Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THE GOOD STUFF By Diana Duncan

Starting out as a newbie writer, I gleaned my most valuable piece of advice from an online “how to” article. I wish I could remember who the author was, but I’ll never forget what she said: “Don’t hoard the good stuff.”

Taking that to heart, I have poured every emotion, every twist, every creative spark into every single story…as if it were my only book. My final book.

Because you just never know.

When my best friend’s mother-in-law “Mary” died, it fell to my friend to clean out Mary’s house. What she found was shocking, and sad. Literally hundreds of Christmas, birthday and Mother’s Day gifts – new appliances, brightly-colored quilts, soft sweaters…all untouched. For decades, Mary had been “making do,” using faded bedding and tablecloths, half-broken appliances, and wearing ragged clothing.

She’d been hoarding the good stuff.

And after Mary died, all her lovely things were given away for others to use.

That was a huge wake-up call. Because while I never hesitated to pour my best into my writing, I’d been short-changing myself in many other ways.

My mom’s emergency open-heart surgery hammered home the point. It was a scary time and we nearly lost her, but thanks to God’s grace and an amazing surgical team, she pulled through.

I was done waiting for “someday.”

I now use my best dishes, tablecloths and flatware any time I feel like it, even for mac & cheese. I scrunch up “decorative” pillows and lay on ‘em to play video games with my daughter. I wear my prettiest outfits to the grocery store. I try not to obsess over a few extra pounds, instead focusing on health and a positive image. I crank up the music and dance in the middle of the day. Vacuuming can wait until I finish that new bestseller I’ve been looking forward to.

But even more, every day I now tell my mom – and my entire family – I love them. I call my sisters more often. I tell my best friend how smart and talented she is and how much I admire her. I stop writing and go to lunch with my husband on his day off, pause while cooking dinner to give my kids random hugs or kiss my hubby. I strive to be slow to take offense and quick to forgive.

I don’t hold back the good stuff, in any area of my life. Not anymore.

Six months ago, I got the phone call from the ER that nobody ever wants to receive. The car that my husband and daughter were riding in was slammed – hard – by a drunk driver. Again, thanks be to God, they’re both okay. Even thinking about the horrible realization that I could have lost them both still makes me physically sick.

But I also had the peace of knowing that I’d freely given them everything in my heart. I wouldn’t have regrets about love left unsaid, hugs not given, forgiveness not granted.

What’s hidden in the back of your closet, tucked away, carefully wrapped in tissue? What are you saving for “someday?”

What are you depriving yourself of – special things you could be using, wonderful feelings you could be experiencing, right here, right now?

Fling open that door! Liberate your dreams, your hopes, your love, and yeah, even your grudges and your fears. Make today your own personal Independence Day.

Get out your good stuff. Live every moment. And enjoy it to the fullest.

77 comments:

Amanda said...

I love the last line, must live for every momnet

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Diana,

I try to live my life as best as possible, when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer it opened my eyes.

I think Nickelback has it right in their song If today was your last day: My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, Leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

Judy said...

What an awesome post. I was first introduced to this concept with a story titled "The Red Dress." The dress that was saved for that special occasion but never worn at all. I started using my crystal and china. Things I'd saved for when I got married. I'm still not married. I'm finally using everything I'd been saving and thoroughly enjoying it. I have a dozen one-of-a-kind place settings. When I do have company everyone gets to choose the place setting they like best. It's fun. I especially love the idea of giving yourself completely. I'm not good at it, but this emphasizes the importance of learning. Thanks, Diana!

sonya said...

wow that was a fabulous post and I believe I'll be checking my closets today

Deb830 said...

Hi Diana,

Thanks for the wonderful blog, insight, and advice. Dannyfiredragon was right for quoting Nickelback. I love that song! Being adopted, I'm very thankful for my small family and I treasure all the time I have with them, even when we don't see eye to eye.

chelleyreads said...

hi diana! what a GREAT post!! i love this:

"Fling open that door! Liberate your dreams, your hopes, your love, and yeah, even your grudges and your fears. Make today your own personal Independence Day."

what a wonderful way to start the day! thank you :D

amy said...

LOVE THIS :) Thank your for sharing. I admit that I tend to do this. A LOT. With both the literal/physical sense (dishes and pretty clothes) and with my writing.

