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Melissa Ng


April 22, 2014

How to keep hope alive when your dreams are falling apart

April 22, 2014 | By | 26 Comments

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ― Helen Keller

I’d like you to think back…to that first time (or the many times) when you (re)discovered what you’re meant to do with your life or to that moment when you thought you finally “figured it out.”

It felt amazing, didn’t it? Your mind was racing with thoughts and ideas. That huge rush of anticipation and purpose flooded your entire being because your life felt like it was finally heading in some clearer direction. In those moments, your life felt perfect.

But in one fell swoop, that hopeful optimism can be fractured. Maybe by a bad business decision, perfection paralysis, failing to turn an idea into reality, realizing something isn’t your passion after all, or struggling to make ends meet…

Overwhelmed with anger, fear, or frustration, you might attempt to convince yourself that the once crystal clear path has become a sloppy mess of “wasted” energy and “silly” aspirations. Your mind cycles through variations of, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why can’t this be easier?” But I bet your favorite one of all is…

“Will I ever really make it?”

Sure, life will throw you curveballs and the downers will always make you question your choices by pressuring you to “face the facts” and “be realistic.” But in the end, it all comes down to one thing:


You can either choose the empowering perspective or the disempowering one. Because no matter what you experience or what other people say about you (or what you do), YOU have the final word on what you choose to tell yourself and how you perceive your experiences.

Sound hard? It doesn’t have to be. To prove it to you, I’d like to share a story.

Natasha Hope-Simpson & 3D printed prosthetics: a story about turning tragedy into creative hope…


Photo by Eliot Wright

As you may know, I began my journey in 3D printing back in October 2013. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with people who constantly push the limits of their expectations and imagination.

In March 2014, one of those amazing people I met was Kendall Joudrie, founder of Truro-based Thinking Robot Studios. From Kendall, I learned about Natasha Hope-Simpson, a 24-year-old artist/musician who lost her leg in a hit-and-run car collision in her hometown of Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Despite going through eight surgeries, Natasha’s leg was too mangled and she was told that she would never be able to walk properly again. So, she made the tough decision to amputate her leg.

While Natasha was a victim, she did not remain a victim of her circumstance.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami

Although the driver(s) that crushed her leg has still not been found, Natasha told CBC News, “There’s a big part of me that’s forgiven them…holding on to angry feelings prevents you from moving on and I need to move on.”


Laser scan and white light scan of Natasha’s leg

She chose to discover new possibilities instead of despairing. She chose to see her loss as an opportunity for artistic potential in prosthetics instead of thinking her future is lost. And although her old way of life had been ripped away from her, she chose to believe that she could build a new way of life.

One of her early efforts was when she spoke to a class at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University’s Institute for Applied Creativity (NSCAD), the university she had graduated from. She spoke to the class about wanting to design a better prosthetic limb that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

That day, NSCAD director, Gregor Ash, happened to hear her speak. Inspired by her speech, Gregor connected Natasha with Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Dakov of Thinking Robot Studios, who offered to help her engineer a prototype prosthetic in time for NSCAD Halifax’s first-ever Maker Symposium. And so began Natasha’s beautiful journey down a new road…

Hopes and dreams begin when you choose to plant the seed of possibility.

In order for that seed to grow, it must be tended to with patience, perseverance, and ambition. And when that seed first sprouts, people notice and may even aid in its growth. For Natasha, people definitely noticed her sprouts.

While it began with NSCAD and Thinking Robot Studios, Mike Fanning of NovaCad (3D Systems reseller) offered to print the prototype using the 3D Systems Boston service. Ian Weir, Department of National Defense, along with Paul Ragot performed a laser scan of her good leg to capture her symmetry. Bob Garrish of Spring Loaded Technology performed a white light scan to aid in design. Finally, Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Dakov of Thinking Robot Studios consulted with Natasha and engineered a stable prototype. The only thing that was left was aesthetics and there was very little time left before the Halifax Maker Symposium.


Photo by Eliot Wright

Natasha had lots of ideas, but no time. However, she noticed my Dreamer/Nightmare masks on Shapeways and instantly fell in love with them. And so, Kendall Joudrie contacted me immediately. Needless to say, I was deeply moved by her story and was happy to donate my design to the project. I will continue collaborating with Thinking Robot over the next year as they develop a final prosthetic for Natasha.

Designing and engineering prototypes normally takes many months. But for Natasha’s prosthetic from concept to product? 15 days.

It’s amazing what a single person or a group of people can do when they make something their mission. You know what they say: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

As cliché as this is, it’s true. Yes, your path will always be littered with obstacles, uncertainties, and failures. But it doesn’t mean they have to be feared or disliked every time they enter the picture.

What can make all the difference is how you consciously decide to respond and react to your experiences. Because when you learn to love the challenge, nothing can stop you from moving forward.

