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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

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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It’s been quite a while since I have blogged. The days at work have been full with lots of meetings after school. I’d forgotten just how little time one has when working full time – no complaint, just fact. I’m still re-learning how to make it all coordinate.

It also seems a bit odd writing in a blog that is titled in part “a journey through unemployment” when one is employed. I shan’t let that bother me, however, as I have felt that many of my comments have been about the common experience, the universal truth, the “everyman” aspect of our lives that goes beyond a particular event, like unemployment, though that was the inspiration for me to put word to paper.

I started out wanting to talk about this last day of the year and was curious to learn when January became the first month since I remember learning somewhere, sometime that the year used to start in March (hence, September being 7th month, etc., through December as 10th).

Off to Wikipedia I went and learned that January has been used as the start of the year since 45 BC and was named for Janus is the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, endings and time, a most fitting identity. He is often depicted with two faces; one looking back in time while the other face looks forward.

I look back on my year. While there are certainly more happy times than sad, I am ready to move on. I am sure yours looks about the same. Some of you have had more joy than you ever expected in one year; others, more sadness. Some may be welcoming a new baby into the world this very evening and some of you may be saying your goodbyes. Some have celebrated glowing reports after months of fighting illness. Some are just beginning that road as the doctors’ reports begin to come in. The list is endless, and only you know where you are on the continuum of life.

As I ponder all of that, is there perhaps some deeper meaning to the need to welcome in the New Year with fireworks, loud noises and cheering and to do it precisely at the midnight hour?

Do we need a moment in time when we can say, “the old is past away, and the new is just beginning”? Perhaps we do.

I wish you peace, love, joy, and especially hope as we welcome in 2011.

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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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“I want to talk to you about your job …” So began a phone call from my Superintendent a couple of weeks ago. The call came late on a Friday afternoon, shortly after we had interviewed for the other 80% technologist position that would be at the K-3 school. The candidate the selection committee had selected was dynamite – friendly, visionary, knowledgeable, with some specific experience that was right in line with district goals. She’d be a great asset to the developing technology team and would be a great fit at that grade level. I was looking forward to working with her and was delighted to later learn she said, “Yes.” (BTW, she starts September 27.)

After having been back at work just a short time, my heart skipped a beat at the Super’s words. My response of, “Oh???” was followed with a, “Oh, your job’s not in jeopardy. I’d like to ask you if you’d consider going full-time.”

I was pleased to hear that my skills and talents would bring good value to the district. I told my boss that I would have to talk with my husband and pray about whether this was the right move for me. The 80% would have given me one day off per week with Bob.

When he arrived home that afternoon, I told him about my phone call. His response was quick. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Are you having a good time doing what you are doing?” My eyes immediately filled with happy tears as I replied, “You know I am.” “Well, then,” he said. “There’s your answer.”

I emailed the Super on Sunday after I felt absolutely sure this was what I was to do and realized that the offer could not be finalized till it went before the School Committee the way the move from 60% to 80% had. So that meant sitting tight till Tuesday, September 21, when hiring the new 80% technologist and moving my position to 100% would be on the agenda. I opted to attend the meeting so I could hear any of the discussion and was dumbfounded when the proposal was tabled for Executive Session. OMG, what’s happening?

Although I opted not to stay till the end of the evening, as there were other items that needed to be discussed in Executive Session that might take an extensive period of time, I was delighted to learn the following afternoon that the proposal had passed with no issue.

So, after two years, I have been returned to a full-time teaching position very much like the one I left. But there’s one more piece. My old contract called for 10 extra days every summer to work on reimaging computers and taking care of things that cannot happen during the school year. The new contract calls for 20.

Go figger …. While my story is nothing like the experiences of Job in the Old Testament, like him, I have been restored to more than I had at the beginning.

God’s always full of surprises.

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Here I sit on a gorgeous Monday holiday after a beautiful weekend; and tomorrow I go back to work.

Yup, unlike 2008 and 2009, Labor Day 2010 includes me! I’ve finished the first five days of employment in my 80% position as Technologist at Shapleigh School where I worked before.

It’s been a week of reconnecting with staff, moving equipment (with the bruises to prove it), checking inventories, updating databases, checking passwords and user IDs, getting ready for the first wave of electronic testing, making sure there are laptops for the kids who registered the last few weeks, and figuring out my schedule. I’ve gotten lots of hugs and “glad you’re backs” along the way.

I’ve shed some tears of joy at not only being back to work but also returning to a building full of terrific kids and people I respect.

Life’s always been good, but right now it’s even better.

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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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Gratitude is an attitude that hooks us up to our source of supply. And the more grateful you are, the closer you become to your maker, to the architect of the universe, to the spiritual core of your being. – Bob Proctor

My husband Bob went to check the Powerball number in Sunday’s paper. Lo and behold, whose face should greet him below the fold but mine — yet again. Fame is so yesterday. Yawn. Tee hee. Those of you who have been following my story know that I have been mentioned in a number of articles during the two years I’ve been out of work.

Seriously, along with a young man with a few years of teaching experience, I had been interviewed because of losing our jobs. According to the article, Laid-off area teachers scramble to find work, some 200 teachers had been laid off statewide this year with the southeastern and northern ends of New Hampshire the hardest hit. Fortunately, Lee Sims (the other teacher in the article) was able to quickly find a position at a local private school. Others, of course, are not so lucky.

Even more unfortunate will be the students who will bear the brunt of the loss of teachers and programs.

It was mentioned in the article that I am returning to work in my former school district. A position was created this spring for a K-12 Technology Integrator. Funding was sufficient for a 60% position that would deal with grades 7-12 to support the Maine Learning Technology Initiative one-to-one laptop program. Because I had the experience, education, and certification, I was offered the post.

While it has some components of my former job, it is not the same. Instead of responsibilities for integration, small group instruction, staff support, hardware and network for grades 6-8, I will be working with solely with teachers in two buildings facilitating technology use in their classrooms.

While I would not have turned down a full-time position, I have come to realize that part-time is a good thing at this point in my life. It allows the best of both worlds. I am working at something I enjoy. Yet, I’m hoping to be able to have some time with Bob when he’s not working and also continue doing empowerment group facilitation with Seacoast Peers for Careers.

Things have changed in two years, including me. There are new applications and new expectations. Some teachers I don’t know at all; some know me very well. That’s both good and bad. There’s a new superintendent with her own vision for the district.

What hasn’t changed is my enthusiasm for my craft and gratefulness for all these new blessings in my life.

It’s a new day and a new school year! Here we go!

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