Saturday was a tough day.
Katie Campbell, one of my fellow authors, passed away at age 33.
When you write a book with Stage 4 cancer and call it The Courage Club: A radical guide for audaciously living beyond cancer, your death is not exactly unexpected. But I spent three intense, amazing days with her and our publishing group just six weeks ago. She was alive and on fire and had crafted the most amazing plan to help promote the book and her mission, all while she was fighting the battle of her life. Even though I knew the chances were small, there was no doubt in my mind that I would see her achieve all her plans. And I hoped I would see her again.
I reflected on all of this as I thought of her and our conversations when we were together. Some were about the book and what she had hoped to do with it. But we also had a chance to talk about other things, too. Growing up outside of Detroit, college, meeting her husband, the Peace Corps, researching and advocating agricultural and food policies in emerging nations, her trips to Africa – all things she had done in her teens and twenties – more than most of us are able to accomplish in a much longer lifetime.
And then it hit me. Everything she had managed to do after she was diagnosed with cancer was amazing. But it was her “before” life that was just as worthy. I’m convinced that’s why her book found her and she knew she had to leave a legacy about her journey. Everything up until that point was getting her ready for these last three years. Katie had started her movement not too long after she was diagnosed. Through her blogging and speaking, she had become a beacon in the young cancer movement - her voice will continue to be important long after she has left this earth.
Katie Campbell had “lived a life on purpose” well before the cancer invaded her body and turned her life on its head.
A few weeks ago, she posted this on Facebook:
On hitting your stride:
Here is a big life lesson I have recently learned. For years I have spent my life chasing after "my thing," the space on this earth where I could be of the most service, where what I was doing was in perfect and authentic alignment with what I wanted, where I had my own unique offering that turned out to be exactly what someone else needed.
Recently I feel like I have come fully and completely into that space and MAN does it feel good. I hope everyone gets to live in this space at some point in their lives.
Let me tell you what it feels like here: I never second guess myself because I know that my gut instinct will carry me in the right direction. Whenever I ask the universe to help me keep moving forward in this space something opens right up. Somehow, through some miracle, doing what serves ME the most is in perfect alignment with what seems to best serve others. Even though I cannot perfectly see the path in front of me it somehow continues to pave itself and I merely have to follow. My message, my mission and my values in all of it could not be clearer. What I do to achieve that mission rarely feels like work and when it does I drop it and wait for a better way forward. I have complete and utter confidence in my ability to do what needs to be done to serve the most people and make the greatest change.
For so long I kept thinking I had hit that stride but somehow everything was always slightly out of alignment. I had to struggle to succeed and constantly doubted myself. I was not serving myself or the world in the way I wanted. I got caught up in meaningless tasks always feeling slightly lost about the larger mission. This feels so much better.
If you haven't hit your stride yet, never fear, your stride is out there! It's living in the small voice in your head that's telling you to do something crazy, the inspiration that comes at the most inopportune moment and the idea, class, book, job, opportunity or dream that inevitably keeps popping up no matter how hard you try to ignore it. My wish for you is that you hit your stride and find your unique, beautiful service. The world needs it!!! Love, love, love!
For many, Katie’s legacy will be her book and her honest message of love and showing up that is The Courage Club. For me, it is knowing that not only did she leave a legacy – but showed us how to live a life on purpose.
So, for this week, I have this wish. I hope you live your life on purpose – with intention – as much as possible. That is the gift you can give yourself and those around you. Always.
PS – If you haven’t read Katie’s book yet, I highly recommend it. You cannot but help to be inspired. It is available here.