From discrimination lawsuit and layoff to business owner and author!
January 2, 2007 at 7:15 p.m. is a day, a minute, that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined at that moment. It was a less than 2 minute phone call that ended a 30 plus year career as a journalist and brought me to my success today as a business owner, author, national award winner and international speaker.
Four years earlier I was working as a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper’s suburban division. I was covering everything from crime to Mother Teresa’s last visit to America when a new editor arrived and swept myself and six other women out of our positions. We were all demoted while the male reporter in our division, and the only one without a college degree, was elevated to a new higher paying position.
After the shock, we sued and four hard years later won a decision by the EEOC that the company had discriminated against us. However, unlike in the movies, while the victory felt great, the financial rewards were very little. Instead, on January 2, 2007 I received a phone call at home telling me I was part of a 107 employee layoff. It was a terse quick harsh statement that lasted less than 2 minutes, crushed my spirits, and, I thought, ended a writing career that I started as a child writing stories on tablets at age 10. To make matters worse, a few months earlier I had been in a car accident that left my right hand numb and throbbing in pain. I was scheduled for major neck nerve surgery in two weeks.
At that moment I had no job, no use of my arm, and at age 51, it seemed, a very dim future. That night I was too stunned to cry. I cried the next morning, but by the afternoon my tears were gone and I was focused on my future. I had never been fired or laid off. I received great employee reviews for years before my demotion. I had never ever wanted to be anything but a reporter. It was a lifelong goal and I job I loved every day. My fear, I had no other skills and newspapers were cutting back and closing all over the country. What would I do?
Lying in the hospital after surgery, my plans came together. I was a musician and had played music at weddings throughout college to earn money. I would bring those skills to start my own business, Guitar with Gloria. I would play music and lead sing-a-longs at nursing homes. I ordered business cards from my hospital bed.
During the next five months, while in therapy to restore use of my right hand, I completed an online activity director course. I started working in my new business on May 1, 2007. I loved playing music for nursing homes. I learned business skills on the job as I did mailings and networked to build a client base.
In October 2007 I had another business idea, Science for Seniors. My goal in this part of the business was to bring live hands on engaging science programs to nursing home residents. I did one hour programs on space, volcanoes, and more. The residents loved it and in 2010 I was nominated and won the National Council of Activity Professionals First Place Best Practice Award for the best new idea in the country.
Winning the award required me to present before the national convention. I, who as a Cub Scout leader was nervous addressing the 68 scouts at the Pine Run Derby, found myself standing before a packed room of professionals waiting for me to speak. It felt like fear was in my mouth, but I swallowed and spoke.
Since then I have spoken at health care conventions in over 20 states and Canada! I am a columnist for Creative Forecasting magazine and the website About.com. I wrote a book, Science for Seniors, published by Idyll Arbor Inc., winner of the 2013 National Mature Media Award of Merit, as well as a series of 10 at-home activity booklets and created five online activity director certified courses at raronline.org
Best of all, I bring Guitar with Gloria and Science for Seniors, my nationally trademarked company, to residents at independent, long term care, assisted living and adult day centers every day. The editor who in 2007 said to me, “We just don’t want you,” knocked me down but every moment since I’ve stood and walked forward in victory.