What’s Your Story: Darin Rivera

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to ask for support.  There are things in life that can’t be done alone.”

 

Those are the words and the best advice given by Darin Rivera, a single dad, widower, car enthusiast, and hard worker.

 

His philosophy in life is to look forward.  Every city is based off of one landmark.  One brass plate that defines where the city will began and determines how the streets will be laid out.  

 

He takes off his shoe and places it in the middle of the room to demonstrate the lesson he is teaching me.  He asks “If this is the point of the city and I ask you to make a straight line due west what’s the best way to do that?”

 

After I don’t respond he says, “Take one step back and look all the way forward.  It’s simple.  Don’t dwell on the past, and don’t get sidetracked away from the goal.  Just look straight ahead to see where you’re going.”  

 

Darin takes one step back to evaluate where he is going in life and although he doesn’t like to dwell on the past, he knows his past is what got him to this exact point he is in his life.  The point of living in rural Colorado, raising his daughter as a single dad.  

 

“I’m proud to be any Army brat, my father has always been my hero for standing up and fighting for his country.”

 

Raised with his father in the Army and his mother as a stay at home mom Darin was taught the value of integrity and leadership.  He considered following in his father’s footsteps by joining the military, but life lead him down a different path.  Construction was all he knew and he saw the opportunity to be a leader in his field.  He can attribute his career success to the lessons his father taught him. As a young boy and a young adult Darin watched the way his father communicated with people.  He admired how he never talked down to any one.  He watched his father engage in intelligent conversations and Darin knew he wanted to be respected in the same way.

 

As a teenager Darin had a son and two years later a daughter. The values his mother taught him as a kid were the ones he held close to his heart as a father.  She taught him how to be a compassionate and affectionate parent.  She was a strong figure in his life who taught him one of his most valued lessons, one that he passed on to his kids, for every rainy day there are many sunny days ahead.  

 

For years he was a manual laborer who worked on construction sites, but he had goals to move up in his field.  The passion he had for his work lead him from commercial projects to industrial projects, and even nuclear power plants.  He looked up to his bosses and knew that one day he wanted to be in their position.

 

“I started as a laborer pushing a shovel, to a structure superintendent pushing projects.”

 

His ultimate goal was to travel the country while managing various construction projects. He wanted to take along the love of his life when they were married in 2001.  It was during their union of marriage when they combined their families, Darin’s son and daughter, and her son.  One year after their marriage they expanded their family with the birth of their daughter Angie.  With the expansion of his family Darin wanted to advance his career even more in order to provide for his family.  

 

Angie, who is now 14 years old walked into the room in a maroon dress, the dress she planned to wear to a dance later that evening.  Darin looked at her dress and unapproving asked,  “Are you going like that? Your dress is all wrinkly.”

“I need to wear my dress while I do my hair, otherwise it will mess up when I try to put it on.”  Angie explained while she motioned to her long black hair with the ends dyed purple.  

“Look at that, your hair matches your dress!  That’s so cool.  But I can’t have you going out with a wrinkled dress. Go give it a second look and if you want me to iron your dress I will.”  

She sighed leaving the room knowing her dad would iron her dress no matter what she wanted.

 

“My daughter lost so much at four years old.  I couldn’t make my life about me I need to make it about her.”

 

10 years ago Darin lost his wife, his daughter lost her mother.  It was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to go though, but he takes what life has given him and uses that as a gift. Each step of his journey is preparation for what life might bring him next.

 

At the time of his wife’s passing his career was still going strong but everything had changed.  He no longer saw traveling the country as an option with a daughter to raise as a single dad. The years went on while his older children grew up to be adults and began to start their own families.  Darin realized he need to make a change for his youngest daughter.

 

He wanted his daughter around family and moved from the city to the plains of Colorado.  There Angie would stay with his mom while he worked in the city during the week.  He would visit her every weekend and once during the week.

