Do What You Love Now For Life Is Short

Have your days tip-toed past in a blur of should-do, must-do, and I can’t? Or have you grabbed each day by the horns and rode that day with gusto and enjoyed the ride? Life is too short to live days filled with nothing but shoulds and musts and can nots. Do what you love now. What? You say you’ve heard all that. You plan to do what you love…later? Let me tell you a story.

Image of lightning in the dark. Quotation: Life is a flash of lightning in the dark of night. It is a brief time of tremendous potential. B. Alan Wallace--So do what you love now.

Last September my husband had a cardiac event. It wasn’t his first or second or third.

Heart Attack vs Cardiac Event

In a heart attack, there’s a sudden blockage of an artery inside the heart. The heart muscle can’t get the oxygen it needs and it beats irregularly and inefficiently or it stops beating.

In a cardiac event, one of the arteries to the heart gets more and more narrow reducing the blood flow to the heart. The symptoms come on gradually, insidiously. The heart gets twitchy—sometimes beats regularly and sometimes not.

In both a heart attack and a cardiac event, doctors must open that artery back up so that the heart muscle gets the blood flow and oxygen it needs to function.

Code Blue

Last September, I sat in the waiting room for the Cardiac Lab while they took my husband back for his thirty-minute procedure. After about fifteen minutes I heard an overhead page, “Code Blue in Cath Lab One.” I did not know what room my husband was in, but I heard that page and I knew it was my husband.

I sat there for an hour, petrified, waiting for word. I could have gotten up and gone to the receptionist and asked her for information but I didn’t want to know for sure. Then the doctor came out and sat next to me.

My husband’s heart had gone into a bad rhythm. They did CPR—chest compressions and pulmonary resuscitation. They got him back and it happened again. More CPR. And they revived him again. They put a stent in the artery and stopped the procedure. His heart was too unstable to do all the repairs he needed.

A Risk

But this story isn’t about September. This story is about this past Friday. My husband had another cardiac event. It turns out that the artery they put the stent in closed again. This time he had only 10-20% of the blood passing through the artery. The doctor asked us if we wanted him to try to fix it again. It would be risky.

Hubby decided he didn’t want to continue to live the invalid life he’d had to live for the past seven months. A fifty-fifty chance of dying vs living in better health was a reasonable risk to him. You see, my husband has lived a life of doing what he loves. He loves drawing illustrations, and racing cars, and creating things, and living life out loud.

Another Wait

So on Friday before Easter, I sat in the Cardiac Cath Lab waiting room again. I took my laptop (as I always do) and tried to work. That lasted for about ten minutes.

I drank coffee. Lots of coffee.

I tried to watch television (a home improvement show.)

Thirty minutes ticked past. That stretched into sixty minutes, then ninety. Two hours. I was antsy, ready to get up and demand information when two women came in. One of the women was distraught, crying and sobbing. She kept saying “we’re not that old” and other things, personal things. The second woman, a hospital staff member, tried to comfort the woman and helped her contact other family members.

The tears I’d been holding back started. After a few minutes, I managed to get myself under control and went to the desk.

The receptionist called the back rooms. She told me that my husband was on his way to the recovery room. A nurse would be out to take me to him in a few minutes. And she was. My wait was over.

Worth It

My husband’s story ended well. This time the doctors were able to clean out most of the blockages and put in four stents to try to keep it open. I don’t know how the other woman’s husband did. I hope he survived.

Image of a shooting star in a starry sky. Quote: Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways." Stephen Vincent Benét. So do what you love now.

Why did I tell you all this? Because while I did not want to lose my husband that day, I was at peace with his decision. I had friends and family praying for us but more, I knew he’d lived the life he wanted to live. And since I’ve known him, I’ve lived my life intentionally. I’ve made choices I wanted to make. I live the life I want to live now.

I don’t know how the other, younger woman’s husband lived but I could hear the regrets in the woman’s voice.

You might not be able to avoid every should or must or can’t, but don’t live by those. What if you don’t have another day? Would you regret not finishing the should or must? What if there is no “later?” What would happen if you changed can’t into can? Isn’t it worth the risk?

Don’t lose the life you want minute by minute. Don’t live with regrets. Life is too short. Be with who you love now. Do what you love now. Live life out loud. Or if you’re an introvert, live it quietly, but don’t wait. Live the life you want NOW.

Dream Big and Make It Happen

There have been two times in the past where teachers or mentors wanted me to write my manifesto. Both times I stumbled and fumbled and tried to put what I thought into words. I didn’t understand how it would help me. They insisted that it would help me dream big and make it happen.

Silhouette of a tree and someone swinging in a swing against a starry night. The words Dream Big And Make it happen are across the image.

What is a manifesto?

It is a statement that includes:

  • what you intend to do 
  • or what your stance is on a particular topic 
  • or what your vision (of the world or your work) is. 

Your manifesto can include one, two, or all three of those things.

Must You Have A Manifesto?

