Jesi Stracham is a wheelchair athlete with her sights set on the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, China. But that is not all she is driven to achieve… Jesi is also a student, the director of a non-profit and a public speaker.
In this interview with Close-up Culture, Jesi talks about these different pursuits and how she stays focused on achieving her goals.
Q: You are currently training for the 2022 Winter Paralympics in wheelchair curling. When did this journey begin for you?
A: I started curling in November 2016 after trying a handful of adaptive sports. I was looking for the fastest track to the Paralympics, but what I received would be much more influential on my personal growth and development.
Q: Curling always seems to be one of the most popular sports here in the UK whenever the Winter Paralympics come around. What do you enjoy most about the sport?
A: Wheelchair curling differs from what you see on the Olympics because we don’t use the sweepers. We are stationary in our chairs. This requires us to throw the rock a precise weight and line. The greatest thing curling has taught me is patience. You must have patience with yourself and the game. This is also true for life. Too often we rush the process, rather than seeing the lesson within it.
Q: We are at that stage in the year where people are vulnerable to fall into bad habits. What would be your advice for people struggling to stay focused and motivated?
A: Everyday I remind myself the long-term benefits of whatever I’m struggling to accomplish. For example, going to the gym on a cold rainy day. I’m looking to continue to improve my quality of life by continuing to get stronger.
We often get so stuck in our right now that we refuse to think about the long-term. Nothing is permanent, this moment will pass. I always try to think about how my actions now will affect my future.
Q: What do you think is the best approach to setting new goals and continuing to grow as a person?
A: Accountability is a huge key. People often miss accountability due to the lack of detailed progress tracking. How do you know what you’ve got done if you don’t review, reflect, and plan from completed tasks and progress made?
We fail to realise that the big picture is built through small completed tasks. Break the goals down into obtainable tasks.
It’s beautiful to see your small progress build the big.
Honesty and boundaries with yourself and those around you is also key. I struggle with shutting off my work mentality. It’s critical I set boundaries with myself, giving down time for recuperation. In addition to this I have to set boundaries with others when it comes to my time.
Staying honest with myself has been one of my biggest struggles. You have to be honest about the amount of work you truly plan to do in the time you give it. I also practice regular honest self-reflection.
Q: There are some great clips online of the talks you give to audiences around the US. What type of environment do you try to foster at these talks?
A: Most of my talks have been at rehabilitation hospitals and meetings for healthcare professionals. My main objective in this is to help guide the individuals to living the life they want to live. We often stop when we hit an obstacle. The difference in my obstacle and your obstacle is mine is visible. Others often can’t see what pain you’re dealing with. I would like to help others address their obstacles head on working to use them to live the life they always dreamed.
When speaking to the disabled community directly, I hope to empower them to chase life. Disability has always been viewed as an unattractive word. People (myself included) can feel less of themselves because of the disability. I would like to empower the wheelchair using community to take life back from their disability!
Q: One of my favourite of these clips included you talking about mental wellness. How do you take care of your mental health?
A: The most important thing I do for my mental health is regular check-ins with how I’m feeling. I’m not sure if I’m more aware because of my brain injury but I work to pay close attention to how certain events and situations make me feel. Often we are so consumed by outside opinions and ideas that we forget how we feel about certain things. Maintaining honesty and transparency with myself during regular emotional check-ins is key to my mental well-being.
Q: I’d love to see you come over to the UK for a few talks. Where would be your dream place to visit and give a talk?
A: I’ve never thought about a dream place, more of a dream audience.
I want to reach the world. There are so many individuals who are lost, I want to restore hope.
Q: What is the biggest misconception that people tend to have about you?
A: People assume I have a lot of money or my family does, which is completely false. I am working to make a lot of money. There’s a huge difference. I travel to speak. My speaking is paid and my travel is typically covered for the event.
My wheelchair curling journey has been completely grant funded. Meaning I search for adaptive athlete grants and take the time to apply for them.
I budget every dime that comes in to my goals, investing a lot back into myself. I work hard but am resourceful, which allows me to live the life I live.
Q: You are a student, the director of a non-profit, a public speaker and an athlete. How do you find balance between all these pursuits?
A: I only find balance when I maintain integrity with my calendar. I function between my Apple calendar and a physical planner. My days are on a planned schedule so I am able to fit everything in. As soon as I start to fall out of routine, my days start to fall apart. This is the key to my success.
Q: You’ve achieved so much in the last few years. Can you pick a moment or achievement that you are most proud of?
A: It’s hard to pick just one. Each achievement has help me grow as a person. Here are my top 3:
Founding Wheel With Me Foundation has taught me the importance of serving others.
Returning to School to finish my associates degree has taught me the importance of consistency and patience.
We often let fear stop us from starting. Starting Wheel With Me Consulting LLC has taught me the importance of taking risks.
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for 2020?
A: I recently started acting taking weekly courses, with two auditions out, I am working to land a role.
I plan to continue to grow my speaking career, raise my GPA above a 3.0, and begin the outline for writing grants for Wheel With Me Foundation.