Monday, April 12, 2010


When I first began working at the Religious Action Center, Mark, the Associate Director, talked with us about the many calendars that we functioned on at the RAC. He explained that we adhere to the Jewish calendar, so that we can be strategic in our grassroots efforts while being sensitive to the schedules of our members and our own religious needs. Our life also ebbed and flowed with the congressional calendar in order to plan our lobbying and advocacy strategies. Additionally, we functioned on the Reform movement's organizational calendar - a distinct third calendar of meetings, conferences and events. He explained that we overlay all of these calendars, and do our best to maintain a healthy balance through it all. Beyond my year at the RAC, I applied this same basic thinking to my work at NCJW. It is important to balance those same three calendars to ensure maximum efficacy at work.

On top of all these calendars in the office, everyone lives by their personal calendars – I overlay my personal calendar of birthdays, anniversaries, life cycle events, appointments, vacations, etc, while also trying to keep the calendars of the important people in my life in mind. My life is impacted by my family members calendars - factoring in that my mom will be busier at work just before tax season or when my sister has a lecture coming up. With so many friends in grad school, I often keep an eye on the academic calendar since my life is busier when they have more time during breaks, or early in the semester or quarter. I also have the Jews United for Justice organizational calendar overlaid on top of all these, to keep up with my commitment as a member of the board of directors. We all keep so many simultaneous calendars, each sometimes coming to the forefront, then receding back again, when appropriate. And it's always seemed to me that one of the best indicators of one's happiness and well-being is how well those calendars are balancing.

Given that I generally enjoy the balancing act, it's still strange to me to think about how the cancer calendar necessarily trumps all others. The events of the other calendars, the sum total of which at one time defined my days, effectively disappear. Suddenly it isn't a matter of balancing the many calendars, it becomes all about adhering perfectly to just one. One that’s nearly always out of my control, and one that nearly always comes on too quickly to ever clear the others in advance.

When I am in treatment, I profoundly missed the act and art of balancing calendars. I miss having my life focus on more than one thing at a time. But I believe that in the process, I also gain insight into which calendars are most important to me, so that when I return to the balancing act, I am able to balance better.

After two weeks of feeling like I was back at it, a conversation with my oncologist in Chicago has left me feeling the effects of the cancer calendar's ultimate take-over once more. As I schedule my next round of treatment here in Washington, and learn more about the status of my bone marrow donor search, I will keep you all posted here.

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