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.

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.

Thinking Outside The Binary



Experience a moment. Now experience another one. Could you tell the difference between the two? My guess is that unless we are in motion, say, plummeting, careening, or catapulting from one stage of life to another, moments are indistinguishable. Even when we are in motion, moment to moment, the differences can be imperceptible, and we find ourselves needing to qualify moments to help us make sense of them. For instance, moments agonize, empower, frustrate, overwhelm, and energize, often simultaneously.

Said another way, we categorize moments as one thing or another in order to form a response to what is happening in the world around us. Sometimes the response is appropriate, e.g. raining outside, take an umbrella. Sometimes the response is inappropriate, e.g. miserable inside, take it out on everyone with whom you come into contact. Moments which we decide must never be forgotten have the power to change the future. At some point, it doesn’t matter what we could have done, only what we do next.

People, those we know and those we don’t, also get categorized. People are vulgar or silent, friendly or hostile, jerks or doormats. They make us angry or happy. They cause harm or give comfort. We are victor or victim, slayer or survivor, discoverer or destroyer, often sequentially, but we are also creators and stewards.

Places, too, are categorized as peaceful or volatile, wealthy or impoverished, harsh or welcoming. Cardinal directions lay it out for us – North or South, East or West – so that we don’t always realize when we’ve crossed the imaginary boundaries created to distinguish where we are from where we are going.

Moments, people, and places can be perceived as good or bad, but the good and the bad also have the power to inspire, cultivate, challenge, and enrich us beyond measure. We only have to decide that life is not an either or proposition. Cliché? Perhaps. But what if it is something more?