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I’m very blessed to have a husband who loves me enough to confront me. After word about my upcoming return to the Kittery, Maine, school system as a 60% 7-12 Technology Integrator for MLTI was revealed in last Sunday’s paper, I got asked lots of questions. My husband was in earshot as I told the back story. This happened repeatedly as I saw folks after church and at an afternoon concert, all of whom had either seen the article or noticed my updates on LinkedIn and FaceBook.

Monday morning, he asked me if I were grateful to be going back to work. “Of course,” I replied. “Well, you don’t sound it,” was his response. I was dumbfounded.  He continued, “You sound as if getting called back to Kittery is somehow not good enough.” As we talked further, he replayed how I had sounded the previous day. I realized that I had not sounded grateful and was downplaying the successful end of my journey.

With tears now coming down my face, I told him I felt that all my hard work with informational interviews, follow-up phone calls, opportunity on national TV with CBS, professional evaluation of my resume, networking, dozens and dozens and dozens of applications, a bunch of interviews (and later rejections), probably a half-dozen newspaper articles in two different local papers, facilitating an employment support group … and here I was. The ONLY reason I was not still in the job search game was because a position had been created in my former district for which I had recall rights. All my work was for naught … Heck, even Harry Smith had told me, “I’d hire you in a minute,” after my first interview on the Early Show. And 18 months after that experience, the BEST I could do was a contractual call back.

I AM A FAILURE!

That was the root of it! That’s what had been making me sound ungrateful as I told people the latest chapter in my story.

I AM A FAILURE!

By now, of course, I was blathering and my nose was running. I realized that lack of self-esteem was sneaking up behind me and wrapping me with a 2×4, coloring everything that had gone on in my life with the color of failure, taking the beautiful rainbow of new experiences and new friends and making it fade to black.

Bob kindly (yet most strongly) put his hands on my shoulders and reminded me that I was far from a failure. I had taken many risks through my two years of unemployment, there had to be a reason that CBS picked me to follow, I stepped out of my comfort zone repeatedly in going to networking meetings, I had been interviewed a bunch of times and the reasons I was not hired had nothing to do with my capabilities, I started Seacoast Peers for Careers and had helped many other folks, I would be filling a real void in teacher support that had exists for 24 months

He further reminded me that not only was I going to be working back in education (my first love), I would be back again in MLTI, that I had tried my wings teaching Communications for CoLead at UNH and brought a social media component to the curriculum. AND, as time had gone one, I had indicated that part-time employment in something I loved would be the best that could happen.

And it had …

I heard his words and started to laugh through my tears. I didn’t completely believe it yet but did acknowledge how happy I would have been if one of my colleagues from Peers for Careers had had a similar experience in returning to work. Why was it less for me?

Yet again, the specter of lack of self-esteem was right there to come and take my joy.

Does it ever stop? Do we always second guess ourselves and think less of ourselves than we really are?

Fortunately, I have Bob to challenge me to get past those feelings.

Fortunately, also counteracting those failure feelings were some great comments I received on LinkedIn and FaceBook and from those who had written me after getting their own jobs, some of which I share with you here:

  • “Congratulations! I was so happy to see that you just accepted a new position as I was looking over my LinkedIn updates. I really enjoyed attending the Seacoast Worker meetings last summer/fall and really appreciated all the support and help the group offered during my job search. Congratulations again – the Kittery School Department is so lucky to have you!” – K.

  • “Just saw your update on LinkedIn..glad to hear you’re back doing what you like to do. Best of luck.” – M.

  • “And, most importantly, thanks for everything.  Your group (and the other I attended) was awesome and helped a great deal.  Not only did I get some technical help (resumes, interviewing, etc.) but, more importantly, it was a huge emotional and mental lift for me.  Again, thanks for everything.  Please know that you have helped a lot of people with this.” – E.

  • “Just got around to checking out the front page of Foster’s!! You’ve become a favorite spokesperson for unemployment concerns.” – M.

  • “I think it’s vital for people to be in the group atmosphere where they can find people in the same position as themselves. You can only get the kind of support you need from people who are walking in your shoes. … You do such a wonderful job leading SPFC Diana. … I wish nothing but the best for everyone and hope GOD’S plan shows itself for everyone soon.” – T.

  • “CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You are an inspiration to all of us, and you have really demonstrated how to get back into the workforce successfully! You deserve this and I wish you every success in your new position. 60% is a lot better than 0%!” – K.

