For me, 2019 was all about purpose. This means aligning all my effort in things that matter: professionally, social causes, community, and connecting with family and friends.
This year started out with me doing talks on innovation and resilience. This is one of my passions as innovation has been a key enabler for me in having a full life as a person with a disability, both personally and professionally.
Technology has helped me achieve things like having a global presence, an amazing career, and the loved ones that I have in my life. Voice recognition, the internet, social media, and even the mobile phone, give me confidence to travel independently far from home, knowing support is only a call or text away.
Applying agility to marketing and technology allowed me to work an engagement with Tangerine that also allowed me to get inspired by what they do. I’ve trained over 500 people in Product Management, Scrum and Leadership, allowing me to scale my experience and passion beyond what I could imagine this year. I have been part of people’s growth on my team, where I’ve seen people get promoted, move on to new chapters, and achieve a long-term goal of becoming a certified trainer.
I feel incredibly blessed this year to have been asked to speak at the Cerebral Palsy gala in my hometown of Windsor. I was incredibly nervous as all my prepared talks are centered around Product, Agile, or Innovation… what would I say about Cerebral Palsy? I would be speaking in front of people that knew me as a kid, and would be seeing me as an adult for the first time. I used it as an opportunity to be able to give hope to young children and their families, showing what is possible for people with Cerebral Palsy. These are the future catalysts in countless professions, and I have the opportunity to use my experience to demonstrate that children with a disability can live full lives. I also had the privilege to speak at the John McGivney Children’s Centre, a place that helped me and my family by providing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and early education as the foundation for my life journey.
This summer, Kelly and I traveled to the Yukon to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and toured wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake with close friends. As I get older, I realize how precious time is with family and friends. As I age with Cerebral Palsy, and I approach my time on this earth I know I cannot take this time for granted. Life span is not promised but can be cherished.
Kelly and I were very fortunate to move back to Waterloo this year. Scotiabank provided me with the chance to move back to Waterloo and split my time between Waterloo and Toronto. This provided Kelly and me with a huge quality of life boost in terms of finding better care for me and bringing us closer to our loved ones. Having Bourilack, my brother, work with me as a support worker again has made me forget I have Cerebral Palsy.
We get up at 4am a few days a week so I catch the early train for my two-hour commute to Toronto to be there at 8am.
This is not easy, however knowing that my struggle will result in helping enable people professionally to better serve our customers makes the 4-hour daily commute purposeful. The other days I get to spend in the Waterloo office where there are some amazing people I now call friends. Being close to our tribe inspires us.
In the fall, I was fortunate enough to be invited to serve on the Board of Directors at SafeHaven. SafeHaven provides support to families, children, and young adults with complex needs. One of my first tasks is to design their digital strategy. Being able to serve this non-profit and the families they support aligns with my focus on purposeful activities. My work with SafeHaven will help these young people have lives they did not think would be possible. I can totally relate. If someone told my 10-year-old self that I would fall in love, get married, have a great career, have a tribe that loves me… I would have thought you were crazy. It makes the struggles, the failures, the self-doubt, the crying when no one was watching all worth it… because I can share all of it. The good, bad, and ugly.
This year I completed the draft of a book that I will be releasing in 2020. We are in the final editing phases now.
Life is too short to be merely putting in time. Life is too hard to not make sure that I focus my energy on things that matter. No matter what struggles, hardships, and tears I endure… it will be worth it if it is filled with making a difference and sharing moments with loved ones.
Happy New Year!
Until next time…