No Complaints – How to Change One Life at a Time

17 Feb

I’ve been quiet for a while now. That doesn’t mean that nothing has happened. I have found great satisfaction in just helping someone one-on-one and seeing the progression. When you speak to a large group of people you do not get the satisfaction of following up with them and seeing if something you said made a difference in their life. When you work with someone one-on-one and you get to follow them and see how their life plays out. You can see the mistakes that they are making and relate it back to your own life and explain to them the consequences that you suffered. Sharing your own life lessons from both your successes and your failures, you can drastically change the life of an individual and prevent them from experiencing the hardships that you had to face throughout your life. If you stick with that person long enough, have faith in them, and see the growth of that individual, I promise you that it is more rewarding than anything.

Often at my speeches I get the same question, which is, “do you have any regrets?” I think people expect a long list of things that I regret about my past. Although I have the same answer every time and that answer is “no”. I go on to explain that everything I ever did, whether right or wrong, led me to become who I am today. I have found true happiness, purpose, patience, opportunity, and a life where I take nothing for granted. I am who I am today because of the mistakes that I made, but I do not regret those mistakes because I was given a second chance to use those mistakes as guidelines for others not to follow in my footsteps. My purpose now is prevention and to spread hope.

The wheelchair is an incredible tool. I believe that it makes the audience want to listen more closely to what I have to say. I do not want to spread fear, but I believe it does that in a way. Although by spreading that fear and capturing the attention of the audience, they will listen and see that I actually have a message of hope. Being disabled there is a stereotype that people believe that you’re miserable and do not live a high quality of life. People probably look at me before I start speaking and pray that they never end up in my shoes. When I tell people that I am happier now than I’ve ever been, I wonder if they actually believe it. I want to spread the message that no matter what situation you are in you are in charge of your own happiness. No one else can change your mindset and a positive mindset is all you need to find happiness. You can’t compare your life to others. You can’t focus on what you don’t have or what you can’t do. You need to focus on the things that you have in your life and you truly just need to appreciate being alive. The one thing you should never do is complain.

This brings me back to working with people one-on-one. You can’t speak to a crowd for an hour and expect a story to completely change their lives. Maybe they don’t believe you that you have found true happiness. Although when you work with someone one-on-one they see that you’re actually living the way that you claim to be living. This motivates them to believe that they can change their mindset.

Those people that are happily living with a disability are often called an “inspiration”. I’ve heard it many times before, but I do not believe it is fair because so many people have struggles in their lives that aren’t visible, unlike the disabled, and those people never get credit. We all have our own struggles and we can’t compare ourselves to others. It should be inspiring to see anyone living in true happiness without complaints in this high-pressure society. We need more people like that in this world. Those are the people that will change the world one life at a time.

I challenge you to be one of those people. I challenge you to live each day without complaining. If someone complains to you don’t agree with them. Try to help them focus on all the positive things in their life. Try to help them envision a better future. Positivity is contagious.The same goes for negativity. Positivity will attract positive people and make those people with a negative mindset think twice about their life. Change your mindset. Change the people around you. Change the world one life at a time.

The Blue Notebook: The Lost Journal from the Worst Year of My Life

8 Jan


In exactly two weeks it will be four years since the day of my accident. Life changed dramatically to say the least. I always talk about that first year and just how hard that was to get through. My mindset then was completely opposite of what it is now. I saw my accident and disability then as a curse and nearly four years later I see that day as a blessing. It was my second chance, but during that first year I thought my life had come to an end. Happiness was nowhere in sight and today I understand the true meaning of happiness and embrace this second chance with nothing but a positive outlook and a smile on my face.

I was cleaning out some of the drawers in my apartment and I came across this old blue notebook. Before I started using voice dictation to write on my computer, I wrote some entries in this notebook. I’ve heard that a spinal cord injury is the hardest injury to adapt to. Also take into account that I have bipolar disorder and my medications were not completely straightened out at this point. To say the least, I was not in the right mindset to handle such a life changing injury.

