“I’d do anything for a laugh,” she says after a recent speaking engagement in Toronto. “Even if it’s speaki michael kors bags ng in the big, loud voice of an old wind bag like Marg (referring to her beloved, breast plated character Marg, Princess Warrior, from the hit TV show, This Hour has 22 Minutes, who, sword held high, once crossed the nation smiting politicians with brash, outlandish commentary).
“In a way, it was hard to find my own voice, but I realize now that I’ve become one of those big, loud old middle aged bags, Marg’s part of me. There’s a certain freedom to it,” she says.
Throughout her life, that warrior spirit has sustained her through a series of life challenges that have included surgery for crippling back pain and conquering alcohol addiction.
And it helped her face her fear of going blind when she learned she had the most aggressive or “wet” form of age related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the largest causes of blindness among people over 50. She was diagnosed with the disease in her left eye when she was in her early 40s.
Ms Walsh was born in Newfoundland, the seventh of eight children born to alcoholic parents. She was sent to live permanently with her two aunts and an uncle next door, when she became ill as a baby.
“Despite it all, I wouldn’t say I’ve had it that tough,” she says.
Though she admits it has taken hard work to get where she is today, often she thinks she was working against herself.
“It seems that all the things that didn’t turn out the way I wanted looking back, I think, ‘thank you God they didn’t go the way that I thought they should go’, or I’d never be here now,” she says.
These days, Ms Walsh focuses on a positive approach to life and her overall health. Part of that philosophy means giving back to her community. Hence, her dedication to volunteer work. As a result, she has been a key player in lobbying for better treatment for people with vision impairment.
“It’s the drug I’ve been praying for. It may mean that I don’t lose vision in my second eye this drug brings me hope,” Ms Walsh wrote to the federal health minister in a letter, which was posted on the CNIB’s website.
Over the past 10 years, Ms Walsh has undergone numerous surgeries to preserve the deteriorating eyesight in her left eye. However, Lucentis, which was originally developed to reduce blood vessel formation in cancerous growths, shows promise in retaining eyesight in patients with early forms of macular degeneration, which often spreads to their other eye.
Ms Walsh puts her experience with the devastating disease in the same positive perspective she brings to the rest of her life.
“So, I have macular degeneration,” she says. “The new drug is 95 per cent successful and I feel very blessed and fortunate to have been born in the zeitgeist of the baby boom. So, as more of us are aging, more and more money has been put into finding a cure. I feel very lucky to have been born when I was.”
She says that early detection, especially for boomers who sometimes seem hell bent on avoiding “the relentless, ravages of time” is crucial. She had heard nothing much about the early signs of the disease, which include whiteout spots, blackout spots and lines appearing wavy. She says she knew she was in trouble when she noticed that lines were starting to look “bendy” and went quickly for an eye checkup.
As part of her commitment to charity, she recently took part in the Heart Truth fashion show in March. In the fundraiser, noted Canadian women wore original Red Dress creations by famous Canadian designers to help the Heart and Stroke Foundation raise money to increase awareness of the leading causes of death for women in Canada.
Ms Walsh has a strong personal link to the campaign. Her mother died of a heart attack and her father died after having a stroke. She says both conditions have killed other family members, something she has been quoted as saying is linked to the old time Newfie culture of “salt meat, hard liquor and red rage.”
Although Ms Walsh is upbeat about many things in life, Marg’s voice still rails inside of her, expressing her frustration with the foibles of our society. One of her major pet peeves is the way women are expected to maintain an unrealistic weight “Now, me, I was always called ‘a big boned girl’ when I was, say, younger,” she says. “And I just stayed that way ‘a big boned girl’.”
Her comments on the subject during a recent presentatio michael kors bags n at the Real Life Expo in Toronto brought gales of laughter from the predominantly female audience. At the talk, she spoke of her recent efforts to go boutique shopping for dresses.
“Have you seen them? The sizes? There’s a double zero. Not just zero. A double zero. Here I am trying to get down to a reasonable size, say, well it used to be 12 or 10. But now we’re supposed to get down to double nothing. Women are supposed to just disappear altogether, for God’s sake,” she says shrieking with laughter.
At the risk of sounding “whiny” she criticizes how the media and entertainment business make issues with women’s distorted body image even worse.
Bu michael kors bags t all jokes aside, Ms Walsh has been seriously working hard to get fit and stay trim. She’s recently lost 15 pounds “sensibly” she says, using Weight Watchers.
“My fitness routine involves snowshoeing in the winter and hiking in the summer,” she says. Throughout the year she also spends regular time on her treadmill and she loves to walk her dogs.
Though she is striving for inner peace, Ms Walsh says that is a journey she is still working on. It is particularly hard in April, she says, when she confronts the final month of Newfoundland’s long winters.
But her husband, Don Nichol, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, provides a calming force.
However, she can find his temperament exasperating, as a hilarious, somewhat exaggerated, anecdote she told the Toronto crowd illustrated.
“Yesterday, it was snowing in St. John’s in April again,” she says. “There was that four inches of super slush one has to tread through on the streets and my husband decided we would go out to the park.”
Ms Walsh describes how sheets of ice formed on their dogs, how she huddled and shivered in the bitter cold wind with icicles on her nose michael kors bags . And then she related how her husband looked up, opened his mouth and let a snowflake land on his tongue.
“Look, Mary, a snowflake and you know every one is different,” she quoted him saying.
Then, with a look of exasperation, Ms Walsh explained how she had been trying to seek spiritual peace of late and that her next action was possibly, though unfortunate, a sign of spiritual progress.