When I started this journey, I knew that sharing my story was part of the process. I guess that’s just the teacher in me, knowing how much we learn through each other, especially when those experiences are similar to our own. My story is in so many ways the story of many living the life of the unemployed. The details may be different, but the emotions are the same.

I know my work of sharing is not yet done. How it will continue remains to be seen.

As I was writing this post, I took a moment to go to dictionary.com:

Failure is an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success; a nonperformance of something due, required, or expected while success is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors, a successful performance or achievement.

Hmmm, don’t that beat all? I guess, I’M A SUCCESS after all.

In overcoming fear and sharing our stories with others,

we find the truth about who we really are—

and discover that we’re not alone.
~ Lisa Hammond

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Where shall I start? The bus ride was over, the taxi had taken us to our hotel, we were up early for a 6:15 limo call and arrived at the CBS News Early Show studio just a few minutes later, all to get ready for The Job Squad followup.

Once at the studio, Jack, Kelsy and I met, chatted and were primped for the interview. That’s a photo of me looking in the mirror while my hair is being fixed. Funny thing about mirrors is that while they may be accurate in the detail they present, everything is reversed; so are they really reflecting truth. But there’s more about that in a moment.

The on-air interview itself took about five minutes and included footage from each of our videos from March and one question – “Who has a job?” Jack could answer in the affirmative, having started a nursing magazine with the help of some backers; and Kelsy works for Clear Channel. My answer was not so apparent. While I had a job at that moment, it was part-time and lasted one more week. I found myself raising my hand only part way with a “sort of” look on my face.

So, by Job Squad standards was I a success or a failure where my position was only part-time and temporary at that? That begs the question: What is success?

Merriam-Webster defines success as a degree or measure of succeeding or a favorable or desired outcome. It is also the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.

Well, I guess I have had some favor or eminence being on national TV twice and being on the front page of or having an article about me in local papers about six times (including an article that should be published December 27). Attaining wealth – that’s another story – I can’t say that’s happened. But the definition also includes “a favorable or desired outcome.”

Hmmm – success or failure?

To borrow my metaphor above – which is the “real” Diana – the person that I cannot see and is viewable only by others, or is it the image in the looking glass? If the mirror is all scratched or is otherwise prevented from reflecting a sharp image, am I somehow dulled in the process?

Were The Job Squad participants only successful if we were able to obtain full-time employment as a result of resume makeover, career coaching, and new interview suit? If so, then I guess I am a failure.

However, if success is measured by learning about yourself and doing and experiencing, then the fact that I have continually moved forward to try new things and not only stand on my strengths but also work to improve my weaknesses, then success has been mine.

If finding new ways to help others while using what was gleaned from the assessments given months ago by Kit Harrington, I have been successful.

I may not have achieved the desired outcome of a full-time, well-paying job; but because of my media exposure I have become acquainted with people whose paths would never have crossed mine.

Nor would there be a group of folks meeting every week to support and empower each other. Much, if not all of this would not have happened if that survey from Gene Burnard of Workforce50.com had not landed in my in-box nearly a year ago.

My plate may be empty in many ways, but my cup runs over with blessings and joy. I’ll take that as success any day.

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I’m sitting on the Bolt Bus on my way to New York City for my interview on CBS News The Early Show (December 10, 2009, between 7 and 9 AM EST). It’ll be an early limo pickup (6:15 AM) and an even earlier getting up time after not getting to NY till around 10 PM tonight. With three of the four members of The Job Squad on air together, I’m sure it will be most interesting. I wonder what impact this will have on my on-going job search.

When I was on CBS last March just a couple of days after my birthday and nine months into being unemployed, I mentioned that I felt a rebirth was imminent as I thought landing a job was going to happen very soon. Here we are nine months since that interview and I continue to hope that a new opportunity is coming. This trip being close to Christmas and the New Year reinforces my hopes and dreams.

While The Job Squad – Rewired to Get Rehired follow up is the purpose of my trip, I’m am staying over another night with two very special women in my life to enjoy New York all dressed up for Christmas. We will be going to a Peter Mayer Stars and Promises Christmas concert as well.

Peter (who is also Jimmy Buffet’s lead guitarist and a family friend) writes wonderful music with strong messages. (I have shared some in other blog entries.) Two of his Christmas songs are pertinent to this posting and my life in general, especially during this period. Never did I imagine I would spend a second Christmas without an on-going job.