I want to share a couple of those entries with you for you to understand just how down on myself I was. I also want you to understand that no matter what your circumstances are you are able to push through them, learn from your mistakes, and find a better more fulfilling life in the end.

This page kind of sums it up…



I absolutely hate this new life. Everyone tells me to focus on what I can do and not to dwell on what I can’t, but what can I do now? I can read it, which I’ve never had the attention span for. I can watch TV, which is getting very old. I can watch movies, which I am tired of. I can write, which is what I’m doing right now. Although I have to handwrite everything because I can’t use my left hand. I used to type as fast as I could think. I can go out to eat and hang out with friends. I can also ride my hand cycle, but I wrecked it so that is not an option right now. I can listen to music, which just reminds me of driving my car around or being in my apartment. I can also draw. This is not much if you ask me. I know there are a few more things to do, but not compared to my old life.

I’m angry at the world.



Lyrics from “Nothing” by The Script:

“Am I better off dead? Am I better off a quitter?”

Sometimes I think so… Well most of the time actually. The only thing that makes life worth living are my family and friends. They love me too much to see me go. Maybe I’m alive for them. To be there to help them. To make them realize what they have because I feel like I’ve got next to nothing now. Life has changed so much and it’s hard for me to stay positive. I’m constantly told to focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t, but I’m still hung up on what I can’t do. When I see certain things they remind me of what my life used to be.

It kills me to see my waterski knowing that I’ll never be riding it again or to see my longboard just thinking of all of the times I rode it back-and-forth to class and around campus. I watch the kids in my neighborhood ride their bikes by and I just dream of riding again. To take a long bike ride on a perfect 70° day. When I listen to music I imagine myself in my car with the music pounding and the windows down. I remember the feeling of the gas pedal under my feet cruising down the highway. I just miss the freedom of driving wherever I want rather than being driven places. I feel so restricted now. I miss it all so much.

If I could just stand up right now I would give my mom the biggest hug and cry. If I could get up and run, I would never stop running. I would rather be able to walk again and have my life back than to have a billion dollars or any amount of money. I want out of this chair more than anything.

I lost my independence when I crashed my car. I am now completely dependent on others to survive. I need help to get dressed, get out of bed, make food, shower, and go to the bathroom.


See the change? Now I look back at the day that I woke up in the ICU as the start of a new life filled with more opportunity than I could ever imagine.


In these pictures you can see that I wrote in the notebook all of the things that I missed and many of these things were things that I thought I would never do again. The ones with the pink checkmark next of them are things that I have already done. There are also still so many things on this list that I am still capable of doing and plan on doing.





I somehow survived this…


and I went from this…


…to this.


That is a genuine smile. What I learned from having one year of misery is that you should never live your life in self-pity and that you should treat every day as a gift. No matter how bad your situation is, there is always a way to find joy in your life. I consider myself lucky and blessed to the point where I cannot be thankful enough for all that I have in my life.

The Bipolar Questionnaire: Share Your Story ANONYMOUSLY to Be Included in a Book with a Compilation of Stories About Bipolar

9 Dec


BIPOLAR? Share your story anonymously to be included in a book that will change the world’s perception about bipolar.
There are many misconceptions regarding bipolar disorder. People tend to only focus on the unstable mood changes going abruptly from happy to angry. Why is it that the world perceives it this way? It is because naturally we are afraid to admit we are bipolar and we do not want to share our story. There are over 6 million Americans that have bipolar so you are not alone. You should not be ashamed.

Now is your chance to share your story with the world anonymously. All you have to do is simply fill out the questionnaire. Please be as descriptive as possible. Make yourself vulnerable! No one is going to have any idea who the story is about.

Sharing your story may help someone realize that they are bipolar and it may help them to seek treatment. You may be able to help someone that is struggling with it now. Most importantly you will change the perception that the world has about bipolar. Never has there been a book like this and this is your chance to be a part of this movement.

Change lives! Share your story! Thank you for your help and for how much you are going to be helping so many others in this world that are struggling right now!

Thanks again!

