Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Short and sweet today.

If Your Actions Inspire People to Dream More, Learn More, Do More and Become More, Then You Are A Leader ~  John Quincy Adams

There are people in my life about whom these words could have been written.  The circumstances for each are different and the leadership is often born by walking through the fire of adversity and coming out stronger. May God bless them as well as those who come to mind for you.


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There’s a small cove along the Piscataqua River that separates New Hampshire from Maine. It sits on the east side of the Spaulding Turnpike with a path along the landside and a number of sailboats moored away from the river’s strong current. I’m told that those moorings are rented from the State of NH at some ridiculously low amount per year and that they have been passed down through families because of that.

My breath is often taken away as I come around the entrance ramp and momentarily see that cove at about a 30-degree angle, something not really visible when traveling either north or south on the Spaulding Turnpike. The angle and speed of travel would make trying to take a photo not only silly but also dangerous, although often I wish I could.

Occasionally the sun is so bright it blinds my eyes for a moment. Sometimes there is a bit of fog settling just about the water and light enough to still see the boats. My favorite is when the tide is way out so that the land is exposed and wet, the sun shining from the east. Sometimes the fog is quite thick making the boats appear ghostlike.

From my view yesterday, most of the boats are now gone. Very soon, the trees will take on their fall finery and then shake the leaves away with the winter chill. The view will be different but no less beautiful. Today’s view was very merely gray as there was fog; but while it was hidden, I stand secure in my knowledge and experience that the sun is still rising in the east.

Nonetheless, every morning is a new chance to view Mother Nature doing her work. And so it is with our lives. Each and every day there are examples of God’s love for us. Every day has its own blessings, some repetitive, some unique. It is for that reason that each Seacoast Peers for Careers meeting involved an opportunity to share a blessing for the week as a chance to stop and pause and reflect.

Yet again, I reflect on the words from the Book of Lamentations (3:22-23): “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

… and I raise my heart in thankfulness …

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Back in February of 2008 when the school committee voted to eliminate my computer technologist position, I wrote to friends and family asking for their prayers through what I had assumed would be a few months of unemployment. One of my friends responded with the following:

Evening Friend,

Did I ever tell you what I learned from my Amtrak experience?  One of the first things you learn, if you are riding on Amtrak for any length of time, is that freight trains have priority, no matter what time of day or night. So, if a freight train is coming toward you on the same track, you are put on a side track. This is called “shuffling” in train lingo. Now, depending how far away the freight train is, you might be waiting on that side track for a few minutes, or in some cases, longer, over an hour. After the freight train passes, you go back on the main track and continue to your destination.

The way I figure it … in life….. when a freight train comes your way and it can be in the form of a lot of things, God has a way of “shuffling” you to that side track. It may be for a short time or a long time but when all things are in line according to His plans, He will put you back on that main track to continue your journey that is the purpose for your life.

Good Night. Rest well. God is in control.

Love and Peace  JS

Good words for me then and now.

All aboard!

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One of the organizations I learned about during my unemployment was the Women’s Business Center located in Portsmouth, NH. I took a risk in November 2008 and called to ask if they offered any services for professional women that were not entrepreneurs. I was invited to come in for a complimentary one-hour counseling session with Lois Matheson who had recently started working there as a counselor.

Lois and I connected immediately and found ourselves laughing (and me sometimes crying) as I shared my walk to that point. She offered some constructive criticism of my resume, invited me to come back, and sent me off feeling a whole lot better about myself than I had for a long time. I joined WBC and tried to attend meetings as opportunity allowed. I felt a bit out of water as pursuing my own business was not really my passion at that time, but the support from the organization, including Nancy Boyle and new director Christine Davis, was absolutely outstanding!

So it was with sadness that I learned of their closing effective August 31, 2010. I don’t know the ins and outs of the nonprofit world and did read about some grants that might allow a new organization to be created, but that’s another story for another day.

Christine sent out what may be her last newsletter today sharing some of what she has learned these last weeks as her life goes through unexpected change. She’s a lot younger than I am, but the lessons she shares are appropriate for us all no matter the age. Her story can be my story. My story can be your story. We are here to learn from each other as we walk along the path.

With her permission, I share the newsletter with you:

Chris Bank Headshot CROPPED

As my final days are winding down here at the WBC I have finally had some time to reflect on all that has transpired over the past few weeks and since my arrival here less than 2 years ago.  I won’t pretend that this hasn’t been difficult.  To be totally honest it has been a lot tougher than I had imagined.  So many emotions to deal with that include grappling with the fear of the unknown.  Intellectually we all know that things will work out.  We all face struggles and we get through them.  It is during that period where you don’t know how it will work out that can really knock you on your butt.

Going through struggles can also be very insightful. We learn a lot about ourselves and others when the going gets tough.  It is easy to lead when life is easy.  It’s when life really takes a nose dive that true leaders shine.  Being in charge and being a leader is not the same thing.

