After Reviewing Your Resume, I Don’t Know You Well Enough to Interview You

Crossing Road

As a hiring manager, I’ve often joked that I should call all the candidates whose resumes were not selected for further interviews and tell them that  for $30, I would tell them why I had not interviewed them.  I know, I know.  I am a horrible person for even joking that way.  In all seriousness though, early in my career I honestly thought that hiring managers painstakingly poured over resumes in an effort to determine which candidates had the most promise from their past achievements and experiences.  Not true.  I want to know who can walk in the door and make the biggest impact the soonest – and fit in best with the team – all in less than 2 minutes of skimming a resume.  Below are my top recommendations on how to keep your resume out of the discard pile.  Spoiler Alert: They all point to the hiring manager being able to picture you in the role they need to fill.
1. I never got to know you.  Please do not make the grave mistake of only submitting your resume to an online job posting, along with hundreds of other people.  While this may have possibly worked for someone out there, I don’t know anyone who has ever gotten a job using this tactic.  If you really want to work at a great company, you need to show them you are resourceful.  Recruiters attend hiring fairs because they want to meet great people – show up ready to impress and then continue to foster that relationship.  When you see an opening posted, reach back out to that recruiter with whom you’ve built a relationship and ask them to show your resume to the hiring manager.  If a face-to-face introduction isn’t an option, introduce yourself on LinkedIn.  Remember though, if you want a recruiter to actually read through your entire email, you have to have something engaging to say right off the bat such as, “Last year, I was proud to be among the top 10% of employees in my company to be recognized for stellar performance.”
2. I didn’t have time to hear you out.  Wordy much?  Not a good tactic for your resume and cover letter.  Perhaps you have some really great skills on page 3, but I only had 5 minutes between meetings to read your resume, take a bio break and get coffee.  I have no idea what came past the first half of page 2 when I tucked your perfectly formatted 4 page ledger of your life’s work in 10 point font into the discard file, confused about why you thought you’d be a good fit for this role.  Seriously, get to the point quickly.  Is there a compelling reason you think you are the best person for this job?  Tell me quickly and plainly; do not make me search for your relevant skills and experience – getting my attention quickly is key.  And here’s the real shocker – you don’t even need to have all the experience I listed as “necessary”.  You just need to be able to demonstrate to me how your past experience lines up with the job at hand.
3. You didn’t seem to know me.  Please, please, please –  only apply to one job at a time.  No, I do not mean that you should submit your resume to only one job and wait for the outcome of that application before applying for other roles.  I mean, you should make your application for this role specific to what you can bring to the table for this role – please do not spam me with your generic resume.  Are there many roles I would be qualified to do well, yes.  Should I submit the same resume for all these roles?  Only if I want my resume to end up in the discard pile.  I really don’t care about what you can do for my competitor – I care about what you can do for me.  Read what I’ve posted carefully and then craft your resume and cover letter in response to the specific position you are applying to.  Yes, I do know that this takes a lot of time and effort, but, aren’t you asking the recruiter and hiring manager to take time out of their day to read and respond to your resume?  If I don’t know what made you think you’d be a good fit for this role . . . next!
4. Your atrocious formatting made you look unprofessional.  I need you to produce work that is presentation ready.  If the formatting of your resume is sloppy or outdated, I’m not going to trust that I won’t need to reformat all your work.  My previous managers who had come out of public accounting taught me that if the presentation of a document is great, the reader will focus less on trying to find errors.  Subconsciously, we actually trust better formatted documents, so take care to make a good impression here.

5.  I have no idea what you just said.  Perhaps in the midst of all this industry jargon, you have really great skills, but I didn’t bring my secret decoder ring with me to work today so I’m going to pass on interviewing you.  When you have your resume proofread by several friends (before you ever apply for a position), make sure that at least one of them has absolutely no knowledge of your industry or role.  I know many recruiters who are professional recruiters – they have never held a position like the one you are applying for and thus won’t be able to translate your resume to tell the hiring manager about your experience if you make it impossible to decipher.

