Nothing is More Powerful Than a Made up Mind
After I graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2012, I landed my first job as an Associate Investigator for United States Investigative Services (USIS) located in Las Vegas, NV in 2013. I initially applied for the Record Searcher position, which was an entry-level position located in Burbank, CA.
I received a call from USIS explaining the Record Searcher position wasn’t available in Burbank, but there was a higher-level position as an Associate Investigator available in Las Vegas, NV. They offered me the position and I gladly accepted. When I moved to Las Vegas, I felt that I had to work extra hard to keep everything together.
You got to understand that the Associate Investigator position was my first job ever at 27 years old, and I felt all the hard work I put in from college paid off in a big way. I also felt like I landed a job where people will respect me because I was performing background investigations to help protect my country. Turns out that I got the exact opposite, because I struggled the whole time while living in Las Vegas.
During this time, I began to question why did God bless me with a job where I had to struggle every day. I began to question my own abilities, how come I wasn’t smart enough to do this type of job and what did I do wrong to deserve this because I thought I’ve been through enough already being a two-time cancer survivor and hip amputee.
I was only at USIS for three months and resigned because I couldn’t understand the job thoroughly, and it took a toll on my physical disability.
Being a failure while living in Las Vegas was the worst experience I’ve ever had to go through, besides having cancer twice and getting my right leg amputated. I was unhappy, bitter, didn’t care about my appearance and stayed in my apartment which was always dark because I felt the most comfortable in a dark environment.
I landed other jobs that didn’t work out such as selling legal services for Legal Shield in 2013, and I was a debt collector in 2014. When I was selling legal services, one of my co-workers asked me why was I limping while walking. I told him I am a two-time cancer survivor, I lost my right leg to cancer and now I’m a hip amputee. He asked my age, and at the time I was 27 years old. He said I’ve endured a lot of hardships already at such young age.
Once I told my co-worker about my life story. He expressed to me along with selling legal services, he was also a Substitute Teacher, Life Coach and Mentor. He also said he would consult me doing his Life Coach services for free.
I decided to leave Legal Shield because I wasn’t making enough commission, and I began meeting with my new Life Coach regularly.
When we would meet up, he would encourage me to become a substitute teacher, but being a teacher wasn’t resonating with me. Then he came up with the idea of me becoming an inspirational speaker because I have a unique story to tell.
Public speaking was way out of my comfort zone, it terrified me and I hated when I was forced to do it in school. I went home and thought about what my Life Coach said and realized that I have a unique story to tell that could help others who have been through similar situations.
I created a PowerPoint Presentation explaining my experience with cancer, and I called my Mother and asked her to mail me all the pictures from when I was sick when I was 14 and 17 years old.
While putting my PowerPoint together, I felt that something was missing and it was my connection with the inFAMOUS videogame franchise and superhero Cole MacGrath.
When I first approached my Life Coach with my new and improved PowerPoint. I was nervous because I thought he was going to judge me because I was talking about my connection with a video game character. It turned out that he liked how creative I was bridging my experiences and realities with cancer to the digital world of inFAMOUS and Cole.
I told him I connected with the fact that Cole had the choice of being a superhero or supervillain. For example, Cole had the choice to save what’s left of the world or destroy it. This helped me make a decision: to think positive and do something to help myself; or stay in a dark and depressing place because I didn’t have control of my situation.
My Life Coach also encouraged me to come up with a company name, a tagline, create a logo, business cards and a website if I was serious about becoming an inspirational speaker. After meeting a few times, he said “CalmandStrong.” He said I have a calming personality, and I’m strong because of the adversities I was able to overcome.
When he said that, it resonated with me and I told him that’s it! That’s the name of my company. He also came up with a title for one of my PowerPoint slides, “Some People Walk in Each Other’s Shoes… I Carry Mine.” I also told him I could come with a tagline, and I did that same week.
One day, I was looking at an interview on YouTube about Hip-Hop artist Ice Cube. The interviewer's asked him why did he leave his Hip-Hop group NWA at the peak of the group’s success.
