My Cancer & My Career: Learning How to Step Away From Work
Most of my adult life I've been a hard-charging, professional single gal in the city. I've had demanding and rewarding jobs in Boston, Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco, some of the world's great cities. But now I live somewhere much different: DomestiCity.
As a result of my lung cancer diagnosis, I stepped out of the workforce last year. When it became clear that I might only feel well a few hours a day, it was an easy decision to choose to spend those hours with my family, and not in meetings or traffic.
I thought a lot about what this would mean. Over the years my career has not only allowed me to make a comfortable living but it has also provided intellectual stimulation, kept me feeling engaged and relevant, and afforded me tremendous opportunity to see the world. My employment has been the primary source of my social interactions and one of the main ways by which I identify myself. I didn't change my name when I married Harlan Seymour because I'd spent too many years building a career as Jennifer Glass, although we informally call ourselves the Glamour family. Take the GLA out of Jennifer GLAss and the MOUR out of Harlan SeyMOUR, and you get GLAMOUR. We all agree this is better than SEY-ASS.
I worked hard for a lot of years and genuinely enjoyed working, but I have to say that I enjoy not working even more. I see friends, exercise every day, read whole books and when I feel tired I take a nap. All in all it's a pretty nice life...except for the part where I have cancer.
I recently had my first ever "mommy" play-date with my six-year-old stepdaughter Eloise and my neighbor Shannon and her daughter Ashley. Shannon is a long-time friend and former colleague who knows as well as anyone that I've always been better at cleaning up information leaks than sippy cup leaks, and more comfortable navigating the corporate ladder than the monkey bars. Thank you Shannon for helping me understand the etiquette around taking someone else's child to the bathroom, and patiently explaining to me that at the playground you're supposed to keep an eye on the child assigned to you.
My days now are more about board games than board rooms and I negotiate bedtimes not deadlines. It may not be life in the fast lane, but with a kid in the back seat I can always use the carpool lane. GLAMOUR-Us is plenty glamorous for me.