Trust Yourself

It was three years after my accident that I rejoined the athletic club I had belonged to years before when I was an active squash player. I had been through rigorous physical therapy during those early years post-injury and my therapist in early 2010 suggested I join a gym and continue with my exercise program. I knew exactly where I would go, the Seattle Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. I met a friend there who became my workout mentor and partner. In the early days of working out together I said to him, “Sam, when I say enough is enough, you have to trust me when I say it’s enough.” He replied, “Jamie, you need to learn to trust yourself.” Those words changed everything in my recovery trajectory. I realized that what was in the way of making further recovery progress was fear. It was getting in the way. Sam’s statement set in motion a whole new approach, and challenged me to go places in my recovery I never thought possible. Those words changed my life. They could change yours too.

Revealing Capability

Often times what we are capable of doing lay dormant, suppressed, and even hidden in the recesses of our being. Harnessing those capabilities can take concerted effort, digging deep, going places we never thought possible. For me, recovering lost fine and gross motor function from the injury I sustained has been monumentally difficult work. Through encouragement and challenge from others I’ve discovered capabilities I didn’t think I possessed, particularly as pertains to my physicality. I’ve had to overcome barriers to reveal those capabilities. It’s been hard work. The results speak for themselves and tell me that our bodies possess much more than we might otherwise give them credit. My advice to those who are facing uphill climbs in whatever journey is in front of you is to explore, locate and unleash the amazing potential you have. It’s there, waiting to be harnessed!

Mental Health

 If I had a chance to do it over again I would have sought out mental health counseling right after being discharged from the hospital. Instead I waited a year until I finally partnered with a clinical psychologist. I’ve never been depressed before and figured I could macho my way through the initial months of recovery without any kind of intervention. I was so wrong. Four months after being discharged I slid in to a deep depression, even suicidal. I felt like I was falling and there was nothing there to catch me. Depression is a scary place. Fortunately my physician was able to get me stabilized with medicine and a new round of therapies. I had experienced a “second crash” and it took several years of hard work to climb out of that hole of depression. I finally did seek mental health intervention, which I did consistently for the next 6 years. My advice is there are no shortcuts when it comes to the grieving process, and encourage anyone facing a life adversity to seek out mental health support. 

Get Independent

It was a few days after the accident, while lying in that lonely hospital room that my doctor came in for a visit. In the course of the conversation he looked at me and said, “Jamie…you need to choose…get independent!” It didn’t resonate until a few nights later, once again in my hospital bed, perspiring profusely, anxious, motionless immersed in sweat-soaked sheets. In the course of the longest night of my life, I flashed back to that exchange and realized I needed to choose. My life was at a fork in the road, which way was I going to go? Surrender, let this injury defeat me OR fight the good fight and aim with all my effort to get independent. I resolved that night to do everything in my power not to be enabled by anyone or anything, especially no assistive devices. Ten years later that choice to get independent has guided all of my recovery efforts and continues to do so.  I chose, you can choose to.


Cycling for at least a decade up until 2007 had been my community. We trained together, did century rides together, traveled together, did friendly and fiercely competitive rides together, and raced together. The accident changed all that. Suddenly I was displaced, removed involuntarily from my cycling community. It was very difficult as so much of my identity and self-esteem was linked to cycling. For three years following the accident I was lost, wandering, trying to figure out where I could find a sense of belonging again. It was in 2010 when I rejoined the Seattle Athletic Club that everything changed. I found myself among like-minded athletes, old friends and new friends. I can’t overstate how important feeling a sense of belonging in a community matters in recovery. It has made all the difference in mine and has opened up things in my life that have been dreams for so many years. Community matters.

Book Signing Events

On Tuesday and Thursday this past week I participated in book signing events. They were held at the Seattle Athletic Club downtown where I am a member. It was a great honor and very generous of the club to host. One lady in the course of conversation asked, “We all have our off days – how do you manage to come down to workout when you don’t feel like it?” Interesting question, especially given that there is never a time when my body feels like working out, as I know I will pay a price. I said there were a couple of reasons. First, I am doing something that is good for me both physically and mentally. Second, it is when I feel most alive – active, moving, sweating, pushing myself. Third. I honestly don’t give myself a choice. I made the choice early on in my recovery to get independent. I resolved to do everything in my power not to be enabled by anyone or anything. Getting to the club consistently is executing on that choice.

