Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Live Your Life

“Linds,” she said with a heavy sigh,  “Just live your life.”
A friend told me this a few years ago when I was going through a particularly rough time. 
I was worried I’d made the wrong decision. 
I was starting to believe that I’d left something behind that I shouldn’t have.
I was fearful that, at some point, the whole entire world was going to figure me out. 
I was scared to death that every single person I knew was going to corner me in the refrigeration section of the grocery store and peel back the “I’ve got this” skin I had learned to live by and realize just how vulnerable I was. 
I was scared to death that the way the world saw me, and how I saw myself, would finally align - oh, to fear that day!
But then I listened to my friend. 
And I began buying plane tickets, to see the things I wanted to see, and to spend time with the people I wanted to. I also began to spend some time alone. To reflect, to begin writing again, to pray, to look through old pictures. Some of the most wonderful nights I’ve spent in this old house were spent alone on a Saturday night looking at old photographs. I learned how to bake bread. Really good bread, I might add. I began making my own greeting cards and stationary. I tied up a few loose ends when it came to old love, and I started a couple fires that were totally wrong. And I learned. 
But I lived. 
And I’ve been living since then. Just ask The Original Jean, who fears I’m secretly priming myself to join the carnival, with as much traveling as I do.
Two weeks ago I traveled out of state for a wedding. That entire weekend can be summed up in one phrase, "Live your life". From the last minute date, to the random Saturday road trip exploring unfamiliar towns, to the conversations and the open road. We lived life. 

When I got back into Indiana after the trip, I had to make one stop before home. I’ll be very honest when I say it was a stop I was looking forward to, but dreading just as much. 
It was a reunion for reminiscing. 
It was a reunion for good-bye. 
My dear Aunt Ginny, Dad’s sister, has been diagnosed with terminal liver and lung cancer. My cousin drove Ginny up from the Carolinas so that she could see the home place one last time, meet the hill she would make her final resting place and finally, to say good-bye. 
I won’t go into the details of the visit. The words exchanged, the tears cried and beautiful laughs shared go only into the Bowman vault. They’ll be relived a million times over as  our family grows and we talk of the many generations, present and past. 

It rained that evening of my visit with Aunt Ginny. Poured, in fact. Never in my life will I forget walking down the driveway, after just saying goodbye to the only Aunt who has called me on every single birthday. The tears were falling down my face just as hard as the rain fell on the soggy gravel. I had on a dress (it was 70 and sunny when I left Missouri, 53 and raining in Indiana) and my favorite boots. I remember how cold that rain was, and how it made everything bitterly real. I remember thinking a million different things in that long, slow walk in the rain to my car...
I’m going to be sick, physically ill. Was that really goodbye? My favorite boots are going to be ruined....I HATE these boots. What good are boots if you don’t have a life to live them in? I wonder if Aunt Ginny has any cowboy boots? Will Marlee remember Aunt Ginny? I cannot believe it’s raining this hard; of course, two months too late.  Where you were in July?? Besides this illness, is she living the life she wanted? Ginny, I mean. What did she fear that kept her back? Has she lived the way she wanted? I am so cold. Is she who she hoped to be? Is she afraid? Does she have a choice? Do any of us?
I sat in my car and sobbed for while before going anywhere. I just listened to the rain come down. I went back to a memory of sleeping in the south room at Grandma and Grandpa Bowman’s house as a very little girl and listening to the rain come down on the tin roof.  It’s been a while since I stopped and appreciated rain music. My hands were black with mascara. I grabbed a McDonald’s napkin and wiped my face off; it felt like sandpaper.  It burned. 

Five rural miles had passed before I realized I had even backed my car out of the driveway. I was so consumed by the questions in my head about living a life. 
Whether Aunt Ginny has or not, I continued to wonder about all the things that keep us from living the life that we had hoped for, the one we’ve dreamt of. The one we want. 
But is it the fear of being really terrible and failing that gets in our way of really living life? Is it money? Is it freedom?  Or is it the fear that we just may become this fantastic person, that we didn’t realize we could be, and our comfortable, safe life as we know it will end?
I’m serious. 
One of my favorite quotes: 
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson 
"Your playing small does not serve the world." - I absolutely love that. How true it is.  
I’ve been told to “live my life” by that same friend a time or two over in the last few years. OK, more like a thousand times. But don’t you know, there are certain days all it takes is to hear that. Next thing you know I’m considering art for my first tattoo and researching what it would take to start outsourcing retired circus clowns through BSG
Kind of. 
So live your life. Dream that dream, and have a plan behind it. Don’t hold back.  Ask him out, and have a best friend on the line if he tells you no. Take the trip you need to take. Say the words you’ve been meaning to. Send the letter. Take the leap. Pick up the phone. Buy the dress. Ask the questions. Start the business. Sing the song. Invest in the ring. Create the plan. Apply for the job. Speak the truth. Light the fire. 

Live your life.


  1. Love this post, Lindsay. Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. Life is a God-given gift and we should all live life a little fuller, love a little harder and dream a little bigger!!

  2. Simply beautiful. I was laughing and crying at the same time. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world!

  3. Oh how I love this - and I am SO proud of you, just so proud of you.

  4. This was VERY inspiring! Loved it..cried while reading it...and will treasure these thoughts.

  5. Words of wisdom. Stay open, stay positive and live the life that God has already planned for you. God bless you.

  6. HUGS! I know what you mean...

  7. Lindsay, this touched my heart more than you will know. I am in my office with tears running down my face! Great inspiration at the right time!!! Live your life :)

  8. Lindsay, what a great message at the PERFECT time. Thanks for the reminder to LIVE YOUR LIFE!