Episode 106 – Unstoppable Thalidomide Survivor with Sabine Becker
Sabine Becker was born in Germany in January, 1962. Her mother had been given thalidomide during her pregnancy. The drug was touted as the wonder cure for morning sickness, anxiety and other pregnancy-related issues. Only two months before Sabine’s birth, governments including Germany finally recognized that the major effect of thalidomide was to cause serious birth defects in the children born to mothers who were given the drug. As you will hear in our episode, Sabine was born with extremely short arms and only two fingers on each hand.
If you ever wish to hear a story of someone who grew to be unstoppable, listen to Sabine and her story. She grew up and learned how to use alternative techniques to accomplish what most of us do with two fully formed hands.
Along the way, Sabine, her husband and their five-year-old son moved to America. Sabine thrives today even after suffering a major stroke in 2012. She determined after the stroke that she would “persevere until success happens” and success indeed happened for her. She walks and fully thrives today. In fact, in 2019 Sabin ran a full Los Angeles marathon.
Sabine’s interview to me is one of the most inspirational and inciteful ones I have had the honor to conduct. “Persevere Until Success Happens, (PUSH)” is the coaching program Sabine started after recovering from her stroke. I am sure you will come away from this episode inspired and motivated to become more unstoppable yourself.
About the Guest:
German-born Sabine Becker is an award-winning inspirational speaker.
She has appeared on PBS and the Oprah Winfrey Network because she was born with very short arms and lives a fully independent life using her feet for daily living tasks.
After a near-death experience, she developed the acronym P.U.S.H. ~Persevere until Success Happens~
Utilizing the diverse lessons, she has learned from the inside out, she is helping audiences worldwide to P.U.S.H. through challenges to create a purposeful and thriving life regardless of their circumstances.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Well, hi, once again, I am Michael Hingson, your host on unstoppable mindset. We’re inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet, and anything else that might come on? Oh, I guess that comes under unexpected. Thanks for listening to us wherever you happen to be today. This is all for you, to help you. And others realize that we can be more unstoppable than we think we can. And our guest today Sabin Becker is as close to demonstrating unstop ability as it gets. She’s German born. And but But she’ll she’ll not do German for us too much, I hope. But no good. But she was born with very short arms. And we’re going to talk about that she’s been a keynote speaker. She’s been on Oprah. She’s been on PBS, are we jealous or what? And after a new near death experience, she developed a program called PUSH: perseverance until a success happens that I’m really interested in. And I hope all of you will be as well. And you know, we’ll see where all the questions take us today. As usual. It’s all about having a conversation. So Sabin, welcome to unstoppable mindset. We’re glad you’re here.
Well, Michael, thank you so much for having me at the unstoppable mindset. This is awesome to be here. I’m so excited. And we’re gonna have a great conversation.
I hope so. Well, why don’t we start as, as often people say at the beginning, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you as you were growing up? You were born in Germany. And as I said, and one of the things you told me with very short arms. What does that mean? short arms? Yeah.
Great, great question, Mike. Like I said, I was born in Germany in the early 1960s. And as you already said, I was born with short arms. Now, what does that mean? My arms are not fully developed there. Maybe? I don’t know, I still have problems with interest in America, then maybe you could do centimeters. They I get confused too. So my arms. So what does short mean? I think that’s a good question. About six to eight inches, and I only have two fingers at each hand. And the reason why that happened is because in the late 1950s, early 1960s, specifically in Germany, but also in Great Britain and Australia, and some other countries, but Germany, Great Britain, Australia, were the hardest hit the pharmaceutical complex going into decided to develop a med medication, which called watch called Thalidomide . And they told pregnant women or the doctors told pregnant women, it would be okay to take that medication in the beginning of their pregnancy, it would not harm the fetus. And of course history knows it. It turned out to be the worst pharmaceutical disaster in history. Because 20,000 Babies imagine that number that’s that’s humongous number of babies 20,000 Babies were born was abbreviated RM somewhere even born with abbreviated legs and you know, I do have completely normal legs. Others were were born with disabilities and 60 plus sent Micah 60% of a third of my babies never saw their first birthday. So it was truly one of it or no, it is considered the worst catastrophe in pharmaceutical catastrophe in history. And as some
Thalidomide was very visible here, too. I remember it growing up and hearing all about it and all the controversy. So
yeah, I think so. I mean, I wasn’t around, but yet in America, but, but what happened here in America, which makes America really very unique, is the General Surgeon General. Dr. Francis calci. She saw what happened overseas, and she did not allow the medication for Thalidomide here in this country. And that’s why thankfully, America has not had that, that many, so little mite affected children. Most of our children are like me, they are coming from a different country. They were born in, you know, Germany, Great Britain, and maybe to American parents, or they immigrated here to this country like I did to, so that it’s very rare to find, I mean, there are there the specially what I hear from a lot of my friends, their parents were overseas in the in the military. And that’s how they got the mother got exposed to this hello to my drug.
Well, what was it supposed to accomplish what was full and full and why supposed to be?
Well, it was being set. Number one, it was being said it is as safe as a sugar pill. And it will help the pregnant woman to cope with anxiety, insomnia, and especially morning sickness. So then, and you know why that was so popular. I just understood this, this these last few years, because I have done a lot of research. Why this bag it became so popular in Europe, because people were still very anxious because of World War Two, World War Two, just you know, can’t was years ago it you know, it, people still remember the trauma of award war. So it was just a society that still dealt with PTSD. And there can the wonder drug, the sugar pill that was going to take everything away, just take away the anxiety, take away the insomnia. And that’s why so many people went for it. And these poor mothers never knew that it would harm there. Yeah,
well, so you were born. And so how did it go for you growing up?
Well, believe it or not, I really, it’s really crazy. Believe it or not. I really never realized that I was disabled. Because because I was, I was never treated as a person or a child at the time was a disability. My parents were very strict with me. And they were strict with my brother, too. We had the same chores in the house out, I had to vacuum vacuum clean, my brother had to back him clean. I had to do the show to do the dishes, my brother had to do the dishes. And that was unheard of in the mid 60s Towards the end of his 60s in Germany. Because in general, German, German society still thought of people with disability as less. Again, that’s kind of the leftovers from the war. Because that’s a terrible story with people who have disabilities during World War Two. I don’t want to get into it. But the the idea was still there. People with disabilities are less. But my parents they fought that. And they fought it very successfully. And they also fought for that I had a physical and occupational therapist, who was able to teach me how to use my feet as my hands. So as a tiny little kid, maybe I don’t really remember three, three years maybe old. As a tiny kid. I learned over many years, how to use my feet as my hands which included getting dressed, brushing my hair at The time drawing little pictures then lay down when I was old enough to ride, riding with my left foot, everything you and your listeners and the viewers do, I do with my feet. And that even today includes driving a non modified car. So I grew up not having any notion of that I was different. Because I didn’t think of myself as different. The kids I played with, didn’t think I was different sometimes. Oh, what happened to your arms? But then I said, Oh, I was born this way. And the kids. Okay, let’s play. It was not a big affair. I was not. You know, I had my little roller skates. I had skis. Gosh, what did I do as a kid? I did so much. I even climbed a tree. Believe it or not with tiny little hands. I hung on somehow. No, I didn’t. But I distinctly remember that cherry tree I climbed up on. I did everything like other kids.
You’re saying you are not really a great fan of trying to climb a tree today? Is that what I’ve
you know, maybe not. The smartest thing to do. But I was fearless. Mike.
Was your brother a Thalidomide ? Baby?
No, no, he was born three years later. And the German government forced gluing and tie the manufacturer of Valetta made forced green attire to take when the dial of the market and that was in November 1961. And I was born in January of 1962. So I had a done this a year before that. I would today have regular arms. It was just they knew going into I knew about it. And that’s the the other tragedy Yeah, that’s that’s a big issue. And they wanted to make as much profit as possible to their finally work hard. And hey, the it has to be put out of the market. And so many kids like myself, we could have been saved from real hardship because I make it easy. But I think for my parents, it was extraordinarily difficult to raise a child with such as severe disability, and dealing with a society that the mental attitude of society at the time, specifically in Germany, I don’t talk about America at all, but specifically in Germany, and I the are the obstacles they had to jump over. Because there was no support, there was no, no help for those parents. They just try to organize themselves and basically look what they are going to do. And many parents, they were so frustrated and just depressed some some parents, and they gave their children up. So they were raised in homes for the disabled, because it was a true feat to raise a child with such an unusual disability.
But you bring up some some really interesting points. And with my life, there are a lot of similarities. First of all, the way our parents treated us, and the view that they took of us as human beings, we were not considered less. I won’t say that my parents wouldn’t say that I was different. Or would they they knew I was blind. But I was I was supposed to, according to doctors be put in a home because no line child could ever grow up to do anything. And my parents rejected that. And they also brought me up. As you that is we were supposed to do all the chores and things like that. And my brother, who was two years older and sighted and I were treated the same as as it should be. And so I never even really thought much about being blind as being different. I just thought it’s the way I am. And I knew that other kids weren’t blind, but it goes back to what our parents decided. And that set the tone because like you there was no bitterness. And we grew up with primarily kids and in environments where we were not treated as less. And my I had some teachers that helped along the way too, just because of things that I was required to doing. class that other kids weren’t required to do. Like, when we had spelling tests, I would say the words out loud when the tests were being graded. So my test was spelling the words out loud, which I love to say, also got me prepared for being able to do public speaking. But, you know, I was not really viewed as, as less or different. I know, I didn’t necessarily appear in all the same social environments as other kids. I didn’t go to a lot of the dances and things like that when we were in high school and all that. But by the same token, I wasn’t viewed as an obstacle or less than other kids. And I think that’s the way it ought to be. I think that the schools where I grew up, eventually started getting materials in and a teacher to help with from you learning Braille and other things like that. But it’s, it’s all part of really having a mindset that says, We’re all people that have gifts, and we shouldn’t be diminished, because our guests are different than others.
I love that. We have our gifts. Absolutely. And they’re different. And you and I have talked before this podcast, and we definitely have a lot of similarities in our lives. And I’m so glad to see you’re here to you interview me. And it’s such an incredible to somebody like like minded mind, some word. Oh, my gosh, my English sometimes.
Not you’re you’re absolutely doing fine. There’s no problem at all. So you you went to school, did you? Did you go to college in Germany?
No, what I did, I graduated high school in Germany. And then again, that was a feat, because normally, disabled children were put in Sundar Shulin, which means special schools, special schools, that’s the translation. And my parents did that for a couple of years, because it just didn’t know any different. But then my mother said, You know what, I’m not going to accept that because I do not want to have less for my daughter, because it was less I just had it, there were all kinds of disabilities. I was thrown into classes with people who had learning disabilities. It just, it just didn’t work for me. And so my mother realized that and she said, I’m not going to accept that Sabine is going to go to a regular school. I went to a regular Elementary School in the fourth grade. So I did stay for three years. Yeah, because my first grade, first, fourth grade was my first year in a regular mainstream school. And because we didn’t have an integration we have, we have today, it just was unheard of. And, and then I continued to high school and it was a Catholic High School in Germany. And I remember the nuns, the principal, a nun, what is it called the head? Yes, mother subcarrier. She told me, Sabine, you want to go to school here, you’re going to do everything like everybody else. We will not make exceptions. And I said, Sure, of course. So I had to do a PE, I had to do a sewing, I had to learn how to sew with my feet. It just what was that called household management. I don’t even know what those classes were. And yes, thank you, thank you, you and your you call it different here in America. But that’s what I had to do. And what that taught me again. And that reinforced, I was not different from anybody else, I might have to do things differently. But I did it. And that mindset has followed me throughout my life.
And that says it should be it doesn’t mean that you, you won’t need some tools to allow you to do the same things that other people do. Which means as you said, you might do them differently. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do them. And I think that that’s one of the key points that so many people miss about the whole issue of disabilities. First of all, disability doesn’t mean that we’re not able it doesn’t mean that and it shouldn’t mean that. We’ve got to get away from that. That kind of an attitude and mindset. But what it does mean is that we’re different, but so is everyone else. There are a lot of people who are left handed their therapy, people who are bald, who don’t have hair, they lose it or whatever. That makes them different and they have to accommodate that in some ways, but the reality is we’re all different. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I one of my favorite speeches by the founder of the National Federation of the Blind Dr. Jacobus, Tim Brook, who is a blind constitutional law scholar actually not a speech, but an article is called a preference for equality. And one of the things that he said is, in the article, essentially, that equality doesn’t mean you do things exactly the same way. It means that you get what you need to be able to accomplish the same task. But equality doesn’t mean doing it the same way. equality means that you have the tools that you need to have to do it. And I think all too often people say, Well, if you want equality, then you got to be able to sit down and and use the same tools everybody else does. Wrong answer. That is not what it should mean. That’s not what it was me. I remember being in kindergarten in Palmdale, I had when I grew up there. We have moved from Chicago when I was five. And I remember my parents having a very strong, viciously furious argument with a school principal who wanted me to be sent to the School for the Blind in Northern California. And my parents said, Absolutely not. We want him to go to a regular public school. Now what I’ve been able to thrive with the School for the Blind, yes, at that time, the academic standards were good. But my parents said, there’s no reason that he can’t go here. And we’re not going to allow it. And they were shouting at each other, I remember. But they prevailed. And I went to public school. And there were some challenges for a while until Braille came along for me to be able to use because the school didn’t know how to get it. But we, we need to all recognize that in reality, just because we do things differently, it doesn’t mean we can’t do them.
Exactly. And that’s something I’ve run into my into in my life on many, many times, because we know that and many of your listeners us know that. But not everybody knows that. Sometimes I’m sure you too. You just meet people who just assume because you’re different, I’m different, that we can’t do something. And that is something I’ve been literally fighting against all my life. I’ve tried to educate because I was a social worker, psychologist, before I started my public speaking. And I tried to educate and we have made many, many strides. Since I’ve been a kid, especially goodness, it’s a world of difference. But there still needs to be education that
So what did you do after high school?
After high school, I was a free spirit. And I said, Oh, yeah, no, still today. After high school, I just decided that I will move to Paris, France. And why Paris France because I thought I could be just the new Picasso. I could be the new van Gogh, I could be. Whatever was because I loved art. I still love art to this day, I learned how to draw with my feet. In a way I might say so myself. It was good. I mean, it was not Picasso. But I just enjoyed it. And I wanted to study art. But guess what? My parents said no, absolutely not. Kind of a, you know, a starving artist type thing. But I still went to Paris. But in the end, I decided against studying art. I studied social work and then psychology. And that probably was a good idea. Because otherwise I might be a starving artist.
You could have taken up cooking you know? Yeah.
Yeah, well, yeah. I mean, there were so many routes I could have gone. But I had love for art. I still have a love for it to this day, but earning a living one of the foot artists and they do okay, I think what I know of some of them they do okay. But I think it was a good route because the other thing I’m very passionate about is helping others helping people to, to use that adversity and turn them into really meaningful opportunities. And because that’s what I had to do, and I can’t Come up with a push P U S H survival guide who push it stands for you already said it earlier, persevere until success happens. And I came up with it after my life or during a near death experience. I see
if you would Yeah. Oh
my goodness. Yeah. This is jumping a lot of hedge, because there were so many things still between my college education and my life altering event. Can I just say, I have a son Nicola was born in 1983. And I think that’s, that’s what I’m so proud of my beautiful son grew up in a beautiful young man, who is almost 40 years old today. And that was a tough time. Because again, I had no clue. What do I do? Was this the 1010 pound baby or eight pounds? I don’t know, what you do is persuade. What do you do when you do? Well, I have small arms, I have some use of my small arms. So what do you do, and I had to literally push until I figured out how to change his diapers, how to dress, how to modify his clothes. I modified them by having Velcro on his gloves, and how to get them in and out of his bed. So there’s how to carry him. There’s so many things, I just had to come up with different ways of doing things. And again, I was married at the time, my husband is diseased now. He died when Nicola was five years old. And so I was after that time, a single single mom with a disability. And that there was there, those were tough times. I mean, you just like every difficult journey really starts with we’re putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s what I had today to do. Day by day by day, I couldn’t even think about where I wanted to go. I just wanted to get through the day was Mykola. So he would not have a disadvantage because his mother is disabled.
Well, and of course, the issue is going back to what is really disabled, right? Yeah. And of course, we’re not in in the reality of it all. We again have this concept of a disability, but it’s so does everyone. So you, you made the decision, that you were going to find ways to accomplish the tasks that you needed to. And I would assume that if there was something that you really had difficulty doing that you would enlist some help to get that done. But your goal was to make sure that you could do all the tasks that you needed to do.
Absolutely. And I really love what you just said, I made the decision. And that’s it. Life is about choices. We’re not just being thrown into life and allow the current version of our circumstances to decide for us. No, we make the choices. Because that is so important. I see so many people, especially when I was a social worker, so many people just allowed circumstances to determine their life, their quality of life. So I made the decision. I mean, and I’ve loved my son, and I would have done everything to this day I will do anything for him. And if it means I have to come up with innovative waves. I did have some help from for some reason. I remember she was a sister like a Catholic type sister, who prep little meals for Nicola who have maybe was a household choice who took a put a give him a bath. But that didn’t really didn’t last very long. Maybe Nicola. When he was one year old, I was in with my husband at the time. We were we’re pretty much on our own. But I had a good reason I had it figured out because, again, push. That’s just what we have to do. We have to take the decision to push.
Now where were your parents in all of this at that time. All my
parents were in Germany, and my father was a handful. He was brilliant scientist, but my mother I had to take care of him like, some hobbies, brilliant people. So she had her hands forward, my dad and my brothers still lived at home at the time. And they came to visit of course, but they just were not. They’re just right next door to help.
Yeah, I kind of figured that they stayed in Germany from the way you were describing it. On the other hand, they were grandma and grandpa. Did they spoil grandchild when they had the chance?
Oh, my gosh, yeah. I’m telling you, it’s a real point to the point of saying, Mom, no.
Parents are supposed to do
absolutely. And today I’m a grandparent, and I do exactly the same thing. You know, they see it they like it a grandma, can you buy it for us? Guy’s
so you, you did that? And, you know, but But it went on? Well, how did Nicola deal with? Or did he ever come to the conclusion? Mom’s different? And did you ever have discussions about that?
No, you’re not. That’s interesting. Because, I mean, he grew up with me. And so he saw me ever from the first day of his life, he saw me every day. And I watched this different do that, because I talked to him with my legs instead of with my arms. And he, he felt as a baby, I’m talking now that his dad helped him differently. But so it was not a big deal for him. And later on, in my life, in his life, I should say, when he was maybe a teenager, diva when we met people, and people say, oh, you know, your mom is so amazing. And as a teenager, he rolls his eyes and say, Yeah, whatever. She is just my mom stuff. It was not a big deal. He was you know, I’m just mom. So it’s that’s how my mom is no big deal. But,
but but he but he never came to you and said something like, Mom, you use your feet so much. How come you’re not a very famous soccer player and earning us lots of money?
Maybe that would have been my kid.
You see, now you know, now we’re getting to it? Well, again, that’s great.
That’s my career paths vary are
a new new thing to explore. It’s not too late. The other thing is, though, that once again, it comes down to how you approached it. Right? You You didn’t make it a big deal. Not that you didn’t do things the same way your husband or later other people did. And your son recognize that and I’m sure still clearly today does.
Absolutely no, I didn’t make a big deal. When I raised Nicola, I was, oh my gosh, I was actually young mother 21. And so I just didn’t, I didn’t think about it, all I wanted to do is raise my son, check that he has enough to eat and, you know, love, of course, first food to drink that he has everything that he goes to kindergarten, that goes to elementary school and so on. I was so busy, so focused. And then I was also a full time working mom, I was so focused on those things. I didn’t even think for the longest time ever had that, that I’m different, that my life definitely is different. I didn’t have the time to think that.
So you you approached life that way, which makes perfect sense. And so now is he in the US today? Or is he still in Europe or what?
You’re so we came to America when he was five years? Yeah. When we were? We were? He was five years old. And there was a free spirit. I was a free spirit. Oh, yeah. And you know, I didn’t even want to stay in America. It just kind of was kind of an accidental thing.
