29 November 2010


Some people believe that in order to be a great leader, it is necessary to be perfect. The reality is that great leaders aren't perfect, they have probably fallen a time or two. In all likelihood, a great leader will have made mistakes along the way, learned from them and then extracted lessons to pass on to others.

I would much sooner follow a leader who has fallen and got back up than a leader that has never fallen. The reason is obviour; a leader who gets back up has to have learned valuable lessons in the low point of life and very obviously put those lessons to good use if he/she is now on the leadership track. They are probably able to go on and inspire others to overcome their own obstacles in life because they have been there. People in positions of authority who have never made mistakes seem a bit super human and face challenges gaining respect because of it.

In the military, there was a lot of respect for officers that had worked their way up through the ranks to become commissioned officers. The other route that was available was to get a university degree and then become an officer, never having been where the rubber hits the road. These officers had a much more difficult time gaining the respect of the troops because they were not considered to be tried and true and also because they were not "one of us". As soldiers we trusted those who had been where we were, understood the challenges and could offer sound advice based on experience. Those who had taken the other route to leadership had a more difficult challenge.

The lesson is this - it's not the mistakes that will hurt you, it is the failure to make them and learn from them that will do more harm.

17 November 2010

First Female Cement Finisher in Long Harbour

Brenda Lynch is a remarkable woman. She also happens to be my sister. She has been a cement finisher in Nova Scotia for 27 years. She co-owns a company with her husband where they have been working since the early 80's in Nova Scotia where they specialize in sidewalks, curbs and gutter. Brenda enjoys working outside with the men. She has been a member of the Brick Layers union in NL for a couple of years now and had her fingers crossed that she would get a call to do some union work.

When you work for yourself in a small company, it is not uncommon to have to do a wide variety of tasks including labour work. Union work is different because there are labourers and that means that the cement finishers are responsible for finishing cement and labourers do the heavier labour work. It's a real treat to work on this union job - the pay is not too shabby either.

Brenda is the only female cement finisher in the Bricklayers Union. She will, no doubt, be a mentor and role model for the many young women who are going to come behind her. I have no doubt that it will be a very rewarding experience. Her first day is Monday and I will keep you posted when I know more. It is so exciting to see women take the lead in industry - we're cheering for you Brenda.

29 October 2010

A Woman's Success and Strong Supervision

When I think back on my own career in trades, I am reminded of my favourite boss that I had when I was only 20. I had been in the trades about 3 years at the time that I started to work for him. He would have been considered an ally to women because he had a standard that he held himself to and he didn't put up with any bull... on the job. He set the tone for how the organization worked.

As often happens, there were times when things didn't go as planned and this guy tolerated no nonsense. He called people out on issues taht were below standard. He treated people fairly. His treatment of people made an impression on me and became the gold seal standard for what to look for in a boss. I had the good fortune to know his family personally and he was the same way no matter where he was - a gentleman to the core. He was principled and didn't back down from what he believed was fair.

I have witnessed this again recently as a female company owner I know went on the job and saw one of her employees verbally abusing a co-worker who was not able to advocate for himself. There was no time for diplomacy. The abuser's actions were having and impact on the rest of the workers. She walked up to him and loudly proclaimed that he had fallen below the standard and he didn't like being caught. He threw down his tool and walked off the job. The other (male) workers thanked her afterwards for her support. They enjoyed having a boss that was on their side.

We all want to go to work and do a good days work for a good days pay and maybe have a bit of fun doing it. That might happen more often if there were strong leaders onsite that had strong sanctions against unacceptable behaviour. I've been fortunate to not only have experienced it myself but watched a woman doing it well also. Women make great tradeswomen and they also make wonderful supervisors - it's natural I think to have those in her care get along with one another. Way to go sista...

3 October 2010

You gotta know....

The Gambler - a song by Kenny Rogers has a line that says "You gotta know when to hold up, know when to fold up, know when to walk away, know when to run."

As I was listening to this recently I was thinking how this wisdom applied not only to gambling, but also to women as they work toward a successful career in the trades. There will be times when using good judgement will require that you "know when to walk away, know when to run".

Knowing when to speak up, Knowing when to let it go, Knowing when you're wasting precious energy are all skills that will serve you well.

If you want to break it down a little further you will notice that you're only knowing "when".....

