How I Got Here

Hello there. My name’s Cody, welcome to my wild life.

            I was born on December 3rd, at 3:33 pm. Named Cody, after the cowboy Wild Bill Cody. And I was born in Rota, Spain where my caretaker was a gypsy babysitter. There was one photo of my biological father holding me as an infant, just after he vanished quicker than VHS. Sagittarius, the stars were aligned for an energetic and eventful life.

Since I was a child my happiest moments in life have shared one common value, freedom. I just want to be free. I’ve never liked people telling me what to do. I had a bumpy road as a kid, as many of us do. Buried in a ditch of insecurities and rage at a young age I grew up with my priorities all out of whack. Spending much of my childhood being disciplined for one thing or another, all I yearned for was getting away. Running away even. So much I really did when I got my permit at 16.

I was a rebellious one. If you’re going to run away do it in style. Walking out the front door, leaving it wide open as if to leave a message, I was conflicted. Not on what I was doing that was crystal clear. Conflicted on which car to choose. Carrying the keys to my white, 1990 no window tint, electric seatbelt Honda Civic I quickly dropped them in the yard. I went back inside and grabbed the keys to my stepdad’s fresh off the lot blacked out, 2006 Mazda 6. Can you blame me? Consequentially it was the reported grand theft auto that landed me in cuffs two states away and ended my week long sayonara, boy is it an epic story. lol

            Being the stepson of an ill man addicted to narcotics, I wore the brute of his coming downs often over the years. He has since passed away and I’ve forgiven him for those mistakes.  That forgiveness placed a crucial stepping-stone on my path to peace and happiness. Growing up though, most of my happiness came outside of the home.

            I grew up in a ranch style, brick home in the country setting of back county Kentucky. With a long, gravel driveway surrounded by open land it was overwhelming enough for a child to think there is nothing more to the world than what he sees before him. Still so naïve to the complexities of life, that unmoved innocence as a child is irreplaceable.

I’ve seen a lot of these United States and I’m yet to find any land that matches the Disney like green pastures and rolling hills decorating the landscape surrounding Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky. Speckled with fenced in horse pastures and farmland, surrounded by forests of oak trees that have seen more days than any human it’s a land of its own. I didn’t always have this appreciation but we grow and we learn. Many of the hardest working people I’ve met in my life live in this region. Never forget where you came from.

            Surrounded by birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, horses and cows I grew up with a strong appreciation for animals early on. Most specifically, for dogs. Our pups growing up brought me so in tune with nature at a young age.

We had a handful over the years but certainly my closest companion growing up was Sassy. Name so very suiting. She was my first dog and my first best friend. Half German Shepard and half Australian Shepard she was extremely loyal, highly obedient, and particularly feisty. She was the perfect dog to watch over an adolescent boy running thru tall weeds and dandelions of those hot and humid Kentucky summers. It was around this age I was even home schooled for a time. If I wasn’t grounded, I was out exploring. I was too young to appreciate the beauty of life at that age but Sassy was wild. I took on that wild with her. She would crouch walk thru tall grass, stalking birds like she wasn’t fed. Taking off and leaping in the air she’d often catch them before their flight took off. We were on our own Lion King safari. Swinging a tree branch I saw as more of a sword. 

Most memorably when I was around 10 there was a not so friendly Pitbull from a house that lived some acres down the street. Purely on the owners of course I’ll never blame a dog for his or her temperament, it’s how you raise them. One day Sassy and I were just roaming thru the fields when that dog approached and started chasing after me, aggressively.  Needless I say Sassy met that Pitbull at the chin and it never made it close to me. Her tenacity rubbed off on me. That beloved girl enjoyed 16 years of life. I’ll never forget when her time came, putting her to rest on the vet’s table I bawled my eyes out. She leaned her head up and touched my nose with hers, letting me know it was going to be okay. In her last seconds she was still taking care of me. Sassy taught me it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, rather the size of the fight in the dog.

Last December I turned 30. In appreciation of how far I’d come, I spent some time delving through old photos and keepsakes from my childhood. There was a picture book I’d made in elementary school titled, ‘Dog Is Never Afraid’. I developed traits that would last a lifetime.

            Fast forward a bit and life led me to new passions. Sports. Not just basketball or football. It could be anything, if it was competitive count me in.  Sports became my outlet. All the bottled up rage I had from home I would let go of when I could compete against someone else. I’d work harder than whoever lined up across from me. It became a pride thing.         

