On December 21, 2003 my life changed forever. I have been challenged since then in more ways that I could have ever imagined before my accident.

16 years ago! How is it possible that 2003 was 16 years ago? How is it possible that I have been in a wheelchair for 16 years? How is it possible that I am a better person today because of my struggles than I ever imagined I would be?

Year 16 of my life in a wheelchair started out as one of the worst years since my skiing accident. It started with the beginning of the end of a relationship and marriage that I thought was unbreakable. As I got further into the year I found out that the “unbreakable marriage” was nothing more than a bunch of smoke, mirrors, and lies that had been happening for some time.

I sunk into a depressed mindset. A mindset that I couldn’t pick myself up from. I had worked so hard and long on a relationship and goals with my wife, and now because of her actions, it was all gone. We were so close to achieving a huge goal. So close in fact that I could almost reach out and take it. But, all of our goals and dreams as a couple were gone with her taillights going down the driveway one last time.

I had reached what I thought was another low point in my life. I had been here before a couple of times. After my accident, multiple stints in the hospital, and when I came the realization that rehab wasn’t going to work for me, that I would not walk again. When I get in these tough spots in my life I forget what a bad ass I am (that may sound conceded or cocky to some, but when I push myself, I can achieve things people don’t think I should be able to). I think forgetting your inner bad ass is very typical for most people. The problem is, I always seem to forget the catapult effect these situations have on my life. What I have learned is that if you keep putting yourself in these situations that suck, you figure out what type of person you really are. Most of us do the complete opposite though, most of us live our lives avoiding failure, which makes it so that we never realize our true potential.

During these rough situations I get to a point where I am completely pissed off. But I don’t throw a rage, instead I use that anger to my advantage. I use it as fuel to empower myself to get better. It’s the catapult effect. I allow the anger and tension to catapult me to work harder to get out of the bad situation I’m in. I work on myself, on my goals, building the lifestyle I want. Being in a wheelchair I can’t just go out and work physically harder than everyone else, I have to use my brain. Then I reach the point where the tension becomes too great and I vault my life past where it was before.

Your brain in these hard times can be your worst enemy, but it’s also the only thing you have to get out of the tough times. It’s you and your brain alone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Your either going to control your brain or your brain is going to control you. Your mindset has to change. YOU have to change it from the poor me mindset to the YOU CAN’T F$&:ING STOP ME mindset! With this mindset you’re hoping for things to get harder so that you can prove to yourself, and the rest of the world, that nothing is going to stop you. That no matter what happens to you, you will overcome. This mindset will vault your life to places you never thought possible.

What I have come to realize in year 16 is that you can’t live your life for other people. I have to build this awesome lifestyle for myself and myself alone and then if someone wants to come join me in this life, that’s when everything will work out perfectly. Trying to change yourself to fit someone else’s mold of what they think you should be will never work. And you shouldn’t want it to.

16 was a year of both lows and highs but it’s ending on a great note. I’m getting my business back on track. I bought a house. I have started dating. I am rebuilding relationships with friends that I didn’t know my past relationship had negative effects on. Looking forward I know year 17 is going to be the best year yet. 17 will be the year of the Kip Johnson no one has seen before.