In this week’s Wednesday 5 we highlight groundbreaking women of aviation; open our ears and hearts to one woman’s tale of lessons learned from surviving breast cancer; take notes on how to avoid family drama in family-run businesses; take more copious notes on how Hilary Mantel revitalized the genre of historical fiction; and provide a primer on Medicare Advantage, that mysterious hot potato of the presidential campaign trail.


Taking to the Sky: Groundbreaking Women of Aviation

What most of us know about women in aviation usually centers on what we know about Amelia Earhart. Perhaps that’s because the field itself continues to see a dearth of women. That’s why we’re thrilled to come across this list from the folks at Listverse on the Top 10 Pioneering Women of Aviation

Many, if not all, of the women on this list, notes author Jason M. Jenkins, are “true pioneer(s) and adventurer(s) in a time when women were not welcome in a male-dominated field. These women, whose tales span almost a century, should be remembered for their determination as well as their skill as aviators.” The list features women like Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to walk in space; Sabiha Gokcen, the first woman in the world to fly a plane in a combat role; and Harriet Quimby (pictured), the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States. Perhaps, after reading of the barriers these women broke down to accomplish these firsts, we might be inspired to take to the skies ourselves . . . or at least venture a flying lesson.


Grateful for Being Chosen—Lessons Learned from Breast Cancer

It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Reporting on breast cancer has been a consistent priority for us during and beyond the month of October. We are also moved by the personal and intimate stories of courage, of survival, and of willpower to fight the disease. Judy Pearson is one such woman of courage, survival, and willpower. In her article, Six Things I Learned From Breast Cancer, she shares with The Daily Beast the lessons she learned after she was asked to donate her tumor to research, with the assurance it  would be “respectfully disposed of.”  Pearson writes of her initial reaction that “this statement struck me as funny. Why should I worry about respecting my tumor? It wasn’t respecting me—it was trying to kill me.” Her lessons learned are powerful and moving. One of those lessons includes gratitude. While Pearson’s tumor is one that is exceptional for someone of her age and race, she writes that she is grateful for being chosen to contribute to the research in combating the disease.

Running a Drama-Free Family Business

Most of us would just like to run a drama-free family. But if you need some advice on running a drama-free family business, consider the counsel of Nina Vaca. The founder and CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources, a successful staffing company that provides staffing services for Fortune 500 companies, she shares some salient advice with Inc.  At 40 years old, Vaca should be a master of the topic: Her brother, sisters, and husband work in key management positions at Pinnacle. Vaca offers up these two wise nuggets:

(1) Know how your roles differ at work and at home—”It takes confidence to lead family members at work, as that may not be your role at home or with your relatives.”

(2) Analyze the validity of your expectations for how your family members perform on the job—”You may, rightly or wrongly, hold family members under a more intense microscope than non-family employees, and set the bar for their performance at a much higher level.” At the end of the day, the goal is to keep the peace, at the office and at home.


On Hilary Mantel, the Woman Who Revitalized Historical Fiction

Larissa Macfarquhar of The New Yorker has produced an extensive and beautifully written profile of the enigmatic English novelist, short story writer, and critic Hilary Mantel

She wants to sit and think in a sustained way about what it is that she or anyone else is doing when she writes historical fiction. What sort of person writes fiction about the past? It is helpful to be acquainted with violence, because the past is violent. It is necessary to understand that the people who lived then are not the same as people are now. It is necessary to understand that the dead are real, and have power over the living. It is helpful to have encountered the dead firsthand, in the form of ghosts.

The article, The Dead Are Real: Hilary Mantel’s Imagination, is a must-read, all 11 pages of it. It exposes how Mantel revolutionized and revitalized the field of historical fiction by way of her own failures, flubs, and attempts to reinvent her own self as author. 


Free Help for the Befuddled

Medicare Advantage—what is it? Inquiring minds want to know, and those minds include not only the many boomers nearing 65 who are bollixed by their Medicare choices but the rest of us as well. This program—Medicare coverage through private insurance companies—triggers constant wrangling on the presidential campaign trail. Now, in time for the start (October 15) of Medicare’s Fall Enrollment Period—the only time of the year when Medicare beneficiaries can change plans—comes a clear explanation. Click on over to “Dear Marci,” the newsletter of the nonprofit Medicare Rights Center, for a primer on this mysterious bone of contention.

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