Judith Lawrenson

One from the Heart

Each month Judith Lawrenson writes this article, "One from the Heart," about deserving women who are not only interesting, but also give back to the community through voluntarism, usually going above the call of duty. This month, we turned the table on Judith by making her the subject of her own column. Over the years Judith has found almost 65 women to honor, but this month it is her turn. Judith, a California girl and self-proclaimed former hippie, has served on many boards and gives her time, heart and soul to various local organizations including Deep Well and The Bargain Box. This work is not just what she does, it is truly who she is at her very core - a giving, smart lady for whom compassion for others just comes naturally.

So this month, it was I that was honored as I spent a morning with Judith in her beautiful home filled with fresh flowers, a loving husband, and a precious new puppy.

 Pink:  Judith, you have a television show. Tell me about it.

Judith: Yes, I started The Reading Room many years ago in California. In fact, it won Best Youth Program on the West Coast, received the Bay Award and won best West Regional Show. Children love it. Bill (Judith's husband of 35 years) has helped me with it from the very beginning. Even when he was a busy executive, he played Lionel the puppet and produced the show. We now tape at Barnes and Noble on Hilton Head and we're on WHHI Monday through Friday at 7 a.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. We also have a Website that gets almost 500,000 hits per month. It's www.readroom.com and it offers new activities everyday.

 P:  That's impressive. What is your background?

Judith: I was 58 when I retired. I was a resource specialist for 29 schools, developing programs and tests for students with learning disabilities, and I was the first bilingual kindergarten teacher in the state of California. I still have a private practice helping parents and students detect and deal with learning disabilities.

P:  Judith, it's very obvious you are a leader and live life to the fullest. What is something you've done that you never thought you could?

Judith: Bill has always loved to sail. A few years after we retired he expressed to me that he wanted to sail. us to sail. My answer was no. I'm a farm girl from a little town outside of Santa Cruz, a true landlubber. But, at the age of 62, I put on my big girl panties and completed three levels of courses with the National Sailing Association. I now have sailed more than 5,000 miles successfully. Don't think age has anything to do with teaching or learning. It's definitely how open you are.

P:   That's a significant accomplishment. What has achieving something like that done for you?

Judith: Bill and I have had many wonderful moments out in the sea, just the two of us. Really, I have learned to love my husband in a totally different way.

P:   When I am around you two, it feels as if your marriage is very fresh, like a new marriage - I can tell the two of you just click.

Judith: I feel like it's a second marriage, only to the same man. Sailing has shown me how to respect his abilities in areas other than his profession. He is an excellent skipper. He researches, plots and plans and because he is so prepared, I don't mind taking orders from him. I'm very happy being the crew. I would say my lesson here has been to be good at what you do. Saying this is what I do, and I do it well!

P:   I know you two just completed several months of sailing; what was the most powerful moment of the trip?

Judith:  We sailed 14 hours across the Gulf Stream and landed off Grand Bahama Island. Two days later we sailed the Sea of Abaco and then spent a month sailing around the islands. On the way back, we came back across the Gulf Stream in six to eight foot seas. We set out in the pitch of night and it was rough. I told Bill we needed to turn back. He asked me if I trusted him. I said yes, and we sailed on for almost ten hours. The waves started to look like sheets of black satin coming up over the boat. It ended up being majestically peaceful and one of the best sails yet.

Judith Lawrenson is an extraordinary woman.

Here are a few more tidbits from Judith that I found fascinating:

* On Life's Lessons: One of the most important things I have learned is how to grow in my faith. It has given me a lot of confidence. I see that life is so much bigger than just me. I am a small part of a much bigger plan.

* On Education: To live a complete life in awareness is really what education is all about.

* On Personal Achievements: I love the story of my children's book "Petunia the Pirate" and I'm looking forward to speaking about children's literature at Armstrong Atlantic University this fall.

* On Giving of Herself: Being a volunteer has expanded my heart to where I'm going to have to up my bra size!

* And On That Note. Judith Lawrenson is a wonderful giving wife, mother, teacher, student, author, television star, hippie-at-heart, vegetarian and friend, but most of all, she is a cute hoot and a courageous one at that!