Initially, I started writing this blog entry in January or February before the last blog I actually ended up publishing but I left it in draft mode because it didn’t feel complete. Since then, I went to beautiful Seattle, Washington for a “Hack-a-thon” for a conference hosted by Microsoft that was focused on improving the flying experience for travelers with disabilities. Shortly after that trip, the world was thrown into a worldwide pandemic. I’m grateful I had that amazing trip right before the world was put to a halt. If you’re interested, you can read more about that experience here. It was a trip for the books for sure.
Over the past 10 years, I have changed paths… a lot… Despite what other people think, I have always felt like being involved in a lot of different projects is what honestly makes me happy. After years of doing that, I finally had tried to convince myself that I should listen to friends and just start taking the “easy” path and take something like a desk job somewhere just to make money but keep my “side hustle” as nothing more than a hobby. Ironically, the pandemic has helped my channel grow at a much more rapid pace than normal. Regardless of the fact that I do have a “dream job” in the music industry in mind that I want to have for my life at some point, I have always known that when things feel right that they will fall into place with that. I feel it in my heart that I will eventually be led down that path when the time is right. My first year as a YouTuber was meant to be a learning year. This year has been a year of growth. In the meantime, I continue focusing on building my different brands and making authentic friendships and connections within the music and entertainment industry and finding my own path. I may always be considered a “little blogger” or a “small YouTuber” to others. If that’s where I’m *meant* to stay then that’s okay… but I feel in my gut still that my visions and the “dream job” is still achievable to me as long as I keep growing on a personal level and keep putting myself out there.
Since competing for the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee title the first time in 2016 for the 2017 title and not winning as I had hoped, I felt pulled in the direction of just overall self-improvement. I was disappointed and thought the journey was over but I was very, very wrong… It just wasn’t my time. I was meant to grow in a slightly different direction. The opportunity to be a titleholder helped me grow on every level. I needed to experience that growth but I still need to keep working harder. Because my path was designed to go a different way than I originally imagined, I now have had amazing opportunities to help mentor other women who are newly crowned. Hindsight is 20/20 and I now see all of that and know that without the first experience, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate where I am today. Honestly, I genuinely love mentoring and helping other women. I never imagined I would be asked to help other women when “I didn’t even make Top 5 at Nationals”. The truth is that it was all worth it because it helped lead me to the opportunity to connect with other women in a way that has been more rewarding than I ever had imagined it would be.
Fast forward to more than 2 years after my own reign… I am in a completely different mentality than I was back when I “lost”. I remember sitting in the car on the way home the morning after my reign as a state titleholder was over in September 2018 and thinking “Now what?” – that thought to myself was promptly met with a phone call from the President of Ms. Wheelchair America before I could even make it home and I was asked to be involved with the Ms. Wheelchair America program as a mentor for new titleholders. Then, more and more amazing opportunities have continued to come up. I have still had ups and downs but I continue to just pray for God to help me be smart enough to recognize when He is paving a specific path for me throughout this process and I do truly feel Him doing that in my life. I’m grateful that opportunity ultimately turned out the way that it did because it was *meant* to turn out that way. For the first time in my life, I am truly comfortable with that “failure” because, oddly enough, the things I am doing now are more interesting and challenging than I ever imagined I’d be doing in my life. Things are falling into place. I’m still getting to help people and I’m continuing to find my authentic excitement for new things and new challenges. I’m feeling personal growth within myself in a way that I haven’t quite felt since my reign ended as MWTN. I’m finding new strengths I didn’t know that I had too. So much of my learning experience through that journey has been through just embracing the idea that there is a bigger *meant to be* purpose of that experience.
