A story comes full circle when you can thank those in your life who helped shape you in the midst of your hardest days. I met Dr. David S. Thomas when I was 15, during a time when I led with optimism and quietly dealt with difficulty. Yesterday I delivered a copy of White Bees to this doctor, who came into my life at the exact right time. The first time I met him I was less than thrilled to have a new surgeon take over my case. I felt abandoned and alone — the doctor who had cared for me since I was a baby had passed my case off to Dr. Thomas. I didn’t know until yesterday that there was more to the story. Dr. Thomas brought a whole new level of skill to my case with his training in cranial facial surgery — something my current doctor didn’t have the knowledge to do. Dr. Thomas has remained the surgeon who’s skilled hands transformed my face (while keeping it the same), and took away the stares. I seriously cannot look in the mirror without offering gratitude for the years of schooling he put in, for me, for all those whom he has helped.
A few years after I graduated from high school, my dad, who was a seminary teacher at Weber High, had a student who was being teased by the boys in her class for having a cleft. The mom called my dad at home one night, very upset, telling him over and over again that he would never understand what it was like to have a daughter with a cleft lip and palate. That he couldn’t possible feel compassion for what she was going through, as a parent, while watching her daughter suffer. That there were no words to describe the pain she felt of not being able to do anything. Afte several minutes of letting this mother vent, my dad said, “I think I may know a thing or two about what you are going through.” She stopped ranting. And with a bit of shock…started listening. When my dad recommended Dr. Thomas, she immediatly made an appointment. To this day this mother is grateful for the teasing circumstances that led to the phone call, that led to the introduction, that led to the surgery, that changed her daughters days.
So to surgeons everywhere who are disciplined enough to endure years of schooling to change lives for the better, you have my respect. And to my white bee in a white coat, Dr. Thomas, you will always be my favorite artist.
I have a good-looking, well-dressed, single male friend who said to me a few years ago, “Nothing is more attractive than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.” I asked him to explain a little more. He went on to tell me that a woman who accepts who she is and loves her unique-ness translates to confidence. That conversation with my friend has stayed with me, and has served as validation in something I believe, too (but not gonna lie, I loved hearing a guy echo my philosophy!).
When I was teenager I remember standing in line at the grocery store with Jeannie, behind us were some kids. The kids were staring. I assumed it was my awesome outfit, cause it was pretty awesome. But, Jeannie knew what they were looking at. They were staring at my face. I tried not to care, but a part of me did. It is hard to not care when it seems your differences are all people see. I shook off that day with as much coolness as I could muster, and all the other days of standing in lines too close to people who didn’t have perspective into my world. I knew eventually things would get better, not perfect, but better. I am very grateful for the surgeons that took care of me to give me the best chance at a symmetrical face (my white bees in white coats).
Year 2013 was full of uncovering my layers and being totally open in who I am. The journey included finishing White Bees and making it available to the masses. All my childhood and teenage insecurities, right there for strangers and friends alike to read. Years ago I spoke once or twice about my life with a cleft lip and palate and cried so hard I didn’t think I could ever do it again, didn’t want to! However, the past year I spoke at 30 events, and each time I did I was quietly reminded about what I have known all along…that beauty is unique. Beauty is yours. Beauty is mine. But, beauty is not perfect. It is not to be compared. It rises in the morning, and sleeps at night. And, sometimes when we highlight that which we fear will draw the most stares, for me a million nerve endings without a cupids bow, —we show we are comfortable in our unique, flawed skin.
Beauty is flawed. Beauty is brave. Beauty is courage. Beauty is equal.
So…go ahead and stare. I don’t mind. I am proud of these red lips.
My 14-year-old son has been waiting for a Bronco’s Super Bowl pretty much his whole life, and tomorrow is the day! Before I head to the store to buy our feast for tomorrow, I need to profess my love of the king of quarterbacks — Mr. Peyton Manning.
- Love reason #1: He gives back.
- One of my favorite areas that he gives to is the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital – specifically the cranialfacial center. Peyton, born with a cleft, gives back in grand style. “Generosity of spirit, especially to those in need” is one of the core values of this awesome organization. Love him!
- Love reason #2: He believes in himself.
- Many thought he was “done” after his neck surgery, including his brother Eli. “I remember watching his preseason game last year and I was worried. I was kind of like, ‘I don’t know how this is going to work,'” Eli said. “If you gotta make a throw, or someone’s in your face, and you can’t step into the throw, can you make all those throws that you gotta make a lot of to end games.” But even with all the negative chirping about if he could play football again, he came back, stronger than ever. Looks like the doubters were wrong. Hello, Mr. Record-Setter.
- Love reason #3: He is pure intelligence on the field.
- He loves the hurry-up offense. And, to watch him (and listen if he is mic’d up), you will see and hear the reason why this QB is so good. He studies the game. Watches his opponents. Dials into each play. He collects and retains information, just like a database, and that makes his mind one of the best to have ever played the game.
- Love reason #4: He’s age appropriate for me to have a crush on.
- Even with his forehead streaked in red marks from a slightly “snug” helmet… he’s hot. Yeah, take that Tom Brady!
- Love reason #5: He’s inspiring.
- The Colts released Peyton in March 2012. Rejection? Tossed to the curb? Out with the old, in with the new? Nay. He saw it as a new challenge. And now tomorrow he will be playing in the Super Bowl, how cool is that? “I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old,” he said at this week’s Media Day. “I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37.” He may not consider himself a legacy right now…but my son does. And he will be watching Peyton tomorrow. Just like all the greats before him, Peyton inspires generations of young people to be better, go farther, throw deeper, take a risk, dream a little, be the best you can be, and rise above the critics. Go Broncos.