Awesome reminder :)

Elizabeth Amber said...

Excellent advice, Diana, and it hits home with me. Thank you!

Katy M said...

Your philosophy is wonderfuly simple and inspiring! What you said in second to last paragraph, that Chelly quoted, along with the third to last is my favorite of your post:

"What are you depriving yourself of – special things you could be using, wonderful feelings you could be experiencing, right here, right now?

I think of times when I decline invitations because of things I have to do. What you wrote reminds me that I need to be more spontaneous in my day to day life.

Thank you, Diana, for a great post!

Bonnie said...

A great wake up call - nearing retirement I tend to hoar with the "incase I might need it in the future" excuse. Thanks for reminding me that I need to lighten up a bit.

Maria said...

Wow- this is a fantastic post. I have so much put away for someday and I really just need to sieze the day as you point out...this line really hit home "What’s hidden in the back of your closet, tucked away, carefully wrapped in tissue? What are you saving for “someday?”

Chris R said...

Your comments could not be more correct. We all should remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed to us. Make sure those you care about know that you care about them. My dh's illness this last year and a half have brought that home to me.

Lucy Monroe said...

Diana...trust you to touch us right at the very core of our beings! Thanks so much for this post and taking the time to be a guest here for the RAH Conf! You amaze me! ~ Hugs!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

What an emotional post, you actually had tears starting to pool in my eyes. Yeah you often don't know what you have until it's nearly gone (hehe sounds like the Cinderella song). There's nothing like a tragedy or near tragedy to open our eyes to what we usually take for granted.

Linda Henderson said...

I totally agree, I tell my daughters and grandkids every day that I love them. I used to save my good things too, but I quit doing that. I have my best towels hanging in the bathroom for people to use and my favorite things scattered around my apartment for other people to enjoy. I try to savor every day because we don't know what the next moment might bring. I take joy in the small things that every day brings.

seriousreader at live dot com

Valerie said...

What a wonderful post and a timely reminder to cherish every day. I am oftensad for my mom who has spent her whole life waiting for someday. She is 61 and finally, finally taking charge of her destiny. I wish it could have been sooner. I try to live my life in a manner that cherishes every moment and not hoard the good stuff. I want to look back at my life, if I am lucky enough to do so, and say wow...good job, well done. Now that was living!

etirv said...

What a liberating post, thanks, Diana!!!!

Stephanie said...

Beautiful post. And no truer words could be said.

runner10 said...

Glad your family is okay.
Wonderful words of wisdom.

Sue A. said...

There is no guarantee of tomorrow. It's a hard lesson to learn, but once cancer strikes your family, your eyes are opened forever to the reality that none of us should take life for granted.

Heather D said...

Great post! You never know what life will throw at you so savor what you have today and worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

nmulder81 said...

Life can be over in the blink of an eye...there is no time for regrets...good advice!!

rhianona said...

Very inspiring post. You bring up a lot of good points. I think many people are so wrapped up inside of themselves that they don't really focus on the now. Thank you for sharing this with us.

flchen1 said...

Thank you for the beautiful reminder, Diana! I'm thankful your family is OK! Earlier this year, a friend lost her husband unexpectedly, and that really drove home for many of us how unpredictable life is and how important it is to live fully! Thank you for reminding us to enjoy the good stuff RIGHT NOW!

Margay said...

That is great advice! I don't know if I am holding anything back, but I will be more conscious from now on about not doing so, thanks to this article.
Margay

goshnsqurrl63 said...

Hi Diana...I try not to save the "good stuff" for later...and after hitting alot of estate sales, I am trying to amend MY packratty ways. I see things that others have saved and never used and now it is just someone else's problem.
Thank you for sharing your insight!
~Hollie

Diana_Duncan said...

I'm really glad I touched so many of you with my post! Those things that happen to us that are the most scary or the hardest seem to be the ones that teach us important things we might be overlooking!

Danny, Nickeback is one of my favorite bands! And that song is a really poignant one, isn't it? I hope your Dad is doing okay with his cancer fight. {{{HUGS}}}

Amanda, Judy, & Sonya, LOVE that you're living for the moment, enjoying your treasures and checking closets. You just never know "what" you'll find in there. :)

Deb, how wonderful that you appreciate your adoptive family! I have several friends who've adopted children and let me tell you, the days those babies came home were amazing and so joyful.

