Happy New Year everyone! 2016 is gone, and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say it wasn’t a great year. I lost one of my best friends to cancer, mourned with the world as several of my favorite celebrities including David Bowie and Carrie Fisher passed away far too soon, and witnessed the election of a buffoon whom I fear will set progress in disability and LGBT rights back by decades. But despite all that, I had some wonderful experiences — many of them thanks to travel.
I got to visit Philadelphia for the first time in 2016. I admit, I’m glad I stopped being a vegetarian because eating a cheesesteak at Jim’s was one of the tastiest experiences of my life. I also got to shop on South Street and visit the Reading Terminal Market. Most importantly, I got to see my dear friend Tamra Hayden star in my favorite musical, Man of LaMancha.
New York City was a big destination for me again in 2016; I took two trips there over the summer. After Tamra finished her performances in the Philadelphia area, she launched her own cabaret show, and I was in the audience as she debuted at the renowned 54 Below. I also met two other lovely and talented cabaret performers, Amy Oestreicher and Liz Rubino. I had exciting adventures, including running out of battery power in the middle of Chinatown and having my chair short out due to rain.
Despite being one of the least accessible places in the country, NYC is still my favorite place to visit. I did notice a substantial increase in the availability of accessible NYC taxis, largely thanks to BraunAbility’s new Taxi of Tomorrow, which I had the opportunity to see when I attended the Disability Pride parade and festival. At that event, I met friends from online, and felt renewed resolve to keep using my voice to show the world how much we people with disabilities can accomplish.
When I looked at my New Year’s resolutions from last year, I expected to be disappointed. I mean, how many of us keep our resolutions? But to my surprise, I found I had successfully achieved three out of five. I took a few short trips; a notable one was to northern Indiana and Chicago in September. I got better at packing, especially figuring out how to keep things lighter for single-night hotel stays on the way to my main destination. And most importantly, I took on new challenges — although not in the ways I had intended!
I got justice in the home invasion robbery that shattered my life, allowing me to truly begin putting the pieces back together and move on. I started doing public speaking again. And most importantly… I got a job! Since March 2016, I have been an editor for the website The Mighty. My primary role is to work with our contributors who write about life with a disability and help get their stories published on the website. I also manage the disability Facebook page and do various other projects as time allows. I couldn’t have imagined this would happen when I made my resolutions last year! For me, working takes a lot of time and energy, and dealing with government services to keep my benefits can be a huge hassle. But I really enjoy my job, and hope to continue growing in my role there. I’m also working on turning this blog into a profession as well as a hobby.
2016 reminded me that life is unpredictable. We can try to make resolutions, but the best we can hope for is that the surprises the year sends our way will be good ones. As such, I have only two goals for this year, and they are much more open-ended. They are:
1. Develop my writing and speaking careers. That includes growing this blog, as well as writing for other blogs and publications. I must become better at balancing my job with my blog and my leisure time, so I don’t neglect any of them. I must develop a system so I can correspond with people more reliably and answer emails in a timely manner. Networking isn’t of much value if I can’t follow through. I’m often very tired at the end of the workday, but I must find a way.
2. Make progress in my life plan. I know what I want, what my ultimate goals are in terms of my career and life. I want to continue with my job, and also have a significant role with my company and/or with this blog that involves travel. I would like to do public speaking, presentations and workshops related to disability. I would enjoy being a brand representative for an adapted vehicle or other mobility-related company, or a consultant for a hotel chain or travel company. I want to move from the state where I’m currently living to the East Coast, preferably within an hour of New York City, and also have the ability to spend winters in a warmer climate, as the cold weather is painful for my joints and muscles.
I know it will take time to achieve all these goals, but I believe it’s possible. In 2017, my resolution is to make progress, even if it’s slow, towards living the life of my dreams. I’m willing to put in the hard work to get there. I appreciate the support of everyone who reads my blog and whom I meet, either in person or online, along the journey. Thank you, and have a wonderful 2017!