Assume Nothing

If you wondering why I don’t write here often I might give you the expected “I’m too busy” but the truth is the Internet is a pretty vulnerable place to express yourself this day in age. When I do get the chance to sit down and write it is often brief so those fragments of thoughts are not yet ready for global publication. Ultimately what does inspire me to write here is all of my friends, family and supporters who I know care so much about me and do genuinely want to know what’s going on in my life. Unfortunately, I am too busy to connect with all of you in detail so here’s the report and thank you all for bringing out the best in me!

I’m better understanding what an unavoidably transformative experience life is. The last time I wrote with the intention to share on this blog was over a year and a half ago and my life was once again at a turning point. I wrote about the chapters of life being a fresh start, a new blank page unwritten and full of potential, a new chapter lay ahead for me. Once again I’ve written the next chapter and in doing so have pointed my narrative in an entirely new direction. I start writing again now with a new outlook, new circumstances and my life in transformation once again.

Being able to buy and remodel a home for accessibility has been one of my biggest blessings and one of the most important things I needed to do to bring some normalcy and independence back to my life. It had been three years since I was able to roll up under my own sink and brush my teeth by myself. Three years since I had let myself through my own front door. Three years since I’d felt comfortable being home alone. The love that has come through this house is evident in the décor, the drawings on the guest wall and Quill’s love of new faces (my 3yr old Shiba Inu). I can’t thank all of my friends and family enough for making me feel so comfortable here. I finally feel like I’ve moved from survival to stability.

Although once I’ve been put together I may be able to shove off into my day and appear somewhat independent the bottom line is my life requires a lot of assistance at home. That assistance comes largely from caregivers and I don’t know what it is about my luck but I have had some amazing people brought into my life as a result of my dependence and I am blessed for that. At any time I usually have 2 to 3 caregivers in my weekly rotation one of which I live with full-time. The selflessness and compassion that I’ve received from these relationships has and continues to teach me some of the most important lessons one human could teach another. Most importantly I’m learning my care is a necessity of my life not a burden on someone else’s and as you can imagine that’s a helpful realization.

I’m having a harder time these days telling people my body’s fine and life goes on. Life certainly goes on but the truth is I’m living with chronic pain and it affects my quality-of-life daily. So many people have pain and injuries that are invisible to those around them and while my injury is obvious the pain isn’t as much. Outside looking in you see a disabled body in a wheelchair and it often ends there, I could never explain to you the different layers and aspects of pain that live within. Over the last two years my spasticity and nerve pain has changed for the worse and I’m currently doing everything in my power to try and figure out how to reverse the trend. The bottom line is I put my body through a lot and my mind for that matter as well. I’ve never really accepted that life would need to slow down after my injury. As a result I’ve pushed through when my body and my mind are asking for rest and as we all know it catches up with you. I am not enjoying living my life in pain and hoping to find some relief as I continue to seek out every available option while continuing to do the things that I have been fortunate enough to weave into my schedule like stretching, chiropractic, acupuncture and massage. They all do help but can’t seem to get to the root of the problem. I also just recently learned the harsh realities of pressure sores and bed rest as I unfortunately sat on a small hard piece of plastic for one day and it put me in bed for two straight months. I’m doing better now and back at it, cruising around with my friend pain.

Someone once asked the Dalai Lama what surprised him the most about mankind and this was his answer…

“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and the he dies having never really lived.”

I’m currently working on a solution to this problem in my own personal life. I’ve made the recognition and I need to continue to work on making the adjustments. Work is rewarding and engaging on so many levels for me. My career has become a very important part of my identity and motivation so I’m doing my best to balance my workaholic tendencies with what my body’s realities are. I feel like all things considered I’m in as good a place right now as I could ask for and things are definitely looking up in the near future. I also have a very special girl now in my life that inspires me to really get the most out of every day regardless of what situation we find ourselves in. It’s a good time for me to get out of my own head and pursue the things I know will put a smile on my face.

I’ll leave you with this… If I look back on the time since I wrote here last the most important lesson I personally have learned is about making assumptions. We all make them every day about everyone we see and know and it’s not healthy. I think the reality is there can only be one assumption safely made and that is that each and everyone has their struggles whether they are blatantly evident, more personal, invisible or even unknown. Assumptions are easily made and often completely wrong so I ask you to please practice the same compassion you have with others as you have with me and hopefully we can all continue to lift each other collectively.