6. You left me wondering “so what”.  The three resumes I’m going to follow up on all told me their experience and how their actions impacted their organizations.  You told me you are experienced in forecasting, they told me they automated the forecasting process across 12 subsidiaries, thus improving the efficiency of the process and allowing management to make decisions with better, more timely data.  You told me you have experience working with customers – they told me they implemented a customer experience improvement process that allowed their organization to address critical areas that had been bringing down customer satisfaction, thus improving overall satisfaction by 10% over four months and increasing revenue 5% over 8 months.  If you can’t substantiate your experience in terms of the impact you’ve had on your organization, it will be hard for great companies to want you to join their ranks.  Look for opportunities to go above and beyond in each of your roles, then document the effect your extra efforts.  If you don’t have the opportunity to get this kind of experience in your current role, business resource groups within your organization or non-profits outside your organization may be able to benefit from an investment of your time and enemies, translating into a strong ROI for your resume.

A Review of “Gods and Kings” by Lynn Austin

Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings, #1)Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve found the Old Testament to be difficult to unpackage, it’s characters not seeming like real people at all. This book helped me to see into the lives of two of Judah’s kings in a way I hadn’t been able to do on my own. I found this book both entertaining and instructive. I really helped bring the Bible to life for me in an unexpected way. I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

Losing 6 Dress Sizes in 5 “Easy” Steps


I’ve always had very poor body image – it hasn’t seemed to matter if my jeans toted a size 2 or size 16 tag, I have always felt huge.  I realized I needed to give myself an attitude makeover or risk passing my short comings onto my two beautiful daughters.  I’d managed to pack on many pounds while on bed rest for the entire fall of 2009, pregnant with my first daughter.  I’d heard the myth that the pounds would magically fall off if you nursed your baby, but this absolutely did not happen for me.  By the time I had my second daughter, I was pushing 200 pounds. Keep in mind, when I take the “how big are your bones test”, I come you with: tiny.  I have these crazy boney Skeletor fingers and my thumb extends well beyond my index finger when circling my wrist.  Additionally, I am not quite average height, which my husband is only too happy to remind me means that I am “almost not short”.  200 pounds is huge on my frame – almost twice my healthy weight.

I started eating “better” with a goal of being “more healthy” – let’s face it, those ambiguous goals are great, aren’t they? You almost have to try not to achieve a goal like that!  I cut my wine consumption down to weekends only, I ate more whole foods and fewer sweets. This, along with naturally losing some of the baby weight after my daughter was born, left me about 50 pounds over my goal weight. Hmmm. Perhaps it was time to get real.

Step 1
I got real about my goals and set tangible, achievable short-term targets: My first goal was to get my BMI out of the “You are killing yourself with all your fatness” range.  I purchased a digital scale that to measure weight, fat %, water % and BMI.  Each time I achieved a short-term goal, I celebrated.  Yes, I actually celebrated when my BMI reached the “Obese” range.  Then I celebrated again when it reached “Overweight” and “Normal”.
Step 2
I got real about accountability.  I knew that working out had to happen if I was going to drop any dress sizes this century, so I made it worth my while to get up early and get to the gym.  First, I signed up with Gym Pact to exercise 5 days a week – or pay.  I originally had my pact set to charge me $5 per missed day, but I found it all to easy to part with $5 one (or more) days per week and ended up finding a penalty of $15 per missed day to be much more motivating in getting me out of bed in the morning.
Step 3
I got real about my food choices. It wasn’t as though I was eating horribly, but my portions were out of control, as was all the stuff I was heaping on top of my food.  I started tracking everything that went into my mouth every day WITH NO CHEATING.  Every last bite went into my My Net Diary app.  This activity taught me a lot about how many calories were in the healthy foods is confused with diet friendly food and it taught me a much healthier definition for a portion size. These are two skills you should probably learn if you have any hope of keeping the wight off.  Additionally, I do not think it is possible to consistently make nutritious choices that equal 1,200 each day.  Planning ahead with a menu of breakfast, am snack, lunch, pm snack and dinner will help you stay on track with foods that will fuel your body.
Step 4
I got real about my skill set. I was eating right, exercising 5-6 days per week and not seeing any results. Bummer. I didn’t have a clue what was causing me to plateau, so I enlisted the help of a personal trainer. She me set up routines to increase my workout effectiveness and keep me from getting stuck again. The biggest trick she taught me was to mix it up so that my body didn’t become too accustomed to an exercise – who wants to be ineffectual when they’ve gotten up 90 minutes before their normal alarm?!
Step 4
I got real about the math. Losing weight really is a simple math equation: the calories your body needs to run it’s basic functions + the sum of the calories you consume – the additional calories you burn. If that equation add to a number less than zero, you lose weight. I purchased a heart rate monitor and recorded an estimate of the calories I burned each day. It was shocking to me how few calories I could burn in 15 minutes, compared to the amount I could consume. Whenever I really wanted that treat, I would ask myself if I really wanted tomorrow’s workout to pay for today’s treat, or work off the hundreds of other treats that had landed me in a size 16.
Step 5
I got real about my endurance. One day out of every 3-4 weeks, I did not diet. I did not go crazy, knowing I’d spend the next week paying back the spree if I indulged too much, but I did relax and have a waffle. I did not, however, find an excuse to “cheat” very often. I knew I would be on this plan for 6-8 months and I did not want to prolong it any linger than necessary.
It actually wasn’t easy to lose six dress sizes over the course of six months, but I really love the feeling of being stronger and healthier and I feel good about passing that feeling on to my girls.

