Posted by: altmike | August 19, 2016

The Gratitude I Feel When Someone Calls Me ‘Inspiring’

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When I think back to elementary school, I can recall my first day of the first grade like it was yesterday. The smells, the laughter, the commotion off in the distance in the playground, it all is still so clear in my mind. I remember being nervous for the first day and sitting on my mother’s bedside and asking her what to expect. She offered words of encouragement and words of discipline. “Have fun, make friends and listen to what your teachers say,” she told me. I went to my sister later that evening and asked her the same question.  Her response, “Make as many friends as you can!” Being so young, I knew I was different because of my hands, but I had no idea what impact that would have on me making friends, so I asked her how to make friends. Her advice has stuck with me to this day and impacts every interaction I have or will ever have. She told me to just be myself and be confident.  Being a first grader I had no idea what confidence meant, so her advice was to smile and to go up to as many people as possible and say hello and introduce myself. She told me that if they asked about my hands to be honest with them and tell them that “I was born this way.”

Sure enough, that first day of school I was a social butterfly. I told myself that I wanted to make at least 3 friends so that I could go home and tell mom, dad and Sissy, so they would be proud of me. That day I went home and made 6 friends on the first day and never looked back!

Conversation about my hands was a daily occurrence growing up as expected. I was questioned, I was bullied, I was interrogated. At times it was trying, but what got me through it was when another kid or peer would approach me and see me doing something so mundane and they would look at me, smile and say something to the effect of, “that’s so cool!” That helped wash away all the negativity for me.

As I got older, I realized that education was my best friend. Rather than ending the conversation at “I was born this way,” and leaving an inquisitive mind to ponder further, I would take the time to explain what I knew about my hands and even giving them a demonstration of a simple task that I could do. I found that when I would approach a stare or a question this way, that more often than not, it would end with an “aha” moment for the other person and they could walk away with a nugget of knowledge and a new-found appreciation.

Throughout high school, college and even today I have been on the receiving end of stares, comments, questions and the statement “You are so inspirational”. Now, when someone makes that statement to me, I cannot explain the humility, passion and gratefulness I am consumed by when someone utters those words. Let me explain.

One thing we can all agree on is that no one really knows everything about everyone and especially the inner struggles that we deal with on a daily basis. By walking through a crowd, you could potentially be walking beside 10 cancer survivors, 5 widows, 10 infertile mothers that want kids, 3 teens with depression, 15 veterans, 2 parents to children they lost, 11 car accident survivors, 20 people who know of someone with a limb difference or disability, 5 people that are financially unstable and list goes on and on. I call these folks, “people with hidden struggles”…and guess what, we all fall into that category! We all have gone through adversity and had to overcome. With that being said, you never know if that person approaching you to call you inspirational is dealing with something so bad that just by seeing a double amputee walk down the street on prosthetics absolutely just made their day, helped them escape from their hardship for a split second and helped them work up the courage to come give you a compliment.

My definition of success is your ability to impact and better the people around you. From my experience 99% of the time that anyone who goes to give a compliment after they see me doing just a normal task, is smiling as they talk to me. So who am I to be offended or off put by someone who is happy to compliment another human being. Now, in all fairness most of the time it’s for very routine things and I think that the limb difference community can agree that most of the time when someone gives us a compliment it seems a little odd because it’s a second nature task to us that we have adapted to. None the less, it is powerful for the other person, so who are we to judge where a person inspiration is derived from. Whether we are offended or grateful is a personal choice that we inherently make ourselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Now sometimes people can make comments that come across truly patronizing, agreed. Even if someone were to look me dead in the eye today and said “great job picking up that fork two fingers,” you know what my response would be…”Well at least they were smiling while they said it and if that comment helped make their day better than so be it!” If I had the opportunity to educate in that moment I would, but if not, I could walk away knowing that a comment like that has no control over my life unless I allow it to and that I am so confident in my beliefs, ethics and abilities that it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.

If someone stares at me, my gut reaction is to go start a conversation with them, not to stare back in hopes that they feel like a douche. I want to learn why they are staring and what their story is. I want to be active in the world, not passive. I bet you that they are curious and curiosity is not a bad thing until you perceive and assume it to be. In those moments we should look to be story tellers and story seekers because you never know when taking the time to inquire can change someone’s day, or even, save someone’s life.

