Moving Toward Clean(er) Eating


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If you are looking for a way to reduce or eliminate the intake of unhealthy foods in your diet then adopting a plant-based lifestyle may be worth considering. Research has shown that increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables aids in achieving optimal health and longevity whether your goal is to maintain health or lose weight.

I have followed Joel Fuhrman, MD for several years by reading many of his books, beginning with the classic Eat to Live.  His advice, along with that of other wellness advocates in the medical community (e.g., Andrew Weil, MD, Neal Barnard, MD, etc.), is extremely beneficial and helpful in understanding the physiology of human dietary behavior.  While Dr. Fuhrman believes a plant-based dietary approach is optimal, meat eaters and meat lovers can easily adopt this approach by cutting back on the amount of their meat intake or limiting meat intake to fish and chicken.

Over the years I have adopted many of Dr. Fuhrman’s dietary recommendations. I am not vegan and still eat meat….I’ve just cut back.  I have adopted a GBOMB lifestyle although I have never been a fan of mushrooms (I prefer to substitute artichokes instead).   The End of Dieting, his latest book, which I will be purchasing, was published in March 2014.

We already know the no no’s – ditch the junk, put aside the soda, say no to the white stuff.  In our efforts to move toward a healthier lifestyle, we have all read articles emphasizing the benefits of increased dietary fruit and vegetable intake (I personally don’t believe that comes from folks adding a few greens along with 5-6, or more, fruits to make a single serving smoothie!).

Consider Dr. Furhman’s recommended approach if you desire to make a conscious move toward eating clean or if you simply want to up your clean eating game.

Dr. Fuhrman provides an excellent and concise summary of the nutritional benefits of a plant-based lifestyle (

G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds

G-BOMBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet – these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.

G – Greens Raw leafy greens contain only about 100 calories per pound, and are packed with nutrients. Leafy greens contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.1-3Greens are an excellent tool for weight loss, since they can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities. Leafy greens are also the most nutrient-dense of all foods, but unfortunately are only consumed in minuscule amounts in a typical American diet. We should follow the example of our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas – who consume tens of pounds of green leaves every day. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: Green vegetables are rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are the carotenoids known to promote healthy vision.4 Also, several leafy greens and other green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables.

All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables have a unique chemical composition – they contain glucosinolates, and when their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) – compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. Because different ITCs can work in different locations in the cell and on different molecules, they can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply), and kill cancer cells.5

B – Beans Beans (and other legumes as well) are a powerhouse of superior nutrition, and the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels.6 Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes. Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce total the number of calories absorbed from beans, but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer.7 Eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%.8 Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.9

O – Onions Onions, along with leeks, garlic, shallots, and scallions, make up the Allium family of vegetables, which have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, Similar to the ITCs in cruciferous vegetables, organosulfur compounds are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis.10 Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercetin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins.11,12 Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.13,14,15 Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.16

M – Mushrooms Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily – an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women.17-20White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties – some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis. In addition to these properties, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer – in fact, there are aromatase-inhibiting drugs on the market that are used to treat breast cancer. Regular consumption of dietary aromatase inhibitors is an excellent strategy for prevention, and it turns out that even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have a high anti-aromatase activity.21 Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content.22,23

B – Berries Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients – they are among the best foods you can eat. Their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins – berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.24-29 Berries are an excellent food for the brain – berry consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.30,31

S – Seeds Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.32-35 The nutritional profiles of seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals, higher in protein than nuts, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Flaxseed consumption protects against heart disease by a number of different mechanisms, and lignans, which are present in both flaxseeds and sesame seeds, have anti-cancer effects.36-38 Sunflower seeds are especially rich in protein and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and calcium and are a good source of zinc. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants.39 The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

Copyright © 2004—2014, Inc. All rights reserved. All material provided on the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

Play Time!


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Adults at play2A group I belong to recently participated at an event that consisted of some relay races. It was interesting to see how many adults in our group actually opted out of participating (they cheered us on!) and let the rest of us act like kids running around doing these various relay games.  I was puzzled….doesn’t everyone like to play?  It was a lot of fun and something different from my norm.  I liked that.  It pumped up my lungs, ramped up my heart rate and got my competitive and team spirit going!