One big, happy framily


This past week, my godson took note that since my husband and I are his godparents, he is part of our family.  Since he is also part of his immediate family, he observed that it’s like we are all one big family. How awesome is that?

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about just how “extended” our family has become over the years – those we served with, whom my former Marine husband stills calls “brother”, the college friends we cared for through sickness and through health, the small group friends who preserved my sanity while I agonized through months of bed rest with my first pregnancy and the handful of others who at some point in my life moved past the traditional definition of “friend”.

After a decade of friendship, I confessed to my dear friend, and mother of my darling godson, that when we’d first met, I’d been able to immediately see what good friends our husbands would become. I had not, however, thought our friendship would become one I cherished so deeply. I, a Finance major, thought I would have little in common with the liberal social worker standing before me. One afternoon, she even invited me to something called “The Vagina Monologue”. Gulp. Now that was an experience for this sheltered conservative!

Over the years, one of my more defining characteristics seems to be that without a conscious effort, I am quite soft spoken. This becomes ironic in contrast with one of my most treasured friends, who also happens to be one of the loudest people I know. I am Christian, she is an atheist. She is liberal, I am conservative. I indulge my girls in their princess phase, she teaches her daughter to look past gender stereotypes. We naturally gravitate to opposing views on almost any issue.

So what glues together such opposites? How does one have a great big, happy framily: friends who have gone beyond the traditional definition of friend and have become like family? The concept of adopting dissimilar people into a family isn’t a new concept, after all, our Heavenly Father adopts us as His sons and daughters when we choose to trust Jesus.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5

Of course we cannot offer eternal salvation, or even give someone an identity as a son or daughter of The King, so how can we imperfect creatures foster a framily? I think this type of unity is born from love, loyalty and respect. A crisis will teach you who truly loves you – when others are busy or overcome by apathy, framily will not only show up, but also do what it takes to make the situation better. When your life is touched by someone who loves you enough to show up for you, invest in them. And should you have a difference of opinion, respect the other person enough to love them for their opinion.  Our job on this earth is to love, not judge one another.  Let’s all stop looking for “perfect” friends and start allowing those around us to bless us, just how they are.  After all, true friendship isn’t jealous, it doesn’t boast and isn’t proud.  You never know, you may receive the greatest blessing from those you wouldn’t expect to have a strong connection.  Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in if we starting truly loving and embracing one another in friendship and encouragement, rather than discouraging each other?  What would each day look like if we actually followed Jesus’ command to us: “Love each other the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12

The Ice Bucket I Will Not Be Dumping On My Head

I absolutely adore the dear friend who nominated my daughter and I to join her and her daughter in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but despite my deep respect for this wonderful woman, you’ll not be seeing a video of ice water raining over my head.  I know, I know.  I’m one of thosepeople.  You’re probably thinking, boy she is such a hypocrite.  Didn’t she just invite us all to a virtual lunch on World Humanitarian Day – donating the amount you would have spent for lunch to World Vision?  Wasn’t she the one who asked my to help her buy a goat for a family in India?  Where do I get off advocating for one charity and refusing to help raise awareness for another after all?

The reason I’m abstaining from this challenge is named Alice.  She is three years old and lives in Burundi, Africa.  She is an only child, living with her parents who are farmers in a poor area of Burundi.  Each week or so, I try to send a note to Alice and update her on what’s been going on in our lives.  I cannot wrap my head around explaining my decision to dump on my head, what her mom would consider a precious resource.  You can see it in her eyes, can’t you – what is wrong with you, you crazy white lady?  What would I say it was for, after all, what would the ALS Association do with my donation?  They haven’t said.  After 30 years of research, are we any closer to cracking the code on ALS?  Will this donation get them closer to solving this mystery?  I don’t know.