1988 Yeah. And then
I just happened, you know, circumstances on top of those circumstances. I fell in love here in America because my husband had died at the time. And so we just stayed and that was not planned. And we came to love America and we still love it to this day, so much that I became a US citizen in 2002. And my son just a one year later, in 2001. And my son is active duty minute Jerry today he is in the army. He was, gosh, how do you call these people? Protective Services for? My gosh, I’m just matters what, uh, Jim Mattis. General Mattis. He was a security detail for him. And on top, he never protected Donald Trump. But because he didn’t have that clearance, but he was state as Secretary of State. And as Secretary of Defense, so ever several of them, they rotated in and out at that time, quite a bit. And now he’s working for the CID, which is the military. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And he’s, you know, I mean, you’re a viewer see me, I’m a very small person. And blonde long hair, kind of hippie type. Still. I don’t know how that happened that my son is in the army. And but I’m proud of him. He took the path he thinks is working for him. And it seems to work for him. He is Officer now and Officer now in the military, in the army, and I couldn’t be proud of them.
That is super. Well, how did you say you came to America in 1988? And so you, what were you doing for work once you came here?
Oh, yeah, that’s a good question. Once I had that famous green card, I was allowed to work. Yeah. But I got it. I got it. I was allowed to work. I worked as a social worker mainly mainly was children who couldn’t fit into mainstream school. It was through Job Corps. And also I worked for a very special in the arts, that’s an organization that allows that gives the means to people with disability, diverse disabilities to produce art project and to keep them engaged. And that was a wonderful place to work. And I work for access Alaska, because we used to live in Alaska at the time, access Alaska that provided outdoor opportunities again for people with disabilities. I love that work and I hope I made a difference in there.
So you, you found things to do now, where do you live today?
Today, I just live outside of San Diego and Southern California was nice and warm. What town Temecula Temecula didn’t make. Wine Country? Yeah, the wind
contract in California game country.
It’s so beautiful. Today actually, we have a little bit cold day and we actually did see some rain this morning. Ah, like oh my gosh, my mom. Yeah, there’s a little bit rain. Yeah.
Where I live in Victorville. So we’re about 130 125 miles from you. We’re having rain. And it’s supposed to. Oh, it does. Sometimes. It’s up on the desert, but it does rain sometimes.
So I think I drove through there went back. I know where Victorville as I was just going to say, isn’t that high desert?
Yes. On the way to Las Vegas is what most people would remember victory.
Exactly. That’s how I remember Joe. We even
occasionally gets snow. Mostly we don’t we’re in a valley. So the snow goes around us. But still we get some. But it’s supposed to get up to 58 Fahrenheit today. So you guys have a warmer down there. We lived in Vista for six years and love it.
So you So you worked and what kind of things happened in your life? You mentioned something about I think mace it wasn’t may 17 2012.
Yeah, May 17 2012. Because I will always remember that date. What happened on May 17 22? Have I had a near death experience and age really truly, I mean, I just barely survived it was I suffered a massive stroke while I was driving my car, and massive stroke is terrible. But while you are driving your car, it’s probably one of them was places you can have a stroke and not that there is ever a good place to have a stroke but as that’s what was happening into me, and only to the grace of our higher power, I survived, because I had a passenger that day with me. And that passenger never really rides with me. So that day I had a passenger with me who grabbed in the last second the steering wheel. And that’s the reason why we didn’t crash through the guardrail into the Rio Grande River. It happened in North northern New Mexico, and very isolated mountain road. And that in itself was very challenging. And that’s why my stroke, the damage of my stroke was so extensive, because there was no cell phone reception. And it was very, very hard to get help, and a barely, barely, barely made to the Life Flight down to Albuquerque, where they finally almost three hours later, could give me the drug TPA, which is a blood clot busting drug, I was just barely still in that window, because I think there used to be a window of three hours. I just barely qualified for it. But my brain suffered pretty extensive, extensive damage.
Did you basically completely recover from that? Or is there still
Yes. Yeah, there’s still a little bit damage. I couldn’t walk, I could not talk, could not use my left foot for all daily tasks. And it took me one year of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. And it was, yeah, thankfully, I knew what push means, persevere, until I took that first step. That first step was such a monumental victory. And that first word, you don’t hear anything anymore. Once in a while, I stumble over a word very rarely. But I had to really work on my speech with a speech therapist for the longest time. But thanks to God therapists and my own stubbornness, I am fully independent again, and I’m still driving my non modified car
pool. My wife is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. So our car is modified, it has hand controls. But she drives well, so yeah, like that helps. They won’t let me drive and I’m really offended. Given the way most people drive around here, I don’t see a problem. But you know,
that true, come down to Temecula area, you really have seen some monkeys on the stand and steering wheel? I mean, does they just pass gonna regardless, even on the right on their shoulder whenever
they do it up here? Or that clock until you move out of their way? And driving has not become very courteous anymore? No, no, definitely not. So you tell me more about push the concept and what you’ve done with it, and so on?
