My Linden tree did not turn out as I hoped. Perhaps that’s what you may be feeling about your career or your life. At times I lament making the “wrong choice.” Then I’m reminded that I’m always sharing with clients there is no one “right choice”. My Linden tree also gave me some happy surprises, like my somewhat annual Linden Tree Party.

Before I share the life lessons, first a bit of back story. Through the entire summer of 1981 I was intoxicated by the sweet fragrance of trees in the West Quad courtyard at the University of Michigan where I did an internship. The fragrance would haunt me on the streets of Pittsburgh. I wanted one of those trees!  Although I bought my house in 1992, it wasn’t until 2003 that I got serious about identifying the mystery tree. In the gift buying process, my sweetheart said the nursery needed to know if I wanted the more fragrant variety or the hardy.  Since I felt a decade late in planting, I chose hardy. It turns out this variety has amazingly fragrant blooms…but just 7-10 days a summer. It  usually blooms the week of my almost annual arts conference vacation away!

Lesson # 1 – Acceptance: I’ve learned (mostly) to accept my tree for what she is as well as accept my own decision.  I try not to judge myself for making a so-called “wrong” choice and for not doing even more research. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.  Maybe you have experienced negative surprises in a job or career, even after much research and networking.

Lesson #2 – Appreciation: Since my tree just blooms 7-10 days, I’m in heightened gratitude when I’m around.  I spend every minute I can outside under the canopy.  I fill vases as big as my dining room table. When I’m traveling out of town, I take branches of fragrant blooms in the car with me.  I remind myself of the positive aspects to counter other things (including, by the way, that it is a messy, branch and bug-dropping tree). There are naturally plusses and minuses of jobs, careers, relationships. What can you remind yourself to appreciate right now?

Lesson #3 – Creativity: At some point I was inspired to celebrate my Linden’s burst of blooms by inviting my church friend group over. The now beloved Linden Tree Party includes poems, singing, drumming and hands on blessing of the tree, and sometimes an occasional tree hug.  Turning lemons into lemonade!

Lesson #4: Support and Perspective: My friends so love my tree that they help me appreciate it as I still occasionally recount the story as a mistake.  I expect they might not like the “lemons” reference! One friend created a Meaning of Trees booklet in honor of my Linden for a birthday gift. I learned symbolic and cultural insights about my tree including: it represents healing and peace; it was the location of village local courts of law; and it was the hub of festivities with dance platforms constructed inside of massive Lindens in Germany. As a Libra who loves harmony and has a dance room, I learned more reasons to appreciate that this is quite the perfect tree for me.  Who in your life might help you see situations in a different way, teach you new things, or help you understand or cope with a current circumstance?

May you find appreciation for whatever is in your life at the moment.  May you make the changes needed for greater happiness, whether a change of perspective or actual situation. And, of course, if you or someone you know is considering a career or job change, I’d be happy to help.

I cried when he died. And I love when I hear his words and have the opportunity to keep them alive.  This morning my national Transcendental Meditation teacher ended his morning meditation with words from Fred Rogers’ 2002 graduation speech at Dartmouth college where he was an alum.

His words are about life for us all to be inspired by, not just college students in this graduation season.  When I looked up the full text, I found not only the transcript and video from Dartmouth, but also a beautiful article about it on entitled Mister Rogers Speech is All the Career Advice You Need. Both articles were revisiting the memorable speech on the 50th anniversary of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood premiere. Links are at the end of the article.

And, of course, I’m proud that such a fine person is from my city of Pittsburgh.

Graduation speech excerpt from my meditation:

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about the part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see, or hear, or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate. Peace that rises triumphant over war. And justice that proves more powerful than greed. So, in all that you do in all of your life, I wish you the strength and the grace to make those choices which will allow you and your neighbor to become the best of whoever you are.”

~ Excerpted from Fred Roger’s Commencement address to Dartmouth College in 2002

Whether you are a recent graduate or simply trying to find your way to career happiness and success, I also would be honored to help you on your path.

Links to more of his speech:

How did an Italian guitarist from Genoa come to be invited to play bluegrass at a Czechoslovakian folk festival?  I wondered this as I enjoyed the diverse and captivating music of Beppe Gambetta at a house concert recently. As his music and story unfolded, I understood: Passion and Perseverance. 

He read a story from his pandemic memoir that he kept trying to break in by calling the United States from pay phones constantly, as he said, like a religious group is known to keep knocking on doors. He was spending $10.00 a minute until a US medical student gave him a tip to hack the pay phones.  When I bought his book, he shared that his passion for acoustic flat-picking was sparked when he was 17 and heard eventual multi-Grammy winner Doc Watson on the radio. I read later that after many gigs, it was in his late twenties that he set his goal of becoming a professional musician.

What might you have a passion to do that you have been putting off from fear or lack of discipline.  Or perhaps you’ve not committed yet wholeheartedly. Or are you getting discouraged from lack of success or others lack of support?

Below is some inspiration about perseverance from an excerpt of the dedication of Beppe’s book, Declarations of Love; Unexpected encounters, passions, music and recipes to reunite us:

“This book is dedicated to those who have supported me over the years and, paradoxically, also to those who did not believe in me and thus gave me the stubbornness and dedication which has led me on a journey searching for and discovering new outlets for my art.”

Beppe Gambetta

It’s ok to not have a passion and maybe just admire and support folks who do, whether they are artists, entrepreneurs or adventurers….or all three.  I did by purchasing Beppe’s book.

For more information on this international acoustic guitarist who blends Italian folk music, bluegrass, and jazz:

The following is an excerpt from my multi-award winning book, Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search. For more information and to order: For 10 complimentary excerpts that you are free to share:

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

Julie Andrews

It can be hard to keep going when you’ve submitted endless applications and had dozens of networking meetings, with no final success. Sometimes we do need to regroup and evaluate what we can do differently.

To get to that one offer, you may simply need to send out one more application or make one more call. Remind yourself that people do get jobs, even those with barriers to employment. Seek out people and stories that give you hope and energy to persist. Grit is a trait attributed to success.

Many inventors, writers, and dreamers were rejected or failed dozens or hundreds of times before getting their “yes.” Among them are Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Dr. Suess, and J.K. Rowling. You are in good company. Keep at it. Try a new angle. Look for a good fit. Employers are looking to fill jobs. It only takes one. Then help someone else.

Affirmation: I persist with grit and rise to the occasion.

C 2022, Pittsburgh, PA. Karen Litzinger. Permission granted to share with this complete notation. For information about Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search and about Karen’s career coaching and speaking:

With all that is going on in the world, it is hard sometimes to allow joy.  Feeling joy in dark times can feel selfish or bring guilt.  Feeling joy while in the job search can seem unrealistic.  Yet joy is helpful for a full and healthy life.

Joy is one of the topics in my book Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search.  Upon rereading, I see that everything except the first sentence of that page is related broadly to life, not just the search.  This brief inspirational reading is the previous blog on this site, and I hope you will read and share.

Joy is my “Word of the Year.”  I chose it because I tend to focus more on work than play, doing rather than being.  During a spiritual Akashic records reading, I was encouraged to add more joy to my life.  What would that be, I wondered?  I love my work, but not sure I would say it brings me “joy”. I like to walk my dog in the park, but part of that is for the good health of both of us.  I feel joy when dancing a couple times a year at the Baja Grill, but my morning dance is more about keeping my spirit and body healthy.

“Joy is an intermezzo of gratitude that interrupts the routine motion of life.”

— Lewis B. Smedes in How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong?

Some views are that joy simply springs forth in an unexpected way.  My focus is on noticing and creating joy each day. I wondered if I could do that. I think we can. My belief is that gratitude and mindfulness are the sparks of joy.  Each morning I say my new Joy affirmations which include: “I experience joy by noticing and choosing it.” In the mirror behind me I glimpse my white twinkle lights and say, “those bring me joy.”  In terms of creating joy, I set a goal this year of going to more comedy shows and nights out dancing, specifically 8 (for the year number, 2+0+2+4). One down and two scheduled!

My other affirmation is “I spread joy.”  Besides my goal of spreading joy by acts or words of kindness, I believe that my feeling joy will have a positive affect on people around me and even the planet.

What joy might you notice today, right now?  Look around you.  The sunshine, an interesting cloud formation, a favorite picture, a soft blanket, your loved ones?  What joy can you create for yourself today or this week?  What joy can you spread?

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

Henri Nouwen

It may be hard to find joy in the job search or even see joy on the horizon in a new job. Yet each day we have a choice about how to see our life. We can be consumed by the negativity of job search fear or frustration, or we can allow some space to notice a sunset or a child’s laughter. Brief moments of joy can be a respite from the work of finding work. Perhaps we can even stretch to find some joy by answering yes to a networking request or a nugget of wisdom someone shares.

We can, and sometimes must, create our own joy for the sake of our emotional health and for the well-being of those around us whose support we want and need. Experiencing moments of joy can also help a person to be a more desirable job candidate since employers may sense positivity.

So turn on a comedy, gaze at the clouds, listen to music, and hug a child.

Affirmation: I find moments of joy in my life and am grateful.

To order Help Wanted book:

For 10 free excerpts:

As soon as I saw the ornament in the gift shop, I knew I had to buy it. I hoped my 11 year old great niece would humor her 4 year old sister about Santa, and didn’t know where my 8 year old great niece would land.  This Kindness Ornament features daily video messages from a quite believable “Santa” via QR code inviting the listeners to do acts of kindness: give someone a hug, write someone a nice note.  I was totally enthralled when I scanned the QR code on the package and heard Santa explaining about the delightful ornament.  It felt like Christmas magic! It doesn’t matter the age.

Before I share this charming link, my disclaimer is that I don’t get any kickbacks from Santa or the ornament company.  Plus, it’s too late for this year anyhow, purposely.  BUT it’s not too late to be enchanted in the next few days by the same message from Santa that I heard if you CLICK HERE.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah or Diwali, we can all use some Light and Kindness.  Certainly, the world needs it now.  When we feel helpless in the darkness, at least we can share our own Light through small acts of Kindness.  What might your inner Santa be calling on YOU to do today?

As if I wasn’t already enamored by this topic, here’s a picture of what was in the restroom of the restaurant where I had dinner with my granddaughter this week:

Thank you for your kindness in taking time to read my reflections.  Warm wishes to you for the holiday season to treat yourself and others with kindness now and in the coming year.

I’ve been reflecting this month on my trip to India in 2015 and some of the common career issues that came up when visiting the school my church has been sponsoring since 2003. After conversations about this, the principal invited me to speak with the 9th and 10th grade students, which was a fun surprise and challenge. Yep, that’s my photo of them.  It all reminds me that as different as groups may be with language and culture, we have quite a bit in common….something helpful for us to remember about humanity.

One shared pattern was the influence and wishes of parents on their children’s education and future.  I certainly hear this with at least half of my career counseling clients.  In India I learned of two divergent parental influences.  In this poor, rural farming village, I learned many parents were discouraging their sons from finishing higher grades since they were needed on the farm.  On the other end of the spectrum, I met a mother who said she would go without food to pay for school expenses.  This mother was so proud of how many of her children later became teachers!

Another common thread was about whether school seems relevant to the tasks of actually earning a living.  I remembered hearing frequently from engineering students at Carnegie Mellon who thought many of their courses would not be used and were simply hoops to go through.  In the case of the India farming community, I was coached to share with students that a good education would enable them to write farming grants and that math would be needed to make calculations for crop planting calculations and efficiency.

A third common thread was the idea of nepotism and networking.  I recall hearing that in India, it very difficult to get a job in the government unless you are related to someone.  Here in the United States, I naturally encourage networking as a job search strategy with a 50-80% success rate. Networking is simply a foot in the door to get an interview. Hopefully in both countries, the employer wants to hire someone who can actually do the job well.

The reason I have been reflecting on my India experience is that I spent the last three months helping launch a crowdsource funding campaign for a rainwater harvesting facility for the school so students can have water with every meal.  I hope you will take a moment to read the article that follows this.


Most of us take for granted having a glass of water with every meal. At this school in the Khasi Hills of India, these children don’t. This is the school that I visited in 2015 and among other things, gave a career talk to the 9th and 10th grade students. There is no reliable source of water for drinking or plumbing in this poor, remote area. Despite the fact that the region has a monsoon season, there are months during the dry season when the water harvested during the rainy season has run out.

The last three months, I have been coordinating a crowdsource funding campaign to help them raise money for a Rainwater Harvesting facility.  My relationship with the school started in 2003 when I became a sponsor to a student to pay for school expenses until government funding kicked in.  As a woman without children, supporting her had special meaning.  Nubrilon went on to college and became a teacher, and I had the opportunity to actually meet her in person in 2015.

I hope you will take a moment and CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THIS SCHOOL AND CONSIDER A CONTRIBUTION. Do please view the two-minute video that I’m pretty proud of producing with the help of my tech savvy sweetheart.  Thank you for indulging me in my request to help in the education of children and their futures, which is naturally close to my heart as a career counselor.


I’m so excited to be one of 17 authors featured at this special event hosted by Beth Caldwell of Pittsburgh Professional Women this coming Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 PM. Cara Sapida from WPXI will be sharing the story of her book and all the authors will be briefly interviewed by Jennifer DiLucia from Spill with Me Jenny D. And if you have a book in you waiting to get out, you’ll have a chance to connect with literary agent Lindsey Smith, with whom I personally worked. 

Delicious appetizers, lovely setting, fun networking, and, of course, browsing and shopping, perfectly timed for the holidays or simply a treat for yourself!

The cost is $25 for adults $15 for students ages 18-24 and children under 18 are free. It would be nice to connect with friends and colleagues!

For information about all authors and to register:

For information and to order Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search:

For 10 free inspirational readings from the book:

In celebration of my birthday today and the two-year anniversary of my book launch, I am giving away 10 brief, inspirational readings, one each day, delivered conveniently to your mailbox.  This is a gift that I invite you to share with others. The topics include Resilience, Gratitude, Kindness and more.  Many people have said that most of each reading deals with coping with the ups and downs of life, not just the job search.  So, feel free to share with anyone who could use some inspiration. Just click HERE for a super easy sign-up.  You will only get the readings and nothing else; you can rest assured the same if you gift the readings to someone else by entering their email.

If you would like a preview, click HERE for a couple sample readings (then scroll down).

The gift readings will be sent the day after initiating. I hope you will do so today, for yourself and a friend! This would be my best birthday present ever this year!

May this gift keep on giving!

When I came back from the beach after doing my early morning Qigong and dance-like stretches, Cornelius asked what I was doing. He is an employee of the vacation complex I was staying in, and I had just observed him sweeping the beach walk with care. We became morning buddies.

As a career counselor, I admired the pride he took in his work and his authentic warmth toward guests.  As a person, I was enriched by his character and curiosity.  Somehow, we quickly got on big topics of life, psychology, and spirituality.

What particularly struck me is the little red notebook he kept in his pocket.  That first day he wrote down a favorite saying of mine: It’s better to be at peace than right. On the second day he shared some inspirational notes from it with me.

My interaction with Cornelius reminds me that it is who we are and what we bring to our jobs that may be more important than the job itself. Cornelius did actually like his part-time retirement job since he genuinely likes people so much. His authentic character showed through again as he told me about long-time residents of the complex that he connects with and even helps.

Regardless of our job or circumstance, we always have some choice.  Do we bring our best selves? Do we explore other job options? Do we do internal work to manage the situation or our own patterns?

The morning after our second meeting, my daily meditation seemed to give a related message:

“No matter what I am doing, I do so with intention and purpose…..Knowing that everything I do has value, I go about it with humility and gratitude for the opportunity to serve.”

Unity Daily Word, August 31, 2023

With warmth and wisdom, Cornelius contributes more service than he likely realizes.

As summer sets, I’ve been reflecting on seasons. Just yesterday, my daily meditation teacher shared the reflection below by Wu Men Hui K’ai related to seasons.

What season is your life in? Your career? Your learning? Your family life?  Your volunteering? Your retirement? Are you in the new beginnings of spring whether actually in early stages of choosing or doing something or maybe planting seeds for the future?  Perhaps you may be in the bloom of summer experiencing the fullness of something whether good or bad, soaking in what is like we soak up the sunshine.  An autumn stage may symbolize harvest for your efforts, a sense of reward and completion after which may follow some letting go.  Perhaps you are in a winter stage of dormancy, reflection, maybe darkness, wondering what might bloom again. These are natural seasons of life, of careers, of individual experiences.

This year I’ve been in mostly an autumn season of letting go, most recently passing on the torch of my neighborhood blockwatch that I created and facilitated for twenty years. Recently I received an insight message that I’m beginning a new chapter. Related to that I’m also in that winter phase of reflection.  Retirement is also a bit on my mind, though I think it will be a gradual process that will include new springtime beginnings.

The end of summer also reminds me of the school season of new beginnings.  After enjoying the summer, September is often the time to gear up and start new endeavors.  September also hosts Labor Day, a symbolic end of summer and reminder of work.  If you or someone you know has been thinking about new beginnings in education or work, I would be happy to help them explore a new season.

Sassy sax? Deliberate drum? Happy Harp? When I asked Spirit for my affirmation of the day at a group retreat vacation recently, I heard a lovely, lilting bird chirp.  Next was a staccato bird call…that one sounds more like me, I thought.  The affirmation that came to me was “I enjoy life’s symphony.”

We all have our unique gifts, personalities and quirks. Understanding ourselves helps us make better career decisions, negotiate life, and get along with each other. The symphony vision continued to unfold.  If I’m the staccato sounding bird, then maybe I’m the drum in the symphony.  Then my self-awareness kicked in, and I knew that was too much of a background role for me. The drum should be my patient, big-hearted friend, mirroring a steady heartbeat connecting the group. Though I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with leading, I next saw myself as the lead, playing the sax, in a bit of limelight.  The instrument vision for each dear friend popped into my mind, and I had a good time sharing the scene. The six of us made quite a unique symphony.

What personality traits are natural to you?  Are you honoring them in your job, retirement, or other activities?  Are you aware of the shadow side of your gifts? I think I love career counseling so much since I get to help people understand themselves better, as well as make education and career choices that they are happier with. Personality and strengths/gifts are two of the core areas of self-awareness in career counseling along with interests and values.  I’d be happy to help you or someone you care about find their seat in life’s career symphony.

Sidebar: I figured there must be a quiz and indeed there are many if you search on “What musical instrument personality are you?”  Some are about actually choosing an instrument and some more psychological in nature. Unfortunately, the first one I tried made me take two advertising surveys, and I never could finish it. Let me know if you find one you like!

If you missed the May Monastery blog about DREAMS, click HERE.

I recently made an interesting connection between my clients putting off getting professional assistance and my own recognizing that it could be helpful.

In my last blog newsletter, I shared that I am a prolific nighttime dreamer.  The first night at my Erie hermitage retreat, I recorded five of them and a record 17 pages in my dollar store fat book. The first four were unsettling, so I requested a positive, meaningful one. Dream #5: When I couldn’t get to the library from where I was despite seeing the escalator to it, someone gave me confusing directions, then walked me there; we went to another building, diagonally across sand to a hidden stairway below-ground entrance. 

I woke up with the thought ‘I would have never found that on my own!”

So, I decided I would inquire about the spiritual direction resource available through the monastery. How odd I’ve not done that before.

My career counseling clients often come in with stacks of questionable quizzes, lists of books they read, and stories of the Internet rabbit hole. Their minds are still swirling, and no decisions made. 

I often say we’re not born knowing how to make good career decisions, just like we’re not born knowing how to make good financial decisions. We can educate ourselves, but sometimes an outside professional perspective can help.

So this career counselor will take her own advice and that of her dream messages.  In terms of career direction, THAT I can help with. I could do it in my sleep…but won’t.