Q1) Tell us a little about yourself
7 years ago I was living my dream life - I’d travelled the world, become a nurse, married the love of my life and was busy raising 3 young boys. Life changed in an instant when on a family holiday in Thailand in 2013 I leant on a railing which broke and I fell 6 metres straight down into concrete tiles.
I suffered serious injuries, the worst of which left me paralysed from the chest down. My journey to recovery, both mental and physical, has been challenging and still continues today
Shortly after I came home from rehabilitation, the boys found an injured baby magpie who we named Penguin. She became integral to my recovery as I nursed her back to health. She bought joy and happiness back into our lives. Over time, my husband Cam a professional photographer shot thousands of images which became an incredibly popular Instagram account and eventually inspired our book Penguin Bloom. Our book became an international bestseller and is now in the process of being transformed into a movie, starring Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln.
Since my injury I’ve returned to surfing and in 2018 I won a World Title at the World Adaptive Surfing Championships in California.
This was never how I thought my story would unfold but it goes to show that life can change in an instant and when you least expect it. We all face challenges and difficult times but despite the pain and frustrations, I’m glad to be alive and get to watch my three beautiful boys grow up.
Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it
These days I spend a lot of time sharing my story with others as a keynote speaker. I also continue to surf competitively and am an ambassador for SpinalCure Australia and Wings for Life, helping them in pursuit of the global quest to find a cure for spinal cord injury. To find a cure is the ultimate goal for millions of people around the world who have sustained a spinal cord injury. We’re closer to a cure than ever before and I’m determined to be a part of making that dream a reality.
Q3) What makes you feel courageous?
I feel courageous when I’m pushing my personal boundaries in whatever I’m doing. Whether that was when I was kayaking for Australia, going out in big surf and trying stay calm particularly when you only have your arms to get you back to the surface. I’ve also always been incredibly shy, so it takes a lot of courage to share my story.
Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?
Please don’t take anything for granted, be attentive to the special details and do your best to appreciate the smallest pleasures and surprises in life, for they are the things you will miss most if you ever lose them. Trust me on that.
Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?
We are all braver and capable than we think when facing various challenges. It’s ok to fail but equally important to never give up. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without the support of a few close friends and family. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.
If a shy introvert like myself can get up in front of 1000 people, then trust me, you can do anything.