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Category Archives: Inspirational

Top five regrets of the dying

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

The top five regrets of the dying
A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. Photograph: Montgomery Martin/Alamy

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by 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 realise 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 realise, 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 realise 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 realise 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.”

What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

 

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Boy scares off lions with flashy invention

Richard Turere, 13, is from Kitengela, on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, in Kenya. He started herding his family's cattle when he was just nine. Richard Turere, 13, is from Kitengela, on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, in Kenya. He started herding his family’s cattle when he was just nine.

(CNN) — Richard Turere, 13, doesn’t like lions. In fact, he hates them. Yet this bright Maasai boy has devised an innovative solution that’s helping the survival of these magnificent beasts — by keeping them away from humans.

Living on the edge of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya, Turere first became responsible for herding and safeguarding his family’s cattle when he was just nine. But often, his valuable livestock would be raided by the lions roaming the park’s sweet savannah grasses, leaving him to count the losses.

“I grew up hating lions very much,” says Turere, who is from Kitengela, just south of the capital Nairobi. “They used to come at night and feed on our cattle when we were sleeping.”

So, at the age of 11, Turere decided it was time to find a way of protecting his family’s cows, goats and sheep from falling prey to hungry lions.

I had to look after my dad’s cows and make sure that they were safe.
Richard Turere

His light bulb moment came with one small observation.

“One day, when I was walking around,” he says, “I discovered that the lions were scared of the moving light.”

Turere realized that lions were afraid of venturing near the farm’s stockade when someone was walking around with a flashlight. He put his young mind to work and a few weeks later he’d come up with an innovative, simple and low-cost system to scare the predators away.

He fitted a series of flashing LED bulbs onto poles around the livestock enclosure, facing outward. The lights were wired to a box with switches and to an old car battery powered by a solar panel. They were designed to flicker on and off intermittently, thus tricking the lions into believing that someone was moving around carrying a flashlight.

And it worked. Since Turere rigged up his “Lion Lights,” his family has not lost any livestock to the wild beasts, to the great delight of his father and astonishment of his neighbors.

What’s even more impressive is that Turere devised and installed the whole system by himself, without ever receiving any training in electronics or engineering.

The 13-year-old’s remarkable ingenuity has been recognized with an invitation to the TED 2013 conference, being held this week in California, where he’ll share the stage with some of the world’s greatest thinkers, innovators and scientists.

“I did it myself, no one taught me, I just came up with it,” says Turere. “I had to look after my dad’s cows and make sure that they were safe.”

Human-wildlife conflict

Nairobi is the world’s only capital with a national park, where wild lions, rhinos and other beasts roam free against the urban backdrop of skyscrapers rising from the nearby bustling city center.

Each year, thousands of camera-toting tourists visit the park — which is fenced along its northern boundary but open in the south — hoping to catch a glimpse of the lions inhabiting its rolling plains and valleys.

But for the pastoralists and Maasai tribes around the park, a lion sighting is usually bad news; valuable livestock are often lost to lions looking for easy prey, prompting rural communities to take matters into their own hands.

If you give him a problem, he’ll keep working at it until he can fix it.
Paula Kahumbu, conservationist

In some cases they’ve killed whole prides that they perceived as threat, or as retaliation for lost livestock. The use of pesticides such as Furadan — a tablespoon of which costs less than a dollar and is enough to kill a lion — has become a particularly ruthless way of doing so.

The rising human-wildlife conflict, coupled with a fast-growing urban encroachment, means that Kenya is now home to less than 2,000 lions, a massive drop compared to the 15,000 that lived there just a decade ago.

Large sums have been spent in recent years by officials in a bid to protect the lions and strengthen Kenya’s tourism industry. Yet conservationists say that many of these top-down initiatives fail to gain traction with local populations. And this is why inventions like Turere’s — home grown, simple, affordable and effective — can make a big difference.

