writing sample

In all my job applications, only one company has requested a writing sample. They did not want to read through template based, tradition cover letters. Instead, a written explanation of personal and professional values was requested. I think they hoped that the applicant would take time to research the company and try to make a connection between the two entities values.

I wrote one such letter to this company back in February, and never heard back from them. To be fair, it was cheesy and the metaphorical comparison I attempted didn’t deliver. This week, the competitive spirit in me wanted to try again. Applications in todays’ job search are based on automated resume review systems and thrive off of key words. A computer program scans a resume before any human eyes see it. For a writing sample like this, I took a gamble that it would be human read, not computer reviewed. So, instead of a metaphorical type letter with strengths and passions woven throughout, I amped it up. I went for soul, scenery and a story. Sometimes that happens when I write… I get in a certain mood and the words just flow. The resulting letter was over the top, exaggerated and made me laugh out loud when I read it.

But here’s the crazy thing; it worked. Interview scheduled within 24 hours of submitting the application.

And, while I am being all transparent and sharing. My second letter may or may not have included this gem of a phrase, “…Olympic sweat and tears.”

Apparently, the story and scenery worked. When you’re writing, go with your gut! Use the stories and scenery when the muse leads that way. And, always, always try again!

 

 

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damage severely.

“I’ve always thought that hotel sales managers had the best jobs in hotels. They work bankers hours, and still get to participate greatly in one of the top industries worldwide. Every one of them that I’ve ever encountered was a pleasure to work with, and they seem to escape the horrific burn out suffered by hotel managers and assistant managers.” – a guy named “John”.

The quote above almost knocked me off my chair during an interview recently. “John” had just admitted something about hospitality that is true beyond words.  He was also interviewing me to join his company. I had already admitted to stepping back from my career as a hotel manager to pursue other interests and enjoy life a little bit more than the job had allowed for. He got it! He understood that the job is too demanding, and that the results are disastrous and, in his word, horrific. And, he did not judge me for admitting that I was a victim of this. In fact, he praised my acknowledgment of the situation and my ability to change the circumstances.

 

I wrote about being burnt out from my job nearly six months ago. In the days and weeks since my life changing decision to walk away, I have wondered frequently, ‘How long will it take me to unwind? To recharge? To be ready to dive halfway back in to a career? I hadn’t realized how severely my overworking had damaged me. Who am I anymore? I don’t recognize me.”

“severely damaged” is one definition of knackered.

What. A. Huge. Word.

But that’s what I WAS. It’s worth admitting and thinking about and working through. And, it’s worth leaving behind. After months of free time, travels, hours and hours and hours of family time, too much sleep and not quite enough runs later, I am happy to say that I no longer feel … knackered.

Thanks, “John”, for your comments!

Thanks, Daily Prompt, for the ideal word for today’s daily writing prompt!

via Daily Prompt: Knackered
Knackered

banana bread.

Thanks to the author of a banana bread recipe posted on Simply Recipe’s website, and a few personal add-on’s and subtractions, I have a new favorite recipe. I adapted the one listed on the website to suit my taste buds and here it is for your baking pleasure.

 

  • 3 to 4 very ripe bananas, peeled. If they’re frozen, heat in microwave to make them mix-able.
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine. (the key here is melted!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar (unless you want dessert, then add more sugar)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 handful of chocolate chips or nuts

Mix all the ingredients in one bowl until you’re happy with the consistency.  Pour the batter into a greased and floured pan and throw in the over (350 degrees) for 45 or 50 minutes.

Final product…

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Enjoy!!

 

 

take me to church.

This is the question I’ve been asking recently: Is it possible that we hold the church experience too high? Was the last one SO GOOD that all the rest don’t hold up?  Do we really compare and contrast the Church Experience to the degree that one is the baseline and nothing else stands up? That’s what girls are supposed to say about boys, right? “He’ll never be what _______ was.” Or, maybe that’s what we say when we compare professors within a department, or managers within a company or artists singing the same tune? Probably though, not what a Christian is supposed to say about church.

If we are honest, isn’t this exactly what happens?