 

He thought he was doing the right thing but after a year of only seeing his daughter 3 days a week, he knew it wasn’t enough and he admits that he was being selfish.  He wanted to keep his job managing construction sites, the job that he worked his way up to from 18 years old to his early 40’s.  He had been in construction for over 20 years and it was hard to give up his dream.

 

In the end he knew his daughter was more important.

 

Darin sold his house in the city, sold most of his belongings and found a place to rent in the plains to permanently be near his daughter and his family.  Since there were no construction sites he found a job at a car dealership managing the service department.  It was a struggle for him to move from the city to the plains.  The life and pace were different.  He was used to city being structured and every one following the rules on the work site.  In the plains everything was slower paced.  

“In the plains people are slower paced, but it’s the culture.  It’s the way of life.  It isn’t seen as a bad thing here.”

His background of work and his fast paced life wasn’t receptive at first.  He was told that he didn’t belong and that no one wanted him around.   It motivated him even more.  It made him even stronger.  He knows that respect is always earned, it is never demanded.  It took a while for both Darin and his co-workers to adjust to each other.  Now, a few years later he believes he has earned respect and he has learned to slow down a bit.  He still struggles to embrace the laid back culture, but he tries to go with it.  

 

He reminds me of the city landmark. He tells me to take a step back and look at what’s ahead of me.  

 

I took a moment to find his daughter Angie.  Her room is filled with photographs and she asks if I want to see her most recent artwork.  She’s a beautiful artist, and gets better every time she shows me something new.  Angie is my cousin and even though she’s 13 years younger than me I admire her when I’m in her presence.  She reminds me of a younger version of myself, only stronger, and more sure of herself.  She doesn’t know it, but she inspires me.   

Ten minutes passed when my Uncle Darin walked into the room with Angie’s maroon dress freshly pressed.

 

“Bam!!” He says.  “We gotta look polished.  I can’t have you going out like that!”

 

Even though his life took many unexpected turns, right now, where he stands, he has life figured out.  

Take one step back, look forward to see where you’re going, and keep rolling on.

 

 

Darin is the first person to share his story for our new segment What’s Your Story.   We all have a story to tell, so tell us What’s Your Story?  Are you brave enough to share it.  If so e-mail us at ashley@thewheelsofgrace.com.  All you have to do is tell us who you are and what you’re all about, we’ll do the rest!

Don’t forget to read our book What’s Your Story, the project that lead us to want to share your story too!

Ashley

Ashley

Ashley Espinoza is the creator and editor of The Wheels of Grace.  Ashley helps her parents write their memoir of  love enduring parenthood as teenagers,  gunshot wounds, paralysis, fertility issues, and adoption.  Ashley is writing her own coming of age memoir to share her unconventional childhood.  Even though Ashley was raised by teenage parents and a dad who was in trouble most of his youth, she was given so much love and was taught that anything in life is possible, even when faced with adversities.

Read her first published essay in the book The Magic of Memoir! 

Follow along with us as we finish writing our book.  We need your encouragement!

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Your Passion is Like Sky Diving

Your Passion is Like Sky Diving

Have you ever been so caught up in a moment that you are 100% who you are meant to be.  It may only be brief.  It may literally only last for one single moment.  But in that moment you are the most you, you’ve ever been.

 

If you play music it is the feeling when you get lost in the notes and your fingers magically play every single note perfectly and your brain isn’t even thinking.  You just do.  You just play.  The notes slide out from your fingertips and when the song is over you feel powerful.  You did something you didn’t even know you could and yet you did it without thinking.  You feel flawless.  You have impressed yourself.

 

If you play sports it’s the moment when you’re in the game and you serve, pass, spike, catch, throw, kick, score, dribble the ball in the most beautifully, effortless way. You have impressed yourself.  You’re teammates give you a high five, they slap you on the butt.  You have impressed even them.  The crowd cheers for you and you’ve never felt better.

