Cancer + Career Snooze Button = Change

Hey there!

Apologies in advance for the “mass” communication nature of this. I’ll keep my

thoughts and writings authentic and unfiltered like my 6th grade journal entries,

but since various folks wanted to know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it or updates

on the work and what HARRIET is all about I thought I’d use the tools of today’s

society. And for selfish reasons I want to document the journey so when it gets

insane, overwhelming, frustrating, silly, enjoyable, incredible and everything in

between, I’ll have my lil’ musings to keep me grounded  (or nudge me along).  


“You have cancer, may lose your vision, we’ll use your cheek for skin grafts and let’s not worry about mortality rates right now.”


I’m sure it was said with a little more discretion and empathy, but as I hung up the

office phone with a polite “thank you and you have a nice day too” that’s how I

remember it. I also remember grabbing my wedding photo and a stapler (is that

company theft?) throwing them in my handbag and walking the couple of miles

home in a trance.  

That day and over the days that followed, I decided I wanted to live. I wanted to

be present. I wanted to remember my husband’s laugh and how he smelled

(Yes, I would hug and sniff his pillow or sink into his clothes in the closet

crying uncontrollably and sniffing). I wanted to remember people’s smiles and

expressions (sorry if you were one of those people I stared too long at; I was taking a

mental snapshot). I wanted to live with purpose and I wanted my life to count for

something. Anything!  


Cancer and the prospect of losing my eyesight gave me a lot of clarity.

I had hit what I’m going to coin the CAREER SNOOZE BUTTON.  I was CAREER SLEEP

WALKING. Since I’ve made up these phrases I should explain them. Basically, I was

doing a job that I had been doing too long. I loved it (most days), I was very

good at it, it interested me deeply and it allowed me to be philanthropic; but the

reality is -- I was very good at my job. I was too comfortable. I was at the peak

of my performance, but I wasn’t mentally challenged or stimulated. I was too

comfortable and as a result I wasn’t creating value, trying new things nor bringing new

ideas to the team. I was a top-performing sleepwalker. Never a good place to be.  

I wanted to be scared, hungry, and scrappy. I was the girl who use to skydive, ride

motorcycles, and traveled to a crazy number of countries, often alone. I had

lived and I wanted to LIVE again, but this time with purpose. It was time to get out of my comfort zone.


Are you career sleepwalking? I'd love to talk about it with you!

Feel free to comment or connect with me via twitter @gaylejobyrne or Facebook @Gayle Jennings-O'Byrne

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