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"Working To Live Or Living To Work?" A Post-Cancer Perspective

"I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I sat quietly, agreed politely. I guess that I forgot I had a choice, I let you push me past the breaking point. I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything. You held me down but I got up. Already brushing off the dust. You hear my voice. you hear that sound, like thunder gonna shake the ground. You held me down but I got up. Get ready 'cause I've had enough."

- Katy Perry, "Roar"

The fashionista deems knowingly working against someone instead of with them is just plain tacky - and in poor taste.

As a cancer survivor I view my time here on earth as temporary because, while we all know this is life and none of us are getting out alive, if my time here is unceremoniously cut short by this dirty rat-bastard disease I want to spend it living as much of it as I can on my terms. We all have to work but I work to live - I don't live to work.

I have very little patience for drama - workplace or otherwise and I've had it in spades lately. Choosing to have a career in a creative industry has me working with all kinds of interesting people. Smart people. Funny people. Eccentric people. Talented people. Crazy people. A control freak in every corner office. I can recognize wacky in two sentences and a handshake; I've been in my industry a long time and I've got a million stories. I understand at times the workplace is a game - where the rules change every day. But the older I get the more I realize if I wanted to spend my days playing games I'd get a job at an arcade. I have no time for the nonsense - and that's exactly what it is, nonsense. Garbage. Theatrics.

Recently, I've been regularly interacting with someone who has been intent on dimming my light ... and the worst part is, I nearly allowed it to happen. The hard lessons I learned seven years ago dissipated under the guise of 'playing for the team' and 'losing the battle to win the war' and 'seeing the big picture.' I call bullshit on each one of those catchphrases if they are used in a manner to diminish someone. Bullying is bullying - whether in a locker room or a conference room.

Why is this okay?

I know right now I'm not being all politically correct and whatnot but I don't care. Respect in the workplace is paramount - when did professional courtesy die? You give what you get and you get what you give. Simple lessons learned in kindergarten for most of us. Don't people realize how precious life is and how brief our time is here on earth? If you must spend eight or more hours a day someplace shouldn't you enjoy it? If I'm spending time away from my family it better count for more than just a paycheck. We women tend to take care of everyone but ourselves, and that's a shame. I implore you - put yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Respect yourself. Stand up for yourself. I finally did, and you know what? I felt great afterwards. I set a boundary and I reminded myself that it is more than okay to be a little selfish. I know I cannot change others patterns and personalities, those are set long before they get to my office, but I CAN change how I respond to actions that do not feel right. Simply put, it's easier to do nothing and complain to your counterparts over drinks after work than it is to make waves and set the tone. Respectfully. Firmly. Professionally.

Cancer changed me - this I know - but sometimes even I'm shocked by how much.

Sure we all have the mundane day-to-day crap and most of us have to work through but there is a fine line between being challenged and being abused. Stress isn't good for anyone and for a cancer survivor it can be life threatening. I feel stress physically since my second diagnosis, in my bones (achy), my muscles (fatigued), and my heart (heavy). When my stress levels are up I feel like I am walking through Jello, and that's too damn hard to do in heels.

On a bad day I blog.

I enjoy writing and it's all mine. No one can tell me how to think, feel, or communicate. I own it - all of it. When I write I remember my number one priority ... making a difference. I've realized over the past few years that I am not the only member of this club. My problems are not unique to me. If I'm struggling with something that I'll bet someone else is too. I want to know I'm making this lumpy, bumpy, cancery road a little easier for the women that are now following the same path I paved by writing my book, Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald? I want to be heard. I want to have deep conversations and share ideas. I want to spread kindness and empathy. I want to empower others. I want to hear you roar!

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