May 18, 2021

Purpose driven. Joe Delagrave's story on turning obstacles into miracles.


Joe Delagrave captivates his audiences by using his heart gripping life experiences, humor, storytelling, and background as a professional counselor to be relatable, authentic, and real.  He believes that we all have the responsibility to take control of our own lives despite our circumstances.  We get a choice to play the victim card or find our victor mindset. 

Joe Delagrave has over 13 years of experience on the National Wheelchair Rugby Team. He is a Paralympic bronze medalist, and as a captain for over eight years, he has proven leadership as the team has been podium contenders each year. With that athletic mentality, Joe captivates and motivates people to find that competitive fire within themselves no matter the obstacle. Life threw Joe a curveball, but he rose above to find the opportunity in his circumstances. Joe works with leaders and organizations to develop plays and action plans for success as we all strive to get that Gold.
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Transcript

Joe:

I'm going to continue to move on because I'm not gonna believe in that little voice. I'm gonna believe that. No, I am made for a purpose. I do have a choice in this. And so stop dwelling on what's happened and start dwelling on what you can do after.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to the bright side of life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that, they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, hello, bright siders. Welcome to another episode of the bright side of life. I am your host, Melissa Bright. And here we are at Episode 34. And it's all thanks to you guys. So if you are in fact enjoying these episodes, and you feel like they are really making a difference, you can show your support and a couple of different ways you can subscribe and share with your friends and family. You can write us a review at Apple podcast or directly on my website at the bright side of life podcast.com slash reviews. Or I also am part of buy me a coffee which is a way for creators like myself to accept donations from our listeners, that donations mean a lot to the future of the bright side of life podcast. So if you want to donate, you can just head over to my website, which is again the bright side of life podcast.com and just click on the donate button and just follow the prompts. And as always, thank you so so much for your support. So let's get into today's show. And today I am talking with Joe della grave. He is here to share his incredible story of a life changing event and how he turned his circumstance into amazing opportunities. He is a keynote speaker, professional counselor and a Paralympic bronze medalist. He believes that we all have the responsibility to take control of our own lives despite our circumstances. Joe, welcome to the show. And thank you for coming on here to share your story. How are you doing today?

Joe:

I am doing good. Fresh off a plane. Hello, bright ciders. Whoever's listening. Yeah, I'm excited to talk and have good conversation.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And just for you guys, before we press record, Joe came on camera. And he said really quickly. He said, just so you know, I'm not in prison. I'm at my camp that he does for rugby. And we'll get into all that stuff later. But it was pretty funny when he said that. I was like, well, Thanks for clarifying. But it was funny.

Joe:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, normally, like our backgrounds are all like, on brand, right? Nope, I just have some white sheets behind him. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Hey, it is what it is it at least you get to do it. So it's all good. Okay, so let's go ahead and we're just gonna dive right into your story. So we're gonna go back to 2004 because I know that's where everything changed for you. And I want listeners to really see how far you have come so 2004 you are a freshman playing Division Two football at Wynonna State University. And you are well on your way to starting as a tight end, starting your sophomore year, but in July before your sophomore year, you were in an accident. So can you kind of tell the listeners what what that day was like for you? And essentially what happened?

Joe:

Yeah, so So to give it a little context, sports were kind of my life growing up. That was a childhood and like, I just love sports. I remember seeing pictures when I was a little baby with balls and a golf club and whatever it would be like I just love sports and all the way through high school. That was the goal to be able to play college, a college sport, whether that was basketball or football or primary to best sports and, and so yeah, that freshman year was was amazing. And getting to live out that dream and playing as a true freshman and moving on. I had one of the best years they had ever had, and still I've ever had. So it was just an amazing kind of like, fun, freshman year of college kind of anything that I would have hoped for type of deal. I mean, it was just it was just great. And then in between my freshman sophomore year, like you said, had this devastating accident. I'm back in my hometown appreciating Wisconsin. And so river town they'll find a town of 5000 people right on the river Mississippi River bordering Iowa and out in the river with my two best friends who are back from college as well. Adam and Kyle grew up on the same street together how Street and prairie and and and just enjoying a summer day was Saturday we were all working different jobs or whatever for I worked for the city and the parks and rec department and a really easy job. Kyle got the really hard job he had to weed whack all day long. I just drove a truck. Yeah, I just drove a truck around making fun of him the whole day. And and then Saturday, we went on the river and like we did hundreds and hundreds of times and growing up and we're gonna back slew of the Mississippi and it's just off the main channel and a calmer channel that's easier for us to newborn on. So we're back there and we've been back there a million times. And, and you never know how deep or shallow the water is. So we, you know, we knew that looked for like low water logs or sticks, or you know, whatever. And in that day, it just happened where Kyle accidentally hit the bottom of the river, I flew backwards, I was just sitting in the boat doing nothing dumb or stupid, like, but you know, 19 at the time, so I did plenty of dumb stuff growing up. But like, just sitting there and hands behind my head. And during the 75 degree, July 10 day and hits the bottom river, I fly backwards, I hit my head on the front of the boat inside the boat in my neck at the sea six and seven level. And so I wake up from being blacked out and in life is change.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my gosh. And like you and I hadn't talked yet. So I knew there was a boating accident. And I i truthfully, it was like waiting for you to say something like, yeah, we were being young and dumb, like you just said and like something happened. And for for you to just say that. Like, no, I literally was just sitting in the boat. And that happened. Oh, my goodness. Okay, so that that happens. And then you wake up in a hospital? And what are your initial thoughts when you wake up? How long had you been there? What were the first couple things that you remember?

Joe:

Yeah, yeah, I blacked out and woke up on the boat. So like, I was very like, you know, aware of everything going on on the boat. And so Kyle madam and asked me some like questions about like, Can you move your legs and I tried to send a signal from my brain down through my legs like you would subconsciously like just to get up walk type of thing. And nothing happens. And I went and felt my leg and it felt like someone else's leg. And again, from the the the boat to the rescue boat to the ambulance into the hospital and medflight it up to a local Regional Hospital. And surgery happens. It takes like five or six hours. But then those next couple days, I don't remember anything. But I wake up and was just like, what is going on and the doctors come in my parents are in the room and and they're going, you know, Joe, this is what happened, you had a spinal cord injury, and you broke your neck at the C six and seven level that makes you a spinal cord injury and you're incomplete. And you're this and that, like all this medical stuff that what like, Am I going to walk again, that's basically what I said. And he's like, yeah, the 3% chance to walk again, Joe, you're not you're not going to, you're not going to get up from that. From from the wheelchair, you're going to be paralyzed for the rest of your life and just very, like cold,

Melissa Bright:

in a way matter of kind of

Joe:

