered business ambition and opportunities for several generations of Bells. Graduating from Oxford (an unusual accomplishment for a woman in this time), Gertrude took up travel. I think it was to escape the confines of her wealthy, upper class circle, that she chose to travel where she wouldn't bump into other members of her society. Gertrude traveled extensively in what we now call the Middle East. Very few women ever explored this region and it was here that Gertrude could break free from Victorian-laden expectations of proper female behavior.

Her wealth was an asset as she traveled and dined with Arabian sheiks. Even though she was a woman, most welcomed her as a peer because of her obvious wealth. During her travels she recorded her experiences, the political dynamics, and photographed several centuries' worth of archeological treasures.

Gertrude was seemingly fearless. She was strong, determined, and a creative problem solver. She wasn't always recognized as a leader, in fact, she spent several professional years in administrative, supportive roles. Her frustration would mount but she would excel at her work and keep her eyes open for opportunity. She was quick to use the influence of other powerful men to gain position on key projects.

Georgina Howell, author of "Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations" (2006) wrote a fascinating version of Gertrude's story. While Gertrude had some serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities, her strength and integrity and the way she carved a respected role for herself in a male dominated world make her an excellent role model for women today.

Looking for more?

Audio NPR story: 7 minutes, 49 seconds

Photographic Journal of Gertrude’s travels

Build Your Own Success, Learn from Women Who "Made It"

About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting