Every week I will feature the kind of everyday heroes I look up to. They come from all walks of life, age groups and beliefs. I hope you’ll learn as much from them as I have!
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have someone in their life who will tell them the truth. Not the mean truth or the nice truth, but the true-truth. The kind of honesty that’s delivered when you need to heal or laugh or come back down to Earth. Derek Dixon has been my truth-sayer and best friend for almost 20 years. Can you imagine putting up with anyone through adolescence, hormones, college and your 20’s without slapping them? Somehow we did just that! We met in middle school and have remained thick as thieves through the years due to Derek’s uncanny ability to fight for that brighter dawn. Plainly speaking, you just feel better when you’re in his company whether over the phone, or sharing a drink. I think you’re going to love what he was kind enough to share with us this week. Read below to find out why I admire this guy so much!
What is your profession? Is it what you wanted to do?
I am the Residential Director for a home-based care organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although this initially was not what I wanted to do, I have always felt a call to help others. I went to school for psychology and music with the hopes of becoming a musical therapist. I initially got into the field to show that I’ve had experience on a resume, but then fell in love.
If not, what would you like to do instead? Why?
I went to school for psychology and music with the hopes of becoming a musical therapist. I got into the HBCS field for experience, but then I fell in love with this very special population. I have so many dreams, but so little time – the crux of everyone. Ultimately, if I were to help one person live a bold life, full of confidence and self-love, then I would die a happy man.
What are some ways you take care of yourself?
I love to be outside. The warmth of the sun, a nice breeze, fishing pole, and cold beer can be so therapeutic. I also love quiet time to myself, doing things like reading, writing and meditation. They’re activities that help center me.
Can you share a time or event you didn’t think you could survive?
The death of my father when I was in third grade was hands-down the most traumatic event in my life. The lives of my entire family changed after that. There were lots of dark nights, angry days, misplaced blame and confusion after that. It was rough.
What/ Who pulled you through it? What did you learn?
My mother’s strength and drive definitely pulled me through. I almost lost her that same day. Watching the process of her rehabilitation and seeing her bounce back after so many counted her out was awe-inspiring, and it was the first time I realized I wanted to help others. Watching my mother fight so hard to get back to her children was the first time I witnessed the transformative power of love.
How did the event/time shape the way you live now?
That experience made me aware of my own mortality. I try to live life fully. When it comes to friendship and the people I surround myself with, I prefer quality over quantity. I love strongly, laugh loudly. I live life on my own terms, and although that itself can be a struggle, I love myself. I embrace all aspects of the person I have become. Now, no matter what struggle I am presented with, I know that I can handle it.
What was the best/ funniest/ most memorable piece of advice you’ve received?
I was blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women growing up. My grandmother was one of those people that didn’t know a stranger. She was everyone’s “Momma”, “Auntie” or “Granny” regardless of blood relation or not. She gave so freely. Witnessing the way she lived her life was not only beautiful, but a perfect example of how to treat people. She is who I learned my colorful language and take-no-shit attitude from. Lots of gems were learned from that beautiful soul.
When do you feel most free?
When in nature and when on stage. Theater and music used to be such a joy for me, but something I haven’t done in a while. I should change that.
What do you want to be remembered for?
For living my life to the fullest and inspiring boldness.
Thanks for reading kids! I hope Derek’s words will carry through the rest of the week with a smile and some fire!