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.

 

 

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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 jesullivan3@gmail.com and check out her blog at www.workthinkmoveforward.com.

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.

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Back on the Wagon


It took slightly longer than getting to January 1 to get myself back on the health wagon and drag my butt to the gym. I did, in fact, have to trick myself by scheduling a swimming assessment for my children to force myself back into the building.

Humbly, I looked around at the swank gym, purposeful people moving about their healthy habits and sighed a little: the return walk of shame after you haven’t stepped into a gym in two months isn’t fun, moving a little slower, gym pants tighter, ass just a trifle jigglier.

To make it more fun I had to get into a bathing suit – but I survived.

Today I got on the treadmill and did a slow walk. As I sit here I am drinking my orange, apple, kale, romaine smoothie with dynamic greens thrown in for dinner contemplating what I am going to do differently this time.

This time I am going full balls-out faith. That sounds a little off but I am going with it: Just for today I am going to believe the universe wants me healthy and that my body is conspiring as we speak to excommunicate the 100 extra pounds I am carrying and no longer need to hide me. I am going to do the work and take the steps and believe my body wants this health as much as I do.

Most of all I am going to overcome this subconscious mind that has developed the belief system that I cannot do this. I am going to quash the judging inner voices that tell me I am not good enough and don’t deserve this.

I may be crawling toward my new body but crawl I will until I can run and sprint and fly so fast that out comes the beautiful, slim, powerful woman I am on the inside who no longer has time or energy for her gooey outer shell.

I am a butterfly and this cocoon no longer protects but suffocates and I want to fly free and soar right out of my Nikes.

I’m not just back on the wagon; I’m gonna kick that bitch over and use it for a launch pad.

Amen!

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Moving to a new blog…WorkThinkMoveForward!


In the spirit of trying new things I’ve created a new blog site for some of my more business and career-minded workplace writings! I hope you will check me out and follow me in my new location at http://www.WorkThinkForward.com! Cheers … Continue reading

Don’t Panic but Never Rest :)


Navigating the working world can be brutal. I have spent over 15 years of my professional life as a Recruiter helping people find jobs and companies find people, and one truth becomes more apparent every day. Whether you are in the C-Suite or just starting your career, it takes tremendous, continual effort and discipline to get anywhere worth going! Whether you are aware of it or not, your path and destinations both are moving, changeable things, heading off into an un-seeable future.

Does that sound dramatic? It can be! I interviewed a great person the other day who had spent 20 years in the same industry. He was smart, articulate – hadn’t had to interview for a job since graduating from college because his industry was niche, and one wherein you would go from company to company with those who knew you based on the reputation you had built. Almost overnight, with a change in legislation, his niche and his comfortable mid-level position disappeared.

Boom. Like that. Reality changed. Whole companies can vanish at the whim of economies. Industries break. People we trust to help our careers fail us, and occasionally we fail careers. Nothing is constant.

So we live in flux, and chances are we are feeling it every day whether or not we acknowledge it. We can make the decision to bury our heads in the sand and pretend to ourselves that nothing changes, we can have non-specific anxiety attacks about it and take no action. Or, we can decide to take a deep breath and learn to live in the uncomfortable…and fight change with change.

We have to constantly be reinventing – our skills, our minds, our outlook. You can’t depend on a job, or a company, or even a highly-marketable skill set to always get you where you want to be. Fantastic recruiters can help, hard work will get you far, but always keeping your mind moving and looking at what you need to learn next will serve you better. Here are some ideas on what that can look like:

  • Put 15 minutes on your calendar a week to spend on LinkedIN. See what other people are doing/writing in your industry, see whose jobs are changing, and just generally stick your head out and make yourself aware. Is your network up-to-date and can you expand it? Do you have a picture? Does your profile adequately reflect you? Are you following companies? Commit to yourself professionally.
  • Read…even it is listening to someone else read to you via Audible or podcast. Ignore your Netflix collection one night a week and open a book that is about self-improvement and growth that will get you thinking and focused in the business realm and on what you want to do with your life.
  • Ask for new challenges – and if you aren’t given any, create some. Sometimes, we rely on our companies a little too much when it comes to creating opportunities for growth. Figure out something you feel it would be good to learn and learn it, and don’t be afraid to fail miserably in doing so.
  • Meditate. This is something I’m trying. It’s not easy; but there is something about taking time to actually breathe and connect with yourself and with the world that can calm you, especially when change feels like it’s too much. When we stop running and start accepting, we cease to operate from mere reaction and fear. We can become.

Whatever it is, don’t stop. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep expanding who you are so that no opportunity that comes your way seems too far out of your reach! Don’t let the illusion of comfort trick you into complacency. The more you extend yourself and the more you can offer the world, the better you feel no matter what your professional world throws at you! So be confident, enjoy what you are doing, but “Never Rest” – Rainer Marie Rilke

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 jesullivan3@gmail.com.

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.

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