No Heros Required - A Callout to be better humans

I have been struggling over what I experienced Tuesday morning on the way to work.  

In the morning we are all in a rush to get to work to do all the things we need to do and not enough time to do.  On Tuesday, I was on my way to work to teach the Professional Product Owner Course.  I was running a little late and 3 TTC trains came that was too full for me to board with my power wheelchair.  While waiting a lady came in a walker.  I told her when the next train came I would block the people on my right to let her board first and sit in the blue seat designated for disabled people.  The next train came, doors opened and I moved to the side to block people on the right to let her board.  Some guy stepped over me to get in and shoved this lady back causing her to fall backwards on the platform.  I heard the thump and walker slide.  The rude guy waved for me to enter...but I stayed behind.  I was the only one that remained, the train left.  The once crowded platform was now empty.  I asked her if she needed me to call 911?  She said, “No, I will wait until someone comes that can help me get to my feet”.

I kept talking with her to make sure she was coherent.  I finally offered that if she held onto my powerchair that I could pull her up…and she agreed to try.  As I began to backup to get her to her feet, I had a sudden fear.  I don’t want to pull her up too fast and have her fall into my lap.  When I’m dressed for work I look pretty hot and don’t want to give her mixed signals.  She stood up and we made our way to the bench.  After a couple trains we boarded…she got off the stop before me and seemed fine.

hey-you-no-heroes-required-.jpg

A little frazzled, I shared my story, people called me a hero for helping her.  I’m no hero.  I have many faults.  I can be mean, I can be politically incorrect…I am imperfectly me.

A hero is someone that has to offset jerks in the world.  At best, a hero or champion is simply overcompensating for an imbalance of ignorance. At best, I was simply not being a jerk...at that moment

Let’s spend less time celebrating perceived heroism and just all try to be better humans.  This way together we can help each other in this unfair world to enjoy our time here.

Until next time...

Confessions of a Rolling B@st@rd - The Need for Speed

In my previous post I talked about the whole operations of recruiting/training/managing my personal care to get out the door each morning to work as a professional with Cerebral Palsy.  Now I will share my commute.

With my recent expanded role, I am spending more time in the downtown office which makes it easier to get to work.  Although I have to take an extended journey as not all subway stops are accessible, I have found a new exhilarating sport…slalom pedestrian racing!

speed.jpg

When I get off the subway I have to roll from one end of the Eaton Centre (huge mall) to the other.  With the super waxed flooring it is the perfect opportunity to dial up my power chair to top gear, full throttle.

At 7:30am the mall congestion is light enough to make top speed possible, but enough congestion to make it irresponsible.

Fear.jpg

With my headphones blaring ‘Bulls on Parade” I blast off!  I love the feeling the wind against my face.  Things blurring as I race past them.  I love how people jump to the side when they hear me coming up on them.  Oncoming traffic (people) that are in my path look at me with fear as they are not sure that I will be able to swerve around them.  The truth is that I don’t know either…I’m just trying to beat my previous time of 3 minutes, 23 seconds.  As a coach, I help people face their fears...so I'm just doing pro bono work in the morning. 

I have learned that if I keep my swerving tight that I get a way better time.  This means I just graze their coats.  I see them saying something to me as I fly by…but my music is blaring.

As I proceed to the PATH the hallways narrow, more people, with rolling luggage….that’s when the fun doubles.  There are people that always try to squeak through the individual doorway.  These people are the brave.  If I hit you there is a good chance one of us will be hurt…I like my chances.  

Once I make it to the office my brain is clear.  Ready to start my day.

Find the joys in life no matter what your circumstances or limitations you have.  It's there if you look for it.

*Disclaimer* - there has been no able bodied people harmed in racing to date…but the journey continues.

2015 was a year of change...

It's hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to an end.  This year has been one of the most challenging years I have faced because of all the change.  In the last year I have changed cities, changed jobs, and changed as a person.  Change is really scary because were leaving a story that has already been written to a story that has yet to be told.  This year was to start of that story for me.

