Sparked by Words


Everyday should be International Women’s Day, but if we need a day set aside to celebrate the achievements of women in order to let people everywhere know how wonderful we are, then I’m hopping on the bridge to help you cross from the side called Don’t Know Much to the other end marked This Is One Long List.

To acknowledge the many women all over the world who’ve contributed to the fields of:

animal (veterinary, daily care, groomers, companion and animal assistant training, aquarium, zoo, or rescue site employees)

architects (buildings, monuments, and bridges, city, suburban, commercial, landscape)

armed forces (all branches, every level, serving on U.S. soil or deployed abroad)

art (creating, exhibiting, curating in all fields of photography, painting, designing, drawing, sculpting, and ceramics)

banking (tellers, investment and accounting)

beauticians (hair cutting and styling, manicures, pedicures)

builders (carpenters, house builders, commercial builders, electricians, metal workers, repairmen, contractors, laborers, repairmen)

childcare (baby sitters, nannies, au pair)

cleaners and landscapers (housekeepers, gardeners, commercial maintenance workers)

culinary arts (chefs, cooks, waitresses, dish washers)

dance (choreography, those on their feet)

documentation and archival support (librarians, secretaries, clerks, researchers)

drivers (bus, taxi, limousine)

education (classroom teaching, administration, curriculum development, clerical support, assistants, substitute teachers, all fields and subjects, all levels from pre-school to university)

engineering (civil, industrial, mechanical, electrical, software)

entertainment (acting, directors, cameramen, off- or back stage support, stage, film, theater, video, commercials)

fire, police, sheriff, marshal, and security forces (first responders whose careers protect our lives)

industry (salesmen, retail and business of every kind on the ground, in the air, at sea, in space) environment (preserving and protecting animals, land, sea, and all natural resources)

historians (analysts, observers, researchers, diarists, writers, documentarians)

journalism (researchers, documenters, writers, editing, reporters in every media)

law (attorneys, judges, legal assistants, mediators, whether defense or prosecution, in courtrooms or not)

live performers (magicians, jugglers, comedians, stand-up comedians, revue, circus, chorus line)

mail service (delivery, post office)

medicine (medical care, surgeons, researchers, nurses, psychiatrists, dentists, opticians, ophthalmologists, clinical trial technicians, support and companion care, physical and occupational therapists)

music (playing, singing, directing, composing, writing in band, orchestra, symphony, or individual performer, whether touring or permanent location, professional or amateur

philosophy (thinkers, theorists, reflectors)

politics (policy crafters, elected officials at local, state, and federal levels)

religion (clergy, laymen, spiritual guides of all religions)

science (researchers, experimental and technical developmenters and innovators in all fields)

social activism (marchers, protestors, advocates, campaigners, speakers)

social work and mental health care (adoption, personal, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse, psychology, therapy)

sports (coaching, participation in professional, local, or individual teams, and personal health training and maintenance)

volunteering (every field  and task imaginable)

motherhood (everything – just everything)


If I left out the field closest to your heart, blame my lack of imagination and memory. I didn’t mean to forget or ignore you. And yes, plenty of men in these fields as well, and I thank you. But today we acknowledge women because not only do they do these jobs well, they had to fight like hungry sharks to get into many of these positions in the first place.


And now for the field closest to my heart:

Literature : poetry, memoir, and fiction of every genre and ilk.

A partial list of the authors –  geniuses, innovators, writers –  who have inspired me, along with one of their books that captivated me and made me want to write just like them.  If I left out your favorite author, please add in the comments section.

Enjoy celebrating women. No one would be here without us.


Alice Hoffman – The Marriage of Opposites

Alice Walker – The Color Purple

Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club

Anita Diamant – The Red Tent

Ann Patchett – Bel Canto

Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Lamott – Blue Shoe

Annie Proulx – The Shipping News

Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible

Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre

Chimamanda Ngochi Adechie – Americanah

Claire Messud – The Emperor’s Children

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca

Dara Horn – The World to Come

Denise Levertov – Selected Poems

Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch

Edwidge Danticat – Breath, Eyes, Memory

Elizabeth Strout – The Burgess Boys

Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights

Emily Dickenson – Complete Poems

Erica Jong – Fear of Flying

Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book

Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits

J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice

Jane Hirschfield – Given Sugar, Given Salt

Jean M. Auel – The Clan of the Cave Bear

Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking

Joanne Harris – Five Quarters of the Orange

Jodi Picoult – The Storyteller

Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) – Out of Africa

Kate Atkinson – A God in Ruins

Katherine Paterson – Bridge to Terabithia

Kathryn Stockett – The Help

Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate

Lilian Nattel – The River Midnight

Lisa See – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine

Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale

Marge Piercy – He, She, and It

Chimamanda Ngochi Adechi

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Yearling

Mary Oliver – Devotions

Mary Renault – The Persian Boy

Mary Stewart – The Crystal Cave

Maxine Hong Kingston – The Woman Warrior

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Naomi Ragen – Sotah

Natalie Goldberg – Thunder and Lightning

Nicole Strauss – The History of Love

Paula McLain – Circling the Sun

Persia Woolley- Child of the Northern Spring

Rachel Kadish – The Weight of Ink

Rachel Kushner – The Flamethrowers

Sandra Cisneros – The House on Mango Street

Sarah Dunant – In the Company of the Courtesan

Sue Monk Kidd – The Invention of Wings

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

Toni Morrison – Song of Solomon

Ursula Hegi – Stones from the River

Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse

Willa Cather – My Antonia

Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God


Painting: A Woman Writing a Letter by Johannes Vermeer



Comments on: "Celebrate International Women’s Day" (33)

