Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Life isn't always roses. There have been times for me, as I am sure there have for you, when everything seemed just too hard.

I have lost those I did not think I could live without; and there was a time when I was so burdened by a sense of guilt that I could barely function. 

There were other moments when I have clung to that one last long shot that would bring about financial reprieve; then that fell over too. I have known acute failure, as most writers do. There have been times I looked in the shaving mirror and muttered: 'You suck.'

But this is nowhere near as bad as it gets. I have two friends right now struggling with situations that are as close to a waking nightmare as you could possibly imagine. I just don't know how they drag themselves out of bed every day.

Some people don't, of course. There are other options and, sadly, they take them.

Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, or I feel like giving up, I take a look at this guy:

Nick was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder that left him without all four limbs. He does however have two toes and a foot - he calls it his flipper.  

As a child he was prevented from enrolling at a mainstream school because of his disability. When he was finally allowed entrance he was very badly bullied and struggled with loneliness and depression. Who wouldn't? He says that at 8 he contemplated suicide. At 10 he tried to drown himself in his bath. 

But one day his mother showed him a newspaper article about someone else who had overcome a severe disability and he realized he wasn't alone in his struggle. 

Inspired, he learned to write using his only toes and even used to learn a computer keyboard. He then taught himself to get a glass of water, comb his hair, brush his teeth and shave.

By grade seven (11 years old) he was elected captain of the school.

At 17 he started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs. At 21 he graduated with a double major in accounting and financial planning. 

He now runs a new organization in California called Attitude is Altitude. He presents motivational speeches like the one above, to corporations, church congregations and schools right around the world. 

His mission: to encourage people never to give up, by being a living example that struggle leads to strength. He markets a DVD for young people titled: No Arms, No Legs, No Worries.
As you see from the video he also has a wicked sense of humour. ("This boy came up to me and goes 'WHAT HAPPENED!?' I go, 'CIGARETTES!' ")

He likes to embrace his audience physically as well as emotionally, as you can also see in the video  ("If you leave here without a hug, I'm going to run after you. And if you run fast, I'm gonna get someone to throw me at you.")

If you fall over a hundred times, and you fail, the important thing is trying one more time. I like to remember that now whenever things in my well favoured life get a little tough. If he can do it, so can I.

And I hope you, too, find some measure of inspiration in the life of Steve Vujitic.


  1. He really is inspiring! It really is so easy to get stuck and I really need to keep reminding myself of all my blessings.
    Thanks Colin!

  2. I found out about Steve Vujitic last year, and promptly showed a video of his to several students I work with. His love for others is amazing, and definitely touches my heart!

  3. Thank you for this, Colin. The last few years have tested every fiber of endurance I possess. Finding strength comes from the most unexpected of places.

  4. I would hope I would rise to such a significant challenge in this way. Thank you for sharing his story.

  5. Thanks Colin, this is awesome. I will share.

  6. I'm a tough gal, hardened by the stories and crimes I heard about in my 28 years working for a police service. It's rare that I cry. This video had my tears raining down my cheeks. I have never heard of this man, but he is amazing. A true gift from God.

  7. Thank you for the wonderful reminder that, as tough as things are, I still have many blessings in my life.

  8. Thanks Colleen - I think it is good to get a reminder now and again, isn't it? I now I need it - my own problems fade into nothing compared with what this guy's overcome.

    Thanks Julie, and thanks Amy. I am glad you felt the same way about this extraordinary man. And what a fantastic sense of humour he has, too!

    I'm glad you've seen him, Lara, and shared the video with students. He has a lot to teach people, I think.

    And yes, Donna, when you're going through tough times, I think when you're being tested, it's good to know someone else has beaten the odds.

    Mirella, he has that effect on a lot of people! I can never watch him without getting a lump in my throat. I think he's a half a box of tissues kind of guy.

    And I agree, Marcy. I even take my arms and legs for granted. Not any more. I've heard it said: it's not how many times you fall over, it's how many times you get back up. And he does it without limbs!

    Thank you all for sharing. I'm glad you got a lift out of this guy like I did. Amazing man.