Chelly, Amy & Elizbeth, ah...you feel like soul sisters of mine. :)

Katy, get out there and have some fun! You totally deserve a break from the "have tos" once in a while.

Bonnie and Maria, there's no time like the present to start enjoying what you've been saving up!

Chris, I hope your DH is recovering from his illness and that you remember to take care of yourself along with him!

Leigh D'Ansey said...

What a wonderful message. I so agree with you. We shouldn't save our lives for 'best'. 'Best' is now. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Diana_Duncan said...

Lucy, Darlin' thanks so much for having me! I feel so privileged to be here and be a part of your wonderful at home conference! <3

Raonaid, sorry to make you cry, but hopefully in a good way. :)

Linda, I'll bet your family appreciates hearing you love them often. My kids sometimes roll their eyes at me, but I know deep down it makes 'em feel good.

Valerie, Hooray for your mom! It's never too late! My mom got kind of a slow start out of the gate herself after a long period of hardship, but she's having a blast now. In fact, she'll be here to visit me tomorrow for a week!

Etirv & Stephanie, you're most welcome. It's my pleasure to get to chat with all of you today!

Runner, Sue & Heather, you are so right. One minute, your life is ticking alone fine and the next...Whoa! I try to be thankful every day for the small pleasures, like my garden and the little moments that make me smile, like the antics of my 3 cats & my dog. :)

Mulder & Rhianona, Yes, great observations. Regrets really are a waste of time!

Fichen, I'm very sorry for your friend's loss. My best friend's husband is facing cancer surgery within the next few weeks and it does tend to hit home really hard!

Margay, just thinking about it will get you started down that road...I'll bet you'll find something!

Goshnsqurrl63, It was tough for me this year when my elderly neighbor had to move to a care center. She's very happy there, but seeing all her "treasures" out on the lawn being sold by her kids was...yeah...a big eye-opener! I've started giving away a lot of things. Heck, let folks enjoy them now!

Ina said...

oh Diana,
I'm so glad you didn't wait longer *hugs*
thanks for sharing your story - I admire you for your strength!
wish you all the best,
Ina

Natasha A. said...

Wow! *sniff* That is a very powerful post! And you are right! We all need to live more in the moment! Thank you for the reminder!

SiNn said...

I agree that last line is awesome and the cover is awesome thank you for coming in today

JanDgls said...

I agree. My mother had a stroke almost 4 years ago and now she is bedridden. There is a lot of stuff in her house she was saving for later, things she and my dad put off doing until later. All those plans changed June 29, 2006. Don't wait.

When my kids were smaller I would do things with them and my parents would say how I should get my priorities straight. I think I had the very straight.

Andrea Becraft said...

I love the last line! And the cover is great! Thanks for blogging with us!

Rachel E. Moniz said...

Diana, so true! What a great post.
I had no idea about your hubby and daughter. Sending HUGS!!!!!!!

blackroze37yahoo.com said...

like the title and life is the good stuff

Cathy M said...

Fabulous post, Diana, and a great reminder to make the absolute most of every day. I don't really have any thing stashed away for a "later" moment, and I do my best to tell my family how much I love them every night before bed.

Jacqueline Barbary said...

Amen! I was lucky enough to take a family vacation a couple of weeks ago that reminded me of some of the very things you touched on today. As usual, well said:)

Jane said...

Thanks for a beautiful post, Diana.

robynl said...

I so enjoyed the post as I have learned that lesson just awhile ago and have made changes in using my belongings. We can across a box of dishes that had been put in the back of a closet from 15 yrs. ago when we moved here and hadn't used them or even remembered they were there SO we gave some away, took for use some and donated to a Salvation Army/MCC store.

LDee said...

Great post Diana. I agree and reading messages like yours help remind me. Life is fragile and we all need to enjoy the gift of it.

Hugs
Lavada

Leni said...

I remember my professor gave our class this message and it is so good to read your post because I really did need the reminder. Thank you.

Joya Fields said...

Wow, what a great post Diana. Your advice comes on a hectic, crazy, deadline-driven day and I appreciate the reminder to step back and take the time to indulge in the good stuff.
It must have taken a lot of strength to get through such a tough time six months ago. So scary to realize how fragile life is. Glad your husband and daughter are doing well! :)

Lady_Graeye said...