Yeah. And I'm like, What are you talking about, like a football camp in a month, there's no way like they're, you know, in 19, you feel so invincible already. And you feel like you're on top of the world. And like, you have all these different opportunities. And these decisions that are super fun are almost like a romantic time in your life. And then this happens, and it's just gonna be paralyzed, and you're gonna be in a wheelchair, and you're gonna have to, you know, start doing a bunch of rehab and figure out how to live life in a wheelchair type of thing. And I had all these questions, right whirling around in my head, like you do already, but then amplified. Like, is this girl that I'm with gonna stay with me? Am I gonna build stuff kids? Like, am I gonna be like, the whole thing? You know? Like, my mom's even asking the doctor like the doctor? Is he gonna be able to have sex? Cuz I need grandkids? And I'm like, Get the hell out of my really. But you know, like, but those are like the real questions. Those are the questions that you want to ask. And

Melissa Bright:

so did did all these questions kind of come at you at once. Like when when the initial first time that he told you like, Joe, you you probably have a 3% chance of ever walking again? Where did these questions just start? Or did it kind of take a couple things like, Oh my god, what about this? And then the next thing and then the next thing? or What did that really look like real? Yeah, it

Joe:

was a progress of you know, one day I'm, I'm thinking about this the next time think about this? The next day, I'm like, Am I gonna be able to go back to college, they're talking about me going back home to my parents and all that and sometimes take care of me and like, you know, and so yeah, they just kind of snowball throughout the time in the hospital. And, and, you know, the other piece too, is like, you know, for me, faith is really important. And at this point, I'm just mad at God too angry, so mad and everything like The whole situation like, cop, Like what? Like what? No, like you like, you know, my passion is sports and, like, now it's gone. You know. So the athletic identity is completely ripped away. There's a lot of anger and there's a lot of resentment. And there's a lot of bitterness. There's a lot of sadness. There's a lot of Mad here, like, the whole thing.

Melissa Bright:

How long did it take you to get to get angry? Like was this like, within a day? Did it take a little bit to kind of process everything? Because I know, you know, well, I don't want to say I know. But when, when tragic things like this happen, almost like losing somebody, you go through stages of grief, and one of them is anger. So did this happen almost instantly? Or did this kind of take a little bit?

Joe:

This was pretty, pretty, pretty right away on that bad boy. Yeah, it's, you know, and I had so many people in the, in the hospital room, pouring into me and a lot of support, and I'm very thankful for but then a night, it was just like, this is awful. Right? What do you like it and I'm just praying and begging, like, oh, like, Can I get total wiggle? Can I get like a legume? Like, something's gonna sign and it's gonna be okay. Because, for me, it's just like, life, like I knew is over. Always people are saying, Oh, it's gonna be okay. You know, PRI and blah, blah, I'm like, No, I won't be alright. like them, I'm going to get a wheelchair, and paralyzed. And this whole thing is off.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Yeah. I can't even imagine and like you said, like, when everybody's there, and everybody's kind of feeding you whatever, like, it's going to be okay, you're going to be able to do this, you're going to be able to, it's gonna be hard, what, whatever they're saying, but once you're by yourself, and you really have time to think, and really some time to get pissed off at God, essentially, you know, I mean, just kind of being alone with your thoughts. I'm sure that they, they, your thoughts can run wild. Can I ask you, you know, in the How long? How long did you spend in the hospital total? Again? Three months, three months? Okay, so a really long time. And did you ever like think the doctor just doesn't know what he's talking about? I'm, I'm gonna walk, it's going to happen. And then if you thought that At what point did did you know? Or did you kind of be like, no, I really think that this is this is my, the rest of my life.

Joe:

Yeah, yeah. Like, pretty much every person that breaks her neck and has a spinal cord injury kind of goes through this whole process. And some of them end up walking the halls are like, we're gonna walk, we're gonna prove the doctors wrong, especially with athletic mentality. And that's kind of like, almost like, what gets you up in the morning. Like, I'm going to I'm going to prove them wrong. I'm gonna go physical therapy and occupational therapy, I'm gonna pray I'm gonna get people like the whole thing. Right. And, and, you know, for me leaving the hospital I didn't have any more function and and and it took for that whole process that took almost a year and a half, two years for me to kind of get over the fact that I'm Platt sewing, this isn't going to happen for me. It's time to start moving on with life. And there's some things that happened within that. But yeah, like it's it's in for most people. in this situation. It's like a two year make it or break thing. Some people just are stuck in like, if I don't walk, I can't live life, which is way couldn't be further from the truth. And it's and it's what you make of it to what's your attitude towards it, as well. But for me, I worked my butt off to try to walk it because one of my pet peeves is like, I just worked so hard. And that's why I walked again. It's like, yeah, you probably did, but like, there's a lot of us that did that too. And it didn't happen.

Melissa Bright:

Right. Yeah. Right.

Joe:

Yeah. Not just that there's some stuff that happened, whether it was you know, a miracle or whether it's just neurological stuff that just happened for you. Right? Just like Yep, just worked my way out of the wheelchair. It's like, Well,

Melissa Bright:

yes, but no, right. Yeah, exactly. You have now left the hospital and I know you said it took about Oh, I remember your my question now. So you said most people that have had this spinal like injury, it takes about two years. So how did you come to know that? Did you I'm, I'm assuming you started coming in contact with with all kinds of people that have had spinal injuries. And this is kind of a

Joe:

No, I didn't want anything to do with anyone in a wheelchair. It's like that, like, I was just researching stuff. And then doctors would kind of tell me, Hey, you can get some feeling or or movement back up to up until two years usually it's kind of the window. And so that's what I was going off of because for me like, I wanted nothing to do with the wheelchair like taking pictures in a wheelchair or having friends that were in wheelchairs, like the whole thing and I went to a small small rehab. So I was the only person With my injury with my kind of injury there, which was really important for me on the social aspect, because I had friends from college that would hang out with me. My girlfriend there, and my, my, her parents and my parents and friends from high school, like it was in a central location where that allowed me to have that, which I think ended up being very, very, very important for me to have people in my life that would build me up and that time.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, did you? Did you ever feel like your friends were maybe gonna like treat you differently? Or were you surprised? Like, no, these are still my friends. They're acting the complete same? Did that ever change? at all?

