Hi everyone, my name is Nolan Thomas McDonnell, and I’m a survivor of traumatic brain injury. I started this site because, in the bigger picture, I want to inspire those who want more out of life that they can stop living by default and instead live an unimaginable life by their own design.
Using myself as a leading example of action, I want to share my story of what ignited my mission. On April 23, 2017, I was robbed at gunpoint, shot in my head, and was left with a 5% chance of survival.
I have three awesome brothers and three wonderful sisters. I love my family, friends, I enjoy socializing and forming new friendships, reading, writing, and seeking a higher state of consciousness. Life is about becoming a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today and adversity provides the means that forces personal growth. Additionally, adversity forces you to find untapped power inside yourself that you never knew you had. A quote I live by is from Sun Tzu who said, “Put your men in the face of death, there is nothing they cannot overcome.” Before having my brains blown out I thought it would be impossible to survive such a thing however, in the face of death I had no other choice. With that said, in any moment during my recovery, especially when I was paralyzed from the neck down, I remembered how close I was to death which gave me both the strength and motivation to get as far away from that state of being as possible.
When I awoke from the coma, I was paralyzed from the neck down and was told that I would never walk again. The doctors informed me, and my family, that I would need a high-powered wheelchair for the rest of my life. I denied their prognosis, and suggestion, told them that I am living my life on my terms, not theirs.
This state of adversity taught me that I had a I had a choice – prepare to suffer or prepare to heal. If I choose to suffer I am choosing to surrender and live life by default. If I choose to heal, however, I am choosing to be proactive and live life by my design. With that said, I still cannot walk, independently, but I am putting in the effort everyday to be better than I was the day before. My medical team began to notice my progress and now they are helping me to evolve and learn how to walk.
This situation taught me that life is the teacher, and we are the students – this is something powerful I now live by. It’s not about why it’s happening to you, it’s about what it can teach you, and ultimately, how to find positive outcomes in negative circumstances.
This website is to document and communicate the history of my journey. It’s to inspire others to live by their design and values. I will walk again, travel the world, and run a marathon that I dreamed of running before I was shot.
I am going to share my journey here where I aim to motivate others to explore solutions to problems that are holding them back so they can continue moving forward towards their vision.
My goals in life are to be a public speaker and start a brain injury foundation to help other brain injury survivors. Not only to help them in recovery but to make sure they understand they can still reach their full potential.
I hold strongly to my core values of paying it forward and giving it back. I treat others the way I would want to be treated, something I believe is never implemented enough throughout life.
I take initiative and rather than becoming upset over the way things are, I push and work hard for the way I want them to be. Being kind and generous to all is paramount to my success, and these core values are powerful messages I aim to share with everyone.
My vision is to make a full recovery and share my journey with others. I want to enjoy the people I meet along the way and share everything I have learned, which will ultimately lead me to become a motivational speaker.
This vision is something that will keep me moving forward – a drive to help others achieve the most out of life, regardless of their circumstances.
After my injury, I had to learn how to do everything again, from eating to using the bathroom, to learning how to walk and stand, and more. In addition to these physical disabilities, I also had to learn how to have platonic and intimate relationships again. The mental side of it all was an entirely different experience to the physical side.
There are still numerous struggles to this day. My beliefs are that there are four pillars to a solid human foundation – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. My physical transformation does not represent the other three dynamics, and that is why I started documenting everything.
Now, I have over 20,000 followers supporting and listening to me on my journey. With them, I will share how to overcome the mental, spiritual, emotional anguish that comes with the devastation and adverse circumstances of traumatic injuries – including the effect on surrounding people such as family and friends.
I hope that my journey of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional progress is helpful to someone who also wishes to see the same positive growth on their terms, and is a reminder that one should never give up on their dreams of living a happy, healthy life.