Donations have skyrocketed and are track to reach $100M, up from $1.9M last year

I love that people have so generously donated to help the 6,000 people who are diagnosed with ALS each year.  I get that it’s an awful disease.  I would be devastated if someone close to me were diagnosed with this disease.  However, whether any of us want to admit it or not, money is a finite resource and as much as I would LOVE to increase my donations to help others, my salary just doesn’t seem to grow each time I choose to donate to another worthy cause.  So the question is, is ALS research the most worthy cause I can choose?  Do I know that my donation will make a difference?  Do I know that my donation will change a life?  I don’t feel that I can answer yes to those questions.

Women in Alice’s community gathering water for their households

The hard reality is: my choice to help girls like Alice survive to see their 5th birthdays means that I don’t have money to give to other charities.  Research shows that of the $100M likely to be raised through the ice bucket challenge, $50 million will be coming out of the pockets of other charities.  Ouch.  Folks, we are all in the same boat – limited funds and unlimited causes vying for our attention.  I am passionate about supporting Alice, and other children like her, who without help will never get the opportunity to eat protein, or won’t be able to attend school, or will eat mud just to not feel so hungry every day.  At the end of the day, we all get to choose how and where we spend our money and I hope you will find something to passionately support by opening your hearts and your wallets, as we have all been called to do.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others

The Me I Never Wanted You to See, but Always Wanted You to Know

Recently, a new acquaintance told me that she had given up Facebook because it always made it seem as though others lives are so perfect and happy. As I reflect on this statement, and what it means related to my own posts and outward appearance, I have to wonder why we aren’t more honest about how we are really doing. Certainly, I don’t advocate that we only voice our fears, frustrations and struggles, but could we allow others, our friends, to uplift and encourage us more? At the end of the day, aren’t we all in the same boat – trying desperately to stay afloat?

She intends to read these books and send these packages.  One day.

Of course there is a side of me too that I never want you to see.  She is filled to the brim with insecurity and uncertainty.  Others act as though she has her act together, but this only shows her how little they actually know about her.  If they truly knew her, they would know that she has her act together Never.  Ever.  After hours of research, she’s that super mom who pulls onto the highway without buckling her children into their top-of-the-line car seats.  She posts a darling picture of her children on the beach, but she doesn’t tell you that this is a picture of an exasperated family who’ve been dressed in these same outfits and paraded to this same spot three days in a row so she could get just the right shot.  She looks super creative when you see the pictures of her children’s birthday parties, but don’t let her fool you – she’s spent hours on Pinterest to glean these ideas and didn’t start getting ready until the night before the party so she’s too tired and cranky to enjoy her daughter’s big day.  Others take her advice, but they don’t seem to know they are taking advice from the girl who once enlisted in the Army on a whim.  In her cheerleading uniform!  They call her poised and professional, but do they know that she enjoys reading YA books?  She has it together Never.

Don’t get me wrong, she tries everyday to be the best Christ-follower, wife, mom, worker, friend, woman she can be.  She asks God to help her overcome her short-comings and she puts on her brave, confident face when she meets you.  She’ll let you see her tidy kitchen, but don’t open the door upstairs and reveal the piles of laundry.  If you stop by unannounced, you will see dishes in the sink and dirt on the floor.  Don’t let her fool you if she ever looks like her life is always happy: there are moments of complete sadness, moments of utter loneliness, times when she knows she must be the world’s biggest failure as a wife, mother, friend.  But then, she allows her creator to speak truth into her life and He whispers into her despair,

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)  

She never wanted you to see her kitchen like this
She hoped you’d never see her kitchen like this

So she makes the choice to get back up when life knocks her down and she takes one more step towards the life she was called for.  Granted, she sometimes needs to set a timer and throw herself a fabulous little pity party, but she always makes the choice to get get back up on that horse.  And no, she isn’t perfect, but she knows that’s okay because God isn’t done with her yet, so she opens her heart to Him and asks Him to continue His work in her.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6


Super Girl, Super Party, Super Savior

The other day, while eating breakfast, C looked up at me and said, “Mom, you are a superhero.” Of course my heart melted, but I also wanted to hear more. C has an amazing mind and sometime asking a few probing questions will render delightful answers.

Me: That’s kind of you. Which Superhero am I?
C: Wonder Woman.
Me: Oh, really? What does Wonder Woman do?
C: She wonders.
Me: You’re right. I am Wonder Woman!


