Why I'm Drawing a Coloring Book - Part II

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

I'm interested in creating culture shift. How about you? I'm interested in people of all ages and all walks of life being able to have easy, safe, fun opportunities to replace short car trips by biking, walking and taking public transit.

Why? Because it could not only vastly reduce pollution, but it's great for the mind, body and spirit. Oh yes, and it saves you money.

So I'm drawing a colouring book.

I'm also drawing a colouring book because I love the story of the bicycle as an empowerment tool for women and girls from any background. Just last week I realised that the Pedal Love Coloring Book needs to be called Pedal Love: Girls Ride colouring book. And as a storyteller interested in elevating the voice and impact of women, my colouring book needs to celebrate female change agents in bicycling and equal rights and other realms.

I need this first book to tell the story of some of the very first groundbreaking women who rode bicycles like Kittie Knox.

I found out about Kittie about six months ago when I decided I wanted to draw one of the first female suffragettes who bicycled. I was working on my talk as part of a storytelling jam I was giving at the opening of the National Bike Summit with other Pedal Love Council Members last March.

I Googled the term and up popped images of a young woman I'd somehow missed - Kittie Knox (also known as Katie Knox). Was Kittie a suffragette? I don't think we know for certain, but I can't imagine she wasn't. Nonetheless, her story is still very inspiring and needs to be heard by a much larger audience. The Bike League, Bicycling Magazine,  and the Boston Globe have all written about her. Actually, she's been in the Boston Globe more than once.

But I believe her story deserves to be a movie. So I'll do what I can with my colouring book to get the word out. Would you like to help make that happen? You can donate to support my creating the book here.

Kittie was from Boston and very active in the bicycling scene there. She was a card carrying member of the League of Bicyclists (then The League of American Wheelmen), and known for placing well in road races even when competing against men. Her story went nation wide when she tried to attend the national League of American Wheelmen;s national summit in New Jersey in 1895.

Kittie was turned away, not because she wasn't a member, she was, but because she was biracial.

The inspiration comes from the fact that Kittie didn't go away quietly. While her friends from Boston worked to get her in - after all she had been a member of the League since before they'd passed the color bar - she stayed outside the entrance riding her bike. She intrigued the media with her masterful bike moves and her story caught on like fire. She was only 21 at the time.

Sadly at 26, she died of Kidney disease. Her family's financial situation was such that they couldn't afford a marker for her grave at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Her grave didn't receive a marker until 2013 after bicycle advocate and writer Lorenz Finison came across her name and images several times when working on the history of cycling in Boston.

Intrigued? You can learn more in this insightful piece in The Boston Globe.

I've drawn Kittie once but I'm redrawing her for the colouring book because I want to set a scene and create an illustration that will be more fun to colour. It's not easy to capture her because the images I have aren't very clear. But I'm doing my best. What do you think?



Join Me for #90daysofjoyfulthinking!

I'm doing a different kind of blog today. A cross between a Facebook #throwbackthursday and posts that I've so appreciated from friends in my extended network like fellow entrepreneurs Crystal Lynn Bell Naja Hayward . As part of my commitment to an idea I came up with last week - #90daysofjoyfulthinking for June, July and August - I've decided to share more of my personal journey to become a better artist and storyteller, AND my journey to make peace between my mind, body and spirit.

The foundation of this whole project is to stop myself whenever I become aware of running my mind and my mouth with negative, lack focused, fearful, critical thoughts of myself and others and doing my best to replace those thoughts as quickly as possible with happy, joyful, abundant thoughts. I'm really curious to see what this will allow to unfold for my own health and well-being, the creation of the Pedal Love Coloring Book Vol. 1, and the work we're doing with the Pedal Love Council.

Would you like to join me?

No, you don't have to be interested in biking, walking or public transit. I shared this blog earlier today on Facebook and I am so thrilled with the conversations it's sparking with my friends and network.

Above is my first selfie for this project. Most of my selfies really make me cringe. "Yep, I'm definitely in my 50's I think, no getting around that." And often too "I hate that vertical line in my forehead, I wish botox wasn't so expensive!" Which of course is one of the reasons I wear my bangs so long.

Here's what I know: The key to creating truly compelling storytelling is sharing your struggle and overcoming.


I'm one of those people (maybe you are too) who has struggled to share my struggle in writing. Sure I've dipped my toe in the water here and there but not consistently. It felt too raw and frankly too bold. Oh yes, I've certainly shared my struggles in conversations with my close friends (often ad nauseam), and in my journal) but frankly, I've been ashamed of my shame. I didn't want too much of a record of it. I didn't want it too public. I didn't want to come across as weak and needy and whiny.

How about you?

This black and white image of me is from either late 2000, or early 2001, by Kevin Break. It was when I was first getting into blogging and throwing my hat in the ring as a dating and relationship blogger. I wish I could say this woman at 37 enjoyed being young and strong and sexy but she didn't. Not much. Not as often as you'd think.

She could own she was sexy but not in much more than being physically alluring. She knew she was smart, but not with or about men. She certainly didn't think she was beautiful or pretty. That was a horse of a different color, a different type of blonde.

I was a hot mess. Know that feeling?

Newly divorced, feeling so much guilt for asking for the divorce, and so frightened of being on my own again, still un-diagnosed migraines putting me in bed for days of head pounding and gut wrenching pain, I very often couldn't see the forest for the trees. I yearned to allow myself to step out and be seen as I hadn't in marriage (thus the sexy photo) but I was as terrified of the attention as I reveled in it - in very small bite-sized chews. Very very small.

I've recently read Glennon Doyle Melton's LoveWarrior. I don't think I've ever ready such an honest, articulate, raw, illuminating, groundbreaking book about body shame and the strange tightrope women feel compelled to walk on in our society.

Like Melton, I've lived in my head rather than my body except when I was on the dance floor (and now when walking or riding my bike). Now 16 years older, 20 pounds heavier, and still struggling with pain and fatigue I can look back at this frightened woman with compassion and gratitude.

She tried so hard. She allowed herself to stick to writing and created a completely new career for herself in the early days of the internet. She was often so poor she couldn't pay her bills on time, barely had enough to eat. She went bankrupt. Without the great generosity of family and friends, she would have been on the street. She discovered mindfulness and a new community of friends both online and in her birth city of Long Beach - and she discovered the joys of walking and biking and taking public transit. What gifts!

16 or so years later I'm taking another big risk and enjoying the process of picking up pencil and pen and allowing myself to be an artist in the way I haven't been since I was in High School.

I'm serious in my invitation to you to join me in #90daysofjoyfulthinking. Curious? Send me a note. I'll share what's inspiring me to take the next step and the next. I've gathered some really interesting, helpful tools that I'd like to share with you.

Love, Melissa