We first met Taylah Hemming in 2016 at the inaugural Lorna Jane Active Living Awards, and boy are we glad that we did! This brave young woman was crowned first runner up for her commitment to inspiring others to embrace Active Living the same way she did three years ago when she was in a boating accident that left her with burns to 30% of her body. Instead of succumbing to defeat, Taylah turned to the daily practice of Move Nourish Believe to help propel her back into a positive mindset and get her back on track and on the road to recovery. You might recognize her face from our Love You Book, so we took five with Taylor to find out what makes her a Lorna Jane True Believer…
Describe yourself in 5 words…
Brave, passionate, determined, strong & stubborn
What’s your favourite mantra or motto to live by?
I actually have two – out of every negative comes a positive, the other is one my Nan has always quoted by Benjamin Franklin “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” and these have both become so significant after my accident.
For those who don’t know, share a little of your story with us…
On Boxing Day 2013 at the age of 19, I was burnt in a boat explosion. I was airlifted from my small town of Forbes in NSW, Australia to the Burns Unit at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney; I experienced roughly 25-30% of burns to my body including my legs, left arm and face.
I received skin grafts to the side of my left leg, which were the deepest of my burns. I spent roughly three weeks in the burns unit, undergoing surgery, dressing changes and physiotherapy to practice walking and other functional tasks to keep my skin mobile and reduce of my skin becoming tight and rigid.
I required ongoing therapy at the burns unit for months post the event, which was hard at times as I am from a country town approximately 5 hours away. The follow up appointments were for my scar management. The initial management involved wearing thick compression garments on my arms and legs 23 hours a day, 7 days a week and strict scar massage morning and night with the aim to flatten my scars. I suffered with anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after the accident where I was unable to drive past petrol stations or cook on the stovetop in my home. It was a tough few years, trying to juggle studying a physiotherapy degree with wearing compression garments and undergoing psychology however I’ve learnt so much about myself and I’m motivated to help others.
I turned to move, nourish and believing as a way to decrease my stress and aid my healing. I had always had that goal of achieving my ‘dream body’ and it was this event that allowed me to realize that life is precious and there it is so much more then what you look like. Turning to the move, nourish, believe philosophy has allowed me to live a more for filling positive lifestyle and to accept my imperfections as characteristics of mine that make me who I am today.
Through it all, what was the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?
Insecurity – I felt insecure about recovering both physically and mentally. I was anxious about the way people may look at me wearing compression and my physical scars. I was also uneasy about the way people may think about me for not being able to do things. For example I need to be extremely sun safe for the rest of my life. I must protect my newly healed ‘baby’ skin from the suns harsh UV rays and chemicals found in skin care products – I believe this is something we should all be mindful of however I have to take it to the next level. I use to fret about my reactions near hot stoves, at fuel stations or in unfamiliar environments and I would worry about what people may think of these reactions. I now understand that many understand and it is normal to feel the way I do – I now embrace what I have been through.
What was the pinnacle moment that turned you into a true believer?
Months prior to the accident I really started to practice the move, nourish, believe philosophy and because of this, the doctors, specialists and surgeons believed I was in the best situation for a good recovery. I saw results a lot quicker then expected. I was told I would be in compression garments for 18 months at a minimum however after 8 months I was out of them! The medical staff couldn’t believe their eyes at each check up. They told me that they couldn’t believe how well my skin and grafting sites healed, it was one of the best recoveries they have ever seen. And this is my evidence, I’ve had first hand experience that the move, nourish, believe philosophy works, even at the worst of times.
What do you hope people can learn or gain from hearing your story?
I want people who are living balanced, wholesome and happy lifestyles, to accept that it is normal not to be or feel 100% all of the time. And those who find themselves in a struggle, even at the lowest of times there is light in every situation – sometimes you need to find the right means to tell what it is.
Finish this sentence…
The most important thing in life is…
I trust that accepting ourselves for who we are and what we believe in, allows us to live a life that is right for us. A negative self view forces us to compare ourselves, feel insecure and sensitive to the opinion of others. Believe in yourself and never give up!