How can we make the most of our lives? How can we fulfill our potential? How can we challenge and walk through our fears? How can we achieve our hopes and dreams and leave a wonderful legacy on this earth?
These questions have been very much on my heart in recent weeks following the untimely deaths of two friends.
One was a childhood friend I’d known since my school days in Liverpool who was only a year or so older than me. The other was a new friend who I’d formed a deep connection with in just a year or two. She was a fellow writer, a fellow searcher and seeker who, like me, loved the beach and its big skies, who felt things deeply and who wasn’t afraid to share her struggles and her tears. She was in her early 50s.
Both were beautiful women who were deeply loved with wonderful futures ahead of them. Both lost their lives to cancer.
What truly matters?
Losing friends well before their time throws everything into perspective, as I wrote in this recent post, Death and Life.
What is truly important to me? Am I spending my valuable time and energy on what really matters to me? Am I prioritising my relationships and love? Am I living the life I want to live?
When my author friend died, I resolved immediately to stop wasting my precious time and energy in procrastination, fear or indecision. I resolved to grip this life of mine with both hands and to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it. I resolved to spend more time deepening my relationships with human beings and less time looking at screens and fretting about things that were out of my control.
And I resolved to move forwards with my big ideas for my writing and my coaching, determined to reach more people with my story and my message.
A few days later, I was stuck in my head again, ruminating, procrastinating and feeling afraid. My resolve and determination had slipped through my fingers like grains of sand.
Why? Why couldn’t I live as though today was my last day? Why couldn’t I live as if I truly knew that my time was short? Why?
Self-acceptance, compassion and courage
"Because you are human, Katherine," a kind voice answered from inside. "Because you are an imperfect human being, like everyone else. And because these flaws you see in yourself that drive you to distraction are part of you, part of your uniqueness, part of what has got you to where you are today."
As I tuned in to my inner voice, I understood that in order to make the most of my life, I first had to accept myself. I had to deeply and wholeheartedly love myself, foibles, flaws and all. I had to treat myself with compassion and with respect. I had to go gently through this life, rather than struggle, battle and push.
From that place of self-acceptance and peace, I then had to connect with my courage, with that huge well of courage that has got me this far. The same courage that took me around the world on my own, landed me what I thought was a dream job as a Reuters reporter in parliament and then helped me to walk away from that job to do the writing and coaching work I truly loved. The same courage that helped me to recover from an eating disorder, from dysfunctional relationship patterns, to fall in love and get engaged.
I had to make space in my life to connect with that courage, with my intuition, my heart and my soul. I had to find a way to hear my inner wisdom and to trust that voice, knowing I’d still be safe and well even if I made mistakes or got things wrong.
Armed with my courage, I needed an ambitious vision of a wonderful future so that I could draw up a roadmap of how to get there.
And then I needed to go for it, with a playful spirit, knowing that this colourful life is all one big experiment, knowing that there is no shame in failure, knowing I could just get back up again if I fell down.
In short then, I make the most of my life by cultivating self-acceptance, compassion and peace, by finding the boldness to face my fears, by trusting that I will be okay, by creating an exciting vision for my future, by taking myself less seriously and by reminding myself every day that I am so fortunate to have the chance and the choice to live courageously and to follow my dreams, while others sadly don't.
I wonder, how can you make the most of your life?
Join me in London on Feb 28 for a workshop entitled Love yourself. Love your life. Find love. This is a similar talk to my sold-out Feb 12 event - Fall in love with yourself, with life and with another - in partnership with Psychologies and NOW Live events.
You can also join me on Psychologies magazine Facebook page at 1 pm this Wednesday, Feb 14th, Valentine's Day. I'll be talking through the steps I took to find a healthy and loving relationship and get engaged, which are featured in my book, How to Fall in Love.
For other evening and one-day workshops in London, go to: http://www.howtofallinlove.co.uk/events.html. For my Dorset How to Fall in Love retreats and one-to-one love and life design coaching, go to: www.howtofallinlove.co.uk.