Julie Symons is a wonder woman.
Julie is a Brunswick East local who discovered Radical Yes! (or more accurately we discovered her!) when she came across our pop up shop on Lygon Street.
A strong, vibrant woman full of enthusiasm for life, Julie is also an amputee who lost her foot over a decade ago while on a motorcycle trip travelling around Australia with her husband. When we visited Julie at her home earlier this year, she told us about adjusting to the physical change and spoke with such resilience and optimism for the lessons it taught. She distinctly remembers before her rehabilitation wondering if she would ever be able to walk again, despite the nurses assurances. In this period, Julie realised the power of our ability to move – something she does not take for granted now and a lesson for everyone.
A truly stylish woman with a love for design, another challenge Julie faced was finding shoes that would fit her prosthetic foot. Having realized the nuances it takes for a foot to manoevre into a shoe, for Julie this became an obstacle to one of her greatest loves – shoes. It was an amazing moment when we realised our toe tappers would fit her and not only that were comfortable!
For this photo essay shot by Yes! Journal Chief photographer Breeana Dunbar, we asked Julie if she would take us on a walk around her neighbourhood and tell us a little more about her story.
Describe yourself. Where do you live, what do you do?
I am a ferociously independent woman as well as a daughter, mother, grandmother and caring friend. I have a fabulous job as a self-employed education consultant after a long career in government schools as a primary teacher. Brunswick East is a great place to live being very diverse and community focused.
Where, how and why do you move? And what moves you?
Wow! I am so grateful to be able to move.
Growing up I learnt ballet, tap and just adored playing team sports. That liberating feeling of fluid, flexible movement and being able to execute just about any movement I wanted was a thing I took for granted. No more! A motorcycle accident over a decade ago sharpened my understanding of how great it is to move independently!
I am now an amputee and am grateful to be able to stand and stride away to where I want each day. I still love to dance but I am just a tad more limited in my movements. The lifestyle here (in Brunswick East) means that I walk more than when I lived out in the suburbs. I love to explore the local area.
What do you love?
So many things come to mind when I think about what I love… I am fortunate to be part of a close-knit family and friendship group and have a gorgeous cat! There are many things that I am passionate about including ongoing learning, singing, dancing to great music, my football team (I’m a Carlton supporter) and my car! I love to drive a car that has a great personality!
I also love wearing great clothes and shoes. Another great reason for living in Melbourne! Not being able to wear lots of my gorgeous shoes was a bit of a blow after my accident but that no longer concerns me when there are great shoes like Radical Yes! to wear! They are so comfortable and easy to wear and look superb! My Radical Yes! shoes are conversation starters as well. It makes my day when a person comments on my fabulous shoes! Love it!