Friday, August 28, 2009

Thomas Merton on Dealing with Stress in Job Search

I grew up in a family that placed great emphasis on giving back to the community. The involvement by my parents in many different volunteer capacities, including leadership positions on various boards was a blue print for how I have chosen to live my life. I have always felt the need to use my gifts of talent, time and treasure to help make a difference in my local community. In fact, I believe that I have blogged about this before: here.

I am currently on the Advisory Board for the group Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati and will be working with the Business Development Group of Cincinnati's United Way organization, but the group that I wanted to bring up here in this space is the IHM Job Search Ministry, whose leadership board, I have recently joined. Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) is one of the largest Catholic parishes in the archdioces of Cincinnati. This group is an off-shoot of the well-known Job Search Focus Group (JSFG) in Hyde Park (Cincinnati suburb). The goal of the group is to provide training, coaching and support to the many folks in the area who are in transition. Job search is more than a full time "work" process, but is also an emotional journey lined with worry, stress and self-doubt especially given the economic conditions in the world today.

The IHM group met last night, and our speaker was well known area psychiatrist, Dr. Buzz Auvil, who spoke on the topic of Stress. Just wanted to leave folks with a list of strategies that Buzz recommended to the group to help alleviate the overwhelming feelings that can occur during job search or during any type of life transition.

  • Own the Stress-once you own it, you can control it!
  • Take Care of Physical Needs: exercise, eating right
  • Seek Support
  • Take a Break
  • Get to Know Yourself
  • Learn Relaxation Techniques
  • Spiritual Practice-prayer, kindness to others, meditation, spiritual reading
Buzz opened the session with a wonderful prayer from Thomas Merton that I wanted to share with you:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Image credit:
Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ghost Walking Upon My Grave

Another wet, cold rainy summer day in Cincinnati.....

Ever have goosebumps emerge on your arms and feel a prickly sensation cross the surface of your skin??? Well I have had two encounters this weekend with that very same feeling and the gloomy day just adds to the funkyness of it all. My first experience was yesterday evening, while I was out shopping. The muzak that was playing in the store hit a string of consecutive songs that held a lot of meaning for me. By the fourth song, I was beginning to think that someone was seriously trying to get some type of clairvoyant message to me! I don't know if I am unusual or not, but music holds a lot of meaning for me. Somehow my brain ties it to feelings, events, people that I am experiencing while the song is playing. Music always takes me back to that place- so imagine being barraged with multiple songs pointing to a particular time/person in my life.

My second prickly event invo
lved spending time at a Nursing Home today. I had a long conversation with a female resident who is 90 years old and remembers taking her very young children to Aglamesis Brothers for Ice Cream in Oakley (founded in 1908). She was very articulate and talked about growing up in Deer Park and all of the major events of her life. Her eyesight was failing her, but her hearing was great and she could get around with the use of a walker. We met in the hallway on her return from Bingo. She held out her hand to show me the palm full of shiny silver quarters she had won. She was proud of this, as she said that all of her financials were taken care of by her family. She likes to keep change for the kids who annually make a pilgrimage to the center on Halloween night.

Where do the goosebumps come in? Well, they reappeared when she looked into my eyes and told me in a loud whisper that she prays to God every night to take her from this earth. She stated that there is nothing left to live for, save Bingo and that she is ready to go and give her life to someone else. I'm not quite sure if she meant that literally as in organ donation, or if she meant it in some karma/energy of the world kind of way, but I found myself, for once, not knowing what to say.

I looked around the place and took in that "hospital" smell that places like these have and wondered what it would be like to be one of the last ones left. To have children that have gone before you and friends one by one leaving this world. To be the bastion of your generation.

I leave you with some words to really take in and digest from one of my fave bands: Nickelback
"If Today Was Your Last Day:"

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Power down. Log off. Unplug. Have mercy on your thumbs. Browse the World Wide Something Else. Send some not-so-instant-messages. Undo. Hit cancel. Be together."

