Welcome to The Happy Journals! You’re probably wondering who’s running this show and why you should listen to a word I say, right?
I’m Fran Whitaker. I’m a thirty-something woman who has had a pretty unusual life. It is this unique life that has spurred me on in the creation of The Happy Journals. You see, if it had been up to the doctors 30+ years ago, I wouldn’t be here. I certainly wouldn’t have achieved any of the things I’ve done in my life.
Indeed, when I was born, I couldn’t breathe. Instead of dealing with this, the doctors simply handed me to my mother. It was her who noticed I was turning blue and shouted and screamed until someone did something. By the time they got me breathing, I’d been deprived of oxygen for long enough to cause brain damaged.
It was my mother, again, who worked out that I had Cerebral Palsy (as a result of the brain injury) and set out to convince the medical profession that this was the case.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) means that the signals from my brain don’t make it to the rest of my body as well as they ought to. Once the medical profession agreed that I did, indeed, have CP, the consensus was that my parents shouldn’t expect anything from me. I would be a mere 'blob' that required constant care and support.
I imagine that being told this was horrific for my parents. However, rather than sitting back and accepting this news, my parents did everything in their power to ensure that I became as independent and driven as possible. This is the reason that I believe that determination and resilience are in my DNA.
Who was Fran Williamson?
Looking at me, people tend to just see a disabled girl, with a lot of problems. They never expect my story to be as interesting as it is. In fact, on a daily basis, I have to deal with people laughing at me or patronising me (“good girl!”). BUT instead of cowering away and hiding, I use these experiences to motivate me and drive me on! I know that I have a story to tell, which will inspire others to drop the mask and strive forward with confidence.
When I was twelve years old, I learnt to swim after a lifetime of being terrified of water. By the time I was thirteen, I'd become a full-time swimmer and I had broken the 100m backstroke World Record. At the age of sixteen, I was a World Champion.
At age eighteen, I had four Paralympic medals. By the time I retired from swimming at the age of twenty-six, I had held three World Records and eighteen British Records, I had been a World Champion swimmer five times, I had six Paralympic medals, and the total number of international medals I owned was twenty-four!
The above paragraph is not a lie; it is entirely true. To put a little more context to these achievements: I won nineteen of the twenty-four medals I own without a coach! I got myself up at 5:30 am every morning and coached myself. Why? Because I wanted to win and I wanted to be more than a ‘blob’.
The problem with listening to others
When I was I was in high school, I sucked. Before high school, I was doing very well. However, I started to listen to what others were saying about me. I began to believe the people who told me I was stupid, thick and dumb. Needless to say, I left school with very poor grades. I gave up with getting a decent education until one night when I was twenty-two, and I realised that I wasn’t stupid and had so much more to offer.
That was the night I decided to apply to university. Given my education history, it is surprising to most, including me, that I even got into university. But I did, and I won’t bore you with how. What I will say, however, is that I was lucky enough to find a degree that fascinated me! The entire degree was based on written work: the ability to use the right words, in the correct order to argue any and all points.
I flourished at University: walking out with my head held high and a First Class degree under my belt. Nope, it wasn’t a fluke as I backed it up with a high-grade Masters Degree as well.
- If you want something, it is up to you to make it happen.
- If you spend your life listening to what other people say about you: STOP! All that will come of it is missed opportunities.
- Most of all, if you feel like hiding away: don’t! Stand tall, be proud and be yourself.
Why here? Why now?
I have spent a lot of years being a motivational speaker: sharing my story and encouraging people to take the next step in becoming great. It is for this reason that I’ve created The Happy Journals. I wanted to create a space where I could share tips, videos, quotes and all things positive. In addition, I wanted a place where anyone could come for a little pick-me-up and leave with some big ideas or new positive habits.
I don’t necessarily claim to be an expert in positive living and motivation. I have down days as much as the next person. The Happy Journals will, without a doubt, take me on a journey, too.
All I ask is that you consider joining me.
If you’d like to know even more about me, why don’t you check out Twenty-Nine Random Facts About Fran