A very dear friend of mine named Danny was in an accident as a kid and was paralyzed from the waist down. He feels the same way I do, in that we should educate those around us who either inquire or compliment us. However, he has friends that are also in wheelchairs that share the opposite perspective. Neither one is right or wrong, but I personally feel that one looks at the situation from a glass half full perspective and the other doesn’t. Those that share the same optimism with me usually view the benefit to the other person is far greater than the way it makes the receiving person feel. And heck, if someone else’s day is made just by seeing me play sports or do really anything for a split second, then all the better.

I encourage all of the limb difference community and everyone else to really audit themselves and figure out if comments, compliments or inquisition bother you or inspire you. I would go out on a limb to say (Pun intended), that if you are offended, that it probably has more to do with your views of yourself and the world around you, rather than the words or intentions of those engaging with us. I think there is a big difference between those people with a physical difference that are genuinely happy and those who aren’t and it’s because those who are happy view what they were born with or the circumstance they have been given as a gift and not a curse.

My best piece of advice is to never overlook and cast aspersions on to another human being for their actions or comments because their story is unknown. As the limb difference community knows all too well, we don’t want those aspersions cast upon us!

To anyone and everyone who sees someone who they feel inspired by, keep giving those compliments, but tell them why you feel that way…Create value for each other…make the world a better and more educated place!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

 

 

Posted by: altmike | June 17, 2016

Embrace Adaptation and Get After It

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Adaptation is one skill that everyone is given, yet very few people or only those with immense passion seem to tap into. Don’t make an excuse for something you don’t know how to do…take a deep breath, figure it out and execute it.

We live in a world today with videos and tutorials galore and yet very few of us are tapping into our potential skills out of fear of failure or judgment. This goes from everything from doing something as simple as holding a glass for me to learning how to play the guitar.

I always use the example of holding a big gulp cup or really any type of glass and rather than hold it from the side like “normal” people, I typically hold any type of cup underneath from the bottom. That is adaptation at the most mynute scale possible. Could I have just as easily forced those around me to cater to my every whim and make others hold cups for me and such…absolutely. I don’t and that’s because I have a ton of pride and want to be able to be independent and not have to rely on others.

Now let’s take this to other extreme. One skill I am super passionate about learning right now is learning how to play the guitar. I’ve picked up a guitar once or twice and tried different ways of holding it. I have even gone so far as lying the guitar face up on my lap and trying to play it that way. Now I want to learn how to play an entire song and I have enlisted the help of a friend. Is it going to be tough to learn?…probably. Will I get frustrated at times?…most likely. Will it be out of my comfort zone…Absolutely! And that is probably why I most want to learn because it is challenging, it will test my limits and my patience and give me a new appreciation for the art. Could I just as easy thought about playing the guitar and saying “Na, I’m good. I probably can’t do that. I’ll just leave that to the guitar players.” You are damn right I could have, but honestly, what is the fun in that? Where is the fun of playing it safe and never challenging yourself? Why live a life of complacency when we were made to be so much more?

Don’t be scared to try something new just because adaptation might be a necessary partner to have. Challenge yourself each and every day and never settle. My parents always told me growing up that you can do anything you set your mind to…You may have to do it a little differently than everyone else but you can still do it!”

I believe that advice with every ounce of my soul and I believe that every single one of you can do anything you set your mind to as well.

Now go get after it!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | June 6, 2016

Overcoming “Can’t” Moments

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Think back to the last time you doubted yourself, think to when you felt incapable of accomplishing something. What went through your mind? Why did you doubt yourself, what was your drive to keep going? These small moments that could happen on a daily, weekly or monthly basis are actually defining moments for our present and our future. I call these “Can’t Moments.” We think in the moment, there is no way in hell I’m going to be able to do this and we either fall down one of two paths. We either quit and fulfill that “cant” mentality or we persevere, stare can’t right in the face and say “watch me.”

I had one of these moments in the past couple of days. To give you a little context, I am an avid runner in the city where I live and love running in the local events around town. Each year there is an event called the Reno Tahoe odyssey that is a 178 mile run that consists of a 12 person team that takes turns running legs that begin in downtown Reno, goes through Truckee around Tahoe, through Virginia City and ends back in downtown Reno.