Ahh the power of Twitter. Just saw a link to this great article in a Tweet by @GuyKawasaki. The writer is college student Lauren Stewert and her blog is: Lauren's Thoughts. The article, "How to Find Time for Face Time and Personal Interaction" deals with stepping away from our virtual relationships and living more in the moment of real time interactions.

What caught my eye was the quote listed above taken from a Dentyne gum commercial. Go to the link and you will see one of the best renditions of taking social media and turning it on its head. We have to remember that social media represents tools to connect with others, but the real deal is in the relationships that develop off-line. So as Diana Ross says in this YouTube video: "Reach out and touch somebody's hand, make it a better day, if you can."

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009


Just hit a Twitter milestone last night by having the 1,000th follower find me organically. I started this Twitter account in February and have followed an organic natural approach to developing a "Tribe". I believe that each Tweeter needs to develop a strategy for their account, whether it is for personal or business usage. This particular account is my personal account and I tweet a variety of messages, both business (social media & marketing related) and general messages (comments on current events, great quotes, etc.). The emphasis here is on "conversation" and building relationships with interesting and knowledgeable people around the globe. I began with four categories of people that I wanted to follow personally: Some follow back and some don't. I occasionally ask a follower how they found me and the answers are quite varied. I have never used an auto-follower or any type of auto-reply message. When someone follows me, I check out their tweets, bio, stats (do they tweet 100X/day, cus I don't want that much noise in my life!!) and their web-site. If they fit one of my four criteria above or seem to be incredibly interesting, then I follow back and send a personal message thanking them for the follow. I always include their name and some tidbit from their page so they will know that it is not an automated response. I enjoy engaging in discussion with other Tweeters. I have built some great on-line and off-line friendships as well as discovered business opportunities and created some partnerships.

The most exciting thing is attending a live networking event, and meeting someone that you have been in conversation with for a while on Twitter. There is always the feeling that you have known the person for a long time, even though you are meeting for the first time!
I have no idea what it will feel like to have 2,000 followers or even 10,000 followers, but for now things feel manageable for this personal account.

A business account is a completely different animal and requires a much different strategy both for following and
obtaining followers. Note the emphasis on the word "obtaining"-with a business account, you would be foolish to let things happen organically. Business accounts demand tribe development- after all, aren't you selling something???

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


A noteworthy piece of news caught my eye this morning over my breakfast of waffles & coffee (Millstone, of course!). I was actually reading a real (as in paper) copy of the Cincinnati Enquirer which is something that I usually reserve for Sundays, because I typically digest my week day news on-line. I scan the on-line headlines for The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and the Cincinnati Enquirer and have late-breaking news alerts emailed to me and of course am instantly updated on Twitter with one of the many media outlets I am following.

But what really struck today me was an article by a writer in Columbus detailing how prisons are utilizing their inmates' "free" time to help grow and harvest food for the many families who find themselves in need due to the devastating economy. It was reported that many of the inmates felt great satisfaction from their ability to make a difference in someone's life. I think this is an incredible concept with wins on all sides. Hungry people are being fed with fresh, nutritious food while people serving their sentences for transgressions committed can feel like they are accomplishing something good and learning some skills that they can use later on the "outside".

I grew up in a family that always had a garden and we children each had a role in the production from weeding and watering to picking and washing the produce. I have many fond memories of being outdoors in the summer in the middle of the rows just marveling at the various varieties of vegetables that were growing. Often times, my brother and I would set up a small table at the end of our suburban driveway and have fun selling the extra tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

I still remember the times that our kitchen was filled with steam from the many jars of tomatoes that my mother canned that would last throughout the winter months. There is something special about growing your own food and the organic aspects of it can't be beat.

When was the last time that you grew some of your own food?

(image credit:

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Ok, had to add some real creative writing, lest my last blog post leave a negative taste in your mouth. Warning though, I'm pulling these from my past files. Enjoy!

