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If your life were a book
and you were the author
how would you want your story to go.
That's the question that changed my life forever.
Growing up in a
hot Las Vegas desert
all I wanted was to be free.
I would daydream
about traveling the world
living in a place where it snowed
and I would picture all of the stories that I would go on to tell.
At the age of nineteen,
the day after I graduated high school,
I moved to a place where it snowed
and I became
a massage therapist.
With this job all I needed were my hands and my massage table by my side.
And I could go anywhere.
For the first time in my life
I felt free,
and completely in control of my life.
That is
until my life took a detour.
I went home from work early one day
with what I thought was a flu
and less than twenty-four hours later
I was in a hospital
on life support
with less than a 2% chance of living
It wasn't until days later
as I lay in a coma
that the doctors diagnosed me
with bacterial meningitis.
A vaccine preventable blood infection.
Over the course of two-and-a-half months
I lost my spleen
my kidneys
the hearing in my left ear
and both of my legs below the knee.
When my parents
wheeled me out of the hospital
I felt like I'd been pieced back together
like a patch-work doll.
I thought the worst was over
until weeks later when I saw my new legs for the first time.
The cuffs where bulky blocks of metal
with pipes folded together for the ankles
and a yellow rubber foot
with a raised rubber line
from the toes to the ankle
to look like a vein.
I didn't know what to expect but i wasn't expecting that.
With my mom by my side
and tears streaming down our faces
I strapped on these chunky legs
and I stood up.
They were so painful
and so confining
that all I cound think was --
how am I ever going to travel the world on these things.
How was I ever going to live
the life full of adventure
and stories as I always wanted
and how was I going to snowboard again.
That day I went home, I crawled into bed
and this is what my life looked like for the next few months.
Me pass out,
escaping from reality,
with my legs resting by my side.
I was absolutely
and emotionally
I knew that in order to move forward
I had to let go
of the old Amy
and learn to embrace
the new Amy.
And that's when it dawned on me
that I didn't have to be five foot five anymore.
I could be as tall as I wanted. (Laughter)
Or as short as I wanted, depending on who I was dating. (Laughter)
And if I snowboard again
my feet aren't going to get cold. (Laughter)
And best of all I thought
I can make my feet the size of all the shoes that are on the sales rack. (Laughter)
And I did! So there are benefites here.
It was this moment
that I asked myself that life defining question.
"If my life were a book
and I were the author
how would I want this story to go."
And I began to daydream,
I daydreamed like I did as a little girl.
And I imagined myself
walking gracefully
helping other people through my journey
and snowboarding again.
And didn't just see myself
carving down on mountain of powder
I could actually feel it.
I could feel the wind against my face and a beat
of my racing heart
as if it were happening in that very moment.
And that is when
a new chapter in my life began.
Four months later I was back up on a snowboard
although things didn't go quite as I expected
my knees and ankles wouldn't bend, and at one point
I traumatized all the steers on the chairlift when I..
I fell
and my legs still attached to my snowboard (Laughter)
were flying down the mountain. (Laughter)
I was on top of the mountain still.
I was so shocked, I was just as shocked as everybody else
and I was so discouraged, but
I knew that if i could find the right pair of feet
that I would be able to do this again.
And this is when I learned
that our borders and obstacles can only do two things.
One: stop us in our tracks,
or two: force us to get creative.
I did a year of research, but still couldn't figure out what kind of legs to use
couldn't find any resources that could help me
so I decided to make a pair myself.
My leg maker and I put random parts together
and we made a pair of feet that I could snowboard in.
As you can see
rusty bolts, rubber, wood and neon pink duct tape.
And yes I can change may toe nail polish.
It was these legs and the best twenty first birthday gift I could ever receive --
a new kidney from my dad
that allowed me to follow my dreams again.
I started snowboarding
then I went back to work, then I went back to school. Then in 2005
I co-founded a non-profit organization
for youth and young adults with physical disabilities so that they could get
involved with action sports.
From there had the opportunity to go to South Africa
Where I helped to put shoes on thousands of children's feet so they can attend school.
And just at this past February
i won two back-to-back world cup gold medals. (Applause)
Which made me
the highest-ranked adaptive female snowboarder in the world.
Eleven years ago
when I lost my legs I had no idea what to expect.
But if you asked me today, if I would ever want to change my situation,
I would have to say no.
Because my legs haven't disabled me. If anything they have enabled me, they forced me
to rely on my imagination
and to believe in the possibilities.
And that's why I believe that our imaginations can be used as tools for
breaking through borders.
Because in our minds we can do anything
and we can be anything.
It's believing in those dreams,
and facing our fears head-on
that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits.
And although today is about innovation without borders, I have to say
that in my life
innovation has only been possible because of my borders.
I've learned that
borders are where the actual ends,
also where imagination
and the story begins.
So the thought that I would like to challenge you with today,
is that maybe instead of looking at our challenges and our 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.
It's not about breaking down borders
it's about pushing off of them
and seeing
what amazing places
he might bring us. Thank you. (Applause)
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【TEDx】Amy Purdy - Living Beyond Limits

48096 Folder Collection
short1216 published on January 9, 2013
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