When Faith Supplants Fear

faithoverfearI’ve been on a wild goose chase for five years.

It all started when my husband and I first relocated to Orlando from Alabama in August 2011. News and social media were my passions. I took a job managing the website of one of the local news channels. They even paid for my relocation.

Six months later, it all came crashing down.

One afternoon, I was ushered into the news director’s office. There, I was told that I was a square peg, that my contract would not be renewed, and that I had six months to find a new job.

Did I mention that I was told all of this on my birthday?

I had never experienced any sort of career setback before. I was gut-punched. Granted, I was not loving my job at that point, having butted heads with leadership on issues I felt were important for digital, such as having website staffers cover more hours of the day. I was already plotting how best to find something new once my contract was up.

I spent the next six weeks going to work knowing that I was not wanted. On top of that, I had a non-compete, and couldn’t take a job at a direct competitor right away.

Luckily, I stumbled upon an opportunity at a niche magazine publisher, as a digital content director for a group of enthusiast magazines. There, I managed editorial and website projects for a year. But the company was going through the same major issues that all publishers have been facing, and had to shut down some titles and  lay off several people.

And I was one of them.

Here we go again. At least this time, I got a glowing recommendation letter from my manager.

From there, I began floating from one opportunity to the next. I was no longer in charge. I just wanted a job that would pay me, that didn’t hate me or lay me off. And from there, I made the mistake of leaving the news industry, and leaving my passions behind.

Since that layoff in April 2013, I’ve held four different jobs in marketing and digital agencies. Four jobs in 3.5 years.

I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t want it that way. And deep down, I hated it. I hated working on projects with no meaning, that only existed to sell, sell, sell. I hated the sometimes-contentious client relationships that my anxiety-ridden, overly trusting, too-nice self had to deal with. I hated that I had to work with clients who I sometimes felt morally wrong dealing with. I hated having to lie to clients about who was really doing their work — often interns or contractors.

I was also operating on fear: fear that I would be fired or laid off everywhere I went. And when fear is running your brain, it has a way of manifesting itself. Of those four jobs since April 2013, I was laid off once (budget cuts, again) and fired twice. In the process, I dragged my poor husband to Atlanta and back. He was unemployed for a year during our time there. And since April 2013, I’ve spent nearly six months unemployed myself as fear ruled my heart.

But then, something started to change. Over the last month or so, faith has supplanted fear in my heart. I finally had that aha moment about my passions, my fears, and my dreams. And what I realized is that I belong back in the news industry.

And as luck would have it, the perfect fit of a job came along. I start Monday as Social Media Strategist for Hearst Television.

Here’s how perfect it is: I’ll be reporting to a guy I have known for years. Above him is a guy who was my equal at different news stations back in 2008-10. On my team is a guy who I once interviewed for a job with me, and a gal who I recently figured out is my sorority sister from another school. On top of that, my old news station in Alabama was acquired by Hearst, and I may have the chance to work with them again.

How cool is that?

The moral of the story: Don’t let fear rule your heart. When faith overrules fear, great things can and will happen.


Professional Job-Seeker

A cover letter from the old Kristen.


Dear HR Person at Your Awesome Company,

Hi! I’m Kristen. I’m a professional job-seeker who has spent nearly 6 months of the last 5 years unemployed. My longest stint of unemployment was 3 months. My shortest: two weeks (booyah!).

I consider myself to be an expert at the following: Checking 4 times daily for the perfect job, applying for jobs on LinkedIn at 3 a.m., interviewing well, knowing all the third-party recruiters in the area by name, and tweaking my resume often.

If you offer me a job with a decent salary, I’ll more than likely take it, because my biggest fear is remaining unemployed. I feel immense pressure to keep my home and my car, provide for my family, and not go into bankruptcy. 

Thank you for your consideration,



Seriously, y’all…. that was my mindset until recently. Of course I’m still wanting to find a job. Of course I still worry about my financial obligations. But what I’ve recently let go of is the FEAR. I’m no longer scared of the what-ifs. I’m no longer tied to a certain salary. And I know in my heart what I’m good at and what I can offer. And I have complete faith that things will work out for me.

napoleon-hillA book I can recommend to help you through a tough time, and achieve a breakthrough in your life: Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill is long gone from this world, and this book was written in 1938. The catch: it wasn’t released until 2011, when we were in the throes of our latest economic downturn.

Fun fact: Hill is known as the father of today’s self-improvement book category. This book is as relevant now as when it was first written. I’m not even finished with this book, and it’s already changed my mindset. If you’re feeling challenged in life, do yourself a favor, spend the $9 on Amazon and read it. I wish my dad was around so that I could have him read it and share his thoughts with me.

