Admirable Women! Clara Barton, A Pioneering Humanitarian!

Admirable Women!  Clara Barton, A Pioneering Humanitarian!

Considering the recent devastation from hurricane Florence that has wrecked havoc in North Carolina, where many have been evacuated from their homes and are being assisted by dedicated volunteers from many national agencies, including the Red Cross, it seems fitting to share the fascinating story behind the pioneering efforts of Clara Barton, the incredible woman behind the creation of the Red Cross in America, as the next installment in the admirable women series!

Admirable Women!

Clarissa Harlow Barton, known as Clara, is one of the most honored women in American history.  She began her illustrious career as a teacher, but found her true calling as a nurse tending to the wounded soldiers during the Civil War.  Her understanding of the ways she could provide help to people in distress guided her throughout her life.  She founded the American Red Cross in 1881 at the age of 59, and led it for the next 23 years.

Red Cross symbol.

“You must never think of anything but the need and how to meet it…..then God gives the strength and things that seem impossible are done!”  Clara Barton

Little did I know that being assigned to read the biography of Clara Barton in the 5th grade in preparation for a report on the far-reaching influence of this great woman in American history would eventually lead to influencing a career choice later in my life.  I became enthralled with the notion that a woman with foresight, compassion and perseverance could buck the “system” so to speak, and make a difference in the welfare of her fellow-man at their most desperate times of need!

Clara Barton biography.

“It irritates me to be told how things have always been done.  I defy the precedent of tyranny—I simply cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind.”  Clara Barton

The Powerful Influence Of Loving Parents!

Clara Barton was born December 25, 1921 in North Oxford, Massachusetts.  She was the youngest daughter of Stephen and Sarah Barton.  Her father was a prosperous farmer and a dedicated state law-maker who had fought in the American Revolutionary War.  Barton later recalled that his heroic wartime tales made patriotism and a willingness to serve familiar to her at an early age.  Her mother was an advocate of women’s rights and taught Clara that all people should be treated equally.  Despite her extreme shyness as a child, the strong examples of her parents taught Clara that she could achieve anything she set out to accomplish!

Vintage American flag.

“The patriotic blood of my father and firm convictions of my mother run warm in my veins and uplift my soul when tasks seem insurmountable!”  Clara Barton

Due to the insistence of her parents, Clara Barton, received the finest formal education available at the time; she excelled in reading and writing, and though still timid as a teenager, she became very well spoken.  Her mother suggested she put her gifts to work and become a teacher.  At age fifteen, Clara began teaching at nearby schools; some years later, she left to teach in Bordentown, New Jersey.  Families in Bordentown were required to pay for their children’s schooling, thus many children were unable to attend.  Young Clara Barton offered to teach without salary if the students who needed to could attend for free.  The local school board was skeptical of her ability to teach what they considered to be incorrigible students, but she succeeded and was a popular headmistress of the over 600 students who eventually enrolled.  When that same school board decided to appoint a male principal to preside over her, Clara resigned!

Equal pay for women quote by Clara Barton.

“I believe I must have been born believing in the equal rights of women to all the privileges and positions which nature and justice accord her.”   Clara Barton 

Realizing Her Life’s Purpose!

After teaching, Clara Barton worked in Washington, DC in the U.S. Patent Office as the first female to work for the Federal Government.  But she always had an inclination towards nursing after tending to her brother for several years as a young girl when he suffered head trauma while building a barn.  She learned to care for him and administer his medications from their family physician.  On his death-bed, Clara’s father gave her the advice to “seek and comfort the afflicted everywhere.”  When the Civil War broke out in 1861, after seeing pictures of wounded soldiers, many of whom were her former students, Clara felt a strong desire to help.

Young Clara Barton during the Civil War.

