It's daunting what suddenly becomes reality. What suddenly becomes the norm.

Five years ago, had you of told me that every morning I would have a stranger who would someday become a common and well-known person in my life come and help me get dressed, set me up for the day, say goodbye and see me again 24 hours later, guaranteed it would have made me cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable. Granted I was always the first one to get my clothes off and act a clown in front of many people, some of which who I just met, what is now my everyday life is an absolute paradox from the Joel pre 31st August 2014.  Or even the way I was to urinate 6x a day was by way of a man-made device about 30 cm in length, known as a catheter, attached to a plastic bag, I would laugh at you, yet question that same process. Now it is an everyday practice for me. How have I come to accept these realities?  Necessity, when there is no choice, your mind and body accept what is in front of you. Like I did. I hate change, the very thought of it gets me uncomfortable, I look for every alternative to maintain the path that I am on each day, just so that I do not have to confront change. But as you may know, I did not have a choice. Perhaps that is why I do not question what my reality is. I definitely get down about it, frustrated and angry but I accept it. Maybe some people in society should also take this approach. We live in such a great place that is spoiled by choice, drowned in opportunity yet smothered in excuses. I'm not proud of things I've done in the past, some of them still steal sleep from me at night. 3 1/2 years ago my slate was not wiped clean but given a larger surface. It is with this extra space on my slate that I am writing the wrongs, changing my perspectives, altering my ideologies, becoming patient, opening my eyes and ears to a different world but maintaining my foundations. In the three summers that I have spent in my wheelchair, I feel as if I have grown, changed and matured at 10 times the rate I would have otherwise. I feel that this has compromised certain relationships, rekindled/solidified others and found it hard to relate to so many, some people I've even left in my wake. The reality is, conversation about my struggles and achievements start at “Hi, how are you?” And conclude at “it was great to see you, bye”. Everything in before and after is what creates that communication and conversation. So that is why from now on everything I do is something that I look back on proudly, let others watch on and feel inspired to do something positive. Complaints and negativity are a waste of time, if you feel the need to complain to me about your morning then do so in front of the mirror. I'm busy. Success takes character, I'm busy working on that, what about you?

Before I left America I knew it was going to be a massive challenge to maintain the level of exercise I was doing over there. Diet was a major concern, keeping off the weight that I lost is on my mind whenever the thought of eating arises. Slowly slowly, the acquisition of new equipment has turned my private residence into the humble beginnings of the best neuro-rehab facility that I can attend in Melbourne. Elisa is now training me every second day, utilising her quick wit and experience from nine months of watching the worlds best do what they do. We are essentially running the same session that I was at Strides or Adapt, then on my other days, I travel to our local gym to utilise some of the adaptive equipment, here I'm getting the much required and desired cardio output. I was blessed with the company of an amazing cook in America to come home to another skilled person in the kitchen in my own house. Therfore, my diet has not wavered, slacked or altered. Maintaining the one day of the week where I “lower my expectations” when it comes to a meal. This has given me the greatest gift that I have received since my curveball on 31st August 2014. Independence and Dignity in the mornings. Because I no longer weigh the same as a baby whale, I am the one that transfers myself into my shower chair instead of a hoist, I push myself into the bathroom, I wash myself, I dry myself I transfer back into bed on my own, I am now beginning to dress myself. This means I get into my wheelchair feeling proud, like I am in control of the day. This little taste of independence is a drug, I want more of it, I have since investigated and will be applying to get my license and begin driving again. Filling up the new room on that slate. 

The second week of this year saw my employment duties at Ironside Recruitment resume. It also brought about a new alarm clock time, along with that, purpose. I have a purpose to get up early, here, in my own city for the first time in a very long time. Responsibilities and commitments have been nothing but healthy and beneficial to my productivity levels. As soon as my duties are completed at work, my next task is getting to a gym or working out, getting home and working on my public speaking venture. Excuses are harder to come by when my week is structured the way it currently is. I do feel a little bit tired more often, but my bed and I have a great relationship, just ask my mates. I did not realise how bloody fortunate I was, to the extent that I do now, to spend nine months in California with Elisa doing nothing but working out and loving every moment. Life is a little more frantic when you throw a job in the mix but I have definitely not been ‘put off’ with my new lifestyle here in Melbourne. Fortunately, the legends at Adapt, have come up with a great concept which involves face timing a trainer for an hour to run you through a session. Just as if he was there with me, as simple as it may seem, this great idea has now added yet another string to my bow and my gym. 

My focus for the next three months is to establish, master, and be able to deliver and execute with my public speaking. I will be opening up to strangers about things that sit on the dirty part of my slate, opening their eyes to situations and realities that they will be shocked, astonished and impressed by, but most importantly, I'm going to be brutally honest about so much of my journey. That will be my lasting impression. So much of my life is seen as odd to common day folk, but the new 'normal' for myself and those close to me.

I will educate without a filter.

Joel

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