Joe:

Yeah, like, I mean, in the hospital? No, I mean, it was just so cute and everything like that. But then afterwards, you know, there, there's some friends that no, don't treat you any different. But a lot of times too. It's like, you know, if they say, hey, let's go do this. And you're like, Oh, I can't. Or maybe, hey, let's go do this. Yeah, let's try to do this, or let's figure out a way to do this. And so like, in going and living life still. Yeah, like, I mean, I'm sure there's, there's always that point where you know, you have for me, I was six, six before and turned 60 pounds to send it as wheelchair, I can't really do anything for myself. And everyone wants just kind of do it for me. So that there's a battle to between, like having personal space, because like no one, when someone's walking up the hill. You're never like, oh, that person looks like they're struggling. Let me start pushing them. Right. But in a wheelchair, like any, like, it could be the strongest person in the world, right? And I'm pushing up, and they're like, oh, man, you look like you're struggling. Let me help you. And like, that's very common. Instead of just asking, do you want help, they're just like, let me start pushing I had, I had a guy do that. I was, later on I was I was dancing with my wife at a wedding. And, and she sits on my lap, we kind of dance around, roll around, whatever, super romantic, the whole thing. You know, and just feel and feeling very masculine, whatever. And then this old guy, like at nine years old, or that he seemed ancient, and starts grabbing my chair and starts pushing me around the dance floor, and I kind of look at it. I'm like, No, no, and he just keeps going the entire song. And at the end, he he said, You're welcome. And started rubbing my head. And I'm just like, I feel like the most person in the world. It was an awful experience. But yeah, that's like the like, the funniest story of boundaries that you write.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my God. He totally was not picking up like, dude, no, I was doing just fine with just me and my wife here. Yeah, yeah. Back off. Okay, so now you've left you've left the hospital. And at this point, what did you What did you after the hospital? Like, did you go back to school? Did you? Like questions? What am I going to do? Where Where is my future over? What were kind of these things going on?

Joe:

It was it was abrupt. So like, you know, three months, it was a long time. And I was ready to get out. But at the same time, like I, I couldn't do anything for myself. And so basically, they're getting like my mom, already to take care of me. So like, I got to live every Nigerian kid's dream. Move back into mom and dad. Like, obviously not all right, I got a rose dream right. And so I moved back in with mom and dad. The community were super supportive ended up building us like an addition onto our house with like a room for me and accessible bathroom and really was huge for that first year back. But it was back to you know, and even in my room that they built like my mom would put in like all my old clothes and cleats and your clubs and you see like what he used to get to do. And I go and help out with like the basketball team and you get to see what you used to do. And some of that was therapeutic. And some of it was was pretty awful. But it was still a struggle of like, what am I going to do? And I'm not quite sure a couple of things happened. One my wife and I are my wife, one my wife, my wife now, my girlfriend at the time, you know, she had been there every single day and kind of really grew up through that. So we ended up in we broke up for a while by we I mean I broke up with her because I was like I don't know if I love her as much as she loves me. Yeah. Yeah, all your bright setters are gonna DM me and be like, Hey, are you big jerk? anyway? No, I ended up asked her to marry me at 20 years old, so very young, but at the same time just felt that that was where we were at in life and then it was it kind of trigger me that like I need to get independent. Because I don't want my wife to be a nurse, for me or caretaker for me, I want to be her husband, I want her to be my wife and, and then I need to provide for, like, I need to start thinking about going back to school. And, and kind of just moving on with life. And that was right around that year and a half mark, where I'm like, you know what, let's go back to school and is enrolled again. And then another piece of this story, right around this time as well is Kyle who was driving the boat that day, that it broke my neck, and we're best friends this day. But it's like I was it's super important to have people in your inner circle that will speak into your life. Like without, without being vulnerable and accountable and to build you up and pull you back when you need it like those human guardrails that you need. You know, I don't know about you, but like, I love that. Yeah. And, yeah, and human God. And so cow's like, in the nicest way possible. He was just like, Joe, we should, like get you weighed. And I'm like, anyway, like, what? And he goes, Yeah, Joe, like, you know, like, and it's being super loving about it. But he's basically like, You're, you're getting really, really fat, really fat. And I was, I didn't really realize at the time, but like, out of the hospital, I lost a bunch of weight and like 220 pounds, and then we went away me at the local hospital, they didn't have a wheelchair scale. So I got on a bed that can zero out type of thing and zeroed it out. And they got on the bed and it said to earn 84 pounds. And I'm like your beds poke. There's no way this thing works. Like, I think it does Joe and the bed Cylon. Yeah, and I and I got out. And it was like zeroed out. Let's try it again, got back on. And sure enough 24 pounds. And it's like how I think I get rid go in here. And he's like, maybe surprised are working out or finding a sport to play or something. You know, and, and that's when I started going back to college. And, and finding a sport to play. But before that, I think this is important before that night on Sunday, kind of like, move over this part. That choice was until I go back to college you had the choice wasn't to start playing a sport, the choice wasn't to marry April, the choice was to just simply get in the wheelchair. Like I think a lot of us look at. And not everyone has a wheelchair. I get that not everyone's disabled. But I think a lot of people have a wheelchair in life, an obstacle in life, a circumstance in life, a disability or a disease or a mental illness, like whatever there's like we all struggle, like failure happens in live life happens type of thing. And we all have something. And I think a lot of times, we let that voice in our head, speak into us and let it let it move in and invade our thought process to the point of like, Oh, yeah, you're less than you're not enough. You're invaluable. You're unworthy, you're a fear of failure, you're just a failure, you're a loser, you're never in. And we start believing that. And I think a lot of times, it's easy, because we can play the victim card. It's easy, because we can play the blame card. Now. It's Kyle's fault that I was on this boat. And like in some of this is factual. I wasn't driving the boat, but at the same time, like I can't control that. And a lot of times, we can't control those thoughts and feelings and emotions that come into our head, but we can control our response. I think for me, that was like, the turning point, even when I didn't realize it that I was starting to make a response. My reaction to what was happening was, let's get in the wheelchair and my reaction was, let me figure out how to put my socks on and my shorts on and my shirt on. Let me figure out how to shower myself. You know, and, and not being afraid to fail. I mean, I remember my first time showering. You know, I had this big old shower chair like there's like big old wheelchair thing that can get wet and I wheeled in this big eight by 10 shower that they built me like the old team went in there and showered but like they wanted to make it nice and big. And I remember as my first shower because we they they hadn't gotten it done when I moved home. So it's my first shower in months. I did do like the sponge bath thing before that and I get in there and I'm like I am I'm just pouring Old Spice all over me just the whole thing or whatever was Irish springs and suds and up and I ended up getting so suddenly that I slipped off the shower chair onto the floor. And of course I can't get myself back up. And so like, even in those moments, you know and vulner like an eight year old kid having to call for his mom and dad to pick them off the shower completely naked. In those moments you just feel less than and not enough. But then you react to it. you respond to it. Say No, that's not who I am. I'm gonna keep making the choice. Keep making the choice. To find victory in your circumstances and your obstacles,

Melissa Bright:

yeah. Oh my goodness. And so this transition because you you obviously went through a transition because it sounds like for a while that you kind of were in that victim victim mode. And then somewhere along the way you kind of made this transition of well, I can either stay in this or I can I can truly be in the wheelchair I can try to do for myself, I can try to do the next thing and the next thing and the next thing until you get more independent or whatever. And to kind of see how that, you know, transpires? Was that a quick thing for you? Was it a slow thing? Was it a just Let's try one thing a day? Joe, let's just see what I can do today. And did you? Did you get proud of yourself? Like when you would do these things? Or was it I just did it cool?

