Thank You Notes

December 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

giftcircle1newFrom everyone at the Pinnacle Empowerment Center, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday and a prosperous New Year! As we close the year, we want to take a few minutes to say thanks for the many gifts we have received from our community!

  •  Financial supporters: Thank you to everyone who made a donation, provided pro bono professional services, gave us supplies, and space. Thank you Mama Lucia for sponsoring our Night Out event!
  • Volunteers: Thank you to all the wonderful people who have given generously and unreservedly of their time and talent so PEC could offer real help to women in need and help the organization grow.
  • Community supporters: Thank you especially to the Columbia Foundation for their support this year. We also appreciate the continued support from the Association of Community Services Howard County and the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County.
  • Clients: We are grateful for the many women who called us or came to a Job Club or Empowerment Circle or attended our other events. You are why we’re here and when you trust us to be a resource for you, we feel honored.

Being a part of our community is a gift and we love working with our neighbors. Thank you for your enthusiasm and support in 2012 and we look forward to another fantastic year in 2013!


A Strategy For Making Decisions During Difficult Times

December 19, 2012 § Leave a comment


Decisions Decisions (Horton, Point or Green) by Kev Griffin.

A key part to living a focused life is the ability to make good decisions and it is difficult to make good or timely decisions when we are faced with the unexpected.

In these current difficult economic times, the tightening job market is generating unexpected change on a daily basis. Job layoffs are occurring more frequently and finding a job or changing jobs is very competitive. Also, many of us are seeing our savings and retirement benefits diminish -all of which generates a high level of anxiety.

Changing your perspective will help you manage your anxiety and breakout of the cycle of feeling ‘immobilized’ and get you moving again.

Strategy for changing perspective and getting unstuck:

– Recognize that you are stuck or immobilized.

-Identify as specifically as possible what you perceive to be the ‘challenge’ or ‘challenges’ you are facing

– Clearly outline your goals and the steps you need to take to reach your desired goal

– Evaluate your alternatives & take action to implement the steps to move forward.

Get help from an impartial person who does not have a vested interest in the outcome of your decision. For example, a life coach can walk you through the evaluation process and the steps to help you change your perspective and get moving to confidently make better decisions during difficult times.

From Life Coach Maria Shepard-Smith. Join Maria at the next Empowerment Circle on January 16th at 1:30 p.m.  RSVP with Maria (at)!

Photo “Decisions Decisions (Horton, Point or Green) by Kev Griffin.  (c) Copyright Kev Griffin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

Believe in Yourself

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a post from Job Coach Cindy Virtue who encourages us to make the most of the holiday break and to BELIEVE in ourselves!

bokk cover

Believe in yourself and your dreams!

Today my calendar was marked to sit down and write the blog for Pinnacle Empowerment Center this morning. It was on my to-do-list for 9:00am to hold me accountable or Heather may not be too jolly with me come our Wednesday Open House Celebration. Well it is now 4:00pm a little later than anticipated, but as everyone knows little bumps in the road sometimes comes up. Here is my bump:

I have a good friend who wrote a book 8-years ago, which had sat on her bookshelf just getting dusty. While reflecting over the last holiday season and with the encouragement of her friends and family she decided to submit it for publication. She found three possible publishers in March and submitted her transcript. To her surprise two-weeks later she was sitting with a contract with a target publishing date for October 2012 in time for the holiday sales. Since this was a book about the meaning of Christmas timing was an issue. She worked very hard over the summer, meeting demanding deadlines for rewrites.  Unfortunately, due to factors out of her control, the book was finally printed mid-November missing the shelves in major book store, but it is now available online.

As we were catching up last week and she was filling me in with all the details of what the publisher will do to promote her book they also encouraged her to reach out to her network. Well, this is my area!   I could see she felt so overwhelmed so I helped her come up with a promotional plan- which is very similar to what I do when I help job seekers.

We sat and brainstormed on how to best use the limited time left before the holiday to market her holiday book. Helping her understand how to reach out to her network, making phone calls asking her friends for help to spread the word, identifying upcoming events to attend and possibly ask if she could setup a table for a book signing  such as the Dec, 20th Girls Night Out Even in Downtown Ellicott City. Finally, why not create a FREE website through which will make it easier for her network to spread the word. This was my BUMP since I only have created one several months ago this took longer than anticipated, but was well worth it. I am much better or should I say faster in helping job seekers with Linkedin profiles then I am in creating a website, so I may need to keep my day job. In the end, she took a leap of faith and she is now a published author!