            Learning after school activities meant less time at home, I played year round sports as soon as I could. Basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and track and field until high school when you have to narrow it down a bit. I cut out baseball and soccer. I’d always double up with back-to-back practices when seasons allowed. The family hood, trust and comradery that I felt kept me fully vested. Senior year I won athlete of the year award.

            I’d never bring up high school accolades without shouting out my favorite team I was ever a part of. Our hoops squad senior year gave me memories I’ll cherish to my grave….Damn I’m officially an old head for this. Oh whale.

We were cold. We had extreme brotherhood and trust in one another, we were highly scrappy and led by some amazing coaches. In any sport those are ingredients for success. Though there’s a list of memories I could chose from, I’d say our most gratifying was certainly winning our All ‘A’ regional tournament and going to State. On a Thursday night we were playing in the semifinal championship. I threw up a prayer of a three on one leg that banked in as the buzzer sounded; we were onto the championship the next day. With 10 seconds left we inbounded the rock down 1 or 2, I don’t remember ‘cause it doesn’t matter. Our point guard hit a 3 at the buzzer. Back to back buzzer beaters to go to state. What a ride man. Rich-what? Richmond!

Skip a few more years … I played football in college where physical training really cemented itself as a key part of my life. It led me down a career path in fitness after graduation that was certainly good to me until I worked my way into a burnout. Climbing into my late 20’s I started having steep battles with depression. I had gone through a shitty relationship, as many of us do. I had worked jobs I had gotten sick of, as many of us do. And I was finding myself in the rut of what do I want to do for the rest of my life? As many of us do. Trying to move up in the world making more money, (that’s what I thought that meant at the time) I moved to finances dealing with people’s money. Want to talk about ups and downs. I’d made good money at times and people I trusted had equally burned me for money. You live and learn, mow your grass for snakes and don’t make the same mistake twice. 

At the root of my depression though was that I tried to ignore and deflect demons from my past, rather than addressing them and moving on. It’s crazy how I’ve grown. I used to never think I’d do something like this putting my downfalls out there, but I’ve grown so secure. So secure in the man I am. I just want to help others who may be walking in those cold, soggy shoes of depression. We’re all different, just be comfortable in your skin wherever you are! If people take issue with you, that’s THEIR issue! Not yours! Stay in your lane and keep it moving. Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I don’t let egos provoke me anymore. It’s all love now. Loud dudes won’t trade hands anyways.

Before I had that clarity though, I always told myself stay busy and on the move and you won’t think about what bothers you. Well, you can only mask pains for so long before they catch up to you. No matter how tough you think you are life can knock you on your ass in an instant.

In January of 2020, just before Covid-19 emerged into our lives, I woke up one random morning completely unable to move my lower body. I reached for my phone on my nightstand and any movement sent bolts of Thor’s lightning down my left leg. Starting in my low back, across my glute, down my hamstring, around the outside of my knee, thru my shin and then curving across my heel, it ran under the arch of my foot and to my toes. Yea, all that. From a total knee blowout, to cracked ribs, dislocating a foot, and shin splint turned stress fracture (only some) you’d be hard pressed to find someone with a more impressive list of injuries. Not one of them compared to the pain and restriction I felt that morning.

As the day unfolded, it turned into a true mental breakdown for me. I had moved to Florida not even a year before and didn’t really have many people close to me. My snowball of depression started turning into an avalanche. Being the stubborn guy I am and not wanting to face facts, I told myself it was a pinched nerve that would be gone by morning.

             Well, I woke up the next morning and it was only worse. I did my closest reenactment to the Lambo scene in Wolf of Wall Street, crawling down the steps and pulling myself into the car. Screaming and all. I sat on the right side of my body facing the passenger’s seat, trying to calm my breathing because I was hyperventilating. Fortunately for all of us on the Tampa roadways I made it to the ER. (Hindsight is 20-20, I could have ordered an Uber, *slaps forehead*).

Some MRI’s and a day later, I learned I had completely dislodged my L5-S1 vertebral disc. Thor’s lightning I was holding in my leg holster is more formally known as sciatica. I had an extreme case of it. The disc bulging out of my spine was completely impinged on the root of my sciatic nerve. It had no relief.

            Faced with obvious cutting and repairs or a natural recovery, I went home with some real soul searching to do. Defeated, immobilized and heavily pessimistic I had a very rough 24 hours. This is where I level with you and get to a purpose with this long wind. I almost ended my life that night.