Bipolar Disorder: “The CEO Disease” and The Next Chapter to Change the Life of a Child

2 Dec

Bipolar disorder is known as the “CEO disease” and living with it firsthand I can tell you why that is true. It’s not something I’m shameful of, it’s something that I embrace that has pushed me to different heights. We are visionaries who see the world differently. We have grandiose ideas that we feel that we must follow through with. We want so badly for these ideas to come into fruition because we feel that they will change the world.

Unmedicated or undiagnosed we can fall into periods of depression because we feel that the life we are living is inadequate. We must stand for more because no matter what we accomplish we feel that it is never enough. Sometimes a manic high will sweep us off our feet, but that is when creativity is highest and a rampage of ideas starts flowing through our minds. Of course we can become completely illogical and go as far as having delusions like I had where I thought that I was Jesus. Although once we come back to reality there are some things that we thought of when we were in that irrational state of mind that we dwell on because some good ideas do come from the mania.

Growing up I always wanted to accomplish more. No one was ever pushing me to do more, it was just that no matter what I accomplished I always wanted to top it with a new accomplishment. I never saw myself working for someone else and I knew that one day I would be my own boss. Now that I have my own business I feel established and that dream has come true, but now it’s time for growth and I want to go in so many different directions. The hard part is that I have so many grandiose ideas that it’s hard to choose the next direction that I will go.

When I have a lot of ideas I start to dive a little bit into all of them, but eventually I find the one that interests me the most that will also have the greatest impact and I start to head down that path. So I’ve already written a book, but if you’ve already read it you know that the material is for adults. The thing I’ve found though is that when I speak adults have the least questions. I have found that no one is more inquisitive than a child. I spoke to 100 4th graders and when I asked them if they had any questions all of their hands went in the air and some of them even stood up to get noticed.


When I ride my wheelchair through a mall children will see me and just completely stop and stare. It doesn’t bother me at all, I just know that they’re curious. They don’t understand why I can’t walk and they want their own limegreen wheelchair to drive around the mall. When their parents see them staring they pull their children aside and apologize. I say let them stare. I wish their parents would just let them ask me questions. Children just do not understand disabilities, but they are curious about them and I want to be the one to explain it to them. I want to show them then I’m just a regular person like them. That I still live a normal life, but I want them to understand some of the struggles that I deal with. I want them to understand how the body works. I want them to see my limitations and understand the little things that they take for granted, but that you can still be happy no matter what your limitations are.

So that’s the next step. I’m writing a book for children to help them understand my disability and relate it to other disabilities so that children feel comfortable around the disabled. I want to answer all of those questions that are running through their heads when they stare at me.

I have interviewed 28 kids so far between the ages of five and 10. Tonight I will interview two more. These kids have been so excited to be able to ask me anything. The funniest question I had was when I spoke to a class of fourth graders and they asked me about my surgery. I told them that I have a cadaver bone in my neck and explained what that was. A little girl raised her hand and asked, “So you’re telling me that they went to a graveyard and dug up a guy and took the bone in his neck and put it into your neck? Did they wash it?” I couldn’t take it and just burst out laughing. Their teacher had to explain to them how people donate their bodies to science. It was a priceless moment and it’s one that I’ll never forget.

So that’s my grandiose idea. I want to understand the curiosity that children have and give them answers. I’m doing my research to figure out their questions and the best way to answer them. That’s the next step.

After I did a speech to the fourth-graders I received a picture of some of the students that was signed by the class. It was framed and below the word “Priorities” was the quote, “100 years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” I’m trying to do just that, but instead of just one child I want to reach the masses.


Go Outside, Change the World, & SMILE at the Haters

8 Nov

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Gandhi

I just spent almost 2 hours in my apartment texting people trying to find something to do and it resulted in failed attempt after failed attempt. So finally I just said screw it and left my apartment. I got into my van and went and bought an energy drink and started driving around. Blasting my music transformed my mood and energy and some lyrics inspired me to just head down by the river and write.

When we confine ourselves inside of our home we forget about the world out there waiting for us. So often we just come to say, “there is nothing to do” or, “I’m bored.” I’m guilty of saying it, everyone is, and it’s a habit that I want to break.