The beginning of 2015 caused me great remorse.  I was leaving some very special people that I've met over the last nine years.  People that have watched me grow.  People that have watched me succeed.  People that have watched me learn from my mistakes.  People that made me feel loved.  I still remember in particular having to say goodbye to my awesome team that I had the privilege of building and accomplishing great things.  I still have vivid memories of B and I hugging in tears as he was telling me, "stay stubborn brother".  B is somebody that has seen me and my best and worst times and that help support me to be where I am today.  I remember closing the door of our house for the last time in Waterloo before we headed to Toronto.  That door closing was symbolic.

The year also started with great frustration and struggle.  I had to hire new PSW's and have strange people responsible for helping me with my morning routine (shave, shower, dress, etc.).  Hiring one PSW when you have a group of solid ones is somewhat challenging… Hiring a PSW without a base is extremely scary.  We have found one person… The rest have been horrifying experiences.  Hey, I still lived to tell my tail.

I cannot say enough about the support my wife is extended to me both emotionally and physically.  She is filled then to help me when these other PSW's have failed.  She was there to comfort me when I had 1 million things going on and struggles.  She is my everything.  She went through the same things I did… And she was able to get her designation and score a job.  I cannot think of any other person that I want beside me as we embrace life.

For the first time in my life I was able to commute to work completely on my own via the subway.  There is nothing more empowering than to be able to go where you want, when you want, and by your own power.  This new freedom has made a large city seems small.  This new freedom allowed me to go to baseball games to meet friends from Waterloo… In one case I walked to the stadium with a couple that had a daughter that was in a wheelchair.  As I shared with them my story they got all teared up and thanked me for giving them the inspiration that their daughter can still have an amazing life.

This new freedom was not my only life experience this year.  Kelly and I went on a vacation alone for the first time in ten years.  I cannot come at a better time as we were in the middle of all this change.  On this vacation I was able to walk barefoot in the sand for the very first time.  On this vacation, I was able to go snorkelling for the very first time.  On this vacation, I was able to meet some amazing people that have become great friends.  These people were the reason why Kelly and I were able to experience everything we did at the end of our vacation.

I continued the pursuit to helping out great causes this year.  I did my damnedest to raise awareness for the John McGivney Centre to help their preschool program stay open.  I was fortunate that my YouTube video went viral.

I was able to work with the company to help them make great strides towards agility.  I got to work face-to-face with a bunch of amazing people.  I have been able to assemble a fantastic team.  I have been able to form some fantastic relationships with these people outside of work.  A group of us went out for drinks one night that resulted in me having way too many shots… This combined with the lack of wheelchair cab's had these new people flagged down a delivery truck to bring us back home.

I was able to start swimming again.  My sister-in-law (who we've been able to build a closer relationship with) trained to me three times a week in the pool and at the gym.  Being in the water opens up even greater freedom.

This year filmmaker Edward Platero release the documentary about my life and doing the Terry Fox walk.  Watching myself in third person crossing the finish line was incredibly emotional for me.  Being in the moment I now realize how much of an achievement was at that moment.  Hearing all those amazing things from people that I care the world about in that documentary inspires me to keep going on.  The amount of emails I've gotten because of the documentary helps me appreciate the impact I have on others.

This is the story of my 5km walk I did in 2014 and growing up & living a full life with Cerebral Palsy. The story is told by my lifelong friend and brother, Edward Platero. I like to do the best I can today and hope to do even better tomorrow.

At the end of this year I was finally able to realize a goal that I've had for some time.  I was able to kick off my own consulting company (Dave Dame Inc.).  I was also able to speak at a couple conferences.

I learned a lot this year.  As every year, I had a lot of ups and downs.  I miss a lot of people dearly and I have had the opportunity to meet some new amazing people.  Kelly and I realized that Kitchener Waterloo will always be home for us.  We will be back there again someday.  KW is who we are.  Until then… The memories and experiences we gather until then will make our life amazing.  I am grateful to have the people, family, and amazing wife I have.