With the holiday upon us and as you may be job searching you need to believe in yourself. Take this time to regroup, take a fresh look at your resume and Linked profile, come up with a game plan on how you can reach out to your network, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pull out your calendar now and start setting deadlines and goals for the New Year. Attend PEC FREE Job Club or Empowerment Circle for help. The year 2013 will be your time but you need to make it happen!

Note: January Job Club has been moved to Tuesday, January 8th due to the holiday. Please contact me for times and location at or (410) 799-1097 ext. 300

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Want to learn more about Ellicott City newest author?

Need a Holiday Time Out?

December 5, 2012 § Leave a comment


Ready for a break from the holidays? Join us on 12/12/12 for an informal evening of delicious nibbles and great company to refocus, re-center, and re-energize yourself!

The holiday music and commercials started the day after Halloween.  Christmas trees and Halloween costumes and candy were side by side in stores.  The holidays seem to arrive earlier and earlier each year.  Everywhere you turn there are commercials exhorting us to buy and cook our way into the hearts and minds of those around us!  Can the holidays live up to they hype?


  • Would you like to not just SURVIVE the holidays but THRIVE?
  • Want to figure out ways to protect your time and energy for things that are truly important?
  • Need help setting boundaries with difficult people?

Join the coaches of the Pinnacle Empowerment Center on Wednesday, December 12 at 6:00 p.m. and spend some time with other like-minded ladies for a time out from the holiday madness!  Come eat, drink, and mingle with us as we discuss and share ways to keep from getting overwhelmed and reconnect with the purpose of the season.  Here’s a taste of what we came up with just informally discussing how to survive the holidays:

  • Not everything has to be perfect!
  • Take a few minutes every day to bring joy to someone.
  • View the holiday festivities as “optional” rather than “required”. You can’t be everywhere.
  • Make sure you make time to get together with people who inspire you – surround yourself positive energy.
  • Don’t take it personally – realize that others around you are stressed and reacting to the holiday drama themselves, its not you. Don’t get drawn into it.
  • Don’t discuss politics, education or money. If these come up, excuse yourself and indulge in another piece of pie!
  • Keep it simple – don’t let the holiday momentum overtake you or allow others to push you into things or events you don’t want to do.
  • Refocus the holiday away from the material and on sharing the traditions with those you love. Even starting a new tradition can bring joy.
  • Let others help . Delegate or hire out tasks you don’t enjoy or don’t have time to do.

Take a holiday time out for yourself and join us for a wonderful evening to help you re-focus, re-center, and re-energize yourself for the holidays!  Complimentary coaching sessions are available so bring a friend! For more information visit our website or contact us at 410-799-1097 or info (at)!

Posted by:  Heather C.

Finding More Than a Lost Purse

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a post from Coach Maria Shepard-Smith who shared this story about an unexpected Christmas Eve Time Out during a discussion about why the holidays seem to get crazier every year.  We hope you’ll enjoy as much as we did!

Maria finds an unexpected refuge and gift while looking for her missing purse!  Photo credit: Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 Many years ago I was rushing around at the holiday season on Christmas Eve doing my last minute shopping, after work of course, in Macy’s NYC on 34thSt. I wasn’t alone, unfortunately there were hundreds of others doing the same thing …what were they doing here…didn’t they finish up early…why were they in my way?

Needless to say, I was harried and rushed and thinking about the hundreds of things I had to do before Christmas day…yes just a measly 6.1/2 hours hence.

Well “I went in” as they sometimes say, you know you hear it all the time ’I am going in’ …knowing just knowing you might not survive the ordeal. Or worse, for me at that moment, that I might not get ‘just the right present’ to add to the lovely holiday spirit and sense of peacefulness that is always being touted at this time of the year, which for me was, at that moment, quickly evaporating.

Yes! I was at the very place where many of us end up, for one reason or another, when it is least expected, and when we can least afford it emotionally…at the brink of extreme angst.

Well, I did survive and in a way that I did not even think was possible when I finally left the store 3 hours later and headed home at the end of the evening.

In the midst of my harried rushing about I had forgotten the real meaning of the season.

As I made my way down the Subway station stairs to catch the train home, I fumbled with my packages and shopping bags for my purse to get a token for the fare. In less then 2 seconds, I realized … I DID NOT HAVE MY PURSE!

I rushed back up the stairs of the Subway, through hoards of folks headed down the stairs. I hurried into Macy’s trying to remember where I could have put my purse down ….you just don’t do that at the height of the shopping season in NY. Well I decided to retrace my steps…going backwards. I made my way to the 7th floor restroom…the last place I had been before leaving the store.

I rushed into the restroom went through the sitting area and checked the stalls…I knocked on the stall that I had used and asked the woman if she saw my purse hanging on the hook behind the door. ‘No ‘she said, ‘there’s nothing here. For a moment, I didn’t believe her, but then I knew that it had to be true…what was she going to do…stuff it in her bag, (in those days my purse a pretty fair size).