 

It’s the moment when you fall in love and the entire world stops.  Everything freezes and you’ve never been happier in that one tiny moment.  

 

It’s the moment when you’ve read a passage in a book.  When it resonates you write it down so you’ll never forget that feeling.

 

It’s the moment when you’re thousands of feet in the air and a man is strapped to your back, while you’re standing on the ledge of the plane, waiting to jump.

 

It’s the free fall.

 

It’s also when the free fall ends, the parachute opens, and you hang in the air.

 

That’s what Writing feels like.  

 

That’s what attending the Tribe Conference feels like.

 

As if I’m in a tiny, life defining moment.  Like the world just stops and stands still and I’m 100% myself.

 

It lasts just a moment.

 

After the moment has passed the worry sets in, the doubts about the amount of work I have to do.  The amount of pages I need to write overwhelms me.

 

But I remember that moment.  The one where everything was so clear.  The one where I knew I was a writer.  The moment where sitting in the Tribe Conference made me know exactly who I am and exactly what my goals are.

 

The Tribe Conference is a writing conference that I attended last year with my dad Sergio and this year I went with my mom Norah.  It is the kind of place that is filled with people like me who want to get their story out into the world.  The kind of people who want to help others with their message, their words, their art, and their wisdom.

 

The first time I found Jeff Goins (the guy behind Tribe Conference ) blog about being a writer I immediately knew he was the kind of guy I aspired to be.  Though his conference last year and his book You Are a Writer I discovered I wanted to be a writer.  I began writing a book two years prior to this, but still I didn’t think I was a writer.  I didn’t believe that being a writer was my calling.  Until I found Jeff Goins.

 

At first writing a book only became something I wanted to do to help me parents achieve their dream.  I wanted to help them write their book of overcoming the trauma of paralysis, of showing that their love could conquer all, and of showing that when one person is lost deeply how love can save them.

 

It wasn’t until I searched deep inside of myself that I realized that I had my own story to share and my own journey to pursue.  

 

I can remember the time in high school when I played the clarinet and the world around me stopped because my fingers played the music flawlessly.  I can remember my best game of high school volleyball when I not only impressed myself but I impressed my team.  I will never forget the moment of falling in love and having the world stop.  I can always recall the feeling of standing on the ledge of the plane waiting to make the jump.

 

I will never forget the first time I impressed myself with writing.  I wrote something beautiful and I reread it over and over.  I could only think WOW I did it.  I am a writer.  

 

You cannot impress yourself all the time.  And those little moments of impressing yourself comes from years, months, weeks of practice.  I impressed myself with my writing after I wrote hundreds, thousands of mediocre words. I didn’t not wake up one day and become a writer, I had to practice at it for a long time.

 

The Tribe Conference makes me feel that tiny moment of clarity, only there are several moments strung together.  The Tribe Conference is a conference for writers, a conference for those who know what that moment feels like.

 

I could go into detail about the specific speakers, and how they influenced me to become a better writer.  I could, but it won’t give you the real effect of what it was really like.  I could blab about this speaker and that speaker and what they said, but that won’t make you feel anything.  Unless of course you were there, only then would you know exactly what I meant.

 

I can only say this it was like sky diving.  It was as if I was standing on the step of that airplane.  I had the entire world down below me,  I had a man who knew what he was doing strapped to my back.  I had everything I needed within my grasp.  I only needed to jump.

 

I needed to jump without forgetting that I wanted to go sky diving since I was 16 years old.  I purchased the skydiving ticket.  I drove 5 hours to Glenwood Springs.   I rode the airplane into the air, even though I felt claustrophobic from the moment I entered that plane.  I panicked at first until I remand myself that I planned to go skydiving, it was what I wanted.  It was a planned event.  It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision and it took me almost 10 years to finally do it.

 

That’s what being a writer feels like and what attending a writing conference feels like.

