One question can change your life

About two months ago I was challenged with the question, “what are you doing here?” I was in a drafty hotel conference room full of my colleagues at an off-site retreat themed, “Deep Breath.” Dr. William Brendel, an expert in mindfulness came in to lead a session early on the second day. It seems like a pretty insignificant, innocent question, but what if you let yourself go deeper?


Initially, I was scratching the surface. What am I doing here? I tried to come up with something genuine and something that sounded deep to discuss with my colleagues. I believe my first response was something like, “I’m here so I can help prospective students find their way to St. Thomas.” Wow, did that feel flat, not only to me, but to my entire table. My current title is Digital Project Manager, so I do help students find St. Thomas, but that just didn’t seem as deep as I was supposed to go.


So, Bill (yes, we’re on a first-name basis now, although he doesn’t know it) asked again, “what are you doing here?” The second time I found myself thinking, I have absolutely no idea. Does he want to know why we’re here on this planet? Why we’re in this job? Why we’re living?  The more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I got. I haven’t asked myself that question in a long time, or maybe ever.


The workshop continued with more questions, soul searching, and ended with a meditation session. Bill gave us a variety of prompts throughout the session, until he finally closed. He asked us to come up with one word about how we were feeling in that moment. Mine…conflicted.


OK – conflicted, I definitely was. As a mom, wife, daughter, employee, friend, and all my other titles, I am pulled in a million directions everyday. Always feeling like I’m maybe one step, or at least five minutes behind. When I’m at home, my mind is on work and vice versa. When I’m out with friends, I think about Matt. The list goes on and on. Conflicted.

I thought that was going to be it. I’ve been to a ton of sessions like these during my 12-year career that are supposed to make us think, feel more valued, and excited about work. I have always appreciated them, but they felt short-lived. Not this one. This session stuck in my head and so did that word…conflicted.


I tried to keep the doubts and my conflict buried deep down. But, I just couldn’t this time. I decided something had to give. I started thinking. How can I live more intentionally? What does that intention look like? It basically came down to two simple things: I wanted more time with my family and I wanted to spread hope and inspiration. So, I set off.

The one way I could try to “control” my situation was through my employment. I decided that I wanted to work from home more – maybe even in a part-time position. I began applying for positions and was very upfront with my wants and needs. I was doing research and I found the site, flexjobs.com and posted my resume. In two days, yes two days, I was contacted by an employer.


I may have felt conflicted and started the “work” to change, but God had the ultimate plan. A company that helps cancer patients personalize their care reached out to me to interview for a marketing position. I already had two other interviews lined up for the following week that were safe, comfortable options, but I felt the pull that I had to have the conversation.


I landed two job offers, but in my heart I knew which one God had chosen for me. Last week I accepted the part-time marketing position with Store My Tumor, which is completely remote and gives me all the flexibility I need. Not only that, but I’m supporting a mission close to my heart. Many of you know of my sister-in-law, Tera’s story. Her recent diagnoses has shook me to the core and I have no doubt that God has led me to this company for a reason.


Can I believe that I just resigned from my full-time position? No. Am I scared? Yes. But, am I living with intention for the first time in years? Absolutely. Last week I was at a crossroads and I chose the road less traveled. I believe that with God leading my steps and my amazing family this is just the beginning of an amazing story.


Friends, as I close tonight, I ask all of you, what are you doing here? Are you living with intention? If not, think about what the smallest steps could be to get you where and what you want. If I can help, please reach out! I’ll have more time now.


Blessings to you and your family.


Jenna


Three items I’m grateful for:

- Matt, without him and his support, I couldn’t be changing my life.

- My mom, when I’m scared she knows just what to say.

- Tera, you are so strong and amazing. You gave me the courage and strength to step forward.

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