(via Clara Barton museum)

“I may be compelled to face danger, but I never fear it, so while brave soldiers can stand and fight…I can stand and feed and nurse them!  Clara Barton

Following the First Battle at Bull Run, Clara formed an agency to distribute supplies to wounded soldiers and while she had received no formal nursing training, she relied on the skills she learned from caring for her brother and taught them to others so they could help her care for the many wounded men.  Initially, Clara and her colleagues attended to those who were hurt in ambulances set up on the periphery of the battlefields, all the while lobbying the U.S. Army to bring their nursing capabilities to the front lines.  In August of 1862 Clara was granted permission to travel and treat soldiers in some of the most dire circumstances of the war.  She served on sixteen battlefields during the Civil War, working tirelessly behind the scenes and became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” where her own life was often at risk.  More importantly, she singlehandedly seemed to change the preconceived notion that women were too weak to help on the battlefield.

Civil War news.

(via American History archives)

“This conflict is one I am ready for…I am well and strong and young enough to go to the front.  If I can’t be a soldier, I can help the soldiers.”  Clara Barton

Founding The Red Cross!

Near the end of the war, Clara Barton found her work was not done as she began receiving letters from the families of soldiers who were looking for their missing loved ones.  President Abraham Lincoln soon appointed her to start the Office of Correspondence with Friends of Missing Men in The United Sates Army.  According to her biography, she ultimately help identify 22,000 missing soldiers.  On a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, for the purpose of relaxing after her wartime efforts, Clara was introduced to the Red Cross and the idea of national societies being formed to provide relief on a neutral, voluntary basis.  Finally, in 1864, after many bureaucratic hurdles, the American Red Cross was formed, to which Clara Barton was appointed president.  She also formed the National First Aid Association, which offered first aid kits and emergency preparedness instruction to communities across the nation so they were better trained to deal with disaster if it should come.  This program exists in most cities in America today.  Clara Barton died on April 12, 1912 at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland at age 91.  A monument in her honor stands at the Antietam National Battlefield.

Red Cross founded by Clara Barton.

(via Clara Barton biography)

“I heal the wounds of war.  I am a refuge from flood, fire and pestilence.  The love of little children is mine.  I am the Red Cross of peace.”  The Red Cross Creed

I think what impressed me most as a young girl doing a report on this iconic woman and now, as a nurse, is that Clara Barton had the ability to see a need, then face it head on, with devoted tenacity and diligence, until the need was met!

Vintage Red Cross sign.

(Vintage poster via Red Cross)

The Red Cross recently helped those displaced from their houses by fires in Utah and California, as well as those affected by hurricane Florence in North Carolina.

What I love about being a nurse is the chance to offer help to others who are vulnerable due to illness, and empowering them to become self-reliant and strong again as they receive proper medical care.  There truly is no better feeling than seeing the look of accomplishment as independence is regained, especially when it comes to their health!  I’ve had the privilege of teaching first aid and basic Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to youth in our community, as well as help new mother’s feel confident in caring for themselves and their newborns after delivery.  While you may not have a medical background, you can certainly be an asset to your city by taking first aid preparedness courses, having updated first aid kits in your home and vehicles and a 72 hour emergency kit for each member of your family.  Another option would be to check with local authorities and become Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) qualified.

Helping others quote.

Anytime someone responds to an opportunity to help others in need in any capacity, they pay tribute to the life of Clara Barton and her pioneering, humanitarian spirit!

May we all strive to make a difference in someone’s life!

I’d love it if you’d share an  experience you’ve had giving or receiving help during a time of need?  

–Love, Mary

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

Garden Therapy!  Fall Foliage!

As much as I love spring gardening and giving my yard a fresh start after the cold winter months…there’s just something about fall that really speaks to my soul!

One of the things my husband and I love to do during the fall season is take drives up by the beautiful hillsides and mountains near our home as the autumn leaves start to make their debut!  You can’t help but be inspired to go home and incorporate some of the brilliant colors in your own yard.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

(City Creek Canyon)

“There is a beautiful harmony and colorful luster about autumn!”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Best Plants For Adding Fall Color To Your Yard!

When my husband and I plan what trees and plants to use in our landscaping, our goal is to have it look like we plucked up a little piece of our local mountainside and placed it in our yard.  There’s nothing quite like a good mix of beautiful trees and foliage to help enhance the texture and color of your gardens and flowerbeds.

Autumn tree clip art.Colorful Trees!

