#YesSheCan are honoured to bring you a blog by Claire Lomas MBE. Claire was an athlete competing at the highest level until a freak accident changed the course of her life completely.
In 2012 Claire became headline news worldwide. She walked the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit. It took a gruelling 17 days and raised £210k for Spinal Research. She became the first owner of a robotic suit, and used it when she had the honour of lighting the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square.
In 2007 I had an accident that totally turned my life upside down. I was a chiropractor and event rider. I had just reached the highest level in the sport, and had set my ambitions and goals high for the future – then everything changed. An accident left me paralysed from the chest down (no movement or sensation from the chest down) I had to rebuild my life from scratch. I had lost my career, my relationship broke down, my sport came to a grinding halt. I was totally lost. What would I do?
It wasn’t without some dark days (my biggest battle was getting through these times), but I
managed to get through them by being willing to try new things and taking opportunities.
I met Dan a year after my accident and we now have two daughters, I have fundraised over
£750k to help cure paralysis (including walking the London Marathon using a robotic suit taking 17 days), found new sports (handcycling, skiing, motorcycling). Now, I wouldn’t change my life back.
The voice in my head said take every opportunity
Learning to push myself….
I now spend my time talking at events, once speaking in front of so many would have petrified me, but I decided to give it a go when I was asked to go to a school after the London Marathon. The voice in my head said take every opportunity. That was the start of my speaking career. I planned a fundraising challenge where I hand cycled 400 miles around England and spoke at two schools a day. This gave me a lot of experience before I started speaking at corporate events, and it was from word of mouth that I started getting bookings.
Each time I speak at an event the response still amazes me. I often get to meet delegates after during my book signing, and if I help a few people in the room going through tough times or if I can inspire people to achieve their dreams then I feel honoured to be in that position.
A positive mindset is critical
I had to focus on what I could do, not on what I couldn’t do (which felt so much in the first year after my accident.). I learnt a lot through having horses as a child. Every day they needed looking after, you couldn’t say you didn’t feel like it. That taught me discipline. No one can feel motivated all the time but we can be disciplined and make ourselves do things. (you always feel better after got things done!) This helped me get through my accident.
Everyone thinks the London Marathon was my hardest challenge but actually just getting out of bed when I had no reason to get up was a lot harder. I had to dig deep to get out of bed when I was feeling very low and do my rehab – but I made myself. It is like a jigsaw, you have to put the first few pieces in and these were the first pieces!
My children are my biggest achievement
I have achieved so many things, more post accident than before I suppose. Just getting through the toughest days was a huge achievement. Lots of the challenges I have done too- riding a motorbike when I had never sat on one before my accident was daunting and its wasn’t without struggles but I got my race licence and now get out on track days riding with mainly male able bodied riders but having my children can’t be beaten!
My biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to make an effort not an excuse!
It is so easy to find a reason we can’t do something but often there is a way if you want something enough. Also I appreciate the 1/3 of my body that works so much more than I appreciated the full use of my body (before paralysis)- appreciate what we have and make the most of it!
If you dwell on what you can’t do, it will stop you achieving. Focus on what you can do and believe you can.
Work hard, take opportunities and believe in yourself – Make it happen. When I was an Event rider I was taught by Lucinda Green she would sometimes say ‘Just get on with it”. Too much thinking doesn’t always help – you just need to do it!
Life doesn’t always go how we planned but when we do get put on a different path it may just be leading us to new, more exciting destinations. When doors close it gives the chance for more to open. Embrace it!
Thank you so much Claire. Claire posts some amazing things on social media, if you would like to follow her, Claire’s website is https://www.claireschallenge.co.uk!
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