As you begin to read this blog, the first thing you need to know is… I lost my Mom to stomach cancer 19 years ago. It was quick, she barely made it 6 months once she finally got diagnosed. Also, she was only 48 years old when she died and I was 26.
In the years since she passed, I got into the field of nutrition and culinary medicine. Dealing with her illness opened me up to the world of holistic health and to the link between food and how we feel. I went to culinary school to become a health-supportive chef so that I could help people eat better and improve their health. Then three years ago I learned about a group called First Descents. They create outdoor adventure retreats for young adults with cancer. I now cook for their retreats every summer. I am not surprised that I fit so well into this group and how much I love cooking for them given my history, but what WAS shocking to me, was how much I would gain out of my participation with them.
Back to why we are here….
I was in the mountains of Montana back in July, surrounded by an amazing group of young cancer survivors during one of our retreats, when the idea of “20 for 20” came to me.
We were sitting around the campfire and I was listening to them talk about their fears, their losses, their struggles… listening to them talk about the challenges of living with a cancer diagnosis…But included in the anger and frustration, there was also this zest for life. They had this great capacity for joy and love, and a newfound hunger for adventure. They didnt know how much more time they were going to get, so it was critical for them to get started really LIVING.
All of this conversation made me think of my mom’s experience with cancer. I thought of how she never got this kind of support after her diagnosis, and she didnt get the chance to live very long after getting sick. I had been through the toughest experience of my life losing her. I thought back to what her death taught me and how it changed the tradjectory of my life…. and then it really dawned on me everything I HAVENT been doing… what have I been putting off in my life?!?! How passionate did I feel about life after first losing her and how had that waned over the last 19 years?
And then the “20 for 20” came to me….
2017 marks the 20th anniversary of my Mother’s death. How do I want to spend that year? How do I want to celebrate her, remember her. How have I been living my life since her death? What have I been afraid to do? What have I been putting off? The answers came so clear that I have been putting off A LOT, and really limiting myself. Listening to the group talk made it so clear of how much I WASNT out living my life to the fullest. And I did NOT like how that felt. What could I learn from listening to this group around this campfire.
I turn 46 in 2017. That is 2 years younger than my Mother was when she passed. How many more years do I have? What kind of time have I been wasting being afraid, not wanting to spend the money…. whatever the excuse is….
I will spend the year doing twenty different things that honor my Mother and help me to create a life worth living. One “thing” for each year that she has been gone. Those “things” fit in these categories:
1) They scare me
2) I have been putting it off because “its too much money”, “no-one wants to go do it with me”, “I am not the kind of person that does that”… etc (basically all bullshit excuses)
3) They make me feel closer to her
4) They stretch me in a way that I want to be stretched, but have been holding back. Something both my Mom and I would have been afraid to do, but secretly have always wanted to try. That if I DONT try them, I will regret it.
5) Get me in touch with the grief that still lies just beneath the surface.
There are even more reasons, but these are the most impactful. I have been working on the list for over 3 months now and have solidified about 12 of them. I will write more about that separately. I am excited about this list and also terrified at the same time. I know I want to be a better version of myself, someone that doesnt take life for granted, and I think doing these “Things” will put me through a process of making great change. To be rid of those irrational fears and whatever else is holding me back. I think losing my Mother caused me to take on some of her limiting beliefs about what was possible in her life. I want to break through those…. for both of us.
Here’s to a very interesting 2017.