How to Embrace What You Can’t Change

When you surrender the need for your circumstances to be different, creative new avenues for thriving can emerge.​

Hey Friend!

 

After my injury, I hated everything my wheelchair represented initially. But only after allowing myself to fully feel and work the the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression– was I able to get to a place of acceptance, even embracing my “chair.” I now see it as my vehicle of freedom. This radically changed my heart, perspective and unlocked new possibilities for my life that I had ruled out.

 

I’ve realized we all have metaphorical “chairs” – parts of life we wish were different but can’t control. And while radical acceptance is the goal, getting there requires courageously facing disappointment and loss.  

 

We must give ourselves permission to feel the grief, to cry and process emotions in healthy ways – whether through talking to a trusted friend, therapist, or writing down what we’re feeling. The path requires entering scary spaces. Working through feelings of sadness and anger are needed to move towards acceptance.   

 

Choosing radical self-acceptance didn’t change my circumstance. But it provided peace, contentment, and opened up creative options I had ruled out. My disability still confines me physically, but my horizons expanded exponentially. 

 

I don’t know what your chair is or what feelings you need to process. But take small steps. Give those emotions space to move through you. See what happens when you surrender to reality as it is, not as you wish it was. Consider embracing your chair, using it as a vehicle for growth. 

 

There is freedom, joy and power in knowing you don’t need external conditions to be changed in order to live a beautiful, hope-filled life. By embracing your chair, you discover that it does not preclude possibility and purpose. Counterintuitively, your limitation can become a vehicle for growth. Not in spite of your chair, but often because of the change in perspective it brings. When you surrender the need for your circumstances to be different, creative new avenues for thriving can emerge.

 

Your friend,

Chris


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Leaning Into Discomfort

While my instinct is often to shrink back, I’ve learned that lowering my shoulder is the only way forward.​

Hey Friend!
 

Have you ever shrunk back when you knew you needed to drive forward? Basically anytime we shy away from discomfort, we halt our progress. To empower me to do hard things, I remind myself to mentally “lower my shoulder” into the challenge. 

 

Let me explain. In football, the key to a solid tackle is a lowered shoulder and 100% commitment. Coming in too high or too slow is a recipe for a missed tackle. 

 

As I’d sprint downfield toward a ball carrier, I knew a collision was coming. I had to lower my shoulder, accelerate through contact, and drive with everything I had. But despite how much bigger the other guy might be, when done correctly, was very satisfying. 

 

This meant willingly embracing discomfort to reach the goal.

 

In life, we too must lower our shoulders and lean into our obstacles. Every worthwhile endeavor involves friction, maybe even a collision, but that’s life. While my instinct is often to shrink back when I’m worried, tired, or unmotivated, I’ve learned that pushing ahead is the only way forward.

 

After my injury, recovery demanded lowering my shoulder day after day into grueling rehab. Today, it can be having an uncomfortable conversation, writing when uninspired, or just resisting phone distractions. 

 

Just like on the football field, avoiding discomfort and half-hearted efforts lead to little progress. Lasting gains require tirelessly grinding forward even when it’s difficult, just as making a tackle requires total commitment without regard for comfort. 

 

To achieve big goals and dreams, you must be willing to lower your shoulder and embrace discomfort. Expect challenging days that test your will. But with relentless drive, you will break through.


Where in your life do you need to lower your shoulder into?

 

Your friend,

Chris


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NOT the most wonderful time of the year?

Hi Friend,

It’s NOT the most wonderful time of the year🎄. According to a recent study, 88% of Americans believe the holidays are the most stressful time of the year. It’s fueled by overspending, hanging out with people perhaps you don’t want to hang out with 😆, giving the perfect gift, and planning family events. This year let’s strive for peace, which is peace in your heart and not the absence of problems. Here are my 3 Holiday Survival Tips:

 

1. Lower expectations. Things will never go according to plan and that’s not only reality, but it’s okay. We see these unrealistic holiday moments on TV which just fuels our desire to make things perfect and control everything. However, kids will be crying, messes will be made, and someone will get sick or grumpy. Free yourself by letting go and lowering expectations. 

 

2. Plan less. We stress ourselves out trying to jam pack our calendar with activities and manufacture these magical experiences. Take that pressure off yourself. There is nothing wrong with a lazy pajama day sipping hot cocoa and playing board games. The real magic isn’t about how many activities you cross off your list but being completely present with those you love.  

 

3. Set healthy boundaries. Inevitably with family gatherings disagreements, controversial topics and past hurts will be brought up. You can’t control other people but you decide whether you are going to involve yourself. When a really sensitive issue comes up, express how the topic makes you feel and that if it continues to be discussed, you are going to leave – whether that’s into another room or taking a drive. This is a healthy way to take care of yourself and create more peace.

 

I promise if you do these three things you’ll bring more joy into what should be the most wonderful time of the year. 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, 

 

Chris

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Power of Trying When You Think You Can’t

We only understand our capabilities when we dare to try.

Hey Friend!
 

Do you ever feel like you are holding yourself back? Too often we place self-imposed limitations on ourselves. We underestimate what we are truly capable of before even trying. 
 