When is it time to go to the supervisor with a complaint about a co-worker for example? I would have to say that there should have been an attempt to solve the problem on your own first. Developing the skill to advocate for oneself has many benefits. It sends a message that you're strong. You don't need to be rescued. Imagine if everytime someone at work did something you didn't like, you went to your boss and complained. You'd get a reputation after a while. Even as children we were encouraged to solve our own problems at some point. It's good business.

But...there's always a limit. If you're tangling with someone who gets a joy out of irritating you then it may be time to crank it up. Let me give you a concrete example. I was walking through a worksite one day when a man made a very sexist comment to me. I turned to him and quietly and politely told him that I was offended by his remark. He laughed and then when I walked by again - he once again repeated the remark, obviously delighted by my discomfort. I walked over and asked him once again, a little firmer, to please not say it again. But he blatantly laughed out loud and said it again loud enough for others to hear. I informed him that if he didn't stop, I would have to go see the supervisor. He chuckled as I walked away.

The next time I walked past him, he repeated the remark in front of 8 co-workers. I didn't speak to him. I went to my supervisor and lodged a formal complaint. He was reprimanded and forced to apologize to me.

That's the only time I've ever had that kind of response from a man. I find people in general are very reasonable but you have to learn that there will be times when you are out of your comfort zone and at those times you have to "know when to walk away, know when to run". Do you know?

19 September 2010

Joy in Creating

People often enquire as to why a woman would choose a career in the trades. You have to admit that sometimes the work conditions are not great. Weather can make it tough for certain and there are other things that makes working in the trades uncomfortable. But there is something to be said about a job done well just for the sake of doing it.

I can recall a project that I undertook one time that took a lot of fine detail and concentration. I not only had to concentrate hard but I also had to be creative. I can recall getting things to fit together just right or times when I could overcome what looked like a challenging project. There is something to be said for that type of problem solving. Standing back and looking at a completed project that you contributed to minimizes all of the concerns about the weather. There are many reasons why choosing a career in trades can be rewarding.

9 September 2010

Dusting Yourself Off

Sometimes life is not kind. We will all have at least one life altering event in our lives. Well, maybe that is not so - we all know someone who manages to get by unscathed. But for the rest of us poor folks -the reality is....life is not always kind.

How do you move forward after a setback? Do you have a strategy for getting back up? In my experience, I've learned something from all the times that things have not gone as planned - there is room in life for change and things usually work out. Picture your worse case scenario - there is nothing that can be done about a tragedy once it happens. You can decide to let it go quickly and work on the "what now" part of your life.

Leaders are not people who do not fail - they are the people who can recover quickly and extract the lesson.

Picking Your Battles

There is nothing worse then being singled out at work for wisecracks or the brunt of jokes. This can be very cruel and intimidating behaviour.

There may be ways to prevent it or at least minimize it. First of all, I use the analogy of one hand clapping to demonstrate the role that is played by an enabler in some abusive situations.

Women need to learn to watch for the warning signs or red flags to this type of behaviour. Generally speaking, there is always an institutional bully lurking around for some vulnerable man or woman to make the next victim. If you are being singled out over and over, it might be worthwhile to learn to walk away from situations or to disengage in conversations that show signs of escalating. I'm not interested in victim blaming - but there are times when onlookers can see a trainwreck coming but choose not to speak. It's worth thinking about.

Forewarned is forearmed -

30 August 2010

Socializing and Learning

I can recall what it was like growing up in a home where all of the men worked in the trades. They came home after a long day at work and slipped off their boots and the socks that were glued to their feet and ate the lovely meal that mama had prepared and got washed up. Men would wander by and they would chat about the new things that they had learned or saw that day at work. Sometimes they’d do a mock-up and practise a tough concept or go over it in their minds. It might also be the case that they ran over to a friend’s place to help him with something trade related. Imagine the benefit from a learning perspective that this type of downtime meant? A man wasn’t only exposed to trade related learning at work.

Contrast that with how a woman in trades might end her day. She comes home from work, peels off the socks that have glued themselves to her feet and the dog is bouncing around and the kids are starving and there are 5 loads of laundry to be done. She runs a cloth over her face, throws something in the oven, starts the washer and asks little Sarah if she has any homework. Little Sarah then tells her mother that she has to bring cupcakes in tomorrow for the bake sale and that she needs 2 sheets of Bristol board and it has to be black.

This difference has an impact on women’s learning. I was thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me that men had an advantage in trades over women because of course they get to talk about new projects, solve problems, cement new ideas in the brain – it’s part of the learning process.

