First things first, if you are reading this I truly thank you. Thank you for visiting my website and supporting me. It is because of people like you that I push myself to do everything I can on this crazy journey to make a positive impact on the world.
Six months ago, I graduated college with a degree in International Studies from the University of South Carolina. I am so proud of myself and my degree. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to get an education. It was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything but it came at a cost.
Throughout my four years, I was either in the classroom, the library or on the road. During the small amount of free time I had, I tried to get away from the chaos and hang out with my friends and be normal. Most of the time that meant late nights with my friends and early mornings sitting on the runway before leaving on another flight for another city and another business adventure. While traveling and speaking led to life changing opportunities and meeting incredible people all over the world overtime it began to wear me down. Constantly switching between two different lives in two different worlds certainly took a toll on me.
During the week, I would sit in college classrooms, take trips to the river, local breweries and baseball games with friends and on the weekend I would put on a suit for meetings at the Pentagon, speaking to Fortune 500 companies, visiting troops in Afghanistan or embassies around the world.
Throughout all of this I took little to no time for myself. It was a constant struggle to eat right, sleep well (enough) and balance a college life with a professional career all while being a Medal of Honor recipient. At one point, the toll of a semester of traveling, 15 credit hours and final exams caused me to crash — hard. It was as if my body had initiated an emergency self-preservation protocol and hit the force shut down button. I cancelled my upcoming trip and went straight to the hospital for an IV and to begin the reboot process. It was an alarming wake-up call. Accompanied by the advice of a dear friend and mentor Paul Ramirez who said “if you’re not good for yourself you’re not going to be good for the people you’re trying to help” I chose to slowly start making necessary changes to put myself first.
I am so thankful for this beautiful and challenging time because it showed me just how far and how hard I can push myself professionally before other areas of my life are negatively affected. Even though my work-life balance is still a work in progress I have learned how to say ‘no’ without feeling bad. I now understand how to turn my focus to where my efforts will have the most impact for myself, veterans and the causes and people I am working to support.
With that said, after graduation I had put all events and speaking opportunities on hold. I have used these past few months to get organized professionally, reconnect with friends I have lost touch with and began a very big project (stay tuned).
I also worked with an agency to build my brand and create this website to connect on a more personal level with those who follow and support me all over the world. I enjoy and appreciate social media — it gives me a way to share my journey of recovery, life and the unexpected but the website will allow people to see who I am, the thoughts I have and, over time, my ever-changing take on the world.
Thank you, again, for your support and following my journey.