The recent death of Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the New York Times best seller Nickel and Dimed, reminded me of wanting to write about a neighbor who worked at the local Giant Eagle grocery store as a cashier.  I meant to share this years ago. It’s a simple, yet complex story. It’s a story of class and the American Dream.

I was buying some last-minute supplies for our neighborhood’s annual block party celebrating National Night Out.  In my welcoming manner, I invited and likely encouraged this neighbor that I didn’t know so well who was bagging my groceries to come to the event.  She replied that she couldn’t make it since she was working her second job that evening.

Something about her comment jarred me.  I felt sad that she needed to work two jobs.  I’m figuring it was to make ends meet, but it could have been for another reason.  I felt a bit embarrassed that I’m into this little neighborhood event and she had more pressing ways to spend her time.  I felt a class difference that made me feel uncomfortable. Right, and she was bagging my groceries! Being able to earn a living working one job afforded me the privilege to organize and attend a community event.

I had a flashback to Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. In 1998 she went “undercover” to experience the life of working minimum wage jobs, fully immersed living off of that income, I believe for a year. With millions living in poverty, she was inspired to see if the promise of welfare reform was real, that any job can enable a better life.  It was clear that in order to have a roof over her head and food on the table, the $6.00 minimum wage required having two jobs. It is a compelling, classic work that I think is still relevant today.  How interesting that she died three days before Labor Day.

Even though wages are going up, partly thanks to the pandemic, they are not keeping pace with inflation.  Working two jobs often doesn’t afford the privilege of community activities, school involvement, and children’s extracurricular activities. Wouldn’t we all be better off if this were more possible?

People are sometimes needing to be in two jobs to make ends meet through no fault of their own. Reasons might be parents couldn’t afford post-high school education, divorce, unexpected health costs, and so much more. Personally I think people who work two jobs are most likely hard workers.

It’s hard for me to write this article about class and not mention race, partially because I am just finishing the book Waking Up White and Finding the Story of Race, by Debby Irving. I want everyone to read this book, oops I mean white people! Email me, and I will buy you a copy! It’s had that much impact on me.  This topic may be another article, but I wanted to mention it. No, my grocery store neighbor was not a person of color.  Yes, I believe there are so many more unseen and historic barriers to the American Dream for people of color from our 400+ year history of racism.

Please read this book! I will buy it for you!

My speeding ticket message last month of slowing down continued when I smashed three toes into the base of my desk chair rushing to a Zoom appointment. My national morning meditation message two days later really resonated: She Let Go, a poem by Reverend Safire Rose. Whether letting go of pushing (as in my case), letting go of a lovely season like summer, or letting go of resentments at work or from job loss, it can be a challenge. Letting go is what can create space for the future, for better things to happen, for new attitudes and behaviors.

Naturally my book, Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search, has a reading on Letting Go.  I invite you to share it (below) with a job seeker you may know, and also to take in the last two paragraphs for your personal life.  I was delighted to receive a note this week from a speaker colleague, Dave Jakielo, who wrote “I realized your advice just isn’t for folks searching for a job, it can be for numerous situations in life.”

May you find the inspiration you need for your challenges, and when needed….let go.

Letting Go Excerpt from Help Wanted

We can get stuck in negative emotions during the search. Letting go gives a path forward. Sometimes a job transition is not your choice. You may have been “let go.” Sometimes we’re currently employed but in a poor career fit or toxic environment. Sometimes we feel treated unfairly in the job search process. It is natural to feel a range of emotions, including anger, frustration, and bitterness.

Feeling and expressing emotions in a healthy way is helpful and possibly even necessary to moving forward. Punch a pillow, write in a journal, hammer nails, see a counselor. Do whatever works for you. Moving through and letting go of negative emotions can lead to more acceptance and make room for hope and opportunity. Forgiving someone is more about helping you than the perceived offender.