Congrats on your new release, Miss Newbie! Fantastic post. I am looking forward to reading your book. I believe everyone should live for the moment!

Refhater said...

Excellent blog! Thanks for sharing with us.

LM's Drama Queen said...

Those were truly inspiring words, Diana! It is so important for all of us to get little wake up calls like this, every so often, so that we remember to take advantage of all of God's wonderful blessings. If just your blog brought tears to our eyes, I can only imagine how touching one of your books would be:) Keep up that wonderful writing AND living!

XOX
~*DQ*~

katsrus said...

I will have to be checking my closets. I have too much junk in there. LOL. Great interview. Very eye opening. Before my MIL passed from cancer we tried to live for the moment with her. We had some good times. Will always be close to my heart.
Sue B

Lillie said...

Thanks for that reminder. I try my best not to hoard but I've fallen back in the habit lately.

s7anna said...

That's a good philosophy...I think that life really should be enjoyed to the fullest...we don't cherish the present as much as we should...I know that it's easier to hold off on something waiting for the right moment or time...definitely gave me food for thought.

thanks.
Anna

CherylS22 said...

You couldn't have said it better - I always strive to have the best first rather than saving the best for last because you just never know! Good luck with your writing.

Judy F said...

Great Blog Diana

When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers over two years ago that really put things into focus for me. Nothing was more important that looking after my dad at the nursing home and finding time for mom. Since his death this past Jan I really treasure my good friends and family.

erahime said...

Something to expand here in this blog.

Not much is tucked away in the back of my closet. There are new things, but generally I use them; and if I don't use it, I "recycle" it. This pertains to my clothing.

I try to de-clutter as much as possible, due to space shortage and necessity. Yes, there are some new products, but I had bought them with the idea that I'll use it eventually...and which I do. It may take some time but I do use them.

As for depriving myself...I guess a lot of things. I want to do some stuff, but I will admit that I hadn't written them down. The ones that I have foremost in my mind involves money, and I have a budget right now, so those are not in the picture...yet. And as for those that don't involve money, I'm depriving myself of that. Of course, I can't think of any right now, but I do know that I have some. It's at the back of my mind, but it IS there.

Great question, D.D.

Diana_Duncan said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow! I am so overwhelmed by the wonderful comments & sharing by everyone. This is the best blog I've ever guested on! You all are amazing!

BIG {{{HUGS}}} to everyone with difficult situations and ill family members. That seems like a common theme with a lot of us.

What you are all sharing just confirms that it is so important to grab every little moment we're happy and be grateful for it.

You all are AWESOME! :)

WK said...

OMG (((((HUGS)))) to you. What a great post!!! It made me a bit teary-eyed but you are right we do "hold" onto the good things waiting for that "day". Do you remember the tale of the man who held Christmas dinner waiting for the Lord to arrive?

thank you for this post!
hugs,
WendyK

Rebecca Ringler said...

Diana - This is a wonderful blog! How awesome to read this after just meeting you on facebook. I love your attitude of living life to it's fullest each day & holding nothing back for later. This is definitely an inspiration to me & I hope to revisit it when I need a good pick-me-up! - Rebecca

Joni said...

What a wonderful blog - I, well, I'm not much of a hoarder and I use just about everything in my home on a regular basis, even my best china comes out every now and then. My Plastic Canvas crafts on the other hand are in my basement, waiting for the time I can devote to...but know when I devoted most of my time to it was when I was pregnant with my youngest and made Barbie doll furniture for my oldest - that's basically the most time I had for this craft. Having two instead of one child changed all that. I hope to get back to it eventually, but enjoy reading romance more is all!

Zina Lynch said...

I've also heard treat your family like guests and let them eat on the china. I agree we never know when today will be our last.

Lisa F. said...

Wow, a very powerful post - very thought provoking! I pretty much use all my stuff but I have been known to hoarde a bag of peanut M&M's and not share them!

Toni said...

I definitely use the stuff that I am given because that is the only way I can afford new things. I really enjoyed your article and have so many new authors to try.

Toni

Melanie said...

Wow this was very good - I am always reminding myself to enjoy the little moments and make the most out of everything but I can get so wrapped up in the day to day jumble that it is easy to forget. Thanks for the reminder.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Yes, live for every moment!