Sitting around and leisurely discussing work is often not an option for women who have a double day. There may not be any time or opportunity for her to relive her day or think about a new technique.

What can be done about this? A woman must look at her reality and recognize that she is responsible for her own training and professional development. She must then create opportunities for learning.

One possible solution is to make a concerted effort to network – whether you use social networking or online help and chats. It is essential to have those conversations about your work. A second option is to develop relationships with other men onsite even though that will be tough. The key is to create opportunities for learning. It will benefit you in the long run.

Sometimes when a woman asks for help onsite, it is used as evidence that she is not suited for the job. Men, on the other hand have plenty of opportunities, both formal and informal, to acquire help with skills development and it is never mentioned.

Recognize this distinction - create opportunities of learning in spite of….

22 August 2010

Accountability Partners

If you have ever tried to change something about your life, you know that it is tough. It's possible to change but it is a challenge. This is the way that it usually plays out. You'll make up your mind that next time you're going to do things differently. Your logical voice can even articulate all the wonderful reasons why it is a good idea to change this particular thing. You'll have a plan of action supported by conviction and you know for certain that things are going to be different next time.

Then!!! You start to waiver. You hear another little voice saying, "Well it's not that bad." "Better a devil you know then one you don't know." and it goes on from there. Before you know it you're falling back into old patterns of behaviour. I know it to be true because I've been there and I've met others on the journey with the same story.

What I enjoy about awareness is that if we know this pattern, we can put a plan in place to deal with it. I have adopted the practise of working with an accountability partner when I want to change a behaviour. At one time I thought I'd team up with someone who needed to change in the same way that I did. But that didn't work because what happened is that not only would I talk myself out of my plan of action, my peer supporter would help me to justify not changing.

Now I've figured out that my accountability partner will have to be someone who is solidly situated where they are. I articulate what it is that I need from them with regards to checking in. We have a contract of sorts at the beginning to say that this is how much freedom I'm giving the other person to help me to change. It works extremely well and the key is that it has to be someone you trust.

When you start to hear your destructive voice telling you that things aren't that bad or that the status quo is OK, you know intuitively that this is not beneficial to think this way. At this point, you check in with your accountability partner and through chatting, you once again find the resolve to stay the course. When you give voice to your concerns, it has a very positive effect. It reminds you what you are now committed to and calls attention to the destructive voice.

I believe that with an accountability partner, our chances of succeeding in change are greatly increased. Change is still difficult, you still have to do all the work, but getting the help you need to stay on track speaks to commitment and courage. You can do it.

18 August 2010

Self Advocacy - Speaking for yourself

Self advocacy is the ability to ask for the things you need in life and the ability to protect and establish boundaries. There are many people who are unable to self-advocate for one reason or another and that is not so bad if you can ask someone else to advocate on your behalf. There are times when it is wiser to get someone to advocate on your behalf especially where the subject matter is complicated. Lawyers are advocates in this sense.

In our day to day dealings with people around us, we do not want to resort to asking for someone to speak for us if it can be avoided. It is much better, if possible , to learn to ask for what you need or speak up when an injustice is occurring.

It is never too late to learn how to speak up, we learn across the lifespan. A very good first step is to start small and build on success. In our day to day lives, it can be as simple as telling someone that what they are doing is offensive..

Let me give you a simple example in what can happen in the home. Our family are always eating snacks and when they are finished they leave their dishes all over the place. I found it disrespectful to have to go around and pick up the dishes after everyone had tucked in for the night. So I spoke up. I said that I felt unappreciated after making such a delicious snack. I asked if they might pick up their dishes and place them in the dishwasher when they were done. I was surprised with the result. I only have to remind them occasionally.

That's a simple example but think of the ramifications in other parts of your life if you can't even speak up with people that you love and who love you. You're sitting at a meeting at work one day and your supervisor is telling you what the new policy will be. You know that this policy won't work but you don't speak up because you don't want to be seen as a complainer. The new policy takes effect, your direct reports are miserable and they come to you and complain. What kind of a leader will you look like if you tell them that you saw this coming but didn't speak up. If you speak up on such occasions, it is quite possible that your idea will have merit - maybe the policy makers had not taken your point of view into consideration. The other positive outcome is that people see you as a person who has principles and doesn't shy away from a difficult conversation. It's a win/win.

