For many people, chronic illness brings the world into sharper focus and kindles the desire for reflection.
A local “Our Stories” program prompted Camden Haven resident, Janet Cohen, to write about her experiences, thereby passing wisdom from one person to another, and creating a powerful legacy. Janet’s health challenge is not curable, but can be treated with medication. These are the sage words of advice she wrote to herself.
Put yourself at the centre, grow from the inside out. Abandon duty, fear and guilt as a
way of life. Take a risk and then another. There is no life without risk and even if you fail,
you’ll have stories to tell.
Creativity is your life force and it has its own process and timing. Nurture it, love it,
encourage it, take it for walks to beautiful places. Allow it to take the lead, even if at
times it seems to lead nowhere or to places you don’t want to go. It has a habit of
changing shape just when you’re ready to give up. Don’t overwork it …it has its own life.
Have inspiring conversations with friends and strangers. Explore the boundaries of each
limitless moment. Keep company with those who support your will towards a joyous,
Give yourself the space and the time to rest. Becoming re-energised can’t be rushed. Don’t
short- change yourself and rush back to work because you think people expect you to. You
don’t have anything to prove, no-one to please but yourself.
Be open and honest about your hopes and fears. Laugh loudly every day. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Determine to be free and fearless. Imagine the life you want. Write about it, sing and talk
about it. Change your mind daily.
Give yourself the time to rest and enjoy the seasons before even thinking about going
back to the world of doing. Start when you feel your sap rising. Then and only then throw
in a line, cast way out into the deepest water and see what you land.
You might get snagged or reel in an old shoe, but you could pull in a gleaming Snapper.
Janet Cohen lives in the Camden Haven region, just south of Port Macquarie on the New South Wales Mid North Coast. She is a passionate advocate for the natural environment and community development through the arts and culture. Janet is perhaps best known locally for her work with National Parks and Wildlife Service, redeveloping and managing Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, a unique visitor centre featuring rare coastal subtropical and littoral rainforest. Janet also collaborated with the local Birpai people to initiate the centre’s Aboriginal eco-cultural tours. With the end of her life likely to be sooner than she imagined due to an ongoing health challenge, she has become a committed campaigner for Dying with Dignity. In preparation, Janet has arranged to travel halfway around the world to Switzerland to realize the type of death she wants if and when the times comes. She has received the ‘green light’ of approval for a voluntary assisted death in Basel unless legislation is passed and enacted in New South Wales.