Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Looking Back - A Little Inspiration

Today is the second anniversary of my Mothers death.  And with this time, I am brought back to some great memories.

My mother was, without a doubt, my greatest source of inspiration for so long.  She was able to fight through multiple diagnosis of stage four cancer without ever compromising her core beliefs.  For someone to be faced with so much adversity, day after day, and still hold true to her idea of what life should be, is exactly how I would define Strong.  She never wanted to go the "typical" route, chemo, radiation, tons of medication etc.  She wanted to clean herself, completely of all toxins, of all the crap she put in and around her body her entire life, and allow her body to naturally defeat the cancer.  Now this became her life's focus for the last 5+ years of her life.  She traveled all over the place, learning and trying new, incredible healing practices.  Some pretty impressive stuff out there, whether they worked or not is a whole different discussion, but I am sure that her efforts and passion towards bettering her life sparked a certain healing quality of her chemical build up.  She truly WANTED to get better.  There really is something to be said for believing in what you are doing.

The main thing she got into was a focused Macrobiotic diet.  The basic concept of Macrobiotics is balance.  While it is known as a grain and vegetable-based diet, it really just promotes balancing everything in your life.  And if you can, avoid extremes, as an extreme will always call for the opposite extreme to balance it out (think steak and potatoes, a marathon and two straight days of sleep, you get the picture).  Her specific plan was a bit more detailed as she clearly had some issues going on, you know, the whole breast cancer, metastasizing to her bones, spine, and a good handful of other places as well.  The crazy thing about her plan was that she followed it, absolutely perfectly.  It was not just something she thought she had to do to get better; she firmly believed that this was her life, that eating this food, and balancing her life out was simply: what she did.

And what happened?  Well, she survived for a damn long time given what she had.  It was not easy by any means, for her, or for us as a family, but it was an absolutely incredible thing to watch and be a part of.  Stage four cancer, basically means you are about to die.  As far as I can remember, she was diagnosed with it 3-4 times, and came out of it on the other end, with a reduced diagnosis, or with no cancer to be found.  She fought with osteoporosis, hypothyroidism and a whole slew of other issues, and still was able to do some pretty amazing things.

When she moved out to Belgium for a few years to work with a great Macrobiotic counselor, she was able to walk, up to 6 miles a day with a spine that was so deteriorated that all the doctors kept telling her she should be 100% bed-ridden.  That alone is one of the most motivating things I have ever heard of.  While perhaps she should have cut her walks down a great deal to play it safe, she believed that getting that daily exercise would help to heal her even more.  And with cancer metastasizing in her spine, and disintegrating disks in her lower back, she ended up shocking the medical field and having what many people claim to be a miracle.  She actually began to regenerate bone that ceased to exist.  While I am no medical professional, I do know that that just does not happen.

She came home from that long trip, a changed person, but overall, not much better.  She actually ended up breaking her spine while trying to pick up a plant, and found that there was still a lot of cancer hidden within her bones.  This was the pattern.  She got better, got worse, up and down all the way up until the very end.  It was an impressive battle that ultimately ended much sooner than it should have.

I have heard the argument that perhaps she should have gone the traditional route, and taken all the medication and such.  There is the argument that perhaps she would have completely defeated the cancer and still be alive today.  There is the argument that macrobiotics clearly did not work for her as it did for a handful of other people, and that she wasted her, and our time, and a ton of money attempting to do something that was impossible anyway.  I do not agree with any of this.  Macrobiotics worked, it helped save her life.  Her determination and passion saved her life.  She died when she needed to, perhaps it would appear to be a little early, but her fight, her struggle was a blessing to her, and us all.  She would always tell me that getting cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to her.  If it was not for that horrible sickness, she never would have found what she truly wanted in life.  She probably would have gone the rest of her days, eating crappy food, gaining more weight, sleeping worse and worse, getting sick more often and moving through life like most people, uncomfortably and unhappily.  Because of the cancer, she was able to find that happiness is in trying new things, meeting new people, eating wonderful, good, healthy food, exercising whenever and as often as possible, and unconditionally loving people.  She discovered what truly mattered.

I have learned so much from her, in her life, and her death.  All my journeys and adventures are done with her at my side.

What are your talents?  Your passions, your goals?  What do you own, what do you want?  What do you expect and what do you dream about?

Now share it with everyone, tell your friends and family about it, ask about theirs and then give yourself up to them all.  Throw yourself, unconditionally into what you want and desire in life and experience what happens.  You will fail, you will succeed, you will experience pain and sheer joy.  You will go up and down, get in fights and fall in love.  And all along, you will be happy.  It's like a leap of faith, however you choose to leap, whatever it is you are leaping into, all you need to do is just jump.

I hope this little write-up does two things:  helps put things in perspective that your life probably is nowhere near as bad as you think it is; and maybe inspires you to call you mom (and dad for that matter) and thank them for being the ones who inspired so much good in your life.  Even if they were not-so-great parents, I am sure most of them put a ton of effort into helping you grow up to a life they believed was a good one. 
I miss the hell out of my mom, and every time I am struggling with the last rep, or up a steep hill, or lost in the woods, or out in the middle of Nevada on a bike, or anywhere where I am struggling mentally and physically, she is always right there to smile and tell me how alive I must feel right at that moment.  And she is always right.  I live for those moments.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

1 comment:

Bill said...

God Bless you and your Mom, Josh. I hope that I am that articulate when my Mother's time comes. I have been taking care of her since 1995, through Macrobiotics, Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Surgery, "Intuitive Healers", good and bad western and eastern doctors, etc. They all work for a while! In her case, Fish Oil and Paleo are working for now.
Thank you for the Inspiration.