competitive swimmers

She was the first woman to...

…travel around the world in a damned Zeppelin.

Originally posted by lego-stories

Lady Hay Drummond-Hay (September 12, 1895—February 12, 1946) was a star journalist who became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and she did it in a damned Zeppelin. She went on to report from war zones like Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and Manchuria (now part of China), fell into a tumultuous romance with a fellow reporter, and was eventually captured by the Japanese during WWII.

…swim the English Channel.

Originally posted by hero-generator

Gertrude Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was a competitive swimmer, Olympic champion, and at one time held five world records. If there was a world record for coolest nickname she would’ve held six, because hers was “Queen of the Waves.” When Ederle set out to become the first woman to swim the English channel, she used motorcycle goggles and sealed the edges with wax to keep the salt water out of her eyes. Due to unfavorable and violent wind conditions twelve hours into her 14 hour and 34 minute journey, her trainer shouted at her to get out of the water and into his boat. She reportedly popped her head up from the water to simply ask “what for?” 

travel around the world in less than 80 days.

Originally posted by meedean

Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864—January 27, 1922) asked her editor at the New York World if she could take a stab at turning the story Around the World in 80 Days from fiction to fact. Using railways and steamships, Bly chuggah-chuggahed and toot-tooted the nearly 25,000 mile trip in just 72 days, meeting Jules Verne and buying a monkey along the way. If her name sounds familiar but these stories don’t, it’s probably because you’ve heard about how she once faked a mental illness so she could write an exposé on psychiatric asylums. Or maybe it’s because of her famed coverage of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Or maybe it’s because you’re a big fan of farming and industrialist patents and heard she invented a novel milk can and a stacking garbage can. Nellie Bly did a lot in her short 57 years. 

Follow these Tumblrs for more Women’s History:

  • Stuff You Missed in History Class (@missedinhistory) is not exclusively about women, but hoo boy, it turns out most history classes aren’t great at teaching us about women’s history. You’ll learn a lot here. 
  • The New-York Historical Society (@nyhistory) has been pulling articles, artifacts, and documents deep from the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library this Women’s History Month. 
Magic Works (aka STORY TIME)

Sit down, witches young and old.  I have a story to share.

So, in late Summer 2014, I was held at gunpoint and my car was stolen.  Without going into too much detail, I was out at night running errands and two masked men cornered me in the parking lot of my apartment complex.  (The Mister was not with me at the time; he was in the apartment.)  In the trunk of my car was my witchy box, which contained ALL of my most important craft materials including my book of shadows, my tarot, and my most beloved trinkets.  (I had taken it on a witchy retreat the weekend before.)

When they stole my car, they used it in a bank robbery and then ditched the vehicle after use.  I was DEVASTATED.  I couldn’t sleep or eat for days (trauma can be an absolute bitch); I was terrified to go out on my own, even on our porch.  I lost my job because I no longer had a means of transportation.  And to top it off, I ended up having a miscarriage around the same time.

Guys and gals, I went to a very dark place after this.  The police, as helpful as they were, told me that the likelihood of finding the vehicle was slim-to-none.  In fact, it is common in most places (and especially my state) that stolen vehicles are dumped in rivers or ravines, never to be found again.  What made matters worse was that I had JUST PAID THE CAR OFF and SWITCHED MY INSURANCE TO LIABILITY ONLY.  (For you bebes out there that don’t know, this means that your insurance company won’t replace the car if it is stolen.)

For months, I tried to dig myself out of this hole, but I felt like I couldn’t really connect with my craft because I was missing important elements to my spellwork.  Some of the things in that box were passed down for generations in my family.  They were absolutely priceless.  I felt so…lost.

The following May, I was visiting Tulum, Mexico.  A tropical storm was brewing off the shoreline and everyone else was drunk at one of the all-inclusive bar.  I watched from my balcony as surfers took to the turbulent waves and something came over me.  I felt a literal pull in my chest.  Something kept telling me to go to the water.

My family, friends, and the Mister all told me I was crazy when I went to the beach.  There was thunder, the waves were insanely high, and even the experienced surfers were having trouble.  On the lifeguard stands, black flags were posted (one of the signs that swimming is absolutely ill-advised) and for even an experienced competitive swimmer (that’s me!), it would be dangerous. But something told me to get into the water.

Nothing could have prepared me for the power of the ocean.  It pulled me when I resisted; it dragged against every limb and I became frightened.  But instead of thinking about the fact that I could possibly drown, I kept replaying those guys and their guns pointed at me, one shoved into my forehead.  I became angry; I kicked harder, pushed myself further until I felt the sand at my toes again.

I was crying and so angry.  I stood still in the water and called out into the wind.  I beat my fists against the surface of the sea (I probably looked insane, but no one was out there) and felt all of my pain seep away.  I begged the water for one thing: even if the car didn’t run, could my precious things be returned to me.  I bartered with the sea.

The sea giveth and the sea taketh away, as they say.  All of the hurt and terror and anguish I had felt over the previous year disappeared.  I was embraced by the water and somewhere so very deep inside me, I knew everything would be okay.  There was finally a sense of calm and clarity inside me, replacing the tumultuous emotions I had been feeling.

The morning we left, after the storms had passed, I went back to that secluded part of the beach and promised that I would dedicate my life to helping witches around me.  I had never made a promise like that in my life.

A month after that, the state police found my car.  It wasn’t in working condition at all, but everything remained intact in the trunk.  They brought it to my parents’ house and I rushed outside.  I sobbed when my dad opened the trunk and saw the box waiting, looking the exact same way it did the night the car was stolen.  Everything was in it, untouched by the elements.  (Eventually, I repaired the car enough for it to run another two-and-half-years, too!)

Magic is real.  Against impossible odds, there is power in every wish and desire.  I will never regret the promise I made that day.  I will never take for granted the gifts that have been given to me.  And when people scoff when I say that I am a witch, I inwardly smile and know that my magic is true and real.  I have all the proof I need.

I work.
I grind.
You sleep,
While I shine.