Indeed, several neighbors of the Turere family in Kitengela have sought Turere’s help, asking him to install the system in their enclosures. In total, around 75 “Lion Light” systems have so far been rigged up around Kenya.

“This is a solution that was invented by somebody in the community,” explains Paula Kahumbu, executive director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust and chairman of the Friends of Nairobi National Park. “Therefore the support for it is very high.”

Bright ideas, bright future

Kahumbu and her colleagues first came across Turere’s innovation some two years ago in the course of their fieldwork. Stunned by the boy’s achievements, they helped him get a scholarship at Brookhouse International School, one of Kenya’s top educational institutions, where he started last April.

“Richard is quite an extraordinary boy,” says Kahumbu. She describes him as a “very smart, curious and surprisingly confident [boy] for his age and background,” who’s integrated smoothly among his new classmates, most of whom are from wealthy families.

“One thing that’s unique about Richard is that if you give him a problem, he’ll keep working at it until he can fix it,” she adds. “He doesn’t give up; he doesn’t find things too difficult; he’s not afraid of being unable to do something and I think this is why he is such a good innovator — because he’s not worried that it might not work, he’s going to try and do it anyway.”

Turere says his dream is to work in aviation when he grows up.

“Three years ago when I was in the savannah herding my father’s cattle I used to see the planes flying over and landing at the airport and I was like, one day I’ll be a pilot and an aircraft engineer,” he says.

For this remarkable boy, it’s clear that the sky is the limit.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in African News, Inspirational

 

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African Americans Fly High With Math And Science

Barrington Irving , a 23-year-old Jamaican-born pilot, at a news conference at Opa-locka Airport Wednesday, June 27, 2007, ending a three-month journey he said would make him the youngest person to fly around the world alone.

Alan Diaz/AP

This Black History Month, Tell Me More is taking a look at African Americans in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) who are inspiring future generations.

Today, Barrington Irving shares how his sky high dreams became a reality. A chance encounter in his parents’ bookstore put him on a path that would make him the youngest person and first African American to fly solo around the world.

Barrington Irving remembers a man walking into the store dressed in a pilot’s uniform. The man asked whether Irving might consider a future in aviation. “I immediately just said to him, I don’t think I’m smart enough to do it,” Irving remembers/ “Then I asked him how much money he made and after he answered that question, I took an interest in aviation.”

Irving’s success was far from a sure thing. His family immigrated to the United States from Jamaica when Irving was six. Private flight private lessons were out of the question – so Barrington Irving did what he thought was the next best thing.

He saved his money to buy a flight simulator game that allowed him to fly anywhere and in any kind of weather conditions from the safety of his PC. It was a start, and made him passionate enough to save more of his money so that he could afford flight lessons.

Irving returned to the Miami-area city he left March 23, 2007 in a Columbia 400 built of donated parts. He was optimistic his 27,000-mile continent-hopping trip aboard the “Inspiration” would live up to the plane’s name and motivate young people _ especially minorities.

By the time he turned 21, Irving had lost friends to violence and prison, so he was already thinking about his own legacy. “I’ll never forget asking myself the question, ‘what’s one thing I can do whether I live or die that would be worth something?'” he tells NPR’s Michel Martin. Irving says an idea hit him – fly around the world.

It was one of those ideas, Irving recalls, that was great in principle, but a struggle in reality. Barrington Irving hit roadblock after roadblock for nearly two and a half years. Funding was difficult to come by. Yet that didn’t stop Irving from pursuing his dream.

So at the age of 23, Barrington Irving finally had his plane ready for his flight around the world. But he had no radar, no de-icing system and thirty dollars in his pocket when he left Miami.

Some 97 days later, when Irving returned he was greeted by thousands of people with congratulatory banners and signs, and what really stuck out was the number of young people who had followed his journey.

Building on that inspiration has turned into Barrington Irving’s mission in life. He started by challenging kids from some of Miami’s failing high schools to build a plane from scratch, which he would then pilot. In late 2014, Irving will also be taking to the skies again with a flying classroom.

