Thursday, June 28, 2012


Since I have been out of work, I feel a little bit like Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strips.  My "dirt" is worry.  

There was a time, during my last layoff, when I worried about everything:  I worried about money, of course, but it was more than that.  I worried that I was in the wrong career, but I didn't know what to change.  I worried that I would have to take "any" job instead of the "right" job.  I worried about missed opportunities and opportunities that never were.  I worried that my worry would scar my son for life.  In the middle of the night I worried that I will lose my house and my dog will be given to strangers.

None of these things came to be.  I found a job that I thought was my dream job, I kept my family and my home intact, and I worked hard.  To find myself in the same position, 18 months later, was disheartening, but not defeating.

This time is different.  Having weathered that storm, I know that I am strong and capable, and I will find a job that is a good fit.  I read "The Secret" and understand and believe in the power of gratitude and conviction.  Therefore, I have decided that I will have a job that I am excited about, working with people that value my skills, by Labor Day weekend.   I learned things at my last job that will be valued and appreciated at the next, and I will excel.

This is not to say that I am sitting still doing nothing.  I am polishing up my resume with every application and writing unique cover letters to send with every one of them.  I am scouring the ads for marketing professionals and focusing on the positions that would allow me to make the strongest contribution.  In the meantime, however, I am going to accomplish other things.  In my last post, I discussed the value of decluttering.  I decluttered my mind, putting my worries to rest with conviction and resolve.   I am also decluttering my home.  

I have sold HUNDREDS of dollars worth of "stuff" at consignment, and used some of the credit to purchase things I need - or want - that I have had to cut out of my budget.  This is the ultimate in recycling.  I have an unhealthy, superstitious attachment to some items - dresses I wore to a particular event, gifts I received from people that have passed away or are no longer in my life, and items that I used to love...that I no longer do. 

I am shedding those items and preparing myself for the day when I can have a "playroom" and a "craftsroom" with the space I am clearing.  Along with the shedding of items, I am shedding their hold on me - and freeing up space in my home and my head.  It feels great - I am sleeping better, waking up excited about the progress I am making and even feeling more energized about applying for jobs.  I think that the feeling of accomplishment carries over into other areas of my life.  During this time, I need to feel empowered.  I need to feel like I am capable, worthy and competent.  So, I am balancing my job search with tasks that will allow me to feel fabulous.  

There are many other things that I am doing to feel better about my situation; this blog being one of them.  I recently gave a presentation on how to stay motivated during a job search, I am on the board of a prominent local nonprofit and I exercise frequently...

I am going to share more of these activities with you all, in the hopes that some of the ideas will resonate with you, so you can re-energize your search and find the peace and inspiration that I have.   

I challenge you - right now - to start thinking about your checklist.  Make a list of tasks you need to do, another of things you'd like to get done, another of the things you're worried about and another of all your strengths.  Keep lists of the jobs you apply for and even the rejections you receive.  

The more lists you make of the things taking up space in your head, the more you declutter your mind, allowing you to sleep better and awaken ready for new challenges every new day, as you take the next step on your journey.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Eliminate Clutter - Inside and Out

In the midst of a huge life change, problems can feel much bigger than they are.  When your coping skills are challenged, when you're worried and your patience is wearing thin, when you're trying to figure out where you're going to go - small challenges can seem insurmountable.

I have decided that this layoff is going to be different.  I am not going to worry all the time.  I am going to be patient, and if I am not sleeping, I am going to take something to help me sleep.  I am a better, stronger, healthier and happier woman, mother, girlfriend, sister, daughter and job applicant when I am well-rested.

I am also determined to challenge the clutter in my life.  And believe me - there is clutter.  There are the thousands of  "what ifs" and "should I or nots" running through my brain; there are jobs and skills and wants and needs.  There are bills and salaries and schedules and insurance worries.

To begin to clean out the clutter, I began making lists.  I made lists of companies I would like to work for, jobs I would love to have and jobs that I might like to have.  I made lists of bills that must be paid and bills that could be postponed a little.  I made lists of bank accounts and old 401Ks and insurance companies and medications.