Of course it is possible that your idea will be squashed or ignored but you will be better served having voiced it and having it on the record. People report that once they speak up in a small way, it becomes easier over time. Build on success, set small goals and then move to larger things. People who advocate for themselves are not thought of as complainers by the people that matter. Think about it.

17 August 2010

Peer Support

Looking back at my own career as a woman in trades, I realize that I would have benefited from connecting with other women in the same situation. I often felt alone and misunderstood by my male colleagues. My only option was to connect with the office staff and they were not experiencing what I was and sometimes there was difficulty relating. Peer support is a wonderful resource and even if you don't have that option onsite, there are other ways of creating it.

Go outside your immediate workplace to create your own group of support. It will take some creativity and your assertiveness skills will be an asset. Contact other employers where you know there are women working in the non-traditional sector and ask them if they want to get together periodically for a gab session. It doesn't have to be formal, you can meet for a drink after work or get together for a meal on a weekend. The idea is to surround yourself with a group of like minded people who will serve as a support system. You have now created a group of go-to people who can immediately understand and appreciate your challenges.

The benefits of knowing you are not alone are amazing. When you have an issue you can share it and someone in the group may have suggestions for how they dealt with that same issue. You can share successes with people who can understand the unique challenges of the industry. It is a win-win for all.

11 August 2010

Assertiveness and Self-Advocacy

Being an entrepreneur takes a substantial committment and one of the skills that is most beneficial is an ability to articulate what it is that I need. This ability to ask for what I need and push boundaries is something that came in handy for me as a tradeswoman.

One of the trends that happens to women in trades is that they end up getting stuck in the jobs that are less technologically challenging and more physically demanding. Female mechanics, for example, will often find themselves working in the service bay where they will be performing routine preventive maintenance on vehicles while some of the choicer aspects of the trade will be out of reach.

There are several reasons why this takes place. First of all, women are often discouraged from taking on new tasks. I have heard women say that they have been told that they would not understand the new task. There is sometimes a condescending attitude about women's ability.

Secondly, women who work in environments without supports, often refrain from taking on new tasks for fear of failure. Most new tasks in life require us to crawl before we walk - for example as a speaker, my initial attempts were probably not noteworthy, but with time I mastered the ability to speak in front of people. The same is true in the trades, new tasks can be awkward at first but with time they can be mastered. A woman, however, will often not be given the grace period to learn effectively. She will often be judged on her first attempt. As a result of this negative scrutiny, women refrain from stepping outside their comfort zone.

To become a master in the trade, it is essential that she expose herself to all aspects of learning. This will often require that she be persistent in articulating her need for support in the beginning. It means that she has to push back against resistence to new learning. She will often have to be her own advocate and understand that if she allows the scrutiny to influence her, she may never advance in the trade.

One of the things that I noticed was this. In new tasks where I tried and failed, tried and failed, tried and did better until eventually I could do it, even in a modified way - the persistence earned me the respect of some co-workers. It also connected me to the real support onsite. It helped me to identify who my real mentors were.

The environment can be harsh and sometimes toxic but a woman must learn to develop her own skills to get her needs met. The rewards are many.

8 August 2010

Creating the Life You Want

People around me who have known me a long time know that there were times when I I have been stuck. There was a time when I could not have imagined a rich life in spite of vision loss. This is not a blog about vision loss although I should do that one later on.

It's a blog about the necessity of changing the way you think. If you think you can't you probably won't -

Glass half full/glass half empty

These analogies make perfect sense when we get to the other side. I recall when my glass was half empty and it was in direct relation to the direction of my thinking. I felt sorry for myself and these were the thoughts that consumed me:

- I can't drive anymore and life is worth nothing if I can't drive
- How will I ever raise a healthy child without a vehicle
- I'm going blind and won't ever do anything again
- I'll never be able to make a living or have a career

Contrast that with my present reality

- I have a 16 year old daughter that would make many parents proud, she will get her lisence this year
- I have written 2 books, one will be self published this month and the other is at a traditional publisher
- I have a business, a five year marketing plan and all the supports I need to succeed and this will ensure that I can support myself later in life, after all I will be blind and I want to live comfortably in my old age
-I'm a mentor for others now who have trouble moving beyond obstacles in life
-I now know that my life is blessed not because of vision loss and all the affiliated losses, but in spite of

That's quite a switcheroo and people ask me "What happened?" Well my thinking changed that's all. Oh it took a lot of work and I needed help and support in different places. Sometimes when you're advocating for yourself all that you're capable of is reaching out for help. I had lots of wonderful support to lean on. I went through the stages of grief for certain - but in an ad hoc kind of way. The nice part about acceptance is that it frees up a lot of creative energy. Lately I'm learning about taking the creative process to the next level.