Joe:

Yeah, a little bit of both. Like I think there was there was some like athletic mentality things where you attack a goal. And I've always been goal oriented. And oh, let me see if I can do this. Let me see if I can do this. That'll thing. But something like really significant happened as well. I started believing in this verse that have been given to me in a weird way, a week from accident. Bible verse, trust the Lord with all your heart, lean, not understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he'll direct you pass. It's proverbs three, in the chapter of Proverbs three, five and six. And right away that during the anger thing, I was like, Nope, not gonna do that. That's the whole thing. Absolutely. Now, like now, like God and I are not on good. And like, that's not happening. But I suddenly realized, like, I don't understand all this whole thing. And all I can do is trust these got planned for me. And then something significant really happened about a month after my accident, a guy from our town, was driving us 16 years old driving on a back road. And I while he lived across the river, and I won, on a back road, gravel road, home from the State Fair, ends up getting in an accident getting thrown from his vehicle, breaking his neck, and dying on impact. And I remember hearing about that, in realizing like, how much of a second chance I'd been given. And I saw myself as I'm the victim here, like, this life sucks. And then I realized, like, now I've got life to live like I'm 19. Right? Yeah, life to live in that really kind of like, pushed me towards, wow, here's Josh and his, his lives dawn, at 16 years old. And I'm in this hospital room, you know, for at least an hour a day, pouting about everything. And I realized, like, you know, what, like, I've been given a second chance. Yeah, and I need to make the most of it. And that was something that really, really helps Stoke my fire. To continue, and to see what this life in a wheelchair would lead to.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And I think, to kind of speak to that, you know, I've had, what 34 people on here now. And just my quick story in my victim card that I played is I lost my mom at the age of 25. And I didn't think I was feeling sorry for myself, but I thought I let a lot of stuff. It held me back because I didn't have my biggest support system anymore. So that person that I went to, for everything for the advice for mom, should I try this out in my career? Should I do this? She was no longer in my life, and it really hindered me. But finally, somewhere in the past year and a half, two years, I'm like, Okay, well, the victim card clearly is not working, Melissa, so you got to do something else. But with with people that I have on my podcast, some of their stories are, I don't want to say worse than mine. Better than mine, anything like that. But when I hear them, it's like Geez, Melissa, like, listen to their story and what they've went through and like, man, people, but but they've came out on the other side, hence the bright side of life. Like, it just reminds you, you know, and kind of just like yours, like, wow, I was given a second chance I could have that could have been my last day here on Earth was could have been that boating accident. And there's a reason why I'm here. So I just wanted to speak a little bit to that. That's amazing. That's amazing. So now you're changing your mindset. You and did you go back to did you end up going back to school? Thank you to better help for sponsoring this podcast. I have been using better help for almost a year now. And the progress that I have made in my mental health has been Incredible, I just want to tell you my listeners a little bit about better help to see if it might be a great fit for you. Their mission is making professional counseling accessible, affordable and convenient. So anyone who struggles with life challenges can get help anywhere, anytime they offer four ways to get counseling, from video sessions, phone calls to live chat and messaging, it's also available worldwide, you will be matched with your counselor and 24 hours or less better help offers a broad expertise in their network. So it provides users with access to specialists, they might not be able to find locally, financial aid is also available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com slash bright side of life, that's better help.com slash bright side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month, you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash bright side of life. That's better help.com forward slash b r i g h t side of life, the link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Joe:

I did I did. So I went back to a known state where I played football helped out with the football team. And that whole year was a process of you know, the the first year was I didn't look at anything from a wheelchair point of view type of thing if I was 18 years old, like why would I and then I come back, you know 2021 and the campus is a lot different in a wheelchair, you're like they look at the ramps, and is this successful is that accessible, and you know, and then having caretakers come in and help me because I still wasn't fully independent with going to the bathroom and that type of thing. And, and a lot of reminders of what I used to used to do. But at the same time, it was very, very, like a huge support group, a huge support network of you know, entire football team and a lot of different friends there. That was really important for me, extremely important for me at the time. So like that was, it was good to say, you know, I don't know where this is gonna go. But let's get back out there. Let's go do it, you know. And it was during that first year is when I ended up looking up wheelchair rugby online. And in finding that.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, so we are definitely we're definitely going to get to that. But what did you What did you end up going to college for or ended up graduating to do?

Joe:

I changed my major about five, twice, twice before my accident and then three times after. So I like going into college, I was like I want to be a physical therapy says like I'll do biology. And then at the end of my freshman year, I'm like, maybe like exercise science. And then when I was going back that first semester, I was a math major ended up having a horrible experience with the teacher. Thank God because I would have been a terrible math teacher. But I would have been, I would have been great at the math, but I was just like, right? Yeah. Anyway, like, she I didn't write hard enough for her and I'm crippled over. But I had no idea how to be like, as far as I have no idea how to advocate for myself at the time. And I'm like, wow, this won't do this. And then right. So I switched again. And at the end of that freshman year, I was like, You know what, like, I think I need to I really feel like I need to go into some sort of ministry. And so I ended and that was I just started playing military rugby up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I was like, it was partly because I played rugby that I transferred up there. But I think part of it too is like I wanted to start over without having like a bunch of like reminders every single day of like what life used to be. And so I wouldn't have like, as many triggers to deal with. But I think a lot of it had to do with the rugby but yeah, so transferred trips up the Minneapolis, Minnesota and North. Okay,

Melissa Bright:

gotcha. Okay, so then then we will get on the rugby topic now. So that's that's kind of where that Oh, yeah, yeah, exactly. So how did you decide? I mean, obviously, I don't want to say it was an easy decision, but sports has been your entire life. So Had you ever played rugby outside of this ever before?

Joe:

No, no, I got no idea what rugby was. Or like, I knew that they didn't play helmets and they tackled and drank a lot of beer and like, like maybe that's all I did. But I I looked The sports to play and, and I clicked on a video that said murderball, which are obese, we called Nirvana clicked on that, to kind of figure out what it was. And it was these crippled people chasing each other around smashing into each other and like, basically trying to make each other more crippled. I'm gonna go on like, these guys are nuts. Right? Sorry, I don't I don't use PC language. But so and and Melissa said it was okay, if I did that on her podcast. Yeah, I email her dm her. And I'm like, this is wild. I really want to try this out. Like it's full contact. And what's really, really fun it's played on the basketball court is foreign for anger issues. This might be good. Right? Right. Yeah, there's a lot of bitterness in my heart stuff like this perfect. And, and ended up going to a practice and going to that practice changed my life. Because when I went to that practice, they're like, you're going to get in a wheelchair, like a sports shirt. I'm like, okay, you know, I'm outgoing, extroverted. So my shirt, whatever. And like, April's with me, and she's like, this isn't as easy as what you're trying to make us out. Like, like, I was really, really disabled at that point. Like I, we brought a sliding board to, like, connect the chairs, and then you slide like, baby powder for me to sprinkle on my cheeks could slide over there quicker. And like, the whole thing, like it was very, it was very, very, what we call the disabled world, like, This dude is very, he's a rookie, and doesn't know what he's doing whatsoever. So I getting this, getting this chair, and they strapped me into the chair that like on my feet, my knees, the chair and my waist and my chest and the whole thing. Because I didn't know at the time, but if you fall over, you don't want to like yardsale out and you have body parts going everywhere. And that whole thing, so they want you straightaway. But anyway, so get in the chair, and I start playing and passing the ball around and pushing up and down the court and the class is really neat. I had no idea what I was doing. But my lungs start to fill with air yet hot and and I realized, wow, I can be an athlete again. I didn't have that piece of identity back a little bit maybe. And then more importantly, there's a group of people there that were talking all about, like being disabled and what that means and how do you calf and how do you go to the bathroom? And how do you get into your chair? And how do you take your chair apart to get it into a normal vehicle or like all of this stuff. It's all a bunch of people and none of them were that great at wheelchair rugby. But they're really good at like being they just weren't, they know. But but they were really good to be independent and really good at being mentors and support group for 90 year old kid that did not want to be in a support group. And that's what it was disguised as butcher rugby. Ah,

