My father raised me with so many incredible quotes. Over the course of 2022 and throughout all of my wonderful successes and failures – this one in particular continues to drive me on a daily basis:
“Luck is the Residue of Design” – English Poet John Milton (1608 – 1674)
Essentially, things worthwhile generally just don’t happen. Luck is a fact, but nor should it be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. Really, luck can be attributed to planning and hard work, which can take thousands of hours to experience that “Luck.”
Life as a complete quadriplegic is no picnic. I’m sure anyone you know in a wheelchair will likely tell you the same thing, but that doesn’t mean we have to just accept the limitations accompanying a significant disability. Yes, we need accommodations, both physical and digital, but were just people. I know so many folks with seemingly insurmountable challenges and significant disabilities, but most of them don’t seem to let life knock them down. They just keep getting back up!
I remember one day, in particular, in 2017 when I was sitting at my computer day trading, not successfully I might add that day, and contemplating the macrocosm of my life. What did I have? Where was I going? Was I going to leave a mark on the world? At the time, I remember thinking “I work, I don’t have any disability network, I’m fighting health insurance companies on my own and not sharing my lessons, and I have just come out of 7 years straight of being in and out of hospitals trying to survive for my life.”
My personal life at the time was going well as I had met a very genuine man and we were starting to figure out our grove together as I had just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina the year prior.
I really just contemplated these questions, but continued on for another year or two floundering on life directions, filling my cup, giving back, and what I was really supposed to do with my life. When you’re in survival mode for the better part of a decade it’s very challenging to see the forest beyond the trees. I was having this problem.
A year later in 2018 I had the most amazing conversation with Deborah Davis, an incredible woman, advocate, paraplegic and founder of Push Living Magazine. We instantly connected and she encouraged me to start a new website as she had read my old one from my journeys in China called the China Quad Diaries.
After several months of conversations, I decided to start the Quirky Quad. I wasn’t sure what to write about except for my beginning adventures with battling health insurance companies to help others and my dating life. So, I started with my dating escapades and health insurance advocacy.
I’ve written much on this topic in previous articles, so I will fast forward a few years …
After garnering much national attention on my health insurance advocacy efforts, working with organizations, associations, nonprofits and companies – I wanted to do more. Professionally and for the disability community.
In March of 2021 I set out on the Herculean mission to switch careers to be on a disability strategy consultant after reading thousands of pages, talking to hundreds of individuals around the globe, and networking everywhere I could. I learned fast. Very fast!
You know what? I did it. Don’t misunderstand me, there were many missteps, failed experiments, and disheartening opportunities that didn’t pan out. For every 20 opportunities I pursued, perhaps 3 would work out. Every time something would drop off, I would pick something else backup. It takes time, patience, believing in yourself, and never ever giving up even when you feel most discouraged.
Despite having Covid twice, long Bronchitis, the Nora Virus, and the Flu — Here are a few accomplishments I’m very proud of and hope to inspire others to take risks, don’t be afraid to fail, and consistently work on yourself as a human being first and foremost!
You simply cannot succeed at life or helping others if you do not take care of yourself first. I’m not brilliant at this myself, but I work each and every day striving towards taking stock of everything around me – even the painful.
Proud 2022 Moments
- Successfully switched careers to become a disability strategy consultant for a handful of beautiful organizations full-time focusing on disability inclusion in many arenas.
- Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2023 for Health Insurance Advocacy.
- Traveled to more states and countries for work and advocacy than I have in 12 years since my accident
- Introduced my first piece of legislation for adaptive exercise equipment for wheelchair users and continuing to work with policymakers on further legislation
- Worked with an incredible documentary crew this year (documentary to come out over the next year and the film festivals in early 2024) on my crazy life, normalizing disability, and working with beautiful disability organizations on disability advocacy.
- Partnered with incredible organizations nationally and locally on so many different disability initiatives including public speaking engagements, writing articles, and consulting.
- Officially launched another aspect of my career in public speaking for corporations and healthcare associations on disability inclusion and navigating health insurance companies to get people to medically necessary equipment they need to not only survive in life, but to thrive.
- Attended a Congressional briefing with the ITEM Coalition as a patient advocate to have power seat elevator’s and standing power wheelchairs reclassified as medically necessary under Medicare and Medicaid.
- Part of an incredible Women’s Conference hosted by the North Carolina Spinal Cord Association to empower women
- Put on our first major fundraiser for Alliance of Disability Advocates to help people with disabilities live in communities of their choice how and when they want. I was also humbly voted Chairman of the Board
- Completed my Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate in the Workplace with University of South Florida MUMA School of Business
- Attended United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill
- Attended the M-enabling tech accessibility conference with a delightful inclusive design company I consult for in Washington DC. I had the opportunity to connect with so many incredible advocates in the digital accessibility space – a new area of focus to me as well.
There are so many more wonderful activities and events I participated in, but these are a few of my favorite highlights!
Looking Ahead to 2023
In the year of 2022, I am proud of what I have accomplished and have so many plans for 2023. No doubt there will be dozens of opportunities that will work out and many that will not. Here’s a few ideas I have for 2023, but, as you know, another age-old expression “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans,” will surely unfold as I plan for the year ahead.
- Working with new organizations as a consultant in the Disability Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Space
- Continuing Education with Certifications
- Partnering with Healthcare associations, organizations, nonprofits, and individuals to continue in health insurance advocacy, legislation and adaptive exercise equipment, continuing work with ITEM for CMS to have power seat elevator’s reclassified as medically necessary, and so much more
- Self-Care – Working with Reiki energy healer, listening to 90 minutes a day of a podcast or reading a book on a variety of subjects to better myself, continuing on with my career coach
- Increase the number of Professional Speaking Engagements on a variety of topics
On that note I will and in my Favorite Winston Churchill Quote:
“Success Consists of Moving from Failure to Failure without Lack of Enthusiasm”