Posts Tagged ‘self-confidence’

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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It’s been quite a while since I have blogged. After reading today’s entry, you will understand why.

The sun was streaming through my bedroom window last Sunday morning. It felt so good on my face as I lay there in the quiet. I immediately started singing John Denver’s words in my mind: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry. Sunshine on the water looks so lovely. Sunshine always makes me high.”

While far from a “sun worshipper,” I find being in the warm sunlight so restorative to my spirit. So I was disappointed when the recent trip my husband and I took to Florida during spring break in March proved to be pretty cold and windy. While it was good to get away, not getting to spend some time just relaxing with a book while sitting outside in warm sunshine (oh, and maybe taking a nap there too), left me unable to truly pull back from the cares of my life and really relax.

And I so needed to do that. Relaxing had become foreign to me …

You see, the events of the last couple of months converged leaving me in the darkness. Anxiety had become my constant companion. I’ve been nervous each morning before I head to class and each time I have to be part of a group. My confidence is shaken and my self-esteem is low. While I have been in some new situations for sure, this is so uncharacteristic for me. Added to those feelings and exacerbating them were some medical concerns. Some meds I had started shortly before the start of the new year made my blood pressure go crazy. This, of course, created anxiety of its own. As my primary care provider worked with me to adjust meds and get my BP down, I found myself falling into a depression. I found myself at a very low point just as we came back from Florida.

My birthday that next week was celebrated back at the doctor’s office where I arrived in tears. While relieved to learn that one of the meds being used to control my BP and also relieve some of my anxiety can cause depression, I realized that hitting a second birthday without full-time employment was also contributing to my downward spiral. I was not feeling sorry for myself but was unable to stop those feelings of inadequacy and failure that had surrounded me, also pulling me towards the abyss.

As I write this, I am not completely out of the woods. However, my BP is under control, my newer meds don’t appear to be causing any issues, and I feel less nervous. I’m still a bit unsure as I leave the house each day, but I have not cried in a number of days. I am still very tired a good part of the time, but I am laughing more and finding joy again in those simple pleasures of a husband and family who love me and all the other blessings in my life.

It’s cold and rainy in Dover again, weather so different from the first day of spring almost a month ago and the beautiful warm Easter weekend of two weeks ago. But this, too, shall pass. This is New England after all, where the weather changes regularly. It is because of that change that I so appreciate the warm sunny days when we have them.

And so it is with life.

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