Melissa Bright:

so that was going to be my question. So was this really your first time that you had started hanging out with the let's say quote unquote wheelchair people?

Joe:

Hmm. Yeah, it was my first time. Hold the other time was a friend of ours through her brother in law was like a four time wheelchair basketball, Paralympian and climb out every he had just, I think just in the disabled, we have like, food chains of disability. So if I see someone missing a hand, I'm just like, that's it. Like what that's like, I know, it's terrible, but and so and he knew his name is Jeff glasper. And he knew of my accent. And he's like, and we saw each other at a wedding. And he's like, dude, like, yeah, takes the stuff off your chair and you got too much stuff going on. Like, you're gonna be called gimpy. And then we like the whole thing. That was my, that was like my first interaction. I'm like, that guy's a jerk. Right? Like, I can't believe he said that. They said the same thing about rugby. And I'm gonna go on. Okay, this is kind of making sense now. So as my first like true, seeing someone else that went through the exact type of injury that I did, obviously different accidents and stuff, but like, same level of injury with their neck, and, and I'm going like these guys like, I live in life. And I really, really impressive. Yeah,

Melissa Bright:

so were they were they for your first rugby. Rugby practice? Were they all they were in wheelchairs? Right? This Northwestern? Yeah. And so was it anything like, I mean, with sports in general, when somebody goes to and I don't want to say like that, you try it out. But you were just there? Did they? Were they supportive? Or were like, Oh, this guy kind of sucks. Like now we're gonna have to teach them or how was it?

Joe:

Yeah, you're always trying to find new blood to play. And you know, like, when we have a dry spell, not finding any new talent. Like, we joke that we chase ambulances that try to find players to play. It's true. Yeah, so yeah, they were like, Yeah, come play whenever you want to type of deal and, and, you know, I think I caught on pretty quickly. Yeah, I first started playing in 2006. And then I made my first national team in December 2008. So it ended up being pretty quick. Yeah, with that, but yeah, I was like when you guys practice Sunday and Wednesday, and I was still down, I went for that first couple months. And I was like, cool on going. And then you know, and so every Sunday and Wednesday I was I was there training with them. And then it started being like, that started to give me a set up goals of like, I need to lose weight to play the sport, I need to start eating better to play this sport, and I need to train outside of it and get a hand cycle and the the whole and so ended up kind of like setting me up to go. Alright, I'm an athlete again now like start training like one let's start eating like one to start setting goals like one and then starting that process.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So two years later, you made it to the national level. Now, is this something I have no idea how this works. So is this something that's easy to obtain? Or was this pretty like a pretty amazing goal that you did this within two years? Yeah, I think it's amazing, but

Joe:

probably some luck involved to the right time. I don't know. Like, I there's been guys that have done it quicker. But yeah, like I think it was pretty impressive. I think looking back. Yeah, I'll give myself I'll give myself that. Sure. I read. I think it's cool. Yeah, well, pat on the back.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So now, okay. I'm gonna ask a really, really blonde question. So as national level mean that you go to the Olympics or no?

Joe:

So it's Yes or no? Yeah. Okay. Great question. Great question, by the way, because I always say national team and always like, you say, Team USA, I'm like, well, you're not supposed to send us a message. So like, anyway, there's been like, very, like, rigid rules with this. But national team level is like senior national team. So like the US women's national soccer team. That's their national team, right? They have like development team and under 20, and blah, blah, blah, but that you only call yourself the Olympic and Paralympic team. During the Olympics and Paralympics. It's kind of a weird deal. Like, that's what most people say Team USA, it's it's way easier to like, yeah, I understand. Right? Yeah. So national team, just like the US women's soccer team or the US men's basketball team or the US women's national basketball teams. Like that's what national team means.

Melissa Bright:

Okay, you have just totally taught me now. I totally get it. So you're much more of a badass than I thought. So like you are? Well, I already knew you were but you're like on Team USA. And yeah, you have you've been to the Olympics. Is that correct?

Joe:

So yeah, so Paralympics. Sorry. Yeah. No, that's fine, are parallel to the Olympics. And and I'm very proud of like the Paralympic everyone's like, well, you're Olympian, too. And I'm like, No, I'm apparently being like, I'm very proud of being Yeah, that title, right. And anyways, 2012, I was in 2012, Paralympics, I was an alternate in Rio, which is a huge part of my story. I'd love to share about that. Gigantic and then. And then we find out at the time of this recording, we find out in 10 days if we make Toki or not. So we have 16 guys in this training squad. It'll be it'll be down to 12. That'll go to Tokyo.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my gosh, fingers crossed. Yeah. Are you excited?

Joe:

I am. I'm excited. And like, I feel like I have a pretty good shot, but it's still very nerve wracking. And yeah, of course. anxious. Yeah. Right. You don't want to just sit here and be like, Oh, I got this in the bag. No big deal. Right now. Yeah, you got to go out there and earn it.

Melissa Bright:

Right. Yeah. So going through all this all this rugby in it. Like you said you knew that that sports was kind of your your identity your feeling back? So what? What has this team and being playing rugby now? What have you really learned about yourself? And I'm just gonna leave that question really generic for you. answer whatever way you want.