 

It feels as if you have to take one big jump knowing that every step you took to get to that jump was intentional.  It feels like you have a mentor strapped to your back who has taken the path before you.  It feels exhilarating and crazy once you get on that ledge.  The free fall happens so fast you don’t even think.  And when you take that big jump you float down slowly and enjoy the view.

 

Now maybe you’re not a writer, but you are passionate about something.  Take every time I wrote the word writer and put that into what you are: mother, daughter, wife, husband, father, son minister, photographer, coach, player, runner, dancer.

 

And reach for those moments that make you feel like the world belongs to you.  And if you have a chance to surround yourself with those who have the same dreams and goals as you, it will amplify those moments even more.  It will bring to light who you are and who you’re supposed to be as the Tribe Conference has done for me.

 

The biggest piece of advice I received from the conference that is applicable to every single person is, to live.  Go out and live.  The rest will fall into place.

 

Go out and share your story of how you live and Keep Rolling On!

Ashley

Ashley

Creator and Editor

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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First Day of College

Back to school time was always my favorite time of the year.  It meant that the air would start to get crisper, the leaves would start to turn a beautiful shade, and most importantly school was in session.

 

I loved school.

 

I enjoyed reading, and learning.  

 

9 years ago I started my freshman year of college.  It was a huge accomplishment not only for me but for my family as well.  My mom never went to college.  College wasn’t an option for her after she barely graduated at on time while attending day and night school her senior year.  Once she had her high school diploma she knew she needed to get a job right away.  After her senior year of high school, I had just finished pre-school and would be ready to start kindergarten the next year.  My dad received his GED and began to take college courses but stopped once he became paralyzed.

 

I was going to be the first person in our family to attend college.  

 

To my parents this was a huge deal.  My mom said over and over “You’re going to college!  No really you’re going to college!!!”

 

She said it over and over as if it was a huge surprise and a huge success. To me it was simply the next phase of my life.  I didn’t think I would do anything else with my life besides go to college.  I never not for one single second imagine I would do anything else with my life at age eighteen other than attend college.  I don’t think my parents saw anything other than that for my future either, but once the reality set in.  Once it was really happening.  They were truly in awe.

 

My mom shared about her school struggles and her baggage she carried around while attending school and  my dad shared about how he was a troublemaker kid who constantly got sent to the principal’s office.  I didn’t face any of those troubles when I was growing up but I know it had to cross their minds that maybe some day I would.

 

When I started kindergarten I’m sure my dad wondered if I would end up like him.  He may have worried that someday I might befriend the wrong kids and start trouble like he did.  My dad may have be concerned that one day I might not care about school at all and quit going like he did.

 

My mom may have worried that one day I might think I was in love and get pregnant at an early age.  She may have been concerned that I might struggle at school like she did.  My mom may have wondered if I would have trouble learning, and getting good grades.

 

But never did they express these concerns with me if they ever had them.  I know to some extent they had to worry, all parents do.  However I was never pressured to get good grades, I simply strived to.  I was never forced to participate in any after school programs, I did the ones I wanted and skipped the ones I didn’t like.  My parents let me be exactly who I was growing up.

 

They got lucky that who I was as a kid, and who I am as an adult is a book-loving, sometimes too quiet, sometimes talk too much, loves to learn, nerd.

 

The day I went to college was a special day for the three of us.  We all made it to college that day.  Even if it was me who was attending.  My mom and dad were right there with me.

 

We drove up to college together, and we unpacked all of my clothes, shoes, books, make-up, notebooks, mini refrigerator, and a bunch of snacks because they were afraid I might go hungry if they weren’t there to feed me.  That day was a new chapter for all of us.  It would be my first time away from home and it would be their first time without me.   We were all excited but slightly nervous.  We tried not to cry when we said good-bye and they left me all alone in the big world as an adult.  I know my mom cried all the way home but she was strong in front of me.  My parents did their job in raising me and to me to the point in my life where I could go to college and succeed. Even though it was 9 years ago we still look at that day as one of our biggest accomplishments.

