We each have stories that define who we are and what we become. Here is my story and how it sparked the beginning of the tobe4HEALTH – #2B4H movement.
Our physician entered the room with a look of devastation on her face. As she spoke, “Your daughter has a defective heart and will die at birth,” it was as if time froze and the rest of the world continued on without me. At nearly full term, Catherine Bette was born still on June 15, 2000.
Life’s pages make up the seamless web of what becomes the chapters in our lives. Some of our tales arefull of happiness, laughter, joys and love, while others are journeys of despair, anger, questioning and loss. Each page and chapter shapes us, yet we have some choice over how we react to the peaks and valleys along our life’s journey.
The death of my daughter Katie became a tragic chapter that changed everything for me. My physical and mental health became a wreck after her loss. For years, I shielded many of these challenges from outsiders; and often, even from myself. Thankfully, a series of life events and revelations have led me back to a healthier place. But from my vantage point today, good health means something much more than what I used to perceive it to be. My story has inspired me to share with others a new, more expansive definition of “good health.”
Complete good health, after experiencing many years to the contrary, is transforming ourselves well beyond the traditional notion of healthy. Yes, good health demands a physically fit body. If our bodies fail us, all else comes tumbling down. Yet an inspired and comprehensive definition of good health incorporates much more. True health expands the narrative to include the state of our MINDS, BODIES and SOULS to create overall healthy BEINGS. Combined, these four cornerstones to good health form a more complete and balanced definition of what it means to be truly healthy. Achieving good health in one cornerstone area without the others leaves us incomplete and thirsty for something more.
Learning the importance of each of these facets to good health did not come quickly in my life, or without eye-opening events, many days of reflections, deep thought and education. Too much of modern society overemphasizes creating the often elusive beautiful body, thus we miss how critical growing healthy minds and souls are to completing the total health puzzle. The time has come to expand our understanding.
My transformation out of a dark and dry mental and spiritual desert began around the year 2010. I had co-authored The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America with my now friend, futurist David Houle. David and I embarked on research, followed by writing, and then we threw ourselves into keynote speaking and educating people, businesses and communities about what good health and health care should look like in The New Health Age. But somewhere along the way, I stared in the literal and proverbial mirror and saw an overweight and discontent middle-aged man.
Thankfully, I decided that it was time for a change.
By 2011, I admitted that my body was a wreck so I focused on losing 40 pounds. I began to eat healthier and exercise regularly. That process was long and hard. It still is. Many years of unhealthy habits are hard to bend. Yet my steps and runs became easier over time. Eventually I breathed deeper and my energy levels increased as the pounds fell off. But even after losing weight, I peered inward and my reflection remained unappealing. Anger, depression and discontentment continued to fill me. The strongest and healthiest body could not fix that reality. It would take much more.
New Year’s weekend 2012, I decided to fast. Over a four day period, I survived on a liquid diet, limitedto essential nutrients and energy supplements. I longed to destroy and wash away whatever had been holding me back from true health. A sense of awakened spirituality came to me that weekend along with the revelation that I had not fully healed following Katie’s death. I suffered from an emotional and mental cancer that was eating away at my very being. The image of Katie’s lifeless body in my arms still haunted me. Her coffin was tiny, but she filled it with a mighty display of beauty. I longed for peace but I knew that my heart was far from being quiet.
I needed to rebuild my inner self – mentally and spiritually. Complete health would elude me unless I faced and conquered many years of darkness and pain. So like I had tackled my unhealthy physical habits, I started to heal my mental health. My secrets over Katie and corresponding anger and brokenness began to wash away.
I consciously developed disciplined patterns to change my old mindset and negative ways of thinking. During 2014 I developed daily rituals to achieve this goal. Every day an image and spiritual reflection came into my awareness. I converted each image to a picture and wrote corresponding words of reflections centered on becoming a healthier MIND, BODY and SOUL. Both the image and words of inspiration came easily through unique experiences each day. It was as if the reflections wrote themselves as Katie’s gift to me.
After dedicating a full year to creating these images and reflections, my anger, grief and despair yielded to an inner happiness, peace and sense of contentment. I gained a sincere appreciation for being genuine, complete and more balanced.
It is clear that I still have unwritten chapters to complete.
How can Katie’s story and these reflections be used to help others?
Part of the next chapter is about sparking a movement to redefining good health because without healthy MINDS, BODIES and SOULS we all fall short of becoming healthy BEINGS.
Together we can create an expansive picture of what true health looks like. Everyone has their version of a “Katie story” that hold us back from becoming truly healthy BEINGS.
Imagine the transformations that can occur if our business and social communities create cultures dedicated to transforming people into healthier MINDS, BODIES and SOULS to become healthier BEINGS. Suppose that we create the environment and support systems for facing whatever demons might be limiting us from living in peace and contentment. People would be more engaged and empowered tobe4HEALTH, thus creating enormous benefits in our workplaces, communities and amongst our families, friends and loved ones. We are all experiencing paths full of peaks and valleys.
Walking along these streets alone and without healthy MINDS, BODIES, SOULS and BEINGS limits or prevents our opportunity to experience what it means tobe4HEALTH. Every motion surrounding any movement requires that first action. #2B4H has begun and there will be more tobe4HEALTH inspirations to come. I am moved like never before in my life to share further reflections, stories, research and education to find good health together.
So join the #2B4H movement and know that you will never walk alone again. tobe4HEALTH is about something much greater than any of us could accomplish on our own. Katie deserves more and so do we all.
To see a sampling of Jonathan’s reflections inspired by Katie, please visit http://tobe4health.com/