Updated: Jan 12
Let’s all be BRAVE.
Here we are at the beginning of another Holiday season. (Ugh.) Whether it be Thanksgiving, Hanukkha, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day, Omisoka, or New Year’s Eve, each of us is planning or participating in celebrations. For me personally, living over 1000 miles from my children and grandchildren, the holidays can be very lonely. Being an empath, I try to avoid shopping Malls and crowded celebrations–my body picks up on everyone’s anxiety and excitement making me a nervous wreck! So I have learned how to take very good care of myself by avoiding the busyness and anxiousness. I hope you take the time for lots of self-care not only during the holidays but everyday of the year.
One thing that helps me to stay grounded is listening to podcasts. There are some great ones available, and I would encourage you to try listening in on any conversation with Glennon Doyle (and Abby Wambach, plus sister Amanda) or Brene Brown if you haven’t already found them. I learn so much while laughing along with Glennon, Abby, and Amanda!! And Brene Brown’s conversations are filled with lots of valuable info that helps with self-care/self-love. (tip–Have a pencil and paper handy while listening).
Now, let’s talk about the word BRAVE. I used to think I knew what it meant to be brave, or courageous. But Glennon’s definition of the word is so profound! Listen to this, and read it outloud to yourself several times, “BRAVE is YOU being the expert on YOURSELF.” Isn’t that just amazing and profound?!? And it’s so very true. Only you know what’s right for you in your life. No one else can tell you what to do or think or how to act. All of that is inside of each of us. And each of us is different–emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Many years ago, I divorced my husband Dennis. He was the father of our three children, and we had been married for almost 18 years. It was a very, very difficult thing for me to do for a number of reasons. Being raised in an evangelical church (and being an organist/pianist/Bible class instructor) I was stepping out side the box, and BLAM!! You would have thought I had dropped a bomb on my church and community. Honest. I was ex-communicated from that Lutheran Church I dearly loved (yes, Missouri Synod Lutheran Church’s ex-communicate people if you are BAD enough), I was made to feel so uncomfortable by close associates in my decorating career that I ended up resigning from a company I loved. My “friends” stopped talking to me, so the kids and I moved to a different nearby town as I felt so uncomfortable in my ex’s hometown. But I KNEW that for me, it was the right thing to do. Counseling saved my life, and continues to be an important part of it today.
We don’t talk enough in our culture about our mental health–our anxieties, depression, fears or obsessiveness. Each of us deals with some of these issues, but do we share that with friends? I’ll bet not often enough. It is hard to open up about our feelings (particularly if you’re 1/2 German and 1/2 English). But you know what? Once you do become vulnerable and share your struggles with family, friends, or a counselor, the burden becomes much lighter. And you feel physically lighter, even gain a sense of freedom or cleanliness. When you are BRAVE, and take the steps to do what is right for you, amazing things happen. They aren’t all pleasant, but somehow we humans muddle through the mess.
My point is that being BRAVE is you believing in you no matter what anyone else says or thinks of you. Your inner “rightness” is determined by your heart, mind, and body. Listen to them closely. And then “SPEAK the words you need to say to others.” I was so terrified when I began doing that (yes, I got a late start). There will be many who don’t want to hear your TRUTH, but say it anyway. SHOUT IT if you have to in order for them to “hear your rightness”. And then walk away from those who refuse to hear you. That is being BRAVE, my darlings. Trust your inner strength, your inner knowing, and then embrace NEW friends who will continue to “hear your truth”. I found once I did this, there was no going back. And that was a good thing.
Gutsy Woman: Harriet Quimby
America’s first female aviator, Harriet Quimby (1875-1912) was born in the Arcadia Township of Michigan. She moved with her family to San Fransisco in the early 1900s, where she became a journalist. First writing for the San Fransisco Dramatic Review, Harriet also contributed to the Sunday editions of the San Fransisco Chronicle and San Fransisco Call. The adventure-loving journalist/photographer had a passion for new technologies, becoming one of the first to use a typewriter. She loved driving around San Francisco’s hills in her bright yellow car, so it’s no surprise she was intrigued with the excitement found in the new world of aviation. Her good looks and charm opened many doors for her as she moved to Manhattan in 1903 to work as a theatre critic. Harriet became interested in aviation in 1901 while attending an airshow. It was there she met John Moisant–a well-known aviator who operated his own flight school. By 1911, Harriet had gained her pilot’s license, becoming a trailblazer for other women including Matilde Moisant (John’s sister) and Amelia Earhart.
The press quickly dubbed her“Dresden China Aviatrix” or “China Doll” because of her small stature and fair skin. . Harriet was quick to capitalize on her new notoriety, realizing pilots earned anywhere from $1000 for an airshow performance, races paying $10,000 or more in winnings. She promptly joined Moisant International Aviators–an exhibition team. Her professional debut earned her $1500 for a night flight over Staten Island, the crowd below numbering over 20,000 people. Being one of the few female aviators, Harriet flaunted her femininity by tucking her satin trousers into her tall lace-up boots accented by a purple silk blouse and jewelry. The “darling” of the aviation world drew crowds wherever she competed.
(See the photograph of Harriet in 1911.)
As part of the exhibition team, she even showcased her talents in Mexico City for President Francisco Madero’s inauguration. During all this hoopla, Harriet authored seven screenplays or scenarios that were made into silent films. What talent she had, yes? The Vin Fez Co, a division of the Armor Meat Packing Plant of Chicago even recruited her in her distinctive purple satin aviator uniform for their advertising. Harriet continued to write articles about her exciting experiences in the air while she traveled around the U.S. and Mexico.