As I came within that last second of doing so, my mind was flooded with images of the people I loved in a way I’ve never experienced before. It was like an overabundance of love I’d denied for so long just smacked me in the face and forced my arms open to it. Then my eyes opened to what the hell I was doing. How truly fortunate I am to be me. Just to be. I understand as well as anyone when you’re stuck behind those lenses of depression you only see negative. Putting on a front around people when you’re breaking down inside, it’s no way to live. The reality is nothing anyone says to you can shake the trees and get you on the right path. You just have to decide you’re ready to do so for yourself. In my case it took hitting rock bottom. If I can lend any advice, don’t wait that long.

I realized I had a second chance. Vowing to make the most of this one. It was clear what truly mattered to me; wellness, passions and love. Loving myself and equally loving everyone I see. From that point on my life wasn’t about work, money, clout, ego, vein all the things I’d been surrounding myself with for so long. I asked myself questions that mattered. How happy are you? Do you wake up excited each day? How many people do you help? Where do you want to travel before you die? How can I make this world a better place? I redefined the code I live by. What I’d chase in life. Passions, peace, love, empathy, gratefulness, presence. Screw all the first century spoils. I just want to live.

The 10 days at home following this realization paved way to my awakening. I laid down a basic regime of healing. Fasting, candle lit meditation, I ordered an ice pack that covered my entire back and set the AC on 60 to counter the hot sweats. I could only sit on stacked pillows in the fetal position, and sat there I did. Those 10 days were timeless. In them I found nirvana.

I started working with a fantastic chiropractor near daily for the next four months. Though he didn’t think I’d get back into lifting weights, he didn’t know me. My lack of mobility limited us but he knocked it out of the park. I’m very grateful we met. On my end I educated myself with literature of the spine, yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, Buddhism, anything that would help calm my mind and mediate the pain. I was learning many of these viral practices I had discovered on my own in meditation. I’m a quick learner for things I’m passionate about. The medicine presented itself to me, calm down. The more I calmed my mind the more I calmed the pain. Slow down. Let go of anger. Let go of resentment. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Love everyone. Be grateful. Be centered. Be happy.

In the past 16 months since my injury I’ve lost 60 pounds and worked my way into the best shape of my life. The combination of strength, endurance, cardio and aesthetics have me feeling performing unlike I ever have before. I am so grateful for every single workout. I feel more alive and happier than I ever have and I simply credit this to chasing the things I love. Breaking the mold of traditional society. Don’t ever let someone sell you a story you’re supposed to be following. That garbage is weak of them and it’s weak of you to buy into it. Take control of your life brothers and sisters! Do what makes you happy.

Living on the road traveling wherever my gut feels, I am having more fun than I could imagine. Some van life, some camping, with hotels sprinkled in between the freedom and uncertainty of what lies ahead each week is an erotic thrill. Living the simple life has leveled me on that universal frequency of bliss. Currently on any given morning I can rise with the sun, hike at 9,000 feet to the edge of a cliff in the Rocky Mountains, only human in a bird’s sight and just be there. In it. Meditating. Breathing. Appreciating. All this before I speak to anyone, or consume anything but water. It’ll change your perspective on how you view and treat people, how you eat and appreciate foods, and certainly how you connect with this beautiful earth people take for granted. There’s nothing like that brisk, morning mountain air.

It was one of these beautiful mornings I woke up filled with energy and it dawned on me, share this love bro!

As this paragraph meets the keyboard I’m sitting in my hammock appreciating a gorgeous blood red sunset over the Rocky Mountains. The kind that fills the empty space between clouds with different arrays of red, orange and even pink. My son duke lies by my feet. He is just as incredible of a dog as you’d wish for on a cross-country journey. Protective, very obedient and 120 pounds of love he’s a hunk. Dog parks are where we’ve met many of our new friends. It’s always good vibes at a dog park. Often Duke polices, soaking up attention from humans and mediating anytime he sees one dog bullying another… they often abide.

 Since I said let’s hit the road near five months ago we’ve made it from Miami, Florida back up to Kentucky and Ohio where we reconnected with friends and family. Then continuing north we made Yankee Springs, Michigan home for a bit. Our time there was incredible. I gained the remarkable experience of staring into the eyes of the mountain lion that stalked our camp for nearly an hour! That’ll make your butthole pucker.

Making the transition from beach life to mountain life has been an electric thrill ride. I’ve had different campsites over the past months, each providing me with uniquely awe-inspiring experiences. At Camp Dick in Colorado, Duke woke me with a nasty growl I’d never heard from him before. A large black bear was 5 feet from the end of the tent my head was sleeping on. Waking up to the quick snorts of air down a long snout I knew instantly without doubt it was a bear. You don’t know 0-100 until you feel that three second ride I went on! Two morning’s later I had my favorite animal encounter of all. Surprisingly walking up on a mother moose and her calf, no more than 10 yards away from me with Duke on the leash. Even more impressive though was the bull dad about 30 yards behind them.

