Yes I quoted Mike Tyson… (Mexican Beaches, Cuban Cigars and Hemingway)

I am sitting on a beach in Costa Maya, Mexico under a thatch umbrella. I am having a Del Sol beer (the Miller High Life of Mexico). I am smoking a Cohiba cigar from Cuba. This is my first cigar since the accident. I used to enjoy one a month or so before the accident, but have had no desire to have one since… until now. I think it’s the environment. I feel like Hemingway sitting here writing. I have spent the last hour working on my book. Tonia’s sitting on a lounge chair sun bathing and the kids are kayaking in the crystal clear Caribbean water. This is the last stop on our seven day cruise. We have had some great excursions, but today we decided to not schedule anything. We just got off the boat and started looking around and talking to the locals. We found this great little beach club run by an older Mexican man dressed in all white, wearing gold chains, and dark sun glasses. He looks like the kind of guy who wears dark glasses even at night and refers to Americans as “gringos”. We just bought a Red Snapper right off a boat that they are now grilling. Did I mention it is 11:30 AM? I think I may have finally relaxed…

My family’s little taste of paradise was not planned. It happened when we were not looking for it but when we needed it most. Like I wrote in my New Years Day post, we can’t control every aspect of our lives. When we accept this fact, we are most open to what God puts in front of us. Having a plan is a good thing, but to quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until someone punches you in the mouth.” Our car accident was a big “punch in the mouth”. It certainly was’t in our plans. Everyone gets “punched” sometime. It doesn’t mean you are knocked out. It does mean you may need to change strategies. Just getting through the “round” so you can keep fighting can be a huge accomplishment. (Sorry for all the boxing metaphors. Still channeling Hemingway. I could have used bull fighting.)

So much of my recovery relies on my ability to roll with the punches. To evaluate the next challenge and then move on. Time spent feeling bad about my latest “issue” is time wasted. Whether you have health issues like me or are in perfect health, your life here on earth can be over in a instant. To not appreciate every moment, good or bad, is to take life for granted. True peace comes from living life to the fullest and accepting God’s gifts as they come to you.

Our fish just arrived. Time to get another beer…

My Team

The Sentinel article ran Sunday on the front page. I had thought it was coming out Monday. I was out-of-town for the weekend and woke up to emails, texts, Tweets and Facebook posts. I thought Becca Gregg did a nice job. A lot of new people are now following this blog and I have a bunch of new friends on Facebook. As always, thank you for continuing to support this blog and for helping to get our message of motivation and recovery out to others.

Reading the article got me thinking about all the help I have gotten during my recovery and the team of people who I created to manage it.   My own Board of Directors of John Ulsh Recovery Inc.  I also realized where I have an “opening”.  Let me first start by saying that my family has tremendous support. We have so many great family members and friends whom we can turn to at any time for help or a word of encouragement.  Here is my team.

“The President of the Board” is my wife Tonia. She has been the foundation on which my families recovery has been built. She is the best “doer” I have ever known. She is the “question asker” and “the scheduler”. If she doesn’t understand what is going on with my health, she won’t stop asking questions until she does. ( I tend to just go with what they say, so this is a huge help.)  Sitting on either side are my parents. My father is an attorney. I can’t tell you how many times through all this he has had to step-in and deal with “issues” with insurance and other legal areas. Just like Tonia, he gives me huge amounts of support with every aspect of my life. Many times, without me realizing he is doing it. My mother worked in the nursing home industry her entire career. She played a big role in me ending up in Manor Care.  Being there made a big difference in the very early stages of my recovery.  Also, a mother’s love knows no equal.  She is my biggest cheerleader. Just ask her, she will tell you all about it…

My Priest, Father Forrey, has played an important role in me writing this blog and my ability to understand the good that can come from bad things. I try not to go more than a few weeks without having a meeting with him. I can’t tell you how important having a spiritual adviser has been as this media whirlwind has whipped up around me. Staying in check with who I am and who God wants me to be, has given me the peace I need to write this blog. I am not a writer, but I have something to say.

My acupunturist, Ruth Busko, brings a lot of elements to my recovery.  Not only has acupuncture played a large role in managing my pain, but Ruth’s understanding of Eastern Medicine, has over time, forced my to look at how nature and the elements affects my body.  I have learned to recognize these changes and to adapt. Along with Ruth, I have doctors who I can call on when ever I need help understanding my physical issues.  Dr Doug Bower is my family physician and sees all the other doctors reports.  I count on him to be my first line of attack. Dr Bill Bachinsky is one of my cardiologist. (I have two because Hershey sees me for my heart issue since I started there with the accident.)  Bill is a friend and the one person who gave me some peace when I found out I had a hole in my heart 7 months after the accident, adding another wrinkle to my recovery. He continues to monitor my heart with the hope that nothing will ever need to be done to repair it.   Dr Jim Hardesty is my wound specialist.  Over the past year and a half I have had to spend a lot of time in his office.  All of the swelling in my left leg causes wounds to open as well a sever cramping.  He was the one who got me to the vein center and the three surgeries they preformed  have made a big difference in cramping issues with my leg.  My leg is one of my biggest ongoing problems and the one that I have the most questions about.