 

I see the look on their faces as they get to tell people from their past, maybe people who didn’t think they could make it.  People who said that they would fail from all of their past troubles.  What teenage mother could raise a normal daughter?  How would Sergio ever get his life together?

 

When my parents get to tell those people that they not only succeeded, but their daughter did too and she graduated college, their faces light up.  I know they’re proud of me and they’re proud of themselves.

 

Now when those people ask if I use my degree, well that’s an entirely different story.

 

But….

Chase your dream, even if at some point you change paths.  Just keep rolling on, you’ll get there.

 

 

Ashley

Ashley

Creator and Editor

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Trying to Get Published: The Magic of Memoir

 

On June 1st I hit submit to a writing contest that could end with me either getting something I wrote published or the devastating result in not getting it published.

 

I worked hard on my writing and I even asked several people to read it before I clicked submit.  The writing contest would result in my work getting published in a book along with several best selling authors and wonderful writers who have been published before, or like me it could be their first time getting published.  The book would be an anthology, a collection of pieces titled The Magic of Memoir.  A memoir is a book that tells a story of someone’s life.  It is not autobiographical in the sense that it tells every detail of a life from birth to death.  A memoir takes a slice of life to tell a story.  A popular memoir is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert who will also be featured in Magic of Memoir.  Other examples of memoirs are Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (the real life story that inspired the Netflix series) and I could really go on and on and on, (P.S. if you want me to go on and on e-mail me, I love nothing more than talking about books and recommending books for others to read.)

 

The book my parents and I are writing is a memoir.  It is a slice of our life, a book about overcoming adversities and how love endures all.  My parents love endured gunshot wounds, teenage pregnancy, teenage delinquency, and so much more.  

 

I often checked the contest website to see when the results would be available, every time the website said August 1st.  I knew that waiting two months would be torturous but it was out of my control.  I put my best writing out there and all I could do was wait.

 

July 1st I checked the website and there was an update that almost 200 people had submitted their writing for the contest.  My writing would need to shine, and I began to feel nervous.  Did I have what it took? Could I really beat out other writers?  Since the book was an anthology  I knew I didn’t need to be the only person with great writing, but I needed to be one of many.  I was overwhelmed knowing so many people were trying to win this contest.  

 

On Tuesday July 26th I turned 27 years old and the entire day I told myself that this was my year.  I would use my entire year of being 27 to work as hard as I could to make it as a writer.  I set goals that day to really get a handle on my book so that by the time I turned 28 I was further in this journey than I am now.  But not just further, also somehow noticed.  I wanted to make trackable, tangible progress.  I wanted to get something I wrote published somewhere, whether that be in a book or on an online publication.  I needed an accomplishment.  

 

At this point I’ve been working on writing a memoir for two years, two of those years I wrote in secret without telling very many people at all, and after those two years we started this blog to let people know we are writing a book as well as sharing parts of our past story and and our present lives through the blog.

 

It has always been a goal to spread our lives to encourage others that whatever life brings you, embrace it and let it inspire you to be a better person.  Have a parent in a wheelchair has always taught me that anything is truly accomplishable, it has taught me that becoming a published author has always been in my reach, I just needed to work hard and stretch out my arm and grab it.  

 

On Thursday July 28th, two days after my 27th birthday and after my promise to myself to work harder to get to my goals I received my congratulations email. The top of the e-mail read “Congratulations, Ashley.”  That was all I needed to read to know that I had accomplished something amazing!

 

I did it, I am going to be published!!!

 

This is a huge step in my ultimate goal of getting our book traditionally published because now I can say I’ve already been published.  I can use this as motivation to tell myself that I can really reach my goal.  

 

The book I’ll be in The Magic of Memoir is now available for pre-order and will be published in November.  It is a book tailored for those who want to write a memoir, and that may not be you, but I know it will be inspiring even to those who aren’t writing a memoir.  It will be filled with personal, inspiring stories, and even if you’re not wanting to write a memoir it might encourage you to do so.  I think we are all writers, anyone reading this is a writer, and you have your own story to share.  Maybe reading this book will be the first step to you realizing that.  