For 2016 I hope to experience many more things.  I hope to release a book that describes my challenges and tenacity of my life of being a professional with a disability and the parallel of the challenges and tenacity you need in creating high performing organizations.

The journey continues.

Looking back on the journey – one year later

Crossing the finish line (49 secss)

 

Today is the one-year anniversary of the 5 KM walk that I did to raise $30,000 for the Terry Fox foundation.  This was nearly a year and a half of preparation physically and mentally to accomplish this.  A year ago at this moment Alex was stretching me as I was hearing people starting to gather outside.  Ed Prichard was trying to keep me relaxed by being his usual humorous self.  My wife was right there with ready to support me every step as she has the last 14 years.  Alex and I spent two years training.  Our first goal was to shed 60 pounds.  Our second goal was to prepare for this event.  You build a close bond was somebody that you spend three nights a week training for over twenty-four months.

My adrenaline was flowing strong.  This challenge was not going to beat me.  This challenge was going to be a stepping stone for the next.

What made the walk so special was that I was able to reconnect with a lot of people that I have not had the chance to spend much time with for a while.  Individual lives take us in different directions and priorities.  This day allowed us to align our directions and priorities if only for a few hours.  The laughter and conversation help me forget the pain that I was going through each step of the way.

Completing the walk showed me and others that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.  Looking back it also taught me the importance of having a fantastic support system of my wife, friends, and family.  It is a moment I will always cherish.  Not only the training.  Not only the walk.  Not only crossing the finish line.  Not only experiencing this with friends and family.  Not only doing this step by step with my wife.  It's all of the above!

Since the event the journey has continued.  This last year the journey has brought me and my wife to a new city, new jobs, new opportunities, and new lives.  This has been an incredible struggle that exceeded the walk as it is pushed me personally and emotionally.  I felt incredibly vulnerable at times.  I second guessed my choice at times.  However, it's opened a world of new freedoms.  For the first time in my life I'm able to independently get around because of public transportation.  I'm able to go to and from work completely on my own.  I'm able to go meet clients without having to organize helpers to bring me.  I'm able to go meet friends for a drink or for dinner.  I'm able to run errands to help my wife.  This summer has made this huge city smaller.  (However, with the winter approaching it would dramatically impact my quality of life as I do not do well in harsh weather.  Having this new freedom makes me appreciate summer more… And despise winter more.)  

This year has also allowed me to walk barefoot in the sand for the first time.  To snorkel for the first time.  To enjoy places around the world with my wife.

This year has seen Alex move to a new city as well.  His family added a new baby.  Alex has changed careers.  His journey still continues. Although we are apart...our bond is forever.

This year I had to say goodbye to special people.  This year I got to reconnect with old friends.  This year I got to build closer friendships with friends.  This year I got to make new friends.  This year I've had the opportunity to build closer relationships with family.

The journey has taught me so much more than achieving a goal.  It has taught me The timportance of having fantastic people in your life.  I have been purposeful in keeping relationships over the last year.  I'm purposeful in telling them what they mean to me.  After the popularity of this walk I have realized the influence I have on others.  Be the person you want to be...live with mistakes not regret...struggle makes you stronger...

Luckily, Facebook memories and the amazing documentary that Edward Platero put together will always remind me of this special time.  I'm looking forward to having another compelling event to bring everyone together.  Life is a collection of these events.  The journey is not always easy… But it is definitely worth it.  What does next year have in store?  Stay tuned… Because the journey continues.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES DOCUMENTARY

I was scared. At times I had self doubt. It was going to hurt. It was going to be a challenge. Cerebral Palsy was not going to stop me. Life is hard, but it's worth it.

This is the Documentary about my journey...not only to walk 5km...but my Journey through life. This touches on all aspects of my life to the big day. Growing up, finding 'The One' in my soul mate Kelly, my career side, and who I am as a person. My friend/brother - Edward Platero could not have told this story any better. I like to pride myself as someone who does not shed a tear...but I shed a few while watching this. I love my wife, friends, and my life. Thank you everyone.

