I have had lot of people visiting my blog today thanks to a great post written by Angela Nazworth at the blog (in)courage.  Angela contacted me a few month ago about writing a post about my story for the blog.  After she explained what (in)courage was about, I agreed to an interview.  I think she did a great job capturing a part of my recovery that the main stream media doesn’t generally want to touch.  If you are a reader of (in)courage visiting my blog for the first time, I hope you find it motivational.  Please sign up to receive it by email or add it to your RSS Reader if you enjoyed reading the posts.

Thanks again to (in)courage and Angela Nazworth for giving me a chance to share my story with your readers.

If you would like to read Angela’s post click here.

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Happy Birthday Buzz

We were 20...

My best friend turns 40 today.  I remember when he turned 5.  I also remember his 13th and 16th birthdays as well.  His 18th and 21st are a little blurry, but we aren’t going to talk about that. 😉  We have been best friends since shortly after leaving our mother’s wombs.  You see, we are only 3 weeks apart. (Yes, I will be 40 very shortly…)  Our parents were friends.  We lived in the same neighborhood.  We lived at each others homes. His mom was my second mother and mine was his.

It might seem strange that as an adult, I remember another kid’s 5th birthday, but that birthday was a big deal.  He was making the “cut” to start kindergarten and I was not going to be joining him.  This was a life changing event to me at the time.  Turned out that it didn’t matter.  Our friendship survived that challenge and many more to come.

Our adult lives haven’t always allowed us to spend as much time together as we would like since we live a few hours apart, but being around him is as comfortable as being with a brother.  He was the best man at my wedding and I was his.  We both married wonderful women, who can usually keep us under control.  (Something that we were not always good at doing on our own.) Some things however, will never change.  We have spent New Years Eve together for at least the last 30 years. (Including the year of the accident.)  We still both refer to each other as Buzz.  (Our children now refer to us as Buzz.)  There are secrets and stories that we will go to our graves keeping simply because we made a pinkie swear.

One thing I learned from my accident is that there is nothing more important in life than family.  Buzz is family.  He is also someone I have always looked up to.  He has been a role model for hard work and determination his entire life.  He is the type of person who always leads by example.  That is something I want to emulate.

The kids and I got to spend the day with he and his daughter yesterday.  It still amazes me that we are fathers.  As I sit here writing this, I picture us in my mind as kids throwing a baseball in his backyard.  Now our kids play in the backyard.  Life goes by so quickly.  God has blessed me by surrounding me with a very strong family as I continue to recover.  Short of life itself, family is the greatest gift He has given me.

Happy Birthday Buzz!  (You may now kiss the bride…)

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365 days of My Motivation

I am starting a new project. It is called 365 days of My Motivation. The plan is to post a photo of something that has motivated me each day.  I have been working on the logistics for the past week.  I needed to make it simple to up load the photos so that I have a fighting chance of doing it every day. I think I have it worked out. (It will still be a challenge, but if I can make it through the first month, I should be able to create the habit.)   The photo that I upload for that day will appear on the right side of my blog’s home page.  You should be able to click on the photo to see other photos from other days.  The photo will also be posted to my Facebook wall as well.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to post them to my fan page, so you will need to just friend me here if you want to see them on Facebook.

I am hoping that this exercise will not only help me to stay focused on my recovery, but also remind me why I continue to push myself.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the process of getting better that I forget why I am doing it.  As my family and I continue dealing with additional health issues from the accident, I have found photos to be a very motivational, and some times emotional, reminders of all the wonderful things we still have in our lives.  I hope sharing the images I capture each day will inspire you to look around and see what is motivating you.

Look to the right to see today’s photo…

There are a few other days there as well.  (I said I have been testing it for a week.)

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It was time for “the talk”

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.

Standing in the crowd of 100,000+ hoping to get into St Peter's Square

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….

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A Daughter’s Father

This post was written by my 12-year-old daughter Katie.  She is my first guest-blogger.  She wrote this post in a notebook and asked me to help her edit it and put it into my blog.  I was pretty emotional after I read it.  She was old enough, when the accident happened, to notice how our lives were changed.  She was the only one who stayed conscious in the car after the crash. She saw things no 7-year-old, no person,  should ever have to see.  It never ceases to amaze me how grounded she has been through all this.  Tonia and I are very proud of her.  (As a side note: She does over-emphasize my awesomeness.  However, as long I am awesome in my kid’s eyes then I am fulfilling the one “true” reason I survived the crash.)