  1. Sharon, how true that this should be every day but at least it’s a start! Great lists and I particularly enjoyed the literature one. One of my favourite current female writers is Rachel Joyce and as part of the special day today the paper ran an article about the first woman to climb the Matterhorn called Lucy Walker … although even this did not gain her membership of the coveted Alpine Club!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list. So many amazing women and incomparable achievements.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve chosen one of my favourite paintings to go along this truly wonderful post, Shari! Both lists of yours are amazing – it’s so important to reflect about what women in general have achieved in the last 100 years. Both World Wars did their part in the development that turned housewives and mothers (both extremely difficult jobs already) into all those amazing women contributing to the world as it now is.
    And so many of the authors you named I’ve read as well and truly admire their genius and work. And those I haven’t read yet are going to meticulously copied down now to add to my ever-growing TBR. Thank you!

    Did you know – today is the first time the International Women’s Day is an official holiday here in Germany? Only in Berlin for now but surely others will follow. All I can say is – about time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful recognition for women to be so officially honored in Berlin. It’s been talked about on all the news shows here in the U.S., but one of the biggest morning programs featured a male singing group, right after mentioning International Women’s Day – I guess it’s always going to be baby steps.

      Vermeer is one of my absolute favorite artists. I even took a class that taught his glazing style over sepia oil layers. Very time consuming process but it revealed why his paintings are so luminous.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s wonderful to hear that the holiday even made news in the US!

    And how tremendously awesome that you took a class that taught his glazing style – that’s something I hope to do too someday. I have a particular fondness for Netherlandish painters but Vermeer is right on top of my list. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah, you might enjoy The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos by Dominic Smith, a book I loved so much, I’ve read it twice – and will read again. It was inspired by the artist Judith Leyster, a woman whose art I adore and 17th century lifestyle I admire.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! I loved that book so much!! What a lovely coincidence that you have read it too, Shari! It was such a wonderful read and I adored every single page of it. 🙂 Wish there were more books like it!


      • Dominic Smith is an outstanding writer and though I’ve enjoyed all his books I’ve read, Sarah De Vos is his best, in my opinion. I just finished The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – a (add any positive modifier you can think of here) story I couldn’t put down, and though not about painters, it is about 17th century Amsterdam – a world where women were held under many male thumbs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We really do have the same taste in books, Shari, I’ve also read The Miniaturist by Burton and really loved it!! 😀 She wrote so wonderfully about 17th century Amsterdam that I could all see it before my inner eye. 🙂
        I have to add that I really love historical fiction – it’s just the perfect way of being wonderfully entertained and learn something at the same time when the author did her/his research well. 🙂


      • Sarah, you wrote exactly how I feel about historical fiction and why I love it so much. Jessie Burton is a masterful writer – that helps.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A wonderful list of women and their professions, Shari! Don’t forget the contributions to the recreation and leisure industry (of which I was proud to be a part): the women who are directors of community recreation and parks departments, the recreation therapists who work with all ages, wounded warriors and those with mental and physical conditions and disabilities (I’m sure there were RTs in your mother’s day care home), Park Rangers, hotel clerks, day camp counselors, lifeguards, well , you get it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri, I’m so glad you added to the list. Given that my dad was absorbed by observing and protecting the natural world, and teaching us kids to have the same respect and affection, I don’t know how I left off the important contributions of women in these fields. I even used to teach art through a community parks and rec department, teaching the kids how to look carefully at their environment and to watch native creatures – then drawing or painting instead of killing or collecting them. And if you can’t get out to enjoy this big beautiful world (I was a trained Boy Scout leader who hiked all over with my sons) then you’re missing a huge part of life enrichment. Thank you, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. what a fabulous list! thanks for putting all the work into it for our sakes!


  7. Jenna Barwin said:

    A wonderful list, Sharon.

    Women’s history has been buried, our involvement in various professions and accomplishments hidden from us, in the hopes we forget and allow ourselves to be forced into a single, narrow life role.

    I cheer each time a historian pieces together the past, removes the blinds, and allows us to see how much we have achieved over the course of history. And I cheer for your wonderful blog that keeps us grounded in the present, with a reminder of how much we are doing today.


    • You and I cheer the strong, brilliant women, also the resilient ones on whom the world depends. Thank you for your eloquent honor to me. I hope you see yourself in the several parts of the lists where your name is written.


  8. Such a fabulous list of authors! Some of my favorite stories of all time! 😍And yep, I’m a man, who was inspired at a very young age to be creative by his own awesome mother and the beautiful illustrations of Beatrix Potter and Peggy Fortnum (Paddington Bear Books). These women and so many more are still my role models. Every day should indeed by International Women’s Day!


  9. What a wonderful list, Sharon! A couple more authors for you off the top of my head: Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. (Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings) – (your writing sometimes reminds me of hers). Also, Anais Nin (her many journals). Your own list of authors includes many of mine. 🙂 Thanks for this post!


  10. I am wondering when International Women’s Day was created? I do think that earmarking a day to celebrate women and their achievements makes people think about the topic, which is of course a good thing. I loved your literature list which included many of my favorites: Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, Alice Hoffman, Isabelle Allende to name just a few.



  11. Apologies for my lateness to this post. None one on this glorious planet would be here if it were not for the sacrifices of a woman. Bravo to all of you.
    Where would we be without you.


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