I’ve had some amazing encounters on this journey already. When you’re truly centered, animals feel it. They welcome it. There’s a reason I haven’t been charged or attacked by any one of these majestic and dangerous animals. Knowing how to handle yourself in a calm demeanor is certainly vital. But those animals know who is there acting in fear and who is there acting in love and respect. Truly in it with them. I’ve learned conquering your fear in those moments expands your understanding of fear as a whole. Though it’s instinctually helpful at times, it can often be a waste of the imagination.

The past year and a half has taught me so much. So much I’m grateful for. So much I want to share with the world. At the root of how I feel I want to see this world a better place. Practice better self love habits, so we can be more secure and love others effectively. Communicate better in relationships, speaking your mind being honest with people. Love every person you see no matter race, sex, origin or anything alike. None of it matters, we are all one! We may have different backgrounds, a different career choice, different hobbies and music tastes but we’re all sharing such similar morals and values. Provide for yourself and those you love, share life experiences with them, grow and learn, reach your goals, become a better person. We’re all doing the same thing everyday. Seeing that perspective changes everything. When you uplift someone they carry that energy into their next interaction, that’s how good karma and energy spreads and we make progress healing this world! What if we all woke up in unison one day saying we’d love every person we saw for 24 hours? Every person. Think the good that would stir up from that.

So here’s the guy who’s been off social media for half a decade trying to shake the trees on the Internet. I’m excited to share the fun and exhilaration Duke and I have experienced so far. With Florida stints in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The Florida scene is a wild one of it’s own, especially if you’re single. I’ve got some dating experiences I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of. And some perspective on materialism differences from state to state. Yankee Springs and the Michigan mountain lion will have your chest bumping. And I’ve collected an exciting list of off beaten path and camp stories with Duke at my side in Colorado.

Our next set destination, Yellowstone.

Living with such uncertainty around Covid, people NEED to be practicing healthier habits all around. I’m no CDC Taskforce but I believe educating people on how to improve their health would have gone a long way over the past year and a half. There wasn’t much of that at all. Take care of your meat wagon. If you had one car for the rest of your life I bet you’d stay on top of oil changes, tire maintenance, air filters, etc. Well, you only get one body; appreciate it. Take a multivitamin daily, fish oil for heart health and brain cognizance, collagen or turmeric to help fight natural inflammatories and aging. Find healthy foods YOU ENJOY! Most people don’t stick with a diet plan because they don’t enjoy it. Food is everything to me so I can’t say I blame them. Who the hell is going to stick to a habit that makes you crabby. It’s about finding healthy foods you like and rotating them with balance into your life. That’s how you learn to enjoy the process and welcome results. Debunking the fats vs carbs feud I’ll say it now; EAT FATS GET SKINNY! Put down the bread! Fasting benefits, snack alternatives, working out while traveling, and ultimately improving well being from home or on the road. No excuses. I did this for myself, now it’s time to give back so others can do the same. I’m bringing energy. Let’s improve our wellness.

I’ve met so many genuinely kind people on the road it just further motivates me to keep rolling. A mix of locals and travelers like myself there are always intriguing conversations to be had. Learning moments. Many of these people have been extremely hospitable and often inspiring. It’s shown me how much love is in the world when you’re open to it. Thank you to any friend, new or old, who supported me in taking this leap! I wanted a way to connect with the world and I’ve found it. I highly doubt any piece will be this long again, so if you read this far thank you! I hope you enjoyed.

“Why have enemies when you can have friends.” – Arthur.

13 thoughts on “How I Got Here

    1. Hey Matt thanks, sounds interesting no doubt. I definitely want to get the story out there in hopes it reaches people going through their own struggles. So to be clear, would you be reading the story vocally on your podcast?

      Like

  1. My guy! Keep striving for greatness to reach your goals and dreams in this place that we call life! 💯💯💯💯💯😎🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I have no clue how I stumbled across this on my Instagram suggested friends this morning, but it led me to the story! I read it twice bro. I’m just in awe right now!?!? Not really in the best place in life or where I wanted to be at age 30 but THIS story gives a little hope that my changes are happening. And I’m slowly and continually gaining better ground. More peace and happiness! Stay safe dude!

    Liked by 2 people

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