No, but it is helpful. You can clarify what your intentions are, what your vision is, and what your stance is. Do you need to make it public? That depends on your manifesto and your personality. You may keep it private if you wish. 

Recently I re-read the two assignments. Written years apart, they weren’t two separate things. Each was a part of the whole. Here is my full manifesto.

My Manifesto

I choose to make my life matter to me.

I acknowledge that my time and energy is finite, that I cannot please everyone and that spending time doing things that matter to me make me a better person.

Writing stories fulfills an important part of who I am. So I will take the time and the energy to write.

I believe that books can change people’s lives for the better. Stories are a powerful tool that helps people change. Stories ease their way into a person’s mind and heart, and if that person allows it, the story takes root in their soul. 

My purpose in life, the reason I’m here on this earth, is to leave words behind. Words that will inspire, cause deeper thought, or bring joy even if I never know that my words led to those reactions in anyone. It’s nice when someone lets me know how my words have touched them, but it is enough to know that I’ve done my best and sent those words out for others to find.

I have no control over whether people will buy or like my stories. What I can control is producing a product as polished, as publishable as possible. So I will take the time and energy to learn to do this and to execute it in the most complete fashion of which I am capable of.

The act of writing is not enough to feed myself and my husband, nor to keep a roof over our heads. So I will sell my books. I will take the time and energy to learn to market my books. I will do this in the most complete, authentic, and ethical ways possible.

If I never sell a single book, I am validated every day by writing words that will touch someone’s life. I learn and grow with every word I write, not only as a writer but as a person. Mine is a good life, even with its challenges.

I am worthy of choosing my own life path and I am a better person by doing so.

Make It Happen

I’ve been working hard on editing my novel, Fellowship (formerly titled Ian’s Trust), and outlining If I Should Die. I’m also marketing My Soul to Keep. Balancing the editing, outlining, and marketing has kept me at the keyboard for long hours every day. It seems as if I cannot do enough nor do it fast enough.

Re-reading my manifesto made me pause. It reminded me of why I do what I do. And I realized I did it.

Photo of me peering over the top of my book, My Soul to Keep. I had a big dream and I made it happen.

I had a big dream. I chose my path and I made it happen. There is still lots of learning and growing to do, but mine is a good life.

Did I make this happen because I had a manifesto (in two parts?) Writing the manifesto, even in fits and starts, helped me clarify what I wanted. And clarity is half the battle.

Do you have a manifesto? No? Don’t wait. Write your manifesto today. Dream big and make it happen.

Make Room for Fear And Your Dreams

Is there something you’ve put off doing until you have the time? Perhaps you’ve put it off until you have the money. Or, maybe, you’ve put it off until you have both the time and the money. You may think you’re waiting for the time, the money, or both. Sometimes those reasons are valid. I will not advocate for anyone to put themselves into a position to lose their livelihood or go bankrupt. However, if you have been putting off a dream for a long while, take a minute. It’s time to reassess why you’ve put it off. Fill in the blanks: you want to wait until you have time because if you don’t…. You want to wait until you have the money because if you don’t… Did your answers surprise you? The way to success is to make room for fear and your dreams.

The crisis my family faced this week has me reassessing my goals. At first, in the throes of a life-threatening crisis brings, I thought I would have to give up on my dreams. That was fear. I acknowledge my fear. It’s my brain and my psyche trying to protect me. I have reasons to be afraid. But I will not let fear set aside my dreams nor set my priorities. And neither should you.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

It doesn’t have to be a big fear that stops us. It can be the little fears. I’ll miss something. If I spend money on this impossible dream, I won’t have it if something bad happens. Sometimes the little fears have reset your priorities without your being aware of it.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

Sometimes the fears are the big ones—I might disappoint someone, I won’t be good enough, I might fail. This is your brain trying to trick you into not trying. My brain, trying to cope with the fear of a life-threatening crisis, went into fear mode and tried to tell me I must stop creating. Fortunately, I’ve trained myself to reassess those change-my-goals thoughts. In truth, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t good enough. So what if you fail? Whose disappointment is the greater—the person you fear to let down or your disappointment that you didn’t try? The steps to my goals have to be adjusted a bit, but I am not giving up. I deserve my dreams, just as you deserve yours.

The thing about dreams is that most of the time the work you do toward the dream, the struggle, the trying and failing, are what makes the dream worth it. Embrace the fear but don’t let it stop you.

So take a page from the Bible:

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

Start with small steps. You get to decide where to step, how many steps, and how often you take those steps.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

This blog, posted much later than I normally would, is one of the baby steps I’m taking. How are you reassessing your priorities? What step are you taking today to make room for fear and your dreams?

I Was Alone But Not Alone

My book, My Soul to Keep, launched yesterday. It was a special moment. But as I reflected on the hours, days, weeks, and years I worked on this book, I realized something important. I was alone but not alone.

I Was Alone But Not Alone. A thank you to my supporters and readers

So many things go into writing a book. All the books read, the friends roped into endless conversations, writing group members who tolerated endless rewrites, beta readers, editors, proofreaders, artists, and ARC readers each contribute to the story. I’m going to take a moment to say thank you to all who had a part in this.

A Little Emotional

I’m a little (okay, more than a little) overwhelmed by the friends and family who celebrate this book with me. I’m delighted that my very first review was a five-star review (it’s on Goodreads if you want a peak).

Now you might rightly assume that my emotional outpouring has to do with pride. Yes, I have a healthy amount of pride in accomplishing a book. But what I am most grateful for is all the people who helped me get to this place. I could not do it alone, even though I must write alone. The support, the camaraderie, the encouragement I received is priceless.

The acknowledgment in the back of the book couldn’t be strong enough or long enough. So I want to take a moment to thank friends, critique partners, and encouragers (not a word, but that’s what you were) for all they’ve done for me.

Thank you

(in alphabetical order)

Cindy Baker

Rob Chilson

Eric Cline

Rick Cutler

Dora Furlong

Jan S Gephardt

Julie Glover

Kathleen Groger

Steven Gould

Kate Graff

Micah Hyatt

Judi Jarvis

Sidekick Jenn

Kassandra Lamb

Racheli Lavi

Margie Lawson

Elizabeth Leggett

Laura LeHew

Eden Mabee

Terry Matz

August McLaughlin

Holly Messinger

Lisa Norman

Matt Sherley

Dennis Earl Smirl

Allison Tellure

Sandy Williams

Jennifer Martin Woodrow

Sarah Worrel

Bill Wu

And More

I know I’ve forgotten at least one person (probably more). Please know that I’m indebted to you, too.

There are so many more people who have been in my cheering section—too many to name. You know who you are and you, too, have my heartfelt gratitude.

I do not forget the readers. Yes, you who are reading this blog. And of course, those who read my book. You are the final piece of any story because you finish the story. Without readers, there is no story.

And last but certainly not the least, my brother and his wife and family, my son and my daughter-in-law, and my husband. I love you all to the moon and beyond!

I was alone but not alone and I'm every so grateful.

I was alone but not alone in so many ways. I hope you each know how very grateful I am for every one of you. Thank you.

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear makes my heart stutter and my brain scream stop. Hope makes me smile and dream. I flip-flop between these two minute-to-minute. Determination keeps my fingers moving. That’s what happens when you let your dreams be bigger than your fears.

Six Days to Publication, Lynette talks about letting your dreams be bigger than your fear. Read More

My Soul to Keep launches in six days. At times I can hardly believe it. This novel has been years in the making. Why did it take so long? Fear. Many different fears.

Danger

The danger warnings I have gotten have varied. One danger was that I had exposed too much of my personal life. Another was that I would be ridiculed. Or I would be put on the spot about beliefs espoused in my book. Sometimes the fear was about real situations in my life that had nothing to do with my writing but scared me nonetheless.

Sometimes the fear drove me away from the work. There were days I didn’t even turn on the computer. More than once I discovered I had walked away from my desk, without conscious thought. I’d return and find my computer on, a sentence half-written. Fear had stopped me again.

When the fear was bigger than my dream, the fear turned me into a ghost. Diminished to less than what I could be. Ghost me drifted through the day reinforcing how I wasn’t worthy, I couldn’t do it anyway, I should just give up.

Determination Can Help You

I didn’t give up. My determination was stronger. My dream came back every time, bigger, stronger. I learned the things I needed to learn. I wrote reams and reams of words that I’d cut and throw away. For a while, fear tried to tell me that the rewriting and throwing away were signs of my fear. Some days that may have been true. Most days it wasn’t. Learning takes practice.

Six days away from publication fear visits me again. It whispers, “No one cares. It’ll be a flop. You’ll fail. Failure will cause you too much pain.”

Lessons Learned

I acknowledged my fear.

Yes, I’m terrified but I am determined to try.

I am letting some of my self and my past bleed onto the page. But my characters are not me. My readers have their own pain and past to deal with. I hope I can help them.

Ridicule may hurt. But it is more about the person who is casting the ridicule than about me.

It may be awkward and unsettling for me to be put on the spot, but I will feel sorry for that person who put me there. He has more fear than I.

The scary life situations are scary. If my fear stops me for a time, that’s okay. I’m human. I will sit at the computer another day.

What is failure? I have learned and grown and gotten through to the end despite all that fear has thrown at me. That’s success.

Taking the Power Back

Somewhere along the way, I learned that there’s a difference between feeling fear, acting on fear, and succumbing to fear. I learned to love the me who sits at the computer lost in a world of words.  My power is in my dream, my determination.

No matter how scared I am, I’m also exhilarated.

Six Days

The ebook version of My Soul to Keep is on pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. It’s coming to iTunes and Google Play soon. There will be a paperback version as well. No, fear isn’t the issue—technology is challenging me but it won’t overcome my determination. *smile*

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear won’t stop my next book either.

I hope this helps if you are being held back by fear. Face your fears. But feed your dream. Let your dream be bigger than your fear. You’ll be glad you did.