Finding Opportunity

James H. Osborne Finding Opportunity

I met a person at the gym today who introduced himself, and said he had read some of my story in the monthly newsletter. He said he was inspired by it and wanted to know more. I gave him the annotated version. He said something interesting about how difficult the emotional recovery must be. I thought this was very insightful, and touched on an area of great opportunity and challenge in my recovery. I reflected back to the time 4 months after my accident when I fell into a deep depression and was suicidal. Climbing out of that hole took several months. I thought about how important the gym, my exercise community has been in helping get my head right, and refocusing on the things I can do and letting go of the things I am not able to do. It helped save my life.

Nobody ever promised that life would be fair

James H. Osborne Nobody ever promised that life would be fair

Nobody ever promised that life would be fair. Curveballs are thrown at us all the time. It could be an incapacitating injury. Maybe it is being diagnosed with a terrible illness. Perhaps it is loss of a loved one. How do you respond to these involuntary events? I submit the best choice is to fight the good fight, aspire, persevere and prevail. Resist the temptation to give in, succumb or surrender. Replace those thoughts with an unwavering commitment to win – choose to win on your terms – and what may appear to be out of reach can actually happen.

TEDx at Bellevue College: I Choose You Choose

James H. Osborne TEDxBellevueCollege: I Choose You Choose

I will be speaking at a TEDx event hosted by Bellevue College on February 7. It will be held from 1-5pm at the Carlson Theatre on the main campus. You can get more information about the event at I am very excited to speak on the subject of choice, and the title of my talk is ‘I Choose You Choose.’ It will be live streamed as well as taped for future viewing.

The Mornings

James H. Osborne Mornings

Ever get up in the morning and not want to get up? My body feels like that every day. The medications have worn off, body aches are everywhere, extensor cramps are active, and muscles are seizing making it difficult to stand upright let alone move. If my body were tin foil it feels like unraveling a crinkled up section of it. I tell myself every morning that movement begets more movement. I take a few deep breaths and remind myself that in an hour I will feel better, sufficient to do the day. It works.

Seattle Athletic Club Book Signings

James H. Osborne Seattle Athletic Club Book Signing

I will be doing a book signing for my first book Will Your Way Back on Tuesday, February 7 from 7-9am at the Seattle Athletic Club morning Breakfast Club event. In addition, the club will also be hosting a second signing at their Meet & Greet event Thursday, February 9 from 5-7pm.

Being Vulnerable

James H. Osborne Being Vulnerable

What is it like to be vulnerable? What does it mean? Why can it be beneficial? It wasn’t too long ago in my mid-adulthood when I was seeing a therapist and was discussing vulnerability. She referred to me in this discussion as akin to a “greased-pig”, meaning that at the time I was unable to be real, authentic, and open to ‘exposing’ my deepest feelings. Today is different. I realize after having been though traumatic injury, where life is stripped clean and whatever ego I had erased, I learned about vulnerability and my ability to be so. I realized that being vulnerable can bring people closer to you rather than pushing them away. I understand now how important in life it is to be real, authentic and in places, vulnerable. The veneer is gone, and it feels great to be just me.

Finding Meaning and Purpose

James H. Osborne Finding Meaning and Purpose

How do you find meaning and purpose in your life after traumatic injury that derails everything you have been building toward? My injury was a complete physical and emotional reset, like someone had pressed the ctrl-alt-del buttons on my life’s keyboard and everything was initialized. It was a complete start over. It was such an abrupt change. I’ve struggled with this question for nearly a decade, until I realized that I needed to do something bigger than myself, and refocus my energies on using my story to potentially help others who have suffered spinal cord injury, or more broadly anyone facing a life adversity. I know now what my life purpose is. It is not about me, it is about reaching others that might find benefit from my injury and recovery journey.