My life has changed a lot in the last year...and it will continue to change...because The Journey Continues.

To Watch the video click here - https://youtu.be/zSpWIjYTFE8

A Complete Day

Today was a cool milestone for me. I travelled to the Rogers Centre completely on my own to meet a couple of good friends for a Jays game. I have *never* been there on my own. I got to the subway filled with discovery. When I got off the subway I saw a family with a girl in a power chair all dressed in Blue Jays gear.

I asked if I could follow them as I was new to the city and I was meeting up with a couple idiots that I call friends:) While travelling they were asking a bunch of questions as they seemed enthused on how independant I was. Their daughter was 15 attending special classesand was curious how I ended up in Toronto. I shared with them my story, growing up, my parents, University, getting married, professional career, etc.

 

When I got to the Rogers Center I thanked them so much for allowing me to follow them. They were both in tears and thanked me for giving them inspiration for their daughter. I take forgranted my life. I met up with friends for an awesome time, the jays won, I downed my citcris wine cooler like a boss, helped a family, and had a life moment of getting to a game all by myself.
Pretty amazing day.

Can't Stand the word "Can't"

The word "Can't"bothers me.  It strikes a nerve with me.  When I hear the word "Can't" I interpret that as someone is not going to try.  Can't is convenient.  Can't is crippling.  I hear they're not prepared to go through the struggle and effort.  I hear that someone is not willing to pick themselves up when they fall. 

My wife and I recently relocated to a new city which meant I had to hire a whole new support staff to help me in the mornings at 5 AM with my personal care (shaving, showering, and dressing).  This means I have to trust strangers to whom I have only just met with my life. I have to instruct them to help me get ready in the morning.  This puts me in a highly vulnerable situation.  One person that I hired (now fired) did not take the time to learn the specifics of my morning routine.  There is nothing medical about my morning routine, but it is highly detailed to ensure everything is just right for me to be independent through out the day.  This person almost caused me to fall in the shower a number of times.  I felt crippled for the first time in a long time.  I was frustrated.  Angry.  I am trying to get ready for my first day at my new job but not sure I will make it out of the bathtub..  Luckily, my wife jumped in to help me get ready so I can be at work at 7:30 AM.  When I get dressed, my clothes have to be lined up with such precision to allow me to go to the bathroom independently at work.  The margin of failure is only inches.  This is a routine that I've continually refined over my life to strive to get more independent to allow me to have a "normal" life.  My job of being Dave and managing my needs is a 24/7 job on top of my professional job.

I don’t share this with you to feel sorry for me.  I’m simply giving background to why I have no tolerance for the word can’t or cannot accept the excuse that something is too difficult to try.  If I did not do anything that was difficult, I would not even get out of bed in the morning.

Let “Can’t” be the start of the story, not the ending.  Let “Can’t” drive you, not constrain you.  To get something you've never had, you must do something you've never done.  You have to change.  You have to endure scars to achieve what seems impossible.  You have to struggle.  You have to be resilient.  Anything worth having is worth struggling for. Try. Fail. Try again.  Our journey will be made up of falling and picking ourselves up.

These are my scars to endure.  Scars serve as a reminder to the past, but it does not tell us about the future. Change is challenging, frustrating, and terrifying.  There is no growth without change.  The struggle has to be fought, because the journey has to continue.

Looking in the Mirror...

During this time of year it is normal to reflect back on the past.  I set some pretty ambitious goals for 2014.  I'm happy that I've been able to achieve most of the goals that I set.

This year has been a lot of ups and downs.  I have been able to accomplish things that did not seem possible and I lost a very special person in my life.  I am starting a new chapter in moving to Toronto and taking on an exciting new opportunity.  However, to do this my wife and I are moving away from a number of loved ones we have got close to over the last 9 years.

Looking back on everything I realize how lucky I am to have such an amazing life filled with family, friends, and other people that inspire me to embrace this awfully wonderful thing of life and enjoy it.