When I was growing up church was quiet. Sitting still and staying awake were required. Attendance was definitely not optional. Collared shirts and a skirt, also not optional. Old world hymns – songs with too many verses and a stale air of holiness filled in the gaps between scripture readings and sermons. (Sorry, Aunts that sing and treasure the ancient musical genius of these songs. Bare with me, I think I have a point to make.) Church was not high school kid friendly and it was downright boring. Now, Church isn’t about being entertained, but stay with me…

One Sunday it all changed. Church was loud. There were drums, guitars, keyboards and there was no choir. Jeans were welcomed, and there was laughter and celebration and noise. And, it was incredible.

Oh, and there was Rob Bell.

Rob Bell used the Bible in a Sermon in a way that I’d never seen before. The first time I went to this church, I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the pace of the message. Now, I am a Christian school kid that won multiple Bible drills throughout the years. If you aren’t familiar with this game, it starts with the one and only Mr. Brian Houston’s Bible class. He stood with a room full of high school students seated at their desks with a closed Bible in front of them. Mr. Houston said a random Bible verse, and the first student to pick up the Bible and locate the verse won. Fun game, one-of-a-kind teacher! But, I digress…The structure and style of a Rob Bell sermon was unlike anything I’d experienced before. He started with one verse and quickly covered 3-8 more during one sermon. He tied them all together and he explained what the metaphors meant in Bible time culture. This gave us a reference point and allowed us to more accurately understand what the point was and why the emphasis meant what it did. This type of sermon required serious Bible Drill skills. It was a history, geography, philosophy and theology lesson all neatly wrapped up and delivered as one message. I loved it! Alternatively, sermons growing up had always been based around one verse, and that one verse was read from Scripture at the very beginning of the message and then the Bible was put away. Two distinct Sermon styles, indeed. I can only wonder what it  would have been about grandpa’s sermon style that stuck out in memories…

Church with Rob Bell was an invigorating learning experience that bore no resemblance to the Church experience I had growing up. And, recently, I’ve wondered if those experiences are the reason that I haven’t found a church home in the years since. Okay, let’s be honest, I’ve worked nearly every Sunday for the last 5 years and that seriously puts a damper on finding a church.

If Church is about worship and growing closer to God, does the dress code matter? If spending time in a community of believers to dive deeper into a relationship with Christ is the purpose, does the style of music matter? If learning more about scripture is a reason to attend a weekly service, does the number of verses covered each week matter?

There is one other difference between the church of my childhood and Mars Hill Bible Church, and that is where they were located. Growing up we had a fancy sanctuary and the building was well cared for and remodeled every few years. It was nice! Mars Hill was in a rundown, abandoned shopping mall. Was church about the building or the people inside? Which building in the community will stand the test of time? Which one will the next generation see as the Best in Town – a bank? a school? a business? a church?(Thanks to my Aunt Ruth for this thought/comparison!) So much more about this specific topic later.

Churches vary as much as the faces of the community in which they stand and I think there is a church for everyone. I miss everything about Mars Hill Bible Church with Rob Bell (and, Aaron Niequist, the worship leader, but that’s a different post!) Maybe I haven’t found a new church because I haven’t looked or because I worked every Sunday. But, honestly, I think it’s because I compare every single one to my experiences at that other church.

 

Why is she writing about this now, you ask??

I found Drops Like Stars on youtube. It’s a two and a half hour live film of Rob talking about one of his new books. It was … awesome. Below is the quote that keeps coming to mind, and what my next post will likely try to wrestle with.

“What is it about suffering that creates a sort of solidarity that wealth, health and abundance..doesn’t?”

 

Thanks for reading today’s rambling thoughts and journeys through memory lane!

the messy middle.

Strong leaders thrive or fail in the everyday business situations for which the rules were not written. Our budget might have a limit that prevents us from activating the simplest solution. The Guest may ask for something that we are not technically able to provide or accomplish. The token standout individual on the team may not “fit in” or “fit the image we’re trying to portray” but the skill set is ideal, so we make it work. Or, the bright bubbly personality may have zero experience, but we can train the skill, so we make it happen. This is the messy middle. The space where “black and white” cannot exist. The space for creativity, ethics, morals, a sense of right and wrong, a desire to please, a competitive spirit, and a sense of risk take over the rule book.  It is in this space, the gray space, where leaders rise and fall.

via Daily Prompt: Gray

Paint Something.