If we do not let go of past hurts, they can subtly seep out as negative energy in networking meetings and job interviews despite our thinking we are projecting our best self.

Affirmation: I let go of past hurts so I can move forward authentically.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

After getting a speeding ticket today, I was inspired to write about TIME. Ironically, I was rushing to get to a massage appointment. Dovetailing, I am including the Time excerpt from my book, Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs for the Job Search. Over 80% of the Time reading applies to everyday life, not just the job search, so I hope you’ll read on.

I have a complicated relationship with time.  Mostly I underestimate the time it takes to do something or try to get just one more thing done before leaving. I’ve even drafted in my head how this would be the answer to my “What are your weaknesses?” question, with well-crafted examples of self-talk about how I am self-aware and have made progress. I often joke that if there was a Time Disorder in the DSM mental health directory, I would have it.

So in these “lazy days of summer,” are you allowing yourself some time to slow down, relax, rejuvenate, reflect, enjoy the ride? A nice touchstone are lyrics from a favorite James Taylor song of mine, Secret O’ Life.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

Any fool can do it. There ain’t nothing to it.

Einstein said he could never understand it all.

Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

James Taylor, Secret of Life

Link to the song.

And if it’s time for your or a loved one to explore greater career happiness, I’d be happy to help, More info here.

TIME

Excerpt from my book, Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search

Available through on-line and brick and mortar bookstores everywhere. Signed copy via my website.

Time can drag when you are waiting to hear from an employer. Time can feel like it’s running out when you’ve been in the job search process for a while, facing impending financial pressures. Some days fly by productively, and some languish in misery.

We try to control time by all manner of goal-setting and time management techniques. While some strategy is important in the search for productivity, pause to reflect on the bigger picture. Allow yourself time for family, friends, and self-care. A layoff may even be a gift of time for things more important than work. You may have heard it said that on one’s deathbed, we don’t say we wish we spent more time with work.

Looking at the past brings regret and looking at the future brings worry. The only time that is real is the present moment. Accept it. Make the most of it. Be fully present whether with friends or family or in your job search. Take a breath and trust your time will come.

Affirmation: I accept the present moment and will make the most of it

Bonus inspiration: The quote on featured picture of my dining room clock.

“What did you do during your summer vacation” has been replaced by “How are you managing during the pandemic?” It’s hard to believe summer is about over. It flew by for me being busier than ever with so many people re-evaluating their jobs and seeking greater happiness: pandemic perspective-taking.

The photo featured is the “coffee shop” wall I created in one of my rooms where I could write my book since the coffee shop where I did most of my writing was closed.  What did you create? What did you learn? What do you want to do differently in your life due to the pandemic?  I invite you to take time to reflect.

Job seekers will need to answer the new interview questions: “How did you spend your time during the pandemic?” and “What did you learn during the pandemic.” I’d like to share some strategies on that as well as a couple links to remote working and “the great resignation”, two topics I was interviewed about by KDKA radio during the summer.

Remote Working: The work landscape has changed forever. Interestingly workers have different needs.  In the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index, 73% of employees want remote work options to stay, and 67% of employees want more in-person work or collaboration. Hybrid it is!

The Great Resignation: What has also been referred to as the Turnover Tsunami is underway. Early research was done by Prudential Financial which found that 26% of workers planned to start interviewing once the pandemic subsided, higher for Gen X’ers at 34%.Of the job changers, 72% said the pandemic caused them to rethink their skill sets. A later Microsoft survey found that 41% of workers globally were planning to quit their job. CLICK HERE for a nice summary of trends.

The New Interview Questions: Even though employers may be more forgiving of long-term unemployment during the pandemic, others will wonder if you just decided to enjoy the summer due to added government benefits.  It’s not too late to take some action to have an answer to the question, “What did you do during the pandemic?”  In addition to mentioning specific health concerns or caretaking responsibilities, it is legitimate to say: “I decided to take some time to re-evaluate my career choice including career counseling/career research/networking/volunteering, and it helped me to clarify my goal of ______________  which is why I’m so pleased to be interviewing with you today.”  Better yet, “During the pandemic, I decided to use some time to build my skills, including taking on-line courses in ____ and ____. Doing so confirmed my career interest in _____ and I know these new skills will be an asset to your company. 

