n early December, I was driving downtown on the Lodge Freeway on a clear morning when I heard a deafening thump at the rear of my car. Before I knew it, I was spinning across three lanes of traffic. My car hit another car before coming to a stop facing oncoming traffic. I was transported to emergency and released the same day, thank goodness. It was in the hospital that I learned that I'd been clipped by a semi truck.
Many people have survived similar brushes with death. People like Amina Daniels, who, in 2013, was hit by a car while riding her bike to Whole Foods in Detroit. For both of us, near-fatal accidents have caused us to ask, "What is life trying to say?" I'm still just counting my blessings, but Daniels has it figured out.
A bit about Daniels: At 31, she has the taut, sinewy build of an athlete. In fact, she was an All-American high school track and field star. She is also an extremely driven competitor who sees barriers as a reason to work harder.
The Mumford High School alumna headed to Clark Atlanta University in 2003 where she studied public relations. After college, she moved to New York, where she opened the flagship store for Tommy Hilfiger on Fifth Avenue and worked for brands like Michael Kors and Juicy Couture.
For six years, she lived in Manhattan planning in-store events, being an on-air radio personality and launching her own podcast. But eventually, the New York lifestyle wore thin.
"I felt I wanted something different," Daniels says. "I was tired of living the broke and fabulous life. I was working and had nothing to show for it."
Problems with mold in her apartment forced the decision about making a life change. When her mother suggested that she come back to Detroit, Daniels gave it serious thought. A lot had changed since she'd lived here. Maybe now was the time to open a business that catered to those who shared her interests in exercising and yoga.
In 2013 she started shaping her business idea. But before she could get it off of the ground, she was hit by a car. Her ankle was broken, her knee and back injured and her jaw fractured. Even after two surgeries, she still has limited mobility in her ankle and has to wear a knee brace.
At that point, anyone would be entitled to sink into self-pity. "The accident changed my life forever," says Daniels, whose dreams of an exercise studio now seemed out of reach. "I had a limitless life in terms of mobility. Now, I can't move freely."
But Daniels doesn't traffic in pity. I first met her at TechTown in 2014, where we both had enrolled in a Retail Boot Camp. She arrived at the classes with her ankle in a cast. She was undaunted, but very changed.
"Once I was in physical therapy and saw people using walkers and canes, I felt that we needed a place that could help everyone move toward a healthier life," she says. "I want to have something for people of all levels of activity."
That's the genesis of Live Cycle Delight, what she believes will be the city's first indoor cycle studio that also caters to outdoor bikers. Live Cycle Delight will include indoor cycling classes, outdoor cycling meet-ups, safety classes, a bike lounge and a hydration station with cold-pressed juice.
"There will be classes for people who might have joint problems, and classes for balance and stability training," says Daniels, who turned to cycling after the accident because it was the only exercise she could still do. "Eventually, I'll add community-based programs."
Her revised plan struck a chord. In 2015, Live Cycle Delight bested 140 business ideas to win the Comerica Hatch Detroit award of a $50,000 cash prize plus other support including public relations, architectural renderings and legal advice. Last year, Daniels also was selected by Motor City Match to receive financial planning and site location assistance.
I hope that 2016 is the year that Live Cycle Delight goes from vision to reality, bringing Daniels in line with her new-found purpose. I hope that 2016 is the year you find your life's purpose, too-without having to suffer a car accident to find it.