One of my very favorite trees is our Autumn Blaze Maple that sits front and center in our yard as you walk out the front door.  This tree has beautiful green leaves in the spring and summer that gradually turn a deep orange-red color come fall.  It has very few seed pods/helicopters typical of maple trees, so it isn’t messy and it’s resistant to bug and insect invasion.  This beautiful tree provides lovely filtered shade and can tolerate a sunny location without the leaves turning brown along the edges from too much sun exposure. 

Autumn Blaze Maple.

A colorful tree for the more shady areas of your yard are Red Japanese Maples.  While their leaves are a pretty reddish green during the spring and summer months, they take on a deep color of marron red when the first chilly air of fall sets in.  We have several of these trees bordering the north side of our patio–their lacy leaves provide the perfect ambience for early fall dinners.

Japanese Maple in fall.

Where I live in Utah, you’ll find pretty Service Berry trees in the local parks and canyons.  They have a little white flower in the spring and pretty yellowish-orange leaves in the fall.  We have the dwarf variety so these trees won’t get too big and are a pretty addition to your yard if you want some added fall color.

Service berry trees.

Leaf clipartShrubs and Vines!

One of the things I probably love most about my yard during the fall season are the fun variety of shrubs and bushes that are intermingled within the various ground covers and lingering flowers that turn pretty shades of red, yellow and orange during September and October.  They make a big statement and are low maintenance…that’s a definite win/win in my book!

One of my very favorite shrubs is the Low-Grow Sumac.  They have healthy green foliage during the regular growing season, but have brilliant fall color in the latter part of September through November.  As the name implies, they don’t grow too tall, but can spread up to 6 feet, so depending on how much space you have, you may want to keep them trimmed back.  These shrubs are native to Utah and need only a minimal amount of watering and are resistant to most plant pests.

Low-grow sumac shrubs.
 The beautiful color of Red Twig Dogwood’s doesn’t come from their leaves, but rather the deep crimson of their branches once the leaves have dropped.  Dogwoods are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves once the nights start getting cold in the fall, but not to worry, the red twigs are gorgeous all on their own.  Definitely a unique novelty shrub that would add some autumn pizzazz to any yard wanting some fall color!


If you have an unsightly fence or cement wall that needs a little foliage décor, planting a Boston Ivy along the base might be a good solution.  Growing them along a garden trellis or pergola is also a good way to create a little backyard privacy.  In the spring, new leaves of Boston ivy are reddish.  They typically turn green during the summer, before reverting to deep red color in the fall.  These plants are vigorous growers, so prune the vines each year in late winter to keep them in check.  (It’s not recommended, however, to plant Boston ivy near or on your home as they can be quite invasive.)  These plants are very hardy and respond well to pruning, so have no fear.

Boston Ivy.
Grass clipart.Grasses and Ground Cover!

While not particularly colorful in and of themselves, I think any type of ornamental grasses and leafy groundcovers are a great addition to any yard as a neutral backdrop for all the other fall foliage showing off their pretty colors!  Karl Foerster reed grass is probably the most popular of these types of grasses. (It’s named after the legendary German nurseryman, who during WWII hired Jewish friends to tend to his plants.  He also refused Nazi orders to grow only native German plants, he simply grew the plants that thrived with minimal care–the reed grass that now bears his name being one of them.)  It’s wheat-like shafts remind me of late summer weeks spent on our wheat farm when I was younger and the beautiful ripe fields rippling in the wind right before they were harvested.

Forrester ornamental wheat gasses.

When I visited my son this past year in Georgia, I was introduced to the beautiful Pampas grass that he has in his yard–it is a popular ornamental grass in the south, but does well in other regions too.  You can get Pampas grass in a white or pink color and its feathery plumes have such a unique look.  It can get pretty tall, so for most yards, you might want to plant the dwarf variety.

Pampas decorative grass.
Ground covers not only provide beautiful texture and foliage for your flowerbeds, they help prevent weeds from taking over too.  One of my “go-to” groundcover’s is red sedum.  It has pretty scalloped leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.

Sedum ground cover.

Fall flower clipart.Fall Flowers!

