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I met with Judy Winter for lunch in March 2015; an entire year ago! We are FACEBOOK friends, but I don’t recall if we ever officially met before our meal together. The Pisces in me, combined with my natural curiosity, attracted me to her positive social media messages. We commented on each other’s posts — and after doing this for a while we decided to officially meet in person.

Within minutes of meeting Judy, I knew we were brought together by divine order. Our lunch conversation was electric. Her passion and enthusiasm are palpable! I knew, I wanted to profile her for my blog. She accepted and sent her answers to me almost immediately.

Now, a year later, I finally post Judy’s answers to the questions I ask all the people I profile. What took me so long to post them? I don’t know. But, for some reason I had to wait. I know now is the right time.

WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I’m inspired by anyone that passionately chases his/her dreams, fights for human justice with raw courage and guts, while maintaining healthy core beliefs and giving back to the world in positive, even historic ways—and I love it when such bold actions prove naysayers wrong.

The beauty of nature inspires me, as does a good read, the arts, Downton Abbey and PBS, majestic elephants, good old-fashioned, two-way conversation, and the natural joy and innocence of children.

Their pure laughter heals my soul and gives me hope for a planet in peril.

DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO YOU LIVE BY?

The motto that most guides me is this: one person can make a difference. I believe strongly in the Power of One. Far too many people vastly underestimate that power.

During my personal and professional life as an author, speaker, activist on special needs parenting issues and mother to a child with cerebral palsy—a social-justice adventure all its own—I’ve learned that throughout history, big change snowballed from actions of one brave, passionate, even altruistic soul.

The one person that speaks up in a room filled with silent voices and risks all is the change agent that ignites the rest.

Think Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Oprah, and on and on.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a big hero of mine, began Special Olympics in her backyard. After twenty years of my own special needs work, I still visit her website periodically to hear her voice recordings.

The power and conviction in Shriver’s voice challenges me when I most need a boost. We all need such mentors and guides.

I’m also strongly guided by these seemingly simple words of Mahatma Gandi while working passionately to right some big social-justice wrongs.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We’re more powerful than we know. But too often we remain silent. I encourage people to take a risk and speak up to help impact needed change.

Acting from the heart is good, too.

DO YOU HAVE A LESSON OR THOUGHT TO SHARE?

 After parenting a child with cerebral palsy for twelve years and taking on the cause of improving the lives of other special needs families, I’ve discovered that children are our greatest teachers. Adults are their students.

If we are willing to sit quietly at their feet and observe before we act, they often teach us what we most need to know.

Parenting is a sacred privilege.

My son and other children with special needs have also taught me well to never judge a book or human by its cover and to look beyond the obvious.

That’s where the real riches are.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I’m trying to stay off the Internet for longer periods of time and avoid bad news. I de-stress practicing faith, doing yoga, taking long walks and listening to music, marveling at Lake Michigan sunsets, engaging in photography, being a writer, and spending precious time with my new grandson. He’s offered me the priceless gift of seeing life again thru new eyes, reminding me that it’s all a marvel.

I also have a solid commitment to volunteering in my community, especially with kids.

Volunteerism can save your sanity and your soul. I wish more people realized its power for their own lives.

What you give to others comes back to you a thousand fold.

Finally, having survived tough life experiences, including the death of my beloved son, I’m convinced that raw prayer and big belly laughs hold the power to cure whatever ails you.

Well that, children’s giggles and good chocolate and spirited, visionary friends, old and new!

 

 

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