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From ego-driven to soul-drawn


It’s been too long since I’ve done an update, but I guess I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

I let the two year anniversary of my diagnosis come and go, asking Per to draft something for the occasion. It felt too big, somehow.

I’ve been feeling the impact of two years of treatment, and to a degree that it makes me emotional, my heart catching in my throat every time I find myself explaining to people that after two years... my body has decided it needs a break.

I’ve had a few signs over the past few months. A correction over a Zoom call that had me crying the rest of the day. The morning I arrived at chemo only to vomit in the waiting room. The third time I lost five pounds in two weeks. An appointment with a physician’s assistant when she started by asking casually how I was, and I broke into tears, admitting it was getting to me.

My oncologist’s suggestions that I reconsider working full time, so I could focus on my health, started to feel less like suggestions.

I cry too much, snap too often, and at the wrong things. I feel like I’m slipping away—losing weight, losing hair, working and sleeping, but not much else. My reserve tank is empty.

So, one day before my twenty-five year anniversary with Starcom, I’ll move to working part time.

Which made me wonder, what made me decide to keep working full time, initially?

I think back to that first-half / second-half of life book I read. The author suggests that the first half of your life is ego-driven. And for good reason. It creates the structure of your life—what you’ll do, with whom and how.

Then something happens: tragedy, generally. (Like a cancer diagnosis.)

“Only suffering is powerful enough to beat the ego,” explains the book. Only when everything falls apart can you see the importance of what must come together.

And this ushers in the second half of your life: not ego-driven, but soul-drawn.

I recognize a lot of what upsets me these days as ego-driven. The Zoom correction bruised my ego, and that’s about it.

Perhaps my decision to work full-time had been ego-driven as well?

In truth, my professional success has been largely due to the great fortune I’ve had to work with amazing people. My team is sometimes humblingly capable. The idea that I need to be around all the time or things will fall apart, frankly, is also ego-driven.

My soul is drawn to solve in service, to coach and to counsel, and I know can do that in fewer hours a week.

I made the decision a few weeks ago and have spent some time trying to work through everything that needed to happen to make it possible. But as soon as I decided, I felt better.

I know it’s right.

I am beyond grateful to Starcom and my leaders, peers, and team who have supported me, unflaggingly, from day one—as they continue to do, in countless ways. More than ever, I know not to take their integrity or their faith in me for granted.

They may not have all of me, for a while. But in being willing to grant me what I need in this moment, they win my whole heart.

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