Reflections on the Abilities Expo
Yesterday wrapped the Houston Abilities Expo, one of eight big events that bring products, services, and people together supporting the disability community. These incredible events introduce the latest and greatest in the industry all under one roof.
I love Houston and can’t wait to return. If you didn’t make it to this Abilities Expo, the next one will be held in Boston on September 13th - 15th, 2019. If you’re looking to attend one in another city or learn more about the disability community, visit www.abilities.com.
In 2014, as Miss Massachusetts International I attended the Abilities Expo for the first time, and it completely transformed my life. The moment things really changed for me was when I first saw a man use an Exoskeleton for the first time. If my father lived just a short while longer, I may have had the opportunity to see him stand for the first and only time in my life.
In 2001, the year my father passed, the LIFESUIT One (LSI) exoskeleton was built, then in 2005 LS12 was worn in a foot race for the very first time. It was worn by Monty Reed, who set the Land Speed Distance Records for walking in robot suits.
The educational opportunities at these events are huge and when I attended it was incredibly overwhelming. This was one of the first major steps in making my feature-length documentary, ExoRising.
As I began to get ready for the day I felt a heavy internal weight.
While I was figuring out what to wear that day, it was like my yellow jacket jumped out of my closet at me. It was a little sign from my father. I could feel it because yellow was always his favorite color.
As I started my drive to the Los Angeles Convention Center my mind began to flood with thoughts and past memories. I was experiencing this emotional pull that sparked me to call my mom, who has always struggled with talking about my father.
I called my mom to say thank you.
To thank her for the genuine example of love that she has always shown me.
As I get older I can better understand all of the sacrifices she made to be the incredible wife, mother, and full-time caregiver that she was.
No one could possibly understand what she went through.
She was only 24 years old when my father was paralyzed that day on the beach. Two days past his accident she was all alone and left to try and understand and figure out what had to be done.
I, now in my 30s, can't possibly imagine what that must have been like for her.
From that day forward my mother did everything to provide the best possible life for him. Their love, loyalty, and commitment to each other have impacted my life and relationships as well.
Reflecting on my past and how I've given and received love, nothing has shown up in my life as strong as their genuine example of that love. This has affected my personal relationships in many ways and is something I've begun to be attentive to. I have so much love to give, a genuine love that understands empathy, compassion, and sees all people and things as equals.
After the call, I arrived at the convention center filled with inspiration and heavy emotions.
As I spent the day at the Abilities Expo, I recognized a true connection to my purpose.
I am a very energetically aware person and the genuine powerful connections I made throughout the day were incredibly rewarding.
Beginning this journey to make an impactful documentary has been both incredible and emotionally overwhelming, and we are only one month in!
Have you ever experienced an inner pull?
When you feel so passionately about something that you can't deny or ignore the energy within you?
That inner pull has become stronger than ever for me, which tells me I'm truly on the right path.
One of the most difficult things for me in life has been knowing my purpose but not being able to find the correct outlet to bring it into fruition.
I have seen bits and pieces of my purpose come to life, and on my journey, I've discovered things here and there that have gotten me a bit closer each and every time.
Those are the little gems I've been noticing come up more often. I trust they are guiding me closer to my bigger purpose, which is to positively impact the lives of others.
I learned a few years ago that it is and always will be about the journey, not the final success.
That's because we are fulfilled through our actions that give to others, that's the most rewarding part of life to me. I believe we can all relate to each other when given the chance.
Allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable may be scary if you're not used to opening up, but once you do, you will experience so many wonderful and rewarding things.
I remember the first few times I spoke about my father in front of a crowd. It was truly an out of body experience because I was so terrified. I was scared I'd be judged in a negative way, that I might say the wrong thing or that I might simply pass out from my nerves that 1st time. I was only 15 or 16 years old.
Years of practice feeling uncomfortable led to so many successes I had always felt an inner push to continue doing it, and each time it got easier and easier.
With all that said, if it scares you, you should do it because something unbeknownst to you is pushing you in the direction of your purpose. Trust me, you can overcome more than you think.
It's an incredible thing to meet someone new and feel that instant connection, but it's more powerful when both people personally connect through their experiences. This happened to me repeatedly that day at the Abilities Expo. And it is truly one of the best feelings.
Overall, the Abilities Expo left me feeling inspired, overwhelmed, grateful, and even more connected to my purpose than ever. I would highly recommend anyone to attend this event.
If you are a part of the disability community in some way shape or form, the Abilities Expo is about introducing opportunities that can enrich your life, especially ones that you never knew were out there.