Recently, I’ve become re-obsessed with the NBC show, American Ninja Warrior. My channel-flipping-non-brain took over there for awhile…but I’m back now, baby!

They might be running the same course, but each contestant is unique: their background (gymnast, wakeboarder, rock climber, used car salesman), their training techniques, and their personal struggles and inspirations. NBC loves to pull on the heartstrings here – like Mike Stanger whose wife who was wheelchair-bound for 4 years with a crazy genetic disorder but is now walking and running again, which left DP and I in tears for obvious reasons.

Everyone’s approach is different – do they try to blaze through or do they take their time, mentally defeating each obstacle? Whatever it is, they’re there in the moment, totally focused and giving it their all.

I love to watch their muscles flexing and straining – eventually giving out in most cases, but sometimes not before they have propelled the man or woman further than they ever expected to get.

And then I realized that I am an ALS Ninja Warrior.

Please excuse the blatant (and poorly done) copyright infringement, NBC!

The whole world is an obstacle course to me now: curbs, doors, rugs, bathroom stalls, countertops, cooking, getting into bed…

I mentally judge each obstacle, look for stable things to grab onto, lean, pivot, twist, balance, back up, try a different way — all day, every day.

Like the contestants, I fall a lot. But I get back up and keep going, just like they do.

Swimming, water walking, Pilates, triking are all deliberate parts of my training of various muscle groups so that they can perform when needed. One of my performances just happens to be when I want to walk somewhere.

But it’s more than that. We warriors have a knowledge and deep-seated respect for what muscles can do when the mind is right. We don’t just believe we can do it, we know we can. If the muscles give out, well, then they do. But the mind doesn’t. And anyway, that’s not our concern in the now. There just is no room for that kind of doubt when you’re concentrating that hard.

Yes, the commentators (doctors/clinical staff/ALS orgs) are out there, reminding the audience of when we fell last time, that no one has made it this far before, blah blah blah – we know all the stats intellectually (the credible ones, anyway), but there’s no room for that kind of noise when you’re the one out there fighting. For your life, in my case.

Today is the third anniversary of the doctor’s appointment confirming my ALS (the one where we actually understood the diagnosis). I never would have gotten here without the attitude of a warrior — and my family, as NBC always reminds us.

For courage on the morning of that appointment, I re-watched for the zillionth time NBC’s coverage of another warrior, the self-described ALS Warrior Poet himself, Jon “Blazeman” Blais, at the 2005 Ironman World Championships:

Whatever your challenge is today, go out there an face it like a ninja warrior. And if you need some inspirational  TV, record or watch ANW at 8pm ET tonight 🙂

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