Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Leaving a mark doesn't come from fame or money. Rather, it takes joy, love and encouragement to cause a ripple effect.
Photograph: World Cerebral Palsy Day
Text: Lyndsay Jensen
I'm the proud mother of not just one, but two sons. Individually they've had challenges; however, my youngest son Bjørn has had to deal with the most physical of those.
He arrived in this world, fighting and lives daily with the physical restrictions that come hand in hand with cerebral palsy. When we moved to Denmark 12 years ago, my husband landed himself a job instantly, while I was left a little flustered having to handle most of the relocation solo. Kathy covers this on (page 22 – I am fine, but...).
Tasked with finding schools for both our boys, navigating the special needs system was going to be a challenge. Several boxes of tissues later, and many meltdowns on phone calls to hubby, I made it to the other side armed with paperwork and my trusty google translate by my side.
Fast forward many years later, after I started The International, I had made a promise to myself that not only would I share organic content about life as an international, but also supportive articles to help the special needs community understand the Danish system.
I'm proud to announce, as we celebrate 6 October as World Cerebral Palsy Day, that I'm introducing our first article, (page 16 – A guiding hand through disability). What I love about WCPD is their new campaign - #CPMakeYourMark. They are encouraging people living with CP, family members, friends, colleagues to think of goals you've created, set and reached that felt inaccessible at first. By sharing these stories of achievement, you'll be making your mark, and showing it is possible!
This is such a positive message, and especially at a time when the world is struggling with Covid-19. So thank you to the special needs community (especially at a time when they are the most vulnerable), for reminding us of this. I'd like to share my three favourite ways of leaving your mark:
You have the ability to be happy and to make others happy. Of course, this isn't always easy, but it's a genuine option and something that doesn't require money or fame. Smile at someone. Offer a word of hope. Any little small thing you can do can make a difference. I remember seeing my son take money out of his wallet and pay for someone's groceries as she didn't have enough - that's when I saw him making his mark. Perform acts of kindness whenever you can, and they will have a ripple effect.
Do What You Love.
In my opinion, when we're doing what we love, we're doing something well. No matter what you think your skills are in a specific area, if you are doing it because you love to do it, it's going to show in your work. People can tell that you love something and it is reflected in what you are doing. Whether you receive recognition or not, the joy you're experiencing when you do what you love will rub off on those around you. It might seem selfish, but doing what you love really can positively impact the world.
While I'm all about believing in yourself and doing anything you can to make your own dreams come true, one way to really make a mark is to encourage someone else's dreams. By being supportive and encouraging of others, you are making a difference not only in their world but potentially in the world of others. Like acts of kindness, encouragement can have a ripple effect. And who knows? You could be encouraging the next great inventor or novelist or president.
We would love to hear how you're making your mark by following and tagging us on social media. #CPMakeYourMark.