While most of the flowers in our yards are past their prime as summer stars winding down, there are some that seem to get a second wind and are even re-energized when the cooler fall weather begins!  It’s a good idea as you plan your landscaping to plant a few perennials that bloom in late summer/early fall.  I especially like gazanias for that very reason.  They are pretty during the summer, but add a deep, vibrant color to your flowerbeds when fall arrives.

Fall gazanias.

When it comes to fall flowers…I don’t think there’s any doubt that the ever popular chrysanthemum is a seasonal favorite!  I love the variety of colors they come in and the limitless number of ways you can display them to really get your fall vibes going.  I used to love when I’d visit my daughter while she lived in New York City, how chrysanthemums were often planted around the base of the trees that lined the streets, accompanied by other fall plants, as well as an occasional pumpkin for an added festive flair!

Fall plants.

At a local vintage market, “mums” are displayed in so many unique ways that you can’t help but feel ready for fall after you browse all the quaint shops there.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

(Gardner Village)

Another popular fall flower that keep their dazzling brilliance until the first frosts of winter are Black-eyed Susan’s.  Did you know that you can plant Pansies now for some added touches of fall color in your yard, and since they go dormant during the winter, they’ll bloom again come the first signs of spring!  That’s good bang for your buck, so to speak.  Beautiful Cone Flowers bloom all summer long, but since the weather has cooled off a little, my daughter’s cone flowers have taken on a deeper hue of red.   While technically not a flower, the vibrancy of the leaves on my Coleus are as pretty as any of my flowers this time of year.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

Something as simple as a fall flower pot or planter placed on your front porch is also a great way to embrace the fall season.  Most garden centers have some that are ready-made or a sell a variety of plants for you to pick from so you can plant one yourself.

Fall flower pots.

My grandkids have found that the best thing to love about fall foliage is to simply go outside and play in it!

I love fall!

While it may be a little sad to say good-bye to all the bright colors and lush greenery of summer…I think the rich, deep tones of autumn makes it a little easier to ease into fall and winter.  Besides after busy summer schedules…there’s a lot to be said for cozy nights, warm blankets, and everything pumpkin spice.


Happiest fall wishes, everyone!

What fall flowers do you love?  Do you have any  fun, fall traditions?

–Wishing you all the best, Mary

The Best Advice…A Compilation!

The Best Advice…A Compilation!

I’m always drawn to people who seem content in the ordinary and have a deep appreciation for life’s basic experiences; they find sincere pleasure in enjoying their day to day routines; they find satisfaction in simple friendships, creating something, helping those in need, reading a good book, a job well done, chuckling at the absurdities of life…..the list is endless.  One of the things I find exceptional about these wonderful people is their willingness to be open to advice that will help them know what they are capable of accomplishing so they can be successful in life.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, that’s just the nature of our lives, but I believe it is inherent in all of us to seek the best advice that will help us live our best lives!

The best advice...A Compilation!

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge!”  Bertrand Russell

The Best Advice From Some Of The Best People I Know!

I guess it’s only fitting that I start with some advice that my cute hubby, who is a financial consultant by profession, finds particularly enlightening–I think he likes the play on words!


My husband is also an avid reader and “old school” to the extent that he has absolutely no Social Media inclinations whatsoever, thus this sage advice seems to be his life’s mantra!
The Best Advice...A Compilation!I have a dear nurse friend, Carol, who I worked with for many years until her retirement last year…she is always so wise and kind–she makes you want to be a better person when you’re around her!  We recently planned a lunch date and I asked her what her secret was for living with such positive energy, without hesitation she replied,

“If you want to be happy…you have to be happy on purpose!”

Bloom where you are planted.

“When you wake up each morning–you can’t wait and see what kind of day you will have.  You have to be the one to decide what kind of day you will have.  THRIVE…in spite of your circumstances!”

Another fun friend, Kellee, who along with her neat husband, has raised four boys.  They often used these wise words to help their sons establish a good foundation for a strong work ethic!


Along with busy school schedules and other jobs, Kellee’s boys run a lawn care business with their dad.  Many yards in our neighborhood and surrounding areas have benefitted from their expert skills.


