In which I lose my mind, slightly

Hello hello hello

and

hello!

Okay, enough of that. I think I’ll do that thing where I blog and pretend no one is watching. Dance like no one’s watching – except, I’ll write. And this isn’t on some big stage. And most importantly, I’m not wearing any leotard, ballet shoes, or waving any jazz hands.

Man, work has been interesting. Like, 9-5 and beyond interesting. It really hasn’t stopped since I began. Today I made a list of all the things I’d like to do – for only one part of my job, not even the other part – and there were 80 things on that list! EIGHTY. And they’re not like ‘sharpen all the pencils in my pencil holder’ they are complex-to-organize pieces of business.

But hey, I’ve made a list. Next comes the question: which of these are going to help me reach my goals best, and also fastest? From there, I’ll prioritize. Along with: what am I am actually capable of doing at this moment?! And what needs to be done first, so that other things can be done afterwards?

You know what full time employment feels like? (She asks herself, because she’s meant to be writing as if no one is reading. Damn.) It feels like an adventure game. Monkey Island, with fewer monkeys, or pirates, or insult sword fights. If I want to accomplish goal A, I need to have resource B and C in my inventory – but I can only get those resources by solving puzzle Q. etc. So yes, apparently my love of adventure gaming has prepared me for being a grown up. Who would have known?

Anyhow, I love my new job. I love, love, love it. You know what I do? I do this! And I love it!

But you know what I haven’t’ loved? I haven’t loved the surging pressure headache I’ve been getting. And I haven’t loved the wheezing in my chest – caused by elements that I really don’t love. And I haven’t loved that the boxes in my apartment STILL haven’t been unpacked despite my having moved in a month ago. AND, since I’m writing to myself and am allowed to complain like no one is listening, I DON’T love the FUCKING cancer that is trying to FUCK UP my life.

Ahem.

Excuse me.

But it’s true. I am both happy and frustrated at once. When I’m at work, it all goes away. When I’m at home, and not watching the Amazing Race with my husband, I focus far too carefully upon the wheeze that has developed in my chest.  Along with the cancer cells, I think stress has simply gotten to me. And while I fully realize there are means to relieve these pressures, I can’t seem to . . . get there. You know?

Like, I should meditate. I should exercise. I should do yoga. I should go for a swim. I should eat well. I should take vitamins. I should call the hospital. I should call my health care insurance. I should brush my teeth more often. I should clean the kitchen counter. I should unpack those boxes. I should maybe start chemo. I should finish writing my next book. I should edit that podcast. I should write this article. I should finish a blog post. And oh yes, I should do the things that really, truly make me happy.

Or I could just go to bed.

Often, at this point, bed feels like the best option. Except I don’t even really love my bedroom, because we moved into a really weird, though also clean, apartment, and I’m not sure if I like it yet.

As I said, complain like no one is watching. Sorry.

Now, it’s not always like this. I do all those things on the list above quite happily (except for anything hospital related, because that does not make me happy). But I haven’t written a blog post in a long time. Partly because I’ve been tired. But also largely because I’ve started a new job, and I still don’t’ know how to navigate between my voice, my job, and my private but also public health and life story. When it comes to work, I never want to drag in the heath realities. So I don’t update my blog, because I don’t want folks noticing what’s going on when I’m not at my desk hustling to make an awesome book club.

What I probably really need to realize is that no one is watching. Like really, they’re not. And if they are, they’re not really because we all have lives that demand attention. But still, it’s been a weird challenge for me. I’ve never felt the need to censor myself before, except when I worked for the library. And frankly, that was hard even then. I feel it even more so now.

But I like writing these things out. If I’m ever going to move away from these stress-pressure reactions, it’s definitely at least in part going to be through writing them out.

So there it is. My complaining blog post. I’m a little happy, a little sad, and a little tired. I’m also really excited, totally in love, and scared out of my mind – but hey, why can’t we be many things at once?

And now I will revert to my default coping method.

Time for bed.

Goodnight.

Lean In? Sometimes I’d rather Lean Away.

