Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One Year by Amy Vastine

The other day I was at a staff meeting. The principal had all of us break into groups and answer some questions for the purpose of community building. Most of the questions were silly - what saying or picture would you put on a T-shirt? What three things would you bring to a deserted island? Where would we find you when you were in high school?

But one question really made me think - what would  you do if you only had one year to live?

One year?


The older I get, the faster time goes. A year is nothing. A year passes in what feels like a blink of an eye. It seems like yesterday I was rocking my son to sleep and making up silly nursery rhymes with his name in them. He's now a sixteen-year-old 6' 4" beast who's been texting me about which colleges he wants to go visit over Spring Break.

A year would never be enough time to do all the things I would want to do!  But if I had to try, where would I start? I guess with quitting my job. I've been blessed to be a school social worker for the last 19 years. I believe I could leave, knowing I had the opportunity to do good for children in need.

So after quitting, I would plan several trips to all the places in the world I dream about taking - Portland (to see Carol!), Fiji, Bali, Sydney, Paris, the northern lights from an igloo in Finland, Maui. Oh, I could go on and on. My frequent flier miles would add up quickly.

Instead of traveling the world as a family (because let's be real, we might not last the whole year thanks to all that togetherness), I would take each one of my family members on a separate trip. Spending time, making unforgettable memories with my kids, my husband, my parents, my brothers, and so on would mean everything to me.

I would write that book (you know, the national best-seller that I know is inside me).

I would indulge in every sweet treat I've read about on Facebook. Yes, I'm coming for you cookie dough cafe in NYC.


Sometimes I'd sleep in and other days I'd wake up early. I don't care how much time I have, everyone needs a pajama day!

I would spend time every night writing down all the things I want my children to know and remember.

I would take some guitar lessons even if I stink at it.

One year. I'm sure there's so many other things I would want to do that just haven't popped in my head yet. It would go so fast, but it would be so full of all the things I love. I would definitely make the most of it.

Thankfully, I am not living with a ticking clock chasing me down, which got me thinking even more. Maybe I have forty years. Maybe I only have one. There are so many things I want to do. Maybe I should start working on this list now instead of waiting for someone to tell me time's almost up!

I might not be able to quit my job right now (remember that kid who wants to go to college in a couple years? Yeah, still gotta pay for that), but maybe I need to plan that trip to the west coast to see Carol or maybe I should sit down and get started on that national best-seller. There's no time like the present!

What would you do if you only had one year to live? (Yes, I reserve the right to steal your ideas!)







Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

Her latest book, Catch a Fallen Star, is the second book in the Grace Note Records series. Pick up your copy today!



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20 comments:

  1. I remember a post a while back where an author made reference to Tim McGraw's song "Humble and Kind" (a song I happen to love). Your post brought to mind another Tim McGraw song: "Live Like You Were Dying." Like your post, whenever I hear that song, it gets me thinking about what I would do if I had a short period of time to live.

    My flippant answer is to travel. I've been fortunate to have travelled extensively, but there are still so many wonderful places I would like to see. The reason I say this is flippant is because the older I get, the more I struggle with what I can do to make a difference. Hopefully, I do small things each day to make a difference in someone's life, but I'm talking bigger picture here.

    I applaud and thank you, Amy, for your 19 years as a social worker, dedicated to making a difference in children's lives and, by extension, our future. You have and are making a difference every day. People who work with and shape our children and law enforcement personnel are, in my opinion, the most undervalued/underappreciated in our society and yet the most impactful/essential.

    So, I wish I had the answer to your question, because if I did, I wouldn't wait until I had a year to live, but I would be doing it now...trying my best to make a difference...

    To end on a lighter note, IF my husband would go for it, we'd pack up the essentials, take our dogs and find a quaint cottage somewhere in the wilderness to live out my year!

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    1. Love that song by Tim McGraw! I am fortunate that my job allows me to make a little difference every day so that I wouldn't have to feel guilty about living my last year a bit selfishly. I do like the idea of finding a cute cottage somewhere ... maybe on in the English countryside! *adds that to the list*

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  2. First off, you look way too young to have a sixteen-year-old son and to have worked 19 years as a school social worker.
    Like Kate, the first thing that popped into my head was Tim McGraw's song, "Live Like You Were Dying," which I can't listen to without crying. If I were healthy during that last year, I'd definitely leave my job. Yes, traveling the world would be nice, but instead, I think I'd like to visit the areas where I grew up and where my parents were raised.
    As for the cookie dough cafe...I always told my mother it was safe to eat. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jill! Sometimes I still feel young but then my shoulder aches or my knees creak when I stand up and I realize I'm no spring chicken! I think visiting places that hold special memories would be a great idea as well. I would definitely add some of those places to my list!

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  3. I loved this post. I think it would be hard to improve on what you would do if you only had that year. I hope I would give up procrastination (I've made that into a fine art) and I'd do more traveling--dragging my husband, who thinks going out to dinner qualifies as a trip. And I'd do more bucket list stuff that I've let slide. I hope I have more than a year, but you have me thinking...

