During times of transition, job loss, grief, sickness and despair, we are at our most vulnerable, yet those are times when we should be most careful to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. Holidays can make us feel more vulnerable calling forth memories of loved ones far away or on the other side; the memories mixing like all the baking smells; bitter nutmeg, savory thyme, and sweet baking apples, the visceral senses and scents of tradition and family. In the midst of all the holiday preparation or avoidance, if that’s what you choose, there can be a lot of unspoken expectations and pressure. While shopping and cooking for others, take time out to do something physically soothing or psychically refreshing for yourself.

Self-Care Suggestions
• A hot bath with lavender oil for relaxation
Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.
Dodie Smith, Capture the Castle
• A foot massage (do it yourself or find someone who’d like to trade)
There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophies.
Friedrich Nietzsche
• Take a walk in the woods or along the beach; if you have a dog, even better
My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing. Aldous Huxley
• Keep a gratitude journal
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens
• Do daily affirmations
Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.
Tia Walker, The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love
• Don’t abuse your body with too much alcohol or sugar; it’s easy to do. Before anything reaches your lips, ask yourself if it’s good for you.
The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.
A.J. Jacobs, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
• Take a nap
Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest. Ashleigh Brilliant
• Find something funny every day to experience the lightness of laughing
What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. Yiddish Proverb

Have a Happy and Loving Holiday Season


If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. (Excerpted from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, 1952)

I believe this wisdom can help us be more self-aware, guide our perspective of the work realm, and create self-confidence born of a sense of purpose. The first step in self-awareness is figuring out what unique gifts you have and how to best use them in the world. This will define your purpose and be a guiding light in decision-making. You gifts are related to what you are good at and motivated to develop. When you acknowledge your interests/talents/gifts you are welcoming your authentic, essential self to be the basis from which you move forward. Trust your intuition, feelings, gut, dreams, metaphors and images that present themselves. What are they telling or teaching you? Focus on your unique sense of self, not what others think you should do, nor what others are doing. No one can tell you what kind of a life you should be living. This faith in yourself will help increase your confidence.  

Marianne Williamson of A Course in Miracles fame has other wise words. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

I ask you to find a quiet place and reflect on the following questions. It may help to meditate, pray, or talk a walk in nature to give them the attention they need.

  • What are you here to do? Gifts, Interests, Talents, Types of Intelligence
  • Why, to what purpose? Purpose is driven by values. Where and how do you want to contribute to the world?
  • How best to move forward? Education/Training, Entry-level position, Networking, Volunteering, Starting your own business, etc.
  • When? If not, now, when? (Talmud)

The Option of Delaying College – A Gap Year or Two?.

If you are a high school student, you may want to think about the option of delaying college unless you’re clear about your career path. A lot of young adults haven’t yet figured out the combination of interests, skills, values, and goals that will determine their role and satisfaction in the world of work.

As an option to college right away, you might want to get some real-world experience: move to a new place, work with people you wouldn’t normally associate with, learn about other socio-economic classes, about other cultures. Get a waitressing job in a Greek restaurant. Learn about landscaping in the suburbs. Be a bartender on the waterfront if the law allows. After all of those tests, essays, MCAS and SAT’s, let your brain absorb information through your pores instead of a textbook. Be part of a crew on a fishing boat, work with the disabled and less fortunate. Stretch, lean, jump, dance; become a martial artist of life. Don’t expend your energy on too much alcohol—live healthily. Cook and eat nourishing foods. Share rent with friends. Find an apartment and repaint it. With every new thing you choose to do, you are learning and becoming more self-sufficient. Those experiences shape you as you learn a lot about what you don’t want or like, and finally what you do.

If you can afford it, travel, or get a job, save some money and plan a trip. There is no better classroom, especially if you learn a language along with it. For example, there is an organization called WWOOF, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms where you work for room and board. Or, be an entrepreneur — Start your own business and you won’t have to go to college, but you will have to learn everything there is about running a successful business. You can volunteer or intern to learn new skills for business or any other field. Choosing a gap year or two may save you time and money in the long run when it comes to your education. Not everyone is ready or suited for college right after high school, or college at all, but everyone will need some form of training and preparation to do skilled work.

I’ve worked with many clients who don’t fit into the 9-5 world for different reasons: health issues, childcare, being an artist and wanting to create, or being a portfolio career individual like myself who likes to do a variety of things to earn a living. It’s an added career challenge to create what works for your unique situation and can take more time, but it’s worth it. One of my clients had been having vertigo for years.

Medication helped but didn’t completely solve the issue. This situation made her depressed so she went on anti-depressant medication. Although previously working full time as a teacher hadn’t been an issue, it was now. This was true for another client who had been a full-time social worker but had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We worked on revising their resumes by creating a powerful profile section and using strong active verbs. We also made any lapses in employment less predominant.