Here are some key thoughts and perspectives to keep up the hope:

  • If you’re always watching the ground to avoid stumbling, you might just miss something beautiful.
  • Your future success depends on what you can do today, not yesterday or tomorrow.
  • What you’re afraid of is only a construct of your imagined reality, not your real life.
  • Dreams thrive when they have the freedom to roam.
  • The future is built by those who can draw from their wildest dreams.
  • Occasionally, you can discover a better path when you take a wrong turn.
  • Mistakes and failures are often building blocks in disguise.
  • The greater the challenge, the greater the victory.
  • Sometimes dreams need to fall apart in order to take on new forms.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou

Some of life’s most troubling moments often produce the most meaningful experiences, don’t you think? In the end, hardships don’t exist to tear down your hopes and dreams. They serve to make you wiser, stronger, and smarter if you can see the lessons in them.

The only thing that could truly destroy your dreams is if you wait and refuse to make a choice. To take a chance.

So, don’t wait for hope. Make your hope.

And show the world what your dreams are made of.

<3 Melissa
P.S. If you want to follow what I’m designing next, join me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. What to expect next: finely detailed 3D printed jewelry 🙂

Also check out the video here 🙂


Photo by Eliot Wright

Follow my frequent work-in-progress posts here 🙂


  1. Marion

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this. What an amazing story. So inspiring and heart warming. I love this quote: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami
    So true.

    • It’s one of my favorite quotes too 🙂 Thanks for stopping by <3

  2. Melissa, thanks for sharing! Entrepreneurial Road is both satisfying and terrifying.
    What is interesting about entrepreneurs is the lack of support for them in the making, but once a big success happens then people want to interview them and ask ‘How did you do it? What was your low point?’ It’s easy to read highlighted articles of those who seemed to ‘make it’ overnight or the moment they knew they had ‘made it’. But often, those many quiet details of the journey are left out. I think Lumecluster is a great idea and believe many more people in my generation are seeing entrepreneurship as an option.

    • Hi Jes 🙂 I totally agree. I was always more interested in hearing more about an individual’s hardships and struggles because it made the person feel more real and relatable to me–to know that they’re as vulnerable as me. Great to hear you think Lumecluster is going in a good direction. Hope to learn more about your adventures in entrepreneurship! 😀

  3. michael koszyca

    If I had a daughter, I’d be delighted if she was half as bright and courageous as you. Unfortunately, I have been blessed with two great sons, and a shelf full of video games…….

    • Thank you, Michael! That’s very kind of you. But I must admit that I have a shelf full of video games too… Only hope they play in moderation!! 😉

  4. Shahzada Fahad

    Hi Melissa,
    I stumbled upon your blog and i read your story and blogs and iam totally inspired by your strength and and positivity. To cut the story short I have been dreaming of starting 3d prosthetics with infusing art and tech with it. Specially in developing countries.
    You inspired me yet again to follow my dreams.

    Thank you.

    • Love to hear that, Shahzada 🙂 That’s a beautiful thing to want to do. Keep me posted on your trek! I’m rooting for you!


    hi there my name is johnathan roberts i am 23 years old from newfoundland canada i was born with one leg shorter then the other a clubbed foot and dislocated hips amoung other things, i have clubbed foot and no movement. in total i am after having 47 operations anout 7 months ago i fell over a flight of 15 stairs and hurt my foot i was told by 2 different doctors the only option is to amputate so i am waiting on the operation , i have accepted it but someone told me about 3d printing of prosthsis i never heard of it but i did do some reserch and found it to be a good option and i came accross you guys who do amazing work in this feild so i am reaching out to you that you help me do you know soemone in canada that does thsi type of work if not is there a way you guys can help create a foot for me i really hope you can help since my hips are bad on both sides with multiple pieces of heard wear and my legs are shorter i really need some help and tihnk a 3d prosthis could really improve my quality of life thank you for your time i look forward to hearing from you either by email or my phone 1709-689-4253 again thank you

  6. John Devlin

    Natasha is so beautiful and has such a lovely face and smile that I wish I knew her.

  7. ayodele lasisi

    Hi Melissa you life experiences is very motivating and encouraging. I took a course one of Havard open online course on programming in ‘C’. One of the things that caught my attention is 3D-printing.
    I have been thinking of how to change my environment with 3D -printing technology.
    Had to undergo three orthopaedic surgery,this brought me close to people that have lost a limb or some part of their hand. In this part of the world (Africa) where am from the best people get after such accident is a static prothesis,majority can’t even afford it because of the level of poverty.
    Am looking for the possibility of collaborating with 3D printers to make dynamic prothesis available.
    A few pointers in the right direction will be of great help.
    Thank you

    • Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, Ayodele 🙂 Have you ever checked out ?

      Perhaps they would be a good place to start.

      • ayodele lasisi

        Just discovered the site you mentioned, am exploring it,will keep you posted on progress made

  8. Diego Berriel

    hi my name is Diego i´m from Mexico city i have cancer, i would like to help people, inspire people like you did, your design is free to download?? where can i find the files?? or it´s only for you? god bless you

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