Joe:

Yeah. One of the most important things I've learned about myself is like, not listening to the failure talk. And by that, I just mean, like, like we said before, there's like, we have so much failure in life. Like we have way probably way more failures than we do wins. If we really look at life, as just like and, and I realized, like, when I stopped listening to those little voices that said, Nah, you're not good enough. You know, like, I got cut in 2009 from a team 2010 from a team 16. I've been a captain for three years and ended up being cut from the 2016 Rio squad, right before they went and, and it's easy. I think, when especially when you keep failing, you're like, well, this just must be a it's just like, there's so much beautiful things on the outside of that. And we really learn about ourselves through that fire. Through that obstacle, for me, I would say like, getting in the wheelchair i thought was the obstacle. But really, it was the miracle. Like that was the vehicle that provided all these opportunities for me, there was opportunity within the obstacle. And for me, I just realized over and over again that when we fail, that's when the choice comes. A lot of times we think we're defined by the scoreboard of a win or a loss or, or defined by, you know, the failure or we failed that defines us know, like, comes after that it's your choice. Play the lazy victim card, or I'm going to find victory. In this, I'm going to get back up from this. I'm going to continue to move on because I'm not going to believe in that little voice. I'm going to believe that, you know what, no, I am made for a purpose. I do have a choice in this. And so stop dwelling on what's happened and start dwelling on what you can do after

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, and it makes that the victory that much better like that one more time that you get up that one more time that you try, and then you achieve whatever it is and then you're like, see because I used to be the person that's really really easy at self sabotaging because like, dude, if you want to prove yourself, right, just go self sabotage yourself. See, I told you, I couldn't do it. I'm really good at doing that. Yeah. And so but now I have started taking chances and doing these little things that scare me. And then it's like, see Melissa, but you can do the opposite also where you don't self sabotage and you prove yourself right in the ways that like Believe in yourself and try these things and see where that gets you

Joe:

know, that's so that's so good. That's such a good nugget because it's it reminds me of I'm a gigantic recovering people pleaser like I love I love people, and I love to please them. But like, what happens in that is that it's not people pleasing. It's people thinking, What are these? What are these people gonna think if I fail? What if people gonna think if I start something new and in fall, and instead of just taking a step of obedience and understanding what your purposes are step of faithfulness step a discipline, because everyone thinks, like, you're not jumping off a cliff, we always like, coax it all up and build it all up, like I'm doing something really huge. I'm going to jump off, like you're not jumping off a cliff, you're taking a step, right, and the next year, you take another step. And the next day, you might fall on your face. But the day after you take two steps, you know, and so like, let's let's minimize some of that risk. There's not a lot of risk in it in stepping into what you're called to do, or stepping into what you feel he true. truly feel purpose to do. Yeah. And it's cool to be surrounded by a bunch of teammates on the Paralympic team that I've kind of done that as well. Right. We got some we got some knuckleheads too, but like we did, like, there's Oh, yeah, yeah, but like there. We have a guy in our team, Jeff Butler, he's a point five which means he has the lowest amount of function on our team and the classifications on like our function, but this dude is going to be going to Stanford in the fall he had already he's already started his own health care company. He just did it at the wrong time because like it was an online health care company before the pandemic like two years before that bad boy like now it would have been like awesome but yeah, but started started it ended up shutting it down, but like, went for it. And this dude, like, you know, the hospital again, like the doctors probably like hey, you're not gonna build a brush your teeth, bucko. Like, this guy's just living life and dominating. I think that's something that's inspired me to be like, around it and almost normalized, taking those steps and, and being around people that like, hey, let's do this together. Like and that's what I love about, you know, communities like this where where you're, you surround yourself with people that aren't afraid.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Well, and also I think, like, correct me if I'm wrong, but when you guys probably hear, let's just say quote, unquote, normal, normal people, and they're like, bitching. That, okay, I discussed whatever, but like, you're in your pocket. But I know this is like Episode One, even 33 practices. Right? Take 34 but it's like you guys, I don't want to say it, but you're probably gonna be like, dude, if I can do this, if I can do this, if all these people on my team, we are on Team USA, we have all however many I don't know how many there are a view but like, we have came through some crazy obstacles not only physically, but mentally. And we're here and like we're showing like, we're standing up as we're representing Team USA, like the least you could do like let's say normal person with like, you can walk and you're not like a mobile. Stop playing the victim card and go do what you want to do. Because you can take a chance on yourself like, do you ever see those people and get frustrated and just want to like shake?

Joe:

Yeah, just go up and get an old slap. Yeah. Yeah. Like I think I think sometimes, for me, I like to, I like to move the person along to kind of see that for themselves. Yeah. And make it about them. Like, like, Hey, I know this this, like me being in a wheelchair isn't you, but you got something going on there that you needed to like. And I think sometimes you play that ultimate trump card and you're like, you know, like, like, two fifths of my body doesn't work. And I'm figuring out like, what's your excuse? Yep. Yeah. And yeah, so it's, it's, it's that one. I don't play very often. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, but you can feel like Oh, shit. You're right. Okay. Yeah, right. Yeah, right. Yeah. Okay, so, uh, with that, though, I know that you did at some point, you got your master's and professional counseling. Is that correct? So, explain to me because I was like, okay, does this mean that like you're a therapist? Or what it? Can you explain to me exactly what Professional Counselor means?

Joe:

Yeah, yes. So it's, it's basically I worked as a license associate counselor when I was in private practice, and interned in a private practice as well. And so like, basically, a psychotherapist or whatever. And so yeah, and I did that. So when I did my masters, and then did private practice for about three years, and really enjoyed it, like, truly, really enjoyed it. And then my wife and I ended up moving back to Wisconsin from Arizona. I don't know why we did that. We had family very close to us, like our parents live three blocks away now. So it was great with three small kids. It's just the Arizona's like, the deserts, beautiful because it's flat hot. Like I call it the cripple paradise. It's just because I love being warm. And yes, I did that. And it really taught me a lot about myself. And did you know a lot about boundaries a lot about those thoughts, feelings, actions that you don't get to control, it comes in, like, darts in, but you do get to control the response, and really understanding that with victim mentality and codependency and that whole thing and, and so it really taught me a lot. And I had a really, really, really good mentor and guy named Dr. Michael, down there, that was just probably one of my best mentors I've had in life. And I feel like that was like the purpose of being there. Right? The two guys that own the Dr. Michael and Dr. Brandon were just monumental. And being guys, that number one gave me a shot a chance I'm interviewing there as an intern, and like, half of my resume is rugby. And I was like, because it's like, you know, like a professional athlete like,

Melissa Bright:

right?

Joe:

Like, hey, if we're looking for a rugby player, you'd be it. And I'm like, crap. And they give me they ended up giving me a shot. And yeah, that meant a lot to me. Yeah. And, and really was important to me, because I think a lot of times disabled people are physically disabled people are some of the most marginalized people out there. Because we don't have a very good communal voice on some of this stuff. I mean, even today, like today, I had to argue with an airline, because they left me on the plane for 45 minutes, because no one no one could come and get me off the plane with the aisle chair, the whole thing and I'm like, you guys can't do this, like you're treating me less than, like, I'm in the whole thing. And they're like, Oh, well, we had, you know, people that didn't come into work well, and I'm like, that's not my fault. Like you. You guys need to figure this out. And I've learned to advocate for myself, I've learned to stand up for myself, not only myself, but my community. in whatever way I'm a leader in the inner voice in our community. And it's something that's really, really important for me, but yeah, so I was a therapist for a while.

