Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again.

I’ve started my next chapter of consulting, coaching and interim management, and I’m now on a path to spend more time with all of them. I will live near them and I hope to be with them on birthdays and holidays and lots of just regular days. I won’t have to pick and choose a few weekends to fly half way across the country to see them.

My heart melted this week. My three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter told her dad she wanted to call and ask me to make cookies with her. The only cookies I made with my own daughters was the kind where you slice up the cookie dough that comes in a plastic tube. They were the best I could do, with a busy management job.

Overall, I don’t regret how I balanced having a career and being a mother. But I do look forward to fun times with my grandkids.

This is when I get to the “so what” part of the post. Whether or not you relate to my personal stories, you have your own big rocks. You probably struggle for that elusive work life balance.  Don’t give up the struggle. Make time to do what you love with the people you love. As someone who lost a parent as a small child, I know all too well that “life is short”.

30 thoughts on “Do you know your big rocks?

  1. Patrick OKeeffe on said:

    That seems like good advice to me. Thanks! Sounds like you are able to enjoy your family time more, and that is good to hear. Being a recent parent myself, I am sure that your daughters appreciate that you are able to spend more time paying attention to their own children. :)

  2. Kimberley Barker on said:

    Thank you for keeping me on your blog posts. I so appreciate you sharing your personal stories and how you have managed it all! You are an inspiration to me and so many others. Best wishes in your new ventures!

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Kimberley, thanks for the feedback. When I migrated my blog to new hosting service after leaving UMHS, some subscribers stopped getting notifications. Think a setting change made this week may have resolved issue so all subscribers are getting notifications of weekly posts again. You’ll have to catch up on the past 8 or so posts.

  3. Denise Kabisch on said:

    Thank you for yet another inspirational story. They wake up the mind and warm the heart. I miss your leadership and words of wisdom.

  4. John Shanahan on said:

    Success is how we define it, our rocks shape that definition. At one time success meant the corner office with a view and landing the next big contract. As my rocks adopted me my definition evolved to being home for story time every night or wearing a fish tie because it makes a memory with your kids. (I did see you notice.) Fighting the pull between worlds is always hard and makes it that much more rewarding when you can find the balance.
    Congratulations on finding today’s balance, thank you for sharing.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      John, thanks for sharing as well. Knew you’d appreciate this week’s post. Have a great weekend with the kids.

  5. Cindy Danko on said:

    At times we all need to be reminded of our focus as many little things seem to cloud our days. I enjoy Steven Covey’s rock story and appreciate you sharing. I have not yet experienced the joys of being a grandmother, yet hope to encounter those melting moments in the future and rest assured there will be new big rocks in my jar!

  6. Margo Winters on said:

    Sue – Thanks for another reminder to stay grounded. I spent yesterday at a family reunion, celebrating the 5 siblings who left Czechoslovakia in the early 1900’s to start a new life in Detroit. My maternal grandfather was one of the 5. I realized yesterday that I spend a lot of time worrying about all the small rocks in my life. No one talks about those rocks at a family reunion! It’s the big ones that really matter.
    Enjoy your family and continue to create lasting memories.

  7. Megan Casey on said:

    Dear Sue,

    Thank you for giving younger women permission to seek and define their “success” and work life balance. I believe younger woman will the opportunity to make those decisions when those of us who are a little older may not have felt we had the choice.

    Enjoy your Rocks!



    • Sue Schade on said:

      Megan, definitely generational differences. My daughters with young children now have very different view than I did at that stage in my career. They are making it work for them!

  8. Great post Sue! It occurs to me that the message applies both personally and professionally. My “big rocks” keep me focused on family first, but also serve as a reminder that the work we do in Health IT isn’t about the technology for its own sake, it’s about supporting care that improves the quality of life for REAL people. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Megan Casey on said:

    Dear Sue,

    Thanks for sharing the overarching magnitude of the many things you face everyday at work. It is always helpful to understand your perspective.

    I also want to congratulate you on being one of HealtcareIT’s most Powerful Women as designated by HealthData Management.



  10. One year later April 29th…..these words ring very true. Taking care and tending to our “big rocks” is so important. Those days of loss of parents are very special and I believe the feelings change but never go away. Hope all is great in RI with all

  11. Ines Solares on said:

    Sue, I totally identify with you. I love my work and I thought I will never retired. God had a different plan and being a grandmother of four I am enjoying life and impacting their lives. Life is too short for sure. Grandkids are the blessing from above.

  12. Allison on said:

    I love this one Sue! You have always been an inspiration to me as well as a wonderful mentor. I vividly remember the 3 different days that you came up to visit me on the birth of each of my 3 children at BWH. You took time out of your chaotic busy days to visit, catch up and of course hold the little bundles… We talked about how much you couldn’t wait to have grandchildren and at that time, I don’t think either of your daughters were married. I am so happy for you and your family. You are a fabulous example of a working Mom who has managed it all. Your daughters are very lucky. Thanks for brightening my day! Allison

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Allison, I remember those visits as well! Thanks for the kind words. I managed it all best I could – I certainly understand and appreciate the challenges that young parents have as they grow their careers.

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