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Special Feature: My Journey from Loathing to Loving my Career

Grisel Scarantino and I met in the fall of 2014, and honestly, y’all, had I known that morning how profoundly my life would change after meeting her, I don’t think I could’ve been any happier than I am today.

You see, Griz is one of those empathic souls who feels the spectrum of human emotion deep down in the depths of her spirit. If you are happy, Griz is happy. If you are sad or frustrated, Griz will sit beside you and hold your hand. Sometimes there aren’t words for what we’re feeling, and when that happens, somehow Griz knows, and she sits in silence with you and for you.

Back in January 2016, my family and I had to move back to Georgia so I could take care of my Gran. We’d lived in the Tampa Bay area for a few years, and I was devastated to leave the beautiful home we had made, my career in which I thrived, and my Soul Sister friend group (my Tribe) I cherished so deeply. Grisel is among that group, and when I moved away, they packed up their love and support and sent it right along with me.

Seven of our Sisterhood, on Grisel's porch in January 2023.

After a few months of working with a new company and team here in Georgia, a manager was hired, and that person caused me so much pain that I experienced a nervous breakdown. Echoes of the trauma caused by this individual still linger today; however, with Griz’s help I was able to cope, and eventually I arrived at a place in my life and career where I thrived again. Today, I absolutely love my role, my boss, my team (different, now, although that first team wasn’t terrible—it was the manager who was so toxic), and I am eternally grateful to have had Grisel’s hand holding mine through all my ups and downs.

Apart from being a friend and confidant, Griz has also been a mentor and a coach. Over the last few years, she has worked with me to strategize a plan for merging my passions (storytelling and design) with my professional skills (instructional design and adult learning) in such a way that not only could I like my career, but I could adore it and even thrive again. With Grisel’s help, I have become a strategic thinker, I have learned how to better communicate and establish boundaries with leaders and/or coworkers who show signs of threatening my job satisfaction—and my joy, in general—and I feel more confident and empowered to express myself clearly and authentically. As such, I am happier with my career now more than ever before, and that satisfaction has been lucrative in amplifying my creativity, my personal growth, and my overall wellbeing.

Being happy and satisfied with one’s career and work environment is absolutely imperative to a healthy work-life balance.

A selection of photos from a writer's retreat Griz and I enjoyed in St. Augustine, August 2022; Last photo: These happy folks are my dear friends Grisel and Chris Scarantino, AKA Griz and Tino.

If you are struggling with achieving career fulfilment, and that daily pain is hindering your personal life, please allow me to connect you with Grisel Scarantino, Career Advancement Strategist & Certified OD Consultant. Grisel is always approachable, always concerned, and she can help you strategize