Kellee also tells her boys to be nice to everyone–you never know, she warns, who you may end up working for or who your neighbor will be when you move out and are on your own!  Good advice, Kellee!

When I married my husband, I also got a wonderful extended family in his parents and eight siblings.  Two of his sisters recently shared some advice with me that has helped them keep a happy perspective about life.

Serve others quote.

My sister-in-law, Colette, shared with me that the best advice she got was from her parents, who never really expressed it in words, per se, but rather by their example of never turning down the privilege to serve.  “My parents always accepted the opportunity to serve with valiant hearts.  They were kind, selfless ministers to others their whole lives and wonderful examples of Christ-like love!” 

Wendy is the youngest of my husband’s siblings, and she told me that when she was deep in the trenches of raising her young family and feeling torn between trying to keep her house clean and taking time to play with her kids and enjoy their “kid-ness” (aka–messes) a friend shared some great advice on how to do both and keep her sanity!  “My friend suggested cleaning one room a day.  When it’s done, let it go.  Cleaning house this way was so liberating!  I knew that each week every room was clean under the clutter my kids made.”   

Sidwalk art.

“May my children look back on this day and see a mom who had time to play.  There will be years for cleaning and cooking, but children can grow up quickly while we’re not looking!”   A Mother’s Prayer

The Best Advice...A Compilation!

Even though their kids are grown-up and on their own now, these cute ladies still have a lot of fun and are always young at heart!

I think we all know someone who has an insatiable appetite for discovering all the fun nuances about the world around them.  For me that person is my friend, Marilyn.  So of course, I just had to ask her what her best advice would be…and her answer was delightful!

Live Curious!”  

“Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has added spice to my life.” 

Marilyn goes on to explain that she was extremely shy as a child and teenager, but her avid sense of curiosity pushed her and led her into situations and places that have brought her a lot of joy and knowledge.  “Not holding back when I was curious about things or people I wanted to understand better has given me so many choice life experiences, new friends and wonderful talents.  Hopefully, unlike the cat, I’ll know when not to be too curious.”

Live Curious! The Millard House by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Marilyn took these pictures as she was peeking through the gate of the Millard House in Pasadena, California.  It’s one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous four-patterned block houses built in the 1920’s.  

No advice post would be complete without the wisdom my father shared often…and with everyone!

“What is almost as important as breathing?”

The Best Advice...A Compilation!

“Getting a good education!”

My dad was a brilliant educator who loved his profession; he truly believed that the key to being able to go out into the world and make a difference was getting a good education!

Following this same train of thought, a wonderful friend and teacher, Catherine, who wants kids to love learning, shared this beautiful insight…

“Kids are candles waiting to be lit, not buckets waiting to be filled.”

My mother’s wise advice was always the perfect mix between trying to inspire our family to do better and yet somehow find contentment along the way!

Faith quote.

“The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most of every day”  Merle M. Jorgensen, my cute mom

And lastly, I’m offering this advice since as a nurse I’m often asked by friends and acquaintances who I’d recommend as a good doctor for their medical care.  Just like you’d expect, there are as many physician personalities as there are patients!

Robin Williams as Patch Adams.

(via “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams)

Some people want their doctor to have the funny, soft-hearted approach of a Patch Adams… 

William Hurt in the movie, "The Doctor".

(via “The Doctor” with William Hurt) 

…while others, my husband included, like a doctor with a straight forward, no fluff approach.

…so my advice is always to find a doctor who you feel is invested in your health and that you are comfortable in communicating your concerns!  Nothing should be compromised when it comes to your health and wellbeing!

(I’ve worked as a Maternity and NICU nurse for many years.  You can read some advice I offer on occasion to new parents and grandparents here.)

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this advice segment.  I’ve been so touched and humbled by the many responses I received on this topic that I’m going to make it a regular series on the journal.  We all benefit when others are willing to share with the universe the advice and wisdom that motivates them to live better–so be prepared to be inspired!

What tidbits of wisdom have helped you on your life’s journey, I know you have some, so please share it with us here!  

–Here’s to living our best lives!  Mary