Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So you can Tweet like hell. But are you LIVING loudly enough?

As I write this, I am waiting for a phone call from a doctor who will tell me if I have cancer, as my grandmother, mother and two aunts did. I likely will have to wait another 24 hours or so for the verdict to be handed down, so inevitably, I am reflective. (Yet, eerily calm.) 

When something like this happens - or even might be happening - you of course think about the things you still want to do. When I was in college, I used to dream of being President/CEO of a huge agency. Whatever. I couldn't care less about that now. Once I grew up (well after college) I used to dream of having a family. And lo and behold, two days ago I was with my beautiful son when he took his first boat ride, took his first JetSki ride, and proudly caught his first fish. And I was enjoying the beautiful peace of floating in a chilly Minnesota lake. So here I am at 40. And my only goal that truly matters is to see all of my son's "firsts", whether it's his geeky state quarter collection that we made last night, his first day of school, his first geeky science project, or his first child. 

Sure, sure. I still have professional goals. Professionally, I'd like to find the time to make my blog better and therefore more widely read. I'm really looking forward to some speaking engagements that I have coming up. I'd like to be much more knowledgeable about web analytics, which I am working on. And I'd quite like our agency to earn a big African chocolate account, the Specialized Bikes account and New Zealand tourism. Among other things. But really, none of that stuff is going on my gravestone, whether that gravestone happens tomorrow, next year or 60 years from now. All it needs to say is that I was a good Mom, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Aunt and Sister, and that I lived life fully. 

Are you working more than you really need to? Tweeting with one hand on a Sunday morning while you halfway listen to what your kid is saying? Is it really worth it? Is it still going to be worth it if, God forbid, the call comes some Wednesday afternoon that you have cancer? With all due respect to those who so aggressively throw themselves into blogging, speaking, etc...I am not knocking professional passion. I just don't personally think it's worth making work the centerpiece of your existence. Different strokes for different folks, and all. 

I don't mean to sound preachy here. And I have beaten this drum before. But seriously, I am asking you to think about this: Are you LIVING loudly enough? 

Epilogue: I learned last night that I do NOT have cancer. And I am so grateful. 


  1. Sue,

    This is such a true and insightful post. It *is* all-too-easy to get wrapped up in what we think is important, compared to what really is important. We all could probably do with a re-evaluation.

    And great news on the negative result - so happy for you!

    Take care,


  2. WOW. This was some blog post. I am so glad to hear that you had good news from the doctor, and thanks for sharing these insights here. I agree that living loudly is an inspired goal and one I intend to live into myself.

  3. I caught my breath with the first line, and couldn't let it go until I finished. Thank you for your brave and wonderful post.

    *I* am so grateful you got the news you did. And so grateful that you took one hell of a scary time to help remind us all that we're all real people. Every one of us.

    I found myself thinking about this very thing over the past few days: I marvel at the folks who seem never to turn this (social media) part of their life off.

    I had to come to grips with the fact that their way is no better or worse than my way. It's jsut different, and any judgment there is purely my own, and self-directed.

    But I *have* to turn this off in order to give my full attention to my life beyond my keyboard (and office, and iPhone, and...). And your post was perfectly timed to give validation to that decision.

    I'm so glad we've met, even if only keyboard to keyboard.

  4. Wow. That's some powerful insight and reflection. I, too many times, have been distracted by working on work stuff and not paying full attention to my son Justin. I tell myself that I try very hard to be active and involved with my son and my wife, but work is always swirling in the back of my head. I guess that comes with the territory of starting/running a business and working to help make it a success. Your comments above ring very close to my heart and it's a great reminder of what matters most in life. I am so happy to hear that you do not need to deal with the big C. Stay, healthy, happy and you.

  5. Truer words were never spoken - or blogged:-) We should all pause and take stock of what's really important.

    Congratulations on your good news. Enjoy the next 60 years!

  6. Wow. I am floored by the immediate response to this. Thank you guys so much for reading, RTing and especially commenting. I think Tamsen's point is so important, I don't want to judge anyone at all. My way isn't the right way for everyone. But it's so much fun getting to express my way, and hear back that it has validity for others, too.

  7. If your family has a history of cancer and you *seriously* want to avoid cancer in the future, then you should check out my blog: Anti-cancer Living

  8. Sue,

    Wonderfully written and gratefully received. Being a person of strong faith, I accept the bad news along with the good with the understanding that NONE of this is EVER a surprise to God. And, trusting in Him helps. Even so, without reading too deeply into your words, it seems that you might consider this life the only one. I hope not, I'm concerned with the next 60 years on this planet (if that's what I have coming), but I'm mostly concerned with the next 60,000.