It made me think more about how, as we get older, we really don’t stop and take time to play.  As adults we live for responsibility.  Everything is about earning an income to pay bills for our housing, food, entertainment, hobbies and interests, going to the gym to exercise, to the salon, to the driving range and spending time with our loved ones. I don’t know about you but my exercise time isn’t always fun. It’s usually somewhat repetitive and not always enjoyable (now that’s a real understatement!) and more of a chore.

Whereas this was fun.  FUN!  I felt really good.  Exhilarated.  Free.  Relaxed. Destressed.  Energized.  I also realized I need to invest in myself through play.

Life is more than work.  Let’s mix it up sometimes and do something out of the ordinary.

I have friends who tell me their kids spend all their time in their room or on their cell or other electronic media (or they do the same!).  Whether you’re a kid or an adult, take a few minutes to step away from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter.  Put down the Xbox, tablet, laptop, cell, the remote and grab a friend or family member and get up and do something different.

Take time to:

  • Play a game of hopscotch
  • Toss the frisbee
  • Grab a few friends for a game of powder puff or touch football
  • Have a double-dutch challenge
  • Race from one tree to another
  • Play a game of Twister (remember that?!?!)
  • Hit up the swings at the park
  • Have a hoola hoop contest
  • Play some badminton or volleyball
  • Run around the house (I got the biggest kick out of doing this as a kid!  My friends and I would just run and run and run around the house as many times as we could until we fell out on the grass panting and giggling endlessly.  Ah, those were the days!)

The possibilities for play are endless.  You’re never too old to play!

Focus on the fun.  Be uninhibited.  Feel the joy.  Relish the experience!

Ready.  Set.  Play!

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

In what ways can you add more play time into your life?

Do You BMI?


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Maintaining good health keeps us joyful whereas failing health steals our joy and can often rob us of quality time with our loved ones.  These days we are all more in tune with creating and developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.  One healthy habit is to understand and monitor the impact of weight management and maintenance as predictors of current and future health status.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement tool that uses a formula to identify weight status based on a calculation using a person’s weight and height.   BMI is used as a diagnostic screening tool by healthcare professionals to assess and determine the potential for future health risks.

BMI is classified into four standardized categories of weight status:

  1. Underweight – below 18.5
  2. Normal weight – 18.5 – 24.9
  3. Overweight – 25.0 – 29.9
  4. Obese – 30 or greater (when BMI is > 30 it is further classified as: severe, morbid, or super obese)

Risk factors associated with an unhealthy BMI include:  high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high cholesterol levels, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and the potential for a reduced life expectancy.  The higher your BMI, the greater the risk of diseases associated with carrying the increased body fat on your frame.

Weight loss is a struggle.  Trust me I know!  However, even small weight losses, of 5-10 percent of current weight, positively influence a lower risk of obesity-associated disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers a BMI Calculator for adults age 20 and older.  For adults, BMI is calculated the same for men and women.  Simply enter your height and weight then compute the BMI.

Childhood obesity is increasing at a rapid rate in the United States.  Although the BMI calculation is the same for children and adults (height and weight), the method of interpretation differs for children and teens and utilizes percentiles based on the child’s sex and age.

WebMD and Sanford Health Systems offer a FitKid’s BMI Calculator for children and teens (ages 2-19).  You will need to enter the child’s gender, birthdate, height and weight to calculate.

The weight status and percentiles for children and teens are classified as follows:

  1. Underweight – less than the 5th percentile
  2. Healthy weight – 5th to less than the 85th percentile
  3. Overweight – 85th to less than the 95th percentile
  4. Obese – equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

BMI interpretation examples for a 10 year old boy are provided below:

Growch chart example showing range of different BMI percentiles for height and age.

Today there are numerous ways to easily calculate BMI whether you use an online calculator such as the NHLBI BMI Calculator (for adults) or WebMD FitKid’s BMI Calculator (for children and teens), an app, a weight scale that offers BMI or body fat measurements or other fitness gadgets.   In an effort to achieve a normal BMI weight status, if you are overweight or underweight, adopting the habit of computing BMI as a health monitoring tool may be useful for you, your children or your family.

