Friday, 27 April 2012

Lessons learned from the dying

Ask anyone how they would prefer to die, and the answer always comes back, “Peacefully, in my sleep.”
Bronnie Ware shares the lessons she has learned
from of working with the dying in her new book
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

No one knows this more than Bronnie Ware. After many years spent working in palliative care, tending to the needs of the dying, she was moved enough to share her experiences in a blog called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

The article became an internet phenomenon, and was read by more than three million people around the globe in its first year. So many requests flooded in from people wanting to know more about her experiences, that she has put them together in a personal story called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
The author, who has also had a fairly colourful and diverse past herself, shows that it is possible for all of us, if we make the right choices, to die with peace of mind. In this book, she highlights the impact of these regrets and shows how we can positively address these issues while we still have the time.

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Bronnie Ware:
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 realize 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. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

2.   I wish I hadn't worked 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."

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."

4.   I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realize 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."

5.   I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize 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."

If ever there was a rallying call to “Seize the day", then it's here in this book.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jelly breaks the mould

The sheer joy of realising, when the alarm goes off, that you don’t have to join the daily commute to the office, makes working from home a dream come true.
But even though I’m glad the daily grind is behind me, sometimes I miss the buzz and the chatter, and even the comfort of working among other people.

That’s why I took myself off to Norwich Jelly on Monday.  In practical terms you’re picking up your laptop and mobile (plus pen and notepad) from one room  and setting them down in another room. The difference is that the first room – your workspace – contains just you. The second room, which is in the centre of Norwich, contains people – like-minded workers  who, from time to time, like to come out of hiding and sit among fellow human beings.
Norwich Jelly is a once-a-month workhub, hosted by Business Revolution at the King’s Centre, Norwich.  It’s free, but you have to book your half-day session in advance, and places are limited to 10 per session. If you like the experience of getting out of the house, then you can go one step further and rent desk space from just one day a week, or go the whole hog and make it your permanent “office”.

So there I was on Monday morning, waiting at the park and ride. It felt a little strange setting off on the bus, just like the old days, but it felt good – as if I had become a proper person again. I did the coffee thing  in the King’s Centre cafe and took the lift up to Business Revolution on the second floor.
A few people were already there, beavering away on their laptops. I wasn’t sure of the protocol, so I just sat down at a free space, smiled across at the person opposite me, plugged in my laptop, connected to the free wi-fi, and away I went. It took a bit of getting used to, working around other people again, but the good thing about Norwich Jelly is that you have to work. There are none of the usual distractions, like putting out the washing, playing with the cat, making snacks.

To ensure  I used every precious Jelly minute to the full, I prepared the night before by writing a to do list. As I worked through it, people came and went, then Sophie, one of the organisers came over and chatted. That broke the ice and soon we were checking out each other’s skills and exchanging business cards.
Norwich Jelly is not the place to pitch your business or to sell your products – you will be politely shot down in flames if you try to treat it as such – but it is a chance to chat to other freelancers, home workers and small business owners. A bit of soft networking goes on and I came away with some useful leads and the offer of help with my website in exchange for some content writing.

Did I get much done? A fair amount but, more importantly, I met some like-minded people and connected with the world of work again. The four hours – I was booked in from 9.30-1.30 – went far too quickly. Would I do it again? The date’s already in the diary.
Where does Jelly come from? It was started in 2006 by two New York freelancers who were bemoaning  the drawbacks of working alone. They decided to invite fellow freelancers to bring their laptops and work in their apartment for the day. The story goes They called it Jelly, as they were eating Jelly beans at the time, according to the story. However, I like to think of it in a different way. If you take our word for jelly, you get jam, and it’s a bit like everyone in a room jamming together…. but quietly.

  • The next Norwich Jelly event is on Monday, May 14. There are two session: 9.30-13.30 and 13.30 to 17.30. Find out more at Norwich Jelly. The King’s Centre is easy to find and Business Revolution in on the second floor. The cafĂ© serves fantastic coffee, cakes and meals, and there is good parking nearby.
  • There are Jelly events all over the UK. Here’s the site UK Jelly
  • For more details about hiring rooms at Business Revolution, go to

Why not wobble along!

Image: Michael Lorenzo

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Finding a Future that Fits
Louise Presley-Turner
(Hay House Publishers)

If you want to make changes, but can’t afford the time or money to employ a life coach, then this is the book for you.
It’s not just a self-help book, it’s also a wake-up call to take stock of your life, get off the treadmill and reach for your dreams. Finding a Future that Fits urges you to become your own fairy godmother, to break free from “self-created comfort zones”, to grow, learn new things and enjoy a fulfilled life.

As well as being a leading life coach, author Louise Presley-Turner has the gift of being able to speak directly to the reader. It’s as if she’s in the room with you, urging you to be honest with yourself, to ask for what you want and to believe it will happen.
One of the interesting things about this book is that the author draws heavily on examples from her own life. She too had a job she didn’t enjoy, and never seemed to have enough money or time to spend with her family. Her wake-up call literally landed on her doorstep, and after that she just couldn’t  ignore the fact that things had to change.

And her enthusiasm is catching. The way she writes makes you feel as if we’re in this journey together, but she’s just a bit further along the road. She’s standing there at the next crossroads, shouting encouraging words to you to keep on going. She doesn’t let you believe for one minute that failure is an option.
Author and life coach Louise Presley-Turner
can help you find the right blueprint
Presley-Turner (left) shows you how to set goals that will stretch you, how to set goals that are realistic and how to set the goals that you really want. She also urges the reader to stop blaming past experiences for their present reality. “You are not responsible for the way you were raised, but you are responsible for what you do now.”

The book draws on tried-and-trusted techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy  (challenging limiting beliefs,) neuro-linguistic programming (visualisation and affirmation) as well as meditation and prayer – but wraps them up in a freshly written, easy-to-follow handbook.
The book is broken down into eight chapters of self discovery, which include: taking stock of your life right now; assessing how your beliefs affect your life; turning the volume down on your Inner Critic and allowing your Inner Guide to have a voice; uncovering your own unique blueprint, and learning to face your fears head-on.

Each session ends with a set of exercises and homeplay – steps to put your new learning in place. Far from being a tedious part of the book, which you just have to ‘get through’, the author clearly explains the value of these sections, and clarifies further with examples from her own life.

I found it best to start by reading the book through from start to finish – don’t worry, you too will be carried along on a tide of enthusiasm – as this helped me to follow the logical order of events. Then you can begin to work on the individual sessions.
This is a great little book if you're stuck in a rut and don't know what to do next. Why wait any longer? As the author says: “There is nothing holding you back now other than you!”