“Life’s short” is hard advice to ignore from one of your best friends who is terminally ill with cancer at 44.

She also reminded me my hard-working mum had died.

Before reaching retirement as if I had forgotten.

Catie was trying to push the message home.

I’d been frustrated with my situation at work for a while.

And had been contemplating branching out on my own as a contractor.

This would allow my husband and me to spend less time in the hustle and bustle of the city.

And more quality time up north at our beach house.

It had been our life goal for many years.

We had to cut a few ties to commit to the big lifestyle change.

And apparently, I needed a nudge.

Catie was advising I quit work.

Start my own company.

And move north.

The company I worked for refused my request to work remotely two days a week.

I had been there for 5 years and as a Software Tester, I could technically work from anywhere with an internet connection.

I had other frustrations in the office, but this one was impacting the trajectory of my life.

“You know what I feared the most?” Catie asked me, “that I would be made redundant”.

“When it happened, it turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me”.

It was too.

She had enough money to take a break and travel.

Previous colleagues.

Now in new companies, wanted her to work for them.

So, she became a contractor and loved it.

Without the redundancy, Catie would not have spent the last few years really living.

Married just a year, in the knowledge, they would be emigrating from the UK, back home to New Zealand.

She and her husband made the most of their proximity to the European continent.

They took countless weekend trips to Vienna for the opera, the ballet in France.

And anywhere else that piqued their interest.

They spent time with friends, saying their goodbyes.

And making new memories.

Then, they flew the scenic route to New Zealand, stopping to visit friends in countries along the way.

Eventually arriving in New Zealand, they were ready to settle into their new life. But it was not to be. Catie was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost as soon as she got home.

It was completely out of the blue.

A lifetime of coping with coeliac disease symptoms had masked the onset, and destruction, of bowel cancer.

Catie had confidence in me that I lacked.

Over our decade’s long friendship.

She pushed me to aim higher, to take the good that I deserved.

She had always given me sage advice.

Her diagnosis added a new urgency in her, to be heard.

So, I listened. I quit my job.

And it was liberating.

I backed myself by starting my own consulting company, spurred on by Catie’s faith in me.

Some work started flowing my way.

But I had ample time to visit with Catie, as her health declined.

We made time for each other and spent wonderful afternoons just talking the hours away.

She urged my husband and me to make the move up north more permanent.

Knowing my deepest values, she reminded me of them.

“Spend time with your husband and your dogs. Paint, make art, write. Live. Do what you love!”.

She was right.

My husband and I now live in our beach house, with our wonderful old dogs.

I have time to pursue all my creative outlets, as well as taking long walks by the sea.

I am calmer and significantly happier.

Work is sporadic since Covid-19, but I have faith it will pick up again.

In the meantime, my art is going so well I may be able to start selling it.

I am writing.

And people are interested enough to read what I’ve written.

And, importantly, I am trying to see myself as Catie saw me. I will forever try to follow her advice, to keep backing myself and live to my values.

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