I have never done this event before and for the past two weeks I had been trying to get on a team but to no avail and with two days until the race by a twist of fate I saw a friend post on Facebook of all places that she needed another runner to complete  her team….BOOM! I was just the person for the job. Now, when I say that I’m an avid runner, I mean that when there is an event that I sign up for I train and go the whole nine yards, however since with this situation, my chances of finding a team seemed unlikely the past week so I fell of the training wagon in a big way.

My mentality going into any race is to first and foremost never stop running at any point at time. If that means I have to jog at a snail’s pace that is fine as long as I never completely stop motion. The second goal that I have is to push myself to my utter limits and try to compete against every person around me to push me towards reaching personal records….That being said, my mentality going into this race was much different. Since I had hardly any training and I would being running the most I ever had in a 30 hour period, my goal was simply to just finish and not die.

Once I started running however, I fell back into that competitive passionate mentality with a chip on my shoulder. I got through the first leg without stopping a running at a decent pace and feeling unstopable. My second leg was at 3:30 in the morning with the same drive and persistence as the first. Once I got to my third leg which was in the heat of the day at 3pm with fatigue and utter exhaustion set in I pushed myself literally to my limits. My last leg consisted of 6.2 miles. Each mile I contemplated stopping and walking once I finished the next mile. I would get to the next mile and tell myself, no you just thought you were going to quit the last mile and you didn’t,  you can’t quit now! This continued every mile thereafter.

After running 5 of 6.2 miles my “can’t moment” set in. I had to run up windy hill for my last mile which is  an incline of around 150 feet.  I thought to myself, I have to stop, I don’t think I can make it up this…I need to walk…this was it…I was about to give into “can’t”

Then, I remembered why I was running in the first place. It’s my passion, my drug, my drive. I started thinking about having to tell the ones I loved that I ran the whole race EXCEPT for this one part and I couldn’t bring myself to tell people that. I started thinking about my niece, my grandparents, and my cousins looking over me from above and giving me strength to continue what I started. It sparked me! I couldn’t let them down, I couldn’t let myself down!

Sweat pouring, breathes becoming harder and more muscles becoming sore by the minute, my drive took over and I finished that damn leg with every ounce of effort I could possibly exert. I overcame that moments “Can’t”….I persevered in its face and said, “Try and stop me!”

I am not an anomaly by any means and I completely believe that every single one of us possess the ability to overcome each of our personal “Can’t Moments”

Don’t ever sell yourself short, don’t give into the mentality that you aren’t good, enough, strong enough, smart enough…Tap into what makes you tick and what drives you and don’t ever look back!

Can’t is not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | July 17, 2015

Life Learnings Along The Way

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So here I am…25 years old and trying to figure out who I am and how I play a part in this vast world that we live in. Has my confidence been a front? Has the swagger that I have exuded for years been all smoke and mirrors, so that people wouldn’t and couldn’t judge the real me?  I have always carried a chip on my shoulder and I have always wanted to be seen as someone that people could turn to, but then when they turn to me I wonder was I or am I poised enough to give them what they need…

I always felt like I had good content to share with people, but the problem was that there was a disconnect with content. There was something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Hell, I already  spilled my heart out about talking about my hands and the hardships that go along with it so I figured that that was it….that was the perseverance story I needed to get off my chest and now I’m all good. But that was only the half of it. The other half was realizing that yes I have a strong persona in front of others, but when the spot light is off and I am most vulnerable the question becomes how does my confidence reflect that side of me. It wasn’t until I met a very special person that I began to see the other side of the puzzle.

I have always said that everything happens for a reason and I know that there was a reason why my girlfriend who is this very beautiful, caring yet direct woman with a very “tell it like it is personality” came into my life. She is the reason why I am writing this today. Whether I want to accept it or not, she has given me a wakeup call and a much needed kick in the ass. She told me early on that the stories people will most connect with are the ones where I am being true to myself and showing my human side. That side, is one that makes mistakes, tends to overlook opportunities and has insecurities. We are after all human and in the words of my very wise father, “Shit happens.” But, to neglect the feedback of those closest to you is negligent and often lessons that we should have learned and moved on from years ago, linger with us until that much needed wake up call.