IMG_1820We don’t often talk about superheroes in my house, with my two little belles. We spend hours talking about the lives of all the Disney princesses, the princesses in their books and of women in the Bible. Last Spring, however, A (almost 2) started putting her washcloth on her back and shouting that she was coming to the rescue! It was so stinkin’ cute, I couldn’t resist throwing her a ‘Super’ birthday party. I started by placing an order for superhero capes and masks from Capes and More on Etsy and am delighted when I still see little heroes zipping around our neighborhood six months later – imagine a party favor that gets used! I also contacted Lowes and had them save a refrigerator box for me. After all, we needed a phone booth in which to change.

IMG_1857At the party, I had each of the kids take a superhero test to ensure they would be able to serve and protest. First, they each had to leap over a tall building, which I’d created by covering a cereal box in dark paper and pasting on yellow rectangles to resemble windows. In retrospect, I wish I’d put a can of something in my building so that it would have stood up better without being held. Next, each of the heroes was tested for their speed. With the foam cone I’d covered in silver paper and put it on the end of dowel, I chased the kids around with my “speeding bullet”. And lastly, we tested their superhuman strength by having them lift a “2,000” barbell, which I’d made from foam and the cardboard roll from wrapping paper.


We had the party at Pullen Park in Raleigh, so we of course also indulged in a train ride, followed by a ride on the carousel.

Food was a bit challenging. We were only a couple months into our new gluten, soy and nightshade [potato, tomato, pepper & eggplant] diet and I was a bit at a loss when it came to party food ideas. I ended up serving cold cuts, cheese I’d cut into the shape of lightning bolts, Jello, cupcakes, fruit wands and rice krispie treats.
-For the lightning bolt cheese slices, I ordered a cookie cutter from Amazon. If I could do it differently, I would have gotten a much smaller one as we were barely able to get one lightning bolt from a slice of cheese.

-I’d meant to cut the Jello into lightning bolts as well, but realized that I was very short on refrigerator space and would never have been able to get this project done and get a couple hours sleep before the party. I was actually rather proud of myself for settling to make Jello parfaits in clear cups rather than the gigglers I’d originally planned. I had two purchased purple, pink and blue and ended up layering them in the cups, but the colors were too similar and the layering it wasn’t actually noticeable.
-The cupcakes are something of a mystery. I’d been working on the with the help my my 4 year old and my niece, when I had to pause to put my girls to bed. I’d left the batter on top of the hot oven and while I was away, the consistency became rather interesting. IMG_1988Once out of the oven, the cupcakes were neither pretty nor yummy. All of them had a concave top, rather than the nice convex tops I’d been hoping for. I decided that filling the cupcakes was going to solve two problems, so I started frantically pulling “stuff” out of my fridge and mixing it on the stove. For breakfast, we’d had crepes and there was still quite a bit of raspberry sauce I’d make from frozen raspberries and honey. I added some lemon zest, then lemon juice, then sugar and I forget what came after that. At some point I just started filling the cupcakes feeling a bit demoralized by my kitchen fiasco. The next day, we added frosting and somehow these little cakes became the rave of the party. My mother-in-law was a little dismayed when I couldn’t share the recipe with her, having no idea what we’d done in the end. I topped the cupcakes with adorable cupcake toppers from Fine & Dandy Printables, also on Etsy.
IMG_1898-The fruit wands turned out rather well. We’d cut watermelon into stars using cookie cutters. We layered grapes, melon and berries onto skewers then topped them with the watermelon stars. They ended up being A’s favorite of all the food we’d prepared.
-I especially liked the rice krispie treats. I’d used gluten-free rice krispies and had followed the directions on the box, adding green food coloring after the marshmallows melted. I’d purchased colored fondant and letter shaped cookie cutters, We cut out three and four letter “super” words like “Zap!”, “Pow” and “Wham!” and had used a tiny bit of frosting applied with a toothpick to stick the words onto the treats.

