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Happy New Year, everyone! As usual, I have been a busy, busy bee. Since I finally had some down time to reflect on 2017 and what I want to try to accomplish in 2018, I figured it was time for a little bit of writing… Although I intentionally slowed down a little bit in December to focus on a lot of other things behind-the-scenes coming up and spending some time connecting with family and friends, it still ended up being pretty eventful. While I know that this entry kind of falls into my regular “Meant To Be Lindsey B” posts, it is also pretty heavily centered around MWTN-related things. Apparently, I don’t REALLY know how to slow down though, so this is pretty much what I have been up to lately. Enjoy!

-On 12/6/2017, Jr. Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 and I went to Chattanooga to speak and read to grades K-5th grade. We had Q&A time with each group. For the younger groups, we also took turns reading the book, “Zoom!” – It was an awesome experience and the kids asked some very insightful questions.

-On 12/7/2017, I met with the liaison for the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities for Nashville. She is fantastic and she helped prep me for an even bigger meeting the following week.

-On 12/12/2017, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with pretty much all of Metro’s Special Events team in a meeting. This meeting included members of the Metro Fire Dept., Metro Police Dept., Public Works, Transit Authority and Mayor’s Office. They allowed me to have the chance to share some of my concerns and feedback on some of Nashville’s biggest events (CMAFest, 4th of July, NYE, etc.) and we discussed reasonable accommodations that could possibly help with accessibility for these events. Although I was a nervous wreck going into this meeting (it turns out speaking to men and women in full uniform is a bit intimidating), I was relieved when I could tell that they were very receptive and interested in making reasonable accommodations. This was easily one of the important meetings I’ve had so far, but I did leave there feeling like my voice and my concerns were heard. I’m interested in seeing what positive changes may end up coming from that meeting.

-The following day, on 12/13/2017, I was informed that I was accepted to be 1 of about 13 people in the state of Tennessee to be on the Committee for People with Disabilities. While Nashville does a pretty fantastic job already, I feel like this is going to be a great opportunity because we will be working together to find ways to help make Nashville become even more inclusive than it is already.

This week (on Wed., January 3, 2018), I will be a part of a podcast for ajnashville.com – This podcast is run by my friend Alex and is geared toward Veterans. As someone who is married to a Disabled Veteran personally, I am very excited to share some of our personal experiences with the G.I. Bill, V.A. Grant and V.A. loan.

I am also gearing up for my Music & Comedy event that I have put together that is coming up next week on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. This is my big fundraiser for the year that will help me go on to represent Tennessee in the Ms. Wheelchair America 2019 competition. I have a fantastic lineup of incredible and talented Nashville comedians and musicians for this event. There will also be a silent auction/raffle with some pretty awesome items. For anyone interested, tickets can be purchased at: http://zaniesnashvilletickets.laughstub.com/event.cfm?cart&id=499213

On 1/20/2018, I will also be speaking to some of the parents of the kids with disabilities from ABLE Youth. This is the program that is probably the nearest and dearest to my heart, so I am excited for this opportunity.

Aside from all of this, I received some really positive feedback from my speaking engagement at MTSU. This made me so happy since it definitely has been one of the most rewarding engagements I have had so far in my reign.

The best part of this experience for me is getting to meet new people, but I really love everything about this experience. I love finding new ways to grow and challenge myself. I love that each week brings something new and interesting and none of them are quite the same. I’ve also had a few things laid on my heart lately and I am trying to find ways to make these things happen. Most of which I am actually terrified to do. As much as I want to resist some of these things, I feel like I am *meant* to do them. Most recently, I have been feeling led to go speak to the Nashville Rescue Mission. While I am terrified of it (because sometimes their stories are hard to hear), I feel in my heart that someone there could possibly benefit from my story in some way… Honestly, that is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to become MWTN to begin with… to share my story. The Nashville Rescue Mission and my experience there last Valentine’s Day was life-changing. Since that day, I have wanted to find ways to continue giving back to it and I feel like this might be the way to do it. Aside from this, I really want to start finding opportunities to go speak at women’s leadership conferences as well as survivors conferences and disability-related events and conferences. One day, I would love to also do a TEDtalk.

In 2018, I also really and truly want to get back heavily into music promotion. Music will always have my heart (because experiencing music is where I find the happiest version of myself), but I also want to start pursuing the next stages of writing a book as well. Writing is emotionally fulfilling in a completely different way. While I love focusing on music and I really enjoy discussing disability-related things, there are so many things in my life that fulfill me as a person and each of these parts individually are what make up my life and my story… a story I want to share in a tangible, meaningful way beyond just a blog post here and there. I am extremely grateful that I have an incredibly supportive husband who wants to continue to help me grow and thrive too. He encourages me to continue having as many opportunities in life that help me evolve and he definitely helps me keep things interesting.

At the end of the day, one of my main goals in 2018 (and in my life in general) is to personally continue trying to help as many people in as many ways possible. Most importantly, I really just want to continue sharing my happiest and most authentic self that I am *meant to be* with those around me. I want to encourage all of you to do the same in 2018!

Happy New Year!

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