Speakers With Spark: Living, working and thriving

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Column by Susan Rider

By Susan Rider

Are you living life? Are you living to work? Or are you thriving every day?

Interesting questions. A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to speak to a group of cancer survivors. The group was a mixture of men and women, young and old, wealthy and poor. Cancer is not prejudice it strikes anywhere.

The one thing they had in common was they had been through the fight and were still fighting for their life or in some cases to get the life they had back. When faced with such a monumental life-changing disease it impacts everything, your family, your work, your quality of life and most importantly your mind.

In today’s world it’s hard to meet anyone who doesn’t know someone who has been impacted by that “Big C.” This hospital holds such events twice a year because they realize the importance of a “positive mind” in the role of being disease free.

After the event it was interesting to talk with some of the attendees, one told me she needed inspiration because she found herself afraid to do anything. Afraid to plan trips, afraid to go to the park, afraid to talk about the future and found herself living from one appointment to the next practically holding her breath to hear those coveted words, “no sign of cancer.”

Many times words cannot change a person’s thought process. Listening to her was the most important thing that could have been done at the moment.

When she finished, there were a few questions? The ones above, then the most important question asked. Would you like to thrive? Be excited, be happy, enjoy every moment of every day? The return reply was absolutely.

The next question took this wonderful lady aback: so why aren’t you? You are now cancer free?

She smiled as tears came softly down her cheeks. “You’re right,” she said. “I need to start thriving.”

It was a beautiful moment for which I’m grateful.  

A wife of a very successful business man came up to me and asked for me to spend a few minutes with him. He told me about his profession and his pride was obvious. When his wife and daughter stepped away, he said, “this isn’t fair, I’m the one that should be taking care of them.”

It was obvious as a strong, intelligent man he knew his responsibility was taking care of his loved ones and he surmised he failed. Not true. His family no longer cared that he was a CEO of a big company, they no longer cared that he had business meetings and appointments to make. When he finally realized that the most important thing to his family members was not the paycheck, the notoriety, the prestige but something so very precious that cannot be bought, he began to thrive.

Time was now his most precious commodity. Time to enjoy his grandchildren, time to enjoy his birdhouses and the birds that appreciate his feeding regimen in the snow, time to enjoy his woodworking and making legacy mementos for his family and friends. Precious time.

My thoughts on the way home went to people I know who have not had cancer. People who live every day to work. People who struggle with being happy because they are too busy living. Sometimes it takes something so dramatic, so scary to give us a wake-up call.

An interesting article from data compiled by a Palliative care nurse from Australia surmised my thoughts. She had compiled this data over several years of caring and counseling the dying in their last days on earth.  She was surprised by the clarity of vision people had in the few days before their heavenly birth. She began an informal survey and there were five very common regrets:

1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected to me.”

2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”  

Very interesting study and it’s not hard to get trapped in any one of these thought processes. But today can be a new day! A day to begin fulfilling your dreams and thriving in your life. Happiness and choosing to thrive is a choice and no one or thing can take that away from us. Health brings a freedom to accomplish and do things we might only dream about but unfortunately a lot of people don’t realize the value until they no longer have it.

Health and well being is so incredibly important, a reminder to start thriving and living your best life today.

Susan Rider is a life coach and member of Speakers with Spark who lives in LaRue County. She can be reached with reader comments at susanrider@msn.com.