Saturday, November 22, 2008

Living in the moment

I figured its about time for an update.

Let's see, let me start with a new development in my life. Until last week I had plans to start my residency with Scheck and Siress in Jan. After lots and lots of thinking, going back and forth and a slight early mid- life crisis I have decided that I am going to postpone my residency indefinitely. This is for a few reasons. First, I am at a point in my life where I have a lot of opportunities to do many things that I enjoy including; motivational speaking, various events with non- profit organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and continuing to train for swimming and other athletic events. All of these events that I go to, athletic and others I enjoy so much and by doing a full time residency I would be unable to go to most of them. I am trying to live in the moment and do what truly makes me happy. And for the time being, it is being able to attend these races, speaking and other veteran events. This is not to say that I will never go back to prosthetics as I do want a career at some point, but its not my time quite yet. I feel unbelievably lucky to have the opportunity to be at this point in my life where I can do what I enjoy in the moment.

That being said I have decided that 2012 is the long term goal for now. After watching the NBC Paralympic special and seeing myself race on USN I realized just how unhappy I was with my performance in Beijing. I don't want to go out that way and although I am going to take it meet by meet and see how my times are, 2012 is the goal.

I am in the process of looking for a competitive swim team here in Chicago. It is hard since I have been traveling so much but I have a few ideas. Once we get back from the New Year I will start in full swing. Hopefully with a good swim team, weight trainer, possible triathlon coach, etc...If my job is going to be to continue as an athlete I might as well put everything I have back into it. I am also a definite 'in' for the Sadlers Alaska Challenge so training needs to start for that as well..

So, yeah, that's the latest...

This past week I was in NY for a WWP/ DSUSA dinner. My mom joined me and we had two days as mother and daughter in NY which was nice. We went to Central Park, saw Chicago on Broadway, saw the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, got to go on the floor at the NY Stock Exchange and attended a wonderful dinner put on by the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project. It was a dinner celebrating the success of veterans and athletics and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it. General Petraeus was there as well and it was a huge honor to meet him. (See above pictures)

I am heading out tomorrow to visit a friend in TN and then go to my parents for Thanksgiving. I doubt I will write again before then so Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Oh and if you get the chance on Thanksgiving night watch CNN with Lou Dobbs at 7pmEST. You'll see my smiling face.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day and I wish I could personally thank all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for my freedom. I know a simple thank you is never enough for the loved ones of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to them I owe a lifetime of gratitude. It's days like today where I sit back and think about just how good we have it. The freedoms we have that are much too often taken for granted. I will fly my flag high and look at the red, white and blue of which I respect so dearly, and in my heart thank all of those who have served and continue to serve this great country of ours. Thank you.

Since I have last written I have been to DC where I got to attend a book release party for a book titled Returning Wars Wounded, Injured and Ill. If you look closely you will see that I am on the cover with my physical therapist from Walter Reed, Bob Bahr. The book can be viewed and purchased on many sites, just type it into the search engine. I enjoyed being in DC to speak at the release party and met lots of wonderful people.

This past week I was in Little Rock, AR and Memphis, TN as a part of Soldier Ride, a program with the Wounded Warrior Project "". Soldier Ride events take place nation wide throughout the year and it's where a number of wounded vets all come together and ride our bikes from one place to the next to raise awareness for WWP and the vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This particular ride we started out in Little Rock, AR where we rode 25 miles and ended up at the Clinton Library for a nice reception. I got a nice certificat being honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution which added to th day. We then drove to Memphis where we began the ride the next day. I cut out early to be home for the weekend but the ride continued onto Nashville the next day. As usual, the support was awesome and I had a great time. I am going to be joining in on another ride this Feb. in order to train for this insane event that I, with the help of Ms. Susan Katz, got me involved with.

The Sadler's Alaska Challenge it's called and it's 267 miles of hand cycling across Alaska from July 19- 27. The longest wheelchair and handcycle race in the world. Now Susan Katz currently works at the OTC and is a former wheelchair basketball Paralympian. I met her for the 1st time a few months ago and knew from the start that she rocked. She announced that she was doing this race and I glanced it over a few times thinking it would be pretty cool but never thinking I would actually do it. Well, turns out there is 1 spot left for a female hand cyclist. After going back and forth and making Susan reassure me I would not be left in the wilderness to be eaten by a bear I have sent out the email that I would like to fill the last slot. I guess it's not a guaranteed yet, but the email is out.
Before I go any further you should all go check out the course. go to "". Find the race route and look at the elevation changes. We are climbing mountains, pure mountains, on a bike with our arms. Challenging, very. But it is doable and the feeling of accomplishment of finishing each day will be worth it all. And really, what's life without challenges anyways?
Normally I would sign up for something, maybe train a little and hope that I can finish. This, however, is a little different. In order to not embarrass myself and be miles and miles behind, I will need to put in the proper training. Until now, the furthest I have gone is 26.2 miles and that hurt. bad. Jumping up to 55 miles in one day with a mountain thrown in there... It's gonna be tough but I'm excited for the challenge. Thanks to Susan for encouraging me and giving me a friendly push to do it.

I am continuing to train in the pool and do weights, but now I'll be on my hand cycle a little more as well. I'll keep an update on my blog as to how training is going once I find the right coach to push me along.

Until then, I hope you all said your thanks to a soldier, past or present, at some point today. We owe all that we have to them. God Bless America. And good night.