“What you mean Oprah, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé don’t inspire you?!”

 A self-reflection on who inspires me and how it is a direct link to living life as a differently-abled woman.

The past week has been a whirlwind! Last Tuesday, HelloBeautiful.compublished a feature on yours truly! The article talks about my journey as a differently-abled adult and how I navigate life and of course working for the Emmy nominated Issa Rae. As people have read my article, many have approached me and shared how my story inspires them. This is an absolute honor and I am blessed to be a blessing to others; but it made me think about a recent conversation with a friend of mine about a similar topic.

During a recent happy hour (I love a good happy hour lol) we were having drinks at this bar called Corner Cantina in Downtown LA (it was horrible service and mediocre food. I don't recommend it at all.) and as we went over our busy schedules for the upcoming weekend, she asked me out of the blue, "who inspires you?" It shocked me because no one has ever asked me that. Not once in my 33 years of living did anyone inquire about who inspired me; but even more daunting was that I never asked myself the question. How could I go decades without reflecting on who/what touched me/ moved me in a positive way?!

So, as I sat there sipping on my frozen margarita, (probably not the best time to self-reflect but, oh well lol) I started to ponder…who inspires you Candis? Is there someone that you look to that stimulates your passion, dedication to your goals and where you want to see yourself in the near future?

Many would say — Oprah, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé or even my own boss… Issa Rae. Clearly it's no denying that her entire glow up is an inspirational vision board come to life. These women (and beyond) are amazing, inspiring and trailblazers but they are not the sole source of my personal inspiration. Now don't misunderstand, I'm very proud to be a part of the Black Girl Magictribe they have created but I can't say that they inspire me. Now, I know most people are cringing at my statement and I can understand your confusion. However, the reason I do not see them as my personal inspiration is because I can't not see myself in their journey. Obviously, I can relate to them as an African American woman but if I dig deeper, my journey is far more riddled with obstacles that don't seem represented in their story.

I am a disABLED African American woman who had her first surgery at 18 months.

An 9 hour spinal fusion surgery at 12 — at a time when the options presented to me were to either: 1) have the surgery and possibly die from my lungs not having the capacity to endure such a long timeframe under anesthesia," or 2) not have the surgery and die 6 months from my spinal cord puncturing my lungs and moving my other organs out of their original placement.

I'm a woman that lost her ability to walk at 8 years old from a freak-accident that caused me to break my leg and remain bedridden with a cast that went from my upper thigh to my toes for over 6-months.

I'm a woman that lost her father and stepfather within less than a year of one another.

I am a woman who has been hospitalized more than I can count for pneumonia, collapsed lungs and have coded blue at least 2 times from bad asthma attacks.

I am a woman who broke the stereotype of a disabled person, moved out of my mom's house at 18, maintained independent life while earning two degrees (Bachelors and Master's) by the age of 31.

I'm a woman who decided to undergo surgery on my abdomen and have a catheter medically inserted just so I could try to live a normal life and pee freely.

As you can see, I've experienced some serious ups and downs, as have those amazing women I mentioned but when I say I can't see myself in those women, that's what I mean. The way my inspiration levels are setup, I need to relate to your journey, your struggle. Throughout my 33 years of life, there has been no real representation on a large platform that would allow me to see myself, embrace similar struggles and achievements. During my "margarita reflection" that I inspire myself and I challenge myself! I am no longer looking to see someone like myself in the media, I'm now looking to be the woman on the platform to inspire, the woman that shows another girl that just because she is differently-abled, she is still capable of achieving her goals. I am no longer seeking to see the change in the world or media; but to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Photo Cred: Dedee Verdin

Until next time, this is my world… on wheelz!

-CanCanOnWheelz

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