In late September, my cousin Geoffrey Beard passed away at the age of 54. He’d been battling a disease his whole life and fought it right up to the end. This was a man who passionately wanted to live and to live his art. And he did just that.

Geoff was five years older than me, so I looked up to him as a kid. When he graduated college and became a graphic designer, I watched with fascination and respect as he honed his skills, grew in confidence, and built his business. He was my first-hand example of how a true artist should approach his/her work. He loved what he did, but he also respected his craft and understood the need to work well with his clients.

Like so many artists, he was called on often to donate his talents to nonprofits, creating materials and logos for many and giving back in other ways.

Though Geoff desperately wanted to live longer, and I so wish he had, he pursued his passions and, despite the challenges, built the life he desired. I will always admire him for that.

Are you living the life you want? If you found out tomorrow you had only a few weeks left, would you have any regrets? It sounds trite, I know, but every day is precious.

It’s not good enough to keep plugging away at a boring or unfulfilling job just to pay the bills.

It’s not good enough to keep putting off your true goals until you retire, because there is no guarantee you’ll have the ability to then pursue them.

It’s not good enough to keep waiting until the timing is right or there’s enough money in the bank or everyone else in your family is on board.

Life is a gift. Your art and your talents are gifts. Don’t squander them. Time may be shorter than you realize.