He says that children from across the nation and around the world will be able to interact with him as he conducts experiments that they choose and help monitor. He’s hoping he will be able to get more students excited about the STEM fields.

“We want to be the best, but we’re afraid to challenge our kids to the be the best.” That’s something that Irving is hoping to change one flight at a time.

 

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Resident Earns Degree 11 Years after Dropping Out

Resident Earns Degree 11 Years after Dropping Out

 

Back in the day, Anthony Little had a crystal clear vision of his future – stellar college football performance, graduation, followed by a well paying professional job.

Then life got messy.

Several concussions ended his gridiron days. Falling grades led to academic suspension. Then in his junior year, Little dropped out of school.

“Once I started working, I never looked back,” he said. “But it was a stain on my life. I never want to leave something incomplete.”

Two years ago a traumatic event – being robbed at gunpoint while working – caused Little to reflect on his unfinished education. In January 2011, he enrolled in James Madison University’s [JMU] adult degree program. On August 1 – 11 years after he left college, Little, 33, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Multimedia Marketing.

James Madison University’s adult degree program has existed since 1977. The Harrisonburg, Va., school has partnered with Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and George Mason University to increase Virginians’ access to higher education. The college has launched a “Return to Madison” campaign, to be funded by a $50,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, to identify students who were enrolled at JMU between 1995 and 2008 and earned at least 30 college credits, and encourage them to come back to Madison to complete their degree.

The university’s website notes that “Physical, cultural, family, or job-related factors and commitments can make a return to school difficult even for the most intellectually motivated or qualified adults.”

Little, an Oxon Hill resident, said the advantages of the adult degree program are its flexibility in allowing older students to select courses “a la carte” and giving credit for work and life experiences.

“They understand the transition for an adult to be a full-time student again,” he said.

Now that Little has a degree in hand, he hopes to land a sales or marketing management job.

Little and his wife Andrea also are launching a business he describes as “part record label, part ministry.” After the robbery, Little said he found peace writing spiritual songs and penned 22 compositions in 18 months. He’s released an original single “King Jesus” and plans to drop an album on October 23.

And Little has found a message in his ups and downs.

“When bad things happen, the Lord still has a plan for your life,” he said.

“You only fail when you stop trying to succeed,” Little said. “It’s a sacrifice. I have yet to see the fruit of my labor, but the journey is so rewarding.”

 

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AKA Foundation Presents Young Hero with $10,000 Scholarship

by drowley@washingtoninformer.com (WI Web Staff Report)
AKA Foundation Presents Young Hero with $10,000 Scholarship

Promising Student Sustained Massive Injuries Saving Relatives’ Lives

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF) has contributed $10,000 toward the college education of a promising young man who risked his life to save his relatives in a tragic hit-and-run accident.

Matthew Brown, from Chicago Heights, Illinois who sustained massive injuries that resulted in his left leg being amputated, was officially presented the check by Alpha Kappa Alpha’s international president Carolyn House Stewart during EAF’s luncheon that was held during the Sorority’s biennial meeting in San Francisco. The check is a “President’s Scholarship” that Stewart presents to those whose heroism and achievements are extraordinarily remarkable.

The scholarship is being set aside for his college education and will be used to pay Matthew’s expenses at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, where he plans to major in criminal justice.

In making the announcement, Stewart applauded Brown for his rare courage and will to continue to excel despite the massive injuries he sustained.

The tragedy that led to Brown’s hospitalization took place on March 17 when a driver came barreling down a Chicago street. Seeing that his relatives were in danger, Matthew pushed them out of harm’s way. In committing this act of bravery and love, he took the full force of the impact. In the aftermath of this tragedy, his right leg was amputated.

The tragedy was heightened because the driver never stopped and remains at large.

Matthew underwent several operations and will continue to endure months of rehabilitation. However, in a show of determination and indomitable courage, he worked, pushed and endured pain and grueling physical rehabilitation so he could achieve his ultimate goal: to attend his high school graduation from Bloom Township High School just eleven weeks after his -accident. As he mounted the stage in his wheelchair to receive his diploma, the audience erupted in applause.

