In fact, if not for being a mom, Debi Robinson may never have written a book. She is a mom and she has written a book. She says writing the book took two years. Truth is, it took a couple decades raising a special needs daughter, a second child, the end of a marriage, start of a second marriage with two more children. Oh, and social media too. Samantha Powers was born 26-plus years ago. Debi calls her “The brightest sunshine in the world.” Her book “Stripped, Stretched & Strengthened: All Things Work Together for Good” released March 6, 2021 tells Samantha’s story.
Not long after Sami’s birth, a prolonged “stiff-neck” led to an unscheduled doctor visit, tests, and a neurologist diagnosis of microcephaly (missing part of her brain that separates the right and left hemispheres).
This typically causes delayed development. Debi, who was actually an ICU nurse, was more familiar with a more generalized diagnosis term they use for someone with these type multi-handicap situations: cerebral palsy. The news was a lot for then 25 year old Debi to take in. For a while she spun out feeling the loss of her healthy baby girl and all the milestone first’s she planned to record in Sami’s baby book. That’s truly where the story begins even if writing “Stripped, Stretched & Strengthened: All Things Work Together for Good” came later.
“I kind of felt like, and I talk about it in the book, I landed in an unknown country where I didn’t know the language,” said Robinson. “For two years, I was in a deep dark place trying to fix what I thought was broken when they told me part of her brain was missing.”
It took another nurse to bring her out of the spiral lowering her into that deep, dark abyss of depression.
“She brought me out of the depression when the nurse said to me: I don’t know why you think she’s broken,” Robinson explained. “You’re not broken, she’s not broken. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be and if you just embrace her, you will learn everything you need to learn.”
The words landed and Robinson began a journey embracing Samantha. The book shares the stories of their journey. People told her to forget about the baby book and start celebrating each milestone when it happens. Social media came out and instead of worrying about the timing of crawling, first words, first walking steps, she shared them on social media.
“As Samantha reached a milestone, I would post Sami Milestone Alert and I would post it,” said Robinson. “Whatever it is; video, picture, I’d write a description about it. People were soaking it up. They needed that sunshine in their life and enjoyed it.”
Robinson kept posting more and more about what was happening in Samantha’s life. First word “Mom” came at age 10, Samantha walked for the first time at 11 –even if like a toddler. Out in public, people began to tell her what an inspiration Sami was to them. They always talked about wanting more Samantha.
“Several people said you need to write a book about it,” Robinson said. “I am not a writer. English was not my thing. Math! That’s’ my thing. I thought. I’ll try, why not?”
Robinson began researching and learning about how to write a book. That was about two years ago. She admits there were some setbacks. Writing the stories conjured up emotions she didn’t expect.
“I got a little sad,” she recalled. “I had to really go back and peel those scabs back a little bit. I found out I still wasn’t fully healed even though I know the end of the story.”
A bright smile lit her face and the sound of soft laughter filled the air as Robinson shared the story of writing the book. The book – a quick read with 10 fast-moving chapters – is filled with inspirational stories and rays of sunshine for readers no matter what storm may be passing through their own life. Robinson’s first mission was doing everything she could to help Samantha. Celebrating her life milestones in a book has become a mission to help others find the sunshine in life too. Each chapter closes describing the sunshine from Samantha – sort of the lesson learned.
“I think Samantha has taught us a lot about forgiving, loving,” said Robinson. “Use the hug. That’s what it’s there for. Say I love you. Be thankful; all the virtues we were taught by our parents we forget when the stress goes up.”
The lessons of forgiving, forgetting, and loving are the reasons why Debi Robinson chose Chapter 8 as her favorite chapter. It ends with: “The Sunshine from Sam is to forgive, forget and love quickly so the weed is destroyed and the light can come in.”
“I’m hoping people will find some hope in it and be inspired,” said Robinson. “I know for us there are times where it is so hard with Samantha’s tendencies. I was hoping, with this book being out there, it would be a way for some people to find less stress; find peace in their life that would lower stress in their life. In the end, it’s not about everybody else; it’s about you and your sunshine.”
Finding your own sunshine when the storm clouds seem to be gathering all around your own life is a great message. Allowing others around you to help deliver the sunshine is just as important. Debi Robinson found those rays of sunshine for Samantha in her younger daughter, Hayley who helped Sami learn and reach so many milestones. Then there is Curtis Robinson and his two daughters Trey and Kennedy who became part of the blended family when Curtis and Debi married some 11 years ago. Samantha loves them all as though they were always her siblings. The love is mutual.
“It was fun to watch Debi write the book,” said Curtis Robinson. “To read all the stories, from infant to now, to put myself in that position . . . The book is good. It’s a nice easy read.”
The book is more than just an easy read, more than just sharing Samantha’s Sunshine; it has become a way to help others like Samantha continue to grow. You see the system says they must “wash out” of public education at 22 years old. Fortunately for Samantha, they were able to qualify for a waiver that offered her continued education programs. Not everyone qualifies for that assistance. Debi Robinson challenged Milford Schools Foundation to administer a “Sami Sunshine Scholarship” for special needs kids like Samantha. Once the book was published, sales would go toward funding the scholarship. Now 100-percent of sales revenue from the book go to the scholarship fund.
“It just came to me one day,” Robinson explained. “I would love for Samantha to be able to give a scholarship to a kid to fill that gap. There has to be a way to raise the money somehow. That’s why we did this.”
The book – “Stripped Stretched & Strengthened: All Things Work Together for Good” is available from Amazon.com CLICK HERE to buy the book.
To Donate, go to this link: https:/www.milfordschoolsfoundation.org/donate
To purchase Samism Inspiration Cards (The Sunshine from Sam is) or Shirts,
go to: https://debi-rn.com/