Never enough “somedays”

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My visit to Venice (3rd time!) in July 2017…The following July I was in an OR for very early stage (all gone!) breast cancer.

 

By Caitlin Kelly

So my husband Jose recently won a fantastic award from his peers, The National Press Photographers’ Association — the John Durniak Citation — given annually to the person deemed most giving and nurturing of younger talents, for the best mentor in the business.

And how perfect, then that John himself got Jose his job at The New York Times, where he worked for 31 years and helped the paper win a Pulitzer Prize for photo editing images of 9/11.

It broke my heart, the day before we could announce it publicly, to read that Mrs. Franke, the high school teacher in Santa Fe, NM who first encouraged Jose to get into photography, had just died. I had so wanted to meet her — someday.

For many reasons, we tend to put things off to do “someday”, assuming we have plenty of them left, decades possibly.

 

But we don’t.

 

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One of my favorite European images, taken in Budapest

 

The cliche of cancer is how it shakes you very hard by the shoulders, reminding us we have no true idea how many somedays we’ll each enjoy.  My breast cancer diagnosis, right before my 2018 birthday, was a wake-up call.

So in 2019, we’re carpe-ing the hell out of every diem!

I’m writing these words from a Montreal hotel room with a fantastic view north to Mt. Royal. on a five-day vacation. We’ve already booked a Paris apartment for my birthday in early June and, (if I get a windfall payment I expect), may take a month off  in the fall for England and Scotland.

I hadn’t planned (who does?) to spend $1,300 on co-pays in 2018  (a nice mini-vacation lost) or most of my time in various medical settings or recovering from surgery and treatment.

I’m so glad I was able to take an unprecedented six weeks to visit six European countries in June and July 2017: France, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Italy and England. It was a birthday gift to myself and thank heaven; if I’d waited til 2018, it would have meant cancelling everything and, without trip insurance, losing a lot of money.

We’re also fortunate enough to have decent retirement savings, so, with our accountant and financial planner’s blessing, we recently took out enough to pay off our apartment mortgage in full, freeing us from monthly anxiety; as two full-time freelancers, our best clients can disappear overnight, while the bills do not.

We’ve seen what can happen to our health, and it’s sobering indeed; Jose began using insulin in 2018 as well.

I’ve always been a saver, typically opting for frugality, so spending money more freely and taking more unpaid time off feels frightening.

Here’s a beautiful essay from a website I write for regularly, considerable.com, on seizing the day:

The window of when gets narrower with every passing year, until something bad happens and the question has answered itself.

So ask yourself: Do you want to be that person? Who waited until it was too late, and that thing you claimed to want to do you can no longer do because, as Dorothy Parker reminds us “in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending.”

If not now, when?

 

My someday list is is still long, including:

—  A visit to Big Bend National Park in Texas

— A visit to Bryce/Zion Parks in Utah

—  a horseback/camping vacation

— Visiting Japan, Morocco, Lebanon, South Africa/Namibia/Botswana/Zanzibar/Lamu

— Studying film more seriously

— Studying floral design

 

How about you?

Are you getting to your somedays?

 

 

23 thoughts on “Never enough “somedays”

    1. Thanks! We had to reduce our daily stress — and the bills refuse to keep arriving. Jose and I are doing well for 2 full-time freelancers competing with those half our age. But it’s worrying that all we do is make $ to pay bills. We have to carve out room for pleasure.

  1. My bucket list (Hate that term) isn’t very long but it shows no signs of getting shorter any time soon. Traveling is a real bone of contention between me and Cathy and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
    I have a saying about music. It goes “Anyone can do one good song and, if it’s good enough, that’s plenty.” I’ve got a notebook that I’ve been carrying around for going on forty years with a whole slew of what Roger Waters referred to as “Half a page of scribbled lines”. I read it over from time to time but never see anything that’s going to give me what I need. Really though, that’s much more of a journey than a destination. I’ve written some decent songs but they’re personal. I know that song is in there so I will keep going until I find it. You will probably have to come to All Good Coffee in Weaverville if you want to hear it, because if there is one thing that’s never going on my bucket list, it’s becoming a famous musician, or famous for anything else, for that matter. If my song sticks in people’s minds after I’m gone, that will be great. If people remember my song and my name, like I said before, that’s plenty.
    So I saw that you started this post with the word “so”. I really can’t thank you enough. I’ve seen a bit of controversy springing up regarding this recently, like anyone in the age of ROFLMAO (Spell check didn’t light this up, now kneel before the tyrant.) really needs to beat someone up over their usage. Writing a complete sentence is an achievement for a whole lot of people. It did, however make me happy to see an accomplished writer such as yourself gleefully shaking the linguistic apple cart. Fight the power (Incomplete sentence).
    Good post, keep ’em coming.

