Advice From Great Women With Anxieties

They say to picture your audience naked. For Clementine Churchill that meant all of Canada.

The poor thing.

Her friend (if you could call her a friend) Eleanor Roosevelt roped her into giving a joint broadcast in Quebec. It would be good for morale.

Focus on the needs of others.

Personally, had the broadcast been the extent of her responsibilities, I believe Mrs. Prime Minister would have kept relatively calm and carried on. However. . .

“They had a luncheon,” tells biographer Sonia Purnell, “where [Clementine] was going to have to meet 65 guests. It was 7 courses, 8 different wines, 4 liqueurs. And she was going to have to get through all of this before doing this broadcast with Eleanor.”

For the extroverts reading, let me translate: Introvert nightmare.

She ended up hiding behind a potted palm of all things.

My favorite part? She didn’t stay there.

Voice your needs.

Queen Victoria ached with fever in the weeks before the wedding. That bleh feeling was just not going away. According to historian Julia Baird, “Her personal physician examined her and told her she had the measles.”

Or did she?

Despite her fragile constitution, on the day Prince Albert was to arrive, she waited for him at the front door. She wrote: Seeing his dear, dear face again put me at rest about everything.

Her symptoms faded. So it wasn’t a want so much as a need when Victoria stated Albert would stay in her home the night before their big day. Lord M’s objections could talk to the hand ’cause the face wasn’t listen’.

Albert was granted a room, and she slept “measles”-free knowing he was near.

Give your fears to God.

Katharina von Bora married a troublemaker. Away or at home, husband Martin Luther gave her cause to worry.

In her book about their marriage, author Michelle DeRusha shares of a time he locked himself in the study for three days.

Long story short: Not able to make contact with him, Katie called a locksmith.

She wasn’t afraid to take extreme measures but sometimes had to be reminded that her efforts were no match for God’s. In a letter to his little worrywart, Martin wrote: Pray, and let God worry. You have certainly not been commanded to worry about me or about yourself. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you,” as it is written in Psalm 55[:22] and many more passages.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Lillian Gilbreth wrote her autobiography in third person. That’s how bashful she was.

For your frame of reference, this is the woman California Monthly called “a genius in the art of living” back in 1944. She had twenty-three honorary degrees to her name, and a dozen children (as in Cheaper by the Dozen) in her heart.

As a kid herself though, Lillie cowered at the world. School terrified her. Villains of favorite Grimm’s Fairy Tales plagued her dreams. “Even tag was an agony — for the torture of possibly being caught,” she revealed.

One day she determined (just made up her mind) anxiety would no longer dictate her course, and it didn’t.


Minny – to be read upon completion of your evening toilette on your wedding night.

The letter was from Queen Louise, her mother.

I imagine Maria “Minny” Feodorovna settled into a chair. Her feet tender from dancing, she rubbed the instep of one as she read. Her new husband had not yet joined her, and her eyes kept glancing at the door.

She forced herself to focus.

Difficult moments await you, and you will think them horrible, but because all this seems inscrutable, we must accept it as a duty laid on us by the God, to who we are all bound, ordaining each of us to give ourselves up to the will of our husband in everything. And not to protest even at the most unimaginable things, but to convince ourselves that such is the will of God.

You will also experience physical tortures, but, my Minny, we have all gone through this, and I asked him to take care of you in this first fatiguing time, when you will need to summon all your powers to get through these official celebrations, when everyone present will be looking at you with double attention! God will not forsake you! You are beginning a new life! Good night!

Your mother says her most fervent prayers for you.

(Fervent prayers?! If I was Minny, I would’ve been looking around the hearth for a fireplace poker. Or something to hide between the sheets!) You’ve got to remember: Minny wasn’t just married to a man.

She was married to a bear of a man.

Sasha was a lumbering 6’5″ to her petite and trim 5’4″ and probably grew larger the longer she was alone with her fears.

After an agonizing wait, he entered her chambers.

And she couldn’t help it. She laughed.

“Protocol demanded that on his wedding night, Sasha wear a ridiculous outfit composed of a hulking silver gown and matching slippers that curled at the toes,” reported Julia P. Gelardi in her book about Romanov women. “On his head, [he] wore a silver turban topped by cupids. The effect was nothing short of hilarious and sent the bride into hysterical fits of laughter.”

Later Sasha journaled of their first night:

I took off my slippers and my silver embroidered robe and felt the body of my beloved next to mine… How I felt then, I do not wish to describe here. Afterwards we talked for a long time.

How do you manage anxiety?

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control

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How do you become a great woman? I'm asking. It's not rhetorical. You see, I'd like to be one. I intend to gain a fair blueprint by learning from inspirational women in history. You're welcome to join me.

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