Well, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I began thinking about how I was going to get home. Well, I thought, I’ll give a sob story to the policeman or clerk at the booth. They would let me on the train. After all, it was Christmas Eve. They weren’t going to hold me hostage for the fare…which at that time was .35 cents. Plus, by the time I would have gotten down to the Subway, after my search, I would look like such a sad sack they would take pity on me.

Then of course I began to make a mental list of what important things I had in my purse…not much money…only one credit card…and various other items we all carry in a wallet. The thought of having to plow through the task of unraveling the event of a lost wallet etc. was too much for me.

For some reason, I didn’t lose it, my sanity that is. I just began to settle down. After all, what choice did I have?

With a resigned feeling, I turned to leave the bathroom area to make my way to the other departments in the store where I had shopped. ‘I’ll give it a try,’ I told myself…knowing full well that it would be a futile attempt…but I had to try. I continued ruminating as I walked towards the door to the sitting room. “I’ll head for the ‘lost and found’ department before I leave too,” I said to myself.

As I did so, the matron for the women’s room came into the bathroom area from the outer sitting room. She was a tiny elderly woman with grey hair and glasses. I asked if she had seen a purse. ‘What color?’ she asked. ‘Black’, I replied with a ray of hope. “And how much money was in the purse?” she asked. ‘About two dollars”, I said. ‘Come with me’ she said. She walked me through another door into a small windowless room connected to the sitting area. In this room there were a small table and chairs and some of the restroom supplies. “Is this it?” she asked, as she handed me my purse. I was stunned. Not because she had it, but because it just seemed absolutely impossible that I would get that bag back at all.

I was profuse with my thanks. Perhaps she realized that I had reached the other side of panic, numbness, because she asked me to have tea with her…right there in her little space…and I did. This was a space she used to rest and perhaps to have her meals. She heated water on a small electric burner and took out an English teapot with two matching teacups. As I listened to her tell me a little about her life, while we sipped our tea, I felt a growing sense of peace and gratitude. I had been given a gift…in this little room, sipping tea in bone china teacups with a kind and gentle spirit. I had come upon a refuge…metaphorically and literally.

At the time I was grateful for having been given this moment. I was grateful too because I was able to give her, at that moment…a little gift of companionship on Christmas Eve.

I realized at the time and in looking back at that Christmas Eve, that the genuine meaning of the season or the greater gift is to give of oneself in a simple way.

I also received a bequest, not just a reminder to retreat from the hustle and bustle and share quiet and touching moments with others, but a series of more poignant gifts that reveal themselves each time I relive the experience of sitting in that little room.

When I look back at this experience in my life, and I often do, I realize it has become an allegory for me. It was a moment where I learned something that continues to touch my ‘soul’; something about life and how to ‘be’ beyond the moment. It is something that I cannot cognitively explain, except to say that I feel like I experienced a spiritual connection with humanity.

Finally, the memory of this event continues to touch me deeply because, for me, it is a lens through which other difficult events and experiences can be seen and transformed; transformed from a lost cause to a hopeful resolution, from calamity to a silver lining, from disaster to re-birth.

It has many meanings and lessons and I hope it will touch you all in a way to help you move into and through this special season of the year, and perhaps through any trying a time, with the ability to create a sense of peace within yourself as well as for those around you.

Perhaps the experience was a cue to remind me that we have a greater connection to one another than we are aware of or care to believe. Perhaps it was the pathway to the work I do now. Perhaps it is a chance for me to pass on the awareness that we are all in some way responsible or maybe even destined to support and nurture one another. Perhaps once we start to do this we will all be in a better place as I was in that little room in Macy’s NYC, sipping tea with a kind and gentle soul.

Join Maria and other life coaches and career coaches at a holiday gathering at the Pinnacle Empowerment Center and Refocus, Re-center and Re-energize. Take a break from the holiday chaos and join us for some cheer and inspiration as we wind down the year. Come drink, eat and mingle with us as we discuss and share ways to keep from getting overwhelmed and reconnect with the purpose of the season.

**Complimentary coaching sessions** available

Please bring a friend!

When: Wednesday December 12th at 6:00pm

Location: 8180 Lark Brown Road, Suite 301, Elkridge, MD 21075

For more information visit click here!

Maria Shepard-Smith is a Life and Career Coach with 15 years of experience coaching and training individuals and empowering them to find their own answers. Coaching is a way of encouraging and supporting clients on their path as they continue to make important choices in life and in their careers. Tune in for more on about how coaching works and how you can benefit! Call Maria at 410-799-1097 ext 304 or email her at

Happy Thanksgiving from PEC!

