Losing my left leg—and nearly my right leg—when I was 17 years old was a defining and formative experience in my life. Being an amputee for 40 years has taught me about so many aspects of being human:
· That strength often comes from being vulnerable.
· That boundaries are important and necessary.
· That forgiveness is a choice and a contract of acceptance between my heart and my soul.
If there’s one thread that’s woven its way through my life, it’s that I love to help people. I feel joy when I’m helping someone do something, learn something, or see a new part of themselves.
If there’s one belief I’ve had since I was a teenager, it’s that we all have a beautiful inner compass that’s always pointing us where we need to go. All of us. It doesn’t matter our education, our gender, our abilities, or our race. Sometimes we just need a little help finding the compass or reading it.
I have spent my professional career helping people find their compass or learn how to read it. I started out as a camp director for the Easter Seal Society, moved into supporting adults with developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities, worked at an AIDS Hospice house, and managed a Big Brothers Big Sister affiliate. I currently work as an Executive Director for a program that supports children, teens, and their families who are grieving a death.
All these jobs gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills. When I first started out, I thought leadership was about taking control. I’ve since learned it’s about giving control.
I spent nine years being an at-home mom. During that time I had the freedom to explore my creative side. I became a certified Coach, a trained SoulCollage® Facilitator, and I discovered that I love to write. Four of my essays were published in different anthologies and my memoir A Leg to Stand On was published in 2014 (see my Books page).
The positive response to my writing revealed how much people relate to my story, which inspired me to apply for a TEDx talk. Out of over 100 people, I was one of 20 chosen to give a TEDx talk in my town of Bellingham, WA. I have since done keynotes and other various speaking gigs—all inspiring folks to access their inner compass and to find the peace and acceptance that comes when we follow our true north.
I am passionate about forgiveness: learning what it is and isn’t, practicing the art of it every day, and sharing with others how to walk its path.