When AKA’s international president learned of the tragedy, she directed Barbara Sutton, EAF’s executive director, to explore ways the Sorority could help ease his hardships and help him realize his dreams.

After talking to Brown and his mother, the pair indicated that he wanted to realize his dream to attend Prairie State College to pursue an associate’s degree in criminal justice and to later earn a bachelor’s degree. His ultimate dream is to become a crime scene investigator.

When they learned of his wishes, President Stewart and Sutton put plans in motion to grant the scholarship. As a show of love, they visited with Matthew at Hope Children’s Hospital in Chicago to announce the award and to wish him good cheer. They were heartened that he was in good spirits and that he was grateful for the scholarship that will substantially help in underwriting his college expenses.

The formal announcement of the scholarship was made at the Luncheon that 1,000 members of the Sorority attended.

Because of his injuries, neither Brown nor family members attended the luncheon. However, they expressed their appreciation through a pre-recorded video.

“Matthew Brown is the very embodiment of the word ‘hero’”, declared Stewart. “His singular act of courage has earned the admiration of all who have heard his story. By establishing this Scholarship Fund, Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, Inc. is helping to assure that he receives the assistance to attend college. Alpha Kappa Alpha will continue to follow his progress and will continue to be a source of uplift and support as he continues his journey to recovery.”

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Inspirational

 

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The Boy Who Helped Save Batman Wasn’t Robin

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Exec Producer Offers Tips to Help Kids Realize Their Dreams

When he was a boy during the 1950s and ‘60s, Michael Uslan was so obsessed with comic books – Batman, in particular – that he collected thousands and didn’t hesitate to send corrections to editors when he spotted a mistake in a story line.

“Everyone has an origin story, even though it’s most likely without a planet blowing up, parents murdered or a radioactive spider bite,” says Uslan, the Originator and Executive Producer of the “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and newest in the Dark Knight movie trilogy. He wrote about his comic book obsession – and his childhood dream of showing the world Batman as he saw him – in his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman(www.theboywholovedbatman.com).

“My origin story – what formed my character – is entrenched in comic books,” he says. “When I was 8 years old, I wanted to see if I could get my name in print, next to Bruce Wayne and the rest of Gotham’s characters.”

It wasn’t luck, fortune or an accident that Uslan grew up to produce the most successful comic book-based movie franchise of all time, he says. Now, his goal is to inspire kids and young adults to pursue their own dreams with focus and dedication, “because you can make them come true.”

Here’s how:

• Know your passion: Uslan wasn’t the only kid on his block who loved comics – but most of the others probably never dared to dream that they could have a hand in influencing their favorite character, he says. It’s important to ask yourself, “What do I really, really care about?” The answer to this question will be the seed from which dreams sprout.

• Don’t be a passive bystander – participate: His passion for comics blossomed through several steps, including a general interest in reading and writing and active participation with the world’s first ComicCon in New York City in 1964, when he befriended comic writing legend Otto Binder. These days, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to be proactive, he says, citing blogs, websites and social networking. “A teen raised with today’s technology can create a video, for example, that rivals those created by professionals,” he says.

• Identify objectives that will take you to your goal: In high school, Uslan became essential to the yearbook staff, developing media skills that would benefit him later. In 1972, as a junior at Indiana University, he created and taught the first college level course on comic books. After graduating law school, he had the legal knowledge and Hollywood credentials necessary to purchase the film rights to Batman and start repairing the super hero’s image. He wanted to get away from the campy sitcom version of the crusader and reintroduce the Dark Knight to his roots for a movie-going audience. “You don’t have to bend to the expectations of everyone else,” he says. “If you love something enough and are willing to create favorable circumstances, others will bend to you.”