My best friend, who I admire greatly, has given me the same advice in different context before as well. In his words, “You need to practice what you preach.” I think that this is an all too common theme amongst people today. We have trained ourselves to become incredible linguists with our verbose explanations as to why our progress has stalled, but it becomes irrelevant due to our ineptitude to get up and actually do something about it.

So when it comes down to it confidence has two faces. One of those faces is honest, unbreakable and eye opening. It stays with you in every second of every day.  The other, is like a suit or armor that you put on each morning and take off each night, it is temporary. Like any piece of armor it is susceptible to a couple weak spots. So ask yourself, what kind of confidence do you have?

Knowing who you are and accepting yourself fully is a daunting revelation that people struggle to understand for years. Humbling yourself is a great starting block for building that confidence into the first face. Remembering your goals and passions will help to keep you on track. And finally use small victories as motivation to build that confidence in everyday life.

So in short, as hard as it may be, listen to those around you in the moments that you want to tune them out. Often times the people closest to us can help clear the smoke that blinds us from reality. I’m human and sure do make my fair share of boo-boos along the way, but one lesson I have learned that I want to pass along is to cherish one another and build confidence in yourself from the ground up.

Advice is rarely given in the way you want it but it is always given in the way you need. That needed advice is more often than not, invaluable.

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | February 24, 2015

Dating with a Limb Difference

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By far the hardest part about growing up with a limb difference is not the stares or the snide remarks, not the learning curve that comes with going about your daily routine, or even the haters that are out there…the hardest part by far is dating and becoming comfortable with yourself in the dating realm.  This is the blog post that has haunted me for the past two years but I knew at some point I had to talk about it and be vulnerable because it is very important to talk about.

Think back to elementary school, middle school and high school, think about how big dating was and having crushes and puppy love and all of the emotions that coincide with it. Now throw a curveball in there…You are missing half of each hand, you barely take your hands out of your pockets as it is, unless you are playing sports. You feel like it is an elephant in the room every time a girl simply glances your way…

That was me for about 90% of my K-12 career.  Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am a very outgoing person. I will never turn down an opportunity to act like an idiot to make someone laugh and I never feared letting my voice be heard, but what I did fear was the unknown when it came to girls. I would think to myself,” is this girl just talking to me because she feels sorry for me? Does this girl really like me for who I am and all that I am? What do her friends think of me?” A lot of these thoughts were precluded by words said and actions made. I can recall asking probably 2 dozen girls out between middle school and my junior year of high school and they all denied me.

During my sophomore year of high school I was at a friend’s house after practice and he was on the phone talking to a girl that I liked at the time (pre texting era) and I asked him to ask her if she knew who I was.

He proceeded to ask her, “Hey do you know who Mike Alt is?”

She responded, “You mean no hands?”

…I was crushed. I was known for something that I couldn’t control. I let my hands define me.

Eventually I got over it and it added a layer to my skin. I eventually got to the point around my senior year that enough was enough and that I had to thicken my skin even more and stop thinking and caring about everyone’s perception of me. It was tough, but I realized that my perception of myself was directly reflected in others perception of me. If I went up to a girl with complete confidence and owned my hands then the outcome usually had much better odds than when I approached a girl subdued and worrisome of judgment that didn’t exist.

I took this new found confidence and went to every dance my senior year. I took my outgoingness to a new level and met my prom date at one of the dances I went to earlier in the year. When I graduated from high school I dated a lot because I had a new swagger about me. I saw the benefits of having confidence and that led to girls being interested in me, it was a good feeling. However something was still missing… I went on numerous dates between age 18 and 24 and yet nothing stuck. My hands were still at the forefront in my mind at every date. I would think, “I wonder if she knows about my hands? I haven’t talked to her about my hands, I wonder if she cares?” That elephant in the room creeped out of the shadows yet again to remind me that this new found swagger wasn’t the solution, but merely a stepping stone in the process.

The next step I had to take was by far the hardest. It was openly talking about my hands from day one of meeting them, letting everything out on the table and then being ok with what came next. With some girls I went on a date with I could tell that it wasn’t something they felt completely comfortable with and others it opened up a whole new avenue of dialogue.