I wish I could go back in time and talk to the sixteen-year-old version of myself that would spend countless hours alone in his bedroom scared that he would not find that special woman, not be able to make it in the grown-up world, and to not know what kind of life he would have.  As a teenager I would even find myself in tears thinking the above-mentioned is not possible.  

 I am complete

I am complete

I wish I could go back and tell him that he is going to find a woman that will make him better than he could've ever imagined, that completes the holes that were left void, that is the reason why you wake up in the morning and is your best friend & lover (Giggity).

 Steps to Victory with Alex and Kelly

Steps to Victory with Alex and Kelly

 Sharing the moments with special friends

Sharing the moments with special friends

 Step by step

Step by step

I wish I could go back and tell him that you will meet the special person named Alex.  Together you will spend twenty months training to walk further and faster than you ever thought possible.  You will do the Terry Fox event that would raise over $30,000 for cancer.  This event would allow you to get closer to your dreams with each step.  This event would take place in front of all the special people in your life to share in this moment with you.  This event will help to define you and the next chapter of your life.  You will always remember the love you felt when you cross the finish line.  You will remember the lives you touched with your walk.  You will remember people`s own stories they shared.  You will remember the letters from students touching your heart.  You will remember.

 Victory...is forever

Victory...is forever

 Co-present with Scott

Co-present with Scott

I wish I could go back and tell him that he will have a career in which he works with incredibly bright and talented people in solving complex problems.  This career would allow him to help organizations exceed expectations.  This career would be his passion.  This career would give him the life his parents always dreamed of.  People will see you as a thought leader.

I wish I could go back and tell him to make sure you cherishes those moments with special loved ones.  These moments will not be forever.  You need to love and appreciate them for everything .  You need to be happy that you got to share time with them, even if they have to leave this world early.  You need to appreciate family, friends, and loved ones each time you see them as if it was the last time ever.  To remember to keep the journey continuing even when there journey on earth is no longer.

I wish I could go back and tell him that despite the ups and downs… You are in for a hell of a ride!

/TheJourneyContinues


I'm not brave, I just keep trying

A lot of people approached me recently congratulating me on being brave.  Also, a number of people asked me how I became so brave to challenge myself and put myself out there.  I don't think I woke up one day and was instantly brave.  Like everyone, I have fears, anxieties, and insecurities.

I believe what encouraged me to face these things is to deal with them more frequently.  I would face my fears, anxieties, and insecurities, slowly pushing myself to achieving things that previously scared me.  In doing scary things often, you get better at dealing with failure.  The more you deal with making mistakes or not achieving something, the better you can recover from it.  Doing this frequently makes this uncomfortable feeling your new normal.  This is training your brain to live in this uncomfortable place.  You're conditioning your emotions to deal with setbacks.  You're conditioning yourself to get back up and show resilience.  The more you do something the easier it gets.  Using this structure/framework  allows me to deal with the challenges and builds courage.  The more accomplishments you've achieved (whether it's from a number of trial and errors or if you get it the first time) keeps moving you forward.

I also give a little credit of being stubborn to overcoming fear.   I tend to want to face what people say is impossible, or unrealistic, as a challenge to overcome.  Every great success story began with the notion of impossible or unrealistic… I like to fill in the rest of the story between the start and finish.  It's not easy.  It's very frustrating.  It's really hard work.  It's incredibly rewarding.

The last thing you want in life is to live with regret.  Making mistakes gives you a chance to learn from them. If the number of missed opportunities pile up, it will give you a worse feeling than you would have ever experienced from being uncomfortable and recovering from failure.

 

 

Having a support structure around you to continue to support, inspire, console, and challenge you is essential.    The power of your inner circle can either break you or encourage you… find your supportive circle.

It's very easy to point fault at someone or not to believe… If we want others to achieve success from being uncomfortable we have to support and encourage them. 

Life is short.  Life is a gift.  Life is unfair.  Life is hard.  Life is awesome.  If being uncomfortable makes you live it to the fullest… Why would you ever want to be comfortable?