A Brand New Focus

6.5 years post injury, first full short-sit back extensions. not pictured: the 1.5 million partial and aided extensions that proceeded these.

Energy + Effort. Absorb the message and you’ll “hear” the meaning behind those two words. One of the great things that come from so much of what E.T. talks about: the message and presentation is adaptable to whatever your current battle or struggle or climb is. His message is personal without being personally directed at you..but it just feels that way, which keeps you present for the entire five or six minutes he’s talking. Great stuff.

This was last weeks T.G.I.M. but I’m just checking it out for the first time now and I LOVE that it took me this long to see this great clip, because it tells me I’ve been coooookin’ - working relentlessly towards my goals and dreams (which are quickly taking shape) - and everything I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve been trying to live this particular message without even first hearing the message - nobody wants what I want for me as much as me and no one owes me anything along the path. So if I want it, I have to go make it happen.

No words necessary. 3.5 minutes - just watch.

..and this was the push to the finish line. The whole team had just run through the electroshock therapy but I wasn’t able to with all the metal hardware in my back and there was no way I was completing a Tough Mudder by skipping the last obstacle so I crawled the length of the electrical field to the finish line. From the quarter pipe down to the last event, we had garnered hundreds to a thousand supporters, including the emcee. Here’s what it sounded like..

Unbeknownst to us, my new Canadian friend Phil, who had just completed this 30’ quarter pipe obstacle at TM - Boston 2013 as well (and congratulations to him for conquering this obstacle that had gotten the best of him the previous year..failure is just a step in the process!), saw what we were setting up to do as he finished and was so in awe that he stuck around to record the event for us. We’re all truly appreciative for him doing this, and not only just grabbing raw footage but also taking the time to create a short, seven minute edited video package. This is so incredibly dope all the way around from the way our team communicated to create the human ladder to the perseverance through the original shaky failed attempt, through other Mudders assisting (including Phil, who worked double duty on this with his GoPro helmet cam) to being able to see how the crowd built up while this obstacle was taking place. From this obstacle we had gone from hundreds of spectators to the final event, which garnered upwards of a thousand spectators. This whole day, culminated with the last two obstacles, was all just incredibly awesome.

A collection of photos from Tough Mudder 2013 - Boston. The entire day and whole event were pretty rad. These are some of my favorite shots with the human ladder being the best; it just shows the quality of people I have around me in my life and their selflessness in completing a goal. We were a well-oiled machine by that point. The last one is a photo of Massie and I standing together days before the Mudder, trying to hype the event and our team a little bit..a thank you from me to them, of sorts, for everything people have and continue to do for me. I’m blessed.

(And that photo right in the middle, #25 - we made buzzfeed! http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjkiebus/31-reasons-tough-mudder-races-are-for-crazy-people)

Sitting down to write this update originally and thinking to myself, ‘Shit, what do I have to say?’ Thinking that I didn’t have much progress to talk about or visuals that we’ve filmed or photographed for a while now in the gym - but that’s not true. I’ve got a TON to talk about and some impressive visuals (even though they aren’t all from sessions of physical progress) to show you. The most important visual, although it won’t be even a big focus from this group of updates I’m posting, is physical progress. There’s a photo at the end of that new album of my guy Chris Massie and I standing together; my arm on his shoulder and making it look effortless. Although it’s not by any means effortless, it is still progress moving forward and that’s all that matters. In the time that’s passed, I’ve not only been applying myself physically each day but also trying to motivate others to show that anything is achievable with the right mindset, that anything can be achieved if you want it bad enough and you have the right people in your life that make you better and help put you in a better place to succeed.

And on June 1st, I think we showed you can accomplish just that in doing Tough Mudder - Boston 2013, an idea born in the dead of winter as a fundraiser to help me continue my own rehabilitation and coming to fruition nearly six or seven months later. We didn’t set out for this event to be life changing, but it was. For all of us involved (63 people signed up for our Team GRIND but about 40 showed) - and about 10-15 of a core group that worked tirelessly to help me cross that finish line while overcoming obstacles like a broken wheelchair wheel at mile 2, a 30’ quarter-pipe, almost a twelve miles of mountainous terrain, 90 degree heat and blazing sun, and dozens more physical feats that left me (and all of us) bruised and bloodied from head to toe. I legitimately looked like I’d been swimming with piranhas. (Note: Don’t take that as a complain - it was well worth it.) What an incredible day. We went into the event dubbed ‘the most difficult course in the world’, or something like that, all as friends but we came out a family. Hiccups happened but there was never an ounce of quit in this group. Just on-your-toes thinking and a goal to accomplish. Although we did basically everything that we originally set out to do, we also did so much more for and with one another. Personally, I have them to thank for 100% of my ability to get through the course as they assisted me through the rocky terrain, over walls and miles of several feet-deep mud. So any attention that’s come since the Mudder (local papers, Buzzfeed and other media outlets) I make sure that everyone knows that it wasn’t just a paralyzed guy completing the Tough Mudder but a large group of us doing the unthinkable.

As for progress: I’m standing quite a bit using tone, which is great for many reasons: the more I stand the better for my body, physiologically (we aren’t designed to live a lifetime of sitting), and for creating stronger tone and spasms, which will eventually grow strong enough for functional use. I’ve also developed a little bit of function nearly everywhere. Not saying that it’s significant but just a flicker throughout my body keeps me focused and motivated, knowing that it’s all worth it. As much faith as I do have, not even for a second questioning the value of all the work that I put in, but feeling and seeing improvements doesn’t hurt. It lets me know that I’m constantly evolving with my work ethic and workouts in the right direction.

There will be more to come shortly, like details on the two other fundraisers we’re working on (my two basic fundraisers each year) - The 2nd Annual Timothy Morris 5k and the golf tournament. So links and details will be up for those shortly, once they are more established and determined. As for now, we do have dates: August 3, 2013 for the 5k in Windham, NH, and August 16th for the golf tournament, in Merrimack, NH.

Again and as always, thank you to all who continue to follow this journey and check in on this blog, even as sporadic as entries seem to come.

Another good one, it’s a reality check. I have this conversation often where people don’t understand why, even though I’m a huge sports fan, I don’t invest a few hours to watch games very much. It’s simple: I’m not where I want to be or where I expect myself to be, so I choose to invest in my future rather than invest a chunk of time watching, for example, Lebron force his greatness on other men. Time is the key to this. In my mind, that’s time I’ll never get back, that’s time Lebron spends making all his dreams become a reality and we’re just observing it while we could be doing the same, and it’s unnecessary time spent when I can check the highlights later in just a minute or two and walk away with the same basic knowledge about that game as someone who just invested three hours to watch it. My caveat is this - I’m not some machine that won’t check out a game or go to a game and not enjoy the social aspect of it. I’m saying though, if it’s an event where I can get some quality time with people I care about in the process - that’s time worth investing. I’m all over that, but if it’s just me? Nah, I’m probably all set. I’ll catch it later. I’m trying to get to my phenomenal.