Former Steamboat resident chronicles life, illness in new memoir

Teresa Ristow
Rick Freeman takes a break during a hike on Emerald Mountain in 2010. The former Steamboat resident has released a memoir about his health and life, including his time in Steamboat.
Courtesy Photo

— Rick Freeman was living in Steamboat Springs with his daughter, Lily, when he began to turn a decade of journals into a memoir he would later share with the world.

Chronically ill for most of his life, Freeman suffers from Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and other ailments, but he found refuge in mixing traditional medicine with alternative medicine and meditation.

He’s chronicled the struggle with his health in “Changing My Reality: Finding Health Despite My Illness, a Chopra Center Journey,” a memoir published in December.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Freeman spent the early 2000s making trips to the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California, learning to add meditation and alternative medicine to his traditional medications.

Founded in 1996 by Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon, the center provides a total health approach for visitors using meditation, yoga and Ayurveda.

“They taught me how important meditation was going to be and watching what you eat and making better choices,” Freeman said. “It’s not alternative medicine or regular medicine, it’s really complimentary medicine.”

Freeman said he found the practices made a staggering difference in his health.

At the center, he was encouraged by Simon to write down his experiences and one day compile them into a memoir.

“Changing my Reality” was released in December and is available on Amazon.

Near the tail end of his years of visits to the Chopra Center, Freeman moved with his teenage daughter to Steamboat, enrolling her in Yampa Valley High School and getting settled.

In his memoir, he remembers when once his epilepsy caused a him to seizure while on a walk with his daughter and their dog, Briar.

When he came to, Freeman was at Yampa Valley Medical Center, and sitting on his hospital bed was not only Lily, but Briar.

Freeman said he couldn’t believe the kindness of the doctors who let Briar come into the hospital and wait by his owner’s side.

“It was not like any other hospital,” he said. “In Steamboat, you’re treated like a real person.”

Freeman and Lily lived in Steamboat from January 2009 until late 2012, when he chose to temporarily move back to Pittsburgh, for health reasons.

He hopes to one day return to Steamboat, Freeman said.

“Steamboat was made for me — it’s off by itself and awesome. The people are so nice and everyone says ‘hello.’ It’s so different than everyone in Pittsburgh.”

Freeman said that he hopes people who read about his life and his health will benefit from hearing about the power of incorporating alternative medicine into their lives.

“I hope to help other people with chronic illnesses,” he said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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