Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Life of a Traveler

Travel isn't always easy, but I love what I do!

It’s been 9 days since I was able to sit in front of a computer. 9 days. I still have a piece on St. Moritz to finish, a high school commencement speech I’m calling, “A Series of Fortunate Events”. It took me weeks to finish the last blog I wrote about how I don’t want anybody to call me an inspiration, and school is starting soon. I can’t seem to sit still! But, a big part of my life is out on the road now, and I have to roll with what comes my way.

It’s Spring now, so even if I weren’t traveling, there would be weddings, soccer games to go to for my son, swim meets for my daughter. But Crossfit and all of the nonprofit work I do has got me jumpin’. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Virginia Beach for a Crossfit seminar. In the last six weeks, I’ve been to San Jose, Philadelphia, Charlottesville, and Greenville, SC. In the next month, I’ll be in Virginia Beach, Israel (yeah, the country), California, and Texas. There will be lots of trips to New Jersey and New York for the Yellow Ribbon Fund.  Then there was the Frederick Celtic Festival, the Vet Sports Gala in DC was last weekend (I won athlete of the year! How’d that happen!)…

I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I love my life, I love what I’m doing. 

I need a nap. And a cup of coffee. At the same time, because I don’t have time to do one or the other.

Just to be clear, this is not a glamorous, lucrative life. There’s a big misconception that I get paid to do these seminars. I don’t. I am not rolling in it. It is actually pretty expensive for me to take all these trips and I’m not swimming in money. I was making a hell of a lot more money as a hardware engineer for a government contractor. I could take my wife to dinner and drop $300 without thinking about it. That’s not the life I live now. We work our asses off to provide for our families, but our driving force is to affect major change in the lives of others. The reward is so much more valuable to me than expensive dinners.

This is the life of a traveler. I didn’t know this was the life I was going to wind up with, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My wife would disagree, but she loves that I’m happy.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Don't Call Me an Inspiration

I hate it when people look at my leg and call me an inspiration.  

There’s a picture floating around the internet of me doing a squat with my prosthetic. It was one of my first Crossfit workouts, for a charity called 31 Heroes benefitting the families of 31 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. My squat sucked in all my love-handled, fat-assed glory. But that's when the word ‘inspiration’ started getting used.

Guess what folks - when I got blown up, I didn’t stand up, dust myself off, strap on a prosthetic and hit the gym.

I never struggled with the emotions of losing my limb, even in the 8 months of limb-salvage work I did. But I did have the same problems as other amputees when they first get a prosthetic – it took a while before I knew how to use it!

It was a solid four years before my new limb was just a part of my body, just like any other amputee. I am not someone you want to idolize - I can be an asshole.

I’m politically incorrect, especially about my leg. I crack jokes about it all the time. Hell, I use it to my advantage – I have a different leg depending on what exercise I’m doing. That doesn’t make me an inspiration – that means I’m working the system.

I really want everybody to stop seeing my leg as a reason to think of me as an inspiration. I’d love it if people would just stop noticing it altogether.

Inspiration is like temporary infatuation. It’s the honeymoon phase. Inspiration gets you in the front door of a gym or out on your first walk but it doesn't last. Motivation keeps you coming back. If an amputee sees what I do and is inspired to come into the gym, that makes me really happy. But then he or she has to get motivated to keep going. That's on them.

I have always wanted to help others. When it didn’t work out doing that in the Army, I found a new way to reach out. That’s all I care about. That 31 Workout? I’m not some glory hound, looking for attaboys or pats on the back. I just wanted to support those families.

So… be inspired by the things I’ve been able to accomplish despite my prosthetic if you want to, but then get over it and get motivated to go to the gym and get healthy. Be inspired by the work I do to benefit others, and then get over it and volunteer for a cause or charity that benefits others. 

I’ll just be over here, cheering you on.