The first song is about Joseph from the Christmas story, the character we know the least about. He didn’t know what the plan was, but God assured him his presence was integral. He had to “keep walking to Bethlehem.” It was his obedience that allowed for the fulfillment of the promises made in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.

On a cold dark night a man and his wife to be
Walked a wilderness road
With a donkey, supplies, and a woman with child
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Joseph a good man of carpenter’s trade
Had made plans to make Mary his mate
Then an angel appeared and said Joe don’t you fear
But the spirit will dance with your date
The spirit will dance with your date

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

They came to the city of David that night
But no inn had a place for their keep
Mary said Joseph I think it’s my time
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me

So they arrived at the last inn in sight
With no room but a stable so low
And Mary gave birth to the savior of earth
With the faith of her good husband Joe

On the freeways and byways, in village and town
On this 21st century road
We’ve traveled so far but still look for the star
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

“Hey Joseph” by Peter Mayer

In some ways, 18 months of unemployment does feel like captivity or a long hard journey. Sometimes I think that a job offer using my skills and abilities is never going to happen.

It is at just those moments that both Peter’s lyrics and the words from Jeremiah written during Israel’s 70 years of captivity offer comfort: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

My job is to seek, ask, and find, and to worry only about today. That is my “walking to Bethlehem.” I seek through my meditation and my job search; I ask in my prayers and my networking; and I find: No, not an on-going job as yet. Rather, I find by assuming leadership roles at my church, supportive roles in my community, teaching when the opportunity presents itself, and by facilitating Seacoast Peers for Careers.

Seacoast Peers for Careers is not a paid gig, but it is a very important of my life. Although the skills I am using are not unique, they are delivered through my characteristics, personality and style.

In this culture where individuals are not honored and so much is done to tear people down rather than build people up, Peter’s words remind me that all I do and say and am does matter. My walking does matter, and yours does too. Don’t ever forget that.

Think about your own uniqueness, your gifts and graces, and the people who are around you while you read the words below.

It’s Christmas time again
New Year’s ’round the bend
There must be something more than give and take
What it’s all about turns you inside out
‘Till you finally see the difference you make

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Love is in short supply
Such an obvious demand
Shouldn’t be so hard to understand
We hang the lights for hope look for the stars to follow
Peace on earth for what it’s worth is in our hands

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Start with the best of you
Followed by the rest of you
The things you say and the things you do
This Christmas

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Lend a heart, lend a hand
Make a start, understand
Lend an hour lend a day
Wrap yourself to give away

“This Christmas” by Peter Mayer

During this busy time of the year when the focus is on commercialism, don’t get caught thinking you don’t have anything worth giving or sharing. Focus instead on the intent of Christmas and make it a daily endeavor now and into the New Year.

Wrap yourself to give away”

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Wouldn’t it be nice if I could have carried those numbers above into one job offer that I accepted? Unfortunately,  that’s not the case so far. In fact, I have not heard back from my one interview of the last few weeks.

So why did I mention four interviews in my title? Well, that’s because three of them involved media and not jobs.

On September 15, Foster’s Daily Democrat chronicled how Seacoast Peers for Careers came to be along with what it is doing to empower folks in their work search: “Dover woman who found herself jobless now helps peers get back on their feet”

I got my story told from its current vantage point and we got some good publicity for our speaker, Tracey Madden, who was going to talk about Informational Interviews. Well, we had over 20 people show up as a result of the article, a couple of whom have been back a few times. One of those folks was recently hired and another whose very first meeting was this past week told me today that she was interviewed, offered a job and starts tomorrow!

On September 30, another reporter spent nearly 90 minutes with our group gathering information for a series of articles on the economy and the impact of the recession. Part one featured views from UNH economists and other experts and appeared the following Sunday. The second part, “Job clubs help unemployed stay positive,” dealt with how people are reacting and appeared November 1. It contained info and comments from Michelle Hart from NH Works in Somersworth, NH, Nicole Tessier from NHNetWorks in Salem, NH, and Barbara Yates from Seacoast Work Seekers in Rye, NH, all of whom I know from my own job search.

