After two years of living with cancer, and overcoming the physical challenge of losing weight and the emotional challenge of overcoming fears, I set a destination celebration that would test me to the core. What I chose was akin to aiming for the distant stars.
With my daughter Ilona, I planned an 18-day independent trip to Italy’s hill towns. For a long time I have wanted to go, and I figured I wasn’t getting any younger. It was a test of strength to stand up to the cancer and to defy life-long lung damage.
From a trip to Italy seven years ago, I knew what I was in for. Among a few Italian cities we visited, the so-called “hill” town of Siena was one. More accurately, it was a mountain town.
You may wonder: Why walk when you can drive? The only cars and motor cycles allowed are ones belonging to the towns folk. And yes, the police know immediately if you are a local or not. They will find you and ticket you, even if you are from a different country. As a non-local, you can drive to the town. Then, you have to park at the foot of the hill and walk up, and up, and up. In Siena it felt like my lungs would explode, even while I was moving at a sloth’s pace.
Knowing what I was up against, I trained on a treadmill from January to May 2012. No stranger to the treadmill, I’ve been walking on it for years at the lowest level. Due to the pre-condition of serious COPD, that is all I thought I could, or should, do.
Twenty years ago, I told my pulmonary nurse that I planned to expand my lungs through vigorous walking and exercising. Kindly and gently, she told me that my lungs “do not do the whole alphabet.” “Your lungs,” she told me, “only go from A to B. You cannot expand your lungs.”
In spite of the advice, I continued to climb steps, walk fast and lift weights. Regularly, I go to a gym. So when I knew I was facing and embracing almost vertical hills, I set goals to see if I could go beyond my most recent best efforts. Each day I pushed myself for a few minutes more on the next highest level on the treadmill. By the time the month of May came, I had moved as far as the treadmill goes. Besides walking a few minutes a day at level ten, I did not go lower than level eight. It was very strenuous for me. Still, I was not sure it was enough.
Level ten on the treadmill was nothing compared to the hills I climbed. They were equally as vertical as Siena. Fortunately, Cordova, Orvieto, and Perugia have escalators to get into the towns. Once inside, only your legs will get you up the steep streets within the town.
As a result of my work, I made it up ALL the slopes in the hill towns of Tuscany and Umbria. It was slow and steady. Usually, Ilona insisted on going slow with her mother, the turtle. Once, I sent her ahead so she would possibly see the Rocca Maggiore Castle before it closed. It was situated at the highest hilltop in the precipitous town of Assisi. Eventually, I got there, though it was already closed for both of us.
Assisi has buses. Yet, those buses only go so far. There still remain at least half the hilly streets where buses do not go.
Ilona and I walked up the arduous streets and alleys of Volterra, San Gimignano, Cortona, Orvieto, Perugia, Spello, Spoleto and Assisi. And, we spent a day in each of two easier walking cities of Milan and Bologna. When we enjoyed two days near Rome, one at Hadrian’s Villa and another at Villa D’Este, both had innumerable steps. Yet these two days seemed less strenuous compared to the hill towns.
Travel is invigorating. We experienced sights we cannot see anywhere else, foods we cannot eat anywhere else, and met people we cannot meet at home.
While I ingested lots of pasta, gelato, and wine, I did not gain a pound. All that walking and climbing paid off. Yes, I went off my sugar free diet for cancer, but it was only 18 days.
Besides the ancient towns, the medieval buildings, the art museums, and the sensational scenery, we loved the people we met in Italy. On every trip, we meet people from all over the world. With our limited knowledge of Italian words, we connected briefly with some who speak no English. The language of love really is universal.
Some memories include Ilona and I surviving a level 6 earthquake and two aftershocks that happened at 4 AM on May 20. We were in a modern hotel that withstood the quake. Most homes and hotels evacuated people immediately. some people died. Two weeks later on May 29, a second earthquake occurred in that same area. At the time, we were safely in Assisi, about 120 miles away. Sadly, the epicenter was turned to rubble. Thousand year-old homes, museums, and churches were destroyed entirely.
Other memories include facing the fact that we did not like the hotel in Assisi as much as we expected. So we arranged to go back to Orvieto, where we were the happiest. It was there that we excitedly and cheerfully talked politics with like-minded couples from four different states all at once.
We enjoyed the many kindnesses of B&B owner in Orvieto. On returning, we were treated like royalty. When we left, the owner and his staff lined up to hug us and wish us farewell.
Another experience was staying up to wee hours drinking wine and limoncello with an English speaking couple from Belgium. For several nights, we had animated discussions on their culture and ours. Now we have a standing invitation to visit them. They are invited to visit us. Meanwhile, we stay in touch by email. Cheers to them, and to all the delightful people we met.
It required patience and perseverance to prepare mentally and physically for that journey. It was a personal triumph for me to overcome every challenge and to scale those hilly mountains.
This video illustrates the courage and determination of a man without the use of his legs. He has developed physical and emotional agility and strength beyond what most of us can do. This man is heroic in his relationship to himself and to life. Check this out for two minutes.