I think my dad is awesome. When I was younger we would watch Harry Potter movies all the time.  I think we watched some of them 20+ times.  I am sure he got sick of watching them, but I loved them so he would sit and watch them with me.  I would tell him that I wanted to go to school at Hogwarts and he would tell me that he would miss me too much.  That was my dream.  Now my dad is like Harry Potter.  He is famous for surviving, just like Harry.  Even though I am now 12, I still wouldn’t mind going to school at Hogwarts 🙂

A lot of things changed after the accident. My dad couldn’t come outside and play soccer with me or run around in the yard.  He got real tired and had to rest a lot during the day.  Sometimes he would come out and play soccer, but instead of kicking the ball he would hit it with his cane.  One time he fell and that scared my mom and me.  He still tried to be an awesome dad for James and I, but I could tell it was hard for him.  I would sit in his bed and he would help me with my homework.  He would say, “If you don’t do well in school, you won’t get into a good college.”  I was 8.  It was my worst nightmare.  I didn’t want to let my dad down.  He always has encouraged me to work hard at everything I do, to never give up on my dreams.  He also told me that when I was a rich and famous soccer player and business owner I would have to buy him an expensive sports car!

My dad has taught me many things, from sports to school to having a social life.  For as long as I remember, I have been very social.  My teachers would write on my report card, “A little too social” and my dad would say I get that from him.  “It isn’t a bad thing to be social”, he would tell me.  “You can’t have too many friends.”

My dad has never let me down.  I don’t think he wants to let anyone down.  He never says “no” to anyone and always wants to help.  My dad is a great role model for people any age.  Everyone can relate to what he has been through and what he has done to get better.  He is my motivation to get out of bed on rainy, cold days.  I know that he is in a lot of pain in the morning but he still gets up to help my brother and me get ready and then drives us to school.  If it wasn’t for my dad, I don’t know how I would do anything.

Now my dad is really strong. People write stories about how strong he is now.  He tries to get to the gym every day. Between working, taking my brother and me to school and getting home in time to take us to all of our events, it is hard for him to find time to workout. I don’t know how he does it. I know he wants to be the best person he can be.  My dad takes me to the gym with him.  He helps me build my upper body strength so I can be a better soccer player.  I like to watch him workout.  He is the strongest person at the gym.

My dad helps me to achieve all of my goals. He tells me that if I don’t work hard and test myself, I will not be as great as I can be.  He tests himself all the time so that he can get better.  He wants to get better for us.  I see him in pain and it makes me sad.  He tries to pretend it doesn’t hurt but I can tell it does.

I hope he is an inspiration to all of you, he sure is to me!


Katie xoxoxo

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Motivated to do nothing?

The hardest part about motivation is staying motivated.  There is a reason why gyms have a bunch of new members in January and a lot less in April.   I have been feeling very unmotivated the past ten days.  It seems like every aspect of my life needs a good kick in the butt.  I blame it all on Day Light Savings.  Why we need to go and mess with something that is working just fine makes no sense.  I was enjoying waking up at 6 AM and not having it be dark! The fact that Arizona doesn’t change their clock and a lot of the state is very warm, puts it high on my list of places I currently wish I lived.

I have mentioned many times here in this blog how difficult getting up in the morning is for me.  Most days I wake up feeling as bad as I will feel all day.  I thought the trick to dealing with this issue was waking up an hour earlier than the rest of my family.  I use this time to pump my leg, pray, and read.  All while enjoying a 16 oz mug of freshly brewed coffee.  Just because Verizon Wireless changed the time on my “smart phone” at 2 AM on March 13, 2011, didn’t mean my “not-as-smart body” can just change its biological clock as well.  (Good thing I double checked the hyphens in “not-as-smart body”.   Seems spell check isn’t going to pick it up if you move the hyphen between the S’s to the right…)

Two weeks ago, when I was waking up at 6 AM, I didn’t feel good.  I really felt lousy as I tried to drag my aching body out of bed the first Monday after the time change, when it thought it was 5 AM.  After one day I gave up trying to wake up at 6 AM.   This meant I was now waking up at 7 AM with the rest of “the natives”.  All the benefits my family got from me waking up at 6 AM were gone.  I now am moving more slowly as I get the kids out of bed for school.  They all get to see me at my peak pain level (translate: I’m grumpy). Worst of all, Tonia isn’t getting her morning cafe mocha delivered to her bedside. (There goes any chance for the Husband of the Year Award, and it is only March.)

