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Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect


Our career coach talks about another resource for gays who want to move to Canada and how to deal with a past disappointment on the job. is proud to feature advice columnist Ed Vladich. Send your career-related dilemmas via e-mail to, with "Dear Ed" in the subject line.Dear Readers,The "Go North, Young Gay" column, posted December 21 on, turned out to be my most responded-to column to date. Many thanks to all of you who took the time to write in and express appreciation for my advice during post-presidential election dismay.I'd like to share with you some of a letter I received from a Canadian reader who offers yet one more organization recommendation to people considering a move out of the United States and into Canada.I'm a Torontonian who just read your advice to Americans considering a move to Canada. I thought I should write to let you know that, while your advice was great and your recommendation of various organizations--particularly LEGIT, the 519, and HRDC--was sound, another resource you might consider recommending in future is It is a free community-based Web board (generously hosted by [a group called] Friendly Computer Guys). Like all such services, requests for information are met by a variety of individuals, some generous and knowledgeable, some jaded, bitter, and not-so-knowledgeable. But there are enough of the former that most sensible questions receive sensible answers. I know that it's just about impossible to stay up-to-date on what's happening in a multitude of cities, so this isn't criticism, just information for future reference. Hope it's helpful to your readers. Dear Ed, I'm up against a brick wall and could really use your expertise.I had a career in teaching/administration in college-level dance departments that spanned 25 years. I had earned the standard, if not exceptional credentials: a BA in theater and dance; full scholarships to graduate school; an MFA in dance; successful teaching positions; award-winning choreography; international guest teaching and performance; and board membership in national organizations. All this changed when I took a position at a prestigious all-women's college in Massachusetts; after six years, my tenure bid was denied. A crisis of authenticity began, and so did my denial. Nothing had prepared me for this kind of self-perceived professional discrediting. My sense of self-worth nose-dived, and I went into an emotional tailspin. I was feeling devastated, humiliated, bitter and broken. But instead of dealing with my emotions, I fled for six years to the major ski resorts of Utah and Colorado subconsciously hoping reinvention would heal my wounds. I became an avid snowboarder and started working in restaurants. I literally tried to obliterate my past career. My job pattern, though, suggested a problem: work a season, get bored, quit, move; work a while, get frustrated, get fired, move. It was like I had an addiction to new beginnings and became quite good at painting a fairly beautiful life with the aid of my own "denial fairy dust." Then, unexpectedly, my back went out and I had to deal with months of slow recovery. I had been given a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and finally started doing some deep, personal work--what I have come to call my "personal archaeology." Additional helpful guides included the works of Caroline Myss, Eckhart Tolle, Eric Shaffert, and Wayne Dyer. I began to bring my submerged anger, bitterness, and humiliation to the surface. I began to let go of the "tenure affair," but more important, to embrace my humanity. I still feel like there is a lot of personal archaeology yet to do, but in the meantime I'm at a curious crossroads. Armed with this new perspective--self-helped into a renewed personal authenticity--I can't seem to find direction. My back has now healed well enough for me to walk, but there are limitations to lifting and bending. Temporarily, I have started to wait tables again only to get some money coming in. I feel ready to start something new, but nothing sparks a fire. That's the brick wall I'm up against! Ed, do you have any advice? Sincerely, Up Against the Wall Dear UATW, At the end of the day only you are responsible for your own feelings about your past - as we all are for ourselves. That said, let me provide you with a quote from Oscar Wilde to contemplate: "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." For if you begin the process (which you have begun) to shift your thoughts, you too can honor your former career path, which is part of loving yourself, and move on to create the next career station in life, the lifelong romance. Commitment to change is the first call of duty in the battle plan. In your own words you've finally started doing the deeper, personal work--what you have come to call your "personal archaeology." What a wonderful accomplishment, and may I say congratulations! Now come to the realization that the books that assist such a transition by authors as Cameron, Myss, Tolle, Shaffert, and Dyer are to be internalized and applied, not just read. Turn them into "used books" to your optimum advantage, for the practice of principles makes perfect. I would suggest that you take advantage of your background as an educator. Take an inside-out approach and read with the purpose in mind of sharing or discussing with others what you learn from these materials. If you know that you will be teaching the material on the principles to someone else within a day or two, it will make a difference in your own experience. Read as though you are going to teach it to a partner, a friend, a group, or a class today or tomorrow--and do just that. Be sure to discuss your readings and your understanding of them while they're still fresh in your mind. Take notice of the difference in your comprehension and understanding in the process. You may even want to crank it up a notch and seriously consider teaching a course in an adult education program or study group at a local library based on the materials. Putting into motion what I've just outlined will begin to produce great benefits. I've seen it happen more often than not: You will begin to see yourself more inclined to be the person you wish to be in your life, while consciously creating career authenticity for your next career station in life.

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Ed Vladich