*Please excuse my horrible sentence structure, lack of understanding proper punctuation and generally shitty grammatical skills

29 Responses to “Assume Nothing”

  1. Daniela says:

    Beautifully written and thought provoking Riley! Keep it up! xx

  2. Steph says:

    All inspiring as always Riley, thanks for the update and keep that chin up as you are an amazing spiritual being. I love your words and you. xo

  3. patti bippus says:

    Riley you are an amazing person. This update reaffirms the strength, fortitude, determination and wisdom that you epitomize. Thank you for sharing what you are going through. I think of you often and with great fondness and respect and tell other people about how successfully you’ve met the huge challenges you’ve faced.

    Patti Bippus

  4. Hank Lambo says:

    Thanks very much for sharing, Riley. Hope our paths will cross before too long.

  5. Lisa says:

    Hugs to you Riley

  6. Lisa says:

    Hugs to you Riley

  7. Rachael says:

    We love you and care about you so much! This was a great update to read. I am so proud to know you and am so lucky to get a daily dose of inspiration from you. Hoping to see you soon. Keep going Riley. Love you always

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE you. Soooo glad Joseph and I were able to be part of bringing “some normalcy and independence back” to your life. I look forward to sharing your words with the LineSync Architecture team. . .your words bring to life why we do what we do.

  9. Gigi says:

    Love to you Riley. You have an indescribable light about you; all of the love around you is just a reflection of what you send out to all of us. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I keep all of our adventures and treasures in my heart. Healing light and the brightest love to you always. xo

  10. linda says:

    just to here you speak of pain and knowing what it is like. many do not understand what it’s like. there are all forms of pain. i live with chronic pain myself. yes some days are better than others. i have read your articles on facebook and you are an inspiration. i felt your pain when you were injured as you are a friend of my son’s gavin. staying positive is always the best. keep writing my friend. peace and love…

  11. rory w says:

    love ya bud!

  12. Bernadette says:

    One of the first things your mom told me about you was “he is a wise old soul”! She was so right! Love, light and peace to you. You are amazing.

  13. Kirk says:

    Very well written. Being a c5-6 blog writer myself I can relate in many ways. We just need to try and enjoy what we love and ignore the rest. Keep it up- we’ve learned what many never will. Cheers

  14. Richard Bacher says:

    Thanks for the inspiring message. Your attitude toward life and its trials is very uplifting. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you work to overcome the pain and difficulties that you face in your daily life. I believe that you enjoy a richness of life and inner being that is rarely found by most who walk this earth. How great it is that you share so eloquently your inner life with others. Best Wishes and Highest Regards!

  15. Barb Page says:

    Riley, it has been such a long time since we last visited. I got to know you while you were at Craig and we worked together on an issue for you that I believe we were able to resolve. I was Executive Director of Craig Hospital Foundation at that time and have since retired.

    I am sorry to hear of the pain and health issues. Sadly they seem seem to go along with spinal cord injuries. I do not know if you have consulted the “Nurse Advice Line” at Craig. It might be helpful. To reach a nurse call: 800-247-0257 or 303-789-8508.

    Feel free to contact me personally via my email address if you wish. Good luck!

  16. Dana Flahr says:

    Great to read this Riley. Life seems like one long personal evolution doesn’t it?

  17. Lynda Jackson Petito says:

    Not sure that we really ever met, Riley. But I’m Jackson’s mom and, as I know that Jamie Starr is your good buddy, I believe you know Jackson too. Just a note to say that your response to your bad situation is nothing less than amazing and oh,so honorable. You truly inspire so many people and, although that fact doesn’t do much for the pain you feel daily, please know that many are touched by your life and how you live it! Thank you for that.

  18. Joanne Esau says:

    Thank you Riley for sharing these thoughts with us. Your reflections are truly inspiring. You are often in our hearts and prayers.. We only knew you as a little guy in pre school, we could never have imagined what a strong and wise young man you would become. Love to you, your family and your wonderful friends.

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  28. Brad Sorock says:

    Hey Riley…
    random ADD drift in my workday brought me here and once again inspired me. Thanks for giving back in such a simple way.


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