IMG_4987True to form, the night before the party I was working on ALL the preparations. We had six house guests, three of whom were adults and were kept working late into the night along with Mr. M and an amazing neighbor, who may actually be my twin separated at birth, who was sweet enough not to know what she was getting herself into. Around midnight as my neighbor and I struggled to construct the phone booth, I had an idea to solve a problem we’d been having with the door. In response to her “that was a smart idea” comment, I exclaimed, “If there’s one thing about me you’ll learn it’s that if there is an easy way to do something, that is always the route I will take.” She glanced incredulously around the room at my sister-in-law cutting tiny letters for the rice krispie treats, my brother-in-law cutting watermelon stars, my mother-in-law creating lightning bolts IMG_2017from cheese and my husband hauling the five tubs of decorations to the truck. Quite matter-of-factly, she told me, “Let’s be clear. There is nothing easy about what’s happening her tonight.” The next day, I was of course a bit blearily eyed after getting only 3 hours of sleep. It was raining lightly, so most of the decorations went straight into the trash after the party, including the phone booth that had been hours in the making. The darling picture of all the kids in their capes that I’d hoped would turn out wonderfully didn’t happen because I was too tired to remember to take it. I was grumpy with Mr. M and worse yet, I didn’t end up spending the time I wanted to with my in-laws who were only in for two days. When we live our lives without margin: margin in our time and margin in our finances, we miss out on a lot that God wants us to experience in life. He asks us to follow His example and guess what – He rested after He had done His work. While having a darling birthday party feels important at the time, the time and money we invest in these events does little more than to take our eyes off what’s really important: our faith, our family, our friends and serving others.

The next time you are surrounded by anything by easy of your own creating, remember your creator, the greatest Super Hero of all time – the One who willing and knowingly gave His life to give you freedom and eternal salvation.

But you, O   lord , are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

IMG_1676 Little Miss A, Happy birthday to the sweetest little 2 year old on the planet.  You are fierce, loving, loyal, adoring of you sister.  You are coordinated and athletic.  You are smart and sassy.  We love you so much and know are lives are so much richer with you in them.

The Mentor Who Changed Me

It was a somewhat chilly January day. My husband, away on business, was enjoying the sun of Sydney, Australia, while I was battling to get my two young daughters into appropriate church attire. We’d been invited to church before we’d even moved across the country, two months earlier, but we hadn’t yet managed to get out the door on a Sunday amidst the boxes, holidays and overwhelming laziness. Today, however, I felt triumphant as I slid behind the wheel of my car fifteen minutes before the 10am service started and typed the address into my GPS. Wait. This church is 20 minutes away? Crap. Two things are certain: a) we are not going to make it to church on time and b) this will be the last time we attend this way too far away church. After struggling to find a place to park, having to register my kids at some fancy check-in desk, peeling the girls off of me and leaving them unhappy in unfamiliar surroundings, I enter the sanctuary alone to find a giant, pitch-black room. I actually consider just leaving at this point – my heart pounding as I make my way through the crowd and practically fall into a seat. Soon, the pastor walks onto the stage and began speaking words directly into my heart. Using the analogy of the Dead Sea, he described how so many Christians become spiritually dead by taking and taking without ever pouring into the lives of others – help ME, feed ME, teach ME – but who are they feeding? Huh.  (Watch sermon here)
I, of all people, should intentionally pour myself into the lives of others. After all, I had the extreme privilege of having a mentor who changed the entire course of my life. I was 23 years old and we’d recently moved to Indiana. I was working in the office of an apartment community when the assistant manager and manager positions above my role came open. And she took a chance on me. No one in their right mind would have taken a chance on someone so green – to put me in charge of a 20+ acre community with about 1,000 people calling it their home?! She was experienced enough to know how much work I would be and she signed up for it anyhow. Let’s just say that I didn’t leave her with a lack of coaching opportunities in those first months, but in time, I learned – A LOT.
At the time, I was a pre-Dental Hygiene major; my dad was a dentist and had recently been President of the Washington State Dental Association. Dental Hygiene would have been a safe path for me: my dad could introduce me to dozens of dentists once we moved to Washington State after graduation, the environment was familiar after practically growing up in a dental office and Hygienists were in high demand in Washington. The problem was that I was just not made to be a Hygienist, and she saw that right away. She would plant seeds of doubt by asking questions like,
“Do you think you’ll enjoy not making decisions that affect the bottom-line of a company when you’re a Dental Hygienist?”
When the time came for me to turn in my application for Hygiene school, I couldn’t make myself actually take that step. I can’t picture what my life would be like had I pursued the safe route all those years ago, but I’m certain it wouldn’t have filled me with purpose the way consistently using my God-given gifts has.