Nighttime is our time in our haven of blue and early American that

Yields traces of secrets buried among the stain of tears

Tears of joy, tears of excitement, tears of such incredible emotion

That the pure feelings take on a life of their own

Something you can reach out and grab and hold onto for dear life

Life is something you now possess

Rescued from the brink of the abyss

From the edge of madness; from the depths of an aching soul

Our fingers reached out and touched and a spark ignited the world

The world will never be the same

For the pure possibility that together we walk through it

Making a difference everywhere we go on this path

Called Life.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I just hate when life gets so busy that I neglect my writing. Just realized that it has been a week without any measurable posting. There are so many things that I could write about, but what is burning most in my mind (and which has also been a recurring thread in many posts and updates to FaceBook andTwitter) is the fact that this summer in Cincinnati totally SUCKED!! I don't ever remember weather as horrible and morose as that which graced our lives this summer. It was incredibly rainy and cold. In fact during our July spell of highs in the mid-60s (yes I said HIGHs!), there was a night or two that I was actually contemplating throwing a log onto the fireplace to generate some heat.

It was horrible weather for any sort of outdoor sport or even sitting poolside to bronze in the sun. My garden is waterlogged and the veggies that should have been harvested weeks ago are just now starting to come to maturity. I have absolutely no tan, not even a sun branded flip-flop strap tattoo. One silver lining, is that my lawn is emerald green. A color that it has never been during what used to be called the Dog Days of Summer. Remember when August brought some days in which it was almost too hot to go outside unless you were on a direct mission to the local watering hole (and I'm talking swimming not libations)? Hoping that fall will run more true to form- would definitely like to enjoy the great outdoors soon in between my stops on the social media highway.

(And by the way, that tanned foot in the flower pot is from the summer of 2008 when we really did have hot days!)

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Questions From a Hat Live

Missed out on being in on the fun of New Media Cincinnati 2nd Saturday? You can catch it here:

Great question and answer session on all things Social Meda!

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Media Cincinnati August Meet-Up

Attended the August 2nd Saturday New Media Cincinnati Meet-Up at the Pub in Rookwood Commons. The theme this time around was "Questions from a Hat" and the 50 or so attendees wrote in burning questions that they had regarding social media. Daniel Johnson Jr., founder of NMC, pulled the questions one at a time from his signature baseball cap. The questions were answered by volunteers from the audience and ran the gamut from high
ly technical questions on web development like the one by
@editvdo that was waaay over my head to the interestingly humorous question askin
g who had been working with social media the longest and who had the oldest Twitter account.

If memory serves me right, I believe our Mad Scientist in-residence, Catherine, aka @foxydot and Daniel Johnson Jr., are the group's early Twitter adopters. The question about longevity with social media became debatable around the definition of what social media truly means. Some folks go back many decades to ham radio days and even I submitted to the group that my foray with media and being social started on my driveway in my dad's parked car at age 13 on the CB radio.

Interestingly enough, I just discovered one of those early virtual friends on Facebook. We talked many times over the course of a Jr. High year, and although we were the same age, never met (just too far to ride a bike to). I remembered his real name all these years and found him on a friend's high school reunion FB page. Now we are connected on FB and "talk" often and are "friends" on Twitter (there is a difference between a follower and a friend). In fact, I had been searching my old journals for mention of our CB radio friendship and/or conversations and found the journal with him in it. Will absolutely have to scan some of the pages and post it to FB. I stated he was a "really nice guy" way back at 13 and today, an un-named number of years later, I can truthfully say he is one hell of a nice guy! Some things never change....

I digress, back to NMC.......Daniel did a great job of preparing a message for folks to become acquainted with prior to the meeting. It involved things we could do as a group to keep the noise down while people were speaking, since we have been operating without a microphone. This mic free state works for smaller groups, but we have consistently been getting around 50 folks in attendance. He also asked for the "regulars" (you know who you are!) to break out of their group comfort zone and welcome people who were coming for the first time.

