I think back a lot and realize that all my years of struggling and hardships of trying to be accepted is exactly what made me be brave and willing to take risks in my life. I really did not have many choices unless I wanted to continue feeling sad for myself and go know where. I had no idea that in my future I was going to become a business owner, public speaker and a listened to advocate for others because of my bravery and willingness to never give up. The sadness and pain I felt being isolated to one community and rejected from others was just not tolerable for me. I was determined to follow my dreams and want the best for me. Sounds easy but it was not. There were a lot of tears and the why me’s. I asked my Mom so many times to please find a doctor to get this “’Down Syndrome” out of me thinking people would then accept me and employ me. She always told me she would never want me to be any different than what I was. And to never give up my dreams or change because God had a plan for me. So after years and years of being rejected I had to keep asking, “God, what possibly is your plan for me?”
Now I own and run a cookie company and LOVE hiring people like me that also have been struggling to be accepted and have a good paying job. Every order of cookies helps me create more job opportunities. So please consider a company account or using us for cookie gifts. We have a gift for every occasion.
But then I started getting speaking requests. And I was like what? People want to hear from me? Why now? I was confused in the beginning and I even remember my first standing ovation. All I felt was why are all these people clapping and standing for me when no one would hire me? But since then I understand that most people don’t realize what someone like me is capable of and I am setting an example and maybe even helping change mind sets. I have been given recognition and awards from 13 organizations across the country in just the past 2 years, including New Englander of The Year, Women’s Leadership Forum, ABL give back award, Standing Leadership Advocate, spoken on the panel ofThe United Nations and more. I have spoken via Skype to 18 countries and had interpreters!
I found my true calling! I am going to help change the world’s views and misunderstandings. All those years of being set aside and now I am on a stage in front of thousands of people telling my story, explaining rejection, and the national crisis of the unemployment rate for people with disabilities, and showing the world how valuable, hardworking and ambitious someone with a labeled disability can be.
I have spoken in Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, Poland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Dubai, Slovakia, Russia, South America, Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Ireland and Nigeria!!
So being brave and willing to not give up, but to have hope and strength to move past rejection and isolation has lead me to an amazing world. If I could teach that not just to people with disabilities but to everyone to not give up, fight for your life and what you want and if one door closes don’t shut down….get ready for another to open. Be open to it and brave. Just keep your head up, and always want the best for yourself. Oh and definitely don’t let other’s bring you down!