I remember back in college when I dropped my water bottle on the floor. I asked my sister Alex to pick it up for me. In true sisterly fashion, she refused and said, “No, you need to try getting it yourself first.” I was ticked! I was convinced I couldn’t do it, although I hadn’t even tried before… Reluctantly, I began my attempt and eventually figured out how to retrieve the bottle. I completely surprised myself! That small moment made me think – what else in my life am I holding myself back from? It gave me more confidence to try new things I had previously closed myself off to.
 
I realized that we only understand our capabilities when we dare to try. 
 
Often, our self-imposed limitations are not physical, but mental. We allow our doubts, fears, and insecurities to convince us that we can’t accomplish something before we even try. We look at a goal and only see reasons why we might fail, rather than having the courage to give it our best shot.
 
What my sister gave me that day was the gift of believing in me more than I believed in myself. Her faith in my abilities encouraged me to push past the boundaries I had set for myself. Thanks to her, I dared to try and found strength I didn’t know was there. 
 
By surrounding ourselves with supportive individuals, letting go of self-imposed limits and having courage in our abilities, we may discover our potential is far greater than we imagined.
 

Your friend,
 

Chris


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The Scary Phobia You Didn’t Know You Had

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Hey Friend!
 

You know which phobia I think is one of the scariest that never makes the list? Asking for help. 

 

The reality is that a little assistance can help you go much further and faster. I’ll never forget the first time a stranger gave me an unsolicited push up a steep dorm hill in my wheelchair…

 

Exhausted halfway up the hill with no friends around, I was determined to make it alone. I hate asking anyone for help, especially people I don’t know. I always aim for total independence whenever possible. 

 

Gripping my wheels tightly as I slowly rolled backwards down the hill, the campus was oddly empty. I was freaked out until I heard a kind voice behind me ask, “Do you need a push?” With her help, I made it to the top.

 

Without that push, I would have crashed back down the hill, simply because I was too reluctant to ask for a little help. 

 

This experience showed me the risk we take by being too prideful to request assistance when we need it. Most of us secretly hate asking for or even accepting help because we fear vulnerability, losing control, crave independence, or worry about being an imposition. 

 

But needing daily assistance forced me to understand there is no shame in asking for help. It often propels you forward faster than struggling alone. We all require help at some point, and it’s okay to ask for it.


In fact, a study at Stanford University found that people underestimate others willingness to help. They also found that those who offer assistance are happier after conducting acts of kindness.

 

Without the help of others, I never could have graduated, married my wife, written books, or become a professional speaker. I’m living proof that humbly asking for a push when you need one, with sincere gratitude, is a hidden power that can help you achieve your biggest dreams.
 

Your friend,
 

Chris


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From Despair to Gratitude: My Thanksgiving Day Miracle

The capacity for gratitude lives within us all. We need only the will to find it.

Hey Friend!
 
I want to share a powerful lesson on gratitude that I learned during the early days of my spinal cord injury recovery. It was 6 weeks after my injury, while still in the hospital, that I experienced a true Thanksgiving miracle. 
 
Just a week before the holiday, I woke up feeling some faint sensation in my left big toe. Thrilled, I told my doctor, a senior neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, expecting encouragement. Instead, he coldly dismissed it as a phantom feeling, telling me, “You will never move your legs again.” I was crushed. 
 
Yet I refused to accept his verdict. I recommitted to my therapy with new passion. And then on Thanksgiving morning, the impossible happened – I successfully wiggled the very same toe that buzzkill doctor said I would never move again! Oh, how I wished Doctor Phantom could have been there to see it. 
 
In that moment, the significance was profound. Something as small as a toe wiggle filled me with immense gratitude. It taught me that gratitude isn’t limited to life’s grand blessings. It can be found anywhere, anytime, if we open our eyes to appreciate life’s little miracles. 
 
This Thanksgiving, I hope we can all tap into this mindset. Our lives are filled with so much distraction, envy, and discontentment that we often miss the abundance of reasons, big and small, to give thanks. But the capacity for gratitude lives within us all. We need only the will to find it. 
 
Wishing you all a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving!
 
Your friend,
   
Chris


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Discovering Serenity: A Guide to Embracing the Unchangeable

“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation, then deciding what you’re going to do about it.” – Kathleen Casey Theisen

Hey Friend!
 
A question I often get asked is “How do you find peace with the things you can’t change?”
 
For me personally, I wish I could change my paralysis to play volleyball with my girls or toss my son in the pool. Yet this longing doesn’t take away my joy.
 
This strength comes from acceptance. Without it, I would haunt myself with “what ifs”, constantly thinking about how life could be different and robbing me of fully experiencing life’s beauty in the present moment.  
 
Acceptance means acknowledging what we can’t change and focusing our energy on what we can influence. It’s embracing who we are and the circumstances life has given us, rather than wasting energy rejecting reality or wishing it was different.
 