I often get asked after my speeches what I do in my free time. It’s like they cannot fathom that there could be anything enjoyable to do in your free time if you’re in a wheelchair. I’m a people person. I still have the power of conversation. I enjoy small talk at a convenient store with the cashier, talking to random strangers, creating new friendships, and of course strengthening the friendships that I already have. I enjoy visiting people in the hospital that are struggling and try to put a smile on their faces. I have this insanely positive, optimistic outlook on life that a lot of people just don’t understand. Positivity is infectious and when I see somebody that is down I will stop at nothing to bring them back up.

So that is what I like to do… I like to infect people with positivity. I love to tell stories and make people laugh and smile, but I also love to listen, learn, and appreciate what others have to say. The wheelchair is great because when people see it they think of misery and boredom. So I think it makes my smile much more powerful. There are so many things that I have in my toolkit to reach out to people. I can reach out through writing on my blog, having someone read my book, speaking about my story, or just talking to people one-on-one.

All people are capable of change. I’ve definitely had my fair share of misery in my life. I’ve felt lost, hopeless, and confused during many times in my life. Eventually I had enough of it though and chose to never go back. That was the best decision I made in my life and every day I try to make it better than the day before. This is my second chance and there’s no reason to waste it being miserable. It’s a process to make this change. It definitely does not happen overnight. Although the more you practice positivity the easier it gets.

Surround yourself with good, uplifting people who are there to support you, believe in you, and push you forward to be the best person that you can be. I’ve had a lot of people in my life that do not believe in the grandiose ideas that I come up with. “Why do you not have a civil engineering job, Adam?” I’m sorry that I’m following my dreams. I had the backlash from people in Rushville saying that I deserve to be in jail for the rest of my life and that being paralyzed was not enough of a penalty. I’m sorry that I was speeding and lost control of my car and made a mess in your abandoned cornfield. Go ahead, give me a one star review on my book. See what I care. Now go write a book yourself.

There are going to be haters no matter what you do to redeem yourself. I have found that the more that I have accomplished, the more backlash I have received. Although there are way more people that are in my corner now than ever before. So I say screw the haters. I don’t care what you have to say to me. I believe in myself and that’s all that matters.

I have had the courage to share all of my flaws and mistakes. Of course there’s going to be backlash, but do you have the courage to do it yourself? I wish everyone did. This world would be a better place. So I don’t care if people continue to throw stones at the imperfections in my life because I know that the people that are throwing those stones have their own imperfections. So what do I do? I just keep smiling because that is the last thing they want me to do.

Vision, Clarity, Passion, and Fulfillment

17 Oct

I love vision. A vision for the future of how you want your life to unfold and having an idea of that final destination. I love clarity. Affirmations that what you are working for today is progressive and is leading towards that vision of the future. I love passion. I love knowing that what I am working towards is my choice and is something that I see as necessary to help strengthen myself and help lead to the betterment of society.

I do not like being told what to do. I do not think any of us do. I am my own boss, which is a beautiful thing. I still look for direction from people that I respect and I am a big believer in constructive criticism, but in the end I want people to respect that I have the final say on which direction I’m going to go. We have one life to do what we love and I am going to go in the direction that I want to go.

Our passion, belief, and positivity towards our dreams has to be far greater than the people that believe and have doubt that you will ever make it. Do you have vision? Do you have belief in that vision? I read a quote that was something like create your own dream and work towards it or you will be working towards the dream of someone else. I hope that you’re not in a position where you are working towards fulfilling the legacy of another person.

Everyone tells you that you need to go to school and get a good paying job. I think we need to reevaluate this and look at the term “good paying” as something that is not just monetary. What you do should be something that gives you personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

It feels great to make a profit when selling a book knowing that something they may take out of my story may help them. Although I feel just as good giving the book away to someone fighting through similar circumstances that I had to fight through knowing in the back of my mind that I may have just given them something that could be life-changing. The greater profit to me is when someone tells me that I inspired them or gave them hope whether or not they bought the book or it was given to them.

