What Really Matters

It’s Saturday night, the snow is swirling, the year is 1969 and I, along with my father, am cruising in a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 with fins (think old fashioned Cadillac) and a hugeV-8 that guzzles gas to the tune of   eight miles a gallon. We are motoring towards an open-faced rink (modern rinks are fully enclosed) camped on the Charles River in West Roxbury (Boston). The rink temperature reminds one of a barn in the winter with the doors left open. The Nor’easter winds coming off the river and swirling snow made their bone chilling presence felt on the playing surface, in addition to the pigeons on the roof rafters having target practice with unsuspecting players below them…I didn’t care how old-fashioned the rink was…just that I was invited! This was the first All-Star team that I played on. The president of the youth hockey program had called only hours before and told me in his gravelly voice of the unfortunate mishap (injury) with a player on the team, and I was next in line for the call-up. As my father piloted the howling, dual exhaust, four barrel carb, hot rod 88 down the snowy streets, there was an eerie silence in the front seat. The radio was not playing, it was pitch dark; there was not much conversation and there was no coaching. But my father was silently communicating how proud he was of me. Didn’t know it then, but words at times like this are totally useless. He had a silent confidence in me and a knowing that I would fit in with my new, high caliber teammates. As he walked me into the rink he said, “Play like you know how to play.” I had ridden many times in carpools from other fathers and witnessed the play-by-play, hyper-critical analysis (bordering on berating them, complete with what they would have done) even if they had never laced up blades themselves. Sometimes when I was young, I thought I was missing something when my dad wouldn’t give me an earful or tear into me like many of the other fathers. Maybe he didn’t care, maybe I wasn’t special…or maybe he knew I had what it takes to succeed. The latter was the case as I would find out. Having him and my mother behind me fully is the relationship of a lifetime that serves me to the day.


Each of us makes the hero’s journey
As individuals we will make many a journey into the unknown. You will have to face challenges, adversity, dragons, demons, monsters, etc. You must be successful on your journey into the unknown to experience transformation. You will need all the help you can get. Many choose not to face their fears and are haunted and held hostage by them today; still, others refuse to embark on the journey. It’s much too risky. I’ll play it safe, do what I’m good at, take no chances, and settle rather than going for it. The New RenaissanceYou can tell immediately that they don’t have the benefits of relationships behind them that give them the Thor-like strength to tackle the difficult, the seemingly impossible. Going from youth to adulthood, your body will change, and it doesn’t ask for permission. Instead, it barks out “deal with it” and doesn’t ask your opinion of its work. Many want more development in all the right places, from full beards and moustaches to chiseled muscles or the right amount of cleavage and bounce. Many will feel gypped, ripped off or inadequate when it comes to nature’s work. There is no owner’s manual, no GPS, no coordinates and no apps…you must experience it and adapt to the best of your abilities. You will make lots of mistakes along the way. It’s a lot easier going through puberty with parents behind you, separating the mistakes from the kid.

How about becoming a DC? Going to school, staying away from the slackers, keeping on track, graduating, then getting a license. Now what? You must begin on a hero’s journey into the unknown. With a mountain of debt on your shoulders and a piece of paper that certifies you’re a hot shot DC, you will decide to associate or to open your own show. It will depend on the strength of your relationships throughout your life and who has your back–currently. So many DCs speak of the isolation after graduation. Where’s that supportive professor, that teacher that wouldn’t let you coast, the one who forecast you would be a great DC? What about the one who was tougher and more demanding of you while seeming to not hold others to such lofty heights.? Let’s throw marriage and parenting into the mix. Talk about journeying into the unknown! Let the fun begin first with marriage and then let’s complicate it with kids. Thinking you know what marriage or parenting will be like beforehand is akin to Facebook reality as opposed to actual reality. Lots of things out of your control and yet, you want to control what can’t be controlled. You want to safeguard your kids from making the journey we all must make…the hero’s journey into the unknown. The assurance and outcome of this journey is determined by the relationship you have with your kids. Will they be masters of their own destiny or will they succumb to the god of mediocrity? It’s all about allowing them to make the journey, not you trying to do it for them. It’s about the pain of watching them make necessary mistakes that are turned into life’s lessons. It’s realizing that the kid is separate and distinct from the mistakes they make. Can you communicate to your kids that they will be strong, successful adults capable of great things or will you let society dictate their lives as Thoreau wrote of “quiet desperation.” Fold your hands, sit still, tell the teacher what they want to hear, let a computer do your thinking for you, conservative, following the rules of society even if it means “throwing your own kids under the bus?”


Here’s an intimate glimpse of this relationship in action

image053Dr. Kevin, I received this handwritten letter in the mail today from the DCME with stroke-like symptoms and wanted to share it with you:

“Dr. Spiers, As I peer out the window of my living hell, there is the brightness of hope. That hope is you. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to help me. Everyone else pretty much didn’t know what to do and sent me on my way. You on the other hand went above and beyond, dug your heels in, and tackled the challenge that was me. For that I will be forever thankful. How ever this shakes out, know that you will always be remembered as the one who cared. My children and eventually my grandchildren will know the name Dr. Stephanie Spiers. Thank you so much.”

I just wanted to thank you for YOUR time, effort, and caring about ME to give me the confidence to take this patient on without fear and with a strong and clear vision of what I do as a chiropractor. In my 9 years of practice I’ve always considered myself wellness-based but the last 4 months in TNR have so dramatically opened my eyes to what true wellness means. I am so thankful I’ve been led to TNR and that I took the leap of faith to join. I am excited and inspired for this new phase of my life in my own practice with a clear vision and a means to pursue it.
With a grateful heart,
Dr. Stephanie

She is a fabulous practitioner who is truly finding her home in her own practice. She has a diplomat in Pediatrics and has practiced for nine years as a part-time associate. She did not believe you could have three beautiful kids and own your own successful practice. Time or more degrees will not help her…it’s having a relationship behind her that sees her already as a successful practitioner. Her pivotal decision was to join in a relationship that would allow her to successfully undertake her hero’s journey. It literally supercharges DCs into levels of success previously unthinkable.