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine, while listening to my verbal tirade about not knowing what to do with my “unemployed, but by choice” lifestyle, told me to “go paint something.” It struck me that this friend was recommending that I do something hands on and creative. I am not typically seen as a creative type, but even this friend knew that sometimes creativity needs to flow. And, for the record, this comment was made in jest to a degree as this friend knows that I often just paint something.

Happy Easter Sunday! Springtime is officially underway and today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. New baby animals are running around the world while flowers of all colors are blanketing the landscape. All the local cleaning companies are busily promoting their annual spring cleaning price cuts. It’s a new season, indeed.

I don’t have carpet in my house, or rugs of any kind. I have a dog and no vacuum cleaner and wood floors just make more sense. Here’s the problem….This is my coffee table.

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It’s gorgeous and the right height and a style that I like…. it also blends in with the floor. Perfectly.

So, in the spirit of springtime and renewal…. Today’s project:

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Step 1: Move coffee table out to the deck.

Step 2: Cover the metal bands with tape to protect them.

Step 3: Sand the table top (so that the paint will stick)

Step 4: Blend together all the white and tan toned paints leftover from all the other house projects until the ideal color is reached. Apply one coat and let dry. Repeat…

Step 5: Final product!

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And, another angle….

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Now the coffee table matches the fireplace, trim and homemade clock. It also brightens up the room and it stands out from the floor! Mission accomplished!

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Happy Easter Sunday and a merry season of springtime and renewal to you and yours! Next up on the DIY home project list…. Stick around to find out!

curried lentils.

Lentils have made their way into my diet on a multiple time per week basis this year thanks to a family member showing me how to make them. Turns out, they’re healthy, easy to prepare and fairly inexpensive. Win, win, win!

As long as plenty of spices are added to the broth, lentils can create a wonderful base to a meal. Tonight, I chose to boil the lentils in chicken broth, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, black pepper and some curry powder. Once prepared, I added steamed edamame and red grapes and a splash of coconut milk… truly delicious! (They also reheat remarkably well!

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In order to help make this less of a “guess what I had for dinner” post, consider this….

Why do we share food pictures? I’m not the only one. Thousands of people snap pictures of their food, whether they prepared the food or not, and send the pictures to friends, family and the whole world via social media. I realize that you probably could not care less about what I eat. Ever. And, yet I continue to share…

During a recent and rare shared meal with a treasured family member, something  that I’ve pondered for months finally dawned on me…

Humans weren’t created to live life alone, and from the very beginning breaking bread with loved ones, strangers and new friends has been modeled and storied throughout the world. Spain closes every single day for 3 hours to allow family and friends to share lunch together. Children are let out of school, parents go home from work and entire families eat together. From personal experience, I can tell you that this is the biggest meal of the day, and it is always homemade. Also, a nap follows every meal! Costa Rican’s, on the other hand, do not make a priority of sharing meals. The culture is very different, and food doesn’t play a role in culture the same way that it does in Spain. So, why do American’s share food pictures?

We. Are. Lonely.

Kids move across the country – or the world – from their parents and extended families to study in universities and follow their dreams (or paychecks!). The nuclear family is broken and fractured across our society. We also work more hours and accomplish less than most other countries on the planet. We are literally too busy to eat. Even in Costa Rica, where food is a necessity rather than a luxury, there is time to eat freshly prepared, organically grown food. Maybe the kids are out of the house, and maybe there isn’t time to prepare something because the boss needs you back at the office, or there is an assignment due for class or any other host of contributing factors. If our loved ones are spread around the world, and our lives demand too much, then how will we share the dining experience with others? We use technology! We send pictures not to show the colors or brag about recipes, but to desperately try and share the eating experience with the people that we love. Somewhere buried deep inside of us is a deep, natural, necessity to share nourishment with other people. And, it makes sense! Who likes to eat alone?

Food for thought, for your food!

(Oh. And, before I get a barrage of emails wondering why I’m so lonely that I crafted a post about eating alone…. This is simply something I’ve been considering for a while, and after a special meal with a loved relative, I realized it was worth sharing. Really! I’m good! And, well fed 😉 )

Enjoy your food, your family and keep the pictures going!