Tag Archives: Gratitude

Christmas will still come, so relax

Welcome to the Christmas rush, that time of the year when we have to deal with all of those distractions associated with Christmas. I will list some of them; putting up the tree, decorating the tree, putting up the outside Christmas lights, shopping for Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, cleaning the house, decorating the house, putting up with rude shoppers, dealing with family members who nag you to give them your Christmas wish list, sending out Christmas cards to friends you haven’t seen in years, and hearing phrases such as “Black Friday” and “companies are hiring” too many times.

Ok, that last phrase is one that only us job-seekers will hear, or at least pay attention to. While I might want to challenge those who say that companies are hiring by asking them to start naming those companies, I understand their reason for saying that. They are trying to tell job-seekers to not let up in their efforts to find their next job.

Something that is hard to do for those job-seekers who have to endure any, or all, of those distractions I listed earlier. In fact, trying to keep up the job-searching efforts while dealing with everything else is enough to drive a job-seeker insane, or make him feel drawn-and-quartered.

I will start with this one-word suggestion that a professional football quarterback told his teammates when the team was about to play its fourth game this season, with only 1 win to its credit; “Relax”.


I will add to this advice. Christmas will come. Think of the peace that comes with that day, or the day after, when you realize that you do not have to perform those “extra activities” we do during the Christmas season. At least, not until next year.

I will also suggest that we job-seekers start thinking about each of those “extra activities”, and ask ourselves “Will this Christmas be less merry if this activity is not on our “to-do” list. (Do not delete buying presents, unless you have a spouse who is willing to do it for you; but then, you still have to buy presents for that spouse. And, if your family is not hosting Christmas dinner, that’s already one thing you don’t have to do.)

I have 2 suggestions for items which can be deleted; putting up the outside Christmas lights, and baking four, five, or six batches of cookies, or however many batches you bake.

First, the outside lights. Last year, I was unable to put up the outside Christmas lights, due to an early snowfall.

But Christmas still came, and was a merry one for us.

This brought back memories of those Christmases my family had when I was in grade school. Back in those days, people who lived in our neighborhood did not put up outside Christmas lights. I do not know why they did not do this.

But Christmas still came.

Second, I believe that we can get by with 1 or 2 less batches of cookies than we normally do.

Again, back in my grade school days, my Mom would bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t remember how many batches of cookies she baked each year. Because she was a stay-at-home Mom, and not looking for a job, she could bake several batches of cookies without worrying about the amount of time she had left for all of the other activities. She knew that I liked to eat cookies, so she gave me a recipe for spritz cookies when I moved out of my parent’s house. I have baked these cookies at Christmas time ever since. However, I do not know if I will be baking those cookies this year.

But Christmas will still come, and it will be merry.

Maybe you have some other ideas of those “extra activities” that you can drop from your list of things to do. If so, good for you.

And remember, Christmas will still come, and it will still be merry.

Merry Christmas!
Dave Vandermey is a web developer.


This past Monday was Memorial Day. I decided, on that morning, to make the hour-long drive with my wife back to the suburb where I lived for 21 of the first 25 years of my life.


This was a choice of mine, and here is the reason.


Two years ago, we made that same drive, and it was then that I realized how much the park where they have their local Memorial Day festivities had changed since the time that I lived there. For example, back then, there was only 1 Little League baseball field, with a huge open space next to it. Now there are 2 somewhat larger Little League fields. The original concession stand was torn down, and sometime around the year 2007 or 2008, and new concession stand was built closer to the baseball fields. They chose to name it the “Home Plate Grill”. Just outside the “Home Plate Grill”, the suburb had a small monument erected and dedicated, in 2011, to those servicemen who had lived in the town and had served in our country’s military, along with the wars that they served in.




When I saw that monument in 2012, I thought that the names on the monument were of only those servicemen who did not return from the war that they fought in. I later learned that this was not the case. Since my father was in the navy and had served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, I thought that his name might be on that monument. It wasn’t, but I found out from a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that names can be added; however, this monument gets updated only once every 10 years.


The monument honors those who made the choice to serve our country.


In job-searching, just as in our everyday lives, we make choices. Some of the choices that we make turn out for the better, some don’t.


Memorial Day, 2014, has come and gone. I hope that, in future Memorial Days, we continue to choose to remember those who made that choice to serve our country, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can freely make more choices.



Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

The Importance of Being Still

By Cynthia Simmons

Today is Easter. We’re at the end of a beautiful day—our first natural day of full spring. Not the calendar’s delineation of seasons, but the first actual arrival of sweet, warm air, clear skies, and a sense of grace and newness. We were lucky this year—some Easters are exasperating when bright Easter egg colors and images clash with miserable gray skies and unappealing temperatures.

For me, it was a busy day, starting early. The first task was to get up extra early and prepare to ride my bike to a 7:30 a.m. service with my boyfriend. We left at 7 a.m. to arrive at 7:30. Our return journey started at 9:00, for another 30 minutes of slow, out-of-shape riding home. (For me, I was thankful that I had done at least a little bicycle riding the prior two weeks. For my boyfriend, it was slow and tedious because he had ridden through the winter, so today he chose to handicap himself with a slow, heavy, fat-tire bike.)

Back at my place, we began to prepare for Easter lunch. My mom and her boyfriend were arriving at 12:30.  My boyfriend did most of the cooking. I concentrated on setting the table.

The story of the table settings is a story unto itself. The Blue Willow dishes came from three generations back, from my great aunt’s mother. My mom inherited the small collection and she later packed it up and (at great expense) shipped it to me.  She had added four tea cups. I later added six dinner plates from a resale shop. So setting the table for Easter involved going through the collected dishes and deciding what to use or not. Fortunately, those choices had been made the day before Easter; the dishes were already carefully stacked on the table to await the actual setting of the table.

If this sounds a bit cautious and over-worried, your interpretation would be correct.  My opinion is that many times intergenerational negotiations among adults can cause stress.

But, we were successful today. When the table was set, it was beautiful. The total contributions of the four people at lunch complemented each other with food, dishes, wine, and conversation. We arrived at the table from four separate directions. (Perhaps from the four points of the compass?—I ask myself.)

Afterward, as we separated to attend to different obligations, I found myself thinking about a long list of tasks I need to do. But, I reminded myself of the importance of being still. And that incidentals can hold life together, and give it meaning and direction.

Monday isn’t until tomorrow. Then I will go back to my job search.


Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

Lessons Learned Volunteering

By Cynthia Simmons

I learned important lessons that have stood me in good stead since years ago when I did my first big volunteer project. I worked very hard and had good results to show for my efforts, but the public fame went to someone else. I had a co-chair and partner, who was equally and also ignored.

The first lesson I learned is –Whenever I volunteer, I need to know why I am doing it. I set my own goals. Usually my goals are to learn how to do something new and to support a cause I believe in. As time passes, I check in with myself to judge whether I think my efforts will be fruitful.

Here’s my story:

I had just finished night school classes for my BA and MA degrees and was searching around for my career path. I still needed to finish some research papers and to take my oral exam for my master’s. I spent a couple of months writing papers and studying.

As a treat for myself, I signed up for a pottery class at the local art center. That decision opened up new doors for me. I started hanging out with some artists, got myself a sketchbook, and some time later found myself co-chairing an arts festival.

Over a spring and summer I spent many, many hours working on the production of the arts festival. The event was set for the second weekend in August.

The beginning point was a logo. My instincts told me to look at the portfolio of a textile designer because most of the visual artists I was meeting at the art center created drawings, paintings, clay pots, or sculpture of some sort. A textile designer “felt” right. After spending an hour and a half reviewing her portfolio, there it was–a textile design that totally made sense as a logo for the event–a man and a woman dancing beneath a tree.

Design by Almuth Palinkas

© Almuth Palinkas

The next step was to recruit artists. We advertised our event and stated that artists needed to provide three slides by the submission deadline. We developed and printed an artist recruitment poster and a prospectus. During the summer, my co-chair and I visited local art fairs to informally jury and invite artists to show at our festival. The goal was a fine arts festival rather than a craft festival.

And of course, before the artist recruitment publicity was finished, we needed to begin to publicize our festival to the general public. That meant more press releases, and another poster.

As the event drew near there were long lists of small details to consider. We had about a hundred artists exhibiting, and at least twenty volunteers to run the festival. The art center shared the grounds with a music school; the music school scheduled on-going concerts for the Saturday and Sunday. The building was being restored; another group of volunteers was trained to give tours of the house.

