When I first saw Lauren Ruotolo walking toward me on her crutches, my first reaction was pity. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to use them all the time to get around. BUT, my perspective changed fast as she got closer and I saw the light in her eyes, the lilt in her walk, the big smile on her face, and the stiletto heels she wore well. I realized that this chick doesn’t let handicaps interfere with what she wants. With a zest for life, Lauren lives in the fast lane, despite having a rare genetic disease that could get the best of most people.
Standing 4 feet, 2 inches tall in flats, Lauren Ruotolo wouldn’t be caught without her stiletto heels. I can’t get around in them nearly as well as she does! Born with McCune-Albright Syndrome, Lauren’s parents were originally told she’d be confined to a wheel-chair. But her parents, bless their hearts, refused to accept this limiting fate, brought her to regular physical therapy, and treated her the same as her siblings. Not one to settle for less than a fabulous life, Lauren worked her way to become Director of Entertainment Promotions for Hearst Magazines in New York City, where she is responsible for developing strategic key partnerships with TV & cable networks, music labels, and movie studios.
Lauren avoids the label of “disabled” by accepting and loving who she really is. In her book, Unstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl’s Guide to Living Tall in a Small World Lauren tells how despite being of short stature, she lives tall. The advice in this book will inspire you to look beyond any limitations you might have to live the life you’d love. She’s a great example of living at your best! This book is especially great for people who have handicaps of any sort. Lauren shows how to own who you are and let self-love rule your life so happiness can be yours, no matter what your handicap or self-perceived flaw. I’m delighted to have an interview with her to motivate you.
What was it like growing up with a rare disease? “For me, growing up with a rare disease was no different than growing up with anything else. I never knew the difference and made every second of my life better than the last.”
With kids making fun of those who look different, how were you able to fit in? “Since I did not perceive myself as different and had the same interests and desires as every other kid, I was never made fun of. My advice to kids/young adults or adults is to not feel different than other people and be outgoing and be very friendly to show them that you’re not afraid of what you have so they shouldn’t be either. Once they get over the initial thought of you looking different no one will ever think about it again because your personality will outshine your differences.”
Did feel you were missing out on anything when you were in and out of the hospital? “The answer is definitely yes. As I child I never wanted to miss out on anything and since I did not perceive myself different than anyone else I would have rather suffered in pain than miss a birthday party, school play, after school activities etc. Today I have to say I am not much different.”
What gave you the strength to put in all the hours of physical therapy to strengthen yourself? “Physical therapy was part of my life since I was 4 years old; it was like taking bath or eating breakfast. It was something that I needed to do give to me the strength to get up and walk everyday and be even more so it allowed me to feel like everyone else. As a matter of fact I would joke with my friends that PT was my after school activity. Sometimes my girlfriends would come over to watch me in action. Without the amount of time and energy that was put forth I would not be upright today. This was the greatest medicine I could have offered myself.”?
How did loving yourself effect your attitude? “I would say that a very young age I had no choice but to love myself because there was no alternative. I was either going to accept myself and the disability that came with me or I was going to crawl into a hole and give up. With loving myself, a positive and independent attitude followed. It got me through what I called in Unstoppable in Stilettos “the scary bad times.” I would promise myself that if I could laugh at least twice a day everything would be okay. To this day, when I am feeling down about anything I always try to pop in a funny movie or call a friend who I know will make me laugh. Automatically my positive attitude would sky rocket and I would get back on my path.”??
Why do you feel that self-love is so important to have? “Self love is one of the greatest gifts you can offer yourself and is something that all parents should teach their kids at a young age. One who truly loves themselves on the inside and out will lead a very happy life. I grew up with a strong, positive, and independent attitude. However, at the age of 18 I noticed that all my girlfriends had boyfriends and I was alone. I began to not love myself on the outside. By not loving me on out the outside I believed that I could never be truly loved by a man. I became obsessed with the thought that I would never get married because I looked different then the other girls.
By the time I was 25 years old I only had a few dates. After I went out with a guy who asked me tons of questions about my body, I decided that I needed to take a look at myself and evaluate why I felt like this. I went into therapy and finally was able to find self love again. Once I did I became a man magnet–ha ha! When you truly love yourself inside and out the world notices and when they notice all your dreams can come true.”??
How do YOU see yourself? “Well that is a funny question and something that people ask me all the time! I definitely don’t see myself as a 4’2 woman who walks with crutches because like I said before I learned how to love myself. As a matter of fact I feel like everyone else. Some days I think I look fat; other days I think I look like a super model. Overall I don’t see my handicap anymore and I just see me for who I am.”
Who did you writing this book for? “I have written this book for every teenager, young woman and adult who has ever had a fear of something or wanted to achieve something they thought could never happen. Unstoppable in Stilettos will teach you that everything in life is possible if you push yourself and never take NO for an answer.”??
What would you advise someone who was letting a physical or a mental handicap keep them from living their dreams? “First off I would want to slap the negativity out of them. At one point or another we all go through something scary and it’s too easy to feel bad and lock yourself out of society. No one respects the Debby downer at the party. It’s much harder to say I have a something that makes me different and understand that those differences are actually your assets. Flaunt what you got and trust me, all your dreams can come true. No one can ever reach their dreams by being negative and feeling bad for themselves.”
Check out Lauren Ruotolo‘s book,Unstoppable in Stilettos. It’s a quick
read that will give you a shot of adrenaline to get off your buts (“I’d do this but…”) and live more fully. Lauren overcame what others see as obstacles to live more fully than most of us do. You can find your way to doing that too!
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