Melissa Bright:

So yeah, that's my answer. I love it. And I love what you said, like, you are being that voice because like you said, and I know with being a people pleaser, a lot, you don't speak up and you're just make everybody else happy. And it's like, No, I'm not less than like that. I'm not any different than you and I shouldn't be treated any different than you. And I think it's awesome that you're speaking up on your behalf and the rest of your community. I do know that you for your identity. We talked about sports has been your identity for your whole life now, but you also like kind of struggled with that for a while. Can you remind me again? how old you are? If you don't mind? me asking? Yeah. 3636 Okay, we're the same age. And so do you feel like now at 36 you have finally found like Joe's identity like you know who you are?

Joe:

Yeah, it's been it's been a process in the last five years. It is basically After after, are you an Aries to

Melissa Bright:

know I'm a Leo?

Joe:

Okay. Yeah, I don't even know what that means. I feel like

Melissa Bright:

you need to know. Okay, well, I'm 35 Actually, I'll be 36 in August. So, yeah. So I'm not 36 yet. Okay, yeah.

Joe:

I would never do that. I'd be like, No, I'm 35 and riding that train.

Melissa Bright:

Exactly. Yeah.

Joe:

So 2016 happened, and I'm getting cut from the team. And it was devastating on the level of accident devastating. Like, it rocked me because I had worked so hard at that. And we had ended up winning bronze in 2012. And I became a leader and a captain CLC 13. And I got tunnel vision done like gold, gold, gold, and I attached that outcome and Rio, to my value and worth in all areas of my life, like, I want to see everywhere, my, my role as a husband, as a father, as a counselor as like, the whole thing as a captain as a rugby, like, all of it. And then when I got cut, I felt the biggest overwhelming sense of failure that I ever had in my life. And it was, it was awful. I mean, I mean, I went off the deep end for a second, ended up getting really, really drunk for a couple of months, like just right off the rails, you know, and in turn, turned to that and was mad at God again, and the whole thing and Dr. Michael, ended up changing my life by having a conversation with me as I was in his office and the supervising hour once and just kind of pouting about the whole thing. He's like, are you letting he starts asking like, you know, softball type, like kindergarten questions? Yeah. pissing me off. Yep. He's like, Well, so, you know, are you? Are you like, do you attach all your worth and value to just like, trinket a metal? And like I said, you guys want to reach over and punch him? Right? Like, right, you know, and, but he continues to do it. And, and you start to realize, like, what you've been living in, and what you thought you're valuing or to attack, like, you're just so meaningless and worthless. Really? I mean, does anyone really care if I want a metal or this or that, like, my kids? Don't? My wife, my wife doesn't like, she gets more excited. If I take the trash out, then, you know, like, and, and it's, and it's that conversation that he's like, Well, where's your value? And where's your worth? You know, for me, it was as a believer is in my faith. And in what God says, I am not about what an outcome says, I am, right. And that slowly started to make me realize, like, wow, I had zero balance. As an athlete, I was just all athlete, and it just, and my wife, so I was like, Oh, you weren't that like, but like I was, I was letting my wife down and letting my children down. without really even them knowing that but at the same time, like, I need to be present. And I need to be grounded in my faith. And then I like I need to start stepping into my purpose. And, and for me, that wasn't being a pastor, and it wasn't being a counselor, it was being a speaker. And I truly believe like, I've been given a gift to communicate to people and talk to people, and maybe make people laugh a little bit and make them vulnerable enough to start crying a little bit like take them on this roller coaster. Yeah, it is a roller coaster to to understand that there is power in your response of failure. Like that doesn't get to define you. And that's the overwhelming message that I usually share is no matter where you're at like that. That overwhelming failure that you're feeling is not you like you will get through this. Have a friend. I think you know, or you know, Nina Nina's?

Melissa Bright:

I think so. I actually just heard her talk on clubhouse.

Joe:

She's a mate, you need to have her on the pot. She's amazing. And she is in her 50s now, but we met at a speaker thing and she's she's no she she's beautiful. Yeah, she's just gonna be like, she is totally gonna totally private rip a wheel off and leave or something like that. Like, but no, Nina is amazing. And she's had all these different chapters and she wrote a book. The reason I bring her up, she wrote a book called this. Check it out. But like, this isn't The End, like whatever you're going through isn't doesn't have to be the end. Right? It doesn't like there's more chapters to be written in your life. And that was the most important turn that I had that I realized, like, and then through 1718 1929. And now, especially the last three years, when I became a full time speaker, I feel like I'm doing what I'm made to do, what my purpose is. And it doesn't matter if like, This person says, I fail, or this person says, I didn't talk very well, that time or this person, like, I don't really care. Like, I just hate walking. And yeah, I might take some advice along the way. Or I might take some like, you know, some good pitcher criticism, of course, but like, this is the path that I feel purposed to be on. And yeah, my my my fallback a couple times, but I'm gonna pause and have some perspective, look out for our cane, and then keep trucking along. And I think there's power in that. And there's, there's momentum in that as well.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And well, I definitely want to talk to you sometime about all the speaking stuff, because I feel like for something, for whatever reason, I'm being called to do the same thing. So but we can definitely talk later. But something that you definitely said to me, or you said was being attached to the outcome. And like, that was almost like a aha moment for me, because I'm such a perfectionist that I'm attached to almost all the outcomes, because if the outcome isn't exactly this, in exactly that time, that I'm pissed, or I failed, or I didn't do this well enough, whatever it is, and you just said that, and I was like, Whoa, I need to like, detach myself from whatever it is, or at least know, whatever the outcome is, you can respond. It doesn't have to be well, your your responses, just you just failed more. So that's that's the only option. Yeah. And that's like, super aha moment for me.

Joe:

Yeah. Yeah. It's it's people. And I've done this and someone said this to me recently. That was just I absolutely love this and, and have really listened marinated on it. But we let we let our impact or lack of impact getting away of our faithfulness into what we're called to do. Let our impact meter get in the way of our discipline, indicating to step into obedience to what we're called to do. Like we look at the impact meter. Oh, it's not going today. Alright, let's quit. Yep. Right. Yep. Yeah, yeah.

Melissa Bright:

100%, especially like with just like podcasting. Because you can look at numbers, like, let's just say like, oh, certain downloads, and you're like, oh, nobody's understanding my message. But then or like, they're not getting it or they don't. And then, and then you have somebody that specifically reaches out to you saying, like, I've battled with depression, and these episodes are helping me and I'm like, okay, Melissa, see, you need to frickin shut the ego down. And like, Listen to the actual, like, people that are saying these things, and that you are helping people. And so I think that's just so important. I know that you that you have to go soon. But I do want to have just, if you could tell the listeners, just something like that they could do maybe today to help them get in a better mindset, if if they're going through. I mean, people go through some really hard things, obviously, as you know, so what could be some tools that they could do for themselves to get them into a different place out of that victim mindset that you that you would recommend?