The weekend of our festival, the weather was great. We drew a good crowd. The artists were happy. I was so very proud.

A couple of days afterward, our town newspaper had a full-page article on our festival with photos and thank you’s to…

You know what happened. The volunteers who ran the event existed as a faceless, nameless crowd.  Only the three paid staffers were named as having organized the festival.  And the two official co-chairs were the town mayor and the biggest donor.

(Two paid staffers were very new at working with volunteers and didn’t think to give the reporter volunteer names. Hopefully those staffers grew and learned their own lessons.)

Fortunately, on the Festival Program we had our titles and were recognized.

So here are the lessons I learned:

Know that when you do good work that you believe in, sometimes that is your only reward. If you seek to add professional credentials or projects to your resume, make that clear when you start to volunteer.

Know that people like to be recognized and thanked. Since that experience of being ignored, I have always tried, both publicly and privately, to acknowledge any individual contributions to a group effort and to say “Thank you!” unmistakably, loud and clear!

Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved

Lessons from the Olympics

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

I have been enjoying the winter Olympics.  Yesterday evening it was great to see U.S. skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White persevere in ice-dancing.  They have a great rivalry with Canadian skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  Tessa and Scott won gold four years ago in Vancouver, with Meryl and Charlie taking silver.  They traded podium positions in Sochi.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

I’m struck at every Olympics about the consistent narrative.  There’s always an impressive champion, predicted to dominate, who follows through.  There’s always another strong competitor who falls short of promise, and must “settle” for silver or bronze.  There are stories of people whose perseverance is just in being there, who have no realistic chance of medaling.  And of course there’s always an underdog story, the outsider who transcends previous performances and wins to surprise even the experts.

To me, the inspiring common element among most of the athletes is their dedication and perseverance.  A young child is transfixed watching Kristi Yamaguchi, or Eric Heiden, or Shawn White, or one of many other Olympic champions.  15 years later it is that same child now representing the United States!  The innocence of a dream is something to be treasured and remembered.

Certainly it can be tough to deal with a lay-off, and a struggle to get back to work.  Remember what inspired you when you were young, and be confident that while real life is often different than a dream it’s still worth more dedication and perseverance, and many people are still fighting for you.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Keep Your Chin Up

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

Inevitably, even the most determined job seeker must deal with setbacks.  No one ever promised that the job search would be easy.  You may even find the job search to be as difficult a job as you’ve ever had.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

If you’re confronted with a challenging situation, such as failure to secure an opportunity for which you had high hopes, remember that on average you need to talk to 25 hiring managers before landing.  I repeat – on average you’ll talk to 25 hiring managers before landing.  If you’ve had only a handful of interviews so far you should not be surprised that the opportunity failed to pan out.  If you’ve had more than 25 interviews that should not surprise you, either; unfortunately, some get that many to bring the average up.  Stay the course!  It’s much more likely you’re running a marathon than a sprint, especially if it’s a buyer’s market for employers.

Reflect on what you learned.  Did you feel pretty good overall?  You must have been selling yourself well.  What worked for this opportunity, and how can you duplicate the good parts of your effort in your next interview?  Did any of the interview questions surprise you?  Take notes and record a prepared answer for similar questions in the future.  In my experience one gets better at interviewing as one gets more of them.  Send another round of thank-you’s, and don’t be afraid to ask for how you came up short and what you can learn to do better next time for a similar position.

Finally, reward yourself in some small way for the endeavor, and count your blessings.  Remember to keep the big picture in focus.  Keep your chin up and your feet moving forward.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Try a Little Appreciation

By Cynthia Sutherland

Deliberately adopt an attitude of appreciation.  When you intentionally appreciate aspects of your life, it starts you on your way to feeling good. 

And when you feel good, you will be inspired to positive action.  Others will notice.

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

This time of year, many of us are automatically led by the holiday season to focus on our blessings.  We’re told to identify positive circumstances, family members and friends, and what they mean to us.  We may or may not “feel” those blessings. It can be just an exercise, but what if you take it seriously?

As a catalyst, there are always stories about someone worse off than we are who has a positive attitude and achieves against great odds, or someone better off who shares their blessings with others less fortunate.

Yet here you are: still unemployed as you move into this season of Thanksgiving.  So it may make it a little harder to imagine the light at the end of that tunnel.  Or to appreciate the job search, or other aspects of your life right now.