I have learned much from this experience as well as others and thought I would share a few tidbits of wisdom.  Maybe 39 is too young to have wisdom so you can call it what you like.

·   People aren’t stupid.  They can see through insincerity and will remember how they were treated.
·   Life is tough.  Accept that success requires sacrifice and setbacks.  Luck has nothing to do with it.  Celebrate the moments of laughter, joy and glamour when you get them.
·   Good people do come out on top.  We hired people that we like, be that person.  Be humble, ethical, honest and genuine.  It matters.
·   Surround yourself with people who have the strengths that complement your weaknesses.
·   Ask for help if you need it.  We all need it sometimes and it feels good to do something nice for another.
·   Make career decisions based on who you are and what inspires you.  Don’t live out someone else’s dreams or priorities.
·   Be dependable.
·   Appreciate everything you have.  That includes financial well-being, health, a loving family, true friendships, and colleagues, bosses and customers that are great to work with.
·   Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing.
·   Speak up when you are not happy with something or someone but do it with kindness.
·  No one is entitled to anything.  Work for it and appreciate it when you get it.
·  Accept responsibility for your mistakes immediately.
·  You may not be able to control what happens to you but you can control how you deal with it.
.   If you believe in something invest in it.
.   Give back to your community.
·   Take the high road.  All the cool people are there.

Christine Davis
Executive Director, WBC
Thank you, Christine, for letting me share this. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Lois and Nancy for a better tomorrow.

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My most recent post dealt with my feelings of failure relative to the job search of the last two years.

I know the feelings of failure and poor self-esteem that I shared are not unique to me. These two specters are often in tandem along with their friend lack of self-confidence. They come in, raising their ugly heads to destroy.

Their power is strong and comes from unthinking comments made while we were young, deliberate emotional abuse on the part of a parent or other adult, pressures of not meeting parents’ expectations, ridicule by peers, and specifically job related, from negative feelings that resulted when the interview wasn’t scheduled, the job wasn’t offered, the money gets less and less while the expenses don’t.

It’s a struggle to quiet the “monkey noise” in your head and reclaim the competent professional you are. Being with others who share the experience, having a good support system in place, reaching out to others, doing something creative, meditating or praying all help.

A friend passed along an email she received from motivational coach, Dr. Zimmerman, which I think is pertinent to keeping things in perspective.

Dear God:

Please untie the k”nots” that are in my mind, my heart and my life.

Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God, I ask you remove from my mind, my heart and my life all of the ‘am nots’ that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough.


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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.


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.


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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I have been thinking the last couple of days about friendship and the juxtaposition of words from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and a chant learned at a women’s retreat.

Bradbury’s book was the book group selection for September 2008, the first meeting after my job loss when emotions were still quite raw and the realization that I would no longer be with folks who had gone beyond colleague and become friends. While the book seems an unlikely source, Bradbury’s words resonated in my spirit. Of course, I am blessed to have others in my life for whom the words are just as a propos; but I felt driven to share my thoughts with a few folks.

Of the hundreds of emails I send and receive each week, I saved this one dated September 8, 2008, and quote it for you here:

“Good Morning

I have been reading Fahrenheit 451 for my church book club and have found it most interesting and pertinent to today.

One paragraph seemed a bit out of context with its depth but struck a chord within my spirit that I wanted to share with you …

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.

We may reach a point in our relationship where because we don’t share the same experiences any longer that things to chat about may be a bit more difficult; but yet, I know for each of you, that magical piece has happened that makes my heart run over.

Enjoy the beauty of this day.

Love to you, my friends”

Fast forward to retreat 2009, led by Jean Shula, who spoke to us about how the 3 Mary’s impact us as women (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene). It was a fascinating discussion and is the subject of an upcoming book.

As part of our closing worship service she taught us a chant which we sang while standing in a circle touching hands with the person next to us. We repeated its words to each other as we moved around the circle. WOW, what impact! What a realization then and now of the blessings of people to whom you can say,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song:

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you;

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you.

As I was researching this evening for an audio copy of the chant, I discovered that it was written by an Indian Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, and has often been used as a lullaby by Indian mothers for their children – Makes me wish I had a young ‘un to rock and makes me realize yet again that LOVE goes beyond politics, economics, and theology – love goes to the soul and is beyond our comprehension in its vastness.

I think of my friends from Shapleigh, my sisters and brothers from St. John’s UMC, those in my life dealing with major illness whom I may not get to see again, friends from other times and places in my life, family who have passed from me in body, family who are friends, friends who are as close as family, my son, daughter and daughter-in-law, my husband of 43 years (without whom I’d be less than I am), and feel so small on the one hand but so large on the inside with the love in my heart.

Shh, listen, listen, listen. Can you hear it? It’s my heart’s song.

Shh, listen again. Is that yours joining in the chant?

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