Meeting each one of our TNR family members…
We actually get to meet your parents as well. They shine through you, perfection as well as flaws. Dr. Heather’s mother I did not get to meet, but I did through Dr. Heather. Her mother faced demons throughout her life. Dr. Heather has used this influence to inspire her with helping others in her life, especially children. Of particular note, during a couples H2H with her husband Jon, she helped a DCME kid, Bryan (into drugs, criminal activity, and breaking up an entire family) by showing him how to perform NRMs. He is now doing great, still does his NRMs daily, and has turned his life around, including college. We are reminded of parents with so many new DCs who enter our program with issues of anger. Sometimes this anger is overt and other times it’s disguised by a smirk, a “Prozac smile,” as lowered expectations, a “who cares?” attitude, holding your tongue when you know better, or accepting mediocrity. This anger spills over into all areas of life–professional and personal. When it’s out of balance, it can literally ruin a practice, marriage, parenting and life. We see many of your parents (parent) through you when we start working with you. Anger is usually associated with this parent-child relationship (or lack thereof). Instead of a lust for adventure, a spirit of discovery, of taking life’s journeys, it’s anger, being good instead of great, excuses and “reasons” why you can’t take the journey now. You play it safe, even though you don’t feel safe. You can’t be your best because of your kids and their sports and school activities, your spouse’s needs, the seminars are always on your wedding anniversary, or you don’t have the money. Anger is always a cheap substitute for courage. Many of our parents didn’t seem to get us or see our magnificence. As a result, many TNR members feel like outsiders, castoffs, misfits, and strangers who march to a different drummer to our family and friends. TNR is all about the hero’s journey. It’s about reclaiming your greatness, your radiance, and setting about to rewrite the script to create a life and practice of your own making. Not having someone to guide you along this journey has claimed the MOJO, the spirit, the fun and adventure from many a DC. The mistake in Chiropractic and beyond is thinking that you will undertake this journey alone. Isolation is the kiss of death. It simply blows us away that DCs seek other professional relationships in their lives, such as CPAs, lawyers, architects, etc., but believe that something as important as your income earning potential can be achieved alone with little or no guidance, accountability or relationship. Because of this, some DCs will sadly never experience high achievement. Not only will others have to pay the price in suffering, but the profession as a whole will not grow either. Others, because of it (relationships), will earn millions upon millions of dollars in their careers while supporting others along their journey inside and outside of your office.


My Dad passed away on February 11, 2015
But fear not, his essence lives on through me as well as others. Those who have passed or gone before us “fertilize” our current hopes and dreams. We remember and honor them by continuing on our hero’s journey and encouraging others to take the journey as well. It’s so easy to coast, to not embrace opportunities, or to take your foot off the gas, especially when faced with challenges. The past, as a consequence, is not honored. Not getting your hands dirty when it comes to difficult cases in the office or difficult situations at home is the path of least resistance. It takes no courage to see a 46 year-old with a crick in his back. In our group, so many take on the difficult. From adoption, to foster kids, to big brothers, to mentoring others, working on (instead of opting out) of difficult marriages, doing what it takes to grow our practices, to taking care of kid’s issues, our work is never done. Our parents (living or otherwise) and our TNR relationships continue to imbue us with the courage we need to face anything life can throw at us.


This is not a dress rehearsal, this is your life!
The following thoughts have resurfaced in my mind while writing this article:image054

-The day after my father passed, my son called and asked, “Did Grampie like eagles? Because there are two circling overhead and I’ve never seen eagles before.” He was associating this experience with his grandfather’s spirit watching over him.

-Dr. Amit, of his own accord, sent a picture of him with his father the day before his passing.

-Shortly after my father passed away, I learned that the cab driver who drove me to and from the airport lost his wife at 41-years old suddenly. She leaves six kids. He works 16+ hours a day.

-Someone told me (as giant tears well up) that, “You were the father I never had.”

-Dr. Caroline asking me to walk her down the aisle at her wedding (stand in dad) because her parents both were deceased.

-Dr. Rick Thompson has erected a shadow box of his father’s memorabilia (varsity letter sweater, etc.) and has dedicated his ROF/Patient Education room to his father. He has an inscription that roughly reads how he helped many “at risk” kids as a shop teacher, simply by keeping them out of trouble, getting them jobs, acknowledging them and holding them accountable. Now Dr. Rick is giving many “at risk” kids a second chance that other doctors have said “can’t be helped.” It takes no courage to say what can’t be done.


Who do you need to thank for being where you are?
One of life’s lessons I learned early is none of us get here by ourselves. Take the time now and thank the people who have gotten you here. If they are alive, pick up the phone (lose the social media, way too impersonal) or write a letter. If they aren’t living, honor their memory, look at pictures of you and them, visit your old home you grew up in, etc. We all had parents, mentors, teachers, or coaches who painstakingly nurtured us, put up with our “yeah, buts,” believed in us and helped us express our gifts to the world.


What will your legacy be?
TNR DCs will always be known for their willingness to get their hands dirty. To take on the cases that most shy away from, to do the things that need to be done, because it’s the right thing to do. Calluses are earned, not bought. A kite flies against the wind. We don’t embrace the difficult because it’s difficult, or others can’t (or won’t) do it, rather it’s a rite of passage for all once in a lifetime DCs. Every TNR member has been on these voyages and continues to support members who are making their own personal journeys. That’s the mortar that holds the bricks together. That’s what makes our group so special.