Enjoying the limelight, Harriet decided to attempt flying across the English Channel. It had been accomplished two years earlier by Louis Bleiot, and she hoped to gain more headlines. by being the first female to do so. Her daring adventure was successful, but the headlines she dreamed of were overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic two days earlier.
She was quoted in Good Housekeeping saying,
“There is no sport that affords the same amount of excitement and enjoyment, and exacts in return so little muscular strength. It is easier than walking, driving or automobiling; easier than golf or tennis … Flying is a fine, dignified sport for women…and there is no reason to be afraid so long as one is careful.”
Yet these early days of aviation did hold danger. Many early aviators lost their lives in aircraft accidents. And so it was that just a few weeks after her successful English Channel Crossing that Harriet tragically lost her life at age 37 along with a passenger in her plane. It happened at the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet when she was flying a Bleriot monoplane. She somehow lost control of the airplane and both she and her passenger were ejected in Boston Harbor waters. A crowd of 5,000 people watched in horror as the two fell to their deaths.
Harriet Quimby was a woman who embraced fully the new century and all it had to offer. She is remembered as female trailblazer and courageous pilot who continues to inspire woman today. She stated, “In my opinion, there is no reason why the aeroplane should not open a fruitful occupation for women. I see no reason why they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, why they cannot derive incomes from parcel deliveries, from taking photographs from above or from conducting schools for flying."
Did you know?
The USPS issued an airmail postage stamp (of course!) in her honor in 1991.
There are two memorials dedicated to Harriet in Michigan, one near the abandoned farmhouse where she grew up, and the other near Coldwater where she was born.
In 2004 she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and into the Long Island Air and Space Hall of Fame in 2012.
Sources: Federation Aéronautique Internationale WORLD SPORTS FEDERATION; Wikipedia
If you’d like to read more about Harriet Quimby, check this out:
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Circling the Sun. (published 2015)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR, BOOKPAGE, AND SHELF AWARENESS •
“Paula McLain is considered the new star of historical fiction, and for good reason. Fans of The Paris Wife will be captivated by Circling the Sun, which . . . is both beautifully written and utterly engrossing.”—Ann Patchett, Country Living
This powerful novel transports readers to the breathtaking world of Out of Africa—1920s Kenya—and reveals the extraordinary adventures of Beryl Markham, a woman before her time. Brought to Kenya from England by pioneering parents dreaming of a new life on an African farm, Beryl is raised unconventionally, developing a fierce will and a love of all things wild. But after everything she knows and trusts dissolves, headstrong young Beryl is flung into a string of disastrous relationships, then becomes caught up in a passionate love triangle with the irresistible safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and the writer Baroness Karen Blixen. Brave and audacious and contradictory, Beryl will risk everything to have Denys’s love, but it’s ultimately her own heart she must conquer to embrace her true calling and her destiny: to fly.
Circling the Sun takes us from the brittle glamour of the 1920s Happy Valley set, fuelled by gin and adultery, to the loneliness of life as a scandalous divorcee; from the spectacular beauty of the Kenyan landscape to the manicured lawns of Nairobi’s Muthaiga Club. Dazzlingly beautiful, brave, passionate and reckless, Beryl is an unforgettable heroine, whose tragic loss in love compels her to pursue her own dream – of flight, and freedom.
“Enchanting . . . a worthy heir to [Isak] Dinesen . . . Like Africa as it’s so gorgeously depicted here, this novel will never let you go.”—The Boston Globe
“Famed aviator Beryl Markham is a novelist’s dream. . . . [A] wonderful portrait of a complex woman who lived—defiantly—on her own terms.”—People (Book of the Week)
And if you love searching for out-of-print books, try to find this one: West with the Night
West with the Night is a 1942 memoir by Beryl Markham, chronicling her experiences growing up in Kenya (then British East Africa) in the early 1900s, leading to celebrated careers as a racehorse trainer and bush pilot there. It is considered a classic of outdoor literature and was included in the United States’ Armed Services Editions shortly after its publication. In 2004, National Geographic Adventure ranked it number 8 in its list of the 100 best adventure books.
Ernest Hemingway was deeply impressed with Markham’s writing, saying
“she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers … it really is a bloody wonderful book.”
Markham was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west in a non-stop solo flight (a westbound flight requires more endurance, fuel, and time than the eastward journey, because the craft must travel against the prevailing Atlantic winds). When Markham decided to take on the Atlantic crossing, no pilot had yet flown non-stop from Europe to New York, and no woman had completed the westward flight solo, though several had died trying. Markham hoped to claim both records.
On 4 September 1936, she took off from Abingdon, England. After a 20-hour flight, her Percival Vega Gull, The Messenger, suffered fuel starvation due to icing of the fuel tank vents, and she crash-landed at Baleine Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. She thereby became the first woman to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west. She was celebrated as an aviation pioneer.
Author’s Note–Circling the Sun sits in my personal library. I loved, loved, loved reading this historical fiction book. Beryl Markham was another extraordinary woman you may or may not have heard of. Her memoir, West With the Night, is marvelous as well. If you can get your hands on a copy, GRAB IT. Beryl was an adventurer with an indomitable spirit. Perhaps we’ll talk more of her in the future. In the meantime, explore the stories of both Harriet Quimby and Beryl Markham. You’ll be glad you did.
love and light to all the fearless females out there,