Murphy’s Law is not Mine

I sit here in an ER, all by myself.  I checked in and realized my wallet is not with me: my husband graciously took pictures of my documentation and the kind folks at the ER let me in.

I am waiting to get my stitches from this morning redone.

They weren’t stitches I was expecting – I ended up getting a biopsy on my finger when I went to the dermatologist.  

So distracted was I by the biopsy and to some extent annoyed, that on the way home from the appointment that I didn’t notice that I was doing 70 in a 55 until I passed the cop.

The cop, of course stopped me.  He told me he’d got me with laser far exceeding the limit. I smiled sheepishly.  When he asked me where I was coming from I showed him my bandaid.

He took my License and insurance back to his squad while I tried to keep from panicking.  After what seemed a long time, the kind officer told me told me that he had no idea why he felt compelled  to do so, that he was letting me off with a warning.  I thanked him profusely and pushed onward. 

Tonight I dragged myself to the gym even though I didn’t want to go.  I made commitments I wanted to keep: I wanted to be a trooper.  I worked hard but tried to be smart about it – that said, I don’t know how but I busted my stitches wide open.  After failed attempts on the way home from the gym to McGuyver the wound  and leaving my husband home with the kids at 10:30 at night I left to go to ER.

There was a time I would be angry and impatient and yelling at something like this:  there was a time I would naturally conclude the world conspired against me.  

But today:

  1. I had a car to drive to the doctor,
  2. I had money to pay for the doctor,
  3. An officer showed me mercy when I did not deserve it,
  4. The ER let me in without ID or question,
  5. My husband ran around and took pictures of all my information and sent it to me without complaint,
  6. Someone is going to take care of this hand eventually, and
  7. Of everyone here I am in the least discomfort with plenty of entertainment.  My ouchie is more embarrassing than painful.  I’m not the helplessly watching mom with the violently ill little girl who is crying between bouts of vomit.
  8. The doctors didn’t laugh at me or my Rudolph band-aid.

Thank you, I am just fine.   God is taking care of me. Some nice nurse just brought me a warm blanket.   And I don’t mean to sound Hallmark-y but I’ll take the ER any day as long as my kiddos are safe and warm in the home I will eventually return to sometime in the next few hours.  I will have a comfortable bed to sleep in once I get there when for some the ER cots are luxury.

I will count my blessings today and call out my miracles when I see them…and be grateful that I DO see them, everywhere, not the least of which in my own perspective. 

 Thank you God.  Thank you God.   

“I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”

helpYes, it was a bad television commercial for some kind of medical alert bracelet, but how many times have you found yourself getting caught up in one mistake and either a)letting it suck you dry and giving up entirely on whatever it was you were attempting or b)focusing so much on the mistake you just made that you make another because you’re so stuck mentally on a past error you can’t see what’s right in front of you?

I have lost weeks of my life and productivity and happiness and peace because I could not see past my own mistakes.  Whether I sacrificed my mood, my attention, or my own perception of myself,  I have made Mt. Everest out of problems that started out the size of mouse poop…that seriously ended up the size of two mountains and a mini-van because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way.

(And don’t ask me how I know what the size of a mouse poop is. I just know.)

When you make a mistake, do you find yourself doing any of the following?

  1. Generalizing – “Well, I guess I’ll just add that to my long list of things I’ve screwed up” and then look back over your metal inventory of errors;
  2. Freezing – Getting so stuck in thinking through every dire and terrible thing that will surely come as a consequence of your mistake that you can do nothing else;
  3. Negative Self-Talk – I’m such an idiot, I’m a failure, and then of course calling your friends/associates not for help solving the problem but to talk negatively about yourself to them as a sort of self-punishment;
  4. Ruminating – where you literally can’t think straight or notice what is going on around you because your brain is so focused on what you had done wrong that you’re in a mental and emotional tailspin;
  5. Blaming – hoping like hell there is someone else you can pin the error on to take the heat off yourself in any way possible so you don’t have to own what you did;
  6. Hiding – Making great efforts to cover up your mistake  or praying simply that no one else notices and trying to convince yourself you hadn’t noticed either

Take it from someone who knows and has been there: if you’re looking for a way to waste your life, breath, and energy and potentially endanger your health, job, self-worth and friendships, then feel free to continue, but it’s not something I’d recommend.

