She is the same old girl she used to be. Her smile, once a thin disguise for turmoil going on beneath the surface, no longer feels awkward from the inside out. She liberated herself from the private hell we all find ourselves when a fumbled attempt to put our best foot forward results in putting the other foot right in our mouth. An event usually intensified when alcohol is involved.

Business functions are not the place to get your drink on, but they almost always include adult beverages for those who choose to imbibe. Many’s the rubber chicken dinner she has endured with a glass, or three, of something from the bar. She dreads the social function season that begins with Labor Day and doesn’t let up until “Auld Lang Syne” becomes a chorus of “never again.” She is not alone.

Over the years she learned to not roll her eyes while pretentious small talk buzzed in her ears. She mastered the art of walking in her business appropriate footwear, lest she stumble and snag her hosiery. She now manages to hold back the avalanche of rebuttals to bloated bloviators’ sexist remarks because she knows that they are feeling the heat of their own personal hell. She is far, far from where she began with miles to go before she’s done. She won’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. 

Yes, she is the same old girl she used to be, only better.



Rejection: Bring It On!

Somewhere in the millions of words, yes millions, I have read on the subjects of service, sales, leadership, organizational culture, volunteer management, philanthropy, fundraising, corporate responsibility, civic engagement, dispute resolution, emergency planning, disaster response, business continuity, slavery, organic gardening, poverty, crime, education, public affairs, and all other manner of animal, vegetable, or mineral I recall a piece of wisdom that we have to hear NO ten times before we get a single YES.

This is strangely comforting as I embark on my search for what’s next for me in the world of the gainfully employed. However, my qualifications notwithstanding, the keyword firewall seems to be preventing my résumé from getting an actual human rejection. This has left me wondering if in addition to ten post-interview rejections, I must also get ten automated rejections. If that’s the case, I only need seven more before the certainty of an interview. Then the real rejections can begin.

It’s all a numbers game, right? There can only be so many computer generated rejections. Here are the ones I’ve received so far.

Subject Line: Thank you for your interest

Greeting: Dear Stephanie

Message: For each open position, we receive interest from many talented candidates. A team of professionals reviews each and every submission received. Unfortunately, you have not been selected to continue in our process. We wish you the best in your future career.

Salutation: Sincerely, Human Resources

No organization anywhere on the planet has an entire team of professionals who review each and every submission received. Liars! Whew, good thing I found that out up front. It would be really bad if I got the job only to discover at my retirement party that I had been working for liars.

This second rejection message was short and sweet.

Subject Line: Applicant

Greeting: S. Briggs

Message: After thorough consideration by the hiring team, other candidates whose credentials and qualifications are a closer match to the needs of this position have been identified. We wish you every success in your future endeavors.

Salutation: Sincerely, Staffing

They might as well have said, “We are awesome. It’s too bad for you that your skills and experience are of ZERO interest to us. We will fill the position with anyone who isn’t you.”

This next one is my favorite.

Subject Line: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Greeting: Dear Over-Qualified Job Seeker

Message: This email is to inform you that at the present time we we (this almost seemed like a yes in French until I read the rest of the sentence) will not be moving forward with your application. We (only one “we” this time) encourage you to continue to review available openings on our website.

Salutation: Sincerely, we we don’t really hate you. HR

P.S. Best Wishes

As you can see, the news isn’t all bad. Human resource departments all over the world have invested in the most up-to-date candidate screening technology. That is a big improvement from the years when my résumé went directly into the trash, bypassing the well-wishing process altogether. That doesn’t still happen, does it?

These next few months should be exciting. There is hope. Always hope. Come on rejection; let’s get to the good part!


I’m ready.

Morning Has Broken


Pale light drips down the curtain and stirs the stale air slouching against the baseboards. A draft from the hallway drags the odor of old paint across the floor. Dust rises above threadbare cushions where empty hours pass. A window must be open somewhere. Faded injury meets fresh insult. Hope, long hidden behind closed doors, sags under the weight of another day that has only just begun.

Crafting A Message

What is the mark of an effective communicator? This is a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately as I prepare to reenter the job market. To be sure, an effective communicator must be passionate about the message, but how should that passion be relayed to an audience? Certainly not with the belligerence often displayed on social media. Even those schooled in the art of communication sometimes trip over their biases until both feet end up in their mouth. How can the public be expected to make sense of messages delivered with malice? The answer may be as simple as – we are not expected to understand them at all. Instead the intent is to provoke a response so ignorant, so violent that messages are exchanged until only their damage remains.

These last few weeks I have done a great deal of research into leadership opportunities as I decide what’s next for me, and this is what I think – in the wake of recent bloodshed at home and abroad, there is an urgent need for a coherent message that will unite those of us who desire to live in peace. In my reading, I came across these words:

We live in age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.

This message is as relevant today as it was in 1907, when it was included in an address given at Princeton University by Woodrow Wilson. It does not surprise me that we have made little progress in effectively communicating the message that we are all in this together, because there are many people committed to creating divisions that serve their own agenda. This is effortless for those who live for the sound bite. Abraham Lincoln said in his speech at the Republican State Convention in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” How’s that for a sound bite?

There will always be those whose goal it is to spin thoughtful remarks into a puddle of blather. It occurs to me that my quoting Lincoln paraphrasing Jesus might be contorted into some insensitive religious commentary on the uncivil war currently underway in the United States. To rise above it I think Rudyard Kipling said it best when he counseled, “…If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,…” I take comfort in knowing I have the courage of my convictions. Plus, we don’t have knaves in the U.S. We do, however, have our fair share of fools.

I obviously have too much time on my hands.

Public Service Job Description

Tattered GloryAs we endure yet another presidential campaign it is hard to ignore how the people’s branch of government is failing us. Social programs, once thought to be enduring, are insufficient for current need and unsustainable for future demand. The electorate has all but abandoned the political process due to the lack of qualified candidates. We have, from coast to coast, a significant shortage of ideas and an overabundance of stagnant waste. In other words, a cesspool from which to choose our representatives.

This may seem like a harsh assessment. Some might even feel the need to rip it to shreds. However, I have given a great deal of thought to the state of public service lately, and it seems to me that self-service is a more accurate picture of our local, state, and federal government. It is with these thoughts in mind that I have come up with a few requirements of candidates seeking public office.

Candidates unable to speak publicly without using divisive language, including but not limited to sexist, homophobic, racist remarks and fear mongering ignorance, need not apply. In addition, voters deserve to know the following about potential public officials:

  • Criminal Record
  • Scholarly Writings
  • Team Building Experience
  • Math Skills (because someone has to do the math)

Other qualifications for a role in government should be a person’s willingness and ability to tell the truth, whether or not under oath, and a general understanding of human anatomy, in case a question about how babies are made comes up in the course of, you know, a televised interview. These are only a few ideas. There are certainly others worthy of consideration. Please share yours if you feel so inclined.