When I speak I am always able to see a face in the crowd that feels like they have a strong personal connection to what I am saying. I love hearing laughter from the same person that originally was in tears. They see and believe that this was no tragedy after all. This was just the start of something greater.

At the end of each speech it comes time for questions. This is the time that I love more than anything. I can tell how engaged people are by how many hands are raised. Many times the person does not even have a question, but just a comment where they praise the amount adversity that I have had to overcome. This gives me a great sense of pride and it is a reminder that I need to keep going in the right direction. It reminds me that my work is far from finished.

My story and my testimony is far from over. That is why it is great to have a vision to keep myself moving forward. I have a close friend and mentor that has a terminal illness. It is heartbreaking to know that his incredible journey will inevitably come to an end. Although the more I thought about this, I started to think that really all of or living with a terminal illness. No one knows if we are going to die today, tomorrow, or many years down the road. Death is inevitable for everyone so we should live each day knowing that we have unfinished business and know that there is only a limited amount of time for all of us to get it done.

I challenge you to create vision, to have clarity in that vision, and to fill your life and that vision with passion. Start today by evaluating your life and think about whether or not you are going in the direction that will leave you with a sense of fulfillment in the end. We only have one life so start today.

A Reminder of Life’s Worth

10 Sep

This is a reminder of life’s worth. Of my life. Of your life. For everyone. “Am I better off dead? Am I better off a quitter?” The lyrics of a song that stuck with me following my accident. I would ask myself that question and at the time I thought the answer was yes. I was yet to realize that the greatest gift that we are given is life.

What if I had chosen to give up? What would that do for this world and for the people around me? Nothing… or I should say at least nothing positive. There’s no reason for any of us to give up. Envision the future with optimism and treat the present as a gift.

There are countless people out there praying for just one more day of life fighting a terminal illness. So it would be selfish for someone to give up on life when they have so many days ahead of them. For someone that is terminally ill there is no amount of money they wouldn’t pay to get another day, a week, or even a year.

Make your mark. Start living today. Stop complaining. Stop comparing yourself to the guy next to you. You do not know their struggles and they do not know yours. No one has all the problems in the world and chances are that something you are going through has already been overcome by somebody else. So use relentless optimism and understand that we are all capable of a brighter future.

“I wish that I knew what I know now back when I was younger.” Those are lyrics from one of my favorite songs. If I knew I would be in the position that I am now growing up, then I would have lived those days much differently. If three years ago I knew that this tragedy would completely transform my life for the better then I never would’ve asked if I would’ve been better off dead.

The thing about these lessons is that we cannot go back and relive the past, but more importantly we can share these your lessons with the younger generations and those people going through a similar life experience. A lesson learned is very important to share. I have visited some patients with spinal cord injuries and shared with them the lessons that I learned trying to prevent them from experiencing the year worth of misery that I had.

I am a speaker, writer, and advocate for people with disabilities and mental health issues and I am proud of that. The worst thing you can do is be afraid to share your mistakes and the lessons you’ve learned because by not reaching out to just one person you may have set them up for the failure and misery that you suffered through. We all have things in our lives that we wish that no one else would have to suffer through and by reaching your hands out to someone that wish might just come true.

I am living a truly rewarding and fulfilling life all because I have made myself vulnerable. It is amazing how many people I have talked to that have reached back to me to share a similar experience they say they have shared with only a handful of people in their entire life. In that way vulnerability has led to trust because these people know I will not judge them because you have been through it myself.

At the end of your life it does not matter how much money is in your bank account because you are not able to pay your way into heaven. No life is worth more than the other because of money. What matters is the impact that you’ve made on this world and the number of people that you reached out to and helped to live a more fulfilling life.

I wish three years ago I could see that genuine smile on my face now. I wish I could see that life could get better and even better than it ever was before. I wish I could see my optimism and determination. That wish will never come true, but there are people out there that need to see that life after tragedy can be magnificent.

I embrace the present and live in the now because I know there is the inevitable ticking clock when my time will come. So I will stay calm, but continue to live this fast-paced lifestyle in hopes that when my time comes I’ll be satisfied when the clock to stops ticking.


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