It still feels surreal, and even though I have this gorgeous shiny award sitting on my desk reminding me of the incredible day that was the Cosmopolitan Women of the Year Awards, I still feel like I need to pinch myself.
2016 was by far one of the most challenging years for so many of us, but to be recognized along side some of the most remarkable women in Australia really made the testing times feel worth it.
Just a few days before the awards I was taken to hospital as my health had been rapidly declining due to me pushing myself so much throughout the year but somehow I managed to battle through it and get on that plane to Sydney.
There is no other person in the world that I could imagine having by my side for this event than my mother. After all, it’s been her strength and determination that has help create the women that I am today.
We arrived at our tiny little apartment that couldn’t be further from “wheel chair accessible”, and although mum was having a fit, I just laughed it off as given the days before hand, for me it just felt good actually being able to even be there (in Sydney).
Somehow we managed to get a spray tan in our room by the amazing Colour Me Bronze, who was so patient with me as being able to stand up for the tan was a huge challenge given that my blood pressure was so low due to being sick.
We were up bright and early for hair and makeup – I decided to actually treat myself and not do my own for a change, and then it was time to slip into the stunning dress that was gifted to me by the incredibly generous team at Thurley.
It’s not often I get to frock up and feel glamorous but as this event was all about feeling empowered, I’m a big believer that with the right outfit, a women can take over the world, and that is exactly how I felt.
Off we went as we experienced our first ride in an Uber to the Centennial Gardens and as we pulled up I my heart almost jumped out of my chest, as the first person I saw was Bethany Hamilton!
Bethany has been a women I’ve admired since my injury as she survived the most grueling shark attack whilst surfing and she has since gone on to inspire so many of us with the power of using her experience to create a positive influence and prove that we are not what has happened to us but we are who we choose to be.
Never one to shy away from being star struck I quickly raced up to Bethany and told her how brilliant she is (crazy fan girl moment) and made sure I got a snap with her.
Then it was truly time to sit back and take it all in.
I had never been to the Centennial Gardens before, let alone be surrounded by so many positive influences so I felt it only normal to feel a little overwhelmed. People were introducing themselves to me and telling similar things to what I was telling Bethany, but they were saying it about me?
It wasn’t until this moment that I have ever really felt like I have made a big impact on people as I just go about my life the only way I know how. I take each day as it comes, and not all of those days are good ones. It has never once came into my mind that I wouldn’t be using my experience to help others, it’s what I’ve always done as that is what I watched my mother and great grandmother do. For me, what I am doing isn’t a job; I don’t get paid for it. It’s just my way of life.
We took our places at our gorgeously decorated table opposite Samantha Harris (Super Model) and Bonnie Sveen (Actress) and were serenaded by none other then the incredibly talented Koi Boys. These guys are not just absolute hunks but they are hilarious and my tummy was hurting from laughing so much.
I kept looking around the room putting faces to names as I had followed so many of the other nominated women’s stories. The love in the room was so apparent as every single woman here today had her own story and it was one that was having an impact on all of us.
I truly cannot thank each and every one of you that took the time out of their busy days to vote for me. This day was unlike any other and one I will remember for the rest of my life!
I have to give the biggest shootout to Australian Designer Thurley for gifting me the gorgeous dress I wore for the occasion and to the the beautiful Rebecca Hayes from OneTwo Agency for making the dress happen!