We build on success. Achieving does that - it helps you to believe in your ability and the only thing that you can say then is "Watch Out"

I think everyone has the ability to do the same as I have done but many people choose not to.

5 August 2010

Roots and Wings

I really didn't think that letting go of my daughter would be a problem for me when she became a young adult. I enjoyed being a mom and raised a wonderfully bright, mature and caring child in spite of the challenges of single parenting.

Now she is almost 16 and she is pulling away which of course is a natural occurrence at this age. I like that she has developed great friendships and that she wants to try new things on her own without her mother's input. I did try to raise her to be a successful adult.

In spite of this, I still want to protect her from a world that I know can be unkind. I look back on my own life and see that I was often stubborn and I really didn't learn from people telling me what to do as much as I learned from trying new things and then failing or succeeding. I'm certain that the same will be true for her.

Even though I understand how it is that adults learn, I still struggle with the notion that she is ready for a world that can be unkind on occasion. It can also be very rewarding. Did I give her the right tools? Will she be overwhelmed? Will she be duped by some and inspired by others? Oh, probably as I was and others before me. I hope that I gave her good tools to manage in the world and that she will acquire more along the way.

As for me, I'll have to get over it. Detach with love - let her go to explore and take risk and find her own way in the world and her place in it. I wrote her a note and told her that I was always here for her with no problem too big for us to handle. I also told her that her friends would help her out too and that there was no need for me to be her only "go to" person. I'm a little sad inside that I won't be of course. But such is the role of a mother - roots and wings.

28 June 2010

First Impressions

How often do you look at a person and make assumptions about them based on their appearances or other information that is readily available to the naked eye. I know that I am guilty of this myself. It is probably a good thing to make quick judgements for safety reasons. It's wise to make a quick call about whether we are safe and to act on that. I think that we don't want to stop there. We should learn that sometimes we're wrong.

Recently I was at the hairdresser and we were chatting and she was telling me about overweight people. People who know me know that I am not exactly Twiggy material (Paris Hilton for the younger folk). I'm a heavyset woman. Getting back to my story, she then told me that she would never hire a heavy woman in her salon and I asked her why. She told me that big people are lazy and they couldn't get out of their own way and we did go on to talk about the pressure to "appear" a certain way.

The larger message in what she was saying is not uncommon today - people are very quick to judge. We all know people who are lazy - big people, small people, men, women, children - it's life. But to assume that big people are lazy by virtue of their size is stigma buzz. We all know big people who are hard workers but that's not the image that a lot of people automatically see.

I've been guilty of this type of judgement in my own life. Vision loss interfered with what was to be a promising career. I struggled with calling myself "disabled"regardless of how I tweaked the phrase. My image that was ingrained in me was of what we historically said and did about the disabled and I was not "one of them". I pictured a blind person as a "basket weaver" not as a productive member of society. It is not my proudest admission . I'm even ashamed of how I used to think. But I do know where it came from because I'm an intelligent woman and I've taken the time to "learn" differently and now I have the skill to challenge my own assumptions.

The biggest tragedy is not in making assumptions about people - don't beat yourself up over it. The biggest tragedy is in believing and acting on those assumptions without proper evidence.. The assumptions I'm thinking of are usually harmful. I am now a representative of many stigmatized groups, single mother, overweight, blind/disabled and the list goes on.

It's tough to live in a world that judges but the world judges - so we build defences against that but how nice it is to take down those defences - to be judged by who we are, not the label we hold. I invite you readers to pay attention to the assumptions you are making about people and whether you're then allowing the evidence to disprove you or are you only accepting evidence that proves your point. Which is it?

28 April 2010

The World Around You

Today I'm thinking about society and wondering what our responsibility is to the citizens. There is no doubt that those who have more will get more for many reasons. In all likelihood, if they can't advocate for themselves, they'll hire someone to advocate for them. Higher levels of education means that they have abilities to articulate their own needs. This will lead to a better quality of life across the lifespan and in particular in their old age.

All around me I see the less fortunate who are struggling to make ends meet and who have never really known a day when someone else took on their burden. Paying for supports is not an option for many aging people. There are so many elderly single women who are still trying to support their children with insufficient supports for themselves. I hear people blame the victim way too often.

