This is my story
I am a motivational speaker, an aspiring author and a blogger. I love, love to write but I had no idea that in my fortieth year, I would find the courage to take up my mantle as a full time inspirational speaker and writer. I did not begin my adult life planning to become an inspiration but God had his own plans for me.
I grew up in an unhappy home and by the age of eighteen I became a mother. Being a teen mother was painfully difficult but learning that my daughter, Savannah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy was even more so. It was a torrid period in my life. I was married and divorced by the time I turned twenty one years old. I mourned in silence the loss of my hopes and dreams for my daughter and for myself; as I slowly came to grips with the reality of her diagnosis.
Teenage pregnancies and sex outside marriage was frowned upon then just as much as it is now. It’s still astonishing to me that even now we don’t do enough to address the “why” young women look for love in all the wrong ways in the wrong people. My own self loathing and self doubt coupled with the taunts of those around me should have destroyed me. The assumptions that I would not be able to parent a child, and more so be capable to parent a child with a disability, chipped away at what little self-esteem there was left in me.
I have journeyed a long way from the 18-year-old who thought she always had to do what everyone else deemed right for her. I was forced to do what was right for Savannah first and in so doing I slowly learnt to let go of everyone else’s expectations of me. Being Savannah’s mother meant learning to fight for her in ways that took me to the ends of myself. I had to learn to parent her while I was still trying to figure out what being a whole person meant for myself.
This is an incredibly difficult thing to do, even for parents who planned their lives and had everything go according to that plan. It is a complicated struggle to figure out who you are as a parent when your child has a disability. Sometimes the battles are not just with other people. The toughest battles are often the battles that erupt within us. As a parent of a child with a disability, it was incredibly difficult to fight my own preconceptions and expectations of who I wanted my child to be. I am still learning all the time, as each new season unfolds how to accept the life that lies before me.
Savannah has become an inspiration to many people from many different communities, but non more so than to me. She is also autistic and struggles with complications from her physical disability. She is the reason that my husband Michael and I met and fell in love. We have two more children: a daughter Talisa (16) and a son Eli (10). Savannah’s life continues to test my faith in God, in myself and in people and over and over again I find that Faith, Hope and Love remain.
I started out as a parent at eighteen and went on to carve out a most unique career that is diverse as it is fulfilling. From talking publicly about raising my family in the face of disability, to working as an assistive technology advisor, to being a motivational speaker, to using my skill as a speaker to host events and to conduct trainings in various sectors; I found so many beautiful pieces in these experiences that make up this life I live today.
I was chosen as a South African to Watch by #SA Bloggers for 2018 and I was awarded the Most Inspirational Blogger by the #SAMommyBloggerAwards. I was also a semi-finalist in the Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa competition.
My family lived through more heartaches and struggles than my 18-year-old self could have imagined she would survive. And yet I did.
I learnt that life is frail and must be handled with care.
I learnt that there are heartaches that will never be healed, but living with a broken heart doesn’t mean you are broken.
I learnt that people need people, but not everyone wants to be the person who is needed.
I learnt that unconditional love is real and a rarity, and I am blessed to know it.
I learnt to trust the process.
I learnt that people are always more important than things, always.
I learnt that God does not give his strongest fights to his strongest warriors. He helps normal, everyday people to face their difficulties and He never leaves them.
I learnt that…… my true self…… is made up of A Million Beautiful Pieces.
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