Wisdom//

Why Harriet the Spy Will Always Be My Role Model

She taught me the power of writing what I know and what I see.

Getty Images / Handout
Getty Images / Handout

Certain books, and especially certain characters, can stay with you long after you turn the last page. Sometimes the characters have similar traits to you, and you can see yourself playing them in a movie. Sometimes there’s a lesson the character can teach you, such as gratitude, or forgiveness, or even tolerance. And sometimes, you don’t even realize the impact the character has had on you for the last 50 years until you are tasked with writing about your favorite children’s book character. 

For me, that character would be “HARRIET THE SPY”

Harriet lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which always seemed so dreamy. She wasn’t like other eleven year girls that were into Barbie dolls. She was going to be a writer. She carried her black and white notebook everywhere she went, and wrote down all her thoughts in it. As a pre-teen reading this book in the early seventies, I decided that I, too, was going to move to Manhattan and become a famous author and artist. 

I bought a black and white notebook and started writing down all my hopes and dreams. I loved everything about the character. She was different. She was bold. She was cool. You see, I was an introvert and Harriet showed me I didn’t have to be like the other girls and play those silly games with dolls. I could enjoy spending time alone with my thoughts. Harriet was my role model in my early teen years.

As time went by, I outgrew Harriet and moved on. I eventually got married and had children. Responsibilities such as parenting and work took precedence in my life. And eventually, my children went to college and moved out, and I got divorced.

Alone as an empty nester, I found myself looking for something substantial to fill my days — something worthwhile. something more than just going to work, watching TV, and shopping on the weekends. As it happens, I had been learning about meditation for quite a while, and I slowly became more and more aware of my spirituality and my life purpose. I decided I could write a book! So I authored a book, entitled Hippiebanker: Bringing Peace, Love and Spirituality to the Workplace. I am now proud to say that I am in the midst of publishing my next book, Firefly Culture: Illuminate Your Workplace by Tuning into Mindfulness. Now, I’m not a New York Times bestseller (yet!), but I’m a contributor for Thrive Global, and to me, that is just as impressive. 


Looking back, I can safely say that my thirst for writing began with Harriet the Spy. She taught me to write about what I know and what I see, and she taught me that if I believe in myself, perhaps one day I could become a published author. The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize what an influence she was on my life until I was prompted to write an article about my favorite children’s book character. I will always treasure that book, and I am proud to say I keep my original copy, old and tattered, in a prominent part of my bookcase to this day.  

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