In 2010 I jumped into it. I had this story and I knew that I needed to share it. So I started writing it and I really got into it. It was a new passion that I found and I found myself sitting in class writing rather than paying attention. I put my civil engineering dreams on hold and continued to pursue my degree, but at the same time I felt that my story and my message needed to be heard and that was what I wanted to pursue.
I’m happy that story was never put into publication and especially the message. The title was ‘The Marijuana Poster Child.’ The message was that you could still smoke marijuana and accomplish great things. Right before I skied in the national championship I went and smoked a bowl, which was a ritual of mine. I skied a personal best for my collegiate career which further added to my case. Winning the national championship topped off my college career and was one of the best feelings I had in my life. Pure euphoria.
By the end of that year I had written 150 pages on my MacBook Air, which is still somehow alive today. Then I found out that my story was far from over. Lying in a hospital bed in Indianapolis paralyzed with chest tubes coming out of either side and an external fixator drilled my left arm, all I wanted to do was write. The problem was that my right hand was curled into a ball and it was so stiff that I could barely scribble anything down on a piece of paper. I had my computer but I could barely type with one finger.
I had my mom and my Aunt Paula buy me a fat marker so that I could get a better grip on it and a notepad. I lay there in that manic state and every time I got a sign I would try to make note of it. Although there were so many signs that I could not keep up and eventually I gave up on writing. At that point I had no idea if I would ever finish my book. So my focus just began on pushing through therapy and on the recovery.
The euphoria continued for the next month and a half while I still believed that I was Jesus. But once that wore off my life became a living hell. My dream was no longer on publishing a book or building waterski lakes, it was strictly focused on walking and getting myself back out on the water.
Slowly I started to realize that I was losing that battle. I started to question whether or not that dream would come true. I needed to put my focus elsewhere. I could not sit there on the computer all day and look for miracles about people walking again or for signs of a cure.
I opened my email one day and it was from a spinal cord injury support group at Cleveland Metro. They were going to be discussing a voice recognition software called Dragon. I looked it up and realized that with this software I could actually finish my book. I was given a Kindle while I was in the hospital, well actually I received two, and following that I kept receiving Amazon gift cards so that I could buy books.
I was never much of a reader so those gift cards just began to add up. When I went to buy Dragon I had exactly enough in gift cards to buy the software. I remember receiving it in the mail and programming it to recognize my voice for over an hour. Then a blank page appeared before me.
I wrote an entry titled ‘The Drive’ explaining the experience that changed my life forever. I posted it on Facebook and the comments came pouring in. I started writing on a daily basis and I could not stop. I finally started to break free of that negativity. I found something that I truly enjoyed and at the same time I could tell that I was helping others.
I read through the 150 pages that I wrote before the accident. Of everything there I kept two chapters. I could not believe that was my message. I reflected back on my time in college and realized that mostly everything I had accomplished was before I started smoking marijuana. It tore apart friendships and made me lose focus of what was truly important in life. I now had a new message and I was on a journey to find true happiness.
I worked hard on my book until I returned back to Columbus to finish my degree and take part in therapy. Something that I believed would never be possible. Summer came and the blog was up and running and the focus became more on the blog because I like that instant gratification of seeing people read it and having them message me with their reactions.
When you’re writing a book you are all alone and you really have no audience. I talked about writing a book so much in my blog that I realized that I just needed to put my entire focus and energy into it. In February 2013 I completed my dream of writing a book after the initial thought came into my head 2010. But the process was far from over.
In August we did the Kickstarter campaign which was incredibly successful. Over that year I did over 40 speeches to all types of audiences. I learned what true happiness really was. I learned that I needed to take the focus away from helping myself and to help others. But by helping others I realized that I was helping myself.
The hunt for an editor was a long process but we finally found the perfect match right here in Columbus. The editing process is finally over. The cover design is done. The illustration for the book is done. Now it is time to publish and I have been taking incredible courses on how to publish a successful book and I’m ready to take that step. I’ve chosen to self publish for various reasons. The book will be out in the next couple weeks.
The most rewarding part now is that I finally have an audience to share my story with. I have given away about 150 books so far. I have done this for strategic reasons but I also wanted to hear what people think. So far the response has been incredible. I did not hold back anything in my book and people have applauded me for that. All of the bad decisions that I made were well worth it for the message that I learned and shared at the end.
It is so amazing for me to read through my story and just look back and wonder how I am still alive. There is a reason that I am alive today and I believe that reason is to share my story.
My dream has finally come true and I have a finished product. The journey that it took me to get there was remarkable. But the story does not end with this book. My life is still unfolding and I cannot wait to see what the future brings. That is my story of how a dream came true. Dream big. Think big. Anything is possible.
I want to share my story with you. The first 10 people that subscribe to my blog will receive a free PDF of the book. Thank you for being a part of my journey!