    1. Well, it’s my damn blog…SO I’ll write it as I please! 🙂

      Travel is only contentious for me and Jose when I dare to utter the word “hostel.” He gave me such a look of horror! But I want to take a LONG — like six month — journey through Asia (I hate flying) and the only way to afford long journeys (on our incomes) is to drop to a lower level of comfort. This is not his style!

  2. After my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2013 and getting through her own personal battles through two rounds of chemo and one of radiation, we realized that we needed to get to our somedays as well. When she was finally able to travel again after the treatments (in the fall of 2015), we were lucky enough to be able to make the decision to have her retire early and then go and do our first someday and go on a Mediterranean cruise. We were also fortunate enough to have paid off our mortgage about a year before she was diagnosed, so the decision for her to retire was a lot easier for us. Our next someday is later this year when we go to Australia and New Zealand for a month. And I love the excerpt from the essay from considerable.com, going to go there next and check out more. Thanks for sharing this, Caitlin.

    1. You know it all too well….

      So glad you were financially able to pick up and get out back into the world. As horrifying as cancer is, it also costs us so much lost time and energy and you don’t get any of that back….which also adds impetus to get OUT and enjoy whatever we can while we can.

      I am still mired in MD checkups (which is all good but time consuming) and why we are planning as much NON medical time/fun time as we can.

      We have worked so hard for so long to save $$$$ ….and we have no children to leave it to so we need to savor some of it for ourselves.

      I spent a month in Oz and NZ back in 1998 and it will be such a great experience for you! I cried when I left NZ…the kindest people, gorgeous country. I only saw a bit of North Island and in Oz, only Sydney and Melbourne; loved Melbourne.

  3. I’m working hard so those somedays can happen in the next couple of years. I’m saving up my money, which can be difficult when you have car payments but I make it work. I’m experiencing as many new things as I can. And I’m making great progress on the latest draft of the novel, so hopefully that dream will stop being a someday and become a now very soon.

  4. Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. In Italy there are lots of beautiful convents and monasteries to stay in. If you book your train months ahead, it’s considerably cheaper. I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow morning on Thalys, I booked everything months ahead. Also, in Europe there are the low-cost airlines Easyjet and Ryan Air. As for hostels, take a look at the link below. It might change your hubby’s mind.

    To be honest, when I travel I’m a gypsy. I leave all electronic devices at home and just take off. Clothes, books, maps and my camera are all I take (and need.) Like the old days, remember??

    If you’re coming to Paris this year it would be great to meet up this time. I should be back from Italy around the 4th of June.

    https://www.hostelworld.com/

  5. Increasingly, I find myself sitting at work staring at my computer screen and wondering if this is REALLY what I want to do for the next few years of my life.
    So little time, so much to do. I can feel myself leaning away from my paid work and leaning towards a different life where I get to do more things that bring me pleasure. It’s scary but exciting. Thanks for your awesome posts.

    1. So true.

      We made the scary step of raiding our retirement savings to pay off the mortgage, reducing out monthly nut by $1100, plus put away a year of health insurance, $1700/month. That allows us both to become less stressed and more selective about what work we take on and commit to…sort of, in my eyes, a semi-retirement. We still have to work — and I know I would be bored and lonely without some intellectual stimulation. But even being able to finally get to some projects that interest me more is helping.

      1. I feel so very grateful that we have a very good public health system here in Australia. We certainly don’t get everything right, but the hospitals and medical system here are wonderful and completely free for those you can’t afford to pay. The rest of us just contribute through the tax system so it doesn’t hurt. Some people have private health insurance but if you are seriously ill being a public patient is the best option as you get the same care.
        I agree with your comments about being intellectually stimulated. I also fear being bored and lonely, but most of all I think I fear being inconsequential. What I like about working is being valued for my contribution. I’m not sure how I’ll fill that gap when I retire. I know one can always volunteer but I’m not terribly sociable or good st small talk. I can talk about books until the cows come home, but not much else.

      2. Growing up in Canada to age 30, similar. The American system is very good for some and, literally, lethal for others. And no one cares enough to change it for the stricken…

        Yeah, I enjoy being an active member of my writing/photo tribes. We have no kids or grandkids either, which is what many retirees spend their time on.

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