Speaking to critically acclaimed actress, and recent author, Swoosie Kurtz is like having a telephone call with your favorite ‘grown-up’ female relative; a welcomed chat — enjoyable and entertaining to be sure— filled with articulate insight, true pearls of wisdom. Upon hanging up, you’ve got a new, fresh perspective, a great appreciation for women who’ve already lived their young life with confidence and grace— even when it wasn’t easy.
At the heart of it, a conversation with Ms. Kurtz is an introspective opportunity for women to remember that we’ve made it this far, whatever age we are, and it’s okay if we don’t have it all figured out right now. What it’s really about Swoosie notes, is ‘a continuing journey’ and ‘finding beauty in it all;’ and remembering ‘there are always miracles along the way.’
Swoosie’s new book, Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family highlights her journey, from a young girl to an accomplished actress, and how she manages to keep up this extraordinary life. The idea of ‘following a path’ was organically woven throughout our whole interview— with an early admiration for her loving parents allowing her to live her dreams; she was able to find her voice and her place— in the spotlight.
Swoosie’s journey began with what she lovingly refers to as an ‘enchanted childhood’ with fascinating parents; her father Olympic athlete and highly-decorated WWII Air Force Colonel, Frank Allen Kurtz, Jr. and her mother, Margo, who wrote memoir My Rival, The Sky about her experience with Swoosie’s father during the war. Today, her mom, at 98 ½, is still her ‘best pal’ and the two happily live together, by choice, still learning from each other every day.
An only child, in a military family, Swoosie moved around a lot, and was ‘happy but shy’ in her early years. The new girl with the peculiar name learned early on what was really important—finding your passion and following as soon as possible— and that’s exactly what she did. ‘Find who you are and stick with it,’ she notes—it’s the only path to self-satisfaction and success.
What it takes to ignite that confidence, especially at a young age, Swoosie explains, “is knowing you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.” Reminding yourself that it is imperative to build belief in yourself and your abilities, especially when things are difficult. “Know what you want and go after it. I know what I wanted to do and I wanted to do it all day long.” And when that seems scary, don’t take it too seriously, because ‘Nobody has it figured out; we’re all just groping around in the dark.’
For today’s generation of young girls, Swoosie has high hopes that they will “be really smart; not let anyone including any man make you feel less than you’re worth. Try and make the smart choices early on. Respect your parents and what they’ve done for you; listen to their advice even if you don’t take it. Then follow your heart. Follow your bliss.”
Swoosie points out from her own experiences, especially early on in her acting career, ‘Life happens in happy accidents’ not necessarily as we have planned. We’ve got to realize that sometimes when you take what may feel like a ‘second-rate opportunity’ there is actually something much bigger and brighter waiting on the other side. You just have to be patient, open, and paying attention. She notes, “There is every distraction in the world today. Keep your eyes ahead with laser precision.” She continues, “Take care of yourself; fuel your body; find inner strength; practice tenacity and you’ll succeed.”
As our engaging, friendly fifteen-minute chat came to a close, something in particular Swoosie said early on in the conversation, still stuck out. When asked ‘How young women can learn to trust themselves,’ she said, so honestly, “Oh, gee. There’s so much to learn, honey. Life is tough, and you will be all crisis and tragedy over it, but then you’ll get past it.”
Every event, the good, the bad and the seemingly inconsequential, all pave the way for our future selves and our hopeful happiness. The more patient and kinder we are with ourselves, the more we learn to trust in our judgment and abilities early on the better off we are. The universe will let us know we’re getting the journey right; we’ve just got to watch out for the signs to show us we’re accomplishing our dreams little by little, each and every day, at every stage of our incredible lives.
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