After a fire in December razed Michelle Posey's apartment in Cleveland, she decided to head west for a fresh start in life.
Posey quit her job as a black-studies administrator at Cleveland State University, and, with only a few changes of clothes and some savings, drove 2,400 miles to Los Angeles. She took the first job offered her--a $9-an-hour assignment as an arts and crafts counselor at a children's camp--that will end next week.
Now getting settled in Baldwin Hills, Posey, 50, hopes to begin a new career, possibly in event planning. But, as she's spent the last 13 years in academic positions, she's not sure how to make the transition into private-sector work. For guidance, she contacted Florida-based author and counseling psychologist Wayne Dyer.
Posey told Dyer that while she was at Cleveland State University she had done extensive event planning--producing concerts, dance performances, art exhibits, plays and festivals for the campus. She found the work stimulating and enjoyable and thinks her experiences might position her to become an event coordinator at a private-sector firm.
But when Dyer asked Posey whether event planning was her long-term calling, Posey admitted she had a second vocational interest that she was reluctant to give up. Posey is trained as a reiki master.
Reiki is a 3,000-year-old Tibetan healing practice that involves the laying on of hands. In Cleveland, Posey had briefly considered building a full-time practice in this unusual vocation, but was told by a teacher that such an undertaking was impossible.
Dyer encouraged her not to put aside the long-term vocational goal simply because a well-intentioned colleague had expressed skepticism about its plausibility.
"I've always said, 'No one knows enough to be a pessimist.' Too often we jump to the conclusion that something is impossible simply because we cannot see the solution," Dyer said. "We tend to get stuck on 'How can I pay my bills?' "
He suggested that Posey routinely visualize herself expanding her healing practice, opening a reiki center and helping others, even as she continues her job search in the event-planning industry--something she said was an immediate priority.
"Put your intention on what you want to create in your life, not on what already is, what was or what others expect from you," Dyer said.
Here are other suggestions for how Posey can achieve her career goals.
* For event-planning work: Posey shouldn't limit her job hunt to local event-planning companies. Out-of-state event-planning firms often need Los Angeles-based professionals to help them with Southern California projects, said Linda Buckley, president of Buckley Hall Events in New York. By working with such firms on an as-needed basis, Posey can gain experience, make important contacts and possibly segue into full-time employment.
She should regularly scan the special events online journal at http://www.specialevents.com for industry news and consider joining the International Special Events Society (http://www.ises.com) and Meeting Professionals International (http://www.mpiweb.org) to keep abreast of job opportunities, said Keri McIntosh, an account manager at Castle Group in Boston, and Ingrid Lundquist, head of Lundquist Co. in Sacramento.
Posey also should consider approaching large hotels about event-planning positions in their sales and catering departments, said Jeorgie Ornstein, director of special events at Dan Klores Associates in New York.
Event-planning firms frequently recruit hotel-trained planners to their ranks, because the training they receive is very thorough, Ornstein said. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau is another organization that may be in need of event-planning personnel, according to McIntosh.
* For reiki work: Posey said she'd love to somehow merge her two vocational interests--perhaps by offering reiki to stressed-out employees in the event-planning field. This isn't such a farfetched notion. Some progressive companies, such as New York public relations firm PT & Co., hire "house nurturers" to give massages, reiki treatments and meditation guidance to their employees.
"It's a great way to keep the stress levels down," said Susan Seidman, PT & Co.'s resident reiki master and stress diffuser. "Hopefully, more corporations will follow this lead."
To build an independent reiki practice, Posey should familiarize her local community with her services by giving free reiki treatments at hospitals and nursing homes, Seidman said. She also can give presentations and lectures about alternative healing methods at high schools and colleges where continuing education classes are offered, as well as at health fairs and specialty bookstores.