MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In a split second, a person’s life can change completely. What someone makes of that change, good or bad, determines how they’ll continue living.
Even after losing the function of all four of her limbs, one South Florida woman isn’t about to let her disability take control of her life.READ MORE: Florida Fires Back In Challenge To 'Passport Ban'
The faces on Glenniesha Darkins’ canvas represent the influences in her life, from Lauryn Hill to J. Cole.
“The emotions that it brought out, I wanted to see that on a canvas,” said Darkins. “Painting helps me [be at] ease, be comfortable, accepting of limitations. Also knowing there aren’t really limitations.”
Recently, Darkins painted a tribute to California rapper Nipsey Hussle, known for his push to make a positive difference in the world. It’s a purpose the 27-year-old Richmond Heights native can now relate to.
“When you’re 17, 18, you’re care free. You’re not worried about what your purpose is,” said Darkins. “But the accident happened and it caused me to think who I wanted to be.”
In 2010, Darkins was a basketball star at Miami Killian High School. She was college-bound with an athletic scholarship.
A tragic car crash would leave her paralyzed ending those plans. Now, she can’t move her arms or legs and has a caretaker.
“I had to re-adjust to a life, from a basketball player, to now becoming someone that’s dependent on other people,” Darkins said.
While Darkins may have lost some of her independence, she never lost sight of her blessings or her positive outlook on life.
“That’s why I love painting, exactly why I love painting. I can feel it in my neck, since I have a lot of movement there,” she said. “I feel like expression is so fluid, you can express in many ways. I hope to do more facial features.”
Darkins said what happened to her makes her more appreciative of life.
“To get out there and prove to everyone, despite what you see, I’m still a human being who has aspirations and dreams,” said Darkins. “I’m very ambitious and I can’t let it stop me.”
Of course, Darkins said, there are dark days too.READ MORE: Activists Say Hundreds Of Cuban Protesters Have Been Arrested Since Anti-Regime Demonstrations Broke Out
“You’re going to have days where you want to complain. I don’t want to stay too long in that. I never stay too long in my pity parties,” said Darkins. “I cry here and there, get upset, have alone time. I snap back into it, get back into the groove.”
Darkins doesn’t have time to stay down.
The Florida International University graduate is now working to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Through tragedy, she found her purpose.
“I was 25 feet thrown out the window. I’m not supposed to be here [so I’m] taking every moment and appreciating it,” said Darkins. “Whatever life hands you, whatever cards you were dealt, how are you going to fix? How are you going to play that card?”
Darkins attributes positive thinking to help her get off a ventilator.
“Slowly but surely, I’m trying to get off my trachea,” said Darkins. “As Nipsey said ‘The marathon continues.’ It’s not really a race. I try to go slow, my pace.”
As a black woman who is quadriplegic, Darkins knows all too well what it’s like to feel underrepresented.
She aspires to be a counselor for anyone who feels that way.
“I want to help parents in my mom’s position. Also more of the African-American community. I want to be able to be accessible for the people who look like me,” said Darkins. “I’ve been on both sides, as someone who can walk and can’t. So I understand the frustrations. I want to help those parents and be a voice, something positive.”
Darkins is also a published author.
In 2014, she shared her very personal story in a book titled ‘Freedom Chair: An Open Diary of A Quadriplegic.’MORE NEWS: Broward County School Board Votes Unanimously To Make Mask Use Mandatory For Start Of School Year
“How can I be of service to someone else, besides myself?” said Darkins. “Learning more about myself, accepting myself allowed me to strive for someone else to accept who they are and also be strong.”