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.
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.