If I don’t work my body now, I won’t be able to walk when I get older.
I was born with cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, to be exact. Meaning I basically had a stroke right before, during, or after I was born. Doctors didn’t have much hope that I’d be able to do anything. My left arm is fused at the elbow, causing it to be stuck at a near 45 degree angle. Doctors told me if they tried to straighten the arm, it would probably break. So, it’s remained crooked. Hence, my lifting name. I’ve about 50% function in the use of my left hand, my fingers being crooked and malformed from my cerebral palsy. Growing up, I did most everything I could right-handed.
CP smacked me in other ways too. I walk with a limp and have a speech impediment, but nothing knocks a person down more than other people fearing what they don’t understand. Ignorance is an incredible disease. I’ve endured a lot of assumptions and dealt far too often with people talking down to me merely because they see and hear a neurological disorder and not a person. Simply because someone sounds or looks different doesn’t make them stupid, it only means they probably have one hell of a story to tell.
I graduated from Centenary College in 1993 with a major in equine science and a minor in
psychology. As a child, being around horses was a therapy of sorts; Those gentle animals never judged, only loved. My kind of “people” if you know what I mean, so naturally I felt a career working with horses would be a great fit for me. I grew up in rural New York, rode for most of my young life, and thought to pursue a career in therapeutic riding. How great would it be to help other kids with CP learn to overcome their challenges through horses?
Life however… thought otherwise.
Like a lot of young ladies just out of college I married a man I met while in school and began my new adult life, fresh and eager to take on the world. My plans didn’t include uncovering the monster inside the man I had married. The monster that took his aggression out on me with his fists. Never, in all I’ve had to overcome, did I ever think spousal abuse was going to be one of them.
I take a deep breath though and thank my Lord and maker that I was strong enough to walk out on that marriage. We had no children, so that was a blessing in disguise. I left with whatever I could carry one night and never looked back. I’m not without scars though, I just choose not to focus on them anymore. I was left with a broken spirit, a self-esteem lower than it was growing up with the challenges I had, post-traumatic stress…
… and a God who didn’t quit on me.
He chose to bless me instead. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind as I write this: “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” God is good all the time, and He did just as promised in that scripture. On September 8, 2007 I married Ryan, the love of my life, father of our beautiful daughter, Anaia (which means Gift from God), and my rock in all things. We met online in a Christian chat room and have been building a family where God’s blessings are the center of it all.
Powerlifting sort of fell into my lap. I didn’t go looking for something like that to change or shape my life. A friend was a competitive lifter and after seeing what she was capable of doing one day, I was hooked. The rush I discovered from being able to compete against myself was amazing. I’ve been locked in a battle with myself for years, be it my body, depression, or the seizures due to having epilepsy. Through powerlifing I found I could push myself to limits I didn’t think I was capable and surprisingly… my body didn’t argue. It was like the muscles and limbs which, for years had to deal with a palsy they didn’t ask for, were rejoicing in their new found release. I learned if I didn’t do something in the here and now, at 45, I’d not be able to do much when I got older. And frankly—I want to be able to dance at Anaia’s wedding and hold my grandchildren.
I’m a stay at home mom now, training from 9am until noon while Anaia is in school. So here’s some fluff about me… I’m a hippie at heart. I love inner peace, making the earth a better place, and taking care of God’s animals. My heroes are my father (God rest his soul), Jesus, my mother (the strongest woman I’ve ever met), John Lennon (because, hey, look at his awesome vision of peace) and Martin Luther King, Jr. for his convictions about those who needed a leader.
Powerlifting, raises me up. It gives me a confidence I thrive off, a body in the best shape it’s been in in years, a mind that’s seizure free and a relationship with God that’s unrivaled in my life.
It seemed natural after all I’ve been through to start a blog. Maybe there are a people suffering in silence I can encourage. If my blog posts start a conversation and changes a thought, however small, then that’s a gift.
Living, loving, giving… life is always blessings never losses.