Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WOW! I'm here, alive!

A couple of years ago I was rebranding my blog.  I wanted a motto that was me, and what I was about.  My logo is “enjoy the journey, create the destination”.

We all are on a journey in this life.  Sometimes we have tough decisions to make in this journey, sometimes it’s easy decisions, and sometimes circumstances happen that leave us with no choice.  In the end, the journey that we create lands us in our destination.  You are ultimately in charge of that destination.  

We’re human we make mistakes, we choose to not always do the right thing or sometimes we think we’re doing the right thing & we end up in a different place than we originally planned.

I have always believed even our mistakes can be a lesson, or simply a wake-up call to make necessary changes.  Life is all about learning, and making adjustments as we continue to live & nothing is ever easy.

Today my spotlight is a young man that has motivated me & inspired me to be a better me.  To take charge of the journey to create my destination.  Who would’ve thought a high school kid could do that right!?!  As adults we sometimes look past the younger generation & think we’ve lived well past their years, we’re older & wiser.  Yet, as I read through his story I realized I had my own lesson to learn here.  Life isn’t given, it can be taken at any moment, and that I need to take better care of myself.

Meet Connor Shapiro!  

I was casually scrolling through Instagram one afternoon & stumbled onto Connor’s story on his fitness page.  The picture was of him laying in a hospital bed with a black eye.  Curious as I am, I started reading his story.  Lucky to be alive at the age of 15.. All from a ski accident that 1. could’ve been avoided had he made a better decision & 2. thankfully he was wearing a helmet that allowed him to be alive today.  One misjudgment, one good judgment.  Each of which brought Connor’s journey to today’s destination.

Connor has created that destination to be one that is filled full of inspiration.  What could’ve been a road of depression, negative thoughts, and worse is quite the opposite.  His “I don’t care 15-year-old self” is now a “Be Grateful 17-year-old motivation”!

I had the opportunity a few months ago to take Connor’s Senior pictures.  I walked away saying to myself “this kid was a joy to spend a bit of time with”.  We talked like we had known each other for years, about life, where he was planning to go to college, etc.  He could carry a conversation while looking me in the eyes and knew how to start the next dialogue without an ounce of awkwardness.  I left that afternoon knowing there was something behind this kid that drove him to who he is.  Only a matter of time & that story would be revealed to me.  

Now I am reading his story (you can read here) & realizing the soft kindness that was within & just where it grew from.  I reached out to Connor to ask if he’d sit down with me to talk about who he is today!  

Connor Shapiro is a Senior at Cornwall Central High School who is looking at going into Health Sciences with a minor in either fitness or nutrition.  Currently, he’s looking at Monmouth University or Syracuse, good choices no matter where he ends up.  Connor decided after all of his injuries and being in & out of doctor's offices, that it all became very interesting to him and has decided to pursue something that will help others.  

You started a fitness journey due to a life-changing experience, which you posted on Instagram as a “near-death experience”.  You took that experience and turned it into a positive, inspiration for others.  That’s incredible for a young 15 year old to do, how’d you do that?  I wasn’t emotional or crying from being in pain, but I called my best friend Joey Holbrook.  When I heard how emotional he was, it affected me & I just started crying & said: “I’m here WOW”.  Looking at the positive & knowing I am still here, all because I was wearing a helmet.  My attitude has totally changed, it’s good that this happened because I once was a kid that just didn’t care, but it’s now a personal thing for me and I live by “Be Grateful”.   

You were a baseball player, and you love the sport.  Because of your life-changing injuries you are no longer able to play baseball.  Does that still affect you?  If I am honest, yes it does.  Watching my buddy Anthony & Mike play takes me back.  Playing catch with Anthony, it affects me.  But, I found something I love just as much and it’s made it ok.  

You started your fitness journey, the “something” that you love, from this experience.  Shapiro Fitness.  Why’d you start it, tell me more about it & the goals you have!?!  I started it to inspire others.  You have to have a good work ethic, it’s what gets you where you are in life.  I don't sit on my phone, or sit & play video games, I want to do things that are productive, to make me a better person.  When I workout, I listen to music, I don't look at social media, etc.  It's a work ethic thing for me.  And, I just want to keep inspiring people to be active.  Nothing comes easy, and if people see how far I’ve come, then they can too.  

Lynn Fern Photography

Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?  :::cue the biggest smile ever:::  My Pop!  He’s a strong individual, overcame cancer, still works out and taught me to work for what I want.  I just admire him so much.   Does he live nearby?  No, they live in Florida, but I talk to him every day.  He's just amazing.  (Excuse me a moment while I grab a tissue).  The joy on Connor’s face while talking about his Pop is forever ingrained in my mind. Pure JOY!

If there’s one thing you’d like people to know about you, what would that be?  I care more about my family (my mom, two sisters, my lil brother & Nan & Pop) than I do about myself.  

If you could meet one person in history, who would it be & why?  :::Connor took a bit to answer this, you could see the wheels spinning:::  Curtis Granderson! His work ethic.  I love his energy, it’s a good positive energy! He just always gives his best effort every single game, never jogs, always runs.  He’s number 14 & I love that number.  I always end every workout with my last set of reps with reps of 14.  Connor is going to kill me, but he even puts on 14 swipes of deodorant (7 swipes for each arm)... 

Connor is more than a high school boy that goes to the gym & works in a gym.  Connor was a caddy with one of his buddies.  He’d get up at 4:30 am, pick up Joey Holbrook, drive to Sleepy Hollow to caddy for the day.  One day still used to getting up at 4:30 am, but not going to caddy, Connor decided to go ahead & get his workout in for the day.  He decided that morning to send Gym Shark a message on Instagram about his story, his journey, and his progress.  Connor started his fitness page Shapiro Fitness on Instagram from the advice of Gym Shark.  Not expecting to hear back, they told him he needed to be able to inspire others and post positive content.  That Connor has successfully done.  

Social Media provides many opportunities to work as ambassadors to promote content for different brands.  Coming from a social media background, I fully grasp what goes into doing this.  Connor has been contacted by a few brands that have sent him contracts to be a brand ambassador.  He's declined to do it, because he wants to focus more on what he has going on, keeping things real & positive.  He realizes what comes with that & at 17 it's not something he's ready to do.  

But, there’s more to Connor then wanting to impress Gym Shark with his fitness progress, inspiration & positive driven content.  Connor does work at Anytime Fitness in the evenings a couple of nights a week, but he also volunteers at the local Cornwall Volunteer Ambulance Corp, he also loves kids and therefore volunteers his time to ref basketball through the Cornwall Rec League.  He refs 6-8th grade boys, 3rd-5th grade boys, and 4th-6th grade girls.  

Connor has taken this change of life attitude and turned it into such a positive.  He told me before the accident, you didn’t know me, I had a bad I don’t care attitude, and it’s good this happened.  He now believes & lives by example that you have to work hard for what you want.  

I have always believed that things happen for reason.  I do believe that Connor’s story was placed in front of me that Thursday afternoon as I was recovering from the flu.  As I was feeling sorry for my flu headache, reading his story of how he walked out of the EMS with broken bones that no one should be walking with, well my feel sorry for me nonsense didn't feel so important anymore.  

Thank you, Connor, for taking the time to sit with me to do this interview.  You’re an inspiration & I hope this motivates one person to take a step to turn a negative into a positive.  I am GRATEFUL for having the opportunity to know you!  All the best to you.

If you’d like to follow Connor’s fitness journey, and to be inspired by his progress, follow him on Instagram at Shapiro Fitness.  

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