For free on-line courses, CLICK HERE.

There is still time to do something that you can use for this interview answer!  Plus now is still a good time for career counseling to re-evaluate and gain greater happiness.

“Today we acknowledge the shadows, but we lean into the light.” This quote by Carrie Newcomer from Saturday’s Daily Good newsletter spoke to me in the aftermath of the traumatic events of January 6. Regardless of political leanings, I think her article can be relevant to many. This article spoke to me about hope and on the balance of taking action at the societal and personal levels for healing.

A Speed of Soul Encouragement – Acknowledging Grief, Claiming Love, Remembering Radiance

Carrie Newcomer, Artist/Musician, originally posted in www.DailyGood.org, January 9, 2021


In the wake of January 6th many of us are wrestling with grief, dismay, anger, racial double standard and discouragement. So today I acknowledge what is hard as stone. Lets not candy coat anything. But let us also claim that there is a stronger force, a deeper truth and a wide and active community of good hearted, decent people. Let us remind one another of all the fine and honorable people in our own lives. Let us remind ourselves of how many people got up this morning and continue to make the world a kinder place, one day, one person, three feet around them.

Yesterday I wrote my legislators, and encourage others to claim agency and let their voices be hear. But I also encourage digging into what makes your life good. Howard Thurman wrote that “hope is the remembrance of radiance, the assurance that Light will be Light, even when walking in dark places.” I am gathering to myself that remembrance of radiance, the assurance that even in the aftermath of viewing the forces of shadow close up, goodness is still goodness, Light is still Light, and hope is still here and has not been hemmed in. I wrote my legislators, but I also texted a few dear friends to tell them I care, and to express that I am grateful for their presence in my life and in the world.

My encouragement today is to claim agency and to claim love. Text, zoom, call or somehow connect with someone who you think of as a treasure in your life, someone that illuminates your life, who reminds you of the power of love and the remembrance of radiance. Reach out and affirm what keeps saving us – goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gratitude, generosity, hospitality, justice and love…always love. Lay your hand on your heart and know that you also illuminate the lives of others around you. You are also doing what you can each day, in your own way, to make the world around you a kinder place.

Today we acknowledge the shadows, but we lean into the light.

More about Carrie Newcomer HERE

Image shown is free stock from Pexels by Anas Hinde

In light of the January 6 events and the upcoming inauguration, I am sharing “A Prayer for America” that I believe can speak to most political and spiritual leanings. It is from the 1994 book, Illuminata, by Marianne Williamson.

Dear God,
We join in prayer to celebrate this nation and surrender its destiny to You.
We give thanks for the founding of this country.
We give thanks for and bless the souls of those who came before us to found this nation, to nurture and save it.
We ask that God’s spirit now fill our hearts with righteousness.
May we play our parts in the healing and the furtherance of our country.
May we be cleansed of all destructive thoughts.
May judgment of others, bigotry, racism, and intolerance be washed clean from our hearts.
May our minds be filled with the thoughts of God.
His unconditional love and His acceptance of all people.
May this nation be forgiven its transgressions against the African-American, the Native American, the nation of Vietnam, our men and women who should not have suffered or died or there, and any all others. Please bless their souls.
May we learn from our mistakes, that the people who have died from them shall not have died in vain.
May our lives be turned into instruments of resurrection, that the sins of our fathers might be reversed through us.
May the beauty and the greatness of this land burst furth once more in the hearts of its people.
May the dreams of our forefathers be realized in us, that we might live in honesty and integrity and excellence with our neighbors.
May this country once again become a light unto the nations of hope and goodness and peace and freedom.
May violence and darkness be cast out of our midst.
May hatred no longer find fertile ground in which to grow here.
May all of us feel God’s grace upon us.
Reignite, dear God, the spirit of truth in our hearts.
May our nations be given a new light, the sacred fire that once shone so bright from shore to shore.
May we be repaired.
May we be forgiven.
May our children be blessed.
May we be renewed.
Dear God, please bless America.
Amen. 

