Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hilary Lister

After I wrote my post recently about Roz Savage, Herrad from Access Denied, told me about Hilary Lister, another inspiring woman who has taken to the seas. Hilary is a quadriplegic who recently sailed around the British Isles in a series of short sails. You can find out more about her and read her blog at her website.

Apparently, Hilary was able-bodied and active as a youth. She was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy as a teenager. She is presently able to move only her head, eyes and mouth. She navigates her sailboat through three straws, using a sip and puff system to adjust sails and tiller.

I have never sailed myself, but whenever you see folks sailing on tv or in the movies, it seems to involve a lot of scrambling around the boat to "trim the sails," "swing the boom," steer and do all sorts of physical things. Envisioning someone who cannot move being able to take in all that is around her on the sea, understanding the wind to catch it in her sails and control her boat, getting safely from Point A to Point B, seems remarkable, to say the least.

Hilary says "when you live in a wheelchair or bed 24 hours a day, being in a sailboat is like flying." And, "sailing gives me a sense of freedom that I never thought would be possible again. Sailing quite literally saved my life."

Why did she set the goal of sailing around the Isles? On her site, her goals for the circumnavigation are stated as:
  • Raise awareness for disabled sailing
  • Show that disabled people can live exciting and challenging lives
  • Challenge people to rethink their views on disability
  • Encourage everyone to live their dreams
  • Raise money for Hilary’s charity, ‘Hilary’s Dream Trust’

Roz Savage's path was inspiring to me in that she looked at her present state, asked if this was what she wanted in her life, and took action when her answer was "no."

Hilary inspires me in a different way. She is a woman who has managed to accomplish much in spite of the obvious physical challenges. In the world today, I think we write off disabled folks and don't expect them to contribute much to society. Hilary wants to shake up those perceptions, showing that you can achieve much despite physical limitations. Hilary says to me ... shake off those limiting beliefs you carry around in your head. Question your own assumptions about yourself and what you can accomplish.

My thanks to Herrad, an inspiring woman in her own right, for turning me on to Hilary Lister.


Anonymous said...

I read about Hilary Lister too, after Herrad's comment. It's quite amazing to me how the will and the spirit can conquer the despair...lovely inspiration! And thanks Cranky, my life has turned around amazingly and it's only getting better!

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
Good post about Hilary Lister thanks also for the kind mention.

Cranky said...

Rain - you hit it - Hilary is inspiring. Glad to hear how great things are for you now.

Herrad - thanks for the note. You are an inspiring person, no doubt.