In March of 2009, five months after breaking my back, I was asked by one of my university professors (and longtime friend) to come and share my story with her class. I’ve always been comfortable speaking in front of large groups, but this was going to be the first time doing so from a wheelchair. As I practiced my talk and shared my concerns about being able to do a good job while sitting down, Sabrina (my best friend and wife) reassured me that I would kill it. With three simple words she told me exactly what I needed to hear…"rock the chair.” So I did.
After seven years of living with a spinal cord injury, I don’t pretend to have everything figured out and under control, but I am learning a lot about myself, others and the world we live in. We all have shit in our lives that we have to deal with, that doesn’t matter. What does matter, and what defines who we are, is how we decide to deal with our shit.
I decided early on to deal with my paraplegia with the best attitude possible. To focus on what I still have and not on what I have lost. To leverage my inner strength, the people around me and any resources I have to find a way to reach my goals. I think that this approach is available to everyone, you just need to decide that you want to do the work. Yes, it’s hard to get started, to have the stick-to-itiveness to navigate road blocks or disappointments along the way. But I am living proof that if you make the commitment, do the work, and welcome help and support along the way, big things are possible.
Although it makes me feel a little vulnerable, this blog is intended to be a window into how I motivate myself, and a close-up look at my experiences as a dad, husband, friend, athlete and entrepreneur, learning to live without the use of my lower body. If anything I share can help you in some way, then it’s all worthwhile.