In 2004, I graduated from Tennessee State University with a BS in Mass Communications. My intention was to enroll in the Columbia College/ Chicago film school, but when that plan fell through, I was left trying to figure out an alternative. My plan B was to enroll in a teaching program at Chicago State University. So, reluctantly, I chose a career in education, a career that I had promised myself never to entertain because I was determined to break the family tradition of being an educator. For the next thirteen years I taught middle school history for Chicago Public Schools and, although it was a fulfilling experience, (I believe it had a positive mutual impact on both my life and the lives of my students), it also came with a high level of stress and a monumental workload that left me feeling very uninspired and unsatisfied. I felt stagnated and confused. I believe that GOD was urging me to step out on faith, but I allowed fear to hold me in the profession for yet another year.
In January, 2015, an unforeseen, life altering event changed my life forever. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was 34 years old and I was devastated. I thought to myself, “I was already in the middle of a midlife crisis, considering a career change and trying to start a family. Now this! Could things be any worse?” As I lay in the hospital bed, incapacitated by vertigo, I asked GOD, “Why?” What was GOD trying to tell me?
There is much to be said about obedience and reverence to GOD. I knew that I was very unhappy in my current state, but I was too fearful to follow GOD’s lead. After my stay in the hospital, I slowly began to realize that my life was forever changed. I would have to view every aspect of my life differently; how I eat; how I think; how I conduct everyday business. At first, I was angry. Then, I began to see my condition as the beginning of a new me, a me who was more confident, a me who had a crisp outlook on life.
After months of asking GOD, “Why me”, I began to say “Why not me?” We all have problems that we deal with day by day. MS was my thing, and I was determined not to let it control my thoughts, my life. Instead of ruining my life, MS strengthened me and I suddenly gained the faith and confidence to do what GOD called me to do, and that was to pursue a career in videography. GOD had blessed me to do what I desired all along, but I had been too afraid to leave the comfort and stability of a bimonthly salary with benefits; I mean, who works for almost 14 years and throws it all away on a hunch? Well, I did, and since then I feel better than ever. I started AshaIman Productions a few months after being diagnosed and one of our first projects was to create a music video for my husband’s band, Mike Gallagher and Higher Order. After that experience, opportunities began to pour in, and shortly after, I resigned from teaching and have never looked back.
We all have personal adversities, whether it is illness, monetary issues, or marital problems. It is how we respond to the adversities that strengthen our faith in GOD’s plan for our lives. Thus, I can say with certainty that being diagnosed with MS has helped me conquer my fears and that has been one the best things that have ever happened to me.
Asha McKelvey Gallagher
Asha I. McKelvey-Gallagher is a Videographer, Video Editor, and an Educator as well as the founder of AshaIman Productions. She is based in Chicago, IL
Currently, Asha is working on a music video in collaboration with the Kanye West Foundation Donda’s House and Blackstone Bicycle Works youth education program promoting bike safety throughout the city of Chicago. Because Asha believes that it is vital to connect and work with the people within her community, in the future she plans to use her passion for film to document the stories of inspiring youths who do exceptional work in and out of their communities.