While Job Searching – A Few Self-Care Tips


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Job In Maze Showing Finding JobsLet’s face it.  Rarely do you take time for yourself when you are looking for work because searching for work is a full-time job.  Scouring job boards looking for postings for which you qualify is draining. Not to mention the repetition of visiting various job sites to apply, as you either cut and paste or reenter your complete professional experience for the umpteenth time, as you silently scream inside about the process.

It doesn’t hurt to take a day off, just for yourself, every once in a while.  If an entire day sounds like too much then take a few hours off or a half-day.  The frustration of job hunting, juggling finances to figure out which bill can get paid or if you can even meet the minimum payment while looking at your dwindling checking and savings balances, deciding whether to tap into the 401K another time, debating if you should accept a loan a friend offered, etc. is always somewhere in the forefront of your mind.  Or you’re frustrated because the headhunter that was so enthusiastic about your experience hasn’t called you back, you’ve overly tapped into your professional network, etc.  You’re sick and tired of being tired, of feeling helpless, misunderstood, frustrated, and possibly not sleeping well each night. All of these things take a tremendous toll on our body:  physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sadly, when you’re unemployed the loop of thoughts is endless.  Your mind is in constant overdrive…over everything.  I don’t know if you are like me but when I was looking for work I overthought—everything—and it seemed like my normal decision making process was painfully skewed and agonizing.

Clearly, the true priority is finding some type of work.  However, YOU are also a priority.

Here are some ways for self-care along with a few tips on what helped me.

1.  Decompress – take some down time just for you.  Of course your money is funny and you have stretched it every which way you know how.  While you can’t go out and buy things like clothes, movie tickets, music downloads, meals out, etc. you can take time to relax. You NEED to take time to relax.  All of the stress of finding work is too much to bear at times.  Especially if you have been long-term unemployed like I was (over two plus years).

My tip:  I am not really a DIY girl but I started to DIY a lot of new things.  I began by making my own spice blends.  Some are my own creations like salt-free herb blends.  Others are standard spice blends (e.g., Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, etc.) that I normally shelled out really good money for (spices are expensive!) but now I make them and they taste just as good and don’t have the chemical preservatives in them that the prepackaged products have. Plus, I can control the amount of sodium I include in them.  I also began making my own veggie burgers which taste divine.  And hummus.

2.  Eat right.  Prepack your meals daily.  Being under stress gives license to stress eat.

My tip:  I started prepackaging my lunch and snacks every night.  Just like I would do if I was packing lunch while working.  That way when I got stressed or frustrated or discouraged, I would pull out a snack bag of sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, Triscuits, pretzels, etc. as my go to instead of foraging around my kitchen.

3.  Exercise.  Do something daily.  Clear the cobwebs during this free time. You may not be motivated to do much of anything on certain days especially if your computer freezes as you’re about to hit submit on a job application, an interview gets rescheduled, etc.

My tip:  I’ll tell you the truth, I got much more exercise when I was unemployed.  I made it protected time.  It was one of my daily joys and motivators.  It was also my time to really be truly free in the midst of the day-to-day craziness of constant job searching.

4.  Trust God has you where He wants you.  You may not understand. Actually, I will rephrase that, you likely have absolutely no clue why you lost your job and why it is taking so long to find a new one.  You may see friends lose their job and get a new one right away while another circle of friends have been waiting and waiting and waiting along with you. God knows.  Trust Him.

My tip: Daily prayer and reading of the Word.  The prayer might be simple or long-winded.  The reading might be a chapter or a book (e.g., Philippians) or multiple chapters and books.  Seek spiritual growth.

5.  Reach out to friends.  Those without and with jobs.  I will be the first to say that if your friends are working and have never been unemployed they may not truly relate to your place in life right now. However, on a human level I believe everyone relates to someone who is open, vulnerable and transparent. Socialization is a key that helps release and let go of some of the daily frustrations.

My tip:  Learn how to be vulnerable.  Be silly.  Let your hair down.  Laugh.  And then laugh some more.

6.  Stay positive.  It isn’t easy and some days you just want to scream.  So scream and let it out!  Then take a few minutes to stop looking at what you don’t have and be grateful for what you do have.

My tip:  Journaling a minimum of 5 things I was grateful for each day.  On those days I wanted to, or did, scream I upped the anty and would journal as many things as I could think of or I would pick a topic (e.g., ways God has provided during unemployment, what I’m thankful for, etc.)

