A Gentleman and a Rogue

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inspiration: Words of Wisdom from Eleanor, Part 1

One of my favorite presidents is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Why? Because of the strong leadership he provided the nation during World War II. (This despite the fact he spent his presidency in a wheelchair.) But it wasn't Franklin's spirit and strong will that saw the nation through World War II. He and his wife, Eleanor, were truly a "team," a force to be reckoned with in American Politics.

I've always admired Eleanor. Why? Because she faced many of the same challenges Franklin did – and more. One of my favorite "Eleanorisms" is:

"A woman is like a tea bag. You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

I shared that quote with a class I was in training with recently and they loved it. Eleanor Roosevelt resonates through the ages. Every week I share quotes of hers with my Twitter followers, hoping to inspire and find common ground with others.

What is it about Eleanor that resonates? I think for me, that despite growing up wealthy, she was always approachable to the every day person. Heck, when George VI and his wife visited the USA in the 1930s, they hosted a picnic for the royal couple and served hot dogs. Very down to Earth with honest appeal and charm if you ask me.

Just a little about Eleanor and what shaped her life:

She was born in October 1884. Her father was Teddy Roosevelt's brother, making President Teddy Roosevelt her uncle.

Eleanor's first name was Anna, but she preferred "Ellie."

Eleanor's mom died when she was 8. Her alcoholic father was committed to a sanitarium when she was 10.

Eleanor went to a private finishing school in London, England when she was 15 and learned to speak French.

Eleanor met her 5th cousin, Franklin Delano in 1902.

Franklin's mom did everything she could to discourage the match, but Franklin stuck to his guns. He wanted to marry Eleanor. They got hitched on 17 March 1905.

In 1921, Franklin was hit by a paralytic illness while vacationing in Maine which resulted in permanent paralysis of his legs. At the time, the doctor diagnosed polio, but it's now believed he might have had Guillain-Barre syndrome.

After Eleanor discovered FDR's affair, their marriage almost fell apart, but they decided to stick it out. Why? FDR respected her intelligence and honest and sincere desire to improve the world.

I'll have more on Eleanor and her time as the first lady next week. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.

Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.

Read more quotes by Eleanor at

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Eleanor. Does she inspire you? Could she? Is she the first modern woman of the 20th Century?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She lives in Castaic, CA and likes to write contemporary, steampunk, paranormal and fantasy romance. She also writes for children with 4RV Publishing.


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  1. Thank you, Steph, for a great post on a great lady. I've always admired Eleanor Roosevelt for her well known strength of character and her generosity. A true first Lady.

    1. Mona, I agree - a true first lady. Lots of character - that's another reason why I think she resonates through time.


  2. Interesting post, Steph. She was obviously quite a woman and I love the tea-bag quote - I think it's true of people in general not only women.

    Angela Britnell

    1. Angela, I agree - the tea bag quote is something a lot of people relate to and that's why I think it still gets a reaction and makes people think even today.


  3. I really like the tea bag quote, Steph. Lately I've been decaffeinating myself, so even though I might make good strong tea, there's no turbocharge...

    1. Maggie, lol!! It's hard not to "turbocharge" in today's age, simply because we all want it now and we're used to receiving more instant gratifaction, but nothing takes the place than a good old fashioned tea bag you have to steep.


  4. Very inspiring. I knew she could open her mouth and out came something simple...and yet profound. Yes, she was a modern woman. She wasn't the only one of her time that could get by with speaking her mind, but she might have been the leader.
    If we can learn one little thing from her, we'd all be better women. Thanks, Steph.

    1. Thanks, Celia. I tend to agree. Eleanor, for me, was the first modern woman - a true tendsetter. The fact that FDR thought the world of her was a little surprising to me, but I think it's his support that really made her shine and come into her own so she could inspire others. They truly were a team and he wasn't intimdated by her in the least.