Here’s the difficult thing: whatever it is – it’s done.  The only safe way to handle a mistake is to look it straight in the face, own it, take responsibility for it and whatever that entails.  You then try to find a solution for it, make reparations, and problem-solve as effectively and as completely as possible and move on, trying not to repeat the mistake.

Moving on, by the way, means *really* moving on.  Leave it in the sand.  Drop it.  Forgive yourself.  I once heard it said like this: your body doesn’t ask if you are worthy when it knows there has been damage done.  It just starts work on healing what’s there without judgement.   Do that for yourself.  Take the next best steps whatever those are, one at a time.

How many years of your life could we get back if we treated ourselves with the same objectivity when we messed up, and worked to fix our issues and mistakes without the judgment, shame, or mental mess that so often trips us up?  What if we treated others the same way?  Oh what a world we could create!

Get Back Up.  Brush Yourself Off.  Rub some dirt on it.  Life is a giant adventure and you’ve got better things ahead and no time to waste!   Get up and get at them today!



A New Awakening

 Today I got to see the new Star Wars movie with my husband and children, MIL, and perhaps coolest of all, with my father, the guy took me to very first Star Wars movie…a long long time ago in a galaxy far away.

As I get older these moments with Dad become ever precious.  He’s still my hero.  Yes, he grumbles.  Yes, he can be horribly inappropriate and we disagree on major points of philosophy.  We fight.  We’re both opinionated as hell.  I’m way too much like him actually: way too naturally cynical and prone to drama.  I drive him a little crazy I’m sure!   

But he’s my dad, there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me, and I am old enough to greedily want any moments of his time he is able to spare…even if it requires bribing him with movie tickets or dinner. 

It’s not always easy to accept those we love as they are, where they stand, good and bad.  But life is a lot sweeter when we can, and if we are smart enough to realize it we waste a lot less precious, precious time.

And watching my son sit on Papa’s lap during the scarier louder parts…that’s a memory I wouldn’t trade for the world and a blessing I won’t soon forget.

May the Force be with you and yours tonight and may you hold them closely.


December 26th

‘Twas the Day After Christmas and all through the house, 

Lay scattered torn papers the size of a mouse,

And half-opened toys and food on the table,

And piles of stuff everywhere I haven’t quite able

Figured out where to put, or with how I will cope,

With all of the ribbons and boxes and pieces…instead,

I’ll take me some NyQuil and head back to bed.


The Hard and Beautiful Truth of Christmas

The Holidays and Christmas time can be overwhelmingly difficult for many.  Filled with emotions good and bad, memories and ever increasing expectations, it is a lot to try and process on multiple levels.  Not everyone has the blessings of a … Continue reading

Acknowledging God

So, I have come to realize that I don’t talk about God much in my writing, mainly because as a recruiter and a business person, it’s been ingrained in me that it’s fine to have beliefs about things, but not fine to really talk about them.  No one wants to hear what you think or what you believe.

So for me, when I write, I use words like “the Universe” and “A Higher Power” and things like that for what I really mean in my head, which is God.

My God is not the God of my youth, it’s not the God that I was taught to fear and it’s not a God that shames.  My God is probably a hybrid of all of the different non-denominational books I’ve read, my Catholic Upbringing, my non-Catholic exposures, the Chronicles of Narnia, and my deepest hopes and dreams of meaning, purpose, goodness and Mercy in this world.

My God Loves Me, My God Forgives Me, My God Accepts Me…even when I screw up daily and don’t live up to who I most want to be.  My God finds ways through the darkness and hope where there isn’t.

My God is sad when there are mass shootings, or children die, or things don’t make sense.  My God knows all, and I choose to believe that even in the midst of darkness, He can turn all things to good.

I write this today because it occurred to me that perhaps all my wanting to write and bring good things into this world really need to start with the acknowledgement that my ability to write at all comes from a God that blessed me with that talent, and a desire to do something positive with it, even if I don’t know what that something is just yet.

