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Don’t Waste a Second

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.

It reminded me of something I learned back in 1990, when I lost my sister to cancer. She was 32.


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 logged 100,000 miles.
  • Learned to fly fish.
  • Learned to write – In December I sold a three book deal to Grand Central

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 celebrate our 25th anniversary in March. We’re looking for a place to jump out of the rat race and into retirement.

People always are amazed when I tell them I get up at 3 am to write before going to work. 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?

Laura has always been a storyteller.  She began on her front porch, telling ghost stories to the neighborhood kids.  They ran screaming, but kept coming back for more. If she wasn’t telling a story, she had her nose in one, bumping into students on her way to classes.

Her settings are Western, but Laura grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit.  A tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into their Pintos and moved to California, sight unseen. There, Laura met her husband, a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie, and her love affair with the West began.

Laura rides her own motorcycle. She owns two; Elvis, a 1985 BMW Mystic, and Sting, a 1999 BMW R1100. She’s put on a hundred thousand miles riding the back roads, getting to know the small western towns that are her book’s settings.

On an annual pilgrimage to Texas, Laura was introduced to her first rodeo, and loved everything about it. She was even more excited to discover Pro Bull Riding was shown on television every week! She’s since attended any event within driving distance, as well as two PBR National finals.  Several people in the industry have been gracious in sharing their knowledge with a city girl. Her love of this sport has grown into three books to date.

Ideas are still growing.


10 Responses

  1. C’mon down to Arkansas. We’re a great place to retire! Or Florida if you don’t like cold weather.

    I need to lose weight. I badly need to lose weight. your “message” today hit me square in my heart. I don’t have that much time left to waste. I am way over 1/2 through my life. If not now, when?

    Early congrats on your 25th anniversary. Hubby and I celebrated 27 years last November. What’s scary is…where did those years go? WOW Time flies. For you young whippersnappers on here, listen up to your elders! Time will be gone before you know it.

    Glad to have you here, Laura. You were a great add! 🙂

  2. Wonderful post, Laura, and I’m so glad for your relative. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of losing a coworker to lung cancer, so I can appreciate how amazing that news is.

    There are a lot of things I feel like I *should* be doing, but very little that I want to do that I’m not doing. I really just want more of the same: more of my kids being amazing, more of my 20-year marriage, more writing and selling books. 🙂

  3. Sounds like you’re right on track to me, Nat!

    The way I guage my progress is — if I died tomorrow, would I be okay with that?

    Not that I don’t still have things on the list, but have I gotten enough done to make me satisfied, looking back over my life?

  4. Laura: So happy for your relative. Listening to guys like Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, and Denis Waitley got me thinking this way in my mid-twenties. Now, if there’s something I really want, I try to find a way to make it happen.

    That attitude saw me start my own business, attend Toastmasters, go to grad school, get a job I really loved, quit that job later to stay home with my kids again, save up for a trip to Europe, and start writing.

    Still, it’s easy to let life get in the way. But, in 2007 I lost my mom to cancer when she was only 58. That was a strong reminder to make sure I was living by my priorities. I’m determined not to be average/normal, because average people do not get or do the things they dream about.

    Great post. I’m glad you’re working toward the important things in your life too!

  5. lovely post! I have things on my bucket list…travel and such…but any other smaller things that I would do in my everyday life would involve giving something else up to make time for it. and I’m not at a point I want to give something up!

  6. Great bucket list and I’m so proud of you for ticking things off on the list. Bet your sister is proud.

    I have a few things, mostly travel, that I’d really like to do wiht my husband and kids before I get too old to do them – like learning to ski . I don’t think there are any other burning desires for things I want to learn. I’m not much of a hobbyist. Guess I’m kinda boring, but there are lots of places I want to go.

    Nice post 🙂

  7. Great post, Laura! Life really does pass by so quickly. Enjoying every moment has become my biggest goal in life. The good is there, you just might have to look a little harder at times to find it. So glad to hear your friend is in remission!!

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