As we practiced for interviews by anticipating questions and preparing answers, I helped clients reframe their employment stories by always using positive language and projecting a can-do attitude. There was no need for either client to reveal medical issues as each was capable of fulfilling the roles of a part-time position.

Another client had been working in marketing full time at a corporation but after having two children two years apart, asked for some flexible time working from home. She was able to work from home three out of five days. After a year of trying to make that fit and realizing she was being pulled in too many directions, she asked for a part-time position but was declined. She continued working full-time while she worked on a home-based business plan to prepare healthy meals for working parents. Cooking had always been an avocation, so she would capitalize on those skills, and go for further training by learning how to cook vegetarian and specialized diet-based meals.

Each of us has a unique path to create. The current employment scene calls for individuals to be creative and entrepreneurial and understand how to use technology to their benefit. More and more companies are hiring consultants or part-time workers often in positions with no benefits. Finding affordable health care becomes a challenge. Before stepping off the 9-5 plan, whenever possible, have a plan. But, if you don’t fit into the 9-5 world or suddenly lose your job or need to deal with a health issue, you’ll need to hang onto your surfboard and ride that wave as best you can. Find support with friends, other job-seekers, a career coach, or visit a Career One-Stop. Remember that you’re not alone  and re-evaluate the important things in life. Focus on your strengths, be creative, and brainstorm with people you trust.


Success Story: The following story is a composite of those from several coaching clients.

Depending on circumstances and timing, being laid off can be a shocking and extremely challenging event, or it can come almost as a relief, a reason for moving on. One of my clients, Mark, had known for several months that his job would end. This had given him time to think about how he would reposition himself for another job, accomplish personal goals, and create more of a work-life balance. This was why Mark first came to see me for career coaching.

Notification acted as just the breath of fresh air I needed to begin many new initiatives. I joined a gym in town, hired a personal trainer, and have a goal of losing 30 pounds by May.  As you know, I’ve been thinking about volunteering with the elderly. Yesterday I walked into an Assisted Living center near my house for volunteer information, and I attended a social event to meet some folks and get a feel for the place.

 I also attended my first Al-Anon meeting on Wednesday and will likely become a regular at either or both of two meetings weekly. This is a whole other, very important issue that I’ve needed to address for years; it is coming to a head as I witness my daughter now in the depths of her own problems with substance abuse.

I’ve got to dash off to attend the website design course I finally enrolled in. I owe you another e-mail on timelines and how you and I might continue our work together, but wanted to get this off to you now.

It is amazing that Mark had any time to email me with all of these new initiatives in his life. He also helps care for his elderly aunt. Since his lay off, he has had time to address issues that have been weighing on him for some time: health, his daughter’s mental health, and getting the professional training he wants and needs to move on. Mark has given himself a few months before beginning the job quest, and he will be better positioned for it with more training under his belt and a sense of accomplishment. As he and I discussed, he will then be faced with continuing with the initiatives he has begun and integrating them into his life once he finds a job. He will strive to maintain more balance between the personal and professional.

I wanted to share Mark’s success story as an inspiration for those going through a job lay-off or transition. Ask yourself, “Is the bear eating me or am I eating the bear?” If you can get on the more powerful side of that equation, you can use your energy to engage and grow like Mark is doing. Choosing a positive approach over fear is the first step in eating that bear energy and making it work for you.

I had the pleasure of working with Christine, a bright, artistic woman in her early-50’s, who is a back-to-school mom.  She received an associate’s degree in the 80‘s and now that her children are grown, is currently working towards her bachelor’s in consumer economics/ fashion design. She quickly needed to come up with a resume to apply for a paid internship position at TJX Companies, Inc. Working at an internship is a required part of her degree program, and Christine realized she hadn’t written a resume in ten years…..

That’s when she called me. Together we reviewed her old resumes, discussed her work experience since that time, and organized the information on paper. It was important to highlight her strengths and interests as they related to this particular position in the world of fashion. As in all resumes, presenting a readable layout is key, as is including the appropriate sections with description that is concisely informative.

As a career coach, I have the opportunity to learn about the various gifts and talents that each client has. Christine is the creator of soft furnishings like pillows, slipcovers, etc. as well as a muralist, faux finisher, and decorative art painter. As one who is timid about drawing stick figures, I was impressed as I am in different ways with each client.

Christine sent off her application and then practiced for the interviewing process. A few weeks later she was called, had a successful interview, and is currently enjoying her internship. Christine has had an on-going small business in her field, but this paid internship holds the potential opportunity of working for a large company where there is plenty of room to grow for creative and hard-working individuals. If not hired internally, Christine can take this experience, include it on her resume and have more to offer the next prospective employee. In a few years, we may find Christine’s logo on our clothing, and you may even remember where you first heard about her.


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