Meet Meetra and Danny, two inspiring, optimistic members of the Brandless community.
The two met on Instagram, then began a long distance relationship — and Danny just moved from Brazil to Wisconsin to be with Meetra. Both have spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly, but that doesn’t stop them from pursuing the life they want. Read on to learn their epic love story and how they #riseabove challenges every day.
Brandless: Tell me about yourselves and your story! How did you two meet?
Meetra: We met on Instagram. I’d started searching for fitness tips while having a physical disability. Specifically, “How to do the plank without hurting your feet.” I came across Danny’s photo of him planking and commented asking how he did it. We started talking and found out we had a lot in common. But we didn’t know how far apart we lived from each other. Danny was living in Brazil.
Brandless: How long ago was this?
Meetra: 2 ½ years ago. October 2015 is when we first started talking. We met in person February of 2016. Danny came to visit me in Wisconsin first. We connected on fitness and we both have spina bifida — we have similar symptoms and issues, though our spina bifida differs from each other. Our personalities just went together. It was natural.
Brandless: Tell me a little about the hashtag #spinabifidawarrior.
Meetra: It was already out there, but Danny adopted it into his Instagram handle, danny_spinabifida_warrior, (mine is my_beautiful_bifida_life) and we created #riseabove spina bifida when I visited Danny in Brazil for two months. The hashtag is our motto for how we try to overcome our own spina bifida — to rise above the challenges that people with spina bifida face. We started making inspirational quotes for t-shirts and mugs, as well.
Brandless: How did you hear about Brandless?
Meetra: I saw an Instagram ad come up, so I starting checking out your site and what you’re about and thought it was cool. The amount of things you can get online and reach people all over the country . . . It felt aligned with our own goals and mission of inspiring others. We want to inspire others to not give up just because they might have a physical disability. To go after their dreams and goals and rise above challenges and struggles that you face every day.
Brandless: What’s your favorite Brandless product?
Meetra: The kitchen wipes! They make cleaning the stovetop so easy! And they smell good. The potholders, the towels. The coconut oil is really good, we use it a lot.
Danny: Shaving gel. Love everything so far!
Brandless: So how’s it going, living together?
Meetra: It’s been good. A learning experience! Since Danny’s not in school yet, he’s gotten the chance to interact with people who live here in our building. Danny’s going to school for small business entrepreneurship. I’m a front desk admin for Community Living Connections, an organization that supports adults with disabilities in their home. I would like an online business to have my own hours.
Danny: I also would like to run an online business. We’re working on that together. It’s why we started creating more of the different quotes, bags, and shirts. Instagram’s a good place for beginnings!
Brandless: We’re big on intentions here at Brandless. What’s your intention for this new phase of your life together?
Meetra: Endurance/strength. We lived together in Brazil for two months when I visited, and I had a lot of new experiences that people thought we would never actually have. I’ve met a lot of people who pity me when I tell them I have spina bifida. They think i’m supposed to have self pity and feel sad about my condition. But it is what it is. I just see it as, now that we’re living on our own, can show ourselves and others what we’re capable of doing. There are hard days with spina bifida, but it doesn’t have to control what we do. I see this new living together on our own as a new way to gain experiences and prove ourselves.
Brandless: What’s your biggest challenge?
Danny: To make the negative self talk stop.
Meetra: Comparing… I’m terrible at comparing myself to others. Especially on Instagram.
Brandless: Oh, me too. I think we’re all feeling that.
Meetra: You have good days and bad days. Some days, you feel bad for yourself because spina bifida holds you back; on a good day, you just adapt what you want to do to something you CAN do. I’ve had so many people, whether it’s out in public or at jobs, when they find I have spina bifida and that it’s for life, say, “Oh I’m sorry, I feel bad for you.” That doesn’t help the negative self talk. That adds to it. We have to deal with what we’re given.
Brandless: How would you rather people responded, or what would you want them to know?
Meetra: I want them to be open to individuals with disabilities – it’s not all one cookie cutter look with the same issues. Having a disability doesn’t make you less of a person, which is how a lot of people end up being treated. Like they need to be babied. I used to be a job coach. You’re an adult. If you need help, ask for it. My parents raised me to push myself to be the best I can be — to try before you say you can’t. If you have the goal, just go for it.