Looking back now I know that I put way too much pressure on myself to find the perfect girl that was going to accept me and be everything I ever dreamed of and when dates failed, I was crushed.  I didn’t realize that it was all a learning process, but more importantly a growing process. Trust me; I am no expert on dating. I have gone on many dates but never had a lot of experience with relationships. I have had three girlfriends in my 25 years and the common denominator with all of them was that they accepted me for who I am.

The first two that I dated were not for a very extensive period of time for one reason or another, but I am proud to say that I did find the women last year that completely accepts me for all my quirks and loves me for who I am. That girl that I searched for, for all those years was there, but it just took time to find each other and I can say that I am the happiest I have been in all of my life and she is amazing in every way…  Alright enough with all of the cute gooshy stuff!🙂

The best advice I can give to all of the kids and teens stepping into the dating world or those who are already there, is to accept and love yourself for who you are. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. No person will ever be able to accept and love you if you haven’t taken the time to appreciate yourself and be able to communicate that to them. Talking about it from the first time I met someone or the first date was honestly the best course of action because I could read their body language right away. To get to that point you have to be comfortable enough in your own skin and your story to talk freely about it to anyone and everyone.  Understand that there might be some people out there who aren’t comfortable with dating someone with a limb difference and you might get turned down. You might get turned down for another trait that you have, it’s all a part of life and the trials and tribulations that people go through in the dating realm; Don’t overthink everything!

Always, always, always own it! You are beautiful and as long as you know that, others will see it too!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | February 18, 2015

5 Things Every Limb Difference Family Should Know

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Growing up with a limb difference has taught me many things about the world, some ugly but some very beautiful. It hasn’t always been easy, but in all honesty what in life is easy that’s worth having at the end of the day; not very much. So I thought that I would compile a list of a few things that all limb difference kids and families should know growing up. You know the old saying “I wish I knew then, what I know now”…Hopefully this helps the learning curve a little. Enjoy!

1. Being Different is a Gift, Not a Curse.

At times its hard to see the good in all situations, I know that. However, at the end of the day embracing the fact that you are different is the best way to handle it. I am a strong believer in things happening for a reason and I truly believe that children blessed with a limb difference were given a little extra strength than most to handle it as they grow up. Those with a limb difference can sympathize easier with others who are different and they often have a better outlook on life because they have had to accomplish and overcome more obstacles at an earlier age. It’s our version of a sixth sense, we can see and foresee awkward situations before they happen, we can tell how our reaction to someone else’s question is going. When you talk, people listen. People want to know your story if you are comfortable with sharing it, which is a very powerful tool.

  1. You are not alone.

The great thing about the time that we live in today is that resources are not far away. They are there at any given moment under a google search bar. When I was growing up, the internet wasn’t as prominent as it is today, so I had no idea that their were other kids out there like me. It shocked me when I found out about all of these other families and children that had hands just like me. It was extremely relieving to me to know that I wasn’t alone. Finding pages like the Lucky Fin Project, Born Just Right and I Am Adaptive showed me that people are powerful beyond measure!

  1. You are going to get teased.

Unfortunately it is a way of life that there will be bullies out there and some unfortunate words uttered that are directed towards you. The best way to handle it is to just brush it off or be able to laugh at yourself….thats right, be able to laugh at yourself. Life should never be taken so seriously that you cant crack a joke at your own expense to lighten the mood a little bit. I found that when I made a joke about my hands first, that it did two things. One, it took the punch line away from someone else and secondly it empowered me to control the direction of the conversation.

  1. Quality is better than quantity.

Keep the friends and the people in your life that are going to be there for you through the thick and thin. I would rather have two or three really good friends, than be the most popular person around. My best friend is a guy who stood up for me against a bully in high school and I realized from that moment forward that he was someone that I could trust and rely on. He saw me for who I am and we became friends from that moment on. Kids today get caught up in being surrounded by people and more people is supposed to equate to more happiness; that isn’t always the case. Embrace those true friends and lean on them because they will have your back and stand up to any nay sayers much quicker than the numerous acquaintances we have in our lives.