Lil said...

My husband taught me to use the good stuff and not just hoard it away for some vague future date. Things get broken or chipped in a move, or mold and become obsolete in storage. How sad it would be never to have gotten the joy of using the item before it or we were beyond repair.

Sherry said...

Thanks for the great post I really enjoyed reading it.

sstrode@scrtc.com

Nancy G said...

I know what you mean about people saving "the good stuff". My mom went into hospice care in December, and I, as the only child, had to empty her apartment and give everything that wouldn't fit in my small apartment away. I told my grown children to take what they wanted toremember her, and gave her books to the public library in her name. When we lost her in January, we all still had something to remember her by, and others benefitted as well. You never know, so always enjoy every day.

Jami Davenport said...

My mother had a bad habit of saving the good stuff for some special event which never materialized. I find myself doing that, too, so I try not to. I use the good wineglasses, the good linens, etc. After all, they are only things, and we should enjoy them.

donnas said...

Great post. Wonderful message. More people need to learn that and follow though. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring.

Beth said...

Great post.
Glad your family is okay.

"What are you depriving yourself of – special things you could be using, wonderful feelings you could be experiencing, right here, right now?

Fling open that door! Liberate your dreams, your hopes, your love, and yeah, even your grudges and your fears. Make today your own personal Independence Day.

Get out your good stuff. Live every moment. And enjoy it to the fullest."

Love those words. At this point in time the only thing holding me back from being able to live them to their fullest is my budget. I enjoy what little I can get and/or do with what I have, but there are a lot of things, like visiting distant family or old friends, that just can't happen right now.

icia said...

I can understand about how you feel about telling someone how you feel or spending time with them. You never know what tomorrow will bring. My DH had a triple-bypass sugrey at the young age of 46. It was very scary seeing him after it was all done. I just stood there in the ICU crying. Now we try to spend time together even if that means just watching tv (well he's watching tv and I'm reading) :)
icia

booklover0226 said...

For years, I save the "good" stuff for "special occasions". The problem was, the "special occasions" never arrived!

That was a wake up call and enjoy everything I have and love every person in my life. Life is too short not to enjoy it.

Thanks,
Tracey D

lindseye said...

Love this post as it is so true. We are conditioned to give "stuff" to show our love. Give an experience and spend time and energy with loved ones instead.

Carol L. said...

I enjoyed your post Diana,
Unfortunately I have a family member who buys thing endlessly and never really uses anything. Very sad.
But I do everything I can to savor each and everything in the now. I may not be here tomorrow, you know. No regrets.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

Serena said...

Hi Diana,
Nice to see one of my fave people here on another one of my fave people's blogs :)

Life is too short and it's thrust in our face every day. When my father and then (five years later) my mother dies, one thing that we could be grateful for was that there were no regrets. We made sure that our boys spent as much time as possible with them, and we did everything we could to support and love them. We're grateful for every minute we had with them.

A very poignant post. Thanks for sharing. And thanks Lucy for having Diana as your special guest!

Hugs from Down Under...
Serena
xoxox

Serena said...

Hi Diana,
Nice to see one of my fave people here on another one of my fave people's blogs :)

Life is too short and it's thrust in our face every day. When my father and then (five years later) my mother dies, one thing that we could be grateful for was that there were no regrets. We made sure that our boys spent as much time as possible with them, and we did everything we could to support and love them. We're grateful for every minute we had with them.

A very poignant post. Thanks for sharing. And thanks Lucy for having Diana as your special guest!

Hugs from Down Under...
Serena
xoxox

Janet H said...

Hi Diana,
Wonderful! I totally agree. I never save "the good stuff" for later. If I buy it or receive it as a gift, I use it. Everyday is a good day for me.

Tamsyn said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing and for the reminder. I'm always keeping something for "later". I'll definitely be doing some cleaning out soon.

Rhea said...

Diana - what a fantastic post. My dad was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer last November, and there was something that just clicked, and I decided right at that moment I would never settle. This is the one life we get and I would strive every day to make it the best life I can. I will never settle, for anything. We each deserve to live the best life, no more waiting for the perfect time to do something, NOW is the perfect time.

lrwirum said...

I try not to save the good stuff for later and I enjoy what I do have and not worry about what I don't. :-)

Larena