Wendy Chioji: SAYING YES & LIVING FEARLESSLY

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At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

photos above: clockwise from top right: Wendy in a slot canyon near the Amangiri Spa in Southern Utah, October 2014; At the end of an Ireland trip with family; Summit day on Mt. Kilimanjaro; At the Livestrong headquarters. 

Wendy and I met initially while indoor cycling at Athletic Republic. I knew her as an amazing athlete and was told by several of our mutual friends that in addition to that she was also a completely inspiring person. A few weeks ago we met at Starbucks for a cup of tea and within a few short minutes I learned exactly what they were talking about. Wendy has achieved so much—from her years in Florida as a news anchor, to her many adventures which include summiting Kilimanjaro and completing multiple Ironman Triathlons. But it isn't just what Wendy has accomplished that makes her so inspirational—it is also her message of Living Fearlessly that I find a breath of fresh air. You don't hear that too often from women 40 and over. Taking risks and saying "YES" to life is an important message for us all to remember. Thank you Wendy for sharing your time and your story with us! 


Wendy Chioji

"In 2001, I was the main news anchor at the NBC affiliate in Orlando. I had just run the Boston Marathon and was training to do a cross-Florida adventure race. Until my doctor told me I had stage ll breast cancer. I was 39 years old at the time. I went through multiple surgeries, chemo, and a clinical trial, and obviously made it through to the other side. Up until that point in my life, I had done a lot of running races, adventure races, and a few triathlons. I was also entrenched in the Orlando community, donating countless hours of volunteer work and public speaking for non-profits in the area. I redoubled efforts in both areas of my life. I started doing Ironman distance triathlons (I’ve now done 6) and half Iron distance triathlons (I’ve done 24). I started raising money and support for Livestrong (with the podium of a tv station and generous friends and family, I have raised well over a quarter-million dollars for the organization). I was making sure that my Second Chance wouldn’t be wasted on  inertia.

 'The name of my blog is “Live Fearlessly,” and I believe it to be the mantra of my life.
It’s how I make decisions and choose adventures, options, even friends.'

A few years later, I realized that keeping busy "doing good" didn’t necessarily mean I would feel fulfilled. I had become increasingly disillusioned with my job and profession. I decided it was time to walk away. So I did. It took some finagling, but I left my 20-year position at the tv station and followed some friends out to Park City, Utah, where I have now happily lived since 2008. Here, my life is my own. I have loved and still love every day, never failing to look around and consciously note how lucky I am to live in this outdoor paradise full of like-minded people. It probably should have felt risky and scary to leave a stable job, friends I’d had nearly my entire adult life, and a town I’d been a part of for two decades, but it never did. 

To me, Living Fearlessly is making big life-changing decisions like the move to Utah… and saying “YES” to smaller opportunities and adventures on a regular basis. If your first response to an invitation or opportunity is “no” or is coming up with reasons that it won’t work, you are limiting your possibilities before you even get out of the gate. Say “YES,” and if you have to amend your commitment later, go ahead and do it. What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose moving to Park City, only having been here once before, could have ended disastrously… But I said “YES,” and it may have been the best decision of my life. Giving in to fear (or inertia) will paralyze you. So will "make do" because things are FINE. I’ve seen it happen, and there’s not much that makes me sadder or more irritated. 

Because I am now facing cancer for a third time. Standard chemo and radiation won’t work for me anymore. My only chance is to say "YES" to a clinical trial, experimental treatments that no one knows will work. I have no time or patience for fear or inertia. I am in one clinical trial and have lined up another one—if and when this one doesn’t work anymore. And in the meantime, I am saying "YES" to trips to Ireland and Australia and powder cat skiing in the Uintas and having reunions with old friends and launching fundraising cycling projects with Livestrong and Pelotonia (a new one, now run by an old friend). None of us know how long we have on this earth, and I believe our charge is to grab adventure by the throat at every chance. Live big. Live fearlessly.

"And always choose pie for breakfast." 
~ Wendy

To learn more visit the links below:

Pelotonia 

Livestrong 

You can learn more about Wendy on her blog: 

http://www.wendychioji.com