Wheel a mile in my chair: Living life to the fullest

efena otobo wheel a mile in my chair she leads africa
Overcoming the pain of loss is an intricate process that requires time Click To Tweet

Wheel a mile in my  chair…what comes to mind when you hear this clever turn of phrase? It definitely needs greater clarification.

You’ve heard the expression; walk a mile in my shoes right? Well, I am making a bold attempt to draw out specific lessons from my experiences living with a spinal cord injury and being confined to a wheelchair —and that lesson is, appreciating life whatever situation one might find themselves whilst overcoming the crippling devastation from pain and loss.

Have you ever stared at the ceiling contemplating what turn your life has taken?

Have you ever dragged yourself out of bed in the hopes that today will differ from the previous hours of excruciating boredom and listlessness? Each minute seems to pass by with minuscule expectation of reminders of the little joys in life; of a purpose…or dreams once shared.

At times, people look around and feel a deep, ‘justified’ dissatisfaction with their current situation. Despite the job, house, relationship, rate of family expansion, choice or non-choice of partner, non-existence of a lover, even the absence of precious ‘me’ time.

Countless minutes are spent trying to comprehend how things are not progressing like they should. How one day a person can feel like they are on the apex of a mountain and the next, plunge themselves into helplessness and despair. I am no stranger to moments such as these and I am a hundred times certain that you aren’t either.

I challenge you to view the title of this article as a truth

View it as definitive sentiment. A mantra that can possibly shape, nay alter your perspective during the troubling times. Those palpable moments of  paralysing doubt, soul-crushing fear and nagging bouts of self-loathing and self-pity.

Wheel a mile in my chair is a mantra that can alter your perspective during troubling times Click To Tweet

Striving for perfection is certainly no fool’s errand. Experiencing all these turbulent, crippling emotions is natural. But dwelling and revelling in them will not only hinder personal growth but actually contribute to the perceived obstacles that seem to be ripping your dreams and aspirations to shreds.

My life used to have a somewhat defined path; a certain structure that could fit all my hopes, dreams and desires. I wanted to have a cushy job by the age of 25 and a car with a chauffeur. A nice little ‘nest egg’ for rainy days and free time to write, read, practice bikram yoga and chill on the beach with my amigos.

Alas, it took a drastic, unexpected, catastrophic detour.

Gone were those carefree days. As soon as the doctor gave the tragic diagnosis and said the wheelchair would be my new mode of transportation, I had to recalibrate my understanding of my circumstances. How could I possibly overcome this type of loss? What tools of the mind would be strong enough to defeat this level of excruciating agony?

First course of action was to open the floodgates to let my turbulent emotions through. Express every dark thought buried under hazy recalls of the traumatic events surrounding my injury. I needed to purge everything in a safe place —to my therapist, mother, father, sister and brother.

Next, I decided to focus on recuperating, retraining my brain to carry out simple tasks of sitting up, changing position in bed with great caution, preventing my atrophying leg muscles from weakly falling and hitting the handle rails of the ‘cosy’ hospital beds.  Each task became a challenge, an opportunity to overcome the reality that I was experiencing at the time.

Everyday was a struggle but I had too much to live for. Click To Tweet

No more dwelling in pits of depression and defeat

I had an exercise schedule with goals to achieve. I tried to celebrate the little things like deciding to take the brave step to wear make-up or flirt with a cute occupational therapist. The possibility of seeing myself as a sensual being that could be loved seemed inconceivable. Everyday was a struggle but I had too much to live for.

The outpouring of love and support from well-wishers served as fuel to facilitate the process of healing and restoration. Months of intensity, working through the neuropathic pain so I could start ticking things off my bucket list. Live in Southern California, go to Universal Studios and ride a roller-coaster for the first time since 4/21/14; go to Warner Bros and experience the joys of filmmaking, meet all the famous people that are making a difference; perfect my writing skills.


Geographically, my list extended to the Napa Valley, Sausalito, San Francisco, Vegas, ATL, San Jose and Rancho Santa Fe. My world opened up drastically and the spots of darkness grew smaller as the light of hope began to overshadow them.

The key to dusting off the “funk” was to allow the waves of emotions to wash over me Click To Tweet

Dusting off the funk

The key to dusting off the “funk” was not to revel in it but to allow the waves of emotions to wash over me. Pushing forward to better moments helped heal me from the inside until joy emanated from every single pore. Overcoming the pain of loss is an intricate process that requires time. By drawing on different sources of strength, both internal and external, moments of doubt and helplessness became few and far between.

Experiencing all these things is part and parcel of human condition. By looking beyond the darkness to the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, peace and  tranquillity can and will be achieved.

Love. Laughter. Camaraderie. Literally enjoying your simple pleasures. Conquering the demons in and out of the mirror will be an attainable feat for any courageous individual trying to restore the shattered pieces of their souls back together.

5 TEDx Talks that remind us why failure is okay

Zain Asher

When your finances, relationship with bae, worklife and hair are on fleek, it can feel like you’re on top of the world. Gif

But the real challenge of growth comes when you get knocked down and everything seems to be going wrong. It takes courage to keep going when everything around you is saying stop. But don’t fret. The following TEDx Talks hit the nail on the head on why it’s okay to fail.

Failing All the Way to Success | Jason Njoku

“I was broke, I was living with my mom. But, I was still in the game”

Jason Njoku dubs himself a “certified failure” after his 10 failed entrepreneurship ventures landed himself back on his mother’s couch. His TEDx talk chronicles how he eventually found a winning idea and became the CEO and founder of Iroko Partners, a leading online distribution company focused on the Nigerian entertainment industry.

Trust your struggle | Zain Asher

“But I think that having that competitive spirit and having the need for one upmanship  and comparing yourself to other people again and again can actually bring out fears and insecurities that end up holding you back”

Zain Asher was a receptionist in the US and no matter how hard she worked she wasn’t able to get a promotion. The company she was working at even began to look for external candidates for the position she was aiming for. Through that struggle, Zain realized that the learning process was worth it,  and she is now a national business and personal finance correspondent at CNN International.

Success is scarier than failure | Jemele Hill

“If you ask me today what my fear is, it is success. It’s so much easier imagine failure, we do it all the time.”

Jemele Hill first pursued writing because it was an outlet from her drug addicted parents. The negatives in her life were transformed into positives as she used that skill to become a celebrated sports columnist and television host for ESPN.

Reprogramming your brain to overcome fear | Olympia LePoint

“The truth is if we do not have a way to reprogram our minds to overcome fear. We will never be successful at our own specific missions in life.”

Olympia LePoint failed algebra, geometry, chemistry and calculus in high school. Through her failures, Olympia learned to name and reject her fears. Olympia went from failing subjects in high school to becoming one of the top five graduates out of a 6500 graduating class with a degree in Mathematics. Olympia went on to get her Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics and is now an award winning rocket scientist who has helped launch 28 space shuttle missions to outer space.

Perseverance and the power of not giving up | Christine Krzyzanowski

“So many people have visions and dreams and they are put into uncomfortable situations then they quit and settle”

Christine Krzyzanowsk thought she lost all glimpse of being successful when she quit her high paying job in New York City and moved to Texas. But through the lessons she learned from failed business ventures, she’s now become the co-founder and chief marketing officer for Xtreme Tilt, LLC., where she leads marketing for the gaming company worldwide.

Sometimes we just see the end results of someone’s success but never get a glimpse of their journey. These TEDx Talks showcased the underlying theme of not letting failure hold you back from doing something you know within yourself that you are capable of accomplishing.

Which one of these videos did you relate with the most?