 

I encourage you to read The Magic of Memoir, not because my writing will be in it, but because I think you’ll love what you discover when you read it!

Don’t forget to chase your dreams, and accomplish you’re goals!

Keep Rolling On!

Ashley

Ashley

Creator and Editor

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Write it All Out

Each time I sit down to write for this blog I get stuck.  I rack my brain around and wonder how I can contribute to this blog every time my turn comes up.  The point of our blog is to be motivating but I don’t always feel as if I’m a motivating person.  What do I have that other people don’t have?  How can I encourage you to be something more than you already are?
How can I tell you to Keep Rolling On when sometimes I don’t feel as if I over came anything like my parents have.

I do not want to complain.  I do not in the slightest want to say anything bad about my life.

But here is the 100% truth.  I was sheltered as a child.  My dad took his gun shot wounds and his paralysis and promised that I would never have to endure anything like that in my life.  My mom took her teen pregnancy and taught me that even though I turned out fine that I didn’t want a kid so young.   They took how they were raised and they chose to raise me the opposite from their parents.  They wanted to give me all the things they didn’t have growing up.

They each have their own battles, paralysis, losing their childhood to become a mother, adoption, losing babies, having a child with mental illness, and still trying to raise a family, and writing a book. 

So when it comes to writing about overcoming and motivating.  What do I have to overcome?  My parents did it for me.

I am very grateful for that, I really truly am.  I have not experienced anything dramatic in my life.  I look back at my childhood and it was filled with my dad playing barbies with me, my mom reading me a bedtime story every night. I always had dinner on the table.  And I had more barbies and beanie babies than any kid really should have.

I was always wrapped in love.  

Someone recently said to me at a t-ball game for kindergartners and first graders, “I never played sports growing up, did you?  And before I could answer she said “Oh yeah you played everything didn’t you.”

She said it in a way with an edginess to her voice.  As if to say “Oh of course your parents let you play every sport, you were spoiled as a child.  But she also said it with sadness. She didn’t grow up with parents who encouraged her to play sports, who took her to ball games and watched her play.  I didn’t take it offensively, I knew she was hurt that she didn’t get to do those things as a kid.

Neither did my parents.  They didn’t do sports, or school plays or school clubs.  So when it came to me as their kid they signed me up for everything.  They didn’t want me to miss out on the activities that they missed out on as kids.  My parents didn’t go to the prom, they didn’t go to football games or basketball games.  They didn’t do any of the things I did growing up and sometimes I forget to remember that I am truly a blessed person.  Not everyone has the luxuries I do. 

We can break those cycles,  my parents broke the cycle with me. And the lady at t-ball is breaking it with her son.  She signs him up for every sport that he wants to play, and she goes to every single game.  I bet she does that because she remembers that she didn’t get that opportunity.  Even if she doesn’t realize that’s the reason I know she tries to give her son more of a life than she ever had.

I think every parent tries to give their kids everything they never had.

If I MUST be motivating today, because I started a motivational blog, it’s this: Write your way out of a hard time.

Write your way out.  It won’t solve your problems, well maybe it will, but it will make you feel better.  You might not feel better as you’re writing, you might feel worse, but afterwards you’ll feel better. I wrote a short book of my life, I wrote it to encourage other people to write their own stories, to tell their own stories, but I also wrote it for myself.  So I can remember who I am and where I came from.

And I have been through hard times in my life, I have been depressed before, I have had times where I would cry every single day.  I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.  But I have not endured any of the pain my parents have.  Because they fought hard to make sure I didn’t have to.  

Write it all out.  Take all of your feelings no matter what they are and put them on paper.  Bleed them on to the pages.

Keep Rolling On!

Ashley

Ashley

Creator and Editor

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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