I periodically review and revise those lists, but now that they are on paper, they no longer have the power to keep me up at night.  I check websites and apply for positions at the companies I research...then I compile and send my information and let it go.  I pay my bills as best I can, once a week, based on due dates, and I am grateful that I can do so.  I take my vitamins and brush my teeth and make sure that I express my thankfulness for a strong and healthy body daily.  And, I pray.  It doesn't matter, really, who you decide to pray to, but invite a higher power on your journey, and let that higher power carry some of your burden.  It can be too much to carry by yourself.

As I review and declutter these important "rooms" in my head, and in my soul, I am also decluttering my home.  I am going through every room in my house with the intention of eliminating any source of stress or worry.  Anything in my home that isn't useful, beautiful or a transmitter of joy no longer has a place.

Start to think about the things in your home.  Are there piles of magazines that you feel obligated to keep (you did SUBSCRIBE after all) but that you haven't had time to read?  You have permission to recycle them.  Do you have utensils or pots and pans in the kitchen that you never use, taking up space?  Pack them up!  Are there shoes or clothes in your closet that you haven't felt great in for a long time?  Get them cleaned and ready to go!

Don't worry - I am not only giving you permission to declutter your life - inside and out - but I am going to share some ideas for recycling, reusing and even making money from this endeavor.  When you are done, you will feel empowered, relaxed, hopeful and deserving of new opportunities.

To begin this part of your journey, start making lists of the things in your life that seem to demand the most attention.   As you make your lists and review the stressors in your life, they will lose their power and feel more manageable.  Just writing things down can help.  Come back to this blog over the next several days and I will help you on the next phase of your journey...we'll travel together.

Monday, May 28, 2012

God Bless America

Memorial Day weekend is a time for introspection.  I think about all the amazing people that have fought for our country.  I shed a tear for the mothers that have to watch their children - their babies - go off to training and to war...I believe that military service is one of the noblest things someone can do, yet I shudder to think of my son, my nephew, my spouse, going off to serve.  I like to think I am strong, but the thought brings me to my knees!

So, today, I am pausing once again to be grateful - for those who serve, for their families, for our freedom, for this amazing country and for our little community and the people in it.  It puts things in perspective, for me, to think about the amazing sacrifices that have been made so that we can have the life that we have, right now, right here, today.

Thank you and God Bless.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do What You Love...

During a time of transition, it is important to be gentle with yourself.  Allow yourself some time to wallow.  Not a lot, but some.  Transition, especially when it is due to circumstances beyond your control, can be really difficult.  It can be positive, interesting, exciting and appealing, but it is always challenging. 

Doing something that you love, perhaps for no reason other than that you love it, is really important to your mental health.  It will help you to be optimistic and inspired. 

When you're working, your paycheck and the perks that come along with your position contribute to your feeling of value. They are a tangible illustration of your worth. When those perks and benefits go away, you can waver - what is your value with no tangible validation from a company?

My personal goal is to make a connection - a real connection - every day.  It can be helping someone carry groceries to their car, assisting a child that needs help, volunteer work, just chatting with someone who clearly needs someone to talk to...the opportunities are endless.

When I make that connection, and feel as though I have helped someone, it lifts my spirits. It takes me away from my worry and alleviates some of my stress.  I am still out of work, but the connection makes me feel useful.  I believe that part of my purpose is to make others feel valued.  Therefore, when I touch someone, and make them feel heard, I feel like I have achieved my purpose.

Only you know what makes you feel truly fulfilled.  For some it is keeping an immaculately clean house,  preparing nourishment for your family and friends, being a good steward of the earth  or crafting.  My cousin taught herself to crochet, and she does amazing things with her hook and her yarn.  While shopping recently, she gave one of her character hats to a small girl in a wheelchair.  She and the child's mother shared a few moments of unadulterated joy and thankfulness and my cousin has vowed to share her creations with children in need.  It made the child really happy, and it made my cousin feel WONDERFUL! 

When you make a concerted effort to reach out and impact the world around you, in whatever way is fulfilling to you - you make the world a better place.  And, in so doing, the world around you becomes brighter and more interesting.  This optimism - this hope - will help you move through this challenging time.  And, confirm for you, that "this too shall pass."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Accept Help and Support

In case these musings haven't made it clear - I am a nurturer.  Until recently, it has been extraordinarily difficult for me to accept help, never mind ask for it. I know that I am not alone.  Lots of people are uncomfortable in the role of recipient and prefer to be the person doing the giving.  It can be incredibly difficult to let yourself be helped. 