I also rely heavily on my marketing assistant Kristin Nawoczenski and my writing partner for my book, Anne Greenawalt.  They help me turn my ideas into reality and teach me about this “new media”.

The last person on the Board is my brother Andy.  He is “the plumber”.  He keeps things moving.  When I have a question, concern or problem and am not finding the answer,  I  call him.  He will come up with a “fix”.  He then runs it through the family. (A job no one wants, kind of like a backed up toilet.)  I am glad that his services aren’t always needed, but he is there when I need him the most.

During this exercise, I realized I need a trainer or fitness advisor.  I have come a long way on my own but I should have an “expert” who can guide me to an even greater physical recovery.  Perhaps I will find that person through the Men’s Fitness article?

The reason for this post is two-fold.  First, to recognize the people who play a critical role in my recovery.  Second, to emphasize the importance of having a “Team”.  I have said it in this blog many times, I needed help.  I continue to rely on others.  If you are trying to accomplish something, create a team to help.  Identify what you need.  Find the people who can help and ask them.  Create a group of people whom you can count on to get you to your goal.  My challenge, like many other people’s, is multi-faceted.  Therefore, my team represents the many different areas of my recovery.  I would bet most of you already have a team and you just need to write it down.  When you do, you too may identify openings.  You can have a board of two or twenty-two.  It just depends how many “specialist” you need.  But remember, no matter how much you may think you can get through your  “challenge” yourself, you can’t.  You will need help.  Trust me on this one.

Exciting News

James is really excited about the news...

I have been holding back some exciting news that I am now ready to reveal….

Next month the March issue of Men’s Fitness will come out and I will be featured in it.  It is their “motivation” issue.  I have been working with them for that past few months.  I was interviewed by a freelance writer from New York City named Tim Stuby.  Tim has done articles for a lot of fitness/sports magazines including ESPN the Magazine.  I really enjoyed working and talking with Tim and am looking forward to reading the story he wrote.  (Most journalist don’t want you to preview their stories before they are published.  A “fact checker” called to verify details, but I have not seem it.)  I then worked with Ben Lowy, an incredible photographer, who has done a lot of freelance work in Iraq, Afghanistan and post-earthquake Haiti.  He  has had vehicles that he was traveling in blown up by bombs 3 or 4 times.  He is almost as beat-up as me.  He was a very interesting guy and has seen both amazing and horrific things in his travels.  I really enjoyed my day with him. It was very humbling to work with someone who is often putting himself  in harm’s way in order to get that one photo that will tell the whole story.  Shooting photos of me was significantly below his normal level of excitement and danger.  Plus, I think it was pretty awkward for both of us.   I have included links to both his website and a great article that was written about him.

This is a great opportunity for me to share my family’s story with their 800,000+ monthly readers.  Everyone that I have dealt with at Men’s Fitness has been very supportive and kind.  However,  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  That’s a lot of people who will be reading something about me that I didn’t write.  But, if my goal is to try to reach out to as many people as I can, than this a great opportunity.

There will also be an article about my recovery in the February issue of Harrisburg Magazine.  February is their fitness issue and Anne Greenawalt, the author who has been helping me with my book,  wrote the story.  I don’t know many off the details of the article, but again, it is great regional outlet to tell our story and help to bring more attention to this blog.

One the local Carlisle scene, I just finished a photo shoot and interview with the Carlisle Sentinel.  I believe the story will appear in the paper this Friday (January 7, 2011).  Jason Malmont came to the YMCA yesterday and shot photos of me working out.  It was a little weird having someone with a big camera hiding behind equipment shooting photos of me in a crowded gym.  Luckily, most of the people there know me, but there were a lot of college kids who are home for the holidays working out who were probably wondering why someone was taking photos of the middle-aged guy.  That afternoon, I met with Rebecca Gregg (Becca) from the paper for the interview.  I enjoyed the interview because I got to talk a lot about why I do this blog.

As you can see, things have been a little bit of a whirlwind lately, but I have to believe this is all part of God’s plan.  I will let you know when the magazines hit the stands.  If you are on Facebook and/or Twitter and haven’t “friended” or “followed” me yet, please do.  Also, if you enjoy reading my posts, sign up on my home screen to receive them via email.  I especially want to thank all of you who have shared my blog with others.  To date over I have had over 2000 views.  I have many more posts in the works and have gotten some great suggestions from all of you. Look for a post on alternative forms of pain management coming soon.