May your God, Spirit, Greater being, or whatever makes you want to be a better person and give more of yourself be with you today and bring magic and miracles into your life.



3 Life-changing Words

The title may sound a tad like an US Weekly article, but it’s true: there are three words that can change your entire world today, particularly if you think that world isn’t quite your oyster right now (or maybe your business or career).  If you are loving life, super happy in all walks and your career is rocking steadily along, chances are you are using them regularly!

Grateful, Thankful, Appreciative

thankyou3While I try to write a lot about career issues, I love to write about gratitude, because for me it’s personal.  I know first-hand what a life-changing thing genuine thankfulness can be – and it affects everything from my family to my friends and to my own career. While it is definitely appropriate at Thanksgiving, the impact of sincere and constant thankfulness goes way beyond the holiday!  The power of Gratitude to change us at a very personal level is immense, and if you tap into some of that, it can totally transform how you see the world.

Believe me when I say right now, at this moment, if you are feeling like life is sucking you dry, or your job stinks, or you’re feeling like you are stuck in a place you don’t want to be, or even just not quite drinking the universal Kool-Aid, you can choose to start to change your vision.  You have that power…even if you can’t see it.

I’m my own use case.  Life can be difficult, yes, but for a lot of my young adult life I was pretty negative – like All. The. Time.   Maybe it wasn’t obvious, but I felt a bit like I was living a sham, trying to be one thing and feeling entirely another.  Despite the abundance of good things in my life, I couldn’t figure out how to be happy!  I tried to hide it, I smiled, tried to shove my cynical thoughts down, or hide them in sarcasm (which is always less funny than you think it is to other people btw!)but on the inside I was constantly feeling lack.

I did the best I could and always worked hard, my view of the world was pretty dark and increasingly jaded.  I saw what I didn’t have and others did, I saw what I wanted and couldn’t get,  I was angry at my failures and who I hadn’t become and how I didn’t measure up.  I was jealous, I was bitter, and honestly?  It was killing me inside and out, eating me apart and basically making me miserable.  All I could see was what I was not, and while I totally ashamed to admit it, kinda secretly hated (though admired) all the people that seemed like they “got it” where I couldn’t.    It’s not fun going through life with that kind of monkey on your back – for you or anyone in your world!

Did you ever have thoughts like that?  That maybe everyone else was just luckier or more worthy or got breaks and talents that you didn’t?  Did you ever feel secretly certain that you just didn’t or couldn’t measure up or wonder why life was so much easier for other people?  

I’m not particularly important in the grand scheme.  I’m not a genius or a business magnate; I don’t have a talk show or a book.  I don’t have a rags-to-riches story to share, or a super high-powered career.  I work a lot of hours trying to do a good job, and attempt daily to be a good wife, mother, sister, friend, and all to varying degrees of success.  I am a (mostly) recovering cuss-a-holic, and  my mom is occasionally proud of me.  My social life is pretty meh from a People Magazine perspective.

But I can tell you I am 250% happier with my job, my life, my family, and my lot in life than I was even five years ago – and it all stems from first being AWARE of, and then GRATEFUL for, every thing I have.  I give thanks for every person I encounter, every good and bad thing that happens, and every kindness.  I even offer thanks in advance to the universe for all the amazing things I have coming in my life that I don’t yet know about and see no sign of, but choose to believe are coming my way.  The payoff? I am physically more fit and healthy, I have more energy, and it is a lot harder to bring me down.  I have a better sense of humor, my friends actually like to be around me, and I smile a lot more.

This takes a lot of work, all of the time, and it is a conscious choice.   Every day I have to feed myself good thoughts, positive messages, and while acknowledging the disappointments, work like crazy to look straight ahead.  From the moment I wake up in the morning, to when I’m walking down the hall at work, I start naming off reasons I am grateful today.   I’m reading positive books.  I’m listening to energizing podcasts.  I listen even when I don’t feel it, or the words sound false, because I know they will eventually become real.   I’m focused on purposely choosing to be grateful, even when I fall on my arse or things happen that are really challenging to believe that good will come.

