Do you have a life “to-do” list? If so—good for you! If not—why not? I was lucky enough to cross a few items off mine this summer. Hooray! Since summer 2006 was spent in surgery, hospitals and chemotherapy, without hair or sunshine . . . this year, I decided to give myself a summer vacation. Remember what summer vacations were like? How about spring break? Too bad we don’t get those anymore when we leave school.
In April I quit my job, cashed in some investments and proceeded to enjoy four months of work-free bliss. Yes, I had moments of sheer panic wondering if I would be able to pay for my health insurance, and what my next job would be, but mostly, I had fun. So much of our lives are spent worrying about work, working, or looking for work. I know, I know, it’s necessary for those of us who want to eat. I get it. But it is possible to earn a living while also having a life. I came across two books this summer that were inspiration for not going back to a regular 9-5 job—The Joy of Not Working by Ernie J. Zelinski and The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I haven’t read them both, but I’m well into the first one, and it makes some fine points about the ability to enjoy leisure time. Too many of us wrap our lives up in work and forget how to live.
The subtitle for this article is the slogan of a friend’s website i2y (www.imtooyoungforthis.org). “Got Cancer? Under 40? Sucks, huh? Get Busy Living.” Matthew Zachary started his organization in 2004, and it has recently gotten a lot of attention. Time Magazine named his website one of the top 50 in the world, and he and his organization are about to be featured on the hot new Lifetime TV show A Side Order of Life.
I also recently met Kris Carr, 36-year-old cancer survivor and creator of Crazy, Sexy Cancer, a documentary airing on The Learning Channel, and a book, just published. Kris has written the kind of book I want to write—fun, irreverent, helpful, and full of life. Google “crazy, sexy” and she will come up.
So why do I bring up two cancer gurus, and what does that have to do with my summer off? Because a friend and I were lamenting the fact that so many people today feel stuck. Stuck in a job they hate, a marriage that’s miserable or a life that doesn’t wow them. It doesn’t have to be that way. “Get busy living” shouldn’t just be the slogan of cancer survivors under 40—it should be the slogan for all of us!
You can take the summer off. You can create work you love. You can do anything you want. It is too bad that so many of us need a catalyst to do just that. I’m glad I had one, but I want to tell you not to wait. Do what you want to do NOW! If you don’t know, figure it out. Someone once said the two most important questions in life are: Who are you, and what do you want? Figure out the answers to those questions and you are way ahead of most of the people on this planet.
So, the two life list items I crossed off—driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, and kayaking in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. I also spent a weekend with Cloris Leachman (legendary actress and winner of five Emmys and one Oscar), kayaked in Glacier Bay, camped among the redwoods, and saw my first elephant seal and grizzly bear. There are still many more items on my list to be tackled, like: learn guitar, climb Kilimanjaro, write a book, and learn to swing dance. I will get to them. I hope you do too.
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