There is always a great mix of people at these events. People of all backgrounds, experience levels and ages: all focused on sharing and learning. Many of the people that I have become good friends with were met in a completely virtual way first on Twitter. It's always so exciting to meet live after establishing an on-line relationship. The profile pics are a big help with identifying folks and that's why it's so important to make sure that you have a high quality professional close-up
for your smaller-than-a-postage stamp size Twitter pic. Back in the day, all we had to recognize our CB radio virtual friends when we met live, was the sound of their voice. Imagine that! And yes, I did participate in a couple CB meet-ups in my town (hoping my mom doesn't read this blog!)-I guess these were pre-cursors to today's Tweet-ups!

So, if you have been seeing a lot of posts about Second Saturdays in Cincinnati, you really must come out and join us. We have a total blast (just check us out in the phone booth above!) learning. sharing, connecting and creating friendships and business relationships. I know where I'll be on Saturday, September 12th
. Won't you join us?

New Media Cincy Phone booth photo taken by Christiaan Todd Photography. They do fantastic work!

Follow me @michellebeckham

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Opportunities to Touch Lives

Contemplating the swirling opportunities that are coming my way. I am enjoying every person I meet; every life I touch; every opportunity to make a difference. If I had a million dollars, I would pour it into a foundation that would help people achieve their personal dreams. I truly believe that happiness comes from being fulfilled and having the opportunity to follow your passions in life and still make a living from them. If we were all granted the ability to use our God-given talents to create good in the world and follow our dreams, imagine what a completely different place this would be.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Life Cut Short

Wondering if your memory will continue to fade
until I can't remember the sound of your voice
The touch of your hand on my face remains
like a phantom limb, gone but ghostly there

Your musical influences continue to rear their heads
every time I have a choice of stations
The power novels stare back at me from the book store shelves
whispering, "remember when we used to read aloud to each other?"

Frost will forever be personified by the image of you reading
and our discussions on fate and the road less traveled by
are burned into my memory

All of those starry nights in which fantasy came alive in the
vessels of our imagination
Rivaling anything that Steinbeck would have written

I thought that my grief was over, that I could move on
yet I hear your voice faintly at my window
like the scratching of tree branches on a windy night
calling my name, calling me back, calling me to remember
your face, your voice, your green eyes

but you are gone forever
no longer able to walk beside me on this earth

God, I loved you with all my heart
I gave you everything I had
and in return, we lived a life of roses and sunflowers
You were my best friend, and I yours

Why did you have to go and leave me all alone?
Why were you taken from me so soon.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cincinnati, dvpmultimedia web

Cincinnati, dvpmultimedia web & video -Cincinnati Video Social Media Bootcamp Questions & Answers Session

Posted using ShareThis

Creating Connections in the Virtual World

Marveling at the many manifestations of social media
Constantly amazed that the connections I make
Become profound real-life experiences
The virtual becomes the living, breathing reality

I have experienced the deepest friendship possible
The ability to learn about other cultures
Directly from the people living it an entire world away
Business relationships have been born through chance encounters on Twitter
Networking groups cementing the associations

I have found myself on the giving end- offering solace to a dad in distress
distraught over his 13 yr old anorexic daughter-
needing an anonymous outlet like Skype to bare his feelings of helplessness

I have chanced upon a YouTube video that touched me
Upon contacting the producer to thank her for her work,
Discovered that she was part of a missing family link
Dating back to my great, great grandfather.

I have been on the receiving end of good wishes and love
From old friends and newly found relatives via Facebook
The pictures we have been able to share are price-less.

Tweeted about needing a new car and amazing Ford technology
Within minutes heard from Scott Monty, head of Social Media for Ford
Heard from the model Brand Manager and from the local dealer as well
Experienced the impressive virtual and live customer service attention

Being naturally social, always inquisitive, and highly analytical,
These three traits propel me forward as I create connections in the virtual world
We are on the verge of changing the way relationships HAPPEN
But there will always be the need for people to come together live

For without direct human interaction, we lose our need to be authentic
And then where will we be???