• Learn from problems instead of allowing them to distract: Most people never realize their dreams because life gets in the way. Problems and new priorities arise and detract you from your course. The trick is to figure out how to respond to these in ways that help you reach your goal. For instance, learning how to negotiate, how to efficiently manage your time or how to become very self-disciplined are skills you can apply in pursuing your dream.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Inspirational

 

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Arsenio Hall on Choosing Fatherhood Over Fame

 

Why I chose fatherhood over fame.

  • Arsenio Hall
Scott Kirkland / Retna

Though it’s hard for me to believe now, as Father’s Day approaches, there was a period when I actually thought I’d never become a dad. At one point in my career, while still hosting The Arsenio Hall Show, I was told by my doctor that it might not be physically possible for me to have children. The idea of not becoming a dad saddened me big time. So many of my close friends, like Magic Johnson and George Lopez, had children and really seemed to enjoy fatherhood, and I enjoyed watching them enjoy fatherhood. At times it was difficult to remain hopeful. But that all changed a few years later, when my girlfriend at the time became pregnant. In September 1999, Arsenio Cheron Hall Jr. was born.

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I would have been overjoyed for either a daughter or a son. Oh, who am I kidding? I was obsessed with having a son. I’ve been a sports fanatic for as long as I can remember, and for years all I’d wanted was for my dad to sit down and watch the games on TV with me, but it never happened. My father was a no-nonsense, dedicated, and focused minister, and there was usually a sermon he needed to prepare for or a Scripture he needed to study, and that always came first. As much as I loved my Dad and knew he loved me, I promised myself that if I had a child and if he were a boy, I’d always watch the games with him.

Unfortunately my relationship with my son’s mother ended early in his life, but she understood the strong bond I wanted to have with him because of my own childhood. I was determined to be there for my son’s first walk, talk, boo-boo, and whatever else. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

I knew going in that being a single parent would be one of the toughest jobs I’d ever have. I’d been a talk-show host, actor, comic, and on and on, but this gig was going to be my defining moment. So I made a decision to stop working and put my career on hold. I did a few projects here and there, like voice-overs for cartoons such as Scooby-Doo and The Proud Family, anything I thought my son would enjoy. But that was it.

Instead, for the past 12 years I’ve spent mornings making my son turkey bacon (his favorite) and evenings double-checking his homework and getting him ready for bed. I’ve even learned a bit about what makes a good parent even better. Because of the fractured state of my relationship with his mother and my own insecurities as a new father, I’d often look to old friends for inspiration and advice. Will Smith was married once before and still enjoys a great relationship with his first wife and son, seamlessly blending his first family with the family he now has with Jada Pinkett Smith. Whenever I’d see them out and about as one big family, I’d wonder, how does Will do it? So one day I asked him, and I will never forget how simple his answer was. Will told me that “you do what you have to for your children’s well-being and happiness. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about them.” Will is younger than I am, but he had that one figured out.

I know I did the right thing by taking time off to raise my son. But it also came at a price. I turned down many opportunities over the years because I didn’t want to leave him for long periods of time. And in Hollywood, as in any business, the calls stop coming when you don’t answer.

But that’s started to change, thanks to my son. Celebrity Apprentice was one show he and I always loved to watch together. I’d been offered the chance to appear on the show a few times, but I turned it down because it would have taken me away from him for two months. But one day he just said to me, “Dad, go to New York and do Celebrity Apprentice. I want you to. You can win it all.” Then he added, “Just don’t forget your birth certificate.” Only a comic’s son would make that joke to his father as he was about to face Donald Trump.

I took his advice, and a few weeks ago I won Celebrity Apprentice. It was a fun ride, and now I’m looking forward to working more. I think I can finally juggle the “dad thing” and the “work thing” all at the same time. Something I know mothers do every day. I’m happy I made a choice to be there for my son, to watch all the games with my son, and now I just hope people still want me to make them laugh.

Arsenio Hall is the recent winner of Celebrity Apprentice and former host of The Arsenio Hall Show.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Inspirational

 

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