Everyone creates the story of their life along the way. It is what you make it. It is true that all the influences are presented from outside forces but you are the author in control of how they affect your story. It’s like the Goosebumps books where at the end of the page you can choose which next page to flip to; and depending on which you choose the story will have a completely different outcome. That is the same for the book called life.
“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make. Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress.” – Purdy
Each person will face obstacles with choices along the way, some more difficult than others. It is important though, that whatever the obstacle may be, the choice of how to deal with it is a positive one. It will make all the difference in the world. Amy Purdy is a role model of this sort of positive mentality for a life without limits. Her story Is one full of opportunity and triumphs thanks to her positive outlook and her never-give-up attitude even in the face of devastating and life-altering occurrences.
“Our obstacles can either stop us in our tracks or force us to get creative.” – Purdy
This extraordinary woman had a normal good life growing up. She was happy, healthy, and full of dreams. Even though she was born and raised in Las Vegas she wanted to snowboard more than anything else in the world. So she got a job as a massage therapist so that she could work anywhere and then moved to where there was snow to live out her dream. But then, at age 19, she contracted Neisseria meningitidis, a form of bacterial meningitis. The infection led to septic shock which put her on life support and placed into a coma. The doctors gave her less than a 2% chance of survival.
Amy lost both kidneys (receiving one by donation from her father later on), her spleen had to be removed, and both of her legs had to be amputated below the knee due to the lack of circulation she had suffered. In the end, she survived the disease and although it cost her dearly, it did not change her mentality. She still wanted to snowboard and the loss of both legs was not going to get in the way of that! Merely 7 months after she received her prosthetic legs she was snowboarding again.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” – Albert Einstein
Then just about a year after her legs were amputated, she finished third in a snowboarding competition at Mammoth Mountain. From this achievement and show of perseverance, she received a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a non-profit organization. With it, she was able to compete in several more snowboarding competitions across the United States.
“Instead of looking at our challenges and limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.” – Purdy
Amy challenged herself to move on with her life instead of giving up and feeling sorry for herself. Her courage and determination have enabled her to become one of the top-ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world and is so far the only double-leg amputee competing in snowboarding at the world-class level.
Not only that, but Amy’s creativity and positive attitude has opened doors to many other opportunities. For example (to name a few), being featured in a Madonna music video, a lead actress role in an award-winning independent film and multiple creative modeling projects including a photo shoot with musician and artist Nikki Sixx where her legs were custom-made from steel to look like ice picks. Furthermore, she was named one of ESPNW’s Impact 25 in 2014, as well as one of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 visionaries and influential leaders in 2016.
All of this has influenced her into becoming a powerful inspirational and motivational speaker seen by millions of people and invited to share her story to audiences around the world. She even went on to write a book called “On My Own Two Feet” which became a New York Times Best Seller.
Her desire to help other individuals with physical disabilities who want to get involved in action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing) or art and music has led her to co-found (created with her husband in 2005) her own non-profit organization called Adaptive Action Sports. AAS is to her, the greatest of all her accomplishments. The organization went on to partner with ESPN and runs “adaptive” action sports competitions at the summer and winter ESPN X Games. These events were a key to getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games.
She has persevered, taking farfetched challenges and rising above them…and so can you! Take control of your mind, script your own life, visualize it, dream it, and work to make it happen. Don’t be afraid because there is no space for fear in a life without limits.
Limitless living begins with a choice to be all of you no matter the circumstance. If you ever catch yourself being tempted to give up on your dreams just remember Amy’s story.
Enjoy Amy’s TED x Orange Coast talk, “Living Beyond Limits”. This speech is pure inspiration: