Monday, November 26, 2012

Is your life set on cruise control?

Are you living your life exactly as you would if yesterday a doctor told you that you had four months to live? In other words, are you living your life to the fullest? Are you doing all the things you ever wanted to do? Are you doing anything you ever wanted to do? Do you at the end of each year get out your bucket list and check off at least one thing?

I don’t know you personally, but I think it’s safe to say most of you would answer no. I surprised myself with my own answer when faced with this question, but I’ll get to that later in my story.

Recently, a rather witty and wise friend of mine told me a story where a good friend of his wife’s was diagnosed with breast cancer in the very late stages of cancer. Unfortunately, for this woman, who incidentally was in her early thirties, the cancer had metastasized, and she was given roughly four months to live. The woman was married, her husband and she rather successful, and with no children.

Her husband, being the kind of man romance book heroes are modeled after, told her he wanted to spend every penny they had saved and make sure she lived every single day of the life left to her to the fullest. If money mattered at all to him, he knew it could matter later and not now. So the husband and wife set out to live their remaining time together to the fullest.

In the four months she had left, they braved the icy waters of Alcatraz to swim a mile and a half to San Francisco. They climbed mountains in exotic locations. They ice fished. They sky dived. They went everywhere she had ever wanted to go, and they lived every moment as if it was the last. When the woman died, roughly four months later, her husband, though mourning, said he had lived more in those four months than he had in his entire life.

After hearing this story, I examined my own life. Was I living it to the fullest? Was I doing everything I had ever wanted to do? Was I living each day as if it were my last? Well, the answer was no and yes. I am doing two things I always wanted to do. I write books and I stay at home with my children. Neither of these decisions was easy or came without financial repercussions, but I did it because I had always wanted to and to live any other way was unacceptable to me. But would I say I am living each and every day as if it were the last?

Well, no. If today were my last day, I would jump on a plane and go somewhere I have never been. I have always wanted to go to Paris, England, Ireland, and Spain. I have always wanted to learn to scuba dive, play the piano, and surf. Realistically, I know I can’t just up and go do all these things. For one thing I do have children, and for another tomorrow is not my last day, so I’ll need money to eat and pay the bills. But hearing the young woman’s story who had cancer has reminded me that I need to focus more on living my life to the fullest. I am currently planning a trip for myself, my husband, and my kids for Spring Break. We are going to go somewhere amazing and have some ‘live your life to the fullest’ fun. I am also going to learn to play piano this year if it’s the last thing I do!

So though I realize I’m not living each and every day to the fullest, I do feel lucky that I am living my dream job as a writer. My first book BARGAINING WITH A RAKE came out November 7, and my second book CONSPIRING WITH A ROGUE will come out December 17. These books are part of a series called A WHISPER OF SCANDAL NOVELS.

What I love best about the heroes and heroines in these books is that even though they are living during the Regency Era when strict adherence to social rules ruled the day, each of my heroes and heroines isn't afraid to challenge the rules placed upon them to live their life to the fullest and grasp the love they have always wanted.

Here is a little blurb of CONSPIRING WITH A ROGUE
In order to save the man she loves from the enemy bent on destroying her, Lady Whitney Rutherford sheds her identity and escapes her past, making a new life for herself as Mr. Roger Wentworth, missing person locator extraordinaire. But when Whitney's best friend from her old life comes up missing and there is every indication the girl was taken by the debauched members of a sex club, Whitney dons a new disguise and infiltrates the sex club, determined to unravel the mystery and save her friend. She never expects to encounter Drake Sutherland―the man who still has her heart. In the dark world of pleasure and sin, Whitney must play a dangerous game where one wrong move could mean the death of her friend or the destruction of the man she loves.

And now for a sneak peek!

“We’re here. Best to get out quick and into the club.” The driver unfurled the tiny steps and motioned her out. “Ye’re not in a fine neighborhood of gleaming-door-knockers anymore. Linger here, amongst the thieves and the rabble too long, and ye’re likely to find yer throat slit or, if ye’re lucky, just yer pocket emptied.”

The man’s black, beady eyes blended with the dark night, making his gaze hard to decipher, but his blunt speech left nothing to her imagination. Perhaps she had been too bold insisting she come without Peter, but at the time, she thought coming alone might be the best choice.

There were fewer people she had to fool that way. Now, stepping out into the murky atmosphere, uncertainty filled her. Darkness consumed the narrow alley, but she needed no light to detect the filth. The stench of rotted rubbish almost made her gag. She forced herself not to react. A man would not flinch at such a thing. A quick glance around the driver into the black night left her confused.

Where was she? A splintered shingle hanging by one creaky chain and reading, Melvin’s Gin House, swung back and forth, pushed by the light wind blowing through the alley. To the left of the gin house a piece of wood nailed over a door—the windows of which had bars running parallel—read Martin Morvin Pawnbroker. Between the two broken-down dwellings stood a dark red door.

The driver stuck his hand out at her. “That’ll be a shilling."

Reaching into her top-coat, Whitney pulled out the blunt and offered it him. He snatched it out of her hand, turned, and was halfway into his coaching seat before her surprise evaporated. She scrambled after him and grabbed the horses’ reins to prevent him from departing. “Wait a blessed minute,” she commanded in the deepest voice she could muster. Securing her bearings was mandatory before this man left. “I paid you to take me to the Vagabond Club, and I don’t see it.”

“Ye blind?” the driver asked, tugging on the horses’ reins.

“Certainly not, you insolent man. I demand you step down and show me where The Vagabond Club is.”

“Nay.” The coachman snatched the reins away and shoved at her.

A chuckling beggar teetered on the sidewalk near them. “You gonna let the big man bully you, huh? Here—” The man stumbled as he hurried forward. He extended an empty bottle. “Clock him over the head with this.”

“No, thank you. I fight fair.” But did she? How did she know? She was not really a confounded man, after all. But a man would fight, and so must she if she did not want to be abandoned in this alley. She swung around took a deep breath, cocked her arm back, and slammed up toward the coachman’s nose.

“Ow!” She stumbled backward and landed on her bottom. “Your face is bloody hard,” she moaned, extending her fingers and wincing. “I believe I’ve broken my finger.”

“Yea?” The driver clomped toward her and leered down. “I’m gonna break more than yer wee little finger for that punch ye give me.” The murderous glare in his eye and the fact that he grabbed the lapels of her kerseymere told her he meant what he said.

Better to bluff than go down like a coward. “This coat is expensive, you buffoon. Get your bloody hands off of me.” Speaking the words of a belligerent man might come easily now, but they were likely to get her killed.

The drunkard cackled as he shuffled off, and in the distance, a night watchman called out the weather. Splendid. She was going to be murdered while her only hope for protection, the night watchman, was busy informing her that it was a cool night.

“Ye’re one queer fellow,” the hackney driver said as he reared back his fist.

“He’s been told that before,” a deep voice said smoothly. “If you really want to offend him, you will have to be cleverer.”

She jerked around and gazed at Drake emerging from the darkness. Wonderful. Now she had two imminent threats to deal with.

I challenge you to examine your own life and see how you can live it more fully. If tomorrow was your last day to live what would you do today? One lucky commenter will win a $20.00 Amazon gift card just in time to spend for Christmas. Please make sure to leave your e-mail address and name in with your comment.

My books can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Apple ibooks store, and all major e-book retailers.

Have a great day!
Julie Johnstone


Robin Delany said...

I would love to travel too. I'd visit Scotland, England, Ireland, and France, but only if I had months left. My last day would be spent with my family and friends, especially my husband and babies. Great post.
Robin Delany

Jerrica said...

Beautiful post, Julie! What an amazing story of that husband and wife. While I plan to live a verrrrrry long time, I still try to live my best life at all times. I don't put pressure on myself to "get things done" but I make a point to enjoy the sunshine, breathe deeply of fresh air, feel the sand between my toes and just do things that make me happy. Sometimes that means watching HGTV and commenting on blogs ;), and sometimes it means doing something new and exciting. Whatever I do, the most important thing is that I hug, kiss and tell my daughter and husband every single day how much I love them :)

Congrats on your new releases!!

M.V.Freeman said...

This is an awesome post--I agree, you must live life to the fullest. In whatever capacity that you can. To me its about a life well-lived!

I've done a few things that I can say was on my bucket list, I still have a few waiting--like going to Ireland (and not just flying over)

Congratulations on your releases--I see great things for you! :)

Julie Johnstone said...

Thanks, Robin! I would definitely spend my last day with my family, but I wouldn't mind spending it somewhere I had never been!

Julie Johnstone said...

Thanks, Jerrica! You sound like you have living to the fullest down!

Julie Johnstone said...

Not just flying over! LOL! Good to hear you have done some things on your bucket list, though not surprising!

Bama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bama said...

I would love to travel around the world,have/adopt a child and spend time with family near and far

miabama at gmail dot com

Stephanie Jones AKA Alicia Pace said...

I like to think that I live life to the fullest most days, but I probably fail at this more than I wish I did. I try to remember that each day may be our last.

Great blog!

Julie Johnstone said...

All worthy 'live life to the fullest' things you mentioned! Hope you get to do some of these things!

Julie Johnstone said...

I try too! Though some days I do better than others!

Cari Hislop said...

Last day...if I only had a day's notice, I'd be on my way down to London to catch the train to Paris (dragging my grumbling Goblin along) and we'd eat expensive food at old restaurants and then spend hours just sitting in some very beautiful places (eating chocolate, talking and laughing)...disturbing any resident ghosts. Thanks to my odd upbringing, I constantly expect imminent death...which leads me to tend to live each day so that if I do die I'll be happy with my choices.

Julie Johnstone said...

Your last day sounds fantastic! And you have me curious as to what kind of upbringing you had where you tend to live each day as if it were your last.

Na said...

Life definitely has its ups and downs and sometimes the things you really want to happen, doesn't or it takes a completely different direction. I've learned that this isn't always bad. The most important thing for me is to always have an optimistic attitude.

I have many places I would also love to travel to once day, especially Scotland and Ireland. Hopefully soon :)

Louisa Cornell said...

Insightful and thought-provoking post, Julie! If it was my last day I would want to take my Mom back to England to visit the little village where we lived for three years when I was a child. She has always wanted to go, as have I. We'd visit our friends there and probably pop into the pub for some bangers and mash and drive over to the next little village for some fish and chips. The little shop where my parents always bought fish and chips is still in business after over 40 years.

I know I'm not living my life to the fullest these days, but I'm trying. Was lucky enough to strike quite a few things off my bucket list early in my life. But the adventure isn't over and I have more things to do!

Louisa Cornell

Louisa Cornell said...

And for those of you who have not read Julie's books you are missing a rare treat! Funny, sexy and great reads!! You'll love them! I did!

Tina B said...

I would spend the day at an amusement park with my kids and family.
There are so many things in my bucket list though. ;)
Wonderful post!

Mary Preston said...

My mind would probably freeze up, but I think I'd spend the day getting my life in order. Say farewells etc.