The Difference Between Surviving and Thriving

In 2010, I was offered a spot with No Barriers Warriors to climb in Nepal; however, due to work, I had to cancel on this climb.

So, in 2014, when I heard about Warriors to Summits’ Mission: Mt. Whitney, it came at a time when I had just realized I needed to start living my life to its fullest.

I had held myself back for eight years, feeling the guilt for surviving an attack that had taken two great men, Dan and Jesse. Because of the injuries I had sustained — loss of an eye, TBI and PTSD — I lost my job in the military that I had loved.

I felt an overwhelming sense of failure. I felt I failed in Iraq on that mission and in the military.

So, I was determined more than ever, to accomplish this climb.

I put a lot of pressure on myself. It almost felt like if I failed this mission, then I shouldn’t have survived the attack. Because of the training on the Colorado mountains, and at home on trails and in the gym, I was focused more than ever on accomplishing something I knew was important for me to thrive in my future.

On Sept 11, 2014, when I made it to the top of the mountain and watched the sunrise, I felt such an inner peace. I teared up at the loss of Dan and Jesse, but I felt happy I was finally going to live my life.

Before Mission: Mount Whitney, I was doing such a disservice to them by not living to my full potential. Why survive, if you aren’t going to live?

Now, I have the confidence to volunteer and work again in unknown environments. Also, I am training to run a half marathon with my niece. Most important, I am just truly happy I survived.

I don’t wake up every day wondering why I survived anymore. I just live life in the best way I know how. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. And I know I can push myself to any limit and even if I don’t succeed, odds are, it will be a fun attempt.