7.  Keep the end goal in mind.  Stay focused on the prize.  Ultimately the job will come.  It may be in your field.  It may not be.  However, be prepared for the commute, the daily rituals of getting up and being rested to get to work on time.  Is your wardrobe in order?  If not, identify what is needed for when you get your finances back on track.

My tip:  I splurged on a few skirts during a huge sale.  It certainly wasn’t much but it helped keep my wardrobe fresh, made me feel good about making a simple purchase which boosted my mood and now that I’m working I look forward to having something new to wear.

8.  Refresh.  Get out in nature.

My tip:  Sit outside.  Take a walk in the park.  Chart a different path on your daily walk.

Those are a few self-care tips that helped me.  I am positive you will find your own self-care tips.  Be mindful that part of the job hunting process requires caring for yourself.

Hang in there and don’t give up!



Summer Eats


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Summer is beginning to slowly wind down.  College students have headed back to campus.  Elementary and middle school buses are beginning their practice runs.  Subtle changes indicate a new season is about to begin.

For the next few weeks, as the weather remains hot and humid it is important to stay hydrated.  Water is always a great option but fruits and vegetables are also great ways to hydrate on a hot summer day.

I like to make fruit kabobs of any sort.  I especially enjoy alternating cubes of watermelon and red grapes on a skewer.  Hint:  These fruits taste great frozen. Or use a blend of any type of fruit (e.g., mango, strawberry, banana, peaches, etc.).  Whip a little honey and a splash of citrus with some basil into some plain Greek yogurt for dipping.

Frozen fruits are a great and decadent treat.  Somehow it feels more indulgent. When I bring fresh berries home from the market I will put a few in mini baggies to freeze so I can pull them out as treats or to use when making a smoothie.  My fascination for smoothies has waned a little.  Don’t get me wrong, they are great and a quick go to. However, when the temp is hot I prefer eating the actual fruit versus drinking it.

Vegetables such as celery, tomato, sugar snap peas, cucumber, jicima, etc. have a high water content and will help keep you hydrated.

One of my favorite summer salads is a bed of salad greens (e.g., arugula, baby romaine, spinach) with red onion, strawberries and mandarin oranges tossed with a honey lime basil or balsamic dressing.

Seek out your local farmers market to find great fruits and veggies to enjoy these dwindling days of good ‘ol summer eats.

Colored Markers


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When I see this image it makes me smile!

I am not an artist.  I do not work at a drafting table.  I am not a fashion designer. Or an interior designer.  I just have always had a crazy mad love for colored markers.

I love seeing them lined up so neatly in the package.  I love watching the gorgeous gradiation of all the colors of the rainbow.  I love that they smile at me.  I love that they whisper….come…play with me!

For me, colored markers are always like a shiny box of brand spanking new Crayons.  The good news is colored markers never run down, they never get yucky looking, the paper doesn’t peel, and they don’t need to be resharpened. All the goodness of crayons without the bad parts.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Crayons too!

I use my markers for various things.  I used them at work when working on books, newsletters and other publications.  I use them to make notes for myself.  I use them to doodle and imagine.  I use them to color code my lists.

I simply use them to play inside a rainbow.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month


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National Immunization Month

National Immunization Awareness Month promotes the value of immunizations for all ages—babes to seniors.

For the month of August, each week focuses on a targeted age group and offers ways to use a recommended vaccination schedule to protect your loved ones from potentially life-threatening diseases.

  1. A Healthy Start (August 3-9) – protect your babies from birth to age 2
  2. Back to School (August 10-16) – protect children, preteens and teens
  3. Off to the Future (August 17-23) – protect young adults and college-age students
  4. Not Just for Kids (August 24-30) – healthy protection for adults

For additional information on National Immunization Awareness Month:

As summer comes to an end, and before school begins, ensure your children, preteens, teens, and college-age students are up-to-date on their immunizations.

To view recommended immunization schedules by age group:

Just Doing Laundry


I love, love, love doing laundry!  Out of all of the household chores laundry and vacuuming rank tops on my list.  I don’t have a fancy, dandy high-efficiency washer, or dryer for that matter, but I love to hear the sound of the washer as background noise.

My laundry schedule is a bit all over the place because I try really hard not to do laundry on the weekends to save time for other things.  I strive to get my loads done either early in the morning before work or in the early or late evening after work.

