After starting a family and flourishing in his career, Tim Hague was struck by misfortune. The irritating tremor in his foot turned out to be early onset Parkinson's disease. He was only 46 years old. But what seemed to be an end became a new beginning. Just three years later, Hague won the inaugural The Amazing Race Canada (with his son, Tim Jr., as his teammate). His remarkable life story shows that perseverance is not just a matter of willpower: it is a skill that can be learned and honed.
And perseverance is the theme of his life. From the day he was born, Hague has gone from one struggle to another. Yet, remarkably, he doesn't have a trace of self-pity. In fact, he feels blessed. From his tough start in life as an unwanted mixed-race baby born in Texas in 1964, to his eventual move to the unforgiving climate of Winnipeg, Canada, to start a family under difficult circumstances, and his continuing battle with Parkinson'sHague's life is a roadmap of perseverance.
Parkinson's has forced him to retire early from the work he loves as a registered nurse. But as a healthcare professional, and now suffering from a challenging disease himself, Hague discusses living with Parkinson's like no one else could. He now works with charities to help promote Parkinson's awareness and his "Live Your Best" message. Drawing on his experience winning The Amazing Race, and referencing cutting-edge research and studies, Hague weaves a moving story of failure and success, outlining the elements of his philosophy that anyone can apply to their own lives, including:
* The nature of luck: Luck comes to those who keep trying until the endnever stop until the race is over.
* Find community: As a nurse, a husband and father, and a man living with Parkinson's, Hague knows better than most that we all need to ask for help sometimes, and that's a good thing.
* Accept limits: By focusing on what we can do, we accomplish more than we ever thought possible.
* Cease striving: We think of striving as a positive attribute, but all we end up doing is banging our heads against the wall. Have goals, but have fun. Do not create anxiety out of nothing and maintain perspective.
* Live Your Best: No such thing as giving 110%can only do your best.
Inspirational and entertaining, Hague's message is both simple and profound: perseverance isn't just something a person has, or a trait we admire in others. Hague's book, like his life, is a guide to how we can all learn to persevere in the face of daily strugglesor even life-changing illness.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
We all have an idea of what perseverance means, but it was only relatively late in life that I really came to understand it.
Our North American culture often tells us that we should look, feel, and be successful. Yet any success I’ve had has come only after significant ordeals, and rarely did I ever feel successful along the way. But I’ve learned to persevere. This is an important point to hold on to: perseverance can be learned. We can grow in our ability to withstand difficult times. We can learn to push forward in the face of failure. We can develop the determination to keep slogging ahead until we reach that remarkable day when someone in our life points out how “lucky” we’ve been.
It’s funny how so many of those who work hard and simply stay in the game get “lucky.” Without a doubt, many successful people will tell you that they’ve experienced lots of luck in their journey. That’s because they stayed on the journey. They never quit. They learned to persevere.
I’ve been forced, specifically by Parkinson’s disease, to learn simplicity within perseverance. I’ve come to see that I can’t do it all, that at times I do need a hand, and that I certainly can’t control every outcome in life. Although that sounds like a lot of things I can’t do, I’ve learned that I can pay better attention, focus carefully, and end up accomplishing more. And as I find that there are things I can control, my character is deepened and I discover contentment.
Perseverance—a great big long word that’s often attached to difficulties. Yet if we learn its lessons our lives will be deeper, richer, and more vibrant than we ever imagined.
Jenna was ten when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of fifty. Unlike most ten-year-olds, she understood the gravity of the diagnosis—and set herself to doing something about this thing that had attacked her dad. When she learned that funds were needed to help people live well with the disease and to spur on research for a cure, she decided to help those who could help her dad. Five years later, “Jenna’s Toonies for Tulips” campaign is going strong; she’s raised more than $50,000 for Parkinson’s. (In Canada, a toonie is the two-dollar coin.)
Jenna is the daughter of a good friend of mine. I’m continually amazed and inspired by her work for Parkinson’s; she’s a constant reminder of the simplicity of what it is I want to do with my life. Like Jenna, I want to help. Whether it’s her dad or others like him, I want to see people lifted above the misery of their circumstances and inspired to live their best.
Hence this book. My greatest desire in writing it is to shine a light deep into people’s souls and convince them that there is a better way. Throughout the book I’ll provide practical steps, but my first goal is to help us see the bright reality of what can be. Then we can set ourselves on the course to that reality.