Ice Cube said he always knew he was going to leave the group when he realized his money situation wasn’t going to be handled properly. He also said “Nothing is More Powerful Than a Made up Mind.”
When he said those words. I thought about my story connected with Cole’s and how we both are strong minded, strong willed and followed through on the decisions we made in life. “Nothing is More Powerful Than a Made up Mind” became my tagline because it fits perfectly with my story and Cole’s.
I chose to create a logo with doves flying around the world because the doves represent God's angels protecting and healing people around the world.
For example, within my CalmandStrong PowerPoint, I have doves on every slide where I express what I’ve been through and how I was feeling while in the process of defeating cancer. The doves represent God’s angels who were protecting and healing me from cancer when I was a teenager.
When I perform my speeches to a wide audience and people see my PowerPoint Presentation. I want the doves to represent God’s angels protecting and healing everybody around the world who are currently sick in the hospital and people who have ever been sick with a serious illness.
When I speak to audiences, my goal is to connect my experiences and realities of being a two-time cancer survivor and hip amputee to the digital world of the inFAMOUS videogame franchise and superhero Cole MacGrath.
I began to see light at the end of the tunnel when my Life Coach completely got why I have such a deep connection with a digital video game superhero character. I felt I could create something that has never been done before, and help people in the process.
I started this endeavor in 2013 while I was still living in Las Vegas, and I got a positive response from people from my social media pages (Facebook and Twitter). I then began to look for opportunities throughout Las Vegas, but nothing happened. At the time, I thought what I created was a good project, and maybe it was time for me to look for a nine to five job. Once I moved back to California in 2015, I applied for one job and landed an interview for a financial services firm.
While driving to the interview, I felt a sense of calmness and my intuition told me not to go to the interview and it was going to be a waste of time because I should be putting all my energy into what I created, “CalmandStrong.” Ever since that day, I’ve been focused on sharing my superhero story with people and about 95% of the people I’ve came across all congratulated me, just for being alive.
I also realized I work better when I’m not being confined into a box with boundaries, and I have creative freedom to express myself artistically.
After all the struggle, pain and sleepless nights thinking about my future. I thank God for pointing me to my divine connection: inFAMOUS and Cole MacGrath, which consists of comparing my superhero story of being a two-time cancer survivor and hip amputee to my favorite superhero: Cole MacGrath.
In 2017, I watched an Unsung episode on TV One about soul singer Kashif. While telling his story and the struggles he had to endure, he said something I completely related to when I was in a dark and depressing place thinking about my future while living in Las Vegas.
”Art, I believe is associated with pain, because pain often times causes one to become more introvert, just to deal with the pain.”
The Impact: Tragedy to Testimony
“Darryl was always very positive, driven, motivated and strong willed,” my Mother said. “His will is the strongest thing, it’s stronger than strength because his will is what keeps people going. He also has courage, he went through something most adults couldn’t even face. Overall, he had super strength with a positive outlook on life.”
“He is real strong in a lot of areas, and never let the adversities get him down,” my Father said. “A lot of strength, he continued on and got an education, real proud of him there. Graduated just like his Brother and Sister. Nothing got in his way. He learned how to drive and adapted to his prosthetic leg well, and just like now he is pushing forward, which is great.”
“Darryl has his degree from Cal State Long Beach and we are super proud and excited for him,” both Parents said.
My Brother and Sister also gave their thoughts about how I was able to move forward with my life while still being able to overcome many adversities.
“Darryl had his own place, lived on his own, worked and took care of his business, my Brother said. “I think he handled it very well, because personally, anybody else would of went into a deep depression or something. It was a tough situation to handle, and not a lot of people can do that.”
“He has been positive, I think most people would have went into a deep depression, felt really sad or sorry for themselves,” my Sister said. “I think Darryl handled it, he went to school, finished college and lives a normal life. I think as of now, he has done well.”
My Grandmother, Wilhelmena Lee, who was pictured by my bedside when I was in the hospital at 14 years old said, “I’m just thankful that my boy is still here with us.”