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

As we wind down this short business week, we take some time this week for Thanksgiving before catapulting into the busy holiday season.  We hope you’ll enjoy these reads as much as we did around PEC!

Permission to Suck

Okay so this is from the folks at MAKE magazine who tend to focus more on engineering and mechanical things, but the reality is, we all have to start somewhere. If you want to wait until you’re perfect at something to get started, you’ll never get going.

Can you Really Have It All? Seven Keys to Finding Balance

As we gear up for the busy holiday season, here are some great tips on how to create the space you need to focus on what’s truly important to you!

The Fermata

Seth Godin ponders the role of the Fermata which isn’t just for music!

Lighting Your Flame

Rochelle Moulton is thankful for those who have helped inspire her and keep her moving.  Who are you thankful for this holiday?

All of us here at PEC are thankful for the wonderful community who support us in our mission.  We hope that you and your families have a wonderful holiday together!

Empowering Yourself: How to Set Healthy Boundaries

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Boundaries are powerful tools that give you freedom to live the life YOU want! Image courtesy

Are you constantly kicking yourself for taking on too much?

Do you keep saying Yes to things you really do not want do?

Do you often feel guilty for saying No?

Do you always feel exhausted?

If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, here are a few tips on how to set boundaries that will energize you and help you to live your life on your terms.

#1 Figure out your top priorities-or your YES list

Right now take out a piece of paper and make a list of things that are most important to you in your life right now. What brings you the most joy? What gives you energy? What have you most wanted to do but are always moving to the “back burner”? What needs your attention most right now? What do you need to take care of yourself right now? (hint: this should be #1 on your list!)

Now look closely and decide which ones are your top priorities for the next 3 to 6 months. Come up with your TOP 5—or your YES list. Your YES list will help you to say no and let go of the things that are not serving you best right now. Print them out and post them on your calendar, your desk, next to your phone, anywhere you can see them to help you make a very clear-cut decision when a request is made of your time or talents. If it’s not on your Yes list than the answer is NO.

#2 Face and Overcome the Guilt

Anytime you make a change in your life, chances are you will be met with some resistance from those around you. Don’t let that fire up your guilt sensors or make you feel the need to defend your choice. You have the right to choose how you spend your time and control the way you live. As I have built up my “boundary setting muscles” and recovering from the “disease to please” it has helped me to come up with some “stock responses” when I am asked to do something that does not fit into my YES list. A few of them are:

  • Sorry, it’s just not possible for me to do that right now”
  • Thanks for thinking of me, but I will need to decline”

To validate how well this short and to the point method works. I had a colleague say to me “Wow you CAN say no” and then she became more judicious in requests she made of me and had more respect for my time. And what a revelation to me of how I was being perceived! Create your own “stock responses” so you can be less reactive and feel more in control.

#3 Stop Getting Mad and Speak Up

If there are no limits to what people can ask of you, you will constantly feel “under attack”. Over time you will feel resentment, anger and always on guard. Setting boundaries will actually enhance your relationships by helping you to be more open and honest with people. It’s ok to tell others what is acceptable and not acceptable for you. Your authentic self will begin to shine through and ultimately you can begin creating relationships that have mutual respect.

#4 Find Like-Minded Support

Find people who seem to have mastered this skill that you respect and ask for their support. Tell them you would love to hear how they have become so successful at this and can they share some tips. Also, find another person you know that is aspiring to do the same and “buddy-coach” each other to help keep your momentum.

Getting Family Support–Sometimes setting boundaries with family members or those closest to us are the hardest of all. They are used to you doing certain things in a certain way for them that are extremely beneficial to them and the thought of that not occurring scares them. One way to get the family support is to sit down together and create a Family YES list where everyone has some input. It is also good to reinforce to them you cannot take care of them without taking care of yourself first. What a great way for you to model and teach others how to set healthy boundaries for themselves.

#5 Keep Building those Boundaries High and Wide for continued “De-stressing”

I have a friend and fellow coach who said to me (as I was feeling very overwhelmed and questioning my boundary setting abilities) “You need to build those boundaries HIGH and WIDE!” And she was right. To build long lasting boundaries that have the most impact in our life we need to do it in a big way. WE ultimately have the power to define what and who are most important to us. We also have the right to honor how we choose to spend our time to so we can live the most fulfilling life we can. The more you get comfortable setting high and wide boundaries the more calm, focused and in-control you will feel.

Remember Boundaries are not meant to close you in but provide FREEDOM. When you say NO to one thing, it allows you say YES to something you really, really want.

Lisa Dolce is a certified coach and trainer who empowers women to unleash their potential to create successful careers and small businesses.