#005: Janine Shepherd on Being Defiant and Overcoming the Odds [Podcast]

Sparta Chicks Radio

Mar 21

"There is no problem that can't be solved".

Those words might seem flippant coming from me.

A throwaway line meant to be motivational and help you keep pushing towards your goal even when you're struggling. But you and I both know it can be hard to see the light in the darkness sometimes.

But when you hear the story and journey of today's guest on Sparta Chicks Radio, you'll be inclined to agree.

Her story is one of resilience, inner strength and knowing there is a solution to just about any obstacle if you want it badly enough and you keep looking for solutions (rather than focusing on the obstacles).

A triathlete at University (in fact, the NSW State Champion), Janine Shepherd was an elite cross-country skier and member of the Australian Olympic team training for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. She had the world at her feet.

Janine Shepherd on SpartaChicksRadio - photo by Kisa Koenig Photography

(c)  Kisa Koenig Photography

Until one fateful day in 1986 when her life changed.

She was hit by a truck while on a training ride and left hospital 6 months later a partial paraplegic.

But someone with a defiant human spirit isn't grounded for long.

Less than 3 months after leaving hospital, she decided that if she couldn't walk, she was going to learn to fly. And she did; within 18 months of leaving hospital she had obtained both her commercial and aerobatics pilot’s licence.

Since then, she's had many challenges including a painful divorce and losing almost everything in the global financial crisis.

But now Janine now shares her experience and message that "you are not your body" as a motivational speaker around the world.

Janine shares her story in her new book called "Defiant" which is currently available on Amazon in Kindle format and in audio (via Audible). I listened to the audio version and hearing Janine share her story in her voice was nothing short of powerful.

Janine Shepherd's new book Defiant

Some of my favourite quotes from this interview:

* When you’ve got a desire that’s so strong that’s burning inside you, you’re not going to let anything stand in your way.

* There is no problem that can’t be solved. You just need to be creative

* When you find a way through the problem, it gives you more confidence to face whatever it is you’re going to face in the future. I think there is a way through everything

* I thought that my strength came from my body because as an athlete that’s how I put myself out into the world. And when I lost that, I had to look elsewhere. And what I found is that it had nothing to do with our bodies and instead what I call our defiant human spirit.

In this interview, we talk about:

* how she remained so determined and optimistic about her chances of walking again and then learning to fly,

* her approach to overcoming obstacles that cropped up along the way - like her inability to use her legs to control the rudder pedals, a pretty important step even before you get the plane off the ground (hint: “I’ll worry about that later” - a tip we should all use!),

* body shame and embarrassment,

* why she feels fear yet is not afraid of it, and

* the power of connection and the empathy that comes with it.

This woman has left a real impact on my mind and my heart. I hope you finish listening to this interview and feel just as inspired as I did.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Notes and resources:

To find out more about Janine or to say hello, you can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or via her website at www.janineshepherd.com.

Janine's new book is called "Defiant". It is currently available on Amazon (Kindle and Audio) version (note: I'll update once it's available in paperback in Australia in May 2017).

​You can see Janine's TedxTalk - A Broken Body Isn't A Broken Person - here.

Survival of the Fittest - Sixty Minutes Australia​

​Olympic Hopeful Re-Imagines Her Life ~ CNN's Turning Points