Joe:

Yeah, I think number one is, we've went through quite a bit of them. But I think the biggest one that really helped me. And it sounds like it's helped you before too, is allowing yourself to feel like, I like one of my favorite movies. And I really wish it would attach to that like the brain to the heart. But inside out i thought was just phenomenal. It's a cartoon, okay, I've got kids to like, but it's basically like these different emotions inside this child's head. Happy motion sad. There's a fire Dude, that's super funny in the movie, like the whole thing. And and inside the head, it was always like, we can't be sad, we can't be sad. We can't be sad. And the whole like context of the movie is is sad. Got her back to being happy. And so like allowing yourself to pause a lot of people like in 2020 when we went through the the the pandemic right away and everyone's like, we got to pivot, got a pivot, got a pivot. I'm going like, let's pause. Let's have a chance to recalibrate. Let's have a chance to, like actually go through this. The grief process, right? Your mom passing like you had to go through a grief process. My dad passed in 2016. I had to go through a grief process. process, right. And if we don't do that, those triggers are going to be loud and proud coming up in a big way. And I'm not saying that they're not going to anyway, but like, I think that's the biggest thing that people understand that you're not weak. When it especially as a dude, like you're not weak when you cry, you're not weak when when you feel a certain way, process that and start to realize, like, Where's this rooted in? You know, in a lot of times, we want to point the finger at snap at me, I won't be too proud of me. And then and then you come back and go, Well, okay, maybe maybe it is me, right? Or maybe it is these voices that I'm listening to are these, these these feelings that I'm attaching identity to and going? Well, this is just me. I'm unworthy. Right? I'm not valuable. I'm less than and, and so I think just staying in that moment where you're allowing yourself to feel and then going through the pivot like that recalibration happens, and then you can

Melissa Bright:

pivot, that is so powerful, because that's, that's what I didn't do. When my mom passed away. I didn't deal with her grief, I think I just pushed it all down, push it aside and didn't deal with it. So when 2020 came, and she's been gone for 10 years, like, I didn't deal with this shit for 10 years, okay. And it hit me like a brick wall last year. And that's the thing is like, if you don't deal with this, or if you don't sit with it, if you don't go through the pain, and you just do everything to avoid it. It's gonna come up just like you said, there's going to you'll be triggered at some point, something's gonna happen. You can't You can't run from it. But then like, when you sit in the pain, and it's uncomfortable, as we know, it's not always like, Oh, this is fun. Like, I enjoy being here. Like, no, yeah, yeah. But it's, it's something amazing after it. And I think that's, that is such wonderful advice. Because sometimes, that's not an easy thing to hear. Joe, you're telling me to like, sit in this and like, be okay with that. What are you talking about? But try it guys. I'm telling you.

Joe:

It's powerful. It's, we do we do with music all the time. Like, if you think about music, like everyone that listens to music? And I don't know, for me, if you're like, what do you like to listen to collect it? Because it depends on my mood. Yeah. So like, you know, if I'm sad, I want to listen to some, you know, whatever. And like, whenever I'm mad, I want to listen to five finger death punch and like go thrives you nuts. Right. And yeah, yeah. You know, if I want to be in a stall chick, then I turn on Britney Spears. Right, right. I'm just kidding. Yeah. No, you're not.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my, but you're right. Because then people are like, I want to feel sad. Like, so let me listen to sad music, or I want to be happy. So let me happy. Like, if you can instantly change that like and feel that, then why can't you just sit with your feelings for a little bit? So I love that. Well, okay, so my last question, do you have anything else that you would like to add to your story? or anything? Do you have any like, and I'm just asking this, like off the record, but anything that you want to like promote anything right now that I should ask you at all?

Joe:

No, I mean, I'm just following my journey on the way to hopefully Tokyo. Yeah. And and on Instagram, or or I'm a website if you ever want to hear something that you liked. Go check our website and can book me there to be a speaker. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

And what's your website?

Joe:

wW, Joe della gravy, calm.

Melissa Bright:

Perfect. Okay. Well, Joe, I have one last question for you. And I asked all of my guests this. So Joe, in your own words, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Joe:

The bright side of life mean, I wish you'd asked me this before. Oh, yeah. Okay. Now, here's, here's, here's what I'd say is, the bright side is making that choice in the failure. So I think it sounds like that you're stepping into this too. But when you've really understand your purpose is some powerful happens. And that 33 I realized that this Bible verse that I got way back when and, and in this whole thing was, was a plan for my life. Like there's a purpose in my life. At 13 years old, I thought I was gonna be a speaker. And I was like, I don't really have a story. I don't have anything like I was at some youth conference and saw some dude up there. That looked really cool. He had an Astros jersey on them, like the Astros really cool back then. And what this guy's really neat, I want to be like him type of thing, right? It seemed like a rock star to me. You know, six years later, I broke my neck and a week before that. So that 13 was the first three there's a theme of threes that I've been given. That first 13 was that was the three that July 3 week for max and I've been given this verse that was proverbs three, socialiser was that three, Proverbs three that said, trust the Lord, don't leave it in your understanding, you're not gonna understand it. But I got a plan for you. I was in a hospital bed thinking Am I gonna find something that I'm passionate about, I'm going to find a purpose, I'm going to find anything. I ended up marrying my girlfriend. We've been married for almost 14 years now we have three kids. I'm finishing up training for my third Paralympic cycle. With three letters across my chest, USA. I thought my life was just gonna be college football. And that's a, I think the bright side is letting go of all your preconceived ideas of how life's gonna go. And when it doesn't go according to your plan, because we all have awesome plans. Some of you girls out there have like the five year 10 year 15 year whole thing like lined up. But like, when it doesn't go your way, the bright side is letting go and saying, you know, like, whatever comes, I'm going to be ready for it. Because I'm going to react to whatever failure comes in a positive way. I'm going to choose victory. And we can have permanent victory by choosing that, in believing that we got a plan and a purpose.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my gosh, you are a speaker. That That is amazing. Oh, well, Joe, thank you so so much for coming on here to share your story. And I wish you all the best. And I so hope that that you're going to Tokyo. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the bright side of life. Joe certainly gave so many valuable takeaways. I know I even had a couple of aha moments like attaching my value and worth to certain outcomes. And it's just so important to know that we are much much more than our circumstances. And those outcomes. He also said that there is power in our response to failure and that they don't define us, we have the choice of what we want to do after that. And are they ever even failures? Or are they a stepping stone into something bigger and better that we could have never have predicted? Like our true purpose. I could keep going on with all the wonderful takeaways, but I will stop there. And please Let's wish Joe Good luck on going to Tokyo. I know Joe I'm going to be rooting you on. And if you guys would like to learn more about Joe and everything that he's doing, you can go to his website, which is Joe dela grave.com and that will be in the show notes of this episode. And just quickly if you would like to, to subscribe, write a review or donate on buy me a coffee you can do all that directly on my website at the bright side of life podcast.com and my website is also in the description of this episode. And lastly, if you know someone that may need to hear Joe's story, please share it with them because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.