Debi Haden

From the blog

How to live a happy life – In memory of Jan Fowler

wise words on life

Yesterday I attended the celebration of the life of my wonderful client and friend Jan, who passed away last week. Although expected, I’m not sure we truly ever prepare for someone leaving us.  Jan asked me on her passing to promise to share our journey together and her thoughts on how to live a happy life, in the hope that it inspires you, the reader, to go out and live the life you really want. Her daughter Abby has given permission for her mother’s wishes to be carried out. So here goes…

18 months ago Jan approached me after attending one my mindfulness discovery days about working with her on a one to one basis. A question I always ask my groups is, ‘Are you living a happy life, doing the things that make your heart sing?, never had it felt so relevant than it did for Jan that day, she was to tell me at our first session.  Jan was undergoing treatment for cancer and had within the last year been given a terminal diagnosis.  As a life coach my work is very much about looking forward and helping people achieve their life goals, so this was a very different ask of me.  I had supported my father with his end of life care, but this was something quite different. It was really important that Jan was properly supported in what was to be the last part of her life journey.  After much deliberation we agreed to start working together to see how it went. Making that decision to say yes was the best decision I have taken as I got to spend time with the most amazing woman who taught me so much about life, the human spirit, courage, and myself.  I will be forever grateful and honoured that she chose me to support her.

We can never truly comprehend what it must feel like to be told you have a life limiting illness, why would we, our ultimate aim in life is to live a long and healthy life, and if we are lucky, get to live a happy and fulfilled life.  Jan was no different, she had so many things she wanted to achieve, things on her ‘bucket list’ that she would do at some point in the future, but like many of us, finding other things stealing her time and energy.  Understandably she carried a huge rucksack of emotions.  she certainly wasn’t ready to leave this life behind.  Sometimes angry for a life not lived, sometimes sad for the loss of not seeing her children and grandchildren flourish, and often regretful for the opportunities not yet experienced.

Those 18 months moved quickly from month to month, season to season, with good and bad days but always with a focus, to find peace within herself and to work on her alternative ‘bucket list’, those things that were stretching but achievable in the time she had left.  She got to see the Northern lights, cruise with her family, and feel the warmth of the sun on her skin in Cyprus with her daughter.  For me most importantly she got to leave her demons behind, those regrets from the past that filled her with guilt, and I believe, she lived these last 18 months for herself, doing what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and most importantly she found her peace.

Of course, she had regrets, who wouldn’t at this time, however her biggest regret was that she had spent so much time and energy doing things because she thought she should, feeling guilty about what had gone before, and worrying about what others thought of her, instead of putting her energy into living the life she really wanted to live.

lessons on living a happy life…

So, as we come to the end of our journey together, the message we both have for you is this…

Don’t waste your energy on things you can’t change, it’s been and gone, find the learning and move on.

Stop worrying about what others think or feel about you, the most important opinion is your own, do right be yourself.

Find those things that make your heart sing, don’t settle, keep looking until you find your happiness

And most importantly,

Don’t wait for tomorrow because it might just never come…do things now, live your life as you want to, in the moment. You deserve to live a happy life!

To Jan, my wonderful, client and friend, the world will be a much duller place without you in it.  You brought a wonderful light and brightness wherever you went.  I will remember your wonderful rainbow of colours, your tenacity for life and your wonderful warm spirit.

With love



Jan was a member of my Rise & Shine group for women and took great comfort from the love and support she got from this.  If you would like to be a member please click through.

If you are finding life difficult right now, grieving the loss of someone, or facing your own health challenges and would like to find out how I can help you please contact me to arrange your free call.

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