Jilly: Do It Now

Do It TodayHappy Easter, everyone, in the original sense of the word – celebrating the time of Eostre, goddess of the radiant dawn; a month of upspringing light, associated with rebirth, joy and blessing.

We’re counting our blessings today at Casa Jilly. Two years ago this week, my husband almost died. One moment I was cracking jokes about man-flu and wondering if maybe he had a chest infection and needed antibiotics, the next we were in an ambulance heading for the resuscitation room. It was a very, very close-run thing, but with the help of the fantastic staff at the Whittington Hospital in North London, he pulled through and is (almost) as good as new.

I’m embarrassed to admit that while it was happening, we had no idea how much trouble we were in. We were worrying about whether my husband would have to give up wine and asking if he’d be on his feet in time to go to the ballet the following week. Even when the consultant quietly said “I think that’s the least of your problems right now,” the penny didn’t drop. It was much later that I got the shakes and couldn’t stop.

I’m sharing this because there will never be a better day to say don’t take tomorrow for granted. If there’s anything that you’ve always promised yourself you would do, no matter if it’s trivial or life-changing, do it today.

Do it now.

Don’t wait for somebody else to make the first move. Don’t leave it until you’ve paid for your house, or the kids are a little older, or you’ve retired. If it’s something you’d want on your ‘done’ list by the time you get to the Pearly Gates, figure out how to make it happen, and take the first step right now. If it’s difficult or risky or time-consuming, embrace it and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

We’ve missed the boat with a couple of things, but not many. We’ve always loved to travel to wild and beautiful places, usually to watch wildlife, and a few years ago we’d lined up a trip to Papua New Guinea to see Birds of Paradise. Circumstances arose, the trip got canceled, and we never got around to rescheduling. It’s not going to happen now, which is a bummer, but fortunately we’ve picked off most of the other things on our travel bucket list – snorkeled with sea-lions and penguins in the Galapagos, seen the sun rise over Petra, hiked the high mountains of Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bhutan, bush-camped in the Kimberley, seen a Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica and lemurs in Madagascar, grizzly bears in British Columbia and polar bears in Spitzbergen. Very glad we didn’t leave any of those for later.

Apart from personal, private stuff, one of the biggest items left on my Pearly Gates list was to write a book. I feel very proud to have crossed that one off in 2015, and even happier that I actually like the end product.

Now I want to get published if I possibly can. And write another book. And another and another.

And even when I’m spinning my wheels as I have been over the last couple of months, I’ll keep giving it everything I’ve got, because I’m a lucky woman, and life is too precious to waste.

What’s the big outstanding ticket on your Pearly Gates list? Is it something you can share? Are you doing something about it?

20 thoughts on “Jilly: Do It Now

  1. Oh, I remember that with your husband! We were all in Jenny’s class and so worried about you. So glad he’s well again! He’s such a great fellow!

    As for my wish list, it’s long. My husband and I actually created a Bucket List and we’re trying to get better about going places/seeing things. Now that the boys are older, it’s getting easier to travel, which is a big thing for us.

    Here’s what’s on the list for THIS year:
    — Get stamps in the kids’ passports
    — Get 3P under contract (agent/editor I don’t care)
    — Attend Immersion with Margie Lawson
    — Go to England (yay! I’m definitely doing that one!)
    — Spend more time with my family (by having them come to AZ/us visit them on the East Coast)

    That’s enough for now. With the kids in school, travel is more constricted, especially considering school starts in early August. But we’re hoping for a nice little Mexican beach getaway for the May holiday! Fingers crossed!

    • A Mexican beach getaway sounds heavenly! I think it will be a wonderful experience for your boys to get a taste of the big, wide world. Back in the day, when I studied geography at school, it never occurred to me that I might one day see the places and people we were learning about. If I’d thought that was a possibility, I’d have seen those lessons in a completely different light.

      England is definitely happening, and it’s going to be great! I’ll be working on our schedule later today. Really looking forward to your trip, and to finding out all the latest about 3P while we’re on the road checking out country houses and smugglers’ haunts 🙂 .

  2. Those are blessings indeed! Nobody wants to think about what would happen if they died tomorrow, but anything really could happen. Our time is not limited.

    My dream is to go to Spain one day. It’s not going to happen soon — I want to spend my limited vacation and funds visiting family in the States. But maybe I could convince them to go over and meet me there (-:. We’d need about 10 years for all of the kids to grow up and be self-supporting, but that gives us plenty of time to save up money. I’d love to go for three months and take language lessons in the morning.

    Another dream is to have a proper rose garden, maybe with a labyrinth running through it. We have the space; if I put myself on a 10-year-plan, I bet it could happen (-:. Someplace to walk through when the writing isn’t going so well . . . .

  3. I crossed a couple of big ones off my list last year–getting to see Paris and Prague. Although I’d happily revisit either city, I’ve walked their streets and no one can take that away from me.

    Over the past week I’ve been contemplating work/life balance. Or, more accruately, work/writing balance. I talked to my boss last week about going part-time and while he wanted to be supportive, it would mean losing a full-time position for our department. So now I’m weighing the advantages and dangers of actually retiring.

    Your post feels like a nudge in the direction of taking that leap!

  4. Spain sounds like a lovely idea to work towards, Michaeline. Did you have anywhere in particular in mind? I know it’s Catalan rather than classically Spanish, but I see you in Barcelona, with all that art and energy – Gaudi and Picasso and a fresh take on things, fabulous buildings and wonderful tapas. I hesitate to suggest any more internet time sinks, but you could start work on the language now, a nibble at a time, and give yourself a flying start.

