Live More, Worry Less!
GT Woman January/February 2017
Live More, Worry Less! When my mother passed away four months after being diagnosed with cancer, I asked myself, “If I only had 22 years left to live, what would I do differently?” The answers boiled down to, “How could I live more and worry less?” I’m a list person—so I made one that served both as my bucket list and as a plan of action (more on that later).
2012 was a life-changing year. I am one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and smiles most of the time. I am an optimist by nature – an enduring gift from my mother. So, you’d have never known it if you met me at the time, those months were heartbreaking. I am really just now, years later, starting to navigate my purpose-driven life. My mom’s death was just the tip of the iceberg.
The year my boat sank
2012 was a year of loss. The day we buried my mother my cousin died. Two co-workers unexpectedly passed away that summer. Both of my sister-in-laws lost parents. My grandfather died.
Sandwiched in the middle of these heartbreaking losses, our boat sank in the Grand Traverse Bay. (You may remember seeing it on the local news when Hurricane Sandy affected the Great Lakes.) A week later, my family and I were in car accident. During this time, there was no safe haven. Even my job seemed to be in constant flux—our department reorganized three times.
That wasn’t all.
I was diagnosed with treatable skin cancer, work reorganized again, and my grandmother died the night before Mother’s Day—the first without my mom. Another friend passed away, too. The turmoil of these months seemed enough to fill several lifetimes. I would need to do more than recover, I would have to rebuild.
Looking back to move forward
Initially, I decided I would not make any big changes in my life, but rather take some time to grieve and “check my six.”
This is something one of my mentors and managers always encouraged me to do. Checking ‘your six’ means to look into your past for paths to the future. Pilos look back to the six o’clock position to make sure everything’s going well.
Here’s what I saw when I looked back:
In my last year at Michigan State University (MSU), I became a single mother. I left MSU, stayed in Traverse City and graduated with a degree in business with a website concentration. I was a happy single mother; remembering this helped me reposition for the future. These are the things I found in my past when checking my six.
- Do what you want. In my 20’s, I said yes to what I wanted and said no to what I wanted.
- Be yourself. I did not sacrifice me to please others. I did what I thought were the right and noble things to do. I realized I could be feminine, smart, ambitious, kind, and still be the mother my child deserved.
- Own a business. While finishing up my degree at Davenport University, I partnered with a friend to form Sweeping Beauty. I enjoyed business development, marketing, and flexibility it provided. In my own pursuits of business ownership I found that people in business were always asking for my direction on marketing and business development. I found that people had great products, services, brand, websites and talent, but what they were always saying they were missing strategy and planning- direction. This was a gap that I filled and I found myself hearing over and over that, “you’re really good at this [marketing and business strategy]” and “you should do this as a “job”; SO I DID!.
- Give back. My business partner lost her sister to Leukemia, so we ran a marathon to raise money to fight the disease.
- Take Vacations. When I graduated, I looked for a ‘real job’ in places Seattle, Oregon and Hawaii that provided opportunity and beautiful seasons.
- Family First As I got older my priorities continued to focus on my family. My husband, TJ, and I began dating just before my daughter, Olivia, turned one. We had our second child, married, and he adopted my daughter.
- Back to Work: Once our youngest was older, I went back to work at the age of 30. I got a “real” job, with Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
- Help people. I met so many good people in work and play. Everything I did was because I wanted to help better the community, and spread a little warmth and kindness to the people around me. How can we help? Contact us to discuss your needs.
- Give Thanks. Regardless of one’s faith, it is important to wake up and go to sleep reflecting on the things we are thankful for.
Purposeful Life: Helping people
Looking back helped me heal. It also provided a road-map to my future– a life that would maximize me. A life that utilizes my strengths. In many respects today, I’m far away from those terrible experiences in 2012. But I didn’t forget them.
I get to be smart, kind, ambitious, forward thinking–and all the things that make me, well, me.