Take a Break

Lin-Manual Miranda is famous for saying his best idea came to him while he was on vacation. He finally had a chance to unwind and read a book. That book was Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexander Hamilton, and the rest is history.

Last month I took a few days off from job hunting and the stress that comes with it to attend my cousin’s wedding in Ohio. I wanted to return home recharged and full of inspiration on where to land my next job. Instead, a surprising turn happened — we discovered what our daughter wants to study in college. We were visiting Otterbein University, the place where my in-laws met after World War II. I had donated ephemera to their archivist, when I asked him what is Otterbein famous for today. He rattled off a few majors, including equine studies and theater design. Wait…wait…go back to that last one. Theater Design? It was like a light bulb went off over our daughter’s head. After months of saying she wanted to study civil engineering to then study architecture in graduate school the real reason for her life goals came into focus — she wants to design sets for shows.

Ah…that changes everything. Now knowing a major exists that matches with her ultimate career goals we can hone her college search to places that offer that major and spend the next year to two years touring college campuses, applying to schools, and choosing the best one. There is a plan, which makes me quite happy.

As for job searching epiphanies for me, I am hoping mine comes during our anniversary vacation this month. I will be disconnecting from social media (even email and texts) and living in the moment. The last time I was able to fully do that was during a two-day trip to Cuba. I returned relaxed and recharged. May the same happen this time.

Of course, even better would be a job offer.

Job Hunting is Like a Roller Coaster

223A recent trip to Knoebels Amusement Resort had me thinking about job hunting. A few months ago I made the leap from freelance work to job hunting. It was becoming obvious to me I did not have the time or the focus to do both well, and my end goal is to find a part-time position with a local non-profit.

I came up with the analogy job hunting is like riding a roller coaster. There is the anticipation as you climb that first giant hill and send out your resume, followed by the freedom of putting it in their (and God’s) hands as you realize you are no longer in control. The belly flops and butterflies come as you are diving head first towards the earth and suddenly you receive a call for an interview. This is followed by the feeling of free floating with the interview goes well and you are too excited to stay in your seat. Unfortunately (so far for me) that is followed by the sudden stop when I get word they hired someone else.

I continue to long for the day they tell me to stay on the coaster for another spin, or walk me to a new ride — maybe the sky ride where I can look around and finally see the overall picture. When that day comes I will be screaming at the top of my lungs, just like I do when riding a really awesome roller coaster.

Photo Memoir

One of my most personal projects was creating a photo memoir about my mother-in-law, whom I call Honey Bunny. Honey Bunny was a closet artist. It wasn’t until after she moved out of her home and into assisted living did I have a chance to see the breadth of her talent. To say she was prolific would be putting it mildly. Even after throwing away hundreds of unfinished, or just not good pieces, I photographed over 600 pieces of art. This was on top of the hundreds of counting cross stitch pieces we donated to a local church for their rummage sale, about a hundred boxes of loom samples donated to HomeFront for their sewing area, and approximately 3,000 art books donated to the local library for their book sale. The quantity was overwhelming.

After she passed away I took her artwork and photographed these 600 pieces. I then narrowed the pile down to about 150 to share in a book (my goal had been 100). I organized the book thematically and included a few pictures of her from throughout her life. The end result is can be HERE found at Shutterfly.

The book has received a lot of praise from family and friends. When I set out to start my memoir business I did not anticipate it going in this direction. My vision was to create books filled mostly with words, accompanied by a few images to highlight the story. This book is the inverse, and also the perfect vehicle to tell Honey Bunny’s story.

The book also launched my first speaking engagement. Other groups are interested in hearing me speak this year. The topic of my speech was “hidden talents.” Through speaking about Honey Bunny’s life I learned I have a hidden talent to speak to groups, something that in the past had frightened me. I’m still growing. I hope you are, too.

Benefits of a Spare Set of Eyes

Yesterday, I shared my Father’s Day Special at PillsburyPress.com, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Today, a friend caught a typo in my first sentence: My niche market is sitting down with people in the 70’s, 80’s, and beyond and listening to their stories. She asked me how I mastered the skill of time travel. I replied that is why we all need a proofreader, or at least taking time to read something as basic as an email with a fresh set of eyes.

Before I publish any family story I share it with my clients. This gives them a chance to find mistakes big and small (Did I really type they were born in 2944?). I enlist an eagle-eyed proofreader at the end of a project as a sanity check. This ensures her eyes are fresh when she reads the final product. There is also the reassurance the final product is delivered with an electronic version making future changes easy as the life story evolves.


Father’s Day Special

Mr. MNG -- my dadMy niche market is sitting down with people in their 70’s, 80’s, and beyond and listening to their stories. Just today an 87-year old woman was telling me about how in her day Catholic School cost a dollar a month. This was in the 1903’s and that was a lot of money then. She nearly fell off her chair when I told her how much Catholic School costs today! That is just a tiny little story, but without someone like me recording that, and putting it in a book, the story is lost to future generations.

In honor of my dad — Mr. MNG (which stands for Mr. Nice Guy) I am running a Father’s Day Special. My favorite clients have been sons who recognize their dads’ stories are special, but either lack the time or the patience to preserve then. That’s where me and my tape recorder step in. I get dad telling his stories to a fresh audience, type them up, add some magic depending on the story, and give it to you in a book format. You’d be amazed how often people come over and study the books I leave out on the coffee table. They walk away learning new things about my family members.

My rates are flexible. To me the most important part is preserving the stories.



Volunteering is good for the soul, and sometimes can lead to a new job, a career change, or a new direction in life. As I journey on my search for a part-time position with a local non-profit, I pondered the volunteering I have been doing since leaving the traditional workforce.

I have enjoyed volunteering with Dressed for Success and the Historical Society of Princeton so much it is a contributing factor to why I want to only work part-time right now, or continue with my freelance work in order to have the flexibility in order to continue with these wonderful organizations.

The Dress for Success mission is to help women achieve financial independence. Boy does that resonate with me! It starts with “the suit” — the interview suit, and continues with resume and IMG_1552

interview help. Once a woman lands a job she can return for 5 outfits in order that she can confidently have the clothes needed to start her new career. They help all women. All of my women friends (sorry men) should visit them when going through a career transition. They dressed me for my interview. Wearing the suit has given me a new level of confidence, though as of now it has not led to a job offer.


Through the Historical Society of Princeton’s Voices of Princeton program I facilitate interviews between two people — the interviewer and the interviewee. They chat for an hour. I turn the tape recorder on and off, and guide them through the interview. I will be facilitating my first interview on Monday — wish me luck! As my passion is recording personal histories, this is an ideal volunteer opportunity for me.


When you are at a fork in the road, take it … Yogi Berra

After eight years of running my own freelance writing business I realized I was ready to return to a more traditional work setting. Some freelance clients dried up and I was tired of looking for new ones. I am ready to be anchored. I could see the fork in the road, and, channelling my inner Yogi Berra, decided to take it.

The past few months I wrapped up some freelance work and made the leap to looking for the perfect job for me at this time. It was scary.

I was fortunate in that I already had a solid resume. I am also a very good writer. Eight years of writing for local newspapers, a masters degree in library, and an undergraduate degree in history, have helped me to hone my writing skills. My other asset is I have wonderful friends who continue to send me job leads and (more importantly) love and support.

Even with those building blocks, I was unprepared in other ways.

I am launching this blog to share my adventures with freelance and job searching.


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