And that’s a really good question. That’s the essence of my coaching program. That’s the essence of my when I’m keynote speaker. Because after my stroke, I realized what an incredible second chance I have been offered here that I have to make my life definitely count. And I want to help people to push through the adversity and use that adversity. As you know, reframe the adversity into meaningful opportunities. Because I believe that everybody in unto themselves has the opportunity to rebuild their lives, regardless of what adversity is. And he said, it’s a while earlier, it is a choice to rebuild your life. When you fall down. You get up and that’s what push hopefully teaches people I built a push Survival Guide. And in that survival guide, there’s six push survival skills. And that’s what I teach is a step by step program I walk people through because I believe that every single journey start with one step and you know what it starts with before even the one step. It starts with hope. Because if you do not have hope, you cannot take that first step. And I remember what my thinking was once I realized I cannot walk anymore on My gosh, you know, I was always so super active, various boards oriented, and I cannot walk again. But I was definitely, absolutely dedicated to take that one step because I had hope that one day, I will walk again.
And then you had the hope and did what
I took the first step. And that’s what I tell people that this was a stroke recovery. But it’s also it can serve as whatever adversity you see you have in your life you have, once you found the hope that you will recover from that you will turn it into a meaningful opportunity. You take that first step one, one thing I have, I’ve really thought a lot about and it’s part of my push program, is we really have to watch that voice inside of our head. Because it is our chatter to you, it won’t happen, it can’t happen. I never I’m going to be to be able to do that I’m bad at this, we really have to watch our inner voice, our inner talk, because we are the most influential voice in our lives. Because we become it you know that we become what we believe. And I’m, if I believe I’m never going to be a good runner, I’m running. Also, if I believe I’m not a good runner, well, guess what? What’s going to happen? So I’m really talking a lot about watching that in the inner voice. And as I said earlier, decisions, not your conditions or circumstances or ultimately determine your destiny. Well, of course, that’s how I would work with people to really put them on that way. And one of the things also, I help people to figure out their why. Because if you don’t know your why, all your efforts, I kind of just out in the world, just going left, right, straight up, down, up and down sideways. You really have to figure out your why. My way, my why, why I wanted to recover. Of course, the obvious reasons I wanted to talk again, I want to walk again. But I really took the stroke experience as a wake up call that I need to make a difference and assists people and changing their lives. And that was my why my motivator to work extraordinarily hard.
course there is, you mentioned the voice that’s always discouraging you the other voice is there if we let it come through, which is the one that gives you hope or encourages hope. And then also says yes, you can.
Absolutely, absolutely. But you know, I don’t know if you talked about that before. I’m a member of a toasted cup, a couple of clubs, we are, you know, a program for leadership and just speaking, giving better speech communication. And you wouldn’t believe how often I hear well, I can’t give a speech. I can’t because I’m not a good speaker. Now we need to turn that thinking about, maybe I’m not a good speaker yet. Maybe I cannot give yet that excellent keynote speech. And it just takes its mindset. It’s, like you said, an unstoppable, unstoppable mindset. And that really ties in with your show. That’s why I was so compelled to come on your show. Because I like that unstoppable mindset.
I’ve had a number of people who have indicated an interest in being guests on unstoppable mindset, but they say I’m not a speaker, I wouldn’t be a good guest because I’m not a speaker. And it’s so hard to get them to understand. I don’t care and our listeners don’t care if you’re a good speaker or not. The issue is do you have a story? And are you willing to tell it? Because if you’re talking about the things you know about your speaking is going to be excellent anyway. And that’s what really matters. I think that all too often we’re taught not to have confidence. And that’s the real problem. I know that many times I read in here about one of the biggest fears of all time is public speaking and yeah, for me, it hasn’t been and I realized I Think about it that it’s a problem for most people, because they’ve been conditioned to believe that way rather than recognizing that in reality, they’re probably talking a lot better than they think they are.
Yeah, I think so. Do we have to look at here being on your podcast? I mean, we’re kind of having coffee. It feels like you have your coffee over there and Victorville have my coffee over here, and to make law, and it’s like, chatting over coffee. It’s it’s not, it’s not a big deal. And yeah, I don’t know what else to say. When we convinced ourselves we can. For the longest time I was walking around, saying, oh, Ma, I’m really bad at maths, oh, I cannot add two and two. Well, guess what? That’s what happened. I’m not good at math, because I just believed I can’t do it today. If I really have to add stuff up, I really can. It just, you know, make the choice to believe in yourself, and turn off that inner voice which sits on your shoulder and says, It won’t happen, that can’t happen. And that’s really so
important. And you just said it, right? Turn off that voice and hand it off, you have the control over whether that voice is allowed to be a part of your life or not. And it doesn’t need to be. Were you a coach before your stroke? What did you do before having the stroke?
I was a social work and psychology. So in a lot of ways I was a coach. But not formally, not not like a now I mean, I have my credentials as a social worker, and especially in psychology. But I mean, I coach people, of course, every single day I did, but I didn’t see it as a coach. And i My love this was speaking everybody can hear I love to speak. And my love is full of speaking but I also love helping people Chang Chang Chang, oh my gosh, my English, change their lives. With the tools I give them through the bad six, six steps, survival tips and the poor Survival Guide. And there’s so many things, the survival tips. They consist of hope, positive mindset of reframing, courage, resilience, and guest work, perseverance. And that’s what I’m coaching people in.