Our government supports the market economy with very little support for people before or after they enter the workforce. As a person who attended university at a later age, I was surprised by what I learned about sociology and why we are the way we are. I don't think that people should have to go to university to understand their world. There should be access to discussions in other venues.

In a society that is allowed to become largely individualist, there are going to be a lot of people left out. "It takes a village" and we're losing our village mentality in places where it matters.

19 April 2010

University as a Mature Student

I was very fortunate at the age of 40 to attend university. I went to Mount St. Vincent University in Nova Scotia where I took courses toward a BA with a major in Political Science. I was a visually impaired woman, single mother, 40 years old without the financial means to do so but I did it. I was a first generation university student and this was also the case with a lot of younger students.

I loved university as I encountered all kinds of information which helped me to make sense of my world. I particularly enjoyed reading the historical narrative of the feminist movement - something I'd never studied but had certainly lived through. I also enjoyed my courses in Politics where I learned about leveraging power and came to realize how little power someone like me has in the world.

Some of the challenges that I faced had to do with ensuring that my child was cared for during those times when school work made it necessary for me to be away from home. I always managed to work it out. I also commuted to and from school by bus and that added to my burden but I enjoyed studying so much that I think I would have walked to school if I had to.

The visual impairment was a tough one and it became worse later on because I was not very good at asking for help and I didn't really know what I needed or what was available. I think that there could have been some improvement in this area. There is lots of talk about accommodation of differences but people haven't quite figured out how to bridge some divides.

University is a place where students can challenge assumptions and mature students like myself like to challenge the assumptions. Sometimes professors didn't like that about us especially considering there were times when the professor had only obviously experienced life as an academic. The lived reality or "where the rubber hits the road" offers another peice of information that often needs to be put in there alongside the scientific data.

I went on to study law at Dalhousie Law School after receiving 9 credits and that is an experience that is worthy of it's own entry in my blog. I am not someone that is traditionally found at Law School and I faced some very unique challenges there. I didn't finish the degree but quit at the beginning of my 2nd year and returned to MSVU finish my BA with distinction in 2008.

For those who are considering returning to school I'd recommend it to anyone. There is so much that we don't know and even with a university education all that we really gain is the tools to dig deeper. The world has changed so much and our view is so limited. Some might say that this is a great thing and I'm not in agreement.

It was a wonderful experience and I'll write more about it later.

16 April 2010

Tricks of the Trade

The next best thing to being a woman in trades is to be coaching women in trades. I'm excited by the prospect of developing a workshop and coaching model which I will use to help women be more successful as tradeswomen and leaders. Not only will I have a seminar/workshop, I also offer one on one coaching to women who are concerned with their own success.

The knowledge we learn in our trades training is not sufficient to success in this environment, there are other aspects also. There is a knack to navigating in the industry. Sometimes a little understanding and coaching will help us to change attitude and behaviour and contribute to our success.

Trades women who have little time in their busy lives to go and take courses often benefit from Life Coaching. This approach is client centred to deal with the specific issue at hand. It is an option for professional development that is shown to produce positive results.


11 April 2010

You Can Too

In life we are sometimes presented with obstacles that manage to derail us for a time. It is often the case that people don't move beyond these life altering events. Vision loss for me was one of these tragedies that really got in the way of anything that I had planned. I was young, had a lisence, a career and was a risk taker.

I loved driving and at different points I owned a dirt bike, a truck to transport said bike and a nice Monte Carlo with a smell of new. I took scuba diving and actually jumped out of a plane. I didn't wait for the world to come to me - I sought out challenge and excitment.

All of this changed when at the age of 29 I lost my career, my lisence and my sense of who I was. I would be lying if I said that the journey from there to here was an easy one because the reality is that it was a hard one and one that I had to do on my own. I was blessed along the way with support.

The challenge for me was finding purpose and meaning in life if I could not engage in the physical way that I was accustomed to. It's been a long road and I believe that I am one of the truly blessed people. I now live a rewarding life as a disabled woman who finds intellectual stimulation a wonderful outlet. Oh, there's something to be said for sitting on the top of a mountain, nothing but the wind whipping across your face and the put-put of a two stroke below you as you stare back at the shale in your path. They're memories that I'll have forever.

Now I make new memories, encouraging others to dig deep within themselves, throw off the limiting thoughts and people, and once again become an active participant in the game of life. Yes, you too can make the transformation.