Steph Palermo was born into an American-Sicilian family just outside Boston, Massachusetts. There were no ultrasounds in 1966. Along with the dysfunctions of her family, Steph entered this world with a rare disorder, Poland Syndrome. Fingers were missing from her right hand which was part of a much shorter arm. Another PS trait is the absence of the affected side’s pectoral muscle.
All around, life was going to be a bit more difficult for Steph Palermo. Her home was equally filled with laughter and tears. Steph witnessed abuse, a gambling addiction and violence. The dinner table was a sanctuary. All the family events revolved around eating meals most Americans experienced only in restaurants. At a very young age, Steph began to use food to find the “happy place.”
Meanwhile, outside the home, Steph faced the world. She was unable to play instruments, most sports and was slower at completing ordinary tasks. She was ostracized, mocked and left out. Steph had numerous surgeries to help her gain better use of her right hand. When the physical pain of bone and skin grafts wore off, the emotional effects lingered. She sometimes felt like a side show freak.
Steph, a naturally extroverted people lover, began to hide. She used food to find comfort. By second grade, Steph packed on the pounds. She hid her hand, and now she had a weight problem. This continued through adolescence, and her self-esteem was rock bottom.
Fast forward through a rough marriage and birthing four boys, Steph decided to take charge of her body. She hired a nutritionist and started boxing. She dropped one hundred pounds from the birth of her last son. This was the easy part. Steph had to battle her lack of self-confidence and embarrassment of her limb difference, always believing she was ugly and not worthy to be loved.
Boxing and years of therapy helped Steph gain the confidence she needed to start loving herself. It wasn’t until Steph started speaking about living with a limb difference that she realized she wasn’t alone in the journey against her false self. She finally started to laugh at herself, not take herself so seriously. This was the dawn of true joy for Steph.
Today, Steph continues to box, cook, socialize and ask for help when a task is daunting. If anyone understands the rocky road to peace, Steph does. She no longer hides behind food, although she still loves the party. Steph loves unconditionally knowing that the people who walked with her through her struggles are her cheerleaders. Steph continues the daily journey striving to love wholeheartedly and attain balance and peace.
Born with Poland Syndrome, Steph raises awareness of the realities of life with a limb difference. Healthcare Providers and students, caregivers and patients will come to understand that living with a rare disorder is more than a physical hardship. Steph discusses the emotional journey that parallels medical treatment, coping mechanisms and caring for your loved one who is bearing the burden of a chronic condition.
Steph inspires audiences to live life to the fullest, enjoying all the world offers. By promoting physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual balance, Steph offers solutions to seemingly impossible personal issues. She draws from her life’s experiences, living with a limb difference, personality and sense of humor to share her message. Her Sicilian heritage and Boston wit make for an always uplifting and honest message. She realizes that everybody has two lives, and the second one begins when you acknowledge you only have one.
Steph will integrate her personal journey with strategies to achieve balance in the four aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual into half or full-day workshops. During your time with Steph, you and your group will gain a better perspective on your lives, how to live a more peaceful existence and advance toward self-love and true joy. The Ruby Slipper Workshops are fun and synergistic with round table discussions, reflection questions and interaction with Steph. Once you complete one of Steph’s Ruby Slipper Workshops, you will know you’ve had the power all along!
According to Simon Sinek, “Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.” “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” Bring Steph into your workplace during lunch to show your employees you care about the whole person. Over lunch, Steph will guide your greatest assets toward self love, care and respect. She demonstrates that every day can be amazing, Monday is the new Friday.
Steph is available for one-on-one advising. She taps into her empathic abilities to help clear the path for individual advancements at home and in life in general.