Today is 9/11, and although I’m Canadian, with it comes the vivid remembrances of that fateful day when the United States was attacked on multiple levels. It was also the day we buried my paternal grandfather. It was a very sad day indeed. Yet after the funeral, I gathered with several family members and we remembered my grandfather with love and joy. We laughed and told family stories. We said heart-felt prayers for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks, and for the families affected. We grieved and we loved, and clung together.
The next day, I returned to work as usual, my life resuming the normal course of events. That doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt, or think, or feel. It means I had a job to do, and that job is living. It’s really the only job that counts, when you get right down to it.
My dad always says, “You can step off a sidewalk and get hit by a bus any day, so you better live every moment of every day you’re given.” No truer words were ever spoken. The older I get, the more I believe this to be true. When I was younger and raising my children, I was so caught up in the day to day minutiae of my life, that I didn’t give a lot of thought to my future. I was a working single mother living at the poverty line, and life was hard. What got me through was my family, my children, and my desire to do better.
A few years ago, I started re-evaluating my life and realized that I had choices to make. We all do. I could choose to live my life alone, or seek a partner to love. I met and married my husband just a few short years later. Then I started questioning my choice in career in real estate, then mortgage sales, and realized I wasn’t enjoying it. I had another choice to make. Either put up and shut up, or change it. I chose to change it. After a life time of putting it off, I decided I needed to follow my dream of becoming a professional writer. Writing had always come easily to me, but I had never undertaken anything as grand as a book before, and with a grade ten education, the prospect was daunting. Still, I had to try.
So, I continued to work while I began writing my first book. It wasn’t picked up, but I learned a lot about the processes along the way. I wrote a second book, and it wasn’t picked up either, but I learned more, and continued writing. I started a third, but didn’t finish it. Some day I may go back to those earlier attempts, but for now, I’m moving ahead.
Then I wrote In The Spirit Of Love and it was picked by Echelon Press. I was elated! I was on my way to becoming a published writer. How cool was that. But I didn’t stop there. I began working on the sequel right away, while learning the ins and outs of marketing and promotion of books, how to do book readings/signings, and getting out there in public, talking about it, and putting myself in the spot light. It wasn’t comfortable at first, but necessary. I knew that. I made lots of mistakes, but I also had incredible role models in my mother and younger sister, who have become extremely good public speakers. I learned to push myself and my boundaries to get where I wanted to go, and at fifty-three years of age, that’s something to be proud of.
Despite the numerous rejections I’ve received, I still persevere. I get hurt, I get sad, I get disillusioned, but I choose to move on. I try to learn what I can from each situation, some of which makes its way into my stories. I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way. People I wouldn’t have met otherwise. That’s cool.
Over the years, I’ve watched my younger brother go for his dreams, playing pro-football years ago, building a life and a business, and falling in love. He didn’t always get it right the first time, but I think he’s finally met the right woman, has a life he enjoys, and children and step-children he’s proud of.
My middle sister has built a life and a business with her husband, striving to be the best she can be and treating everyone fairly and honestly. She loves her children unequivocally and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. She continues to strive to build the life she wants alongside her husband, and despite some real set-backs, lives each day to the fullest. Her boisterous laughter fills any room she’s in, and makes others laugh and smile along with her. What a joy she is!
Last weekend I attended my younger sister’s third wedding. I’ve learned a lot from her. She has endured more heart break and emotional disasters than anyone I know, but she continues to laugh out loud, love everyone, and give back more than she receives. She’s lost a child at eight months pregnant, two failed marriages, one absolutely devastating family tragedy involving an ex, followed immediately by breast cancer. Her family was falling apart, her children were struggling to deal with new realities, and still she carried on. Then she met her current husband, and fell in love. She hadn’t let the heart breaks of the past change her ability to love and trust. She went all in, and that showed us all the power of faith and love.
Now, most people would have taken that third marriage to a tiny hole in the wall and had a quiet ceremony. Not my sister. She had a blow out, Woo Hoo I’m Here, Kick-Ass wedding at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It was expensive as all get out, but fabulous. She treated it like a first wedding, saying she refused to pay it less honor that the first two which were not successful. A friend who attended the wedding reminded me that my sister had earned the right to do things her way. She was here damn it, and she wasn’t going to do anything quietly. Well all right! We had a blast, all of those who attended shared in the love, the celebration, and exercised their right to shout out, “We’re here!” Thanks sis.
I’ve said so often that too many people put off till tomorrow what they could be doing today. It’s sad and unnecessary in so many cases. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard about this couple or that couple who planned to do so much when they retired, but one never made it that far. One is left to go on and make sense of the changes they face alone. I never want to be that couple. So, I told my husband I wanted to live for today, while planning for tomorrow. We downsized completely, sold our home, and made some drastic lifestyle choices to allow me to work full time as a writer. He’s retired after thirty years as a manager at BellCanada, but his pension is very small. We make it work. I want to spend time with my family, children and grandchildren, and travel when and where we can. I’ve come up with some pretty unique ways to accomplish those goals and fit them within our means, but we both agree, life is too short not to take risks and do what matters most, spending it with the people who matter most, and enjoying what we can of this life.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, or for my husband and I as a couple, or anyone I love for that matter. What I do know is that reaching for your dreams, working hard to make them come true, and taking risks is important. Waiting for tomorrow is different from planning for tomorrow. I believe we all have an obligation to ourselves to live our best lives possible each and every day, while doing what we can to ensure a safe and happy future. They key is to remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow, only right now.