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Unsinkable

Unsinkable: A Memoir by Silken Laumann

Some of my favourite excerpts…

It also meant not allowing myself the solitude that connected me to my inner knowing and to the universal energy that joins each of us to the power that is the Source.

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My biggest obstacle had always been the self-doubt, so deep and so devastating, that kept whispering in my ear, You’re not good enough. You don’t have what it takes. You don’t deserve this.

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On that particular Saturday night, I couldn’t help but wonder how often our fear of being too conspicuous prevents us from experiencing joy. These kids aren’t ever going to be the ones straightening their hair, getting their teeth whitened and wearing expensive designer jeans. They will never fit into society’s idea of normal because they redirect the energy we spend on conformity into expressing love, joy and happiness.

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That was when everything came together for me and I finally got it. The whole day had nothing to do with who was the best athlete, or who was autistic or had Down’s syndrome. This was about joy, pure and simple. The organizers of Operation Trackshoes offered an opportunity for those with intellectual disabilities to play and run and jump and dance and connect with a community of people who embraced them without judgment. These teens and adults live every day in a world where they don’t fit in, not because of anything they are doing wrong but because of others’ discomfort with those who look, act and speak differently. Yet they possess a real gift, the gift of expressing themselves authentically, without the self-censorship that sifts out so much joy. We’re the ones who are disabled in our lack of ability to risk letting go because of our deep-rooted attachment to being like everyone else. For proof, we need only look at TV shows and magazine ads reflecting our desire to appear and act according to some invented social ideal, which is trotted out as the norm and erodes our individuality, originality and creativity.

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In pursuit of every dream, I have learned that nothing is more powerful than action—any consistent movement in the right direction, even if the steps seem modest. After my horrendous leg injury caused me to lose precious seconds from my rowing speed, I had to focus on incremental improvement.

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prayer: “Please give me the wisdom to share with this audience what they most need to hear. Please open my heart to these people.” When I sit down to write, I pray, “Please give me the courage to write what is true. Please give me the grace to write with clarity and humour and compassion. Please give me the strength to keep writing and feeling and caring. Please help me believe in myself, and the importance of this story. Please help me to think less, write more and lead from my heart.”

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Sometimes I forget to call upon this amazing power, but it is always walking with me, and whenever I stop long enough to breathe it in, its presence fills my soul. I do not go to church. I don’t subscribe to an organized religion. I don’t try to figure out what this force is, or what it means, or how it fits into other people’s beliefs. I just know that this force is everywhere and in everything.

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