Say I love you. Call an old friend. See your doctor. Go explore. Become an organ donor.
At eight years old, I remember being a curious kid with a lot
of questions about faith, life and the world. It’s the age
I started getting answers to my many questions. It's also the
age I got my first typewriter (plastic) and met my late husband
Wesley. Both changed my life forever.
For as long as I can remember, becoming a writer was my
dream. I started out wanting to write books, then greeting cards
and eventually screenplays—good ones, like the kind that leave
us sitting in our movie theater seat as the credits roll because we
are still processing what we just saw, heard and experienced.
While in high school, just weeks before graduation, I wrote a letter to the
president of Hallmark asking him what is required to work for the company
after college. He kindly replied with a detailed letter about the range of skills
and education Hallmark employees possess and suggested I get in touch
about employment when I finished my English degree. I still have our letters
in my scrapbook.
While in college (my major now changed from English to journalism with a minor
in creative writing), I wrote to Ron Howard asking him the same questions about the film industry, but that letter got "returned to sender" because I didn't have his correct address. I would try a few more addresses, but I never reached him. (Opie is a hard man to find.)
Wesley and I married when I was 22. I got cancer at 24. I survived
and our son was born three years later. My first book was published
soon after the birth of our son, and I felt grateful for experiencing
the exact life I had dreamed about living. We worked at it, but we
were a happy and solid family, and I looked forward to our future.
We could not have known that cancer would get replaced by Wesley’s
sudden onset of illness. He died at just 35 yeard old. I was 32.
Our son was only 5.
None of it was easy, and much of it seemed impossible, but as our
son and I moved forward, and I started writing Big Shoes, I discovered
that ours is just one story. If I could share our experience and help
other people through their own difficult plights, then good could come
from what had happened to our family, and Wesley’s life and death could
serve an even greater purpose.
Weeks before I finished writing Big Shoes, the idea for The DON’T WAIT Project® came to me at 5:30am. I thought of a way that I hoped would help people not wait on the important things that bring our lives joy, satisfaction and worth. I wanted the Project and idea to be wide open, with no limitations. Not just about health, business, family, faith or any other one thing—it could be anything.
The DON'T WAIT stories we receive from people who support the Project are more than
amazing—the stories are life-changing. The ripple effect has always been my hope for the
Project, much like when I started out with the goal of becoming a writer. I could not have
known it would lead to me writing our story in all its joy and sadness. The same is true for
the Project and its possibilities.
We can learn from each other's hardships, triumphs, obstacles and accomplishments.
I believe that when we share of ourselves, we help enrich and guide the lives of other
people. I believe in storytelling—I believe in it so strongly that I've dedicated my career
to it. I haven't written a screenplay (yet), and working at Hallmark is no longer
my dream job—but this is.
We all have a DON'T WAIT. What's your DON'T WAIT?™
Lisa Bradshaw hosts Life with Lisa Bradshaw, a television talk show focused on
everyday people and everyday life. She is a mother, cancer survivor, author, producer
and founder of The DON’T WAIT Project®, a 501c3 non-profit organization committed
to raising community awareness about how positive life choices can impact the health
and welfare of individuals, organizations and communities. Bradshaw writes and speaks
on topics ranging from motherhood to patient advocacy and entrepreneurship to organ
donation registry. She has been a guest on national television and radio, including
Oprah Radio and The Rachael Ray Show, and her story has been featured in New York
Daily News, InStyle, Parents, Better Homes & Gardens and on Oprah.com.
Bradshaw founded the Project when writing her second book, Big Shoes: A Young
Widowed Mother’s Memoir, after the tragic loss of her husband at age 35.
Now, 13 years later, their grown son is leaving for college and Bradshaw is focusing
on a different story.
“Hardships are opportunities for crossroads not an impasse in life,” Bradshaw says.
“The purpose for the DWP and TV show isn’t about telling my story (although I’ve always
been willing to lend my own story if it helps someone else feel more capable of telling
their own). Instead, it’s about shedding light on the person who is doing the most good
or whose philanthropy needs the most awareness. This project is about true storytelling
in all its heartache and triumph. And it’s what the DWP does best."
Life with Lisa Bradshaw airs on NCW Life Channel (Charter Cable and LocalTel)
and streams live at www.ncwlife.com. Check listings for show times.