As much as I love doing laundry, I am not always the best at putting certain items, particularly sheets and blankets, away….in a timely manner. Somehow they make it out of the dryer and may sit folded nice and neatly for a day or two before I get around to putting it up.  Oh well, its clean.  LOL  That’s what matters!

I was taught, I think it was either Mom or my Aunt, when I first started doing laundry, too many years ago to remember, that baking soda and white vinegar were good to use in laundry to keep things fresh and deodorized, remove bacteria and helpful for stain removal.   I used them for a while but somehow gradually moved away from using them in my wash.  I think because quite simply it just wasn’t cool.  Now the old-fashioned tried and true ways – of doing just about every little thing -are back in vogue.  Who would think modern women would be quilting and canning?  Go figure!

Recently I had a clothing item, a white t-shirt, that I noticed didn’t appear as fresh as I wanted.  It wasn’t dingy or yellowed, it just looked blah.  Kind of dull.  So, I decided to add a little vinegar.  Voila!  Good as new. Beautiful crisp, clean, clear white restored.  Nice and fresh.

I was trying to find an alternate way to add the vinegar without pouring it in the wash.  I modeled this recipe to make my own laundry detergent.

I always keep Borax 20 Mule Team Detergent Booster on hand because I use it regularly but I didn’t have all of the ingredients (for either the trial size or full size homemade laundry detergent).  I’ve heard of Fels Naphta but have never even heard of washing soda….something to investigate another day.

I used what I had.  I didn’t make the detergent tabs either and just used it as a detergent powder.

Most importantly, it worked well.

Have you ever tried making your own laundry detergent?


What do you do?


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Such a simple question.  Such a complicated answer.  Especially when you are not working…full-time.

For an extended period of time—well over two years—I was long-term unemployed, not working and actively looking for work.  Any kind of work.  Any kind of full-time, part-time, any kind of work. I dreaded when I met someone new and they asked me that simple little question. How can such a simple question stop a grown woman dead in her tracks?  I did anything I could to shift and turn the conversation to a more appealing and interesting topic.

Why?  Because people look at you oddly.  They don’t think they do.  Nor do I think they think they do.  I think they also don’t intend to do what they do. It’s not pity.  It’s just a look.  The look.  Like oh.

And heaven forbid they discover you’ve got degrees plus a lot of work experience.  There it is.  The look.  Again.  Like oh.

I think part of it comes from being the overly sensitive recipient of this question and feeling judged because you can’t make it happen (even though it is totally out of your control – it would really be nice if life were like a situation comedy and you could wiggle your nose or snap your fingers and make someone hire you).  Not to mention the media falsely promoting that most unemployed workers are lazy, uneducated, seeking benefits (yeah, you’ll get rich very quickly on unemployment income – NOT) or simply not looking for work.  Try telling that to my college educated, degreed and experienced friends who were looking for work right along with me.  Our little band of professional but long-term unemployed misfits trying to make our way through a maze of job searches, multiple resume revisions, career fairs, no responses to automated resume submissions, applying for multiple jobs to only receive an occasional call for an actual interview, the “we’re very impressed with your skills and qualifications but we selected another candidate” rejection letters, etc.  I personally have a sneaky suspicion, and my gut feeling is, that a huge percentage of the currently unemployed and long-term unemployed are college educated, experienced workers who actually want and desire to work…but what do I know?

The question is “What do you do?”  I didn’t like answering that question.  But I didn’t lie.  I met it full on.  I cannot say that I embraced it.  Rather I learned how to respond to it.  Like my job search took me a very long time, it took me quite some time to learn how to respond to this simple question.  My responses ranged from head down, eyes randomly staring off into space while mumbling:

  • I lost my job due to downsizing.
  • I’m not working at the moment.
  • I’m currently transitioning and between jobs.
  • I’m a consultant (I said this a lot, even when a freelance project had ended weeks ago and I was hanging around while hoping and waiting on the next project to appear).
  • I’m a consultant (I said this a lot, when I was working various part-time odds and ends jobs just to keep myself busy and earn a few coins).
  • I’m a substitute teacher (a job I was eager to do but once I started it realized I did not enjoy it, nor welcome it, and it only made me appreciate real teachers even more).