Were you when you had the stroke and so on, and you had a lot of challenges. Were you afraid? Did you exhibit or experience a lot of fear?
No, no, I did not. Because I was on lala land. They i For the longest time for a week I was in the neuro Intensive Care Unit, which is a long time and the neuro Intensive Care Unit. No, I wasn’t afraid. Things loaded by me
about or when you when you started to wake up and realize I can’t walk and I can’t talk and so on.
I was more surprised. I think I was more surprised. Because I was the sounds the person 50 to 50 year old person. And how can I go from this healthy very sporty person to and who eats well, who eats organic? Who does all the right things to somebody who cannot walk? Okay, no talk, I was more surprised. The reason why I was not afraid maybe there were moments of fear once in a while here and there. But the reason why I was not particularly fearful was because I knew I would recover. That was just not if I recover it was when it was a question of when.
And that was the leap. You know, I? I asked the question because I see fear all around us in so many ways. So many people are afraid. And as I say it, they become blinded by fear. And I know that for me, being in the World Trade Center. I had created as I’ve said on this podcast, and in speeches I’ve given I created and didn’t even know it at first a mindset about what to do in the case of an emergency in the World Trade Center. Because I got training, I trained myself and I learned what I needed to do. I’ve never taught people to deal with fear, even though it’s all around us. And we had so many examples of it. And we can see so many examples of it. So we’re now writing a new book. It’ll be out probably not next year, but the year after we’re, I’m going through the first draft of it now. Yeah, it will be all about talking about the subject of being afraid. And the reality is that you can learn to control fear and make it a positive influence. In your life, not something that tears you down. So it goes back to that same, which voice Do you want to listen to?
Correct? Yeah. And I love that. And it really comes down to choices. Do I want to hear or listen to that voice which sits on my left shoulder telling me all kinds of crazy stuff? Or do I just want to listen to my voice who says, Sabine, this might be difficult. Some people might say you can’t. But who cares? Really quick, because I know, we really have to end here pretty soon, on the seventh anniversary of my stroke survivor date, I decided to be part of the Los Angeles marathon. And for your listeners and viewers who don’t know how long a marathon is crazy, long, 26.2 miles. That’s an enormous amount of back, guess what I trained? Because I really wanted to show that even somebody who recovered from Ostrog, who does not have RMS believes in herself, that I can finish the Los Angeles marathon. And in March of 2019, I finished the Los Angeles marathon.
How long did it take? Ah,
you don’t want to know, I think six hours or something?
Look, I’ve talked to people who took a lot longer than that.
Yeah, it was kind of a trot. It was not a run because it’s you have to pace yourself on such a long distance. And I still ran a couple of more half marathon switches does 13 miles. And to this day, I’m still training running and spinning, you know, the stationary bikes? And because it just will I run out another marathon probably would surprise me. But I just believe in just exploring where our boundaries even are aware of what what can we do in life, because I believe all of us can do so much more than we think we can. And in the end as a closing swabbed, I think, what I, what I have discovered on this journey, is really, I would like to encourage your listeners to think, what is the legacy we leave behind? What is the legacy for our children, grandchildren? Or people who are close to us? How do you want them to remember us? And that’s, I want to be remembered as a person who could push through adversity, who made a lot of difference in other people’s lives. That’s what I want to be remembered. But when one day I’m gone. My son hopefully remembers that. And my grandchildren.
How old are your grandchildren by the way? Oh,
there’s three, six and nine years old. Oh, Ma? Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Actually, my little little guy. Kiwi. His name is Kiwi like the fruit. Kiwi. He turns for tomorrow. November 3, yay.
I’m happy birthday for us. Are you today live?
No, unfortunately, not being a military is my son have sent anywhere in everywhere. But now they’re at the East Coast in North Carolina. But I spent five or six weeks with them this summer. And my son is hoping to be stationed in Europe, Germany, Belgium. So I’m kind of hoping that although it’s a long ways of life, for me, but you know, Europe is always in my heart. And I go over to Europe as often as I possibly can.
If you can run a marathon, you can fly to Europe. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, you talked a lot about push, tell us maybe some tips that our listeners can use to push through their own adversities and deal with challenges they have in their lives if you would.
Absolutely. And I think I mentioned them throughout the program, but I will summarize them again, that I believe every single difficult journey starts with hope. If you don’t have hope, then it is kind of difficult to start a journey. And then you take the first step. Even if it’s a baby step like the marathon, where do you start 26.2 miles, you start with one single step. You put the one foot in front of the other, though, that’s what we start on. And then the voice we talked a lot about that nasty, nagging voice what what, what you can do and what can’t happen to in that voice off, and it’s, it’s a habit, I still sometimes hear this crazy wise, where Sabine you really can do it, you can do it, you know, shut up. That’s what I literally say, See, see, actually the stop sign the red red stop sign, I stopped, and I see in front of my eyes the stop sign. And that really helps, because visualizing stop is really helpful. And then of course, discover your why. And how you do that. Think about what are you passionate about? What what are you good at? And how do you want to contribute to other people? Don’t think so much about the money? How am I how much money can I make? It was a third of Sure, sure, money is important. But think, How can you change people’s lives? How can you contribute to humankind? And that is your why. And you know, I’m I have the gift off talk. So I use my gift to make a difference in other people. And then of course, I already brought it up, I am really, really very set on the legacy, the legacy we’re leaving behind. And what I have done, this is crazy. And I have I have helped other people to do it is write my own eulogy. And that sounds kind of like oh, why do you write your own eulogy? The reason why when I write, I want people to read that when I’m dead. And there’s still so many things in there like writing a book. So I better get off my butt to write that book, I find writing our own eulogy, very inspiring. So we can live up to that image people will read about at our funeral oh well, celebration of life, I prefer that. And so it’s very inspiring to Butte people to do that. So they really see where they still need to change things in their lives. That’s
I was just gonna ask you if you’ve written a book, so that is something for you to work on. And let us know about when it gets written and published.
