Telling My Story and helping inspire
I get a discount at the nail salon. Given that I’ve got three fewer fingers than most of you it feels totally reasonable. It’s actually one of the few occasions when my hand has offered me any advantage. Or at least so I thought until these past few months when I've begun to share my story more. I now recognize my disability deserves credit for more than a few bucks saved.
I am a wife, a mother, a gardener and I have jewelry business. For my business, I am the designer, maker, bookkeeper, marketer, sales associate and I have a little part-time help (thank god!). I have been encouraged by my clients and colleagues to share more of my personal story this year, and so I took their advice. In doing so, what I have realized is that my story might be inspiring to someone else struggling with a disability. And you may find it interesting.
In the past, I never wanted to talk much about my hand because I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Or awkward. You see, I was born this way and I’m totally comfortable talking about it. But after a certain age, most other people are afraid to show interest or acknowledge my disability for fear of upsetting me. For the record, it doesn't. I like talking about it when someone asks. But in my career, I have always felt this part of my story needed to be kept separate. You know, jewelry is supposed to be pretty...and this hand may be many things, but it is NOT pretty. I see now that telling my story is completely relevant because it is why I am and have always been creative. Here’s a little story to help me explain.
You see, once upon a time, there was a boy in my kindergarten class. His name was Ramon. One day he did something to make fun of my hand - I can’t even remember what it was specifically but it was the first time I had ever experienced teasing in my life. It hurt. My mother, who is an artist would sometimes come to my school to help teach and it just so happened that she was at school on this day. I went to her in tears after school, telling her what had happened. Without missing a beat, my mother pulled out a blank piece of paper and a pen, and she placed my hand flat on the paper. She traced around the outline of my hand and when I lifted it away there was a heart shape left behind where my hand had been. My mom said that no one else in the world had a hand like mine and that it made me unique. That day she instilled in me a sense of pride about being different. But also opened me up to a creative way of seeing things. Gold star mothering, right?
Yes, it’s been a disadvantage to have seven fingers in many ways, but it’s forced me to think and act creatively and problem-solve my own way of doing things. I play guitar. I was an all-star softball player through my senior year catching and throwing with my left hand like Jim Abbott. I play tennis. I do all the things. I make jewelry with these hands- many pieces that you see me posting about on my Instagram account every day. Most of the time I forget that I’m different from others. And when I remember- it’s not a big deal. But it is me & a vital part of my story and journey in this world. And now you know me a little bit better. If I can be a mentor or supporter of anyone else struggling with being different (disability or not) I want to help! I hope that sharing my story has helped at least one person out there.
Thanks for reading