The Longing Lab

My Father's List author Laura Carney on how completing her late father's bucket list set her free from longing to belong

August 18, 2023 Season 2 Episode 15
The Longing Lab
My Father's List author Laura Carney on how completing her late father's bucket list set her free from longing to belong
Show Notes

Episode 15 Author Laura Carney reflects on how years of longing to belong restricted her, but learning to say, “yes,” to completing her late father’s bucket list, set her free from a false narrative. In this intimate interview, Carney discusses luck, spirituality, grief, true love, and trust. 

When author Laura Carney discovered her father’s bucket list 13 years after he’d been killed by a distracted teen driver, she decided she’d complete the list to honor him. What she didn’t understand was in doing so she’d learn to honor herself. The story became her recently published book, My Father’s List: How Living My Dad’s Dreams Set Me Free. Laura is a journalist and copy editor in New York. She's been published by the Washington Post, the Associated Press, The Hill, Runner's World, People magazine, Guideposts, Good Housekeeping, The Fix, Upworthy, and Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. Her work as a copy editor has been primarily in magazines, for 20 years. 

Connect with Laura through her website

In this episode, (in order) we talked about…

*How she became an advocate for spreading the word on distracted driving

*How and why she “faked normal” while grieving her father’s death

*What the movie Back to the Future has to do with redefining the truth about our family and ourselves

*The timeline from when her father died to when she learned of the list to when she completed it

*Why her father’s absence at her wedding triggered grief all over again

*Why both positions (up or down) of horseshoes are different perspectives of luck

*Ways in which she felt she was being primed to complete the list years prior to learning it existed
*Why becoming a runner was one of the best things she ever did

*How committing to saying “yes” freed her

*The items on the list of 60 that were the most difficult to accomplish

*How her father’s list changed her sense of spirituality 

*How she kept meeting strangers who distinctly reminded her of her dad 

*How she relied on signs (often from strangers) 

*Her writing ritual and how the writing process went the way she needed it to go not the way she expected 

*Advice she has for people who want to accomplish a loved one’s last wishes 



“I developed a difficult relationship with uncertainty, so I narrowed in on perfectionism.”

“The desire to be seen as normal, that was really all I wanted—all the time. I thought if you weren’t seen as normal, you weren’t safe. It was a longing to belong.”

“When I said yes to the list, my soul was saying yes, yes, yes. I saw my dad’s face in the back of my mind nodding and smiling.  I hadn’t had that kind of connection before.”

“I was avoiding the story I needed to tell because it was too difficult to tell. Saying yes to the list was the first step... As I learned to say yes, over and over again, I was letting go of the need to be accepted by other people—that longing...”

“If we have any part of our parents that we feel we can’t trust, it becomes more difficult for us to learn how to trust ourselves, especially when we’re in their shoes.”

“The person (my husband) fell in love with was the girl inside of me who is the real me, not the woman who had so many layers of insecurity, who had become conditioned by the patriarchy to become desirable, like I had no worth as a woman unless I was wanted.”

"There’s a difference between longing for something you don’t have because you want to fill an emptiness-- wanting that because it will make you feel better about yourself—that’s an ego pursuit. But feeling called to do something is different because that’s your heart calling you…When you trust your heart fully, you can’t get lost.