From Arise India Forum:
“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
This is why I’m trying to change my life. No regrets.
“I may have made some terrible decisions.”
Notice I didn’t suggest in my “30 goals” that I would change my total number of cats (from the current 5). I WOULD like to take my bedroom and master bathroom back from one of my cats, but… yeah. This chart.
Or, the one in which I really put my money where my mouth is about changing.
On the original list, I only had two goals in the “career” section:
11. Still be posting daily on my Only in York County blog.
12. Continue to have at least four or five streams of income, with at least one that’s a “backup major income” potential. (No, full-time-job-boss Randy, that doesn’t mean I’m quitting. But you can never be too careful when it comes to paying your bills!)
It turns out that, about a week and a half ago, I actually tried to quit my full-time job. This marks the third time in 13 years that I’ve tried to quit that job, but only the first time it’s done any good (and I’m happy about that).
Well, it turns out I only, as I told my friend Kara, “half-quit.” I’m going to continue working for the same company, very part-time, and mostly from home (I’ll go into the office for meetings about once a week.) I’ll keep doing my blog, so Goal 11 seems quite likely. But in bigger news, one of those “extra streams of income” from Goal 12 has turned into, essentially, my new full-time job, as a community and project manager for an amazing blogger and public speaker, which I’ll be doing entirely from home.
And that combination of jobs, plus income from some other sources, have made it possible for me to reach my most secret goal, which started long before this project.
I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom.
Yes, I’ll be a work-at-home mom, and a work-hard-at-home mom, but that’s not the point. The thing is, I’ll be here for my daughter, who just started middle school this year. And I won’t be here in a checking-email-constantly-at-night, do-the-wash-when-I-should-be-hanging-out-with-her, too-tired-to-do-more-than-nod-when-she-talks way. In a present way.
But that does change things. I don’t quite know what to expect. As I’m writing this, it’s 12:52 a.m. on what will be my last full-time day at the office.
And honestly? I’m pretty nervous. Among other things, what if I don’t have the patience or the “mom skills” to make this work? What if we end up badly off financially? What if I suddenly start to resent the time my husband spends working? What if my new boss decides to chuck it all and move to Tahiti to paint?
I don’t know. But I’m willing to find out. For now, my first step is to draft an update to the 30 Goals list and to post that by next Tuesday, which happens to be my 29th birthday. My second step will be to do my best to create a smooth couple of transition weeks. And from there, well, we’ll all figure it out.
Right now, I’m doing what I always do when I need to get my head around something. I’m listening to music. Want to sing along?
(Yes, I apologize for those outfits. And Pete Townshend’s dancing. I like the dude, but… yikes.)
If you missed them, here are the things I’m trying to do before I turn 30.
A couple of them have hit some rough patches - as my life in general seems to have lately - but I am trying to stay positive, today especially.
So, how much better than to update that I’ve already reached one goal and have others that are super-close??
Ah, my weight. This is something of a complicated topic. Some of you know that I’m a Leader for Weight Watchers as a part-time job. So isn’t it wrong for me to say I’m struggling with my weight?
Well, not exactly.
See, to work for Weight Watchers, there is a range your weight needs to fall between. It’s based on the body-mass index and what is considered healthy for your height. I’m 5’4”, so for me, a healthy weight is between about 115 and 144 pounds. To qualify for Weight Watchers employment, you must have lost at least 5 pounds on the program, and you must be no more than two pounds above the top of that range.
In general, my weight has been between 142 and 145, clothing size 8 or so, for the past year. So in Weight Watchers terms, I’m OK. (At my highest, pre-WW, I was about 160, maybe slightly higher, and a size 14/16.)
But in my own terms, I’m not OK any more.
At my lowest adult weight (and this is within the past 6 years), I maintained my weight somewhere between 118 and 125 pounds (clothing size 4/6). A medication disaster caused my weight to head up from there to about 138 over the course of about two months in 2008. The medication was changed soon after, but it’s been a fight ever since, and in the past 6 months, it just seems to be getting harder and harder. In fact, as of June 20, I was 148.4 pounds - which, had it been my “official” Weight Watchers weight, would have put me above my range for the first time since joining the company in 2006.
That was a wakeup call. As part of my 30-by-30, I’ve committed myself to getting back down into “the 120s,” or, as I state in Goal 8, “weight maintained under 130 lbs.”
The first part of that was to get back down within range, which I did; as of July 3, my last official weigh-in, I was 144 even.
The next step is to get under 140, which I did, at least briefly, last week. (I was at 138.4 on my scale.)
The bad news is, that was after a week with the stomach flu. Today - Monday, July 18 - is my regular Weight Watchers meeting day, so I’ll weigh in officially for the first time since July 3. I’m not expecting to be under 140. I’d be thrilled, but I think more realistically, I’m hoping to be between there and 142.
Cross your fingers for me.
