Jilly: What Are You Waiting For?

Full disclosure: today’s post is an update of one I wrote in 2015. Given the subject matter, I make no apology. I hope I’m lucky enough to post another update next April.

Four years ago this week, my husband almost died. One moment I was cracking jokes about man-flu, wondering if 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 too busy 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 said “I think that’s the least of your problems,” the penny didn’t drop. It wasn’t until much later that I got the shakes.

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 remote 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’m proud to say I achieved that in 2015.

My next big dream is to publish a book. To achieve that I’ll have to develop a whole new skill-set, but with good luck and a following wind, I hope to get there, or at least nail down the timelines, this year.

After that, being greedy, I want to write a whole series (still expecting that to be six books and three novellas) and get them all published before my next landmark birthday in 2020.

Nobody knows what’s around the corner, but today, now, right this moment, my life is in my own hands and I don’t intend to waste a single breath.

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

12 thoughts on “Jilly: What Are You Waiting For?

  1. A good reminder, Jilly, and one that is definitely worth repeating. Glad that your husband’s health scare left him good (almost) as new and that you’ve been successfully checking things off your Pearly Gates list.

    I’ve recently been taking a fresh look at my own list because my priorities and passions have changed in recent years. There are definitely some travel items on the list, and I’m hoping to cross Scotland off the list later this year, but I’m still figuring out the rest.

    • I think you’ll love Scotland, Elizabeth.

      I’ve done well on the travel front, but I have a couple of things left. I’d love to see the Northern Lights–I haven’t done that yet because they aren’t predictable and because it involves spending time somewhere really cold at the darkest time of year. Time to pick that one off, I think. And New Zealand, which would be a long and expensive trip from the UK and also best done during our winter. That one will take a little more saving and planning.

  2. *hugs* Life is indeed short, and I think the best creative artists do live with that ticking of the clock going on constantly in the background. That pressure can be a great paralyzer, but it can be a great motivator as well.

    I tend to think in terms of what can make my life easier and happier today, or tomorrow, or possibly next month. Good food, good music, good lit . . . and as fun as it is to consume, it’s both fun and very satisfying to make all three, as well. If I can look back from the Pearly Gates and say, “Boy, I had a great time!” then I’d be satisfied.

    (-: I have discovered I need to fit it into a schedule. There’s something very sneaky about stealing time to do the things I love that’s also fun. If I’m given “all the time in the world” then I get nothing done except watching a bunch of YouTube. Like a sonnet, it helps me when it has boundaries around it.

    • Thank you for the hugs 🙂 .

      I think “Boy, I had a great time!” would indicate a life well spent. I’d be very happy with that.

  3. I remember when you shared that harrowing ordeal, Jilly, and I’m so glad your husband recovered. There are wake-up calls all around us on a regular basis, I think, but only certain ones get our attention. But when they do, boy howdy, they can throw us for a loop.

    You mentioned your milestone birthday in 2020. I have one of those this year (gulp!). Although logically there should be nothing scarier about an age ending in a 0 than one ending in a 1 or 3 or 6, it tends to give us pause. I recently realized that every 0 year, and typically the one leading up to it, I’ve subconsciously made some significant life changes, and life has in turn thrust some changes upon me. On my 20th birthday, my now husband proposed, and while we didn’t make it official for a long time after that, it shifted my whole world view (didn’t think I was the marrying kind before that).

    30 was really weird for me, because I’d had this sense since I was a pretty young kid that I wouldn’t live past that age. Dunno why – maybe because 30 seems ancient to kids? And when I was 29, all these weird signs starting happening around me that made me remember that ‘premonition’. Being a stubborn sort, I decided death was also a metaphor for rebirth, and I’d reinvent myself (a little bit). I finally took up fiction writing, joined a critique group, and added running to my workouts (was always and still am a terrible runner, but I ran miles and miles a week, damn it!).

    As I neared 40, I changed from my high-stress job to an uber-stressed one because it felt like time to spread my wings in that career. Also, two weeks after my birthday, my ‘baby’ left for college, and a few months into my 40th year, I found out my first book would be published :-). So, with 50 rearing its head, what to do? Well, I finally started studying Krav Maga, and also discovered power yoga (that’s my kind of yoga!). On the agenda soon-ish is training for a triathlon. As for books…Well, I left that uber-stressed career to focus on writing, I’m writing better and more seriously than ever, and plan to launch a romance series of my own this year.

    One of my goals for the future is to always set new and exciting writing challenges for myself. And there are more sports I want to try: snowboarding, parasailing, fencing. I don’t even know where one goes to learn fencing, but I’ll figure out when I get to that item on the list :-). And what Micki said. Good food, good libations, great company – these are the true joys of life. I must indulge more in all of these!

    • Oh, I forgot to mention the huge thing happening exactly one week after my 50th birthday this year: my daughter’s wedding! It’s the reason ‘wine train in CA wine country for my 50th birthday’ is being postponed until next summer (but early enough so I’m still 50 at that time).

    • Triathlon, Krav Maga, power yoga and a romance series–I LOVE your plans, Nancy, and that you’ll be seeking more challenges to embrace! Your next decade is shaping up to be the best yet. So excited that we get to share your adventures 🙂

    • I took up fencing once. Let’s just say that had anyone recorded my efforts, I’d have taken first prize in the America’s Funniest Videos contest. But you’ll be a LOT better than I was.

      • I love the fencing descriptions in Georgette Heyer. The fights sound so skilful and exciting, and the technical terms are so dramatic. And then there’s all that pulling off of boots and shaking out of ruffles. I have no clue what’s going on, but I assume Heyer knows what she’s about, because she took so much care about all the details in her books.

        Look forward to reading some kick-ass fencing scenes when you get to that item on your list, Nancy!

  4. Having gone through my own health scare this year, I’ve also been taking stock, but I wound up in a little different place than everyone else here (possibly because my next “0” birthday has a “7” on the front).

    I’m pretty happy with my life.I have a wonderful husband (and his unwavering support through surgery and radiation and the misery of having a balloon embedded in my chest for a week really reaffirmed that for me). I have a beautiful, successful daughter and great step-kids and a flock of adorable grandchildren who all seem to be pretty fond of me. I have warm, supportive friends (both live and virutal), a comfortable home and enough money.

    Plus, I’ve seen London and Paris and New York and LA and San Francisco and Chicago and Seattle and Mexico and the Grand Canyon and Glacier Park and two oceans.

    Millions, possibly billions, of people pass through this planet and never get all that.

    I hope to release a paranormal trilogy, and I’m working toward that,, but if I don’t, it’s still been a life well-lived.

  5. Jilly, I wanted to say that I think it’s fairly common for people not to fully recognize a medical emergency, especially when the symptoms aren’t huge and obvious (like, say, a gunshot wound). I think that’s nature’s way of making sure that we can respond, rather than having a meltdown. Beyond happy for you both that things turned out so well, and of course, your takeaway (among others) of living a considered life and working on your goals is one we should adopt even before we face a life-threatening medical event. Best wishes on this anniversary! And may you have decades more.

  6. Pingback: Nancy: 5 Things I Learned from Krav Maga (That Might or Might Not Apply to Writing) – Eight Ladies Writing

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