    A rose garden would be heaven, and it’s going to take years to develop into its full glory, so you could definitely take some first steps now, maybe buy a couple of lovely rose trees in pots? Then you could sit with them when the writing’s not going so well and they’ll encourage you to take the next steps, with your garden and your book 😉 .

    • (-: That would be great, too, but I’ve always wanted to see Alhamabra. All those Moorish arches! Although, if the universe is saying anything this week, it’s saying La Sagrada Familia — that Gaudi cathedral with all the fancy, frilly whoop-ti-doos. Somebody mentioned it at a welcome party Friday, and then it was featured on one of the Saturday travel shows on TV.

      I love the idea of rose trees; they’d have to be in pots because I don’t think they are hardy in my climate. (-: I could pretend to be the Queen of Hearts, if I got two white rose trees and two red ones, and a couple of panicked gardeners (-:. Right now, we have plenty of room in the garage to stash them during the winter.

      What I’d really, really love is an orangery . . . . Lessee, if I write one book a year, and put 20 percent of the profits into a special bank account . . . I could do it before I die (-:. Oh, the writing I could do if I had a winter orangery and a summer rose garden!

      • Paul McCartney said that he used to sit down with John Lennon and say ‘Now let’s write a swimming pool,’ and so on. So – which will you write first? The orangery or the rose garden?

        • LOL, yes, let’s have a viciously lovely cycle of gardening/writing/gardening/writing. Soothe the soul and excite it by turns. I guess it depends if my first published story is a short story (rose bushes) or a novel (greenhouse fund).

  5. I’m just starting to get my traveling legs and there are numerous places/things in the US I want to see. Internationally, I’d like to see GB (in the next 2-3 years) and Italy after that (unless I can wrap both places into one long trip.

    The biggest thing on my list: Not to die in Ohio. Maybe that sounds morbid but I’m determined to leave gray, flat Ohio behind in the next 3 to 5 years and move to a sunny, hotter clime. I’m looking at jobs in various places and I’ve done some research on real estate, now I just need the guts and determination to take the leap.

    • Kat – no, it doesn’t sound morbid, it sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. You know what you want and you have smarts and guts and determination – take the leap. Even if you don’t get everything perfect at once, you’ll be closer, and you can do the next bits in small hops. And if you find it’s too hot and dry in the sun when you’ve tried it for awhile, leap again, somewhere green and refreshing.

      And when you’re ready to come to the UK – just let me know 🙂

  6. Great post, Jilly – we can never remind ourselves too often of this. I went through a similar thing about 18 months ago and it gave me a real kick up the backside to stop just talking about wanting to be a writer and do it properly. So, not just finish another book in a sort of hobby way (to add to the pile under the bed), but to work at it properly and have a real crack at adding a writing career to run alongside my existing career. I’m still working at it but I know that this time I’m giving it a real shot.

    In fact, now I think about it, I’m sitting here in Cornwall, already having ticked something off my list: we’d always said we wanted to live at least part of the year down here, and just last month we took the plunge and rented a house down here to live in during the school holidays. So, here I am, sitting in a cafe overlooking the harbour in St Ives, having just spent the past hour wrestling with the end of my WIP – two items off the bucket list in one fell swoop!

  7. Having looked a lot more closely at my mortality this past year than I had expected to, and having spent lots of time lying in bed unable to do anything but think, I have come to some firm conclusions about the things I want to do before I die. They are not the things I would have expected.

    I don’t need to rent a house and throw a big party in Hawaii. I don’t need to explore Greece. I don’t need to sail something bigger than a Sunfish, or write a book, or hit any more of the world’s top ten ziplines. I can do these things for fun, if I want to, but they are not important. I will not miss these things if I do not do them.

    I need to, with my words, my touch, my actions, make sure that all the people I love feel that love from me in every moment I am with them. I need to spend every moment I have available to me with those people, even if it’s just leaning back-to-back with my daughter while we read. I need to make insanely passionate love with my husband every single day, at least once. Twice is better. I need to, with the love in my voice and compassion in my words, make my friends and family understand how wonderful they are, how valued, every single time I speak with them. And I will speak with them often. I need to stop and give the homeless guy at the post office a $20 bill every time I walk past, not just at Christmas. He is a good person, and his joy brings me joy. I need, every day, to do the important things. I need to remember that these important things are not on the To Do list. And I will miss them, if I do not do them.

    • Oh, Jennifer, I hope you are up and about now. I’ve had sobering brushes with other people’s mortality — my dad’s death, a friend’s cancer scare. One time I was in a car spinning on a frozen road. My first thought was of my boyfriend, and that’s how I knew for sure I wanted to marry him. Very clarifying.

      I suppose these lists would make more sense as “things I want to do before I’m struck down by old age.” Things that can provide good memories into the twilight years. Love tops the list, but it takes courage to talk about it.

      • Thanks Michaeline, I am much improved. I can type, I can drive, I can cook (as long as I don’t lift any heavy pots or chop food by hand), I can even skate a little. Slowly. Seriously, joggers pass me. It’s pretty funny. I get stronger every day and I’m happier and calmer than I’ve ever been. I think this is what “serene” means. I’ve never done serene before.

      • No, I didn’t say it better than you did. I think that for a lot of (most?) people accomplishing their travel or writing or whatever goals is very important. They find these things fulfilling. I don’t mean in place of caring for others either, I mean in addition to that. I, on the other hand, am not particularly ambitious in the “external goal” way. It turns out that my lack of ambition runs far deeper than I had realized. 🙂 That’s important for me to know, because how sad would it be if I spent my life pursuing these goals only to look back later and realize I never really cared about that stuff at all?

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