International Women’s Day 2018
I had a lot of time to think while climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro last week… I had even more time to think coming down. Soon, I will collect those thoughts and put them into writing. Today though, today isn’t about celebrating my successes or failures. Today is about celebrating all women, all over the world, for all of their successes and, I believe anyways, their failures as well. We learn about ourselves when we fail. As women, we have a voice deep within that tells us failure is not an option, and so, when we slip and fall down, we figure it out and find a way to do it better.
I’ve had some men ask what today is about or why we need a day to acknowledge women? The point of this blog isn’t to focus on the negative, but I’ll share a few screen shots of the things I’ve faced by being an outspoken advocate for women. I sometimes wonder if the tolerance for such immature and ignorant statements would be less if they were racial slurs or homophobic in nature? I wonder why as women we are supposed to just tolerate it when websites like Let’s Run allow sexist and misogynist threads to remain active?
Regardless of the nature, especially now, we all need to check our ignorance, prejudice, and stupidity at the door and strive for a place where we are all safe.
(Rant over… back to the positive).
During my climb I thought of all of the women that made that journey possible.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have witnessed firsthand the brutal strength, the endless compassion, the fierce protectiveness, and the gut wrenching failures of the women around me. I shouldn’t be, but I am always surprised by the feeling of immense pride and admiration I feel when I see a fellow teammate, a friend, a sister, my mother, succeed where many would have thought trying again would be fruitless.
I’m not known for my soft side. I tend to fall into the category of women that grew up thinking that being tender was a sign of weakness. I know better now and I’m working on it in my adult life. It has been through the acts of the fierce ladies around me that I have learned that there’s no weakness in being soft.
My brain floods with examples but there are a select few that I’ll share here.
Kate Van Buskirk!! Talk about one of the strongest women I think I’ve ever met. She never gives up. She never gave up. And look at what she’s accomplishing now. In my view, Kate has shown she has the athletic talent and dedication of any world class athlete on the track but it’s what she shows of her own private life that demonstrates what it means to be a strong woman. Last Spring, without a flinch she came to my hospital room and helped me wash my hair. She was the first person to pop into my mind that I could call and ask to come help me. We might still giggle at the fact that she got to see my in all my naked glory (which included 30+ extra pounds of water weight), but behind those giggles I feel an enormous sense of gratitude.
Sasha Gollish!! Here’s another women who’s strength on the track is only matched by the size of her heart off the track. When I first moved to Toronto it was Sasha who invited me for family dinner so that I could have a sense of home. She’s always been there to call on long drives or commiserate with when running and our bodies just aren’t blending as well as we’d like. Sasha isn’t afraid to be a voice for her fellow female athletes, academic colleagues and anyone in between. She introduced me to Fast and Female and I have loved seeing how whole heartedly she dedicates herself to the program.
Bethany McChesney-Janzen!! From climbing out of her window when we were teenagers to showing up at my doorstep in Toronto with a bike, rollerblades and a plan to get my mind off of missing World Champs last summer, Bethany has always been someone who’s strength I’ve admired. In high school, our friendship was the first time I realized it was possible to be a fierce rival and a fierce friend with the same person. I’ve watched Bethany look at a cliff and without flinching start to climb it, and then the next moment be tending to her two little kids. The world is not ready for the daughter Bethany is raising… I hope that by the time she is an adult WE have shaped the world differently. Either way, women everywhere will be in good hands with Emerson ;P
Natasha Wodak!! Countless miles run together, run against each other, and spent cheering from the sidelines. I have had some of my highest and lowest moments with this lady. I have watched her battle back from injury, heartache, life upset and more. The fierceness we see when she refuses to give up a step in a race is the same fierceness I see her attack her friendships (and her affection for cats).
My Mum, sisters, and grandma!! I am fortunate to have amazing women who have come into my life... but I am forever grateful for the women who have been stuck with me since day one. I may look adopted next to their incredibly blonde hair, but I know we are cut from the same cloth every time I watch them press on through the impossible to see success.
I have said previously that I will consider my career a success if I leave the sport better – not necessarily faster – but better for the next generation of girls. It wasn’t until I finished my climb that I realized my sport has left me better – and it has nothing to do with the miles that I have run. I actually think running might have destroyed me last year if it wasn’t for the strength of the women I had around me.