    Thanks for sharing,


  9. It's been a while since I've read such a powerful blog post. First, and most importantly, congrats on the clean bill of health!!

    My husband and I were just talking about this very topic -- the need to "shutdown" and unplug. We both work in marketing and there's a lot of pressure sometimes to be always connected. We have to remember that we control the technology -- it doesn't control us ... or at least it shouldn't!

    Thanks for sharing your story and this very important reminder!

    Heather (@prtini)

  10. First of all, Congrats on your wonderful news. It was the most nerve-wracking, longest waiting time, I know.

    As a cancer survivor, I cannot relate more to your wise words and, powerful and thoughtful reflection. We've caught up with so many things in life that we forgot what really matters. When the C word hit me 6 years ago (actually this very same week in July) when I was 45, I honestly didn't know what to think. Actually I didn't even think! I just tried to live my life fully each and everyday like it was my last day. Now that I am NED (No evidence of disease), I got complacent and let other immaterial things (people's unethical behaviors, inappropriate words, people's taking advantage of me, etc.) bother my mind and stress my soul.
    So, thank you, for reminding me what matter most--family and true friends who will stick with you through thick and thin.
    And I am truly honored to have met you and know you as a friend.

    This weekend, I am going to Chicago to see my longtime friend. We went to grade school and college together. We've known each other for 40 years and I didn't get to see her enough, and I should have. Your post made me more appreciative of this trip.

    Have a great day and enjoy it to the fullest!


  11. A friend sent me a link to your story at a time when I have a lot going on in my life and am reflective as well. Your words touched me. For what it is worth, thanks for casting your thoughts out to the world. A stranger many many miles away agreed with your perspective and has been spawned to think by your post. Great job.

  12. Sue,

    Found this post from seeing some people retweet it. Thank you for writing this. It's very true, some people do not live loudly enough.I hope that by reading this that they may reconsider.

    Congrats on the negative results.


  13. Danny C. - great point. I too believe there is more after this.

    Heather - such kind words. Thank you. And great point - it's easy to mindlessly grab for the iPhone or crackberry instead of controlling it.

    Gee - per my @ reply, your comment is so powerful. I am thankful to know you and that you are NED!!! I hope you and your friend have the best weekend ever.

  14. Great News.

    God Bless,

    Robert DiVito

  15. Caldwell (sorry, I don't know your name and don't Bebo) - your comment is so thoughtful and means a great deal to me. I feel that as a blogger the greatest gift you can get is feedback that you made people think and somehow made a difference by putting yourself out there. So, thank you.

    Lynda and Robert - thank you so much for your kind wishes!

  16. Wow, Sue excellent story!

  17. Sue,

    Now I know what you mean about hoping for a less than exciting phone call. I'm glad it was good news. I too have a family history of cancer and sometimes worry about what the future may hold. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on living out loud. I like to say that I work hard and play harder, but I know it's often more work than play. I continue to work on adjusting those priorities. something worth working more on. ;)


  18. This post both made me smile and tear up. As someone who recently waited for that terrifying call, I can relate to your thoughts on life. Thank you for vocalizing this, I think that even those who don't have to experience the "what if" factor should begin living their lives loudly as well.

  19. Honestly, I'm happy that you don't have cancer. But I wonder whether living for your children, or living for your job is really that much different. One may seem more gratifying and rewarding. And certainly it's more "popular" to talk about the importance of children and family and all the buzz words. But we are all selfish. And by selfish I mean we focus on MY children, MY family, MY relationships. Nothing wrong with this. Just don't want us to glorify something that is really nothing more than a person pursuing their passions. And as long as you're not hurting anyone in the process, no ones passion is better than another. It's all for our own pleasure.

  20. Dear Anonymous: Honestly, with that kind of a cynical outlook, I have to wonder if you have much pleasure at all? I sincerely hope you do. But it seems perhaps you are misinterpreting my point of view and thinking the worst with no real basis. I was careful to acknowledge "different strokes for different folks" and that my way is not the only right way. I do agree wholeheartedly that no one's passion is inherently "better" than another. But what is wrong with glorifying people pursuing their passions (and their pleasure)? IMHO this is not worth debating. If your passion is different, that's great. Live it up!