What I can picture clearly is the mentor who forever changed my life:
1. She truly cared about me as a person. When we worked together, I’m not sure there was anyone on this planet who knew me as well as she did – the good, the bad, the really ugly when things didn’t go my way. Yet, she still cared about me. Her concern for my best interest had me hanging on every word of coaching she provided. If your mentee doesn’t know you care about them both professionally and personally, that you have their best interest at heart, you cannot be effective in helping them reach their best. Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Who knows you well enough to trust you to lead them?

2. She taught me her way, then let me learn my way. How hard it must have been to watch someone with so little experience try new things, especially when not all of them were successful. Incredibly valuable to me and my growth was how she would present the whys of how things were being done, then she would allow me to try to innovate on the process. My advice to those who are new in role, especially those who are early in their careers, is to first spend your energy absorbing how things are being done and how all those processes intersect – free of judgement. Then, once you have a good understanding of how all the pieces fit together, don’t be afraid to voice your ideas. While the fresh perspective you bring to your position can be valuable to your organization, you need to earn the respect of your management and your peers before they will trust your opinion. Trust that God, in His infinite wisdom, has placed that mentor in your life to teach you things you cannot learn on your own.
For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. (Romans 13:1)

3. When she didn’t have anything nice to say, she still spoke the truth to me. Sometimes we allow our desire to not hurt someone’s feelings rob them of the ability to learn and grow. I think that the most effective mentor is one who won’t back away from the tough conversations, but will then let their mentee absorb the feedback and also have the space to implement the necessary changes. Try to bring your mentee not only areas for development, but also potential ways to implement the changes they need to make in order to take their career to the next level. It is painful to struggle to improve without knowing how, your suggestions for improvement could make the difference between your mentee thriving and giving up.
To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. (Proverbs 12:1)

4. She cheered me on when I had a win. So many times we easily spot the flaws in those around us, but when was the last time we intentionally complemented someone? Help build your mentee’s confidence, and your skill set, by allowing your mentee to show you that they can shine. Winning is always a team sport – cheer each other on for the biggest wins of all. Don’t feel threatened by the success of your mentee, rather see their success as raising the bar your team or your organization.  Keep your skills fresh by allowing your mentee to learn new skills and bring new ideas to the table.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

I am certain I would not have been able to find the career satisfaction I’ve enjoyed over the years had it not been for this amazing mentor.  Wherever you are in your career, find someone who is one or two steps ahead of you and find a way to contribute to their success so that they in turn will have the capacity to contribute to yours.  Mentorship should always be a two way street, with both parties giving and in turn, you should find someone who you can pour your life into.
Thank you, Jayne.  Without your coaching and encouragement, I would not be where I am today.

Four Years Richer – Miss C’s Birthday

ad878-img_1054I am three days away from the anniversary of the birth of the little girl who gave me the title “Mom” for the first time. Every year around this time, I have a wave of nostalgia – thinking about my life pre Miss C, the difficult pregnancy I never thought she would survive and all the moments in between. She is such a smart girl, always questioning the status quo, always trying to do things the “right” way. I am consistently amazed by how her mind works. She is funny, sweet and caring. I am four years richer for God having allowed me to be a part of her life and couldn’t be more in love. As Miss A shows her personality more and more, I realize I have one girl who chooses to follow the rules and another who chooses to follow her heart. The other day, C told me, “Mom, I’m just a little girl and sometimes little girls don’t know everything they are supposed to do.” Well, sweetheart, I am honored to be your mom when you are a little girl, when you become a young lady and for the rest of my life.

C has been talking about her “upcoming” birthday party for the past 8+ months and asked for a repeat of some of the details from her last party (like the octopus marshmallow pops).  After moving only three weeks ago, taking more than two days to work on the food and decorations wasn’t feasible.  Pinterest let me down in generating ideas for a Sophia the First party.  BUT, with the help of Mr. M and his mom, I think we pulled it off!

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[Decorations included a  Sophia the First “Birthday  Princess” banner, a couple feather trees I made using a couple boas,  foam core and ribbon, a gorgeous cake that was delivered by an AMAZING  local baker (huge thanks to our new neighbors for the recommendation)  and troll marshmallow pops.]

