Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Madness

Long before Elizabeth Gilbert ate, prayed and loved her way through Italy and India, and years before Cheryl Strayed found herself on the Pacific Coast Trail, Dervla Murphy traveled solo around the world on a bicycle. The year was 1965, and her bicycle trek took her from her hometown of Dunkirk, across Europe, through Iran and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and India. 

Murphy was a powerhouse: witty, opinionated and a born adventurer who had an immediate rapport with people with whom that she had little in common. I got to know her when I read a book she wrote called, Full Tilt.  I was 12 years old when I picked it up and it was the first book I ever read that chronicled the life of a fearless woman. Can women even do this kinda stuff, I remember asking myself when I first set to reading it? But I knew the answer by book's end. So taken was I by Murphy and her adventure that I put pen to paper and wrote her a long, rambling letter telling her that she was my hero for going on a bike to a strange place - without her parents! -for as long as she did. I sent it out and then promptly forgot about it until about four months later when I returned home from school to find a letter from Murphy laying atop my bed. I was gobsmacked. In it, she thanked me for reading her book and for sending a letter in return. Then she told me to get out there and see the world for myself and pursue my dreams, regardless of how big or small they might be. I never forgot it. 

We are coming up on the last days of March which, as many of you may already know, is Women's History Month. The month is about honoring strong and independent women, whether they are famous or everyday heroines. And this year, instead of forgetting entirely about the month's theme (as I've done in year's past), I made a conscious effort of talking up the women who made a difference in my life. There are the famous women - Dervla Murphy's (of course), Anne Frank, Alice Munro, Malala - but there are also the women who aren't so famous. Like the three women in the picture above: Bobbi Armstrong, who taught me how to swim; Evelyne Wohlberg who taught me how to sing; and Sally Spence, who taught me how me to laugh like you really mean it. I encourage you to get out there and do the same. Even if there is only one or two days left in the month.......

P.S. For those you who are into independent music, I urge you to check out my friend, Brent Wolhberg's band, The Blazing Elwood's latest, Don't Sell the Car. Brent and a few of his musical pals, Sean Barrett and Chris Leblanc, placed second nation-wide in CBC's Next Great Canadian Hockey Song contest. Their song, For the Love of the Game, as well as, Don't Sell the Car, were recorded at his studio, Artifact Media, in my hometown of Sudbury. He is talented and driven and his mother, is the the fancy lady classing up that Adidas track suit in the picture above. So his kung fu is strong. Well done, Wohlberg!!!