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,

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!!

Comments for Tragedy turned into a dream come true

Click here to add your own comments

Your book is eagerly awaited
by: Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, C-3, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India.

Esteemed e-pal Diana,

Your historical novel is eagerly awaited. I am sure it will become a bestseller. Please announce the details hen the book is available. Regards. DKS,05 May, 2014

Ongoing recognition
by: Diana, Author of this post "..into a dream come true."

My true story took place in the 1990s. I have since moved to a nearby location and thought I would no longer be recognized.
Now Spring 2014 and about two weeks ago I received a hand-written letter from our State of Ohio Senator, Sherrod Brown, He addressed it "Diana" and signed it "Sherrod." That means he has recognized me as being an equal.

His letter said:
Congratulations on your inclusion in "Who's Who in America(2014), Thank you for making a difference for our community. Sherrod"

All these years later, I am still being "thanked." If you are looking for something to do, check out your own communities and find something that is needed. Do not expect to be paid or to be published because of it. Just do it.

Miracles do happen!!

Tragedy turned into a dream come true
by: Diana

Thank you JoaniL, Irwin and those who have left very positive and uplifting comments to my struggle and accomplishments.

I think your words are the most precious to me ~ more than the newspapers and national publications that have caught my story and thought it was worth telling.

I was hesitant to write it here, but with most of us in our senior years, and with Wendy's encouragement, I thought it was the right thing to do. If it has helped just one person to achieve something they have been thinking about but are hesitant to move forward, it makes my struggle and life all worthwhile.

Blessings! Diana

Just Fantastic
by: Maureen


You are so talented I envy you. Your paintings are lovely, keep enjoying the life you've made. I am proud of you!!

Wonderful Life
by: Joani

What a wonderful life you have made for yourself, the many obstacles you have overcome and pressed forward. Am so impressed. Your art is awesome, hope to see much more.

by: Irwin in Florida

Hi Diana:

What a great story and kudos to you for living it and telling it to others so that they too might find the strength to follow their dreams.

Yes, I am back from our whirlwind trip to the NE for a wedding, family reunion, and high school reunion as well.

Time to locate my muse again and your story might just be the story to get me writing again.

Looking forward to reading some of your posts again when you get time to write them at the community blog site.

Again, good for you and keep on doing that which you do so well. I would be interested in learning more about the book you are writing when you have a spare moment or two.


Thank you very much to...
by: Diana Maddock

This is for Durgesh Kumar who suggested I write the book-in-progress; Sharyn for your words that give me strength; Joe W - no website yet but may have in the future; Nina (my great-grandparents emigrated from England!) and I love your "Joy and Gratitude" attitude, and Carol K (I already know you are wonderful!).

My early paintings were never photographed except the ship and only because it was my first painting. Had no idea that it would be needed and my early and best paintings sold so quickly in Washington, DC, that it was a whirlwind of activity.

I was told some years later that I should have photographed ALL of my artworks. I do have some images and will post one or two more.


Shaabaash .....
by: Retd. Prof. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava. New Delhi, India

Dear friend,

You are, and will always be a winner. Best Wishes for your book project. DKS. 2 Oct., 2013

Just Amazing * THATS YOU *
by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

What an inspiring & uplifting story~ l am sooo happy for u.

Yes, u had a rough start, however, u have managed to make a wonderful life for yourself & that is awesome. Your painting of the ship on the water is very refreshing, for me it brings memories of my past and the times l spent at our many wonderful southern Ontario, Canadian great lakes.

You have an extraordinary life, pat yourself on the back & congratulations to u for a job well done~ & the job u continue to do with love & passion!

Dream Big
by: Joe W.


Congratulations on a job well done! I think that tragedy inspired projects are some of the best ones ever. I'm glad that you made an effort to reach out to others in order to learn and hone your sketching & painting skills.

Now you have built yourself a solid foundation that should be very exciting for yourself and your art work customers. it should be very interesting how you decide to write a non-fiction book and have it published. Do you have a website yet?

Good Luck in your future plans for living a passionate life in you second or third act.

Joe W.

by: Anonymous

My own isn't quite as interesting but we all get thru our lifes in different ways.

Joyful living
by: Nina from London

Great to hear such an inspiring story about your journey...well done for your success and contribution to the art world. Dreams do come true!

Best Wishes, Nina

New life
by: Anonymous

You are a model for us all to follow. When one door closed for you, another one opened -- yet not without your perseverance. I congratulate you sincerely.

Joy and Gratitude
by: Nina from London

This was so amazing to read about your journey to Joy and Gratitude. Even though it was a challenge you reached for success and made a great contribution to the art world. It was very moving. Well Done!!!

Best Wishes, Nina

by: Carol K

Diana, what a wonderful story, you have so much strength.
Could you post any more of your paintings?
Good luck with the book.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Retirement Story.