Divorce, Disability and Dreams.

I am a dreamer. I have graced the covers of fashion magazines, showed up to sets with handfuls of photographers, designers and makeup artist. I have stood in front of New York designers as they reviewed their latest masterpiece on my small frame. If you were to take one look at my portfolio, you would never guess my biggest secret. I am a single mom with a major disability. After an epic combo of a roll over car accident and my “We can’t help you” letter from Mayo Clinic, I had hit a wall. There was no cure for my muscle disease and a wheelchair was “inevitable.” Not only that, I had three young babies, a looming divorce and an empty bank account. At this point, fight or flight felt like the movie Top Gun. “Dead stick. Mayday, mayday!” Was Noelle going down or was she going reach for the eject button? For me, the eject button was ditch the marriage and doctors that never believed in me anyway. So how does a woman with every odd against her accomplish what I have done?! How does a 40 year old woman, walk down runway, after having three babies…who is supposed to be sitting in a wheelchair?! In my story, the villain was my negative self-talk and the hero was that still voice telling me not to quit. With the right mental state, I have been able to step into my power and face disease, divorce and debt. Walk with me and I will show you how I did it.

I have faced many daunting, devastating defeats but somehow like a cat, I have always managed to land on my feet. We all have dreams crushed. Seems that most people can identify with that one sobering moment. Have you had that crushing moment where you knew life would never be the same? For me, everything changed after I got into that car and headed to Las Vegas. I can still remember tightly closing my eyes as the broken glass and sand filled the car. I remember the sound of the running footsteps of the paramedics. Their voices rang in my ears, “Holy $#@! They are alive!”

So what happened?! Rush hour, blinding sun (5:00 sun glare) and two idiots driving 20 mph below the speed limit. One was pulling a trailer in the slow the lane and the guy in the fast lane was “out to lunch.” We came up on both vehicles too fast and there was simply nowhere to go! My driver over corrected the wheel, we spun out and I hit my head each time the car tumbled down the hill. The rest of the story is nothing but broken flashes and distorted memories. I remember the paramedics immobilized me with a backboard and slamming the ambulance doors. Everything was so fast and slow at the same time. I remember screaming with the sirens, shrilling in pain every time the ambulance accelerated or braked. I must have passed out because the next thing I remember is all the white. I remember white hospital curtains and the white blinding fluorescent light flickering over my bed. I remember the fleeting thought, “I am in too much pain to be dead.” I remember the drugs were so heavy in my system, the doctor's words, “Legs, neck…neurological interrupted” sounded like an echo in my head. After some time, I remember I woke up in pain in the middle of the night and had to pee. I swear nurses pump their victims full of iv fluid to force their patients out of bed. I knew the drill well. I got up to pee and fell to the floor like a pile of bricks! I remember feeling nothing in my legs and I needed a team of two nurses to haul me back in the bed. They scolded me for not using the wheelchair. I told myself, “I will crawl to the toilet before I use that thing!” Doctors said the pain and use of my legs would come on and off like a broken light switch. I remember hitting my legs, telling them to remember how to work! Eventually, my shaking legs held my weight and I walked out of that hospital.

The journey did not end after physical therapy. I went to countless doctors and hospitals to try to figure out why mobility was so unpredictable. I was working really hard to rebuild the muscle in physical therapy and then trip and fall for no reason. I felt like a turtle flipped over on its shell when my legs shut down on me. I remember feeling humbled to have complete strangers help peel me off the parking lot ground. I was utterly devastated that a tiny dip in the pavement resulted in knees soaked in blood and gravel. As the tears magnified my emerald green eyes, my ego turned to ash. I had to resurrect this broken body.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures. At one point, I allowed a doctor cut a chunk of my muscle out of my arm and send it to Mayo Clinic. All they said was that with all the data, test and blood work they had no idea what was wrong with me. Mayo Clinic’s elite doctors reviewed my case and all they could come up with was “chronic inflammation due to an autoimmune disease.” Problem with autoimmune is that it turns on an off. It is like trying to catch a thief with an invisible cloak. My health history is still a big question mark and I have outlived every prognosis they have come up with. I am a paradox, a mystery, and an uncompleted masterpiece. I have no ego and I am just happy to still be alive.

I have dedicated the last five years to the gym and have worked really hard on the muscles that do work. With a positive mindset and dedication, I am proud to say that I don’t remember the last time I fell. I walk with a minor limp but now I just look like a woman with skinny legs. I don’t apologize for my legs or limitations. I think my new diagnosis is relentless, unstoppable %$#! (woman) so don’t mess with me! LOL!

Divorce sucks and I don’t wish it on anybody. I guess I am one of those women that hasn’t been loved right yet. I have learned that a man can only love me as much as I love myself. I got to be honest. Regardless of all of the modeling and glam work, I felt for a long time, that my car accident made me a discount woman. If a cute guy asks me to the movies and he has to help me up the stairs. Reframe. If a man that is lucky enough to get a date with me, he gets to put his arms around me up and help me up those pesky stairs. If a man asks me out for a hiking date…and I can’t friggin hike! Reframe again! How about we walk around a lake instead and I make a picnic lunch. Getting off the picnic blanket is hard for me, so the lucky guy gets to sweep me off my feet. Maybe if he is smart, he will take that moment to kiss my beauty marks next to my big smile! See how powerful you can become when you reframe your story?! It’s attractive to think positive. When I started dating again, I decided to be transparent about what makes me Noelle Romero. I have come to realize that we are all dealt cards we did not like. I have taken my so called cards and turned them into aces and hearts. Once day I hope to find my ace.

Did you know that the strongest driving force in a human is IDENTITY?! The question that haunted me after my divorce was, “Who was I before I became this life-giving PORTAL?” It does not matter if you are a parent or not, I think we all have the similar limiting beliefs about ourselves. Ever wonder, “When will I ever be enough?” Personally, I have found the greatest joy is when I simply stop over thinking! I have found that I may not be in control of my circumstances, but I am always in charge of my mental state. I have found this to be so powerful, I am in school to become a Neuro-linguistic Practitioner and Hypnotherapist. This means that I can teach people how to use self-talk and mental state to become extremely aware of their own power. My fears are just like shadows. Even on the sunniest days, my shadow shows up, but it has to follow me and do as I say. It may whisper, “what if you fall?” It is in that moment, I imagine that super hero cape and say, “but what if I am victorious?!”

In closing, I have learned that I really do create my own identity and reality. Divorce, disability and my dreams have always been within my reach. I am a dreamer destined for excellence because I refuse to quit. When I cannot walk, I will crawl. When I fall, I will take the hand reaching out to help. When I feel broken or not enough, I will dig deep and let love wash over me. I would like to humbly ask that after hearing my story, if you would glance at my photos just one more time. See the determination in my eyes? Now you know what it took to get me where I am today. I would like to suggest that maybe it is your own self talk and framework that has kept you in the spot that you are in. Ready for the quote of the day? Get a pen because it is that good. It goes like this, “Stop letting fear keep you from stepping into your greatness.” Now trade in that divorce, depression, diagnosis or whatever is getting you down and trade it for GRIT! Let go of those limiting beliefs and do it every single day until the scene changes. You are the leading lady or man in your own movie. Flip the script and live a life you actually want to star in. Life will kick you in gut as soon as you put this article down but this time you will laugh and say, “Oh come ON human experience! You are so temporary. Is that the best shot you got?!” If this stubborn woman can do it, so can you. Let’s walk.

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