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August 22, 2018
(Nathan Ogden, inspirational speaker, trainer and author of “Unfrozen,” will be this year’s Chair The Love keynote speaker! In 2001, Nathan shattered his neck in a snow skiing accident, leaving him a quadriplegic. Since his accident, Nathan has traveled the nation visiting businesses, organizations, nonprofits and schools to speak about how to conquer fears and become “unfrozen” in your day-to-day life.)
Last week I took my two youngest girls with me into the mountains of Idaho to speak with a group of middle-aged single adults near Garden Valley. I gave a really fun talk that night outside the lodge with tall pine trees in every direction I looked. It doesn’t get much better than that. The next morning I helped give some workshops on how to face our fears and quit using excuses in all aspects of our lives. My girls and I slept in a tiny old cabin with extremely squeaky bed frames that have been there for many years. I didn’t sleep very well but it wasn’t because of the cold mountain air or because the bed was so skinny I couldn’t roll over to relieve pressure on my hips. It was because every time my girls moved even a tiny bit, (which for kids is all night long) the rusting metal springs just under our sleeping bags kept screeching an annoying high-pitch that made me want to stand up, walk out the door and take my chances with the coyotes. Even though we had a great time together there was something that kept distracting me. I mean really bugging me, and it’s not the first time this is happened.
As much as I love the outdoors, ever since I have been paralyzed I struggle to be truly happy when I’m out in nature. If there’s a small trail leading up a steep canyon, I want to start hiking on it to see what’s around the next corner or over the next ridge. Or if I’m trying to teach my kids how to go off a big rope swing into the river, I have to verbally describe how to do it properly because I can’t show them myself.
“Why does everyone else around me get to experience this but I can’t!”
“I want to keep doing these activities the way I used to, this is so frustrating!”
“I’m sure some of these people have problems but at least they can physically enjoy what’s all around them.”
These thoughts were entering my mind all night and into the next morning until I had a serious reality check. While giving my workshops I began asking probing questions to those in attendance about their fears, hesitations, and excuses they use that are holding them back from reaching their full potential. I was put in my place and humbled quickly by the stories I heard. Many of these amazing single adults have had their spouse pass away or be unfaithful to them leading to a difficult divorce. Others are in their 40s without ever having the opportunity to get married or have children. Some of these single parents have as many as five children they are trying to raise and provide for on their own. I remember one strong lady had five children, and two of them suffered with expensive and time-consuming disabilities. Wow, I can’t even imagine the stress, worry and exhaustion that must bring.
All their stories of struggle, sacrifice, and survival were different but one common thought continually surfaced to the front of my mind. I am so blessed with the physical abilities I still have, my faith in God, and that I’m surrounded by phenomenal family and friends. I may not be able to run down that little dirt trail or climb the tall pine tree with my kids, but if I had the chance to trade my troubles and frustrations for someone else’s, it would be wise to embrace what I’ve been given instead of complain. I’m sure there’s many aspects of my life I take for granted, while others dream to experience it.
I challenge you all to appreciate the talents and abilities you possess and be very slow to judge one another, because rarely do we know their full story.
“The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.” – J. Johnson
Written by Nathan Ogden