The saying is “Never let them see you sweat”.  So I didn’t.  But in my head, this was me most of the time because I was floating down some river without a paddle and not knowing how to get off or what to do.  Although I had some of the best laid plans (I’m a girl who always has a plan and needs to be busy) they never worked the way I wanted and this pretty much summed up my life the entire time I was looking for work:

Question mark2

Finally I learned to just be me.  Yes, my circumstances and situation had changed (um, quite drastically and significantly!).  However, I—the core and the essence of me—had not changed.  I returned to me which meant I began to lift my head high and look people in the eye as I adopted a more proactive stance with my response to this question:

  • I’m actively looking for work (I purposely kept it vague and didn’t say I wasn’t working or between jobs).  My background is in healthcare, hospital and consulting firms.  Please do keep me in mind if you hear of anyone that is hiring? Or I would say “Sure, I would love to talk with your friend or neighbor or cousin or hair stylist or your sister’s boyfriend or whomever it is that you want me to talk to” in response to them saying oh, I think so and so might be able to help you.
  • I’m actively looking for work and I’m interested in working for a non-profit organization, preferably in or related to healthcare, and the opportunity to work with and help people.

I also finally learned that sometimes “What do you do?” is really just a very simple and innocent question about what you do.  People you’ve just met genuinely want to know more about you and that is simply their motivation behind asking it.  No harm, no foul.  Yikes!  I had to stop being hypersensitive, paranoid and feeling judged by this simple little question.

Another lesson learned is that networking comes in all forms.  The typical professional contacts.  The family contacts.  The friend contacts.  The extended friend and family contacts.  The newly met people contacts.  It really boils down to relationship building.  Whether they are current or new contacts. Whether they are in your professional circle or not. You never know who knows whom and what kind of leads or potential conversations it can turn into.  I learned that instead of shrinking back while shutting down emotionally and closing myself off that I needed to open myself up and respond to this question with my normal grace and confidence knowing that the right opportunity would come my way as an answer to my numerous prayers for a j-o-b.

I learned that the label of unemployment is unfathomable.  It binds you up in what feels like the bottom of the bottom of the pit.  Then to have to try to answer a question to explain the what, the why, etc. to people you’ve just met who don’t know anything remotely about you or your circumstance.  And get the look.  Like oh.  I can’t even…

I also learned that this simple four word question is one of the most humbling and gut wrenching questions anyone can ask you when you are unemployed.  It kicks you….deep in your soul.  It brings you to your knees.  It pierces you like a knife through your heart. Basically, it slays you.  It wrecks you.  It tears you apart and beats you down.  Because you are consumed with working and it is yet another in-your-face reminder that sadly you are not.

It took me a while to realize it wasn’t always about me trying to stay happy while sometimes feeling like such a Debbie Downer regarding my situation, hoping to speed things up so I could provide a “real” answer to the question, or try to pinpoint how I could transform or reposition myself and my skills to transition into something new (or even figure out what it was that I wanted to transition into).

I am happy to say I’m working now – full-time.  It was a long time coming but well worth the wait while believing I Thessalonians 5:16-18.  God is still in the business of answering prayers…and it continues to happen on His time. Not yours.  He heard my every prayer, saw my every tear, felt my despair (and desperation).  Just as He hears, sees and feels yours too.

If you are currently looking for work, I hope you learn this lesson much more quickly than I did.  I want to encourage you!!!  Stay strong.  Don’t let this question, these four little words, get you down.  Hold onto faith.  Keep praying. Keep believing.

Your day is coming and in the meantime you too are able to look the person in the eye, answer the question with grace, confidence and your head held high.  I hope your day comes real soon and you are blessed with a great job!

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 
13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 
14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.
I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you
and will bring you home again to your own land.”  
~ Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT)

Living a Better Life


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1.  Always begin your day with prayer.  Always end your day with a prayer of gratitude.

2.  Be flexible—in body and in mind.

3.  Eat healthier.

4.  Choose to find joy in everyday life.

5.  Daily find something to laugh at.

6.  Stay connected to the people you love.

7.  Give freely—of yourself, time, talent, and resources.  To church, charity or other worthy causes.

8.  Live with integrity—follow through and do what you say.

9.  Stop worrying about things you can’t control.

10.  Constantly find new ways to challenge yourself.