Posts Tagged ‘support’

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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I was on retreat a couple of weeks ago. Some of us have shared this experience together for over 25 years with each year being different and yet always filled with wonder.

This year’s theme was “Called to the Soul,” based somewhat on Marjorie Bankson’s book of the same name. Four important questions were our topic:

  • Who am I?
  • What is my work?
  • What is my gift?
  • What is my legacy?

. . . profound questions that can be asked at any stage of life … and ones I have asked myself over the last two years.

We would spend the weekend exploring The Invitation, The Journey, and The Destination through answering questions, discussing the effect of five Biblical and historical women on their time and culture, charting our own sense of call through our lives, morning meditation and yoga, and culminating, as always, with a worship experience on Sunday.

Saturday after lunch there would be a couple hours of unscheduled time to read, walk, take a nap, sign up for a private healing touch or spiritual direction session or join a group for discussion about career anchors.

I wasn’t exactly sure why I offered to do a session on career anchors that I had learned about a year ago at the NH Women’s Leadership Summit and had recently used with Seacoast Peers for Careers. Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors Self-Assessment questions are designed to help participants identify their career values and think about what they really want out of a career. Your Career Anchor represents your unique combination of perceived career competence, motives, and values. As far as I knew, I was the only one looking for a job.

At the Summit, I had been fascinated by the 3-question exercise we had done with a group of about 12 women who did not know each other: What gets you up in the morning, being the first one. As we shared our responses, it was amazing how we were able to associate them with the eight categories Schein lists; such as, Technical/Functional Competence, Entrepreneurial Creativity, and Service/Dedication to a Cause. There was no surprise when the other participants said that “service” was vital to my inner core.

Fast-forward a year as seven of the 20 women on retreat joined me outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. While we may be spiritual sisters, there is much we don’t know about each other. There was lots of good discussion, lots of laughs, and a few surprises as we shared our answers. For example, one of our women has started her own at-home craft business. Well, the assumption would be that “entrepreneurship” would have been the inner core value. However, her attention to detail, perseverance, and perfectionism fall under “technical competency” instead. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves through the sharing. The commentary continued on and off during the evening with some of the other women wishing they had joined us.

I guess my service to others continues …

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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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That’s how Tim Ashe entitled a recent discussion on the Seacoast Peers for Careers Group on LinkedIn as he announced his good news. I share his words, used with permission, and my comments posted there as well. Hopefully, there will be something you can take and apply to your own job search.

Tim and fellow alum Amy start their new positions March 1.

Tim AsheI have accepted a position to be the Sales Manager at the Laconia Citizen, which is part of Foster’s Daily Democrat. I will be responsible for the revenue generation of 5 sales people. This is a direct result of Liesl Malone and her Hidden Gems series in Seacoast Sunday. The Advertising Director at Foster’s saw the article and reached out to me. Since I have an advertising background and management experience, it seemed like a natural fit. I worked at Foster’s a long time ago for 2 years, so it feels like I’m going home.

I have already contacted Liesl to let her know how much I appreciate her featuring me in her series. What she does for those of us who are unemployed is invaluable. I think we have to keep in mind that, she too, is unemployed, yet she continues to try and give us a voice that can be heard. Thank you again Liesl for everything you have done and continue to do.

I also want to thank Diana Schuman for starting the group. Once I found out about Seacoast Peers for Careers, I attended every week. I found the group to be very comforting and extremely helpful in getting all my ducks in a row. This is a different job market than we have ever experienced before. I think groups like this are essential in helping people focus their energy in the right direction. I learned a great deal about the job search that I never knew before. Groups like this one don’t run themselves. They need people like you and me to participate in order to stay relevant. I hope to stay in touch to see how things are going for everyone. I will be watching for future landings. I will miss seeing everyone on *Wednesdays, but hope this is a sign of things turning around for everyone. Stay positive.

Best of luck to everyone, Tim Ashe

Thank you, Tim, for your kind words for Seacoast Peers for Careers and for me.

This winter season in our lives has resulted in many examples of “paying it forward.” Liesl’s twist on that concept allowed your generous spirit to be viewed by others and had a great result.

Each of the networking/empowerment groups that we have all attended has its own personality; but all of them are comprised of folks willing to share from their experience, their expertise, their knowledge – some of that being acts of paying it forward within themselves. We are the richer for the camaraderie that developed from our sharing and working together.

As you experienced recently, there is much “hoopin’ and hollerin’” at the good news of a landing. While there is, of course, sadness at no longer having the wisdom that you have brought to the table, the joy that we all feel for you is most earnest.

Vaya con Dios, my friend.

*Seacoast Peers for Careers meets Wednesday, 9:30-11 AM, St. John’s UMC, Dover, NH.

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Gosh, there was more exciting news at this week’s meeting of Seacoast Peers for Careers! AR, who had been offered a job last week, met with HR to discuss salary and benefits which ended up being better than expected. No negotiation was needed! And Tim, who had two interviews last week as a result of his Hidden Gems article, was offered a sales manager position at a branch of a company he had worked for early in his career. He told us, between smiles, that it felt like he was “coming home.” Both start March 1.

While there was much cheering, it is also bittersweet knowing that these two folks who have become dear to us are off on new adventures. And as much as we earnestly wished them ‘God speed,” there was a momentary sadness that we weren’t the ones sharing the good news. But such is the ebb and flow of life.

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Yesterday was an outstanding day for Seacoast Peers for Careers!

  • We celebrated the job landing of BY from Seacoast Work Seekers that many of us also attend.
  • Group member Tim Ashe was featured as a Hidden Gem of the Seacoast in Sunday’s paper. Within 24 hours two people called him as a result of the article! Those two phone calls yielded two interviews on Tuesday!
  • AR, who has been out of work just about as long as I have been, got a job offer within just a couple of hours following her second interview. Not only is it a great position, it comes with a super benefits package and an in-town location.
  • At the conclusion of another productive yet laughter-filled meeting, a cell phone rang with news about a temporary position for FE whose resume we had worked on just the week before.
  • I had indirectly heard from an organization I interviewed with last year that they may be opening the position again.
  • Oh, and this evening I heard from MAL, a brand new member as of Wednesday, that a recruiter had contacted him today.

Can it be perhaps that things are finally opening up? Let’s hope so.

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