No, I don’t always *feel* thankful.  Gratitude, like love, is far less a feeling and more a decision. I get scared, and feel doubt, and hurt.  We all do, all the time.  And yes, that stuff stinks.  Loved one suffering?  Heartbreaking.  Epic fail at work?  Yeah, doesn’t feel good.  Kids acting up?  Embarrassing.  People not playing nice in the sandbox?  That can be daily, but no less painful.  Job leaves you?  Can be devastating.  You have a decision to make in every moment though, and that decision ultimately dictates your end result and ability to deal with life.

There are a million and three things that I thought could take away my joy, but I’m learning that in truth there is only one: Me.

You are the only one who can make you happier, stronger, wiser, wealthier, and more content with your work and with your life, and it has far more to do with your perception than your paycheck or home.  You choose how you’re going to think about something.  The universe created something spectacular out of dust, and made YOU!  That’s amazing!  You exist!  You are a creation of epic proportions and only you can choose to perceive yourself as anything less than incredible.   You have ideas, and capabilities far past your own wildest dreams, and if you focus on the right things, more of your dreams stop becoming dreams and turn into your life!

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”  ~Willie Nelson

Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m so grateful you took the time to read this, and I hope you got something out of it too!

If you liked this article, Please Share and Comment! Also feel free to Follow Me and check out some of my other articles on LinkedIn!

Julie (Semrow) Sullivan is a Corporate Recruiter with 15+ years recruiting across multiple industries, but mostly in technology because she has strong geeky leanings and a weird sense of humor. She loves to write, loves helping others in their careers where she can, and sharing what she’s learned (usually the hard way). She’s trying out this speaking in third person thing for kicks. Feel free to write to her at and check out her blog at

Survival, Nay Conquering, of the Fall.

It’s fall. Yep, pretty trees, lots of beauty everywhere, crackly leaves, awesome sweater weather….

and every single year for me, it’s been a challenge.  And when I say challenge, what I really mean to say is, the time of year that I most struggle, seemingly with everything.  I don’t know if it is the dwindling light, my body’s desire to hibernate, 1st grade math (ok, that’s just this year), or what it is particularly, but like clockwork, it comes and knocks me on my arse.

And you know, in my 20’s, it didn’t matter so much: it was just me shutting down.  I could stumble to work in a daze, mumble vaguely at others,  try and make it through, and go home and go to bed without feeling like I was letting down the world

But now, hey – I’ve got a husband and kids depending on me.  I’ve got a career and people depending on me financially and professionally.  So WTH do you do?

My Coping Strategy Step One: Now with Coffee

Get Up.  No one cares if you didn’t sleep except, of course, you.  This seems obvious right?  Except that I don’t want to.  Things that seem to work:

  • Trying to say thank you 7 times blearily when I wake up.  It really doesn’t matter for what: the point is, it’s hard to hold onto the grumpy and say say thank you.  And really, I have a lot to be grateful for: it’s a new day.  I have unlimited potential.  I have children that will make me laugh eventually.  Anything you can do to get your brain in the right place helps.
  • Caffeine and Protein.  So yeah, while I don’t drink coffee all the time, in the fall it becomes a necessity.  I need help waking up, and need to get in my protein too.  My newest love:  adding my protein drink into my coffee.  It’s breakfast and nourishing and it means I’m not adding sugar to my coffee and it feels like I’m drinking a fancy coffee drink besides.
  • Make my bed.  While I wish it were otherwise, I’m not one of those people who gets up out of bed and makes it: it’s never been that important to me.  I read something however that rings true for me: if you make your bed first thing in the morning and do it nicely, no matter what else happens that day you accomplished something and started on a good note – and are coming home to physical evidence that something went right.  That is my new goal.

Hug and Kiss my Family Even if I don’t feel like it.  Does that sound terrible that I don’t feel like it? But if I don’t want to even get out of bed, is it that surprising that I’m not feeling affectionate either?  Mostly, I want to strangle my children who really have no interest in getting up, getting ready for school, and fight me every step of the way.  My husband annoys me with his ability to adhere to his personal grooming schedule regardless of the chaos around him.  I don’t want to hug anyone!  But a)it’s not my kids’ fault that mommy’s brain is going crazy trying to get stuff done and more than they need anything else, they need my love – and I theirs.  That connection has to come first…husband too…because otherwise, what will be their motivation to visit me in the crazy house??

Move.  Just Move.  No matter how crappy I feel on the inside, my mind works better when I have exercise in my day.  It’s been 20 minutes of running here, squats between (or during) phone meetings, and running up the stairs every time I change floors.  It just helps.  Your mind can’t spin as quickly when it’s short on oxygen, and the darker thoughts have less opportunity to creep in.

Listen to Good Words.  I don’t do this enough but when I do, it really helps: even the cheesiest motivational audio book or seminar or Ted Talk – anything that all that helps your mind move towards the bright and positive and optimistic helps.  Right now I listen a lot to “The Secret” – all about getting what you want and being grateful for what you have and changing your reality.  Because at the end of the day, if we harness control over where our minds go, we really can change where our lives go.  And that sounds cheesy even reading it back, and I totally admit that half the time I cringe at the level of cheese inherent in the prose, but seriously.  The stuff works.

As my Mom reminded me, “This too Shall Pass.”  Seriously, this is me every year.  As my mom pointed out – I get through it, and I’ve gotten through it all these years.  I can do it again.  I just have to focus on the end game: overcoming mere survival to conquer this fall!

Am I the only crazy one out there who has a tough time with Fall?

Birthday Gratitude

It is not even noon and this is the best birthday I can remember.

My coworkers took me out for lunch Friday, my girlfriends took me out Friday night, my best friend hung out with me Saturday night, my sisters drove an hour to kidnap me for breakfast twice – and my family woke me up with a candle in an Atkins bar.

I feel sparkly inside. Fizzy. And not just from the mimosa.

I think I am different this year on the inside. Happier. More aware of my blessings. More hopeful. More appreciate.

More happy to be here and more content with my place in this world.

Gratitude makes all the difference and I feel it changing me. I am grateful.


The path of life is sometimes soggy… Walk it anyway.

My brain can be my worst enemy, and has a tendency to go to the dark side (in a less than comic Star Wars sense) and fills itself negative thoughts faster than I can deal with them.  I feel emotions strongly, and I am a bit of an empath to boot which means I tend to suck in the emotions of others on top of my own.  While I will refrain from labels, it is a struggle to be fighting your own head all of the time while trying to be a career girl, a wife, a mother and a friend.  I’ve done everything I can think of through the years to try to deal with it, medically and otherwise, but recently one of my best coping mechanisms has become walking.

While part of my motivation is health – losing weight is a giant struggle.  I can eat well, but it take me as long to lose 5 pounds as others can lose 20.  My body does not give up its comfy coat readily, and I hypothesize (because the doctors look at me and shrug) this may be because my brain, in dark places, spends a lot of time in panic/anxiety mode.   Maybe nature is trying to protect me from the dangers my brain tells it to expect – or hibernate until it all goes away – I don’t know.  But what I have decided is that if I am going to be built like a short, boxy bear, I am going to be a healthy one with strong muscles and an ability to walk for miles without rest…and one who is at more peace with herself and her place in life.

This morning I was restless.  I was trying to work and I was getting things done but my brain wasn’t cooperating.  I decided to check out a nature trail close by for a quick walk…only to find the entrance flooded.

While I stood looking at it – I decided to hell with it and went right through.  And yes, my feet are soggy.  And I walked over 2 miles through grasses and wildflowers listening to the squish squish on the gravel.  I felt insanely proud that I didn’t let it stop me.

Life is hard.  Life is messy, and sometimes soggy.  But we are tough, and we own towels, and nothing should ever stop us from doing something that will ultimately make us better and bring us peace.  God gave us legs and put us in a world with puddles and rain for a reason, and that link with nature should we embrace it, is a powerful antidote to all the stuff that doesn’t really matter – even if it makes your Nikes smell like swamp it is really the smell of victory.