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Navigating a Journey of the Unexpected

Late last year, my mom received a devastating diagnosis of a terminal glioblastoma brain tumor. The afternoon I received the call from my sister, I was utterly shocked; my world had been shaken. After a moment, I shifted into action mode, and within 2.5 hours, I was on a plane to be with my mom and sister.

Over the following two weeks, I became deeply involved in attending doctor appointments, spending hours and days in the hospital where they removed the bulk of the tumor along with most of her frontal lobe. I also accompanied her to rehabilitation sessions, learning alongside her how she could best function at home. During this time, I supported my siblings as each of us took turns having breakdowns and learned patience as we navigated the uncertainty of “wait and see” what’s next.

Once my mom was released from rehab to go home, approximately two weeks post-surgery, it became clear that she would need full-time care for tasks such as meals, cleaning, tracking finances, and laundry—tasks we often take for granted being able to do on our own. My siblings and I spent hours hovering over a calendar and having lengthy conversations to establish a caregiving schedule accommodating everyone’s flexibility and ability to interrupt their work schedules. We now take turns being with Mom, attending her radiation appointments, MRIs, lab testing, and any other appointments that arise.

As this ongoing experience unfolds and I navigate a journey of unexpected challenges, I realize three things that are more important to me than ever before regarding work:

Work/Life Synergy

Work/life synergy is more critical than ever. I feel incredibly fortunate to work for an organization that values its employees and what matters to them. Unlike any of my previous employers, the afternoon I received the call, I was able to drop everything and be absent for weeks with no repercussions, knowing my team had my back and would cover for me. As I continue to take my turn staying with Mom and getting her to appointments, my work/life synergy shows up differently. I work at times conducive to my mom’s daily schedule rather than being strapped to my desk 9-5. There is a strong sense of freedom, gratitude, and responsibility that comes along with this.

Follow the Process

Following a systematic approach is crucial. I could not confidently step away from work if I did not live what we teach. I have a system and process established to ensure I get the right things done daily. I have my tasks ready and the due dates set. I know what’s coming down the pipe. I tend to work ahead, allowing time for emergencies on my calendar. I’m fully aware of which items are critical to work on and what can wait. Because this process is well-established, I recognize exactly what to pass along to my team, allowing for a smoother transition during my absences.

Build a Supportive Network

Navigating challenging times reinforces the importance of having a supportive network at work and personal life. My colleagues and team have been pillars of strength, understanding the demands of the situation and providing unwavering support. It’s a reminder that creating a supportive work environment is not just about policies; it’s about cultivating a culture of empathy and collaboration that extends beyond professional tasks. Reflecting on this, consider how you can strengthen your support network, ensuring it’s robust enough to handle unexpected challenges that may arise.

My mom’s journey is ongoing, and I continue to take time away from work to support her for chunks of time. With the foundation of a well-established system and the unwavering support of my team and organization during this challenging time, I can be fully present with my mom without worrying about missing something or fearing that the ball will drop at work. There’s a profound comfort in knowing I have a trusting work environment.

While most of us go through our days without expecting the rug to be pulled out from under us, having a well-organized system provides reassurance. Have you considered how you can integrate a better balance of work/life synergy? Is your system in place, ready to support you in times of unexpected challenges?



Author – Stacy Lindbloom, InteraWorks Learning Coordinator Lead


About InteraWorks

InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals and teams, including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent, and energy to produce results that matter most. 


We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.