  1. You matter!

People might not always say something and go out of their way to talk to you but know that 99% of what you do is considered amazing in somebodies eyes. Its undeniable that every person with a limb difference is inspirational in some way. People usually feel awkward about telling someone that, but the fact remains. I get inspired when I see other adults or kids with a limb difference. The key is to never get down on yourself, you are most likely making a difference in somebodies life just by going through your daily routine and you don’t even know it!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | October 23, 2014

Don’t Let the Couch Kill your Dreams

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Let’s be honest…most of us are inherently lazy creatures that derive our motivation from glimpses of seeked out inspiration from outside sources. This may hurt some of us to accept but the fact is true. Every desire, aspiration and goal takes a backseat to what benefits us in the moment. If what we can do in the moment takes less effort than what we should be doing to attain our goal than we choose the road most traveled.

So how in the heck do we combat these urges to stay on the couch and fill our head with excuses that make our lives “easier”. We first have to understand that we can and will be lazy at times. Even yours truly falls into the lazy coma every so often to where I would rather use my current circumstance as an excuse than use it as motivation.

The couch is responsible for more killed dreams than any other piece of furniture in your home. It promises relaxation and ease of mind by just resting upon it for a few moments. However, as it sucks you into this passive and free state of mind, you slowly lose grasp of those minutes, hours…days, that could have been used to propel you further in life. The couch does not allow for opportunities, it kills them. Go to a junk yard and look at a couch…behind the tattered cushions and tears, you will see a cemetery of goals that never came to fruition, million dollar ideas that were worth no more than the penny that slipped through the lining.

The way to get around it?…Think about the you in 10 years…think about your perception of yourself if you were to continue on your path and not take risks, not get your act together and live in complacency. Your own opinion and perception of yourself is going to way heaviest on your conscious of what could have been; what should have been. The influence on others that could have happened, had you got your act together in just one of those 365 days that you were given per year.

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | July 22, 2014

Advice for Limb Difference Families: Part 2

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What is the biggest thing that people in general fear more than anything…failure. What do kids with limb differences fear…failure in front of other people. I can speak from personal experience that one of the hardest things to overcome is judgment from others. Peoples stares, people remarks, the way they can make you feel like you are the size of a pea with one look.  I remember trying to do everything perfect in front of other people so that I would not look weak or inadequate in front of others. I can recall one action that I had to do often in front of others that would send a chill down my back, make my face flush and make my heart beat twice as fast within a matter of seconds…Picking up change off the ground. As miniscule and as mindless as that action may seem to most, to me it was the moment of truth. With only a nail on my thumb and my pinky, trying to perfectly swoop up an object that has less than two millimeters of thickness was a scary thing to me.

It was scary in the fact that I hated being looked at and judged based on my hands, so if by chance I wasn’t able to pick it up on the first try, then I began to feel like all eyes were on me. That a pity party was taking place around me without a single word being uttered. Thus, I would start to panic in my own head and try to pick it up as swiftly and nonchalantly as I could. This was the same when I dropped my driver’s license, business cards, etc. So the question is, how did I overcome this?…By failing.

It required me to fail more times than I could count, to learn the easiest way for me to pick up that damn quarter. It took me fumbling with it and having people stare at me for a good thirty seconds for me to figure out how to make it more seamless the next time.  It took frustration, it took humility and above all it took me not giving up…not letting someone else do it for me, not relying on others to be there to save me every time I fell.  

Now if this happens in my life today (and trust me it happens all the time) I simply bend down and pick it up. I’m not worried about what others think and I’m not trying to figure out if they feel sorry for me because when I do grasp it, it just proved that I could do it.

Here is my advice to limb difference families with this scenario. As a parent, you will see that your child struggles with certain tasks more than others and that is perfectly fine. The key is to not try to do everything for them because you feel sorry for their struggles. The only way they can learn is by doing, is by failing a few times, learning how not to do it and then inevitably successfully doing it. It’s not your job to make life easier for them every time they struggle, it’s your job to support them and help them find easier ways that fit their personal needs and then letting them take it from there. Trust me, they will find a way!

My advice to people in general; failure is ok. We often look at the word failure as this end all be all, it’s not. Failure is just another word for learning. You haven’t failed; you just haven’t done it correctly yet. The key is to not quit. You have only failed if you quit, because once you quit, you no longer have the opportunity to do it right the next time.

