Thankful To Be Alive

It’s been two years, and three days since I woke up in the emergency room and had no movement from the waist down.  The doctors wouldn’t let my Commander notify my parents because of a blood vessel swelling in my neck.  The doctor told her that if it continued to swell, I would die instantly and there would be nothing they could do.

So, that got me to thinking and really appreciating a day to give thanks.  As the title says, I am first and foremost thankful to be alive and given a second chance on life.  Even when I was a mess internally and self destructing, the big man upstairs decided he wasn’t ready for me.  Dealing with everything that happened after the accident will never get easier.  The pain still lingers, not physical though, but emotional.  It is really like an AA program where you take one day at a time.
I think far to often we all get complacent with the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day and forget to think about all of the good things in our lives.  Hell, I went from being at the top of the world and making damn good money to almost nothing in a matter of two months.  I had everything I have ever wanted, or so I thought.
The past two years have taught me a ton about what’s important in life.  After being separated from the Air Force I was offered a Full-Time position at Lowe’s being their Receiving Clerk, where I was in-charge of everything that came into the store.  I lasted about 6 months.  It’s not that I didn’t like the job, it’s just that I needed more job satisfaction personally.  But that job led me to my next adventure.  I watched all the Werner drivers back up to the dock to drop their trailer, some were good, and others were painful to watch.  The whole time I am thinking; It can’t be that damn hard…  Well, I got news for ya people, backing a 53 ft trailer up to a dock takes practice. I learned that when I applied to be a driver for Swift Transportation.  I went through their academy in Millington, TN.  After that I went to my “home” terminal in Gary, IN to go through another week of driving in actual traffic.  That week culminated in the huge DMV test to get my CDL.  
By this time I have my CDL and have been hired by Swift Transportation to be a company driver.  Through the orientation process they asked who wanted to be a VAN driver and who wanted to do Flatbed.  Well, being the person I am, I was one of the first to raise my hand wanting to do Flatbed.  Fast forward through that week of training, 6 weeks on the road with a mentor, than another week of testing and certification and I am released solo.  I absolutely loved driving and hauling flatbed freight.  I mainly hauled steel coils from the mills around Gary, IN to Laredo, TX in the beginning.  We also had a Caterpillar account and Freightliner Chassis account I hauled for.  The company driver gig lasted about 8 months or so and I decided it was time to start having a little more say in what I hauled and where I went.  So, I leased a brand new truck from Swift and became an Owner/Operator and was in business for myself.  AWESOME!!!!!  Yeah, until I filled up the first time and realized that $600 in fuel just came out of my pocket.  LOL  
Seriously though, being an owner/operator really restored my self confidence that I had lost after leaving the military.  Running your own truck is also not a walk in the park.  It’s not just picking up a load here and dropping it off there. Oh no, you need to know how much it will cost you in fuel, maintenance, etc.. before you take that load.  Bottom line is, the longest run may not always be the best run.  Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with a trucking lesson, so I will move on.
As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t home much.  I was usually out 3 weeks, home for 2 days, and back out.  It was sometime worse being an owner/operator because it cost me $112 a day whether that truck moved or not. I sat down one night and really looked at my settlements.  I looked at my gross pay vs my net. Than it hit me… WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THIS?!?!  I had a long talk with Angie and she is so damn awesome and supportive she said it was my decision.  She knew how much I loved to drive and said she wasn’t making that call.  But in the end, the time away from home vs the money made wasn’t worth it to me, and I sold the truck.
Now I own another business as an Independent Consultant for The Pampered Chef.  I have caught a lot of shit for it, and that is OK.  I expected it.  However, I am home every night and where I want to be.  Plus, I love The Pampered Chef products and enjoy cooking, so why not. LOL
So why did I just tell you all of that?!?  Hell, I’m not real sure, but I am sure it had something to do with Thanksgiving….. Actually I told you all of that as a reference point.  Because we all hit a point in our life when it just plain sucks.  However, there is always someone out there that is in worse shape and would love to be in your shoes.
When I look back on the last two years I can do one of two things 1) I can get pissed about the stupid shit I did or 2) I can sit back and realize that life just ain’t that dame bad.  
I choose the second option.  People, all I am really trying to say is take the time and give thanks.  Be thankful for everything you got.  Your friends, family, neighbors, your health, kid’s health, whatever it is.  Because ya know what, it could be a helluva lot worse!  Believe me, I’ve seen it personally.  I know I am so thankful and grateful for the love of my life, Angie, whom if it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure I would be here today typing this. But I am also thankful for my family and friends that have stood by me through thick and thin no matter what! to you I say Thank YOU!!!
Lastly, I need to give thanks to a very special group of individuals… THANK YOU to all the men and women serving overseas right now!!!!  Many of them won’t be having thanksgiving with their families.  In fact many of them will be on 12 hr shifts and barely get enough time to run to the chow hall for a nice meal.  IF it weren’t for you guys and all that have given their lives before you, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have.  You guys are truly my heroes and I am humbled and honored to have served with you!

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