I was also getting a lot of benefits from starting my day off on the “right foot”.  There is a great deal of peace that comes from starting each day with prayer and reflection.  It doesn’t feel the same when you have to rush it.  Pumping my leg early also sets me up for my workout later in the morning.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that exercise plays an important role in my life.  Not following my morning routine is screwing up my whole day.  My desire to work out is diminished.  My writing/blogging has slowed down.  Focusing at work is more difficult.  The whole thing is a big mess…

This week I have been blessed to attend 3 one hour talks given by Paulist Father John Collins as part of my church’s 40 Hour Devotion.  The Paulist Fathers have a wonderful approach to spreading the Gospel.   Father John has a great sense of humor. Listing to him talk has been very inspirational.  I am always trying to recognize the ways that God is working in my life.  I have had a lot of times over the past 3 years where I sensed God’s intervention.  During Father John’s talk on Tuesday, I had one of those moments.  Father spoke of losing interest in prayer, of just going through the motions.  He has been a Priest for 41 years and during that time there were periods where it “just wasn’t working for me.”  He told God, “You guided me this far, I followed your call.  Now it is up to you to put me back on track.”  He said he just waited. He made sure he was open to God working in his life, but he didn’t push the issue.  He waited for God to “Remotivate” him.

I am now patiently waiting to be “Remotivated” again.  I am not doing “nothing”, but I have had to cut back a lot.  I have only exercised 4 times in the last 10 days.  During the same time period I hadn’t written anything, until now.  I have avoided taking on more work because of a lack of energy.  Yesterday, I fell asleep while pumping me leg.  (It was 8 AM.)   I had been trying anything and everything to kick-start my motivation, with little to no success.  Funny how 3 days of noon time Mass, followed by a motivational talk from a Priest cleared things up.

God has led me this far through my recovery.  He has allowed me to fall, but He has always been with me. God does not control every aspect of my life but He also doesn’t leave me alone.  If this step backward in my recovery ends up allowing me the room I need to make another push forward than I guess this small hurdle will have served a greater purpose. Meanwhile, I am just going to wait.  (Already I am beginning to feel more focused again.  At least good enough to write a blog post.)

One last word one changing the clocks.  I can only assume that God doesn’t think Day Light Saving is a good idea either.  The Creation Story says that on Day 1 God created light and He separated it from darkness.  He called the light day and the darkness night.  From what I remember reading, God didn’t say three months later, “OK now we are going to turn the ‘world’s clock’ one hour head so Adam and Eve get less sleep.  As soon as they get use to the new time we will switch it back.”

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My Update: “aka” Why I am not keeping up with my promise of more posts.

I haven’t written a post in a while because I have been working on my book a lot lately.  I spent the past weekend in Naples, FL with my brother visiting our grandmother.  I got to spend a lot of time writing.  This time away was very helpful as I can’t always commit large blocks of time to my book while at home.  I started writing again after talking to two publishers.  It seems that I may need more pages.  I have been shooting for a 200 page book, but they are telling me I should be closer to 250 pages.  From a content point, that should not be an issue.  I haven’t written a whole lot about all the changes in my life over the past 18 months.  (However, for a moment I did consider taking the easy way out and getting a box of crayons and some paper to draw pictures.)  The only real issue is time.  Time to write and time to have it edited. I now know why writers lock them selves in hotels in order to meet deadlines.

Last week I agreed to give another talk for a larger group (350-500 people) in May, as

Nurses Aid Class Feb 28, 2011

well as two smaller groups.  It still seems a little surreal to have large organizations pay me to talk about motivation.  I will always continue to talk to small groups (churches and civic organizations), as my schedule permits, because I love the small group experience.  The interaction with the audience is such a positive experience for me that I leave the meeting or seminar feeling even more motivated and inspired.  I get to hear so many heart-felt stories of adversity and triumph.  It amazes me how simply being honest and open encourages others to follow suite.

I have been working on getting some guest bloggers.  The first one will be a very special post that you won’t want to miss.  (No it is not my wife Tonia, but I am hoping she will eventually be ready to share her story.) Look for it soon.

There have been a few additional stories written about me lately.  My alma mater , Lebanon Valley College, wrote an article. (You can read it here.) The Pennsylvania Realtor Association also did a nice article.  (Read it here.)  Last week I did an interview with Carolyn Kimmel from the Patriot News in Harrisburg, PA.  It was a pretty enjoyable interview and Carolyn asked me a lot of questions about the role God played in my recovery.  Not a topic I get to talk about to often in interviews, but one I am very comfortable discussing.  I expect it will run on a Sunday in the next few weeks.  I still need to do the photo shoot.  (Not comfortable with that part.)  I will post a link after it comes out.

If you want to get more updates about articles and talks I am giving, you can become a “Fan” of my Facebook fan page My Recovery-My Motivation.  If you are involved with a church, organization, or business who might benefit from having me come to a meeting to talk, contact me at jdulsh@pa.net or comment here.  I will always do my best to accommodate requests, but I do need to be mindful of protecting balance in my life.

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