Wheelchair BMX – Funny bloopers are a click away
Here is a book update. Besides being an Amazon bestseller for quite awhile, Overcomer’s Inc. is making a difference in peoples’ lives. Seeing how others have overcome challenges, readers are finding new ways to deal with their own. This book is powerfully packed with information and wisdom.
Book Introduction from publisher, Lynne Klippel
At one point in my life it seemed like everywhere I looked, I saw tragedy. My brother, both of my parents, and a dear friend were all battling cancer at the same time. Other friends were losing jobs and fearful about the prospects of finding new work. The evening news was full of financial scandals, plant closings, kidnappings, and war.
As I sat in the sun on my front porch in March 2009, I wished I had a book to send to my brother to read during his chemotherapy treatments – something to remind him that he was not alone and to encourage him to fight for his life. I wanted a book that could give him hope, inspiration, and encouragement on every page.
Due to a series of miracles, the book you are now reading is my wish come true. In a very short time a team of wonderful people came together to create this book with just one purpose: to encourage you, the reader, to overcome whatever obstacles are lying in your path to happiness.
As you read the stories in this book, you will find real life tales of remarkable courage, strength, and perseverance. You will be inspired, entertained, and uplifted. Some of the stories will make you laugh. Some of them will make you cry. All of them will make you proud of the power of the human spirit.
You will find this a book of diversity. There are many authors, from many walks of life. However, they all share a common bond. They triumphed over tragedy and gleaned wisdom in this process. While this is not a religious book, there are stories full of faith, of many kinds and flavors. It is funny how in your darkest times, faith often becomes your brightest light.
All of the contributors to this book want to encourage you to hold tight to your belief that a better day will come. It is their sincere desire to pass along what they’ve learned through their own trials, to make your journey easier.
I hope that you wear this book out by highlighting meaningful passages and bending down the corners of the pages you want to read over and over again. There is true wisdom in these pages that can help you feel strong, brave, and hopeful.
May you be blessed by this book and inspired to overcome!
St. Peters, Missouri
Today is the day that Overcomers, Inc is available! Hooray. Now is the time you have an opportunity to have it for yourself.
Overcomers, Inc., True Stories of Hope, Courage and Inspiration is the book that I have co-authored.
By purchasing the book today, Overcomers, Inc. has over $5,000 in bonuses! Go to http://www.overcomersbook.com/booklaunch
It is an exciting array of offers. In fact, one of the contributors is Dr. Wayne Dyer. Actually, it’s so good, I purchased my copy, just to get the free gifts!
Do take a look at the offer today. Besides receiving all of the gifts that will be available to you today, Thursday Oct. 22, I’m sure you will have a friend or family member (or 2) who will love this book, too. It’s such an uplifting gift for the holidays, birthdays, or any time.
Go to http://www.overcomersbook.com/booklaunch
Book Give Away Day is here. This is it. Get your chance for a variety of books by going to http://www.facebook.com/overcomersinc
Today, Tuesday, October 22, 2009 many books will be gifted.
For a mini version of a talk radio show interview between Catherine VanWetter and me, click on the following:
More information about the book can be found on yesterdays post.
Receive access to over $6000 in bonus offers from 90 leading experts. http://overcomersinc.com/booklaunch
About the book
Overcomers, Inc: True stories of hope, courage, and inspiration is the perfect book to read when you need a lift. Filled with gripping stories by 36 people from all walks of life, Overcomers, Inc will make you smile, move you to tears, and fill you with the strength you need to face life’s challenges.
Overcomers, Inc: True stories of hope, courage, and inspiration will give readers the knowledge and emotional resilience to face the most difficult times of life by sharing inspiring stories of triumph and fortitude. Over 90 leading experts are supporting the launch of Overcomes. Inc.
Love Your Life Publishing exists so that you can literally love your life.
Read one excerpt from my chapter titled:
The Weed That Broke Through the Sidewalk
by Marifran Korb
Starting over has resulted in both of us being happier beyond our wildest dreams. We found the delight and self-expression we wanted. Once apart for five years, now we have been back together for twelve delightful, fun-filled, precious years. As a Joint Adoration Society, our motto is:
Together we evolve, joyful, healthy, triumphant partners in the dance of life!
Here are some things I learned through my journey:
· Staying in an unsatisfactory marriage kills your spirit and your spouse’s, no matter who is the primary cause.
· You cannot take responsibility for a spouse who refuses to address his health issues. (Chronic depression is a physical problem manifesting emotionally).
· The universe is always supporting you, even though you often resist the next step.
· You own your life, and must take responsibility for your happiness and satisfaction.
· Despite the fact that you have not lived on your own for decades, as a single person again you can find your talents, support yourself financially, and experience full satisfaction.
· Friends are everywhere. Many old friends and new people show up.
· Separating can result in blessings you never imagined.
· Eventually, you may support others who have similar experiences.
Every marital situation is different. My story is not a prescription for other unhappy marriages to follow. It is an example of what may be a possible solution in some situations. What I recommend is applying courage whenever needed. At every juncture in your life, tune into your courage by listening to your inner guidance.
A heartfelt Thank You to the 90+ experts offering bonus offers for Overcomers Inc. http://overcomersinc.com/booklaunch