I have known Barnaby Howarth for a number of years now having met him when I was in the Speaker Bureau Industry. From the moment I met Barnaby Howarth, I was truly inspired with his determination, resilience and outlook on life, despite suffering from something that no young man, or anyone for that matter be subjected to.
At age 14 Barnaby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, then at 25 he was bashed by a gang who were full of alcohol resulting in a stroke and disability. Despite this Barnaby went onto play AFL for the Sydney Swans, had 2 books published, filmed 3 documentaries, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and completed the Kokoda track.
I interviewed Barnaby a few years ago on a radio show and that's when he introduced me to his girlfriend, Angela. I immediately warmed to Angela and was seriously happy when Barnaby and Angela announced their engagement. What I didn't know was that Angela was diagnosed with breast cancer. With that diagnosis the only way for Barnaby and Angela to keep enjoying their life was to get married. Once married they travelled the world on an 19 leg honeymoon – the last of which they got back from less than a week before Angela joined her father in heaven.
It was with deep sadness that I learnt about Angela's passing, and I'm truly in awe of Barnaby on his resilience and coping with this tragic loss. I asked him a few questions to help inspire my readers who may be going through some tough times. .......
When was the defining moment you knew that you were going to live your life your way, despite what happened to you?
Never. I had no idea if I'd be able to live the life I wanted, I just knew I didn't want to get paralysed be fear and not try, so I decided to just get out there & give it a crack. I didn't follow a set recipe for success or someone else's 10 point plan for overcoming adversity, all I knew was that at every junction I had 2 decisions - TRY or NOT TRY, so I rolled up my sleeves & tried, and most of the time it's paid off.
What were your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenges were keeping faith that the exercises I was doing would pay off - one of my first exercises was to clench my bum cheeks together to build my glut strength which would in turn help me walk again, I had to peg clothes on a clothes line with my affected hand to help my coordination, and I had to try & flip eggs on a saucepan with the same hand.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Hope & blind faith. There were plenty of times where I thought "how is pegging clothes with my left hand going to help me play footy again?", so I just shifted my focus from the big things I wanted (like playing footy) to the small things on my plate right now (like pegging clothes).
How powerful is the mind?
The mind is amazing - especially when it realises that an everyday "Harry Sack O'Rolls" has the power to deal with any disappointment life throws at it - people don't need secret tools that Mandela, or Turia Pitt or pre criminal Lance Armstrong seem to have, just getting up everyday & trying as hard as you can is all anybody needs and it's the mind that controls people's expectations of themselves - if the mind says "you can't possibly do this", most people won't even try, but the mind will never tell you "you can't TRY and do something".
What are you top 5 tips for living life?
1. You cannot be scared to at least try
2. Don't live your life trying to stay dry, there's a lot of pride to be found in the puddles
3. Make everything BIG & OVERWHELMING in your life, SMALL & MANAGEABLE
4. Focus on the game plan and the result will take care of itself
5. Life is a series of lots of small decisions, not just a handful of life changing epiphanies.
You had another set back this year with the passing of your beautiful wife, Angela. How do you cope with this?
No strategies. Just a realisation that sometimes life sucks - like when you lose your wife to breast cancer at 38, but sometimes it's awesome - like how the 2 of us went on 19 legs of our honeymoon in a 20 month marriage. My wife has left such a beautiful legacy it's hard to be anything but proud.