314e8-img_0299I hadn’t been able to nail Claire down on what she wanted to serve for dinner until the morning of the party.  Mr. M shared that he was feeling a bit anxious when he woke up that morning knowing we didn’t even have a menu planned for our 15 birthday guests.  In desperation, I told Claire I would be making coconut shrimp and mac and cheese and asked if she wanted anything else.  Her reply: waffles.  Of course!  Her favorite meal is breakfast!  Our menu became French Toast, Sausage and Blueberries.  Add apple juice and we had a big winner.    As a special birthday treat, I didn’t even make Claire eat the sausage.

b34d7-img_442434f02-img_4418The forecast was calling for rain and I wasn’t sure how to entertain 8 kids aged 20 months to 9 years old – both boys and girls.  I could figure out a group of all girls, or a group all around the ages of my kids, but what to do with older kids who are boys?  A co-worker suggested having them decorate cookies.  Perfect!  Sophia and her friends decorated tea cups in one episode so C and her grandma cut sugar cookies into tea pots, tea cups and circles (for the boys).  Unfortunately, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of my new oven so they all came out as lumpy circles, but that didn’t seem to bother the master decorators.  We had purple (Sophia), yellow (Amber) and green (James) frosting with an array of sprinkles.  Claire’s cookie ended up being about an inch thick once she frosted it and add sprinkles.  =)  The kids also played a hotter/colder with a hidden unicorn.  Though the older kids rolled their eyes when I brought it up, everyone seemed to be having a good time except the birthday girl who was a little obsessed with when she was going to get to open her presents.  Ah the manners of a four year old.  =)

Four Years Richer - Miss C's BirthdayLittle sister was a bit overwhelmed by all the older kids and was happy to find a more quite spot to play alone.




7a2e2-img_0369Claire of course enjoyed the gift part of her party, and continues to enjoy her gifts today – having her dad read and re-read her card from her new friend, laying out her dresses admire them and test them for how much they twirl and confirming who gave her each gift.  Such a girl!  Happy birthday to my sweet, wonderful, amazing 4 year old!


empathetic – caring – amazing memory – dramatic – detail oriented – sentimental – happy – all girl


Rain, Rain, Go Away

Having grown up in the semi-desert of North Central Washington, I spent my childhood in awe of the lush, green beauty of Western Washington.  In 1999, living in the high desert of Arizona, I secured a promise from Mr. M that after we left the military, we would move to that area.  Upon leaving the military in 2002, however, we chose to relocate to Indiana to attend school in a lower cost of living area and spend time with Mr. M’s family.  When the time came for us to move to Seattle in 2006, Mr. M was fairly certain that the colder weather and greyer climate wouldn’t be a good fit for him, but I was convinced that given enough time, he would become enchanted with the Emerald City, just as I had so many years earlier.  With a commitment that we could leave Seattle for a more suitable area if after two years Mr. M wasn’t happy, we hit the road in our Uhaul bound for the Evergreen State.

With the economy booming and Mr. M and I both holding secure long-term jobs in government and banking in late 2006, we purchased a home southeast of the city.  Sigh.  Seven years later, our commute times are on average an hour and a half each way, our house is worth about 2/3 what we purchased it for and our kids are spending WAY too much time at daycare.  Mr. M is miserable with the cold, damp, grey climate six to nine months out of every year and S feels guilty for not giving enough time to the girls.  Overall, the situation isn’t sustainable so S suggests selling the house at a loss to move closer to the office.  Mr. M is enthusiastic and happily agrees to move to Tampa.  S begins a WHOA, WHOA, WHOA that doesn’t sound like Ballard, West Seattle or Issaquah tap dance then spends a few weeks wrapping her mind around the idea of “not Seattle”.

Several weeks later, Mr. M and S embark on a very tedious and time consuming journey to discover what criteria to consider in their new home.  Making the top of the list were clean air (due to C’s asthma), close proximity to Children’s hospital (due to C’s asthma), state school rating greater than Washington State schools, average to low cost of living, average to low unemployment, medium to medium-large sized city, more average days of sunshine and warmer climate.  With a map of the US in front of us, we crossed off metro by metro until we we left with only a handful of locations with Charlotte and Raleigh North Carolina as the front runners.

Having never been to North Carolina, we both felt the research was leading us to Raleigh, but wanted to visit the area to confirm what we’d discovered online with our own eyes.  With the help of friends in the area, we mapped out an itinerary to learn all we could about Charlotte and Raleigh over the course of a week and guess what – we are GREAT researchers!  Raleigh was everything we hoped for and more.

With a goal of being in the Triangle with 18 months or so, we put our house on the market and started putting out feelers for jobs.  Within a 36 hour period, Mr. M had a new role, we’d sold our house and had an offer accepted on a house in Raleigh!  It seems as though Mr. M, Mrs. S, C and A will be Tarheels by Thanksgiving.