1994 from Illuminata by Marianne Williamson

Free image credit: By Harley Pebley – Flickr: Prayer for USA, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32754317

Gone are the office parties and social festive gatherings of yesteryear, at least for this season!  Maybe you’ve already cringed at seeing the word networking in the title? Whether you are in a career transition or not, remember it is always good to stay in touch with friends, family and past colleagues. You may one day want to ask a question like “Do you know anyone in the ___________ field/industry?”

The pandemic is a perfect opportunity to get back in touch with people from the past.  Many people were reaching out in the spring with a “Thinking of you. How are you?” message.  So many of my clients regularly share how they have lost touch with people from long ago and feel awkward about reaching out.  Now is a good time for a holiday greeting of caring and connection.  If you are exploring a career shift or in the midst of the job search, keep it light and relationship-oriented. You can always follow-up in January.

It doesn’t matter that much whether it’s via Facebook, LinkedIn, email, phone call, text or a nice old-fashioned holiday card.

You might share something like:

“I know I’ve not been in touch for quite a while, but the pandemic got me thinking that I wanted to reach out and share a holiday hello.  I hope you and your loved ones are managing well enough during these trying times. (Can share a bit about yourself.) I look forward to hearing how you’re doing and maybe catching up a bit. Best wishes for a safe, healthy and meaningful holiday season.”

Don’t miss this unique time to reach out and touch someone!  Figuratively, of course!

Four years ago on election day, I shared the 1 minute music video of Building Bridges, which seems even more idealistic now than in 2016.

I decided to re-share my idealism as I was reminded today of this inspiration from Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

I came across Lincoln’s 1961 First Inaugural Address excerpt on the website of Citizen University.  An election day NPR news story “After Votes Are Counted, What Will It Take to Reconcile the Country?” is what exposed me to Citizen University whose mission is to build a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship. Most interesting on their site is their election night Gathering Guide resource with ideas of how to experience the evening on one’s own or with loved ones, together or apart. It includes music, poetry, and what they call “Civic Scripture” featuring addresses from Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  They also sponsor an annual Civic Saturday  which will be on November 7.

As a business owner and Libra who values harmony, I try to post inspiration that can speak to people of many backgrounds and views with the hope that we can find common ground. Therefore, I want to end with the last two paragraphs of Lincoln’s 1961 Inaugural Address. May it give us hope that through grace and love, we will come through these trying, divisive times.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend” it.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln, 1861

I wait and wonder

               For those who are furloughed

               Will I go back? Should I look?

               How I ache for the familiar that I took for granted

               Even the parts I hated.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs may be insecure

               Am I next?

               In the meantime, I feel guilty as a survivor

               Even if I don’t like my job.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs have ended

               What can I find in these turbulent times?

               I’m not sure where I fit and what to do.

               Even if I’m motivated.

I wait and wonder

               For those who have been unhappy

               How can I change now?

               Maybe I better just hang on

               Even if I’m beyond ready.

I wait and wonder

               For those who are happily employed.

               How can I process this turmoil?

               I feel privileged as well as overworked

               Even as I feel grateful.       

I wait and wonder

               For those essential workers on the front line

               How long can I do this?

               It is taking its toll

               Even as I know it is important work.

I wait and wonder

               For those who own small businesses

               Will I need to close my doors?

               I can’t bear to face lost dreams and lost faces

               Even if I worked more than I wanted.

I wait and wonder

               For those working at home with children

               How can I do justice to both jobs?

               I feel like I’m not doing enough

               Even when I’m doing my best.

May you rise up to self-awareness and self-care.

May you rise up to learning and loving.

May you rise up to hope and help.

May you rise up to compassion and courage.

               You are not alone.

©2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh, PA. May be reproduced with this entire by-line. Contact: Litzinger Career Consulting, Karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029.

Our country is at a crossroads, and I feel it is time to talk and share more. I’ve been inspired by the idea recently that’s it’s not simply enough to “not be racist” but we are called to be “anti-racist”.  I’ve also been affected by the phrase “White Silence = Violence.” I was reminded of the video I am inviting you to watch by a colleague this week. The video affected me profoundly a few years ago when I saw it at the Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association conference. Click here for the video which also contains an article with additional insights.

Over many years my church has discussed the uncomfortable and initially foreign concept of white privilege. This video illustrates it in a profound manner. I also realize there are issues with the video. When I first saw it, I wondered whether there was sufficient professional processing of what could be a traumatic event for the black students featured in the video.  An article I read recently questioned whether students gave permission, ideally before and after. Another article pointed out that since the video was more about the symptoms of white privilege and not the systemic structures and history that cause it, this gives a quite limited view.

I humbly share that I think this is a good “starting place” on our “marathon” of addressing our history of slavery and racism that still impacts our country today.  I feel that it is by touching hearts and hearing stories that we can move forward on our necessary journey of healing, our journey honoring the oneness of humanity and dignity of every human being. Synchronicity has me sharing this on Juneteenth, a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, June 19, 1865.

I love that so many alternatives to New Year’s resolutions are emerging. For decades I have done a yearly reflection and set intentions and a theme.  This year I am writing a full page of an affirmation daily in a special notebook (inspired by Louise Hay) relating to my theme. Since manifesting involves feeling and faith, I verbally say the affirmations with emotion as I write; if I need help believing it, I recall a time in the past when I was in that space. My theme for 2020 is Manifesting Abundance and Joy Joyfully.

Three of my affirmations this year have been:

-I serve people with authentic love and prosper.

-I welcome financial abundance from Infinite Source.

-I am already prosperous and create more.

This notebook exercise is a self-designed 10-week course related to financial prosperity, though, abundance means more, of course, than money: good health, love, friendships, etc. My home equity loan for a $10,000 roof last year has been a personal motivator!

A few years ago, I created an affirmation from a five-step process that was quite helpful when I said it daily with emotion and belief. I share it with you as an example in case prosperity is on your intention list this year:

“I attract financial abundance of all types, including work that is of service to others, effortless, and deeply meaningful to me and uses my gifts optimally.”

It has been invigorating to read prosperity wisdom from many sources, which come from deep spiritual and psychological perspectives.  It is also exciting to think about how I can use more of my prosperity to bring joy to others as well as me.

I wish you inspiration and insight as you create and manifest intentions that bring you joy this year!

P.S. If you know anyone who wants to be happier in their career/job or more successful their job search, I am grateful for referrals.

Being from Pittsburgh I have always been proud of and inspired by Fred Rogers. Though I was a few years too old to fully enjoy his show, I felt connected and cried when he died in 2003. When I think of Fred Rogers, I think of kindness. I loved the book, The World According to Mister Rogers, and was further inspired when I saw the documentary about him last month. If we could all embody that kindness maybe there wouldn’t need to be business etiquette or civility training.   Read on to be inspired by a brief selection of quotes by Fred Rogers.

I hope Fred Rogers continues to inspire us for many decades. So the next time you get impatient with a coworker or customer, are tempted to send an angry email or text, or don’t know what to say, ask yourself, “What Would Mister Rogers Do?”

If you missed Won’t You Be My Neighbor, you can see it on Netflix. And be on the look-out for the movie, You Are My Friend starring Tom Hanks, currently being filmed in Pittsburgh.