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | July 8, 2014

Back At It!

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Is this thing on?!…After a long stint of no posts, not being inspirational and not giving my followers anything to push them towards their goals, it’s time to blow off the dust and fulfill my promise!

My goal all along has been to connect with families of limb difference individuals and those without…so basically everyone. I have always believed that my story of perseverance could translate to every individual out there because if one thing is true, it is that we all battle challenges. Whether that’s a limb difference or just putting food on the table, our struggle is real and it is unique to every single person. Over the past few months, I have had much time to think about this and I never lost sight of it. However what I did do was lose sight of the reason why I do what I do in the first place and like many of us used the “well I will get to it tomorrow” statement. I did what I preached against and I slightly lost that fire…But…the fire never got put out and I am here now to prove that!

I thought about this first post for a while and I kept thinking that it had to be perfect but I forgot about my own first rule…Show Up. Before I can do anything perfect I have to show up. I have to get the message out there again. It’s not the fact that we fall off the horse, it’s about getting back up and going again. There are many who never get going again though…They let their dreams essentially die, all it takes is that first step to get going again. It is certainly the hardest step but the one that you will look back on and be grateful you did it when you did.

So in two words…I’m Back! And now more than ever it is time to dig in and change the world! It’s all about making a difference and hopefully motivating anyone and everyone who utters the words “Can’t is not an Excuse.” So…what goal have you lost sight of? Think about your own personal life and your dream! The fire is still there, the dream is still there and now I’ts time to put it back into motion again!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | October 22, 2013

Advice for limb difference families

Mike Alt baby photo

First and foremost, if you or one of your family members has been born with a limb difference…Congratulations! That person has been born with a gift and from this moment on don’t ever stop reminding that person of that simple fact. They have been given a perspective that is unlike any other person on this planet. No one will ever experience exactly what they have gone through, but I guarantee you that there are others who have experienced things similar like myself.

The first piece of advice that I want to share is to always be supportive and as cliché as that sounds it is honestly the most important thing in a limb difference person’s life. That support has to come early and often in their life because it builds the platform for their level of confidence. From the time I can remember talking, I remember my parents always reminding me that if anyone asked me about my hands to tell them that “I was born that way,” and that’s that. Also, that no matter what, I could do anything I set my mind to, I might have to do it a little differently but I could do it!

If you are the parent of a teen or a sibling of a teen, remember that being supportive does not mean prying into their every conversation to find out if they have been bullied. It also doesn’t mean that you as a parent take every word that is uttered to your son or daughter as an insult to yourself. If every time you child comes to you about an incident that happened and all you do is get emotional and tell them about how much that “breaks your heart to hear” then I hate to say it but that child will stop coming to tell you about things because they are already hurt and the last thing they want to do is to make you upset as well. So how do you overcome this as a parent? Simple, just listen and offer simple and rational solutions to the problem. Encourage your kids not to hide their head every time something negative is said about them, instead reassure them that unless they have proven somebody wrong then that bully has every reason in their negative mind to say something like that.

For example, kids would come up and bully me saying things like “You probably have your mommy tie your shoes for you every day, don’t you two fingers!”….

At that moment I had two options. One, run from the situation crying, go tell my parents and hide from any type of adversity that ever stood in front of my face be depressed for the rest of my life.

Or…I could have taken the second option which I always did. I would reply “Oh you think that pretty funny, well check this out.” then I would tie my shoes right in front of them and leave them speechless. This was my way of proving people wrong in a non-confrontational way that got my point across clearly. This is what I feel we need to encourage our children, siblings and friends to do in situations like this.

Last piece of advice; never put any limits on anyone with a limb difference. If they hear that they can do something from others, than more times than not they will attempt it and succeed. The alternative is true as well, if all they hear from their friends and family is that they shouldn’t try something because they might not be good at it or that it might be dangerous for someone with a limb difference to attempt, then all you’re doing is killing their self-esteem even more. If we put them in a box with suggested limitations and tell them what they can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do then they are going to be in that box for the rest of their lives.

I can’t say it enough, encourage, encourage, encourage! Most limb difference families will tell you that their child did something that they never thought in a million years they could ever do and that’s because we are very unique and special people when we have a positive atmosphere around us!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

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