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My Fortieth Year


My Fortieth Year

My fortieth year was fabulous, fantastic, and fun. It was filled with new experiences, new friends, great challenges, and greater love.

I tackled many new things as well as old things in new ways.

I swam hundreds of laps in the pool, rode the elliptical for many miles, and held many minutes of planks.

I learned to ride a bike, climb a rock wall, and dance a mamba.

I began a new career, started a business, and partnered with my sister to develop my web site.

I opened accounts with Squarespace, Twitter, and Instagram.

I wrote a blog, spoke to over 25 groups, and presented my ideas to audiences of children, teenagers, and adults alike.

I cut vegetables, cooked dinners, and washed dishes.

I hiked on trails, walked on sand, rode on chair lifts, and skied down beautiful slopes.

I traveled by plane, car, minivan, and Uber.

I ate dinners out, tried new wines at a vineyard, and even tried to like drinking beer! (Only for you, Brook!)

I saw Wicked at Ovens, Mary Poppins at Christ Lutheran, and Alice in Wonderland at Sun Valley Middle.

I pumped my own gas, swiped my own Red Card, and bagged my own groceries at Aldi.

I unbuckled a car seat, carried a 35-lb child, and happily buckled the seat again.

I donned a prosthetic leg, stayed overnight, and showered, all independently.

I ate over a hundred Poppy Seeds bagels, drank 52 bottles of Chardonnay, and had 700,000 cups of coffee (600,000 of which were prepared by a griping husband).

I made several versions of a chores chart, nagged five children about said chores chart, and paid too many dollars in unearned allowances.

I played Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus, defended their existence to a set of twins, and broke it to a big sister that there were no such things.

I had three surgeries, one hospital stay, and three newly-fitted prosthetic legs.

My "hands" broke exactly 181 times, and I got stuck to three grocery carts and five car doors.

I'm attempting to raise five children with manners, respect, values, and faith. I've tried to model strength, gratitude, and kindness. But most of all, I'm trying to love them as much as they deserve to be loved.

A huge thank you to those who have helped me survive and thrive to see the day that makes forty-one years of age.

An even bigger thanks to the One (God) and the one (Brook) who help me do all the things I love and love all the things I do.

And Brook, baby, you make me want to live to see forty-one more years.


The Shallow End


The Shallow End

In the blog post that I wrote last week, I described the sheer fear I felt in those first few moments of swimming again.

Without hands or feet, and without any prosthetics to help me, I didn't know if or how I'd keep my head above water, even in the shallow end. But I faced another, possibly greater fear before I even went near the water.

I'm embarrassed to mention this particular fear. But if I am going to be honest on this blog, I have to say it. And there's no flowery way to put it. No talking around it.

I was simply afraid of unveiling my broken body. I didn't want to undress and remove my prosthetics because I was deathly afraid of allowing anyone to see just how pitiful and helpless I look.

My prosthetics normally hide the "stubs" on the ends of my limbs; and, without them, I am naked and vulnerable.

Before tackling this fear, I could only imagine what I would look like, sitting at the edge of the pool: a little, helpless, "handicapped" girl, that someone had possibly left behind.

Being a (relatively) new amputee, I am often shocked myself when I see my own body.

So it is understandable that strangers give me that second glance...

But I do notice it.

I see the stares.

They are not mean-spirited stares. Yet, they are still unsettling. And I certainly don't want to attract more of them. Facing the world without something covering my wounds invites even more stares!

Kids, in particular, stare at me. Or maybe they are just less practiced at hiding their reactions - Most times, children are truly just curious...Who is that? What is that? Could it hurt me? Could it happen to me? Could it happen to my mom? As they look more closely, they often become fearful. They hide behind their moms. Anyone who knows how much I love kids (and not just my own), would tell you just how devastating this is to me.

Yet, most of my hesitation about swimming is on an embarrassingly superficial and vain level. Seeing my body and its challenges reminds me that achieving my "idea" of physical beauty is now even less of a possibility. I have a physical deformity, after all. I am not even whole! And I have many, many inexplicable scars. (I've never asked the doctors how some of them appeared because I truly don't want to know.)

I could never look beautiful. Or sexy. Or strong.

It certainly gives a new layer to dreading bathing suit season.

To think that I used to worry about how I looked in a bikini, or if I should even wear one...

Before buying a new (always black) bathing suit, I'd look in the mirror with angst. I'd examine the circumference of my thighs. I'd pinch the flab on my tummy. And I'd lament my "runner's chest," flattened with each mile.

I was at the gym nearly every day, trying to mold my body into some unnaturally tight and thin figure, without one ounce of fat or flubber. I did pushups and lifted many weights to build my chest, biceps, and shoulders. And the sit-ups. Oh, the sit-ups.

It all seems so ridiculous now.

So silly.

It does make me realize this: Everybody has something. Everybody has some physical characteristic that causes them shame. Some thing that weighs them down. Too fat. Too thin. Too short. Too long.

I guess my thing now is "too robotic," "too fake." (Although one could argue that more of my body is real than those Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models'...)

Unfortunately, we all hold ourselves to the ridiculous ideals that we see in the media. We spend so much time and energy trying to change ourselves. It is so "self-" centered; imagine if we spent this same time and energy on others - women could save the world! Still, I think we all do it, to some degree.

I used to keep my "arms" on while I was working out at the Y. I would use them to disguise my own arms, even though they'd make me uncomfortably hot. Now I just take them off. I know that some people will stare, regardless of what I do. They can just as well stare at my prosthetics as at my stumps. So I may as well be comfortable while they stare.

For me to wear a bathing suit now is a bold and courageous move. It says, "Yes, I am different. I am an amputee. So, stare all you want. I'll be over here enjoying my life."

Once I slip in to the pool, I realize how strong and amazing my body really is. I can still float. I can still swim, lap after lap. I can still enjoy life.

And that is beautiful.

Being beautiful is so much more important than looking beautiful.

So, what is the one fear that holds you back from doing something you love? That keeps you from enjoying your life? How can you "slip in to the pool" in your life?

For when you do, I think you'll find strong, amazing, beautiful things.



Welcome To My Blog!

Kristan Seaford

Welcome to my blog! My name is Kristan Seaford, and I am a motivational and faith-building speaker, writer, and blogger. I have an interesting, fulfilling, fun, but physically difficult life. I live in Charlotte, NC and have lived here for most of my life. 

I am still recovering from a pretty catastrophic illness, which began in November of 2013. What started out as the flu and strep throat turned into a life-threatening condition called septic shock. An infection in my blood caused my organs to fail, one after another.

After 100 days, a medically-induced coma, six hospitals, and a miracle, I survived. However, the powerful medications and treatments that saved my organs took the blood, oxygen, and nutrients from my limbs. My hands and feet essentially died.

Today I live as a triple amputee, with my remaining foot missing the toes and part of my heel. I am learning to use amazing prosthetics, which are helping me live a fairly "normal" life.  I am able to parent my five children - driving them to their various activities, signing their reading logs, volunteering at their schools, and potty-training the little one. I have even been able to return to teaching group exercise classes at the local YMCA.  

On this blog, I am seeking to chronicle my daily life, educate people about amputations and prosthetics, make people think, and laugh and cry, help people appreciate their gifts, prove to people that those with disabilities can do anything that abled people can, and motivate people of all abilities to reach for their dreams. Here goes!