I've only got one leg: what's your excuse?
I was a shy, active, introverted teenager who was good at sports and loved to dance. I was never satisfied with how I looked and had zero body confidence, despite being fit and healthy. Sports embraced my competitiveness and allowed me to learn about cooperation, collaboration, rules and boundaries. I used it to release my anger and frustration and used dance to feel free.
Being a people pleaser and helping others, a natural career choice for me was to be a PE teacher. I encouraged my students to use sport and dance to express themselves – feel the beat, enjoy the adrenalin rush and channel their emotions through physical activity.
I was 30 when I had an accident and my leg was amputated above the knee. For a long time I lost these outlets. I felt stuck and empty. I threw myself into trying to be the best mother I could be and had my children, learning to walk and grow with them. There were no disabled role models for me to follow at the time and I felt lonely and lost. My body kept changing shape with two pregnancies and walking with a prosthetic leg was so frustrating and awkward. I would try to hide it at all costs, wearing long, baggy clothes and I loathed my body. Over the years I learned to parent myself and as I taught my children about self-awareness, empathy and being kind, I realised I needed to follow my own words. Losing my leg made me grieve for the active person I once was and start adapting to being the new person who just did things differently. Gradually I began to accept the new me and rediscovered my competitive spirit. I tired of dying my hair and decided that I no longer wanted to hide in the shadows. I grew my hair out and embraced the grey. I joined a gym and became fitter and stronger. I have achieved more things as an amputee than I ever did before and absolutely love pushing myself – there are no limits anymore.
As my children are now living independent adult lives I can use my experiences to live the life I want to have, despite my amputation. I retrained to be a counsellor and help others find their paths.
I no longer need other people’s approval and am happy to project myself into the public arena. I am represented by Zebedee Management (#zebedee_management), a specialist talent agency who promote models with physical disabilities and learning difficulties with the aim to increase representation in the media and fashion world. I spread the word that living with a disability can be difficult but life is not over. It begins when you take back control and tell yourself you are in charge now. I don’t wait for life to happen anymore, I make things happen and will try anything once. I want to be the role model to others that I wish I had twenty years ago. I talk, I listen, I share and I live. All of this is helped massively by my supportive family and friends, but above all by my children who love me for who I am and that’s what really matters. There is also a man behind this strong woman who is my everything. The one person who I can count on, no one will ever take his place, no one comes close.
My Rules for Life - see below