Have you read any Napoleon Hill books? Any other self-improvement books that you would recommend?



Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose: Reigniting My Passion for Social Media

I’m unemployed. My husband is unemployed (but nearly done with school to become a front end web developer). We’re in debt. We have a lot of financial obligations.

Normally, in this situation — and I’ve been faced with it before — I would commence to FREAK THE F*CK OUT and take the first job I could get that somewhat matched my salary expectations and experience. Because I was motivated by fear: fear of creditors, fear of not having a place to live, fear of not having a car, fear of not having a professional identity.

This time, though, it’s different. This time, there is some real clarity about what it is I need to do.

If you time-travel back 6 years ago, to 2010, I was reveling in my passion: social media and social journalism. I was executive director of the Alabama Social Media Association. I was managing social media at, Alabama’s largest news media website.

I’ve since veered off-course. After moving to Orlando, I held positions in the digital space, but none of them involved social media to the extent that it was my entire job. And the past two years have been somewhat of a nightmare for me, working in digital agencies in Atlanta and Orlando. There was no social media, no community engagement, no digital content for me to work on directly, just managing digital projects for clients that I sometimes didn’t even morally feel right working for. It was anxious, soulless busywork — for me, at least.

So now, I’m setting out to course-correct. The work I enjoyed the most is the work I was able to do in Alabama, teaching journalists to engage on social with their readers and viewers, and engaging with them myself. Whether I’m working with local news media, a web-only operation, or something on the national level remains to be seen, but it’s what I want.

Writing, editing, teaching, mentoring, analyzing, tweaking, improving, and creating great content is my passion. I’m not sure how, exactly, I veered this far off course, but I’m glad to finally be back, to be myself again, to really feel again.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity like this in your career? What did you do about it?



A Better Career, a Healthier Life

It’s been a tough few years for me.

I blogged a little bit more about my situation over at Medium earlier today. (Feel free to read, then come back here.)

How have I really gotten where I am? I think it’s through a series of poor decisions based on money, a big dose of fear, a bit of bad luck, and what I thought I really needed to be happy.

But as we all know, money doesn’t buy happiness. Happiness is felt through doing what you love and loving those who love you.

True happiness doesn’t come from impulse shopping, impulse eating, or how many likes your latest post gets on Facebook or Instagram.

For me, true happiness comes from what I love: my husband, my family, my dog, chiefly; but also doing what I love. And for the past several years, I haven’t been doing what I love. No wonder I’ve been dealing with anxiety, weight gain, and so on.

What I love: teaching and mentoring. What I love: Writing and creating. What I love: Genuine conversation. What I love: How social media can bring so much of this together.

Until now, I had all but quit creating, teaching and mentoring. I was working in a stressful agency environment that only exacerbated my anxiety. Sure, I’m organized and communicative, but I hated the agency-client relationship. I wanted to make genuine connections with those I worked with. And let’s face it, that’s hard to do in that kind of workplace.

So now, I move forward, fresh. Money no longer motivates me. I’m no longer led by fear of not being able to pay my debts, or lose my earthly belongings. I still aim to take care of myself and my family, but I have to let the things that truly make me happy guide me.

What do you love? Are you doing it?

career, digital


What a crazy few months it’s been! Back in October, my husband, pup and I returned to Florida. I worked from home for Swarm Agency through January, but I’m now on a quest to find a new fit for me local to Orlando. I’ve dubbed it #helloorlando.

This job search has been ongoing for roughly a month. I’ve had a lot of luck this time around. So far, I’ve had in-person interviews with 5 potential employers, and have made it to advanced rounds with two of those. I would have made it to advanced rounds with three, but one had the dreaded hiring freeze put into place.

I’m also finding that my varied experience is getting me interviews for several types of positions, including technical account manager, marketing manager, digital project manager, business analyst and digital product manager positions. At the end of the day, all of these involve digital know-how and project management skills.

I’ve also had touch points with a lot of recruitment agencies here in Orlando. I’ve found the folks at Ciber, Theoris, TEKSystems and Conexess to be the most helpful and professional, although it’s looking like in the end, the job I land may be one where I was directly recruited or directly applied to the position. Funny  how things work out!

LinkedIn has been wonderful. I sprang for the JobSeeker Premium, which was free for the first month, and it’s been so helpful. I’ve also found that a lot of companies are using ZipRecruiter these days. I also like the Indeed job search engine, and have alerts set up with LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed. The “suggested jobs”emails I get are the funniest though. Pretty sure I would NOT make a good construction site project manager, ha.