Absolutely, absolutely. I’m working very hard on and I’m writing and myself but also with the assistance of some people who who know what they’re doing, because that’s one of my secrets. Get help when you need help. Writing. I love writing. I think I’m fairly good at it. But I know I need some help with that. So I surround myself with people who can give me that help. And that’s very important. That’s one of the big steps in you really need to realize your weaknesses and then surround yourself with people who you know who can help you literally.
Well, I absolutely agree with that and wholeheartedly endorse it and believe that it’s all about teaming and there’s nothing wrong with absolute teaming with other people to get things done. How can people reach out to you and learn more about your coaching program and maybe reach out to you to see how you may be able to work with them and help them
absolutely. So my website is SabinBeckerspeaks SabinBeckerspeaks.com And you can go on, Sabin is yes, s a b i n, B like boy, B e c k e r speaks s p e a k s.com. speaks sabinbeckerspeaks.com. If you are Don’t type in Sabin Becker, or no arms probably would come up with that any easier. Even Sabin, you know, I googled myself, just to see how I come up. I think I googled myself, Sabin, no arms, and I came up fairly on the top of a Google search. And if you go, I have a free gift for your viewers and listeners. If you go on that website, there’s a button which says Download Free, free like capitalized three survived the push Survival Guide, and it gives you an overview of a six push survival skills. And then I would like to offer that to your listeners. Because I think it’s so important to take the choices to really reframe our adversity into beautiful opportunities,
and how can people take advantage of you’re coaching program, is there a way they can sign up and reach out to you?
Yes, good question. There’s another button, a couple of buttons. And it is really highly visible. They’re like gold code type patterns big big. It says, schedule a free 30 minute call with Sabin and as again, totally free. You can sign up for discovery cards, we can see how I can help you best reaching your personal goals in life.
There you go. Yeah, Sabin I want to thank you very much for being here with us today. A lot of inspiration, a lot of interesting things to think about. And I do have one more question, what do you do every day to keep your, your mindset active? Do you analyze what you do at the end of the day or anything like that? Do you meditate or anything like that, to reinforce what you do?
You know, I’m probably should meditate. Like, there’s very, very focused person. But you know, just a little bit over a year ago, I, I almost wanted to learn Italian ever since I was in high school, because I travel every year to Italy, and I never know the language. So last year, I started to use a to learn Italian. And now I’m considered an intermediate speaker. And because I do it every day, and I have groups I can practice with through Duolingo. And that gives me kind of the relax I that I need from this constant business is constantly on a camera that’s constant research, is constant networking. I love to learn a new lesson and a new language. And that keeps the mind active like nothing else can learning something new.
Learning is always cool. And it’s good to learn new things. And also one of the things that we’re putting in our book about fear is step back, at least at the end of the day and look at the day and what went well, what didn’t go well. And what went well, how do you make it better? what didn’t go well, don’t be angry or upset about it. How do you move forward from it, which is as
much? Absolutely. And that’s what I’m thinking. Don’t beat yourself up because some some things just won’t turn out. Sometimes I go to these meetings and I don’t get a contact or I do I say something wrong, whatever. It happens to me too. And I don’t beat myself up. It’s just a learning experience. And we need to move forward. Don’t listen to that ugly voice in your head, move forward, step by step and have hope.
Absolutely. Well, Sabin, again, thank you for being here. And I want to thank you for listening you out there and we really appreciate it. I hope you’ve enjoyed what Sabine has to say I have, but I’m prejudiced. I get to do the interviews, but I hope that you have and Sabine for you and you listening. If you have any guests that you think we ought to talk with, please let us know. Reach out, we’d love to hear from you. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s episode. You can reach me at Michaelhi m i c h a e l h i at accessibe a c c e s s i b e.com. Or visit WWW dot Michael hingson h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And wherever you’re listening, please give us a five star rating. We really appreciate the ratings that you give, especially when they’re nice ones, but we want your input either way. And I’d love it if you’d email me and let me know your thoughts. So we hope that you’ll do that. And I didn’t ask Sabin, do you have a podcast?
Not yet. That’s a one of a cause of things. I still going to that on the book. Those are the big ones. Definitely, definitely. But every day step by step and put off hope.
Absolutely. Well, Sabin, thank you once again for being with us. And we want you to come back whenever you want. And let’s continue the discussions.
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Mike. This was awesome. I love that unstoppable mindset of yours. And you that Michael is a cool
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.