Connect with me on Twitter here: @michellebeckham

Let me know your experience with creating relationships in the virtual world.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Sunshine- A New Phenomenon in Cincinnati

So nice to have left the Seattle weather behind and be outside in the sunshine messing around on my laptop. This has got to be the most abysmal weather in the history of my life's summers. It's August and it hasn't been warm enough or sunny enough to be outside at the pool or to even enjoy a cook-out on the patio.

I suppose that this just means that it is easier to focus on the other parts of life, so focus I have been doing. Hoping August will bring the ability to dip a toe in the pool or build the desire to make some home-made vanilla ice-cream complete with rock salt and hand-crank. I'm closing my eyes to all the back-to school ads and fall clothing displays for at least two more weeks.

Care to join me?

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life Can Turn On a Dime- Enjoy Every Minute

Some days require a healthy doses of sunshine and grace coupled with the ability to be incredibly flexible, yet stronger than steel. I know that this sounds like my vague poetry style has found its way into my essay-like prose, but I really am sitting here contemplating these thoughts at midnight on the eve of August.

Our days can contain such an incredible amount of fluctuation between highs and lows, successes and misses, sunshine and rain. "All in a day's work." The key is being flexible- being able to bend with the wind of change and to land on your feet running with a segued plan. I am that flexible, follow-the-challenge kind of person and a card-carrying member of the "make lemon-aide from sour lemons" club, so I "get" the idea of 24 distinct hours carrying the possibility of a myriad of actions, emotions, events, highs and lows.

But I have to say that today has been an incredible whirlwind- all 24 hours of it. It began in the late hours of last night discovering a missing link to my family. A chance encounter with a You-Tube video and a young woman talking about her family history. This young woman had a striking resemblance to me and she mentioned some of the predominant surnames in her family; one of which matched mine. On a whim (or maybe not, perhaps it's the social media extrovert in me), I contacted her directly and thanked her for a very informative and well-done video. I also let her know that we shared a family name, perhaps a family line. We connected on a popular social media site and then took the conversation "live" to Skype with web-cam as we discovered by comparing ancestral history charts that we are indeed cousins. The connection that we made was incredible- it felt like I had discovered a sister.

After about 5 or 6 hours of sleep, I awakened early enough to decorate the house for my son's birthday. I have a tradition of hanging streamers, balloons and specially-made personalized posters from the main doorway leading to the kitchen. I knew that I could not let that slide and have a disappointed kid on my hands. The rest of the day went very well from a work perspective and I had the opportunity to meet with a local consulting company looking to learn how social media could enhance their offerings. I felt a kindred connection with the two members of the firm and we spent an incredible two hours of discussion and story-telling. I love it when companies are on the same page about social media STRATEGY that I am.

Skipping over the rest of the details of my day and fast-forwarding to that phone call that no-one ever wants to get......My dad had been admitted to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. EMERGENCY WHAT???!!!! I had just spoken to him two days ago and he had been in great health.......

Spent the rest of the evening praying: in the car, silently in the middle of the Samurai restaurant for Cameron's birthday celebration and in the alley adjacent to the restaurant that I rushed into to take my sister's update call on my cell.

This, my friends is how a life can turn on a dime. How a day can go from Great to Bad to Hopeful. The key is to be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way. Some things will bring you joy and others will bring you sorrow. Some things will test your mettle, your stamina and your will. Hold onto the tools, the strengths that are inherently within you and forge ahead meeting all with your eyes clear, your feet firm and your back to the wind.

I pray that you never get that call and if you do, my prayer is that you have the strength within you to carry you through as well as a wonderful support of friends (you all know who you are) and family to hold your hand.

Thank you for being there for me.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin 2009