As a result of that article, last week’s meeting had seven people with five of them being new. One woman drove about 40 miles to join us after a friend passed the article along to her. As we have seen almost every time we have had some new members, there are those who have just become unemployed, there are those who have been unemployed for a while and figured they’d now explore a group, and there are those who had been employed by the same employer for 20 or more years and were stunned when their positions were eliminated. It takes a while to come out of the shock and disbelief. It is helped by being in a safe place where people understand. And, boy, do we ever understand the emotional carnage that has occurred. As always, there is empathy, compassion, and encouragement as the stories are shared.

We’ve all learned if surviving unemployment is anything, it is a vast training ground in stepping outside your comfort zone and risk taking of all kinds.

And speaking of risk taking and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, remember my exciting, scary, and enjoyable experience being on TV for CBS News The Early Show? Well, there’s going to be a follow up to The Job Squad. The fourth interview I had in the last seven weeks occurred the same day as the most recent newspaper interview. A video journalist from CBS came to the Thompson School at UNH to ask me a few questions and tape one of my classes.

Three of the original four from The Job Squad, Kelsey Nova, Jack Iannacone and I will be back on air sometime this month. New York City, here I come again.

The journey continues … –

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This morning at 8:10 am, The Job Squad piece was launched on The Early Show on CBS. The four of us who have been followed were introduced and a short video clip was shown. I am very pleased with mine.

On Tuesday, March 24 (my birthday), I am flying to New York with my daughter so that I can be interviewed live in the studio on Wednesday morning. My full story will be shown on Friday, March 27, 2009, sometime between 7-9 am.

CBS has set up a website for the entire series: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/earlyshow/series/jobsquad/main504043.shtml.

The video from this morning’s show is available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4883792n. From there you can also click on the link that that says, “Rewire to Get Hired, Against Daunting Odds” which will take you to the section where additional information is located including info from the experts that worked with the four of us and comments from the producer, Audrey Gruber.

Not only that, they have set up a special email should there be interest in any of us or questions from any of you at earlyjobsquad@cbsnews.com. My profile and information are at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/18/earlyshow/series/jobsquad/main4874208.shtml.

Short of standing on the street corners and dragging people into the studio to hire us (or hire us themselves), CBS has done a great job in getting the word out about us along side the TV visibility. Thank you, CBS!

So get busy now and check it all out!  😉

This is the last and most exciting leg of this journey of about nine weeks and one that will have my face and story before millions of people. Funny thing, I’m not at all as nervous as I thought I’d be.

Though I have not had an interview in nearly ten weeks, I am feeling more confident and enthusiastic about the process as frustrating as it can often be. Maybe it’s that old “cockeyed optimist” again looking at the best in every situation. Maybe it’s the result of the conversations, assessments, and encouragement that came from working with Kit. Maybe it’s that killer red and black suit (and new and improved resume). Maybe it’s spring and a time for change. Maybe it’s being a “media star” (Oh, I have gotten lots of teasing along this journey – even to my early birthday cake being decorated with “Happy Birthday to the CBS TV Star” – thank you, Husband). Maybe it’s finally getting more comfortable with the networking piece. Whatever it is, I’m ready for a new adventure to begin.

So, hold on to your hats, World. Here I come!

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I mentioned in my first blog that about 60 years ago my dad starting fixing televisions in Manhattan. That came about after he used his World War II GI Bill to study at the Delehanty Institute. He was born and bred in the mid-west and married my mom, a native New Yorker, after a 12-week courtship, 6 weeks before he shipped overseas and 6 weeks after. They had almost 49 years together until he died suddenly in 1994. For about 20 years, he owned Ace Radio and TV on Amsterdam Avenue near West 95th Street in Manhattan, about a block from where Virginia O’Hanlon of “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” fame had lived.

Although the first television broadcast took place in 1928, it wasn’t until after the war that the networks started growing and people started to own their own TVs. My dad built our first one. It had a picture tube about 10 inches in diameter and a bunch of vacuum tubes and other gear within a frame about 12×12. There was no case, just a chassis. It sat on top of my dad’s dresser in their bedroom in an 8-room apartment in the mid-90s in Manhattan that we shared with my grandmother, unmarried uncle, aunt and cousin until we got our own place in the late 50s. I found a couple of photos on line that will give you an idea of what it looked like.

I remember sitting at my little Formica child-sized table and chairs (which I still have) and watching Howdy Doody and Miss Francis (in black and white, of course). Once we got a bigger TV in the living room, like many, I had one of those Jon Nagy plastic shields that went over the screen so you could use your crayons and color along with the artist.

