I began writing this post in July. A few friends read it and said I should not post it. But I have been haunted by Steve Jobs’ words since he died earlier this week, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I am sure I am not the only one who has taken a step back, thought about what I really value, what I really want for my life, known that I have thought about it for decades,(not minutes), and realized it was actually time to do something.
Here is my original post:
I have been thinking a lot about what is really important to me and about the skills and talents I possess.
I began working with girls when I was in high school and college and became a Girl Scout leader. I was actively involved in a foundation in Grand Rapids that promoted girl’s and women’s programs. I was specifically involved in an effort to promote the use of technology. I also organized a major fundraiser for breast cancer programs 10 years ago. This remains one of the achievements that I am most proud of in my life. In a post 9/11 environment we raised $7,000 to support programs at two local agencies, Reeling & Healing in Michigan and Gilda’s Club, both in Grand Rapids. Everything associated with the fundraiser was donated or supported with grant funding so that there were no overhead costs to deduct. These are only a few things I have done that support my life long passion to work with issues that improve lives of girls and women.
I realized the importance of health when I was in junior high after my father was in a serious accident that left him with permanent brain damage and my mother had breast cancer the following year. I learned that we cannot take life for granted or let opportunities slip by. My mother’s cancer was followed by a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and many of the complications that come with that disease. I cared for both of my parents through their illnesses and learned much about the good and bad sides of medical care.
I had wonderful female role models and mentors while I was growing up. I was related to some of them. Others were neighbors, teachers, Sunday School teachers, Girl Scout leaders and mother’s of my friends. They are women who taught me things they probably didn’t even realize they were teaching. Many of them have died and I miss them. I’ve lost touch with some but I have re-connected with others.
Someone I trust recently told me he knew I would find a way to do what I am so passionate about because I have to. I will. It will take longer than I thought and longer than it needed to. It may cost me several thousand dollars more than necessary, but I will find a way to pursue what I am most passionate about and what truly matters. If I don’t it will continue to hold me down and hold me back. I’ve come too far to let that happen.
It doesn’t necessarily mean I will change careers. There are many ways that I can pursue what I am passionate about and ways I can combine what is most dear to me to make difference. I know those who really know me understand that. One example is my current role on the Alabama/Mississippi American Diabetes Association Board. This is very important work to me because I am focused on raising money and raising awareness about this disease. Education is a key factor in creating a change in the way people respond to a disease and the way it is treated. Telling the stories is also important and powerful. But there is more that I want to do and will do.