An accountant turned author that kicked cancer’s butt, Natalie Glaser defies many odds and holds many roles. A supportive mother and wife that we had the honor of interviewing, Natalie took lemons and made lemonade while finding the light in such a scary time. She fearlessly shares her journey through cancer, marriage and much more in her book “Don’t call me BRAVE” and also on her blog Natalie’s Inviting Balance.
Read on to get an inside look at this incredible woman in business.
Women in Business Feature: Interview with Natalie Glaser
Planful: Tell me about yourself, your background and career.
Natalie Glaser: I attended IUP for a year and a half until I realized it wasn’t for me. I just wanted to start working and earning money. My next move was to attend Bradford School of Business to become an Administrative Assistant. After graduation, I worked at R&P Coal Company for four years until I made my transition to S&T Bank. I’ve been there for 20 years now. They paid for me to go back to IUP to finish my degree in Accounting. I spent 18 years in the Accounting Department where I moved up through many positions. Two years ago, I left the Accounting Operations Manager role to work as the Payroll Manager part-time. This gives me more time to spend at home with my family.
Then, I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 39.
I never thought about writing before until I began journaling during my treatments. I used a website called caringbridge.org. It’s used for updating friends and family while facing an illness. It was much easier than sending multiple texts. So, I was doing that, and I was also writing things I wasn’t ready to share. I just had all of this stuff in different journals, and it felt like it was all over the place. The accountant in me was trying to organize it, and that’s how it developed into a book.
P: Was it hard for you to be so open and transparent when writing your book?
NG: That’s just how I am. I probably tell everybody too much. I didn’t share it with anybody at first. I worked on it for three years on my own. I wanted it to be honest. I was trying to find my voice.
P: What made you want to start a blog?
NG: I started the blog to begin promoting the book, but I honestly did it to hold myself accountable for being creative. I tend to forget about that side of my brain when I’m busy.
P: You’ve been doing events and speaking recently, is it weird to be the center of attention?
NG: All my life, I have been terrified of speaking in front of others. I was afraid of what people would think. Over the past five years, I have stopped worrying about what others are thinking. I’m finally happy with myself. It’s much easier to put myself out there when I have taken the fear of what other’s think off the table.
After last year’s IRMC’s Girls Night Out event, I sat listening to the speaker and realized I wanted to share my story too…to help others.
P: What were your biggest challenges when writing your book?
NG: “Work me” versus “Fun me.” If I am working, I can’t get into the creative mood to write. I want to get things off the list. So, I need to take a block of time off to get into that frame of mind.
The first half of the book was easy to write because it was exciting and cool things were happening. I felt good about myself for the first time in my life. About halfway through the book, I put it away for a year. I couldn’t work on it anymore. I didn’t understand it at first. I thought I’d never finish. I finally took a whole week off to work on it. The first day I sat and cried.
I texted a friend and asked her why I couldn’t finish it. She told me that I probably didn’t want to revisit that time in my life because that’s when things started getting hard.
I cried some more, and eventually, I just started writing. I began to send the pages to my friend as I was doing it. We stayed up until midnight, and I finished most of the second half that night.
So, my biggest challenge is letting my guard down and allowing myself to get into my creative mode.
P: What motivated you to share your story?
NG: You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I felt like God was telling me to do it. I couldn’t explain it, and sometimes I didn’t even remember the stuff I wrote.
My kids were a motivator during it too. My youngest son, Aiden, would see me crying while I was writing. He would ask, “Is God talking to you?” It was so cool because he was reminding me of what was happening. Now my oldest son Josh is more of my reality check guy. I’d say “Josh, how is this?” He’d give me his honest opinion and told me when something didn’t feel right. They both understood once I got in that mode that they probably weren’t getting dinner….lol.
I finished most of the book this past year, while my husband Ben was away at school. During my treatments, he discovered he wanted to be a Physician Assistant. He had been in banking for 14 years as an IT Manager. He had never talked about it before, but at the exact same time, we both realized that he should switch careers and work in the medical field. He quit his job in 2014 to return to school full-time and pursue an entirely new career.
He is now attending Chatham as a Physician Assistant student and has less than a year to go! Working on the book was a way to spend time with him while he was away. I got to relive a time in our lives that we were so connected. Working on the book made it feel like he was right there with me.
Our lives have changed dramatically since my diagnosis. We have fallen in love again and have started paying attention to what makes us happy instead of doing what everyone else thinks we should be doing.
P: What would you like people to know about your business (Your book and blog)?
NG: I want them to know that no matter what happens you can get through it by looking at the bright side.
P: What are your best time management tips?
NG: Oh, I’m horrible at that. That’s probably my worst skill. I have so many things going on that it becomes challenging managing them all. I try to pick the top three things that need done and focus on those each day.
P: What are your plans?
NG: I have been searching for my calling for years now. I’m not sure what the right answer is. I know that I love to write and enjoy sharing my stories with others. I’m not sure what that looks like, but I do know that God has a plan. I’m excited to see what he has in store for me.
P: Do you ever feel that your cancer defined you?
NG: At times, I think I’ve dragged it on way too long. It’s been five years, but the answer is no. I have not let it define me. I have let it change me…for the better. My priorities are finally straight. Ben and I have accomplished things we would have never dreamt of before. Even though we have taken on things bigger than we could have ever imagined, we have learned to remain connected with each other in the process.
P: Best advice you’ve ever heard?
NG: “A sorrow shared is half the sorrow, but a joy shared is twice the joy.”
A woman that worked with Ben shared this with him when he was so worried about me. It’s so true. Trying to go through something by yourself can feel unbearable. As soon as you share your story with others, it doesn’t seem that bad because suddenly, you aren’t alone.
P: Do you have any advice for other young female business women?
NG: Set boundaries, take time for yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry…just pray.😊
P: What did you learn most through your journey from when you got diagnosed with cancer to now?
NG: I am not in control. My entire life I’ve tried to control everything. It’s much more difficult when you try and orchestrate things in your life. You just have to deal with whatever comes your way and be grateful for the things right in front of you.
We feel so honored to have had the opportunity to interview Natalie. She’s inspirational in many different ways. We know she has something up her sleeve and we can’t to see how she impresses us next. Stay up to date and inspired by Natalie through her blog, Natalie’s Inviting Balance.
Thank you, Natalie, for sharing your journey with us.