Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Shedding Shells

June 19, 2020

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

“Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego. Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one sheds in beach-living; one’s pride, one’s false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor. Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world? If one ceases to compete, does one not need it? Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself. And what a liberation that would be!
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Free is one of my words of the year. So far, 2020 has been stripping away my “shells.” I’m feeling raw, but this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s beautiful Gift From the Sea is encouraging me to see the freedom that can follow that process.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

An Excess of Shells

August 19, 2015

Photo courtesy Unsplash

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky….

“There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures—an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant.”
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea


Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Brought to You By the Letter "G"

June 30, 2014

Today I’m joining in a meme I read about at A Work in Progress, and originally started by Simon at Stuck in a Book. His instructions were as follows: 

I’m going to kick off a meme where we say our favourite book author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. And that letter will be randomly assigned to you by me, via If you’d like to join in, comment in the comment section and I’ll tell you your letter! (And then, of course, the chain can keep going on your blog.)

You, my dear readers, are welcome to play along. If you’d like me to assign you a letter, please comment below. You can participate even if you don’t have a blog—just leave your favorites in the comments.

My randomly assigned letter was “G,” and here are my favorites beginning with that letter: 

Favorite book: Gift From the SeaNot hard to choose this one.

Favorite author:  Elizabeth Gaskell. I have a couple of favorite “G” authors, but I think Elizabeth Gaskell ranks first. I’ve read North and South and Cranford, and have Wives and Daughters on my TBR pile.

Favorite song: “Gonna Get Over You,” Sara Bareilles. This was the hardest category to choose, but Sara is one of my favorite singer songwriters, so she gets the nod.

Favorite film: The Great Mouse Detective. I love this animated movie starring a Sherlock-Holmesian mouse. Ratigan, the villain, is voiced by Vincent Price. Great fun.

Favorite object: My girth, which keeps the saddle on my horse, is definitely one of my favorite objects!

Girths are not necessarity MY favorite objects...
OK, who wants a letter?

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne's Gifts

February 06, 2012

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Anne Morrow Lindbergh is one of my favorite writers—and one of my heroes. Tomorrow will mark the 11th anniversary of her death at the age of 94, and in honor of her memory, I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned about her.

 I don’t remember how I discovered her writings, perhaps in my creative writing class in high school, but as a teenager, I was attracted to the romance of her life. She, a quiet, shy and studious girl, fell in love with dashing aviator (and “America’s most eligible bachelor”) Charles Lindbergh. Anne left behind her more privileged and intellectual background and embraced the action-filled life Charles lived. From the moment they announced their engagement, the media hounded them. The very private Anne Morrow became part of “America’s golden couple,” and the very public bride of a hero.

With Charles’ instruction and encouragement, Anne earned a private pilot’s license, and also eventually became the first woman to hold a first-class glider pilot’s license. These feats were unusual, because at the time women didn’t enter into “masculine” pursuits like aviation very often. She served as her husband’s radio operator, navigator and co-pilot on several long flights charting potential routes for commercial airlines. Eventually, Anne was the first woman awarded the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal for her duties as “crew” on two of these survey flights. These flights, in sometimes dangerous conditions in their single-engine airplane over uncharted air space, brought Anne and Charles closer and were some of their happiest times together. (Later in life, Anne received several more awards for her contributions to aviation.)

Anne and Charles had six children, though tragically, their first child, Charles Jr., was kidnapped and killed at the age of 18 months. For many years, Anne felt continually pulled between her roles—her diaries show a constant battle for time and space to write and think, all while raising children and accompanying Charles on many of his flights. As she writes in the introduction of Locked Rooms and Open Doors, “But on the other hand, the trip [an Atlantic survey flight], especially as it was prolonged for five and a half months, separated me from my child [their second son, Jon], the most healing and nourishing element in my life. It also crowded out any possibility of a quiet contemplative coming to terms with grief, for me a necessary inner process, and it meant a long interruption in the work I had just restarted of writing my book [North to the Orient].”

Despite the many demands on her time, Anne produced 13 books, including five volumes of diaries and letters. Her most famous book, Gift From the Sea, a collection of essays about women’s roles, was inspired by a vacation on Florida’s Captiva Island. North to the Orient, was 1935’s number one bestseller.

Despite a number of serious challenges to their relationship, Anne and Charles remained married until Charles’ death in 1974. Anne continued to write after his death, though she did not publish any more books.

I want to be like Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the sense that I fully enter into life while still retaining a sense of myself and my own work. She was able to move beyond her comfort zone and achieve more than she ever dreamed possible. It encourages me that she felt the same work/family tug of war I do, even though she lived in a different time and under different circumstances. I’m not alone in feeling torn between the needs of my family and my own ambitions.

I recently picked up a lovely copy of Gift From the Sea at my library’s bookstore—I’ll end this post with some of Anne’s words on the topic of solitude taken from it:

“For it is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other men, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you off from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…. Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.”

If you want to know more about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, check out Kathleen C. Winters’ biography, Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the Air, or pick up one of Anne’s collections of diaries and letters.