As for my professional life… Even though it looks like I have slacked on my websites, I haven’t really taken a break honestly because some of the newer opportunities that have come my way have been too good to pass up. I’m learning how to live in the moment more. I’m constantly working on something new. My YouTube channel has experienced so much growth in the last two years. I am getting closer to actually turning the goal of writing a book into a reality. There is so much going on behind the scenes and so much writing that I have been doing that I haven’t been sharing publicly because I am working on my craft. I am trying to become a better writer. In addition to that, I have been working on a lot of different projects and I learn so much through them all. I love experiencing personal growth. It’s okay that most of it is work behind-the-scenes that most people will never see until the result of it all is revealed. It’s my journey. Not anyone else’s. There are weeks I think “Can I handle all of this?” but God has continued to remind me that I am on the right path and that I am enough. He continues to place ideas on my heart and people in my life that help me continue to grow and who remind me that I am on the right path. The hardest part of implementing anything new and exciting is the fear of “What if no one cares?” – I’m grateful that He always finds ways to gently remind me that if something I am doing can help one person then it’s worth it. I’m thankful He is showing me that my story has a bigger purpose than I ever imagined. It is an amazing, rewarding, empowering feeling that you can’t put a price on. I don’t feel it every single day necessarily but when I do, it brings me back to what matters the most to me… trying to help people and make a tiny difference in this world. It’s a feeling I wish everyone could experience because then they would never look back on their past and question why they are where they are in life.
Despite the fact that I did a lot of public speaking during my reign, most people have no idea that one of my life goals has been to pursue the path of being a motivational speaker. That is something that I never imagined would ever come to fruition, but the more I share with people the more that is starting to become a reality. Am I making money? Nope. Not really. That’s not the point of all of this for me though. It’s fulfilling on an emotional level. The fact that (prior to the pandemic) most of January and February were filled with amazing opportunities and the fact that I have other opportunities lined up as far out as Fall 2020, I can’t help but feel like I am on the right path. That’s not all my own doing. That is God working my life… period. So many people want to talk about the “music thing” I’ve been doing. The truth is that what has come of all of that isn’t what I planned at all. I haven’t been dedicating as much time to that lately because I have been pulled in a million other directions lately. Because of that, I haven’t grown as much as I would have liked to in that aspect, but I’m still proud of what I have accomplished through it so far though because it is another facet of my authentic self. I have much bigger plans I need to grow into with that though and I’m fine with that. In the meantime, I am working on projects that didn’t exist in my life a year ago and those things make me just as happy as pursuing the “music thing”. At the end of the day, I’m grateful that God has allowed me to be on a unique path that allows me to try new things without the main focus being on just making money. He’s paving a path for a fulfilling life… not just a job that pays the bills. I’m just trying to follow the breadcrumbs that have been left for me to follow. I pray I never forget to acknowledge the tiny breadcrumbs that have led me to bigger things in my life. My path is definitely unconventional at times but I’m really excited about everything that is ahead. I genuinely feel like God has led me to this path and it’s my job to trust Him and follow through with what feels right in my heart and to not worry about the rest because He’s already taking care of that for me. I’m focused on one day at a time, one goal at a time, and one dream at a time though. At the end of the day, I am able to look at what I’m doing and know that I am exactly where I am *meant to be*… right now.
I’d be lying if I said I was 100% happy 100% of the time. I (obviously) don’t have everything in life figured out. One thing I’ve really tried to do over the last couple of years is to just breathe, regroup, and move forward. I try my best not to stay in the negative for too long because it isn’t helpful. I am also learning how to take criticism from others with a grain of salt. The reality is that I honestly have no idea what my life will look like in 5 years but that’s the exciting part of it all. I have goals and ideal plans that may never happen, but if I learned nothing else in the 6 ½ year journey with thyroid cancer in my life, I have learned that life is short, so just enjoy the ride. You never know when your life will take a completely unexpected turn to an even more amazing destination. It may be good. It may be bad. It’s not about avoiding the bad experiences but about what you do through those experiences. It’s about learning how to embrace your circumstances… the good, the bad and even the ugly ones.
I want to leave everyone reading this with some really important thoughts… If you aren’t living a life or story that you are proud of then what’s the point? If you can’t find the answer, then one of two things is happening… either you aren’t trying hard enough to find the answer or you’re looking for the answer in the wrong place. Listen to your heart… the message God has given you… your intuition… whatever you want to call it… If you are feeling compelled to do something in life, don’t ignore it. If you’re feeling led to move into a new chapter, do it. Life is short. Don’t waste it holding yourself back because of thoughts like “What if I fail?” because as the Erin Hanson quote says: “And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” You have two options after you fall… The choice is yours to make. Are you going to fail or are you going to fly?