A Year of Change

This is supposed to be a blog about Spinal Cord Injury, but today, right now, in this moment I have nothing to say about SCI. I don't really want to either. Not really sure why, but it seems somehow that another posting about how much living with an injury like this sucks is not going to change anything. I certainly don't need to be told and neither do you. However, despite all of the things that we hate or that stand in our way, despite the lack of all the much needed treatments, equipment, therapies, and more that I have regularly covered in this blog... and I still stand by every word... right here now it feels almost dishonest or insincere to claim that I am angry, unfulfilled, or dissatisfied because of the discomfort of my present physical situation. Not in almost 22 years did I even think I could admit such a thing.

A year ago this time I was sitting in my home office on Long Island in New York staring out at a bleak, frozen winter landscape and wondering what the hell I was doing and despite much planning and preparation had no idea where to go next with my life. In 2014 I had received my training in a design science known as Permaculture to further my experience in sustainable agriculture, but jobs were slow in coming. My family and I had been looking for a home with land to move forward with our lives and work, but to no avail. Six months prior I had fractured my left femur bringing the intensive physical therapy to a grinding halt and negating any more progress from the stem cell treatment. On the surface it seemed like a shitty end to another shitty year. Except one thing was different.

You know the old adage about teaching a man to fish? Well I say give a man true hope of what could be and he'll do much more than fish, he'll buy the fleet. With my permaculture training I had discovered a real passion, something alive that brought real purpose to my life. Our frequent farm scouting trips had brought me out into the quiet country offering comfort and constancy. The fractured leg? Well, I wasn't dead. Even though it seemed like it was going to be a bad ending to bad year a voice inside said "You're on the path, keep going."

So I did. My brother and I looked at farms and ranches of every kind in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and even Hawaii! In May 2015, after just completing my first design commission we found a farm in central Maine. Never in a million years did we expect to live this far north. I often joke that after growing up in Florida, then living in New York, at this rate I'll retire beyond the Arctic Circle.

So here I now sit, by a warm wood stove, looking out at a snow-covered Maine landscape. I have a clean bill of health from my doctor. Together with my brother Ethan we have a raw milk dairy licensed with the state of Maine. Our milk will be in two grocery stores by the end of the week and a delivery route starts next month. We own our own herd of cows, a flock of chickens, and we're getting rabbits next month. I've completed two designs and working on a third while advising on two more. I'm learning, I'm learning to relax and stay focused. Circumstances will come, go, ebb and flow. We have to release the fear.

I used to be afraid of Spinal Cord Injury. I was afraid if I didn't beat the clock it would ruin my life, that I would die having never really lived. Even in the writing of this blog I was pushing for a cure out of fear. I don't want to live afraid anymore. Living with a SCI is difficult enough without fear clouding every decision and experience. Today, I want a cure more than ever, but not because I am afraid. I want it because of hope. I'm not scared I will miss out anymore. I think I am truly learning to fish for the first time in my life, but not because I will starve if I don't, but because I love it and want to share it with others knowing there is plenty to go around for all of us.

Thank you for reading and a Happy Holidays to all of you!


  1. So very proud of whatyou andyour family has accomplished,Caleb. Especially good to hear as we aregoiung through such a hard time right now. Don't know if you saw my Christmas post but Xan is really, really struggling. I'm going to try to get him to read this. He needs some positive re-enforcement more than ever. Hope everyone in Maine wants your yummy milk!

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