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    1. Your husband is hilarious! And I am right there with you in terms of procrastination. It's a killer sometimes. Hope you you knock a few things off that bucket list this year :)

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  4. I have friends who have really made their bucket lists. And Tim's song is one of my favorites, too. Amy, your job is a tough one, so kudos to you for hanging in 19 years. I guess I never look a year down the road. My mother, bless her heart, always said, take life one day at a time. Give your best today. So I've always kind of had that philosophy. Get through today and look forward to tomorrow. Now I'll have to think about having a whole year! Love your book cover and your books.

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    1. I think that's great advice, Roz. We don't really know how much time we have and living each day to the fullest is an excellent goal. But I do excuse myself for wanting a completely unproductive day here or there. Like I said, everyone needs a pajama day sometimes! And thank you - I love the covers too. But your new Western Romance book has me in love. That baby is too cute!!

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  5. Oh, Amy, Smiles and tears over my coffee this morning. Our lists are similar (not surprisingly) especially the travel and time with family/friends part - preferably at the same time. (Love that I made that list xox. Thank the Lord for RWA nationals.) Life goes by waaay too fast. I've lost several loved ones in the last few years and so I've started doing this weird thing when I see a family or friend where I imagine what I would say if it was the last time I ever saw them. (Yes, obviously grief is lingering.) Thanks for the lovely post and for making us think about what's really important!

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  6. I love your idea of a special one-on-one trip with each loved one. My mother is ninety, and while I hope we have more than a year, I know our time together is limited. I need to plan a visit soon.

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  7. Awesome post as usual, Amy! I can see a lot of things on your list that I'd want to tackle. Travel is probably top of the list. If you come out to visit Carol, I'm not that far away...and can I come with you to the cookie dough store in NYC?! Love that video, LOL. Thanks for the kick in the pants! <3

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  8. Your wonderful post was food for thought all day, Amy. Carpe Diem is right! When I was a young at home mother with infants and then toddlers, I was always looking ahead to the next stage when I thought motherhood might be easier. Haha. Your post is a great reminder to be mindful of each day. That is easier to achieve now I'm retired. You have a great attitude towards life!

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  9. Amy, I love this post and your ideas for how to spend the year. I've been thinking along the same lines for several months now and my conclusion is that I'd spend the year making a complete pest of myself with my grandkids so they can grow up saying things like ,"Remember how Grandma used to . . . ?" "Yeah, that woman was crazy. I miss her so much."

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  10. I don't know what I'd do if I only had a year to live. Probably try and get the books left on my contract written, lol. Which is sort of on my bucket list. I'm living my dream.

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  11. Loved the post! I'd want to do as much traveling as I could...Ireland would be first. And I love your idea of going individually with family members. That's awesome. That's the only way I could go because my husband hates to travel. I foresee a LOT of videos and pictures. And like Patty, I'd make a pest of myself to my granddaughter so she'd never forget me.

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  12. This will sound strange, because I'm living my dream right now, but I'd stop writing professionally. The reason is that I'd want the time to write for my family--stories about my childhood, stories about our ancestors. I'd want to leave something behind for my family to remember how I loved them. I honestly don't want the warning if I'm going to die. I'd rather just be hit by a truck. Knowing that it was coming wouldn't spur me into more living, it would make me slow down and savor more, and probably make me a little morbid.

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  13. Awesome, Amy as usual. What a thought-provoking post and you brought tears to my eyes. This actually is something I think about a lot these days. I don't know if I'd quit my job or do a whole, whole lot that was different. I would try to see my son and family more since they're on the other side of the United States. I would definitely fly to New York for that cookie dough store! My bucket list would take more than a year to fulfill, since my list involves other people a great deal----though I DID get my "stunt plane" ride in last year and that was a biggie. Mostly, I would try to see my friends, enjoy their company and tell them again that I love them and appreciate their kindness toward me.
    Thanks again for a super post, Amy!

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  14. Amy! If you and Anna got to visit Carol, you have to take a side trip to see me! If I had just a year, I'd find a way for Ron and me to collect our kids and all their kids and grand kids in a house at the beach for a month. We always talk about doing that, but schedules are too hard to coordinate. Maybe if I started earlier. Now we'd need the Sports Arena for the room! And then I'd vaccuum, make peanut butter cookies, and have you all over so that I'd get to meet you face to face at last. Then I'd just sit under a blanket with Ron, the dog and cats piled on, and wait to go Home because it's just been the absolutely best life. Congratulations, Amy, on all you do for children. God must love you people most of all.

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  15. Such a moving post, Amy, and the comments got me in the heart too! I love your idea of one-on-one trips with the kids (which, yes, fellow mom here can say would be much more peaceful lol) and I'm with Muriel on making sure a beach house is included in that year!

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  16. Oh, I'm smiling. Yes, all that togetherness might be togetherness. LOL

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