Even in New York, there were only a few stations in those days, NBC (Channel 4), CBS (Channel 2), and Dumont (Channel 5), later joined by ABC (Channel 7). I don’t know how many hours a day there was actually service, but I do remember seeing test patterns and then snow when the stations went off the air.

Dad had a suitcase measuring about 24x36x6 that was chockablock full of vacuum tubes. He would carry this up and down the streets and up and down the four or five floor walkup apartment buildings on his repair calls. The box was heavy, and he would be very tired after his long day opening at 9 and closing a 8 six days a week. If he couldn’t fix the TV on a service call, he’d have to take the chassis out and bring that back to the shop as well. His hands were very rough from the hot solder that he would use to repair the circuits.

Most of his customers were common folk, but he had his share of celebrities. One I remember because Dad talked about how many cats she had was Eartha Kitt who passed away recently. I do wish I could remember some of the other names. Unfortunately, with mom gone now too, I have no one to ask.

Those were the days when most TV was live. CBS, the dominant station at the time, had the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights (which introduced us to Elvis and The Beatles, among others), Playhouse 90, and I Love Lucy. Today, about the only thing that’s live beyond the news and weather are the early mornings shows. Most laptop screens are bigger than our first TV was.

So here am I, a “product” of the black and white 50s, getting ready to be in “living color” on Friday, March 27, 2009, between 7 and 9 am on the CBS Early Show.

Who woulda thought? Hopefully, Mom and Dad will be watching on the “really big screen.”

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During Lent and Advent, I receive a daily electronic devotional written by The Reverend Ron Glusenkamp, a pastor from Colorado, who is a good friend of my friend Peter Mayer. Ron bases his devotions on the lyrics to Peter’s music.

Peter is a very talented musician who writes incredible music and plays a mean guitar. His “day” job is lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett. For seven years, my family and I helped bring Peter and his own band to Dover, NH, for a benefit Christmas concert that raised over $35,000 for local and worldwide charities.

Why do I share all this with you on a blog about unemployment?

It’s very simple. Peter wrote a song about one of the unsung heroes of the Bible, Joseph. Today, March 19, happens to be St. Joseph’s Day and the subject of Ron’s devotion. (You can read the words from Matthew at the bottom of the page.)

The story of Joseph is all about faith. Joseph had no idea what was going to happen. He was stepping out of his comfort zone, his culture, the expectations of his time and place in history. But he followed God’s leading to “keep walking,” to put one foot in front of the other.

“Hey Joseph” by Peter Mayer

(Hear the song)

On a cold dark night a man and his wife to be
Walked a wilderness road
With a donkey, supplies, and a woman with child
Don’t you know its a heavy load

Joseph a good man of carpenter’s trade
Had made plans to make Mary his mate
Then an angel appeared and said Joe don’t you fear
But the spirit will dance with your date
The spirit will dance with your date

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

They came to the city of David that night
But no inn had a place for their keep
Mary said Joseph I think it’s my time
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me

So they arrived at the last inn in sight
With no room but a stable so low
And Mary gave birth to the savior of earth
With the faith of her good husband Joe

On the freeways and byways, in village and town
On this 21st century road
We’ve traveled so far but still look for the star
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

Pastor Ron says, “It’s a grand day to reflect on the whole idea of faith. And by that I mean to really celebrate Peter’s exhortation to ‘keep walking’ no matter what. As you know, that’s not such an easy thing to do. For example, sometimes when I am out doing one of my training walks, my legs get tired. Or the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating with my agenda. At times I feel I just don’t have enough time to do what I want to do. So, you know what I’m talking about. It takes faith to get started walking. It maybe even takes more faith to keep walking given the detours, obstacles and impediments along the way.

Many of you have written to me about some of the struggles or problems that you’ve encountered in the past or that you are currently experiencing. Despite the severity and intensity of those situations, you have continued to walk in faith. I applaud you and pray for you as you keep moving.”

For those of us going through unemployment, we may face some of the common struggles: depression, worry, damaged self-esteem, questions about our abilities, anxiety, fear that we may never get a job, concerns about paying bills and losing homes. It’s just plain scary sometimes.

We have two choices, however – stop walking and let the struggles win or keep walking to your new destination.

I know which choice I have made. Like Joseph, I have to keep walking ‘cause I’m part of the plan. I hope those of you who are traveling the same road will join me.

Matthew 1:17and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 24aWhen Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

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