By Mark E. Smith
Alight, I admit it, I’m one of those sentimental fools who gets fired up about the New Year. I’m not about New Year’s resolutions, though. I’m about continuing courses, plotting new courses, and forever getting better at this thing called life. And, I’m stoked for 2013, where my motto is Bigger, Faster, Stronger – that is, in all aspects of my life.
I’m hitting the ground running (not literally, of course, as curing myself of cerebral palsy is far too lofty of a goal!), pumped with a new book project. Books in progress are a bit like creating a new product, where you keep them a bit under wraps till you’re closer to launch (it’s a competitive edge thing). However, it’s about mobility and people – and that’s cool stuff! I’m looking forward to getting out on the road, having some fascinating conversations with mobility and disability icons, and undoubtedly learning more about all of our potentials in life to do what others might not dare in the face of adversity.
My role as father continues as my most cherished. On the one hand, my daughter and I are closer than ever, in a great emotional groove. On the other hand, my daughter is growing up fast, demonstrating such amazing potentials, a dad’s true pride. She’s on the honor role; is in the school and district bands; is a member of the National Thespian Society, and acts; she has her photography currently on display in an art gallery; has an Eagle Scout boyfriend; and, is in driver’s education (first car, March!). So, I’m learning more and more that parenting isn’t about letting go of the rope, but giving a bit more slack – and I’m so proud of not just how she’s handling her independence, but also who she’s becoming as a young woman: compassionate, humble, loving, and sincere. It’s extraordinary to watch as a parent, and my life would be merely a blank page without her. I’ve had my adversities in life, but the single blessing of my daughter trumps them all toward my never-ending gratitude.
Of course, I continue working on myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. As iconic wheelchair racer and amazing spirit, Candace Cable, recently flattered me with, “Yes, Mark, I admire your ripped-ness,” I continue working out like a maniac in my gym. I’ll be 42 in March, and I’m physically in better shape than ever. I guess it’s one thing to have cerebral palsy, and another to be middle-age. But, to be both and be ripped… well… that’s an impressive feat, if I say so myself (and I do!). I can’t wait to see how much farther I can push myself in the coming year. Seeing your body sculpted at this age is admittedly fun, especially when few expect it from one with my disability level. But, it’s really the challenge that inspires me – the actual work it takes to literally become bigger, faster, stronger! I met ‘80s icon, Rick Springfield, recently, who’s 63 and he’s totally ripped, so if Rick can look that awesome at 22 years my senior, I better keep pushing bigger, faster, stronger!
Also toward the physical – and admittedly superficial! – I’m growing my hair out for the first time in 15 years. However, I have no intention of just growing my hair out. No, I want the craziest rock-star hair that styling products can make. I want the kind of hair that it takes an hour to make it look that messy. I want the woman in my life to run her fingers through my hair and think it’s the hottest thing ever. I want to come off stage, and have someone say, “That was a great talk, but your hair is freakin’ awesome!” I want to make Russell Brand look sane!
Toward the emotional and spiritual, 2013 turns a major page in my life. I’ve written a lot about my struggling with feeling worthy of love – and, Lord knows I’ve struggled! But, I’m done struggling. I’ve realized that those in my past incapable of truly loving me don’t define my value. I love fully, I strive in my relationships, and I give all that I have to those I love – and they now give back to me. I’m done with this not feeling worthy of love bull. I’m worthy because I’m me, and you’re worthy because you are you. I’m not longing for love or needing love – I am love, and that’s enough. Put simply, I have ridiculous amounts of love to give, and my heart is more receptive than ever – let the love in, baby! And, what’s not to love about a ripped bod and forthcoming rock-star hair?
And, in the area of love, I’m looking forward to catching up with so many great friends in 2013. I believe that the quality of our friends reflects the quality of our character and, ultimately, the quality of our life. I’ve been blessed with developing among the wisest, sincerest friendships that I could fathom. They’re scattered around the country, and my time with each of them throughout the year always teaches me a bit more about myself and life – I never leave a visit or conversation without growing somehow in the process. So, get the guest rooms ready because I’m showing up in 2013 – it’s a priority of mine! (And, when I say, “showing up,” it means I’m like Publishers Clearing House – I’ll just appear on your porch with balloons one morning.)
As for spirituality, I’m totally excited to once again be spending my birthday, the first week of March, in Las Vegas – you know, Sin City. …Wait, that doesn’t sound spiritual at all! Actually, Dave Ramsey is doing a personal growth seminar there that week, titled, “Living a Legacy.” Dave isn’t everyone’s gig, as he mixes the biblical with the practical to convey ethical leadership skills in business, family, and life, but he sure nails his subject matter as a brilliant speaker. So, I’m excited to close the first quarter of 2013 on such an inspired adventure – and further define my legacy in a bigger, faster, stronger kind of way.
Of course, bigger, faster, stronger applies to the mobility industry, as well. We not only have bill H.R. 4378 gaining momentum – which strives to gain complex rehab technology its own funding class and removes the in-home-use-only funding rule – but CELA is a bigger educational event this year, both great causes that I’m focused on (look for my column in the February issue of HME News). On the product side, you will be seeing innovation in a lot of power mobility areas – can’t say what, but cool stuff is in the pipeline.
I could go on and on because I’m so pumped about 2013, but my point is this: I have no New Year’s resolution. But, what I can promise you is that for 2013, I will be bigger, faster, stronger in all parts of my life – namely because I never stop loving, learning, and giving. If we just follow those three paths, we can’t help but become bigger, faster, stronger! …But, rock-star hair takes a little more time.