I was 19 when my mom died after a long battle with cancer. Although this would be the first time I would come to understand the concept of growth from challenge, it would certainly not be the last.
At almost 39, I still tear up and feel a sharp twinge in my belly when I think about her. It is in these times that I reflect and appreciate the woman she was. Life presents opportunities for incredible growth if you choose to do the work.
As I’m sure many of you have experienced in times of sadness I felt unsettled and totally pissed off at the world.
My solution was to ‘get the hell out of Dodge’ (Toronto). I was accepted on an exchange for part of my third year of university to a school in Australia. It was incredibly exciting and the time there was rejuvenating. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed more of a challenge, I needed a way to feel alive again… I needed growth.
If you have ever experienced moments of complete clarity you know how anchoring those moments can be. I knew that whatever this challenge was to be, it needed to be just me. I remember being conscious of the need for an experience in nature that would awaken my damaged heart and mind.
Tasmania seemed about as far away from the rest of the world as I could get. From there it just seemed logical to pick one of the most remote parts of Tasmania for my adventure.
I had spent time in nature before on long canoe trips and hiking, but never on my own. When I started to prepare for 5 nights in Cradle Mountain I was shocked at the volume of equipment and food I needed.
My pack finally weighed in at about 70 pounds, on a 140 pound frame, that was substantial. It was in this moment that I actually started to get scared. Not scared of the mountain, not scared of being alone, but scared of the behemoth on my back! How on earth was I supposed to get this thing off the floor and onto my back!
The older I get the more I realize that not much of life is by mistake, life happens for a reason. Little did I know… this burden would lead to the best most fulfilling career and lifestyle I could have ever dreamed of, somehow though, I had to get that pack across the mountain.
After flying into Hobart, a bus took me down to Sheffield, the town closest to the head of the trail. The trail itself was only 85 km from start to finish, however I was told the terrain could be tricky in some areas, particularly the first 5 km which were directly up hill.
I’m not sure at what point during my Cradle Mountain trip I subluxated my midback, but by day 5 I knew something was very wrong. I had a shooting pain on my left side under my arm and around to my shoulder blade when I took a breath in. The pain was so severe that I was convinced there must be something wrong with my heart.
As soon as I arrived back in Hobart, after a gloriously hot shower, I found a medical doctor to assess my heart that I was sure was about to explode. He assessed me thoroughly and very calmly told me there was nothing wrong. I was leery of hearing, “There is nothing wrong,” from the medical community as three years prior my mom had been told the same thing.
I had seen a chiropractor on and off for years as a child and figured if the Medical Doctor couldn’t help me, I had to find someone who could. So I set off to find a chiropractor in Hobart.
After hearing my history he sat me on a chiropractic table, did a few tests, and informed me that I had injured my thoracic spine (mid-back) and that as a result my ribs were no longer sitting correctly in their joints. He asked me to lay on my back and he adjusted my thoracic spine in two areas. The relief was immediate. Although I have permanently changed some of the structures in this part of my back, 19 years later and under regular chiropractic care since, my body has healed remarkably.
I can’t say I jumped off the table and committed myself to a life as a chiropractor, but this experience definitely awakened me to the power of the human body to heal when the nervous system is working properly. Shortly thereafter, my path lead me to my future husband who was on track (albeit a bumpy one) to becoming a chiropractor. After a brief stint teaching oversees we decided to return to the classroom, the chiropractic classroom specifically. Now we just had to get accepted!
I clearly recall my mother’s voice in my head telling me to finish my Ontario Academic Credit (OAC) sciences many years previous. Of course, pre-requisites for a Doctor of Chiropractic degree are OAC sciences. So at 24 with an honours Bachelor of Arts to my name I returned to high school to complete my science requirements, which was a very humbling experience.
Fast forward 5 years and a new baby, Charles and I made it to graduation in 2005 and have been in practice since.
Over the past 11 years in practice I am still amazed and intrigued by how extraordinary the human body, brain and nervous system are when it is given what they need.
Now, more than ever, Chiropractic needs to be a central piece of our health habits. Chiropractic teaches personal responsibility for one’s own health. It addresses the ‘Core’ of many health concerns and it is far deeper reaching then symptomatic relief.
I will hazard a guess that many of you who have read to this point intuitively know the power of healing your body possesses. Perhaps you have had the incredible experience of becoming a parent. Perhaps you have had physical trauma that seemed insurmountable that you overcame. Perhaps you have worked or are working your way through mental and emotional anxiety and stress. Whatever your challenge has been, your extraordinary body and mind have the ability to heal and mend.
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.”