My attitude about this changed abruptly after a very brief conversation at church. I had made dinner for a friend that was really going through a rough time.  It was a time of stress and turmoil and challenges...although, thankfully, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  I asked this friend if the family would be home later in the day, so I could drop off the meal I had prepared. 

The reply was "this whole thing makes me so uncomfortable.  It is really nice, but I can feed my family."   That gave me pause...and after a moment, this was my reply.  "I can understand that, but to some degree, this isn't about you - it is about how much we all value your family and our friendship with you, and this is the only thing that we can do to help.  We want to do something to make things better - to feel like we're helping you get through this, and this is for us as much as for you.  You're doing us a favor by accepting our meals...they are all we have to give."

It feels really good to give - and it is hard to receive.  In the gracious receipt of gifts - whatever form they take - you uplift the giver.  People want to help.  You are valued and loved and they understand you're going through a difficult challenge...emotionally, financially, perhaps even spiritually - and they want to make you feel better. 

I am so blessed in that I have an amazing network of support.  Being a born and bred New Englander, I have never strayed far from where I was raised.  I went to college nearby and have spent my entire career within a 30 mile radius (with the exception of a 10 month stint in NYC).  I have great contacts and the most amazing friends anyone could ask for.  I can not even tell you how wonderful it feels to post "I have an interview" on Facebook and have more than 30 "likes" and almost as many comments wishing me luck.

Allow yourself to accept well-wishes, prayers and even meals.  Food nurtures the body, but the love poured into the making nourishes the soul.  Accept graciously what is offered, and write a heart-felt and meaningful thank you.  You will feel grateful and valued, and the giver will feel blessed and appreciated. 

As you travel further toward your destination, embrace the wonderful gifts that you might otherwise overlook.

Monday, May 14, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

One of my favorite books ever was a book by M.J. Ryan, entitled "Attitudes of Gratitude."  It changed my entire perspective at a very difficult time in my life.  It was truly life-altering, and the concept is simple.  Be thankful, and, when that is difficult, make a concerted effort to seek out the things in your life you are grateful for.  I used to look for 5 reasons, each day, to be truly thankful.  Sometimes, I was so miserable I was grasping, and all I could come up with was "air conditioning" or "clean sheets."  Soon, however, I was looking, and the list was long...10, 15, only by the time I had to thank God for my blessings.   

My son recently had a birthday.  He was inundated with gifts and good wishes...and it was wonderful, as his Mommy, to see how many people truly love this little boy. 

My rule is that he can't spend his gift cards or money until he writes his thank you notes.  We draft them together, then I write them on scrap paper and he copies them onto note cards.  This is an exercise.  It is time consuming.  It is a lot of work for Mommy...but it is a powerful thing to see them get done, and to talk to that little boy about what it is to be grateful.

Knowing how important thank yous are, I made a resolution last New Years that I was going to tell the inspiring, thoughtful people in my life how lucky I feel to have them there.  I have not been as diligent as I planned.  I have the best of intentions, then I get overwhelmed by emotion, or spend too much attempting to craft the "perfect" note. 

That ends today.  I am going to express my gratitude to the people that I care about - the people that are so supportive and kind and generous, and I am going to do it often and well.  And, if I can't do it well, I am going to do it effusively.  Because that is how I feel.

It is easy to get depressed or lethargic during  your job search.  It is also easy, however, to feel better through the simple expression of gratitude.  Look for ways to be grateful today - and express that feeling.  Not only will you feel wonderful, but you will make someone else feel wonderful too.  After all, isn't that why we're here?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

These are my new glasses from
In the interest of full disclosure, I did pay $29.95 for these glasses, they were not completely free.  I have a ridiculously strong/thick prescription, and I decided to get thinner (not the thinnest) lenses.  That is the only thing that I paid for - the glasses would still have been less expensive than a lot of places - just under $200 - but for less than $30, with shipping, it was a very easy decision.  You can't tell in this photo, but they're a really dark purple with hot pink on the inside.  I am CRAZY about them!