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It can take time 🕒

This past week, I had the privilege of attending a retreat for a group I joined called Epic F.I.T. in Phoenix, AZ.

For two days, I surrounded myself with high-vibration entrepreneurs and visionaries, and I learned a lot about myself and the person I want to continue to grow into. It was quite transformational.

I also got to see my mom and my brother since they both live in Phoenix. During lunch, my brother shared with us that he joined a curling class, and this is a HUGE DEAL and let me tell you why.

When in Phenix, AZ

Over the years, I've learned countless valuable lessons from my brother. Born three months premature, he experienced a lack of oxygen to his brain, resulting in lifelong cognitive and learning disabilities.

In 2007, our family started to notice that he was walking strangely. My mom thought it might be due to fallen arches and bought him inserts and orthopedic shoes, but nothing seemed to help. It wasn't until we went on a cruise that I observed the issue was actually coming from his hips. After that trip, my parents insisted he see a physical therapist. My brother can be stubborn, so it took a few months, but eventually, he did. After several scans and blood tests, the doctors discovered he had a condition called spastic paraplegia, a group of rare inherited diseases that cause progressive weakness and stiffness in the leg muscles.

By 2020, he was permanently in a wheelchair.

The first lesson I have learned from my brother is that YES, you can do anything if it is something you truly want. My brother insisted on living alone, and to this day, he still does. He has also insisted on not straying from his budget. For 20 years, he has consistently kept a log of his monthly expenses, and since he is on disability, you can imagine that he lives within some pretty tight margins. Although he has some fluctuating costs like electric and phone, he has kept things like his grocery allowance exactly the same. Until recently, he only spent $35 a week on groceries. My mother finally convinced him to raise this to $45. The most impressive thing is that he still manages to save $100 a month.

The second lesson I was reminded of this past week was when he told me about the curling class he joined. For the past several years, my mom and I have been begging him to join a class or group with other people who have disabilities so he wouldn't feel so alone.

He would always say, "No! I'm fine. I don't want to be around other people like me!"

It was heartbreaking because the last time I visited him at his apartment, I learned that he just sat in the dark, watched TV, or talked to strangers in the DMs on Instagram.

But this time was different. He heard a story in church about David and the choices he made. I'm not clear about what part of the story resonated with him the most, but the idea that he had a choice really hit home. This "aha" moment, accompanied by my mom taking him to a curling game hosted by Ability 360 in Phoenix, inspired my brother to get involved. He was so happy about it that he gave me a play-by-play of how he called them, talked to someone, registered, etc. He beamed when he told me that they just play the game! They don't talk about why or how they all ended up in wheelchairs. He said this was an unspoken agreement because they have to share this with people every day, and it is exhausting.

Hearing him share this story made me realize that even though my mom and I thought we knew what was best for him, he wasn't ready. He hadn't come to terms with the fact that he was permanently in a wheelchair. He needed to mourn the days he could walk. He needed to sit with his new normal for a while.

We all need time to adjust to changes, even when others think they know what's best for us. My brother's journey reminds me that it's okay to take things at our own pace and that finding community, even when it seems daunting, can be a game-changer.

Reflecting on my brother's journey, I've realized that the lessons he's taught me apply directly to you as a speaker:

Just like my brother's determination to live independently and stick to his budget, public speaking requires resilience and a commitment to your goals. You may face challenges, but persistence is key.

His journey is also a testament to being true to oneself and acknowledging personal limitations and strengths. In public speaking, authenticity resonates with the audience.

When you speak from the heart and share your genuine experiences, people connect with you more deeply.

Joining the curling class was a significant step for my brother, symbolizing the courage to step out of his comfort zone. Public speaking often involves overcoming fear and stepping into the spotlight, despite the anxiety it may cause. Finding a supportive community, like my brother did with his curling class, is crucial. In public speaking, having a supportive network—be it a coach, a group of peers, or a mentor—can provide the encouragement and feedback needed to grow and improve.

The process of adapting to new circumstances and finding new ways to thrive is akin to the journey of becoming a skilled speaker.

It’s about continuous learning and growth, adapting to feedback, and refining your message. My brother's realization that he had a choice mirrors the empowerment that comes with becoming a confident public speaker. You have the power to choose your narrative, control your delivery, and influence your audience.

Thank you for being here and if you have a story about someone in your life that has taught you valuable lessons, please share. I truly believe that we can change the world, one story at a time. ✨


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