December 26th, 2012

Don’t Waste A Second

Danaro s martin

By Laura Drake

I heard today that a distant relative, after enduring brutal treatment for lung cancer, is in remission!  I’m so very happy for him, and his family. He’s such a sweet, giving man.

The horror in Connecticut this month made most people I know stop and think.

These things, as well as staring down another tailing out year, reminded me of something I learned back in 1990, when I lost my sister to cancer. She was 32.

DON’T WASTE A SECOND

Back then, I thought I had a busy life already; I was married, had two kids, and worked full time. But I could no longer afford to let the years flow by, thinking I’d do things later. The gaping hole in my life was a constant reminder that ‘later’ isn’t a given.

I realized a basic truth:
Wherever I am at any given time is a result of what I’m focusing on.

If I’m not where I want to be, all I need do is make changes in what I’m focusing on to change it. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it?

It’s not. The following is a quick list of my major goals and accomplishments since then:

  • Finished my degree. Since I kept working full time, it took 4 years, and my kids and I doing homework together, but I got it done.
  • Learned to ride my own motorcycle. I’ve since logged 100,000 miles.
  • Learned to fly fish.
  • Learned to write – In this year I sold a three book deal to Grand Central, and another book to Harlequin

Along the way, life happened. Kids got married, and produced the most beautiful grandkids (don’t make me pull out photos!) My husband and I will celebrated our 25th anniversary in March. In the coming year, we hope to move to Texas and start building our retirement home.

People always are amazed when I tell them I get up at 3 am to write. I’m down to about 6 hours sleep a night. Hey, I’m getting older – I have less time to waste!

Would I have completed these things if I wouldn’t have focused on my ‘bucket list?’  I don’t think so.

But the best part wasn’t ticking off the items on the list. It’s the fun I had along the way to achieving them. The challenge of trying to do something I’d never done – and not sure I could do.

So? What about you? What would you attempt if you realized there wasn’t a second to waste? None of us know what will happen next – why wait for next year to start on your dreams?

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  • M. White

    Laura– You are SO right. I lost my husband unexpectedly in 2006. I was working out of town when my son called to tell me he’d found his dad on the floor in the kitchen, already gone. It was a terrible but much-needed wake-up call, the one that lets us know that we are never promised the next day, or indeed even another hour with the ones we care about. — If you have something to tell someone, or something you always wanted to do, or somewhere you wanted to see before you die, don’t waste another day. Tell it, do it, go there, before the black camel comes to kneel for you. Thanks again, Laura.–

  • I’m one of the fortunate ones who *almost* lost that loved one. Best Beloved should have died 7 years ago, and the doctors really had no idea why she didn’t.

    Our life has changed immeasurably since then. Our life together *began* with a “bull by the horns” moment, but this amplified it exponentially.

    We spend all day, every day, together. And today, our anniversary, we’re sorting out how to be together even more.

  • Thanks for a great reminder, Kathy.

    It falls right in line with something I often say: Gloria plans; God chuckles.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this ever important topic. I had my wake up call in 1996 when I faced breast cancer at 33 years old. My oldest child turned 7 the day after my lumpectomy, my youngest child was only 5 at the time. Now after 2 surgeries, radiation, IV chemo, and oral chemo, I’m still alive and able to focus on writing and reading. I’m working on a second masters degree, this one in history, because I love to learn and explore new ideas. I’ve tried to live every day doing something I love, focused on what is important to me and my family.

  • Well, said, Laura. It’s important. I had to get past thinking if something was worth doing, it was worth doing well. Sometimes you need to do things just because.

  • Every single moment of our lives add up to make us who we are. Thanks for reminding us to use those moments in a positive way.

  • Lost my husband in 2011 I regreted not forcing him to go the emergency room. He didn’t want to go and I figured it’d be okay. Now I’m trying to find a route through life on my own.

  • Great new years post, Laura. I lost my best friend last summer and had my wake up call that I was just skating along with life and needed to take control. I’ve made a goal to finish 2 more books (I write cowboy werewolves) and to actively pursue a publishing deal. I don’t think editors are going to come and find me. My husband and I have set next October as our retirement date, and we’re also moving to Texas. We were Texas State University Bobcats, but Aggies are OK in my book! Maybe I’ll see you there.

  • I guess my kick-in-the-pants came with losing a beautiful friend to breast cancer and turning 40. That’s when I made my list and got going. My condolences on the loss of your sister; I know you still feel her absence. You’re an inspiration to keep going with our goals, Laura. Thanks!

  • orlykoniglopez

    Beautiful post, Laura. We all need that reminder once in a while!

  • Man (or woman) plans and the gods laugh. Thanks for a great post.

  • “Wherever I am at any given time is a result of what I’m focusing on.” Once again, Laura, you inspire me. I’ve written that down and stuck it to my monitor. Thank you!

  • My sister isn’t speaking to me right now. This wasted time is killing me. I wish she understood that we don’t have any spare moments to pass over unappreciated. Hopefully she’ll come around as we move into the New Year.