Make the most you can with what you’ve got

In a prior post, “Reawakening the body,” I discuss toe mobility and the possibility of developing “yoga feet” by willpower and lots of practice. Those of us with spreadable, grippy toes might feel relieved of further effort. But, let’s face it, grabbing fallen objects and opening cabinet doors is mere child’s play.

For real dexterity, check out Jessica Cox*, a phenomenal young woman born without arms, but who can eat, handwrite, type, play piano, put in contact lenses, do black-belt-level tae kwon do, drive a car, and fly a plane … all with her feet! Seeing is believing, and this video of her flying a plane is mind-boggling. (Besides being adept with her toes, she’d probably be a natural in asana, don’t you think?)

It’s clear why she can capture audiences as a motivational speaker. She has zero self-pity and instead creates adaptations to function as effectively (or more so) as the rest of us. Watching her interviews and reading her essays, I’m also struck by her refreshingly pleasant demeanor and, well, her normalcy; she’s neither a martyr nor a misfit. Don’t miss her bracing story about going for a swim (yes, she can swim, too) at the University of Arizona pool and finding herself in a crowd of frat and sorority types going wild at Greek Body Fest 2007.

Knowing about Jessica Cox makes me feel ridiculous for ever complaining about my lot in life!

*Acknowledgment to yoga teacher and friend Barbara Uechi for mentioning Jessica Cox in her blog.


  1. I love stories like this. Have you ever read “Waking” by Matthew Sanford? He became paralyzed at 13 in a car accident and went on to become a yoga teacher — he can’t move and he’s in a wheelchair.

    and when I hear able-bodied people whine about what they can’t do…..;)


    1. Thanks to Nikki and Linda for commenting. I was blown away by Jessica Cox’s agility, as if her whole body rallied to compensate for the missing arms and hands. The book Waking is added to my to-read list (a ridiculously and futilely long list, I admit). If anyone else is interested, here’s his website:

      What interests me is the difference between people who rise to meet any challenge and those who sink with the slightest setback. Is it innate? Is it changeable?


  2. “What interests me is the difference between people who rise to meet any challenge and those who sink with the slightest setback.”

    “it’s not the load we carry, it’s how we carry the load.”

    Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning” —
    a concentration camp survivor


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