I haven’t written a post in quite some time. When I started this blog, it was because I had certain aspects of my recovery I felt called to share with others and finishing my book was (and continues to be) something I didn’t want to rush. I never planned to write a weekly post. I told myself I would write a post when I felt I needed an outlet for something that I wanted to share. Finding the positive in my family’s accident, and all of the complications that came from it, has always been as much about me receiving something as it has been about sharing with others.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to speak to 6 different groups. Some religious and some secular. Some of the groups were as large as 500 people and others were 25 or 30. The ages ranged from 12 to 80. Many of the talks I was paid to be there. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would say to each of these groups. Each group was unique in their make-up. One group would be all professionals in business suits and the next, a group of teenagers. Talking to a group of 12-18 year old teens was a new experience. It was the first time that I became very nervous before a talk. I was worried about keeping their attention. I ended up using some props for that talk. Not a laser show with a smoke machine, but a few demos and the introduction of the “thought bubble”. The “thought bubble” is a chance for someone to, in a few words, share what motivates them. I have used them a few times since that talk and a lot of people played along. I also started using a power point presentation for my larger talks. Blogging has taught me that sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
Recently, public speaking has been my primary outlet for sharing my story. It has been a good change and has allowed me to gain new insight and perspective into how I might better help others. One of the key elements of my recovery has been my willingness to keep changing things up. Trying not to get stuck in a routine. I try not to do things simply because that is the way I always did it. My injuries require me to always be evolving. Now, I have started to write again. I have put many hours into writing and re-writing my book, butI have been putting off working on the ending. I haven’t been able to decide where in my recovery the book will end. My recovery is ever-changing and evolving. Just recently, I have made great strides and also have had major set-backs. Each situation is worth sharing, but at some point I need to end the book. Maybe this time around I will get the book the way I want it.
Another outlet for sharing my family’s story has been through the Eagle Rare, Rare Life Honor. My wife Tonia nominated me for the award and they accepted me into the competition. Over the next few months, people can go to their website and vote for their favorite story. The top six stories are entered into the finals where a panel of judges will decide the winner. If I win, a $20,000 donation will be made to the Carlisle YMCA in my honor. I chose the Carlisle YMCA because it has played an important role in my ongoing recovery. It has given me a safe, supportive environment where I can continue to rebuild my body, my mind and my spirit. Please visit the site often and vote for my story. You can vote once every 24 hours. (Click here) This award is another chance for my family to give back something positive from the accident.
Since my last post, Tonia and I traveled to Rome for the beatification of Blessed John Paul II and then onto a pilgrimage of Holy sites in Greece and Turkey. It was a wonderful trip that we will never forget. We made new friendships that will last a lifetime and we grew in our faith. A few of you have asked me to write about the trip and our experiences. I hope to do that one day soon and I will post it here. For now, I want to share a lesson that really sunk in while we were away.
Life is nothing but a series of relationships with others. The more relationships you have, the richer your life will be. I think this idea fits very well with my belief that life is nothing but a series of first steps. I will be adding it to “The List”. (You will have to come to one of my talks or wait for the book to read the rest of “The List”.) When I think back to all the different relationships I have built since the accident, I feel very blessed. My accident has opened many channels of communication with all types of people. I have made new friends at the hospitals and doctors offices, the gym, the church, the organizations and companies where I speak, the magazines and newspapers who interview me, our pilgrimage, my blog, Facebook (I have added 150+ new friends since I went on my “speaking tour”) and sometimes it just happens when someone asks me “So what happened to your leg?”
Not every one of these relationships are “AAA rated” but they all have significance and I have received something positive from each interaction. I also always try to give something in return. I answer every email and inquiry I receive. I hope I can always continue to do so. Today alone, I spent an hour responding to replies for an email I sent out regarding the Rare Life Award. It means a lot to me that people take the time to send me encouraging emails and they deserve to know they make a difference. I hope to be writing more posts over the next few weeks, but I won’t make any promises. I have a series of big speaking engagements coming up as well as another article in a magazine, so I may be switching it up again. I also need to finish that book one of these days….