But I say that not feeling appreciation promotes a very conditional view of life. “If I get this job, I’ll be happy.”  “If I achieve that success, I’ll be happier.”  “If I have that relationship, then I can love life.”  If…if…if.

It often is that way, though, a learned behavior from the time we were very young.  We cried our eyes out for the truck or doll that we wanted at that moment.  And when we got that toy, it made us happy for a minute.  Then we moved on to the next item we had to have to be happy.

Have you tried recently, just for kicks, to act happy, or to appreciate certain aspects of your life, just to see what would happen?  I have.  It really starts some positive juices flowing, you begin to feel better, and your outlook on life shifts – even if it’s just in the moment.  And your outlook about your job search will shift to a more positive view as well.

Make a list.  List the things, situations, people, foods, anything that you like.  Then think about why you feel good about the items on your list.  When you do, more reasons, and more things will come to mind. And you will start to feel some real appreciation.

You could do the same thing about all those things you don’t like, but that will make you feel bad. Our normal analytical selves assist us in doing this every day.  But we’re not looking for a pity party, or pros and cons, just a way to uplift your spirits.

A feeling of appreciation builds on itself if you let it.  Return to the list the next day and add to it, or start a new list each day.

After a time, you will move more automatically to think about how great your life is, how blessed you really are.  And you will realize that you are gaining more knowledge about yourself and others as a result of what you experienced in your job search.

Next year, your list can be a retrospective about what you learned in your job search process, and how wonderful people were in helping.  And you will be ready to help the next person who may just be starting their search process.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Advice Now, Reflect Later, Thankfully

We are going to be gathering with family in just under a week, some of us will be seeing far flung, extended family.  The question of what we have been up to is bound to come up.  Just like the other clichéd questions of when are you going to settle down for the preternaturally single family member; when are you going to have kids to the young married family members; and so on.


The next step, once you have answered that you are in job transition at the moment, is bound to be the advice.  So and so did this and landed a great job, x worked for me – I don’t have to go on, you get advice from all sides practically every day.  Job search is one of those parts of life that everyone has formulated an opinion about.   Even if they have never experienced it.


Don’t let your dread and trepidation for this conversation ruin this chance to gather with family and give thanks.  No one knows what the coming year will bring and family is also a blessing.


Be prepared to thank the person for the suggestion, smile and change the subject to find out what they have been up to since you saw them last.  If you are pressed, you can say that you have a policy to give yourself time to think about these sorts of suggestions after the fact, when you can really reflect.  If you say it in a way that makes it clear to them that what they have said deserves some thought on your part, then they should be pleased and let the subject drop for now.


Most likely their motive is to be helpful to you, and argument means rejection and hurt feelings all around.   But listening and then responding that their idea requires reflection later gives both of you an opportunity.  With that later reflection, you may actually be able to come to the conclusion that all or some of their idea has merit in your own search and they will feel pleased at being able to help you.


You need to have the opportunity, later on your own, to sift through what has been presented and look for the parts that have meaning to you.  This cannot be done in the moment, in front of the snack table or while watching the game.


A little forethought now can lead to a better family gathering.  Something to be thankful for in this month of gratitude.


Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Our Month for Gratitude

As I get older, I love Thanksgiving more and more; particularly as it gets less and less attention.  I know that there are some in job search that may feel that there is little in this state which engenders gratitude, but I believe that there is always a place for gratitude.  Sometimes we have to make an effort to create that space.  Indeed, there is research aplenty that informs us that those who feel grateful are often less stressed and healthier.


The things that we choose to focus on loom large, if we can make an effort all month to create a grateful thought at least once a day then we will have each done something powerful.  Some days we may have to dig very deep, or scrape together tiny slivers to produce something, but the effort will be worthwhile.


Please join me and start today, the first day of November.  We can build up our gratitude muscles together and by the time that Thanksgiving actually comes along, we each could have something way more significant that an extravagant meal and too much football.  (Not that I like football, I’m more about the parades.)  I will start by being grateful that I participate in this great group who writes our blog and that we have readers who take time from their day to read what we write.


I plan to stick with this theme all month and would love to hear from everyone who joins me.  Thanksgiving seems to have gotten lost in the crush between Halloween and Christmas.  Let’s take this month to plan out a truly joyous holiday that will express our thanks, shall we?


Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved