I was born with spastic diplegia Cerebral Palsy or CP. Cerebral Palsy is caused by trauma to the brain. My CP is the result of a stroke at birth, which damaged the part of my brain that controls motor skills. When I get nervous or uncomfortable, my body tenses causing her to respond with sudden sometimes-jerky movement. My family and friends fondly call me their Fantastic Spastic.
At six months doctors predicted I might never walk, never talk, or perform functions without significant help. From the start I was on a demanding journey.
I didn’t walk until I was 5. I haven’t slowed down since. I realized I walked differently, never questioned why I used a walker, or thought of myself as being different. All I knew was I wanted to keep up with others. I did! I was included in everything. If I couldn’t do something, we’d find a way.
I remember riding a Big Wheel, and going downhill was so much fun but I had a hard time going uphill. My sister, three years younger, and her friend took turns pushing me up the hill. Crazy enough it would be 30 years before I understood why I couldn’t pedal.
The words “No” and “Can’t” never came to mind. This confidence stemmed from having awesome parents who focused on what I “Could Do” not on what “I Couldn’t” do. If I wanted to try something we’d find a way.
I grew up a military brat. I attended 12 schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. You learn to adapt quickly because you never know how long you’ll be in one place. Moving in summer allowed me to meet new friends before school started. Kids seemed to come out of the woodwork. They would just show up. My Mom always said I was a Magnet. They’d never seen a person their age with this interesting accessory.
I live stereotypes every day. I’ve been stared at, pitied aloud, and why do people think I can’t hear? I have a walker; I can hear just fine. Unfortunately, I’ve been completely ignored when speaking assuming I cannot think. That irritates me to no end. However, to overcome these preconceived notions I’ve chosen to “Show and Tell”. I make a point to explain my condition and encourage questions. People get it!!! They learn. “I, Am Just Like You” except my limitations are visible.
One of our military tours took us to Europe, The Netherlands, where I graduated from High School. Being there gave us opportunities to enjoy other cultures and experience exciting adventures we could not have imagined.
Conquered cobblestone streets across Europe. Hiked a high, open, water falling gorge in Germany. Climbed the Tower of Pisa. Rode a donkey in Rhodes, Greece. And recently returned to Pompeii to visit the ruins, they’re now accessible.
My upbringing gave me the adventure bug that has carried over to my adult life. I’ve gone white water rafting in TN, parasailed, snorkeled and jet skied in the Caribbean, and flown over the Hawaiian Islands in a helicopter. To say I’m an adventure seeker is an understatement. My friends say the grass doesn’t grow under my feet. There’s not much I won’t try!
I treasure my time growing up in the military. Not only did I see the world, it also gave me a perspective on life that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to experience. This perspective has carried over into my adult life. I Graduated from high school in Holland, got my undergraduate degree in NC and my MBA in AL. My love for the military remains, as I celebrate my 32nd year as a Resource Manager.
At this point in my life, my determination to adapt, try, and challenge myself has provided opportunities well beyond my expectations. There have been trials, obstacles, successes and triumphs. All of which have carried me to where I am today. My story continues!! The past couple years I’ve engaged in speaking engagements with the medical field, more so as an adult, sharing my success story.
Nothing will stop my determination to live life, and consciously make a difference in the world.
To contact me for a speaking engagement, or to learn more about my story, I can be reached at email@example.com