May 1 2013

Steppie Royes,


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We all go through challenges in life that make us feel like we’re being put through the wringer or that we’re being processed. Some of us are a bit more graceful than others and can get through the experience a lot faster. Since we’re all environmentally concerned I found the best way to describe one of the challenges in my life is by using “The Triple R” which is recycling, reducing and reusing.

For something to be RECYCLED means “to have an object be broken down and made into something different.

This is how it started for me:

Ten years, five months and 16 days ago my mother, little brother and I were in an 18 wheeler accident. Although it was clearly the trucker’s fault, the multi-million dollar trucking company had no interest paying a settlement. In fact, we’re still dealing with them so I’m only allowed to say so much about it. I will spare you the details but will just say that not only was our ’98 mustang totaled, but also our necks, backs and hips. Being 21 years old, my life had just been “broken and made different”. I went from being a 2 litter bottle of red cream soda, full of carbonated hopes and dreams to an empty, stepped-on plastic bottle just wishing I could rot in the sun. By the way, plastic doesn’t decompose.

Life continued. I was excited in my career choices but soon found out that my body wouldn’t allow me to pursue them. I ended up finding happiness in marriage. My husband has Ontogenesis Imperfecta. His bones fracture easily and he’s had over 100 breaks. One of the reasons why we make a good team, to this day, is that we both understand severe pain. From the day we met, I’ve found great comfort in his patience and attitude. I give him much recognition for getting me this far. It was he who introduced me to the business of entertainment, which I would’ve never found had I not met him. Thank you, Irwin!

As the years went by, I allowed negative thoughts to enter my mind. I often allowed myself to linger in selfish misery because I could no longer do things I enjoyed like playing tennis and skating. I couldn’t hold a decent job as a substitute teacher, postal clerk or medical filer and to top it off, the responsibilities of taking care of a disabled husband kept me busy physically and emotionally. My medical condition continued to get worse as my spine kept insisting on twisting into my nerves and my hips rotating out which limited the time I could walk/stand/sit. The pain wasn’t going to go away. Something, rather someone, needed to change.

For something to be REDUCED means “to be narrowed down.”

This leads up to the stage that I just completed; REDUCED. Now, besides the obvious meaning of the word “reduced” as describing my goals, I’ve associated it to something different. My ego was reduced.(2 litter bottle became a 20 oz) I finally realized that I can’t do everything and I’m not expected to. I cannot change the past and the only part of the future that I can do anything with is my reactions. I decided to focus on the things that I can do and dwell less on the things that I can’t. I’ve become less of a perfectionist and can even laugh much easier now. Instead of going against the tide, I sail with it. Thank you, Gratitude & Trust!

For something to be REUSED means “to use again, especially in a different way.”

Now, I’m in the final “R”. REUSE. I feel like I could be a “hand-me-down”. I’m not the first person to be in such an accident but I’ve realized that I’m far from being the last. I can’t control when things happen but I can support those going through it. I wish to constantly “reuse” my experiences to support others. It’s a decision that took 10 years to make but I finally feel that this bottle was picked up off side of the road. The love of writing has been rekindled in my heart. Perhaps this hobby will become something purposeful. Although my body is limited, my spirit is full of unlimited ambitions.

Now that I explained my “Triple R” challenge, here’s a simple exercise to try.

If you look on the bottom of any plastic bottle, you will find the three arrows. In the middle is a number. This number shows how many times a recycled bottle has been processed (i.e. challenged). Now, imagine yourself as a plastic bottle. What’s your number?

If you’re a 1: Trust that bad times are just times that are bad.

If you’re a 2: Find strength in gratitude, if you haven’t already.

If you’re a 3 or higher: Keep in mind that plastic doesn’t decompose. Never allow your spirit to.




Stephanie “Steppie” Royes is a survivor; dealing with challenges from an 18 wheeler accident to going though Hurricane Katrina/Rita, Gustav & Issac and everything in-between. She makes a living as an entertainer (face-painting clown, party games, magician’s assistant and tarot card reader) and when given the chance she does background extra work in the movies. A lot of her time is spent volunteering at the Audubon Zoo and pursuing hobbies such as searching for extraterrestrial life in our universe and working with arts and crafts. She lives in Metairie Louisiana with her husband Irwin -The World’s Smallest Magician.