My goal is to have this job search wound down and starting a new job by no later than March 21. Hopefully I can make that goal. Wish me luck!


Sitting In My Empty House

Here I sit, in a house in Austell, Georgia, empty for all but a few belongings to get me through tomorrow afternoon, when I will depart for my and my husband’s new home in Clermont, Florida.

This past year — wow, it’s been quite the ride. I don’t think I have grown more as a professional than I have during the past year. I’ve had some major victories, made some big mistakes (and been forgiven for them), and I’ve done everything possible to perform at my best. I’ve learned so much about managing projects, holding clients and my team accountable, and I’ve learned a whole heap more about the marketing industry and about the industries of my agency’s clients.

And the best part… I’ve found my work family.

I can’t say enough about how much I will miss being in the office every day with my amazing team. They make every day fun, and we get through major challenges together on the reg. They understand my weird, random sense of humor — because they’re all a bit kooky in their own ways, too.

A few other things I’ll miss: Our huge backyard, and our massive garage to match. The house we’re renting in Florida leaves a little to be desired in the roominess department in both of those categories. Also, proximity to family and friends in Alabama. And the beautiful spring and fall weather. No thanks on the winter weather, though!

I’ll also miss the Southern accents, the Southern hospitality, and the regional allegiance to SEC football. Yes, the Gators may play in Florida, but let’s face it… Florida just isn’t Southern like the rest of the deep South.

A few things I won’t miss: The terrible Atlanta traffic… the seasonal allergies and yellow pollen coating cars each spring… and oh, did I mention the traffic?

I’m looking forward to putting down our roots in Florida, working toward buying a home, starting a family, and continuing down my path with my awesome employer. I can’t thank them enough for being willing to keep me on, and I’ll do my best to make sure they don’t regret it!


“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”

This quote has been my mantra for several months now.

Let’s rewind back to what feels like a lifetime ago: August 2014, when, after just 10 weeks on the job as a contractor for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online, I was told my contract would end in two weeks due to budget shortfalls.

I was devastated. After losing my dad to a sudden illness in January 2014, I made the decision in May to leave my steady job and take the leap as a contractor with WDPRO, signing on to 1 year with the company. Working for Disney had always been my dream. And it was a great gig, with nice people, interesting projects, and an endless supply of Coca-Cola products.

The worst part about it was that my stint was cut so, so short. I had finished training and ramping up, and was really getting to know the brands, the projects and the people involved in my work.

So, I started looking. I was anxious to find something quickly, as I bring in about 2/3 of my family’s income, and we rely on my salary to pay our monthly expenses.

I first started looking in the Orlando area, and was happy to quickly begin talks with some local companies and agencies… only to see all of those opportunities fizzle out. I spoke with my former employer, who agreed to bring me on part-time, but couldn’t commit to full-time. I gratefully accepted and continue on with them to this day as a consultant.

So, after a couple of weeks, I expanded my job search net to include Tampa, Atlanta and Birmingham. And a few phone calls and Skype video chats later, I found myself seated at a conference room table with the leadership team of the Swarm Agency in the west Midtown area of Atlanta.

We clicked. I could tell it from the get-go that this was a great team of scrappy, genuine people with a sense of humor and a desire to grow and learn together. And shortly thereafter, I received an offer to join the Swarm team as a project manager.

Fraught with anxiety, I discussed the issue with my family. I made the decision to relocate to Atlanta and take the job, not knowing what sort of job my husband would find in Atlanta. And he went along with the relocation, though not happily. And I found out later on that my husband did not feel comfortable speaking up about his true feelings — that we belong in Florida — because of the loss of my dad. He did not want to stir up trouble in my time of grief.

But trouble we encountered, when my amazing Disney chef husband could not find anything up his alley as a mid-tier chef in Atlanta. And we were homesick for Florida, more so than I ever thought I would be, having grown up in the Atlanta area. My husband was right. We belong in Florida.

So after six months on the job in Atlanta, I made the decision to share with Swarm Agency leadership that we will relocate back to Orlando this fall, to allow my husband to return to his career as a chef at Walt Disney World.

And Swarm’s response? “We love you, you’re awesome, and we still want you to work with us.”


So I can now proudly announce that as of October, I will work remotely for the Swarm Agency, traveling to Atlanta as necessary.

And I can say that more than ever, I am so happy that I made the decision to come to Atlanta. I am happy to have found a mutual match in an employer that values its employees as people, not commodities. And I am happy to continue on with Swarm, happily buzzing away from my home office.

Thank you, Swarm, for making my difficult road lead to a beautiful destination.