At the age of 16, I became a quadriplegic because of a diving accident. Since then, I’ve experienced multiple urinary tract infections, pressure sores, and a long litany of other medical issues. And like a bad movie, I am also a breast cancer survivor, having a right mastectomy 10 years ago. During college, law school, and my career as an attorney for the Federal Government, I was interested in male companionship. Dating as a quadriplegic was difficult because guys appeared to have no interest in being intimate with a woman in a wheelchair.
Maybe I wasn’t sexy enough? Maybe I didn’t ooze sexuality? Maybe having an attendant care for all activities of daily living was awkward and stressful for them. Who knows? I was viewed as a great friend but not great enough to be a friend with benefits. Was I going to have to settle for knowing that I had a great job and loving friends and family?
Happy in Love
But lo and behold, I did meet the man of my dreams. We were both at an award ceremony. Like Romeo and Juliet, I looked across the room and saw a guy with brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes. I was a goner! After the award ceremony, a mutual friend introduced us and the next thing I knew we were chatting as we rolled to the Metro.
Tony has Friedreich’s Ataxia, a genetic degenerative disability. When I met him, he was a peer mentor and social media manager at the local Center for Independent Living. He invited me to a basketball game (yes, I am a fanatic basketball and sports fan) and the rest is history. We got married on Labor Day in 2005, so we are approaching our 15- year anniversary. It made no difference to me that he had a disability. We were compatible, had similar interests, and wanted nothing else but to spend our lives together. Isn’t that what makes a marriage work?
And guess what? We are happy! Many people assume that the words disability and happy cannot go together. I disagree. After my accident, I was beyond angry. Words can’t express the anger in me. It’s as if the word happy would never be a part of my vocabulary. The anger occupied my life for the first year or two. But then, I realized that being angry took up too much energy. It also left me lonely. People aren’t inclined to spend time with an angry person.
Soon happy replaced angry. It was liberating. Realizing that I had a wonderful support system, a great career, an abundance of loyal friends, an amazing husband, made me more grateful and happy. Even though anger visits me every now and then, it doesn’t stay too long.
Forming My Own Happy
Leaving my job was one of the most difficult life decisions but my health came first. Despite many years of fulfilling work for the Federal Government, my body couldn’t take the daily grind. The next chapter in my life would require naps and forming my own schedule. Thankfully, my husband and I had talked for a while about starting our own business. We had a vague idea of what we wanted to do, but we had not thought through what we would call it and what our vision and mission would be.
We started brainstorming. We each wrote a list, but nothing resonated. And then, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Caroline Adams Miller, an executive coach, well renowned author, and expert in the field of positive psychology. After a few conversations she said, “Sheri, you have a wonderful life. You and your husband do so many fun things. You clearly want to help others overcome obstacles and challenges. That is what your business should focus on.” And then she said the most important thing of all. “What do you think about calling your business Happy on Wheels?” She nailed it!
Happy on Wheels Was Born
After recuperating from an operation, Happy on Wheels, LLC, was born. Our vision is to inspire people to live happier lives. We do that through speaking, writing, consulting, and mentoring. My husband, Tony is the IT guru. He designed the website, manages our social media, and puts together our monthly newsletter. We both do public speaking about our disabilities to students of all ages with the goal of showing them that they can overcome challenges and obstacles in their lives. I am a motivational speaker and award-winning writer. I blog for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and am a columnist for New Mobility magazine. There is also a book in the making!
Along with all of that, we assist students with their college and graduate school essays and provide tips to individuals who are switching careers by helping them brush up on their networking skills and develop new resumes and targeted cover letters. We also help families and individuals who are dealing with some type of temporary or permanent disability with reasonable accommodation, home modification, and access to community supports.
There is always more to do in our work, but our collective goal is to help individuals develop tools to deal with obstacles and challenges in their daily lives. We want people to be happy and live fulfilling lives. It works for us, and it can work for others. Be happy. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Sheri and her husband Tony, through Happy on Wheels want to help all individuals, with and without disabilities, live happier lives. They offer a variety of services and you can enjoy much of their content on social media. Sheri and Tony love drinking lattes, watching sports, and hanging out on their terrace. Tony is also a great chef and mixologist and Sheri enjoys shopping so he can do his thing. And by the way, Sheri never thought she would get married! Stay tuned for her upcoming book.
Read another article that will make you happy. https://www.audacitymagazine.com/stare-all-you-want-i-am-beautiful-and-disabled/
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