No Good Excuse - a Column by Sean Baumstark

push, avoiding distractions, self-care, what matters

Sean lives with Friedreich’s ataxia and embodies the mantra “get stuff done.” He believes excuses hold us back from being our best. He is the founder of de:terminence, a nonprofit helping disabled individuals experience the beauty and power of physical achievement. He also co-hosts a weekly podcast, “Two Disabled Dudes,” which encourages listeners to “live beyond circumstances.” He lives and works in Sacramento, California.

Rare Disease or Not, Only I Can Define My Success

I’m approaching what can easily be labeled the midpoint of life for the so-called average person. Of course, such averages rarely take rare disease into account. But even without the progression of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), living to (almost) 40 is no easy task. I mean, just think about…

Other People Help Us Move Forward

I hear parents say it often: “I felt helpless.” Sometimes I’ll hear these words during an interview on the podcast I co-host, “Two Disabled Dudes,” while other times I’ll read them in blogs, on social media, or in other columns…

This Thanksgiving Will Be Different

It’s almost unbelievable that we continue to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, the effects of the pandemic are greater today than they were nine months ago. In March, I remember thinking that it would…

Make Plans, Not Excuses

I’m grateful to be alive in this day and age. Of course, I’m grateful to be alive at all, but there is something special about the tumultuous, stressful, and unique circumstances that humanity has been experiencing recently. Many things are heartbreaking and maddening, too, but I feel privileged…

Connecting With Others Helps Us Move Forward

Many things in the news lately have me thinking about the many aspects of life in which the power to affect change is in numbers. The most obvious example currently is voter participation in a democracy. The United States is neck-deep in a presidential election…

Using Our Voices to Aid Research and Prompt Change

I’ve had the privilege of making a lot of friends in the rare disease community since becoming a member myself. I’ve had many conversations about the day when someone knew something wasn’t right, and about the day a doctor or a test confirmed that hunch.  One…

Focusing on One Thing at a Time

I recently wrote about the importance of developing habits and disciplines that will help us move toward particular goals and objectives. Although that isn’t a new or jaw-dropping concept, actually taking action in that direction can be harder than we often admit.

Small Lessons Can Be Learned by Addressing Big Issues

The year 2020 will mark stories of history for generations to come. This year continues to call attention to areas of opportunity, shortcomings, and perhaps failures across many areas of life — from global economic concerns to neighborhood-specific best practices.  Of all we can and will…

Push to Get the Results You Want

I’m confident we can all agree: We have no idea what tomorrow may hold. Whether we are talking about the stock market, our individual health, or simply the weather, many things can change drastically from one hour to the next.  Speaking of weather, that…

Stay on Point and Avoid Distractions

An underlying principle keeps revealing itself to me through many different things. I’ve heard the principle said in multiple ways, namely phrases such as “stay the course,” “stay on mission,” and “remain focused.”  There are many ways of saying it but the message essentially supports one…

Life Is Fragile, So Handle with Care

As I write this, I just received word that a friend and co-worker passed away in his sleep last night. Unbelievable shock consumed me for several moments. My friend was in his early 30s and a fairly healthy guy who’s been working at the same…

Easier Doesn’t Always Mean Better

The podcast I co-host, “Two Disabled Dudes,” is celebrating a major milestone this week: We recently broadcast our 100th episode! It’s been a wild three years, and neither my co-host, Kyle Bryant, nor I expected to make it…

Recovery Has Reframed My Priorities

I’m realizing that short-term disability insurance provides value beyond the financial benefit. Of course, the continued flow of income is important when it helps sustain your overall well-being and allows you to remain independent. My state-sponsored disability insurance helped me to stay on top of my recurring bills,…

Don’t Let Time Get Away from You

We are wrapping up the first month of the year. Are you glad to be moving forward, or are you wishing time would slow down? The saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” doesn’t seem to need the quantifier of “fun” for me. Time does…

Practice Prepares Us to Be Better

I recently wrote a column about trying something new, and I challenged readers and myself to get out of our comfort zones. I’ve been trying many new things lately. Well, not brand new things, but things I haven’t…

The Bare Minimum: Don’t Stop There

I’ve been thinking about the “bare minimum” in the context of guest or customer service. Many companies would argue that their success, or a healthy amount of it, is due to the extraordinary service they provide their patrons. This makes sense. In a world of plenty…

Words Matter, So Speak Carefully

The start of a new year always seems to bring new goals and commitments. I’m sure you’ve thought about a thing or two, or have created a long list of resolutions for 2020. Whether we’re talking about specific actions such as exercising three times a week, or vague…

Leave Your Comfort Zone and Try Something New

I grew up as a picky eater. I was very “basic” in what I liked: graham crackers, mac and cheese, pizza, and popcorn. I didn’t dare venture out to vegetables or anything remotely green. And kettle corn is still nasty. If you were to ask me to share…

How Do You Approach Friction?

I’ve been contemplating a metaphor of sorts, inspired by festivities of my family’s holiday traditions. I’m not sure if this is a thought process I’ll cling to very deeply, as it’s still new to me. However, I wanted to write about it now and invite you along on…

I’m Grateful for My FAmily

I often struggle with two opposing principles of thought: I have a strong animosity toward Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), and I have a deep gratitude for life because of it. The animosity is easy to understand. Even for those unfamiliar with…

I Can’t Let Fear Dictate My Next Steps

There is a first time for everything, right? That’s a phrase I often hear and it is true. A baby’s first words, a teenager’s first driver’s license, a first speeding ticket, a first kiss, a first house … the list is endless. A first broken bone…

Stubbornness Is Dangerously Close to Determination

The difference between determination and stubbornness is becoming more and more clear. With the recent fracturing of my hip and weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, I’ve found myself teetering on the thin line that separates the two. I’ve always thought of myself as a determined individual; someone…

Focus on Results, Not on Excuses

Once again, this weekly writing exercise is proving to be more beneficial than I ever imagined. In a sense, writing and posting my thoughts for the world to read is life-changing. It is a catalyst for tangible transformation of my habits and routines. I’m happy to…

Placing One Foot in Front of the Other

I know I have to practice before it is reasonable for me to meet my expectations or achieve what I set out to accomplish. Although practice sessions can be tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating, the “routine” practice is commonplace. Routine practice…