I would say TEDx was like no other experience in my life, but that wouldn’t be 100% true. While completely different than anything I’ve done before, I found it comparable to two other events in my life… taking the Bar Exam and doing the Ironman. All 3 of these experiences took months of preparation, lead to an amazingly draining day where all the adrenaline and build-up came to fruition and ultimately crashed, and lead to me being exhausted (in a good way) for multiple days following the event. TEDx was truly the experience of a lifetime, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to share my message amongst so many kindred spirits.
One of the things I was most thankful for through the TEDx experience was that Dafna, Christy, and Michael never tried to put me in a box while I was preparing for my talk – they let me be me, and they let me tell my story the way I wanted to tell it. Being an amputee is an important part of who I am, but it does not define me and it is not my whole story. While the story I ultimately told on stage did incorporate my prosthesis and the additional challenges it caused, my main focus was not on me being an amputee but using my Ironman experience to illustrate to others that accepting help does not diminish your accomplishments. I was so thankful for the opportunity to share a message that was true to me – including, but not focusing on, my disability.
Related to the above, I have often felt that there wasn’t a place for me in motivational speaking because many talks by people with disabilities focus on overcoming their disability. If I’m completely honest about it, my amputation has always just been a normal part of my life that has actually added value to my life. I don’t remember having a left foot, so wearing a prosthesis is all I know. My prosthetic leg has given me a means to connect with others through humor (there are lots of good tricks it can be used for) and lead to so many good things in my life that I’ve never seen it as something negative or something I’ve had to overcome. This has lead me to think I don’t fit into the conventional box of motivational speaking for people with disabilities. However, after standing on the TEDx stage and getting a complete rush from the responses I got from the audience throughout my speech, I now wonder if maybe there could be a place for me…[Watch her TEDxTalk here: https://youtu.be/HB4sKOTaDrk]