"What does acceptance mean to me? As 3E Love says, everyone's disability story is unique. My cerebral palsy informs and impacts every aspect of my life. It colors how I conduct myself, how I feel about the world, my faith, and especially how I interact with people. Weekly, if not daily, I strike up conversations with people about my physical situation. From my students to my Uber drivers, I have had the opportunity to educate so many people. It is my honor to do so and that is a big part of acceptance for me. I have never shied away from discussing cerebral palsy and I have never been offended, no matter how people approach me about it. Some have a bit more tact than others when they bring it up, but I have never let poor form stand in my way. I have bigger things to worry about. When I see an opportunity, I grab it because I think it's extremely important to create a positive and realistic dialogue.

Acceptance, especially lately, has also meant coming to terms with some new, if temporary or at least fluctuating physical changes. In the past few months, I have experienced challenges and discomfort that I never expected. It's a learning curve for sure, and more than ever I am learning to live in the present and not look ahead or back. I take each day as it comes and truly cherish the good days, while also understanding the difficult days may be more frequent but they are not forever.

I could write a book about this, but I'll close this out with a few words about my parents. They are no longer with me, but acceptance began with them and everything they did to make me the person I am will always be with me. They loved me beyond measure and were my greatest champions through all of my accomplishments, the laughter, the fear, the tears, the surgeries, the challenges, the growing pains, and everything in between. My mom in particular was the driving force behind giving me all the tools I needed to be a strong, independent, capable person. Once she understood the scope of my abilities, she helped me adapt so I could be successful. Acceptance and adaptation go hand in hand for me.

Equally important is understanding your limitations, because, disabled or not, we all have limitations. Limitations do not have to be viewed negatively. They keep me humble, realistic, and practical. That doesn't mean I don't ever push myself though. I always try my best but I don't beat myself up if something doesn't work out the way I thought it would.

Bottom line? Make the most of what you've been given and show the world what you're made of! You can make a difference and are important, no matter what your circumstances. Love life!" - Julie