An Epic Script (Annetta Lucero’s Bio)
Sometimes reality can be stranger than fiction. Some people have been dealt circumstances that seem too unbelievable for anything other than a bizarre script. For those in the midst of seemingly undeserving hardships, there are two options. You may choose to live a miserable life filled with negativity, anger and the stressful mentality of:now this is happening to me! Or you can shift to believing: I have an amazing life and things are going to happen because of me!
My name is Annetta Lucero, and I am considered a “legendary” athlete in the misunderstood sport of competitive baton twirling. Numerous accolades and disqualifications punctuated my sports career, but are not the main topic of my story. My tenacity to rise and retain a positive focus despite absurd obstacles is the recurring theme.
I was born with challenges. A cyst on my spinal fluid sac caused three of my vertebrae to not fully develop and perhaps aided the eventual breakdown of my immune system, and the diagnoses of Systemic Lupus and Epilepsy. What might seem to be a string of tragedies just became small hurdles on the way to my goals. At an early age I decided to take what I was given and not label anything as disabling or permanent. I have even learned to appreciate my unique collection of conditions.
Despite the physical difficulties I became a National and World Champion many times over. I hold two Guinness World Records and I am a Special Events Artist for Cirque Du Soleil. Reaching these extraordinary goals provided me an interesting path filled with triumph, excitement, heartbreak and a plethora of beautiful horrors.
I’m not one of the people who was talented and wanted to become a champion. My mom was a baton twirling instructor and had a deep desire to sculpt me into a champion at any cost. I suffered a lot as a child due to obsessive training and physical abuse of every variety.
My biological father was a drug-addicted womanizer. I watched him stick a shotgun down my mom’s throat when I was five. He exited my life not long after, appearing only in short cameo roles throughout the decades. His departure kick-started my early resolve to rise above my circumstances and find beauty in even the bleakest moments. This childhood survival tool has served me well throughout the many extreme scenarios that have since presented themselves in my life.
Despite my prearranged marriage to my sport, I had relentless determination and curiosity about my potential. After many frustrating years with an assortment of lackluster coaches, I had yet to win even a local title. I was 12 years old when I found salvation in the form of two brilliant souls disguised as world-class trainers.
My two new coaches brought positive reinforcement and expertise to my inner drive, transforming my talent, mind and spirit. In less than four months I became the youngest athlete in history to win the U.S. Grand National Solo Championships. A mere two years later, I became the youngest Senior Woman to win the World Championships.
I feel so fortunate for having willed these coaches into my life. I remained with Jerry Alvarez and Annette Odello for the duration of my illustrious competitive career and still rely on their input, critique and encouragement as an artist today.
A value I have carried from the sports arena to my life is to not focus on my competitors. The color of the medal and how many times it has been captured has become unimportant. How well can I be “ME” at this moment? What can I present that will truly demonstrate who I am at my best? When I stopped worrying about other athletes, I became more aware of reaching my highest potential. If you’re the person with the gold medal – you’ve momentarily arrived. If not, be thankful for all you are in that instant and continue to strive for the next opportunity.
It often takes a treacherous road to reach the most profound understandings. In my case, the polished veneer of a champion masked a tarnished interior. Unknowingly driven by a traumatic childhood and a comfort level with severe athletic criticism, I left competitive twirling just before entering a decade-long, psychologically abusive marriage.
My desire for perfection made it difficult for me to recognize the vicious abuse as I endlessly strived to accommodate my sociopathic mate. I was berated for my accomplishments, forbidden the use of technology and ordered to not leave home after dark. Things eventually escalated to physical violence, threats to anyone who tried to come to my aide, and his complete abandonment of our children. Since my escape, I have rediscovered my voice and used it to advocate for others who may be ready to find their freedom and a voice of their own.
Sometimes the things that seem most difficult are the greatest motivators and gifts. I do not look back with regret but with gratitude. I have more compassion for others and I know that I am strong enough to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I am so inspired by the beauty I see all around me and I am astonished by the many stories we create, capture and learn from each other in this brief life.
My special needs son, Jaidon, was my greatest teacher. He was born with a degenerative brain disease and a life expectancy of three years. The kind of perfection I had demanded from myself was not an option for my son. He required unconditional love and in turn, he radiated peace and kindness. Jaidon’s journey fortified me with courage and a deep love for humanity. He’s the reason I have so much to give.
He lived 16 years and passed away March 29th, 2011. When he left his body – it was time. He was no longer functioning in a human capacity. As his physical form deteriorated, his soul became more vibrant. He touched countless people around the world and I can only celebrate his freedom and the good fortune he was such a beautiful part of my life.
Only three weeks after Jaidon’s death my car was smashed at high speed by an oblivious teenaged driver. After graduating from life support and a chest tube, I was on heavy narcotics for nine weeks. My body and brain turned to porridge and I was not expected to make a full recovery.
Though the accident seemed absurdly unjust, some advantages emerged from the wreckage. It forced me to stop and absorb the loss of my son, rather than mask my grief with a busy workload. Meditating and writing about his life and departure began healing my heart. While unable to use my body, I discovered a hidden talent for drawing inspired pieces of art. These experiences have made me very conscious of how we all possess strength, talent and beauty beyond what we are even aware of. How magnificent!
As a result of the accident I am still healing, but shocking the medical community with my recovery. I have resumed training and performing. My art projects and photographs have meaning and a deep soulfulness that only comes from having encountered and prevailed over extreme circumstances.
In life and in art I seek to bare my soul so that my spirit is reflected in all I do. Connecting with others and sharing this human experience honestly and without expectations, is my highest goal. The difficult conditions I was handed or chose, all had a purpose; they shaped who I am becoming and granted me lessons to learn and share. In that way, this peculiar script has been written perfectly for me.