The first seven of my 30-by-30 goals are all about money. Or, more specifically, about debt-riddance and savings!
- 1. Balance owed under $20K on BoA Mastercard.
- 2. Balance owed under $3K on Discover card.
- 3. Balance owed under $6K on my Citi card.
- 4. Balance owed under $16K on Chris’s Citi card.
- 5. Balance owed under $8K on UnionPlus Mastercard.
- 6. No other revolving debt - 401(k) loans paid off, American General/Springleaf loan paid off, Tires Plus card balance at zero.
- 7. At least $3,300 in ING savings account.
For those playing along at home, our starting debt balance as of Dec. 31, 2010, was $89,687.23, which comprises all the debts above except for our 401(k) loans, which are on automatic repayment.
As of April 14, we’d paid down $5,938.32, or 7.09%.
As of July 13, we’d paid down $10,265.83, or 12.93%.
I’m really excited that we’ve crossed that $10K mark. (That also puts us below $80K total debt outside the mortgage - $79,421.40, to be exact.)
My next goal is to get really serious with my freelance income to help boost our bottom line. I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but a month or two ago, I was actually interviewed for the PT Money Podcast about all my part-time work. It was pretty fun; check it out here!
Only my second tournament ever - and the first was my school’s own, as a white belt.
When I keep that in mind, I don’t feel too bad about how I did. Fourth place in forms and third in sparring. I’m actually more in agreement about the form - it wasn’t my best time through it. Though, for a form I started learning 2 weeks ago, well, OK, I can live with it.
In sparring, though, I got in a good number of shots that didn’t get called; my opponent got a warning and a talking-to, yet finished second; and I was just “better” than third, I think.
All that said, the fact is I was hoping for a first and a second. Ironically, I was HOPING to take first in forms. I put a lot of work into tae guk sah jang, and one of my instructors, Mr. Josh, spent a lot of time with me on it. I feel like I did his training a disservice in a way; in fact, I specifically did a couple things he trained me NOT to!
The good news, though, is that I won’t test again before my next two competitions, so the work on this form should translate into me doing better in those.
Bottom line is, I don’t like not being “the best” at something. And you know what? I need to get over it. I showed up. And one thing I’ve learned - through Mary Kay, of all places - is that those who show up, go up.
So instead of being pissed at myself, or leaving - which a lot of my competitors did - I’m sticking around to watch Mr. Josh and the rest of the adult black belts. Guaranteed I’ll learn a few things, and it’ll give me time to get my head wrapped around being “not too bad.”
And I think, by the end of the day, I’m going to be pretty happy with that.
I earned my blue belt on Saturday, June 18. In three months, I plan to test for purple; three to four months after that, purple advanced (brown stripe), and three to five months after that, brown. That said, it’s vaguely possible I could reach Goal 9, the brown belt, BEFORE turning 30. That’d be pretty sweet. I might even be as far as red or danbo (the last degree before black), but I’m not pushing it.
For now, I’m proud to be exactly where I am. I’m competing in two tournaments and the Keystone State Games this summer, plus my school’s own tournament in the fall, and my focus now is on doing my best there.
Well, in good news, I’ve officially completed my first “cycle” of 29 days of giving. Check out my progress at my 29gifts.org blog.
I can’t say I’ve made a huge difference in the world through my project. I haven’t single-handedly funded a new school, or a small business, or a struggling nonprofit. I haven’t cured cancer, solved global warming or fostered world peace.
What I can say is that I’m committed to doing the best I can in the world with the opportunities available to me.
The point of “29 Gifts,” also the title of a book by Cami Walker in addition to a website, is to give consciously. To focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. During the time my first 29 days fell, I went through some major health problems. And I know - without a doubt - that if I hadn’t been trying to give, to focus on what I can contribute, and to focus on who I could help, that I’d have been focusing on me and what was wrong with me and what I couldn’t do.
Whaaah. Want some cheese with that whine? :) I’m glad I focused on the giving instead.
Now, I’m getting ready to start “Cycle 2.” I did, by the official count, take four days off between cycles, but I gave some pretty special gifts even during that time, and it was a nice mental break for me to wait a few days.
If I really pushed it, I could complete 20 cycles of 29 days of giving between now and my 30th birthday. Why did I pick six as the goal?
Well, first, I want it to be achievable. I don’t want to get burned out. But also, I’d like to think that, as I focus on completing some of my other goals, I’ll be living in a “giving spirit” the whole time. So the 6 cycles are just to be sure that, about every three months or so, I’m devoting at least one of those months to intentional, documented giving. Since, broadly speaking, I’m devoting a third of my efforts in goal-setting to happiness and personal mindset, that sounds about perfect.
And what would be even more perfect would be if I can convince others to make a difference. To do the 29 days of giving, or at least to try to find one intentional gift to give. What do you have to lose?