Tragedy turned into a dream come true
by Diana Maddock
(Rocky River, Ohio, US)
Painted in oils from a photo taken while on vacation in Virginia. The ship,
Being highly motivated has always been part of my adult life.
Twenty-five years full time employment bought a two-bedroom, two bath apartment and my first new car: a silver Mustang with black interior and four-on-the-floor. (Yes. I can drive a stick shift!)
I was single and self-supporting and doing well. I had just enrolled in two business classes at our local college, and my intention was to get my Bachelor's Degree as a business major, then move on to an MBA (Master's in Business Administration). I knew this, coupled with my business experience, would provide a good lifestyle and future.
I never made it.
At age 46 I was suddenly in need of a wheelchair for seven months. I had rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and what they call fibromyalgia today. I knew I would never be able to keep up the demands of business management and the long hours. The paychecks stopped and I was facing homelessness and starvation.
A kind family or two who knew my family took me in for a while until I could get on my feet. I began to think about what I COULD do and what I would enjoy doing. Painting and drawing have always been an interest, so I approached the same college and requested taking art classes for credit.
The professor was reluctant to say the least. I was now middle-age, in a wheelchair, and had no required art portfolio for acceptance as an art major. He requested that I purchase a drawing pad, pencils, and draw a number of sketches, then call him for a return visit. I did.
He carefully studied my drawings, then said he would allow me to take the classes. My first class began in the wheelchair. Some months later, I mentally began to battle and fight my way out of the dependency on the chair. I could not carry art supplies and wheel a chair. Something had to give and it was not going to be art classes!
I received my Associate Degree, then went onto a University locally and got my Bachelor's Degree as a Studio Art major.
I lived alone and managed my apartment, vehicle, shopping and all needs. I had to plan my errands since my ability to be on my feet had been reduced. I could no longer run three errands in a row, but I was out of the wheelchair!
A new life began. My paintings began winning awards immediately in local art shows. Our local newspaper contacted me to run a two-page feature story about me. (I have always been shy, so I was not enthused about a "public life.") I did endure it, and publicity in the newspapers continued. A gallery in Washington, DC, contacted me (I live in Ohio) apparently having seen the press releases and asked if they could showcase my paintings to sell.
Beginning at this moment in my life, I never applied for a job again. My phone rang with offers. The college where I took my first art classes called and offered an adjunct teaching position. I refrained from teaching art in public schools because of budget cuts so offered to teach in the communities.
I was offered the most wonderful array of teaching situations over the next several years and the publicity continued ~ like it or not. One of my friends said, when I asked her what the newspapers find so appealing about me,"Your paintings are good and your story is inspirational!" I now have an opportunity to share a real-life, happy-ending event with all of you.
1.Stay motivated no matter what
2. Do what you have a feeling for, or in my case a passion for
3. Take classes if it will help you accomplish your goal
4. Never listen to nay-sayers. They are jealous!
5.Keep going forward!
I live in an apartment with an elevator now. Yeah! Last year I began a new venture that someone suggested. I am writing my first book ~ a non-fiction. I am highly motivated to get it finished. Why? Because I cannot wait to get back to my first love and passion: Painting!
The last twenty-eight years have been the most unexpected and joy-filled years of my life.
Blessings and happy futures for all of you!!