Of late, I’ve overheard several conversations of young women talking about how much they hate their bodies, their faces & their lives.  

It’s a sad commentary on how they see themselves, but an even sadder commentary on how society places such a high value on being beautiful, on being of a certain physicality, on being of an expected “norm”. 

And while I  remember that adolescent angst of wanting to “fit in”, I simply didn’t fit in then and I don’t fit in now.  So with the perspective and confidence that comes with age, I wouldn’t trade the “now” for “then”. 

Maybe it started after being featured in last month’s Prevention magazine #loveyourbody campaign but it’s a message that I’ve manifested and lived.  Spreading the message of positive body image and embracing our own uniqueness, is easy to do if we can, first, love ourselves.    


It’s quite simple, but it seems that by first loving and appreciating ourselves, then we can more fully love and appreciate others.  


Join me in starting a revolution which I’m calling #daretobebare and show the world that there’s nothing more beautiful than a person who’s comfortable in their own skin.   

 

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IMG_1600-2That moment when a complete stranger, with tear-filled eyes, embraces you and thanks you for “sharing your journey”, is the moment when you realize that life’s events happen for a reason.

There is no greater gift.
With heartfelt gratitude for this life I’ve been given and for every new lesson I learn.
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20140811-101425-36865926.jpgFor as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to “help people”.  And for almost that long, I wanted to a pediatrician while adamantly avowing that I would never become a nurse or a lawyer, thank you very much.  So much for plans.  With a Juris Doctor and Registered Nurse behind my name, I became the two things I never declared I would be.

Now, at an introspective crossroad where I am re-purposing my professional and personal experience into something bigger than me, the resounding answer to the question still remains:  “to help people”.

And while the skill that I can use to best help people is my own life’s experience with limb loss, I recognize that that is my greatest attribute, my greatest credential, my greatest achievement.  Finally, I take delight in the challenge of re-inventing myself into the person I always wanted to be: A person who makes a difference.  A person whose contributions matter to others.  A peson I always thought I would be.

Not knowing how that will actually manifest itself, I do know that I will not be one of the many present day reality “stars” who make money from publishing coffee-table books of their own selfies or are simply famous, for being famous. Nor will I be that people take pity upon.

So, when talking to a friend about finding my purpose, he said:

“The objective perspectives of others, I think, is more about illumination vs. inspiration. Everyone is broken, some of us more so than others. We are just so confronted with a lack of enlightenment by so many people our paths cross that we get lost inside ourselves sometimes, worn down by the constant barrage of it all.

Each of us has something to overcome on our path to inner peace and happiness. Perhaps because people can more visibly see one obstacle you have overcome that you illuminate or shed light on folks who find themselves in darkness that they too begin to believe they can achieve and overcome their circumstances.

We can all act as spirit guides of some sort if we choose and we make a choice with every interaction we have with every person we touch every day.”

It’s time to become what I have always thought I’d be.

 

UN DAY OF FRIENDSHIPNelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

In keeping with his philosophy and recognizing today as the United Nation’s International Day of Friendship, let’s all try to speak the language that profoundly impacts the hearts of others.

And in honoring the intention of today as a way to cultivate the “ties that strengthen our common humanity”, here’s to all my friends from around the globe in gratitude for your friendship and for teaching me that kindness, humanity, and humility know no boundaries.

Oh to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Wealthy in boundless opportunities to enrich our lives, as well as the lives of others. And wise in adhering to our belief in trusting that life is what we make it.
We’re only given one chance in life. So why not celebrate the chance to enjoy it while being healthy, wealthy, and wise?

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HUMANITY I recently had the great honor of completing the University of Geneva’s program on Global Health and Human Rights in the exquisitely serene city known as Geneva.  Just back two weeks in the U.S. and still processing the lessons learned, this is what I discovered:

Life is short and as much as possible, we should fill every moment with things that positively enrich our souls. Welcome experiences, both good and bad, and appreciate that their value far outweighs any material possession or any tangible thing. Meaningful friendships and relationships should be treated like precious gems that fill our hearts with love. And we should all try to have enough self-respect to boldly walk away from situations that negatively affect our outlooks and our perceptions. Welcome each day as new beginnings but allow ourselves the luxury to just be. Be honest to ourselves. Trust our instincts. And let’s try to do our part to leave the world a better place. 

Maya AngelouMy life forever changed on this exact day thirty nine years ago.  Even though it was the day that I could have died, I will forever thank this day for being the day that I survived.

Run over by a gravel truck, my left leg was severely crushed and was amputated just hours later.  That catastrophic loss allowed me the gift of this life that I have been given.  That loss has bestowed me with gifts too great in numerosity to count.  And that loss left me with the perspective to live life fully, to be limitless.

In so honoring this day for what it means, I am grateful to my mom, my dad, my brother, my family, and my friends who helped me survive then; and now, to allow me to thrive and to always be true to myself.  Leslie & Lolly