Create Your Own Opportunities

“I pray that God answers, maybe I’ll ask nicer.”  -Eminem

nolan mcdonnellI had enrolled in college earning a 3.7 gpa, worked, volunteered, and rescued my very own best friend, a dog, from the desert. With that being said, one morning I woke up bedridden questioning hope, heroes, and  religion.  In a seemingly helpless state I asked myself… “When prayers go unanswered, one’s  hope dies, where does a person turn to break free from the abyss and overcome the threshold of which they fell under?” 



 “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” -Joseph Campbell


coach nolan coachnolan.comBeing a bedridden, gunshot surviving, recovering quadriplegic is my gift acquired along the hero’s journey of my own. I discovered that living is a luxury, the moment a gift, and the past a paying contribution to the journey which I embarked upon.  Suffering only existed if I clung onto who I was in the past and peace manifested by discovering the new me.  With that said, on that day, before the local college campus closed, I met with a counselor, made an education plan, and enrolled in adaptive PE class in an effort to be proactive and help myself get better.

What I learned was that when gods, heroes, and hopes die, I am left with three things that matter: myself, the opportunities that I create, and my drive to keep moving forward in the pursuit for progress.

The famous Nietzsche quote rang out: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

He also said “if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”


Nolan McDonnellGods die when you lose hope, become defeated, and give up on creating the life you want for yourself.  Gods die when life serves you a dose of tragedy and you fail to find meaning in the suffering. Stop looking into the abyss and do something about it.  For example, my oldest brother was a devout minister who traveled the world to spread the word of God and preached aversion to vice and temptation.  But when a second family member, a soon to be missionary, died by accidentally hanging himself… my brother could not find meaning in his suffering, felt defeated, and began protesting church and religion. 

To make a [very] long story short, my brother allowed an unfortunate circumstance defeat him.  



nolan mcdonnellJahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy gave advice on this matter saying, “[In life], get what you want out of it all, don’t let them ruin your love for yourself. And beyond everything, always fear yourself. Because you are your best friend and your worst enemy”.   During hard times it’s easy to succumb to a toxic attitude and outlook, but you must always take care of yourself and work hard for the next breakthrough in life. Challenges are opportunities for introspection and growing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically as well.





never forget where you came fromWhen I was a paraplegic my therapists were not doing anything to help me learn how to walk and a voice inside my head told me, “Sometimes you have to advocate and create possibilities for yourself.”  My physical therapists had told my family that I was never to practice standing at home. The thing is, we were never practicing standing in physical therapy as my prognosis said I was a paraplegic for life.  What I learned from this was that the darkness of the mind expelling from the ignorant misconceptions of others should never dispel the fire within.


nolan mcdonnellOmitting the possibility of walking was a definite way to keep me immobilized and I had to create an opportunity on my own, without relying on a higher power. I created a workout regimen, my family created contraptions so I could practice standing, and I began working hard to create the circumstance that I wanted for myself.  



nolan mcdonnellI can’t tell you how hard it was to go against my physical therapist’s orders as some of my family members appealed to her authority, however, I knew that if I wanted to overcome being a paraplegic I could not rely solely on this authority figure that everyone revered as a god but the truth is, ordinary people give the voice to authority and without us, they have no pedestal.  With that said, I continued working in secrecy until one day my physical therapist said, “You look like you are ready to practice walking, let’s go to the parallel bars.”  No longer being a paraplegic, and now practicing walking, I learned that you have a choice to live life by default, or, live life by your design. If you choose to live by your blueprint then you must be motivated to keep moving forward, no matter how much life beats you up.





Nolan McDonnellMy journey taught me that quitters never win and if you want to overcome your challenges then you must keep moving forward. We only get so much time on this planet. There is literally no point to ruminating about the bad things that have happened to us. Adapt, overcome and fight through the pain. That’s how you win trophies. It’s how you forge the path you want to take. 



A small lesson stuck with me ever since and is something I make sure to remember: progress is impossible without change and if I am not changing, then I am not making progress.


Nolan McDonnellThere is no secret to living except to always push towards the life you want to lead and if you master this, you will find yourself prepared for every eventuality. You’ll find bumps in the road, always. Find the upshot of every incident, opportunity from negativity, and every silver lining on a rainy day. Taking control isn’t always easy at first, and sometimes it takes a while to find direction, so when prayers go unanswered, and gods die, you must persevere and continue pushing forward.
 coach nolan



Nolan McDonnell

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