As a seven year old, I vividly remember my father picking me up from dance class, tension mingled in his throat as he gently brought up the situation happening in my mother’s bathroom that night.
“Allie” he said. “As you know, your mother’s treatment has made some of her hair fall out”
I did recall her gentle explanation to me when she started chemo therapy for the first time. She told me that the treatment couldn’t differentiate between cells. It would target the bad cells that made her sick, but unfortunately some of the good cells that made up her hair and nails would be affected as well. She always answered my questions with a sense of grace and humility. She wore patience like a coat of titanium armour, holding her together in the most grueling and difficult conversations.
The rattling of my dad’s car brought me back to the passenger seat as I continued to listen with slight anticipation. His voice still strained as he told me, “She decided that she is going to shave her head tonight, and I am trusting you to be kind and sensitive for she looks very different.”
I nodded and looked out the window as my thoughts infringed upon me. I felt a strain in my chest and it moved throughout my body like ice. I have never handled change well, I have always clung onto stability. But now, there was no longer denying the fact that my mom was sick, she had to wear it every day and adapt to a different type of lifestyle.
As we arrived home, I remember being nervous when walking into her bedroom to find her standing there with my brother, a forced smile on her face, pretending everything was normal and fine because what else do you do as a mother?
As the years progressed, she shaved her head several other times as cancer inevitably reared its ugly head back into our family’s life. I remember walking into her room once with tears streaming down her face while the clippings fluttered like feathers to the floor. Sometimes, bravery wore out in the midst of reality.
So yes, I was nervous walking into the bedroom for the first time seeing my mother bald. But as I got older, and as my years pass without her, I often become consumed by the fact that she was battling cancer with walls around her. She was constantly protecting me and my brother, she was constantly protecting even the ones that she was closest to. She portrayed the facade that everything was okay, when behind closed doors, she was facing monsters like depression and fear, frustration and anxiety. I was nervous? What was possibly going through her head before I walked through that bedroom door, clippers in her hand, again, and again and again. When anyone tried to break down the barriers, how was she able to stay so strong? To live in an world of optimism and to maintain stability around us?
Because we were her why.
We were why she continued to keep smiling during the hard conversations, why she kept going whenever she could barely get out of bed, and why she never wavered in dependability.
And conveniently, she’s my Why too, along with many other significant people and factors that consistently push me in every season of my life.
There are several “Whys” that I could be referring to, why do you stay strong in adversity? Why do you believe in your goals? But the Why I am referring to in this specific post is why you feel the want and need to stay healthy. Your motivation could be one thing, it could be several things, but goals are hardly attainable without a motivating factor.
My Why to stay healthy comes wrapped in a loaded package full of my personal life events and what I value. Of course I want to stay healthy because I want to prevent being a victim of disease, I want to see my children graduate from high school, college and I want to have grandkids of my own one day. But I also want to take care of my body because I believe there is extreme value in being comfortable in your own skin. Eating correctly is a form of self respect, it’s a bold statement that you are valuable enough to take care of. Are you always going to be successful? It will vary, but knowing why you want to maintain your health will always put you back on the right track. If you lose motivation, you need to stay focused on why, who, and what you are doing this for, but the first thing on your Why list should always because you love YOU.
Your Why to stay healthy could be as simple as looking great in a bathing suit, or to see your family grow. However, the focus on your goal is what makes the process to stay healthy easier. It’s what gets you to the gym, and what helps you meal prep on Sunday nights. It is what gives you the energy to do the HIIT workout in your living room, or to resist the temptation at work when someone brings doughnuts. When you have your Why in mind, make a list, put it on your bathroom mirror and continue to add to it. That list will get you to your goal and will push you to be healthier, more focused and more willing to succeed. There is no such thing as dreaming too big- chances are, you are most likely someone else’s Why during their journey, and that, is a beautiful thing.