Later I’ll discuss how this journey is best traveled with others. I’ve learned that I can’t make it on my own; instead, I’ve experienced the best of life in community. The most important members of mine are my family. At the age of fifty-two I’m a husband of thirty-two years to my lovely wife, Sheryl. We have four incredible children (two boys, two girls), a beautiful daughter-in-law, and one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind, a granddaughter.
By profession, I am a nurse. I reside in that unique minority of males who make up roughly five percent of the profession. This is my chosen career, or at least the one I backed into. By passion, I am a writer, speaker, founder of a charity, entrepreneur, runner, and follower of Christ. These are the many important adjectives that describe who I am. Not listed in any particular order.
Then there’s that pesky little friend named Parkinson’s, which came into my life at a comparatively early age and which allows me to call myself patient, client, advocate, and fighter. I have a complex relationship with this “friend.” I love much of what Parkinson’s has brought me, while hating it and specifically its symptoms. It’s a disease that typically afflicts individuals over the age of sixty. Seldom is it a bother to those under fifty, with only about ten percent of the Parkinson’s population diagnosed before the mid-century mark. I was forty-six.
Parkinson’s is a progressive nerve disease of the brain that in time leads to a debilitation of a person’s motor functions. In other words, you can no longer control the movements of your body. The individual with Parkinson’s loses the important ability to produce a chemical called dopamine, leading to the classic symptoms of tremor, stiffness, slowness, and loss of balance. Along with myriad lesser-known evils referred to as “non-motor symptoms.”
Not all lottery wins are good things, and I’m not particularly happy about having won this one. But although my new best friend—whom I hate—has brought a certain level of grief into my life, it also played a direct role in my next lottery win.
At Sheryl’s urging, my son Tim Jr. and I applied to appear on The Amazing Race Canada. We had little expectation of hearing back. But Sheryl was certain we’d get an interview; they’ll be intrigued, she said, by my Parkinson’s diagnosis. Naturally, she was right.
Running that race has changed everything. It’s not only taught me valuable lessons in how to persevere but also allowed me the opportunity to pursue my passions.
Winning was incredible, of course. The trips, the prizes, the cash—it was all more exciting than words can describe. Yet my passions have never had much to do with things. As a nurse, it was always my desire to care for individuals. Early on, as a youth pastor, I wanted to help students find their way in life. Since then Sheryl and I have been involved with a number of charities and community organizations, and the race has given us the chance to pursue these activities with renewed vigor. It, and Parkinson’s, have led to many exciting adventures that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought possible, from the founding of our charity, U-Turn Parkinson’s, to the development of a speaking career that has taken me around the globe.
So in writing this book, I want to inspire you to view life through a new lens—to see the potentially negative as an opportunity to grow. Running the race was an adventure, but what I want to share are the challenges of running it with Parkinson’s and the lessons that taught me. To help you discover the joy that comes in persevering through hard times. I hope to encourage those who face this disease, to give them and their families the courage and strength to walk this very difficult path. But I also want to encourage those living with other hardships, whatever they may be. After all, the lessons on perseverance are universal, and can help the cancer patient and the corporate CEO alike.
Running the race with my eldest son was a wonderful experience. Many have asked about this aspect of the journey, and my answer is always the same: Tim Jr. made the perfect partner. He was fun and lighthearted, but also attentive to the needs of a father with Parkinson’s. He was patient with my weaknesses and carried us when needed with the strength that comes only from a strapping young man. I’m so proud to have had the chance to create these memories with my son. I can’t imagine having won this race without him.
It is my hope that you’ll be inspired by our story—and that, like my friend Jenna, you’ll grow in your ability to persevere. I hope it will give you what you need to run your race and win.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Beating the Odds 7
Chapter 2 A False Start 13
Chapter 3 Winnipeg 27
Chapter 4 Uncovering History 39
Chapter 5 Early Onset 49
Chapter 6 They'll Love Your Parkinson's 69
Chapter 7 Don't Embarrass Us! 81
Chapter 8 How's Your Mandarin? 91
Chapter 9 This Ain't No Boot Scootin' Boogie 101
Chapter 10 Perseverance 117
Chapter 11 Death by Lentils 131
Chapter 12 Regard dans Les Canons 141
Chapter 13 I'm Going to Need a Hand 155
Chapter 14 Is That a Big Deal Here? 165
Chapter 15 Screeched In 175
Chapter 16 The Win 187
Chapter 17 Jody Mitic 199
Chapter 18 Coming Home 207
Chapter 19 Live Your Best 217
Chapter 20 Speaking Out 235
Appendix: My Community 247