Have you ever reflected on your life and thought… how did I get here?
Well today is that day of reflection for me.
Today, 39 years ago, my life changed forever. I was a young, confident energetic 15-year-old girl, doing what I loved the most, riding horses and hanging out with friends, when in a split-second life as I knew it changed forever.
Many of you know I had a horse-riding accident that left me a complete paraplegic, from the chest down, lucky to be alive and not with more serious injuries or resulting disabilities.
So what does one reflect on, on a day like today?
Am I sad? No. Resentful? No. Contemplative? Yes.
But what I mostly am, is grateful. Grateful that I am lucky to have been born with certain privileges that have allowed me to lead the life I have.
Lucky that I have lived in a time in the past 39 years, where acceptance, inclusion and access have improved. Lucky that people with disabilities, although still fighting for equality on many fronts have rights and freedoms enshrined in legislation, have access to education, employment and supports.
Lucky that I have had the support and the opportunities that enabled me to work hard, to push hard and to create the future that is now my reality. I am content, I am an advocate, a wife, a mother, a best friend, a co- worker, a traveller, and a friend to many.
I know people living with disability are still having to push and be heard for acceptance, and I acknowledge things aren’t perfect. However, with the passage of time, I know that life as a person with disability today, is a different one, better and with more possibilities open to us than 39 years ago.
I love my life and would not swap the good the bad and the ugly experiences that have filled my cup since that day 39 years ago, to have led me to here. I live my life as a wheelchair user as one does when you wear a pair of comfy shoes, or comfy jacket- it fits, and it feels right.
I find it somewhat ironic, that as I have gotten older my activism, my “in your face” approach around equality, access and inclusion, has done what all good things that mature with age do, has softened, and mellowed. (but never fully disappeared!)
There are a plethora of more energetic, highly passionate advocates out there doing their thing to continue the fight for right, and that makes me happy. I know that the positive advances I have experienced in my lifetime, will continue to happen as this endless ebb and flow of change goes on.
Puzzling (and somewhat embarrassing) then, to share with you here, that in this age of social media and sharing of self, that I have dipped my toe so to speak in the waters, how I have struggled with not being enough. Not a strong enough advocate, not a political enough one, not a more public one. Only to discover after soul searching and many long, heartfelt conversations with loved ones and friends, that the work I do in my community, and having a platform such as Inspired does all that I feel strongly about.
And that yes, who I am, and how I choose to continue to push for inclusion, acceptance and equality is just that.. my way.
That I don’t actually have to be anyone or anything other than me… and that after 39 years living this crazy life, is just how it should be.