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Ignite Your Inner Flame and Learn To Fly

by Helen Aldous

The Olympics and Paralympics have dominated the TV for the last couple of weeks. As an self-confessed “non-sporty” person who can’t stand watching televised sport {or sport of any kind} I was truly dreading the start of the Olympic media onslaught and had become very Scrooge-like about it, complaining that the Olympics had taken money away from the arts.  However, when the games started I was surprised to find myself moved and deeply inspired by the athletes taking part.

What I have enjoyed most are the stories behind the victories (or losses). The mental strength and the ability the athletes possess to keep going when the odds are stacked against them. The strength of mind, as opposed to physical strength that keeps them moving forward towards their goal.

The Paralympics has been especially inspirational for me. Competitors have had to deal mentally with life changing injuries, many caused by war or other acts of violence or other issues that make competing harder.

Paralympic athlete Martine Wiltshire competed at Sitting Volleyball at the London Olympics. She lost her legs in the July 7th terrorist attacks on the London Tube which happened the day after the Olympic committee announced that London would be the venue for the next games.  Martine was faced with rebuilding her life in a different form. She said of her Team GB selection ”It’s a dream, and something that I never, ever thought I’d be doing, and a journey that I never thought I’d be on.” Read more on Martine’s story here.

It was magical to see the Paralympics opening ceremony dominated by art. One of the key moments was the centrepiece of Marc Quinns sculpture “Alison Lapper pregnant”

Alison Lapper Pregnant - Paralympics

This beautiful and dignified sculpture amazingly sparked a storm of controversy when it was displayed in Trafalgar Square in London.

Alison Lapper is an artist I have a lot of respect for and her story is one of determination. Born with the congenital disorder, phocomelia, which caused her to have no arms and truncated legs, Alison was rejected by her mother at birth and raised in children’s homes where she was treated cruelly by staff.

She taught herself to paint using her mouth and is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists group. Alison went on to  study Fine Art at the University of Brighton and graduated with a first class honours degree. Her work uses uses photography, digital imaging and painting to question ideals of beauty.

When she became pregnant, Alison was again told that she would never be able to cope as a single mother and should not have the baby, but again she rose to the challenge and has a beautiful son, Parys.

Alison and the Paralympians are a reminder that we all need to model this kind of self belief when the task of achieving our goals and dreams looks beyond our reach. Taking it one step at a time and believing in ourselves and that we can do it takes us a step nearer our goal every day

There are a few key things to remember when you are struggling to keep on track…

  • Surround yourself with positive people who support your plans
  • Conversely do your best to avoid contact with those who tell you it’s impossible
  • Find a possible role model who has achieved what you want to do. Study their methods and learn as much as you can from them. Look at how they got there and the struggles they had along the way and take inspiration and heart from the fact they got there in the end.
  • Set yourself goals – if you have a goal you know where you are going…
  • BELIEVE IN YOURSELF…
  • Have an open mind – you can find inspiration in new, wonderful and unexpected places…

Who is your inspiration? Share with us in the comments…

Image by Alison Lapper



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