the work of matriarchs

October 21st, 2017

Georgia O’Keeffe


God told me that if I painted that mountain enough I could have it.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg


I’d like to be remembered as someone who helped repair tears in her society, to make things a little better.

Frances McDormand


I’m not an actor because I want my picture taken. I’m an actor because I want to be part of the human exchange.

Jeong Kwan


I am not a chef. I am a monk. I make food as a meditation. I am living my life as a monk with a blissful mind and freedom.

Jane Goodall


No words of mine can even describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected.

Toni Morrison


At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.


  1. Thank you Maezen.

    Comment by Mary — October 21, 2017 @ 7:21 pm

  2. More please

    Comment by Michele — October 22, 2017 @ 12:02 am

  3. Perfect. Yes. Was just reflecting as I washed dishes this morning on the delicious, simple meal I cooked and shared with my husband and a visiting friend last night. No photos, no posts, nothing but a happy belly and sweet memory. Ki tov (Hebrew for It Is Good).

    Comment by Sharon — October 22, 2017 @ 4:11 am

  4. Oh yes, the world’s beauty is enough. My new mantra. Thank you for this wonderful tribute.

    Comment by Jennie — October 22, 2017 @ 4:49 am

  5. Recent events; the birth of a grandson, engagement of my younger daughter, reconnecting with an old friend of 45 years to help him heal old wounds. So too, these words from such wise women which you have shared here. All, deepening my gratitude for this life. Thank you for your generous gifts reminding that the ordinary is pretty extraordinary.

    Comment by holly — October 22, 2017 @ 4:59 am

  6. Jane Goodall’s writings forever changed the way I perceived the animal kingdom. I think she’s beyond brilliant. Thank you for these.

    Comment by Nathan W Hayes — October 22, 2017 @ 11:38 am

  7. Simple photos; simple words, all so powerful. Minimalism at its best.

    Comment by Colleen — October 22, 2017 @ 4:05 pm

  8. I loved the New York Times magazine article about Frances McDormand. She said something about [paraphrasing] how, as she ages (as we all age), “my face wears my life”.

    I think we tend to regard our “peak”–sometime in our twenties or thirties depending— as the real woman and everything after as a diminishment, a ruination of the body and face we once were or had. Instead, we can only be ourselves moment to moment, the “peak” is impermanence, and our experience, our wisdom, and our beauty accumulates. (This sounds like a trite birthday card sentiment . . . )

    Comment by Laura — October 22, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

  9. When I first started assembling this post, I thought it was going to be about beauty. I am increasingly drawn to photos of women of a certain age who are fearless enough to appear as they really are. I remembered this breathtaking photo of Georgia O’Keeffe in her 90s, her face carved in crevices like the face of her beloved mountains. As I assembled photos of other women, I also found single-line quotations that seemed to echo the images. I decided to let it all speak for itself, their words and images, not about physical beauty or age or any such superficial thing, but about the strength and single-mindedness of women who serve as guiding lights in these dark and falling-apart times. Thank you for stopping here to see and share this so widely. — A note from Maezen

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — October 22, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

  10. On a dark Monday in a dark time, these women are shining lights. Thank you.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — October 23, 2017 @ 10:52 am

  11. I loved a lot of what Francis McDormand said in that NYT Magazine piece. I loved it so much that I’ve squirreled it away with all of my other strong women quotes. I love what you’ve posted here. Thank you for the photos and quotes and the thought behind it. Very meaningful .

    Comment by kd — October 23, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

  12. Thank you, Maezen.

    Comment by Jane — October 23, 2017 @ 3:00 pm

  13. These women….and you….mean so much more to me these days. My new body of work is a tribute to women, the tenor of their voices, and how they express themselves to affect change. How is it that it took the election of a true monster to make me love women so very much more? How is it that a March and collection of pink hats, was the catalyst that made me see my sisters in such a very different light? I dunno….but such is the case. Sending you much love, Maezen. XO

    Comment by Clare — October 23, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

  14. Thank you.

    Comment by Charlotte — October 24, 2017 @ 6:47 am

  15. Nothing I could write could add anything of value, so without any intention or desire to diminish the importance of these women, the good they create, or the power of the words, if I may I’d instead like to simply ask about the photo of Jane Goodall. No face could be so perfectly symmetrical, so it’s obviously a left-right mirror. But…why? A visual trick is a fun choice for “Seeing”, but who made the choice, and what was the motivation?

    Comment by Chris — October 24, 2017 @ 7:15 am

  16. I can’t answer your questions, but I can see for myself, and replaced the photographic meme from who-knows-where with the unaltered original, which is even more lovely to my eyes.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — October 24, 2017 @ 7:32 am

  17. Ah! Yes, more lovely indeed.

    Comment by Chris — October 24, 2017 @ 8:17 am

  18. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this!

    Comment by Mark Wangberg — October 29, 2017 @ 7:15 am

  19. […] The Work of Matriarchs […]

    Pingback by Bits and Clips for October 2017 | Polly Castor — October 30, 2017 @ 2:48 am

  20. These photos and quotes are wonderful and warming and fulfilling. I would love to see more. I wish, as a young girl, I could have learned the wisdom of these kinds of women. Many of those pictured are not that much older than I, but there have been strong women throughout time. I wonder if my life or the lives of other women would have taken a different path, had we felt the strength and peace of strong women who went before us. Thank you for sharing the photos and words and the lovely comments from those who appreciate them.

    Comment by Louise — October 30, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

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