I wanted to share with you my words from Saturday’s (February 16) Soul Star Festival. It was an important moment for me and I hope that the words I have written and later spoke resonate with you. My goal is to use my story to help you find yourself in this thing we call life and to ultimately feel free in everything that you do. - Elle xx
Let’s get settled ay? If everyone could please close their eyes, breathe in, see all this gorgeous bright white light filling your body now, washing away all of the today’s and yesterday’s. See all of your worries lifting off you like grey smoke, to be transmuted into the crystalline world of the universe.
One more breathe in, clearing all the old now, and when you’re ready, open your eyes.
As you know, my name is Elle Steele, and what you may not know is, I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congentia, I also have club feet and a hand abnormality.
I am not a disability advocate, although, I am passionate about the rights of people with disabilities. I have chosen to focus my life on being a freedom advocate.
I was so angry when I was a little girl, so angry that everyone else had it so much easier than I did. I used to take my pain out of my family, Mum and Dad and my two sisters, Meg and Bridge. It was a painful existence.
When I was 11, my parents (after years of searching) joined me up to a club for people with disabilities who wanted to participate in sport. After a few Sunday mornings of swimming with other kids around my age with disabilities, I was selected to swim at my first junior national wheelchair games - similar to a mini Paralympics.
At this event I won, 5 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 bronze, the female swimmer of the meet and broke 5 national records. Ranking me in the top 25 in the world for my swimming class.
It was a whirlwind of bathers, long hours in the pool and competing for many years after that, with the culmination of me being selected to swim at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000. Now it may seem like I’m skipping through a lot, but it’s because I feel the really important stuff, especially for today’s talk happens later.
In 2004, while swimming my qualifying race in the 400m at the Athens 2004 Swimming trials, I swim my first 50m of 8 in personal best time, tumbling at the wall, only to have my fancy fast skins rip all the way down the back. I continued swimming, because I knew I only had one chance to make the team and it was in the 400m freestyle. When I hit the wall at the end of the race, seeing a personal best time was shattered by the realisation that I’d missed the team by .03 of a second.
This event in my life was the catalyst for such change, on the last night of the trials I called my best friend Ali, as comfort while I visited my brick (my name is engraved in a brick at Sydney Olympic Park). She said to me something that has stuck with me ever since, ‘Elle, just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, you are travelling down your yellow brick road. On this road, you will find cracks you have to jump over or puddles you have to swim through, but what you learn along the way is the most important part, not the outcome.’
Through all the surgeries, the retirement from swimming, then years later, being the only female to play wheelchair rugby nationally, this has stayed with me. I’m on my yellow brick road, as we all are.
It was especially powerful for me when I had my left knee replaced in 2015. I’m not sure if you’re aware of what the doctors do during a knee replacement, but it’s intense. To add to that, you stand up the day after (so you don’t get stiff), and there began the 3rd time I’d learnt to walk again in my lifetime (actually the last ten years). When I stood up for the first time, I felt so tall because I’d been sitting for so long, but the fun and games of ‘being six foot’ slowly disappeared as the energy zapping rehab began.
I am now booked in to have my right knee replaced in June this year, which means, learning to walk all over again.
Part of life is about overcoming those hurdles you’ll face as you walk, or wheel, or hop. It’s about how we react to these situations that gives us our true strength.
As I mentioned before, I am a Paralympian, but I don’t identify with that so much anymore. Since lying on the treatment table of my first spiritual healing session nearly 15 years ago, my life has changed abundantly. I’ve learnt how my emotional responses to things absolutely affect my levels of pain and how I can use energy healing, Kundalini Yoga and talking to my family (chosen or blood) to heal about any situation.
I now work with people, mainly women (it’s just turned out that way) to help them uncover their own personal freedom. Whether it’s a change in mindset or we have to go deeper and change someone’s career or relationships. I believe Freedom is a choice and we have oodles of choice.
I never thought I had the choice to see or feel differently in my life until one day, I just chose to look at myself and the world differently.
When I think about disability and chronic pain I am so excited to see the changes and acceptance that is now making its way through society, but included in that, I believe it is so important at that the people who are part of this special group, don’t fall into the trap of believing that they are less than or ‘life will always be hard because ‘insert disability, or even problem, or frustration here’.
There will always be moments when life gets too hard, hey, I had a bad day yesterday of all days. But, I have learnt that in those moments I am not controlled by what is external to me, in fact, I am the creator of my destiny.
As you move begin or continue on your expansion and healing adventure, the movement from shadow to light, allow yourself the time and space to breathe. No point in rushing the healing process, enjoy it for it reminds and demonstrates to you how far you’ve come.
Everyone can is strong on the inside, take the time to feel into yourself and see your own brilliance, there will be days, when you don’t feel anything good, and that’s ok, that’s just another layer of the onion that is ready to be peeled off.
Your ego will always try and keep you safe, but know, you are fire and ice and the cosmos. You are brave and can I be super candid here, if you have no idea what you’re doing, know that no one does, we’re all just working it out, but when you live from a place of self acceptance it’s so much easier!
Find acceptance in yourself, no one can give it to you, so you have to do the work to heal your beliefs about yourself and your life. Know that whatever anyone believes about you, is their stuff and has nothing to do with you.
No one is here for you, to heal you, to make you feel better, to take your pain away. You must be the one to hold it, sift through it and come out the other end. When we rely on others to make us feel better we are externalising and that will always be a mask for the truth of what is going on.
We can ask people for support and love and guidance, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty healing and transformation, we are the only ones that can walk through those doors to a better day.
Sometimes the hardest but most rewarding action you can take is to sit in the nothingness until the answer comes to you. No reaching out, no asking for opinion, no ‘just tell me what I should do’, just sitting in your uncertainty, waiting, unsure.
It will help you move through the pain quicker and you’ll be empowered, because you did something for you, in that moment, you were there for yourself.
Breathe that knowledge all in now, and remark on your brilliance, for when you remember you exude that energy.
Promise me, you will not shrink yourself in order to make others feel comfortable. Shine your light and choose now to set yourself free.