To start, describe yourself in 5 words…
Determined, resilient, curious, creative, compassionate
What’s your favourite mantra or motto to live by?
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are – Theodore Roosevelt
For those who don’t know, share a little of your story with us…
I was born with a congenital condition that resulted in the amputation of my right leg when I was a small child. Growing up I was determined not to let my disability limit me from what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want to be seen as the ‘disabled girl’ nor let my leg, or lack of leg, define me. Mum taught me that the only limitations my disability had on my life were those I placed upon myself. But in saying that, it was tough. The hardest thing was living with the constant rubbing and pain that came with wearing an artificial suction prosthesis. Each step was accompanied by pain and uncomfortable pinching, pulling and rubbing on the skin. Then after 26 years it all changed, when in 2012 when I stumbled upon a brochure for something called osseointegration. It explained a new procedure where the traditional suction prosthesis would be a thing of the past. The operation involved implanting a titanium rod into the femur that would then attach to a robotic limb.
In 2015 I returned to university, however, unfortunately I still endured health and pain complications. I suffered from chronic back and hip pain, which reached the point where further surgery was the only option. In July last year I had a complete hip construction and femoral rotation as I was born without a proper hip joint. Despite all my previous surgeries and rehab experiences, this was by far the hardest to endure. The pain was all encompassing and due to the muscle reattachment the rehab process was slow and took every ounce of strength. But I was determined not to give up. Drawing on the lessons I learnt during my first surgery I continued to get up each day fuel myself with nourishing foods, move my body in whatever small way I could and focus on my gratitude and meditation practice. I took it day by day and after six months of physio and being patient with myself and my body I am happy to report that I am back at the gym doing pump and cycle classes and back at yoga. With my new hip and leg I am excited to now be able to do the splits and go deeper into the yoga poses. My journey is not yet over and I have more physio ahead of me but the future stretches bright before me.
Through it all, what was the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?
This last surgery humbled me and brought me to my knees. I thought after all I had previously been through that I was strong and resilient and after a few weeks I would solider on and be back at the gym and at uni. But as there was no benchmark for this kind of surgery, the doctors and myself underestimated the magnitude of what the recovery would demand from me. For a while during my struggle I lost myself in the darkness. But I fought hard to not let the darkness engulf me. There were days when the enormity of it all felt so huge it threatened to crush me and giving up would have been so easy. But the thought of the end result of walking and living the healthy active lifestyle of my dreams was what spurred me on and seeing the small changes, reaching a new goal or small milestone kept me going. I was also determined not to give up on my studies and so I fought to keep this aspect of my life. I watched lectures in my hospital bed and read lecture notes while waiting for my physio appointments. Whilst I couldn’t attend a single class I kept up the best I could by watching the lectures online. Despite the hardship of the semester I sat my exams with the rest of my class. Throughout it all I learnt first hand about strength, resilience, mindfulness and coping. It was a tough way to learn but I am so very grateful for the lessons the hardship taught me and continues to teach me.
What was the pinnacle moment that turned you into a true believer?
Four years ago I was 30kg heavier, overweight, unfit and unhealthy. I thought feeling average was normal. But once I embraced the MNB lifestyle everything changed. I began to eat healthy nourishing foods that made me feel good. I stopped going to the gym not to punish my body for eating too much or not being good enough but rather to celebrate it and to be as strong and as healthy as I could be. The importance of health and wellbeing was only further reinforced throughout my surgeries, recovery and times in rehab. It was my health, fitness and positive mindset that got me through. Eating nourishing foods to support and nurture my body, committing to doing something active daily no matter how small, practicing gratitude and meditation each day, these are my essentials and these are what help me to keep going and never give up.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt along the way? If you could go back and tell yourself something, what would you say?
Beauty, joy and happiness are in the little things. The small moments: a cup of tea, talking with mum, laughing with a friend, reading a good book, a blissful yoga class, these are the things that make a happy life. Life is series of small moments strung together and there is something beautiful in each day. Even in hospital on my toughest days, they would still be made up of many beautiful small moments. I learnt to make each day a celebration and not to save anything for ‘a special occasion’. Everyday can be a special occasion if you let it be. I also learnt the importance to surrender and accept what will be, will be. Trust in the process, in the journey and what life has planned. We can’t change the outcome; we just have to accept it.
If I could go back and give myself advice, I would say ‘everything that has happened in your life has happened for a reason and at exactly the right time; it got you to where you are now for a purpose. Everything that has happened, the decisions, experiences both good and bad have shaped you into who you are today and you are right where you need to be. Have patience and trust.’
Would you do anything differently?
Once I discovered the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and just how good it felt to nourish and nurture my body, I did beat myself up for not making the change earlier. But I guess I need to listen to my own advice and trust that everything happens for a reason and at exactly the right time it needs to!
What do you hope people can learn or gain from hearing your story?
I hope people can be inspired to keep going. No matter what challenge you may be facing, no matter how tough, just keep going. Each day get up, show up and never give up. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day after day. In the midst of things it can be hard to see the progress, to feel like it is worth it. But just keep going. It isn’t easy and there are going to be tough days but hang in there because you are stronger than you think.
And some fast fires, just to finish off…
Cheese or chocolate? Chocolate – raw and refined sugar free of course!
Summer or Winter? Summer
Smoothie or juice? Smoothie
Books or movies? Books
Tea or coffee? Tea
Yoga or boxing? Yoga
And last but not least, finish this sentence…
The most important thing in life is… Never Give Up!