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Thanks, Dad: ‘Create what you love and then do it.’

I remember waiting by the garage door with my nose pushed up against the freezing cold glass, hoping the next car lights that I saw come up the road through the darkness would belong to his yellow, 1980-something, 2-door BMW. I can still smell the minty scent of his Halls cough drops and the sound of his tires crunching on the snow as he pulled into the garage. Dad was/is a doctor. That meant that he had to leave for work early in the morning, usually before I woke up for school, and would come home long after the sun went down. It also meant that he couldn’t spend as much time with me and my siblings as he wanted, but each night as he pulled into the garage, I could hardly contain my excitement. I would run into the cold, damp air in my nightshirt and socks, throw my arms around him and ask what took him so long. He would remind me that helping people is very hard and long work, but as long as you love what you do, you are one of the lucky few.

My dad’s words stayed with me throughout my childhood, into my teenage years and carried me through into my adult life. In 1998, I graduated from college, ready and willing to find that thing that would make me, in my father’s words, “one of the lucky few.” I was certain that a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a one semester internship, was all of the experience I needed to KNOW that I would find happiness in politics. After all, my mother always said that I would be the first singing, rabbi/female president when I grew up! At 21, I took my first job with U.S. Senator Herb Kohl in Wisconsin; my dad was very proud.Jenny + Dad

It took about 2 years to realize that politics was NOT what would make me “one of the lucky few.” I took on a number of different roles in my late 20s and early 30s until I landed in a position as a hospital administrator. I remember thinking, this is it! This is what will make me “one of the lucky few.” This is what dad was talking about! Until … it wasn’t. This is when I started to get nervous. I was now 39, had a husband and three kids of my own, and still hadn’t found the thing that my dad had always told me to look for in life. I decided it was time for some clarification.

In June of 2016, I went to my father seeking advice. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I always worked extremely hard, making sure to be the best at whatever I tried. Since college, I had been promoted several times, won numerous awards, earned enough to support my family, was invited to speak at different conferences and was held in very high regard among thought leaders in my field. Why hadn’t I gotten to where I wanted to be? What was holding me back from finding what I loved? What my father told me in this moment changed how I defined my success. He said that sometimes you have to create what you love and then do it. It may not always be there just waiting for you. As his words began to resonate, I thought about all of my past experiences and what I liked and didn’t like about each one. I began to think about how I could make an impact on the world and what was important to me. It had become even more apparent since the loss of my sister to cancer that I wanted to be in the oncology field. I thought about who could help me make my vision a reality, gained their support and forged ahead. Once again with Dad’s support, three months later, Phoenix Cancer Support Network (PCSN) was born.

Today, I am the CEO/Founder of PCSN and my dad is the Chairman of the Board. There is no one that I would rather have as my co-pilot on this journey. It is his words that have carried me to this place.

Thank you Daddy, for being my hero and guiding me toward to a place where I am now a proud member of the lucky few club.

 

 

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