Since I was in North Carolina this month visiting family and walking on the beach, I’m inspired to share and repost an article I wrote in 2016 following an earlier visit.  Perhaps it can help you if you are in search of the elusive “perfect” career (or perfect anything) and encourage you to tap into your intuition.

Repost from June 2016:

I was recently in North Carolina for my great-niece’s college graduation and received some insights on perfection and intuition. After a nice meal we all meandered along the beach. Naturally I started looking for sea shells.  With being mid-day, the pickings were slim.

I picked up one smooth amber shell that was lovely. But it wasn’t a complete shell, so I kept looking.
Next was a pock-marked amber shell.  Wow, so cool and intriguing. I wasn’t sure I’d seen anything like it. But where was that whole, ideal shell?
There it was, the next one…whole and perfect…and surprisingly boring. But surely this is the one I want, the one I was looking for.
The final black smooth shell was a contrast and much more interesting and exciting. Could it be that I like this and the other two imperfect partial shells better than the perfect one I sought and found?
Perhaps you are in search of the perfect career? Perfect job? Perfect mate? Perfect pet? (yes, I’m looking for another doggie now).  Intellectually we know there is no perfect answer or decision. Sometimes we find something different than we were looking for, and it is just right (like the 11 year old dog, Tika,  I adopted when looking for a 3-5 year old).
So even though it is good to have goals and ideals, it is also good to be open to what might present itself. Sometimes the quest for perfection could cause a person to not make progress or a decision.  An answer may come with that quiet voice of intuition that tugs at you and takes you perhaps to someplace unexpected.

A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.” Charles M. Schwab, American Steel Magnate

The happiest and most successful people usually are pursuing something passionately. Employers want an employee with “fire in their belly.” Your job search could be a crossroads to pursue a “calling” which is actually the root word of vocation. Often we made early career and job choice with little guidance. A career change can be complicated, yet the rewards can be vast.

Reflect on trends in what you read, what you do when not required, and what gives you energy. Think about your past and notice patterns. Get help from a career counselor if your mind is spinning. Ask yourself, if not now, when?

Perhaps you’ll decide you can’t or don’t want to explore a new career passion now for financial or other reasons. At least bring that passion into your life whether via a class, hobby or community activity. It may be fulfilled in many ways whether for yourself or as an offering to the world.

I honor my passions whether in a career or personally.

Copyright 2018, Karen Litzinger, excerpt from in progress book, Inspiration for Job Seekers. Feedback is welcome at Karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com.  This excerpt may be shared with the entire credit blurb, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com.

Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.” -Hasrat Ali Ibn Abu-Talib A. S.

If we didn’t have darkness we couldn’t experience and appreciate light. Of course, we don’t want stay in the darkness that may come with aspects of career transition, nor would we wish it on anyone.  Yet it is an understandable reality.

Sometimes anxiety or depression can overwhelm us.  Allow yourself to loosen the grip of dark times to enable you to move through it.  See and greet it as a visitor who will eventually leave. Perhaps even ask powerful questions, such as “what can I learn from you” or “how can I lessen your impact?” Listen quietly.

Often energy can be shifted by taking a small step of action.  Perhaps it could be sending a networking email or hitting the apply button on a vacancy.  Equally as important are steps for self-care, such as exercise, an inspirational reading, a favorite song or a warm bath. Or take a small step to bring light to someone, even if simply a caring word to a cashier or a thank you note for a networking meeting.  That may help invite light in and lift some darkness.

If you are in that dark space too long, then consider professional assistance to help shift your heart, mind, and spirit to enable continued healing and career progress.  Eventually the light will shine again and then you can shine your own light to help others. And just maybe your darkness will add depth to allow you to better help others whether in your career or personal life.

 

I accept darkness as part of the human condition and take steps to move forward.

©2017, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh, PA. May be reproduced or linked to with this statement and where possible a live link. Litzinger Career Consulting provides career coaching and speaking services. Info at KarensCareerCoaching.com