True acceptance is not weakness but meekness. It’s an act of courage, confronting what pains us head on and leaning into it rather than avoiding discomfort. By doing this I’m able to pivot to see life as it is in the present, untainted by judgment, resentment, or comparisons. I’m then able to focus on the limitless possibilities within my reach right now.
 
Acceptance provides the foundation to build inner peace, empowerment, and taking inspired action. With acceptance, we stop fighting reality and instead flow with life and get busy creating. 
 
Know that acceptance is an ongoing journey that takes deep patience and compassion for ourselves. It’s not a destination we reach once and for all – it’s the gift we give ourselves each day to find resilience and peace on this human journey.
 
Though the path of acceptance is often hard, may you find strength to walk it. Share below – how do you practice acceptance in your life? What helps you on the journey?
 
 
Your friend,
   
Chris


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The Day My Friend Borrowed My Wheelchair and The Lesson it Taught Me

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

Hey Friend!
 
I have noticed a striking difference between pre-injury and post injury life… People are kinder to me. We are capable of being so much more compassionate to one another. This story from a few years back exemplifies this perfectly. 
 
My friend and I were at our gate waiting for our flight to a conference I was speaking at. To kill the time, my friend asked to use my wheelchair while we waited. It was an unusual ask but nonetheless thought it would be entertaining. He transferred me to a seat while he wheeled around. 
 
When it was getting close to time to board, I asked if he’d speak to the gate agent to see if we could get as close to the front of the plane as possible, which makes it much easier for me to board. He happily rolled over and secured our ideal spots.
 
Shortly after, as we boarded, the gate agent saw my friend standing. She had a very puzzled and startled look. She was able to quickly put it together; she wasn’t witnessing a miracle, but simply a Houdini switcheroo. Bothered, she said, “I thought you were in a wheelchair! I was so nice to you!”
 
Since my injury, I’ve witnessed people’s capacity for kindness. But it often takes visible challenges to draw that out. But most burdens are invisible – grief, depression, heartache. We withhold kindness until we see tangible need.
 
Yet empathy is a choice. I wish we extended grace without requiring suffering to deserve it. We all face hidden battles. 
 
So offer kindness to all, regardless of appearance. Seek to understand invisible struggles. 
 
Kindness is a language we all need. By choosing it consistently, we build a more compassionate world. Our humanity thrives when we lead with gentle hearts.
 

Your friend,
   
Chris


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The Key to Navigating Life’s Storms with Resilience

Hey Friend!
 
Today, I want to talk about resilience—the unwavering strength within us that helps us endure life’s trials, and how hope acts as its guiding light.
 
Resilience, as I’ve come to understand, is intricately linked to hope. It’s more than just blind optimism; it’s the belief that even in the face of insurmountable odds, there’s a chance—a chance for improvement, healing, and a better tomorrow. Hope serves as our beacon, guiding us through the darkest nights and reminding us that dawn will break.
 
In the midst of life’s storms, grounding ourselves is essential. It’s natural to seek control, but rushing into decisions during emotional turbulence is counterproductive. Instead, acknowledgment is key. Talking to someone who listens without judgment or turning to the pages of a journal—my personal sanctuary—can provide clarity amid chaos. Journaling has transformed my emotional turmoil into tangible words, bridging the stormy seas of emotion to the solid ground of rationality. It’s not about erasing the storm but learning to navigate it with a clear mind and a steadfast heart.
 
I’ve discovered that resilience isn’t just about weathering the big storms; it’s also about mastering the art of navigating the smaller ripples before they become waves. Acknowledging minor frustrations, fleeting sadness, and whispers of anxiety allows us to let them pass without causing lasting damage.
 
I encourage you to embrace hope and acknowledge your emotions, no matter how small they may seem. Together, let’s navigate life’s storms with resilience, clarity, and a steadfast heart.
 
Wishing you strength, hope, and resilience on your journey.
 
Your friend,
   
Chris


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The Desire to Be Valued

Hey Friend!

 

As someone with a physical disability, what I long for most is for people to see my value. We all want to be appreciated for who we are, not underestimated based on superficial judgments. 

 

One of the greatest gifts is to value a person as they are. Because no matter our circumstances or differences, we all have something wonderful to offer. My wife, family and friends do this – they see me as a loving husband, dad, friend, movie buff, and sports fan.

 

But too often, strangers become uncomfortable around me. Some avoid me. Others stare awkwardly. They’ve assumed my wife is a nurse, or that my kids are siblings. This hurts, as they dismiss me without knowing me. 

 

I believe this stems from lack of experience with someone like me. It’s difficult for them to see past my disability. Feeling awkward is understandable, but to truly see people, we must lead with curiosity. 

 

I’ll never forget my first plane trip with my wife. The flight attendant asked her, “Would he like a drink?” My wife responded, “Why don’t you ask him yourself? Don’t assume someone can’t speak for themselves because they have a disability.”

 

The attendant tried explaining herself, but my wife wanted to make a point to never make assumptions. She learned a lesson! My wife won’t hesitate to speak up when she feels there’s been injustice.

 

The best way to show value is to seek to know someone before judging. Valuing people goes deeper than kindness.

 

Your friend,

  
Chris


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