So, I have an on-again, off-again book club, and one of the books we recently discussed was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She is the woman in that popular TED talk, which exploded into a book/movement to ‘lean in’.

lean in

The book is for women in the workplace. Or rather, it’s for women who want to excel/climb the ranks in the workplace. She is essentially looking at why we don’t have more women leaders, and a LOT of that reason, according to Sandberg’s discussion, is about children/family.

That is to say, women anticipate having children, and so they back away from work. There are other aspects, but this point is one that interests me the most. Essentially, she suggests that even before meeting the loves of their lives, women are already planning their exit strategy for motherhood. And therefore, they are less ambitious in their jobs.

Okay, I can get that. In fact, I’ve seen that actually happen.

Now why am I talking about this today? Because I’m curious about leaning in from the perspective of cancer.

Sandberg argues women should lean in so that if they do have kids, when they return from their mat leave they will be in a good position. Focusing on advancing your career is worth it for the places it will take you, and because when you come back  to work you’ll be at a higher level.So, say instead of babies you have a possibly shorter life span on your mind. Are there similarities here? Should we ‘lean in’ and create a legacy of some kind? Does that kind of stuff even matter? Why bother leaning in if the clock is officially ticking? Is the assumption of illness, change, or even death reason enough to not go for a promotion or try to rise up in a company? Better yet, those diagnosed with stage four cancer – are we more likely to lean away?

Maybe it’s a matter of time. But that’s the one massive question that cannot be answered. It could be a year, it could be twenty years, it could be . . .  well, who the heck knows?

I’ve met one woman who choose to lean away. She was counting down the days till retirement and was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Instead of retiring, she went on disability as she slid into depression. Somehow, to her, being on disability rather than being retired seems to equate to missing the golden ring. But then, I reckon the depression contributes to that perspective.  She is emotionally disconnected from joy, and that is really crap.

There are other women – younger ladies in the thick of motherhood, diagnosed with stage four and choosing to stay home. They’d rather spend time with their kids, and who is going to argue against that? That makes all kinds of sense to me. They are leaning into what matters most to them.

And then there is me. To lean in or lean away? This past autumn had me leaning in to get the book done and out. It was a very good decision, and what an experience. Also, I worked during that time too, even right after diagnosis when life was nothing but brick walls. Though to be honest, while we build Zsolt’s business I don’t have a choice whether or not to work. I must work. We need to eat and pay rent 🙂 Retirement isn’t an option. Heck, I’m only 31! There is nothing to retire.

But even if I’m working, should I be leaning in? Should I try to grow my career or be content as it is? Is it fair to my employers if I apply & get accepted for a higher position? What if I get sick again, and their investment comes to nothing? Is it selfish to lean in? Do I even want to lean in?

With my book it is different. I like to lean in because it’s just me. Either I sell or I don’t sell. Either I create or I don’t create. No one else is impacted. But even with writing . . . well, there are these scans every few months . . . there is that constant limbo. Life itself is an emotional stop and go.

There’s a point in here somewhere . Actually, no, there isn’t a point. There is a question: Do you lean in, and what does that even mean to you after being diagnosed (or someone you love being diagnosed) with cancer? And if someone told you time was limited, would your career even remain a focus?

What do you think? Leaning in post-cancer, leaning in at stage four . . .

I lean into what I love, that’s for sure. But as for the other stuff, I don’t know. I found myself not committing and using “I had cancer, so I don’t’ want to waste my time on crap that doesn’t matter” as an explanation for that – whether or not it is a good explanation. Honestly, I’d rather write short stories that make people smile. I’d rather capture someone’s story and help them feel special. I’d rather tweet and talk and doodle and create. I’d rather feel my heart get filled up with a job very well done. And most of all, I’d rather weave stories, even if it’s not catapulting me to the top of an organization, or even a bestseller list, it’s what I prefer to do. Now with the stage four, I feel that way even more.

Though as I said, I still need to pay my bills 🙂 And really, my dreams are much bigger than just paying bills. I want to buy property and travel and live well and realize some huge ideas that must involve success. So, despite stage four, and not knowing what the next scan will bring, I actually do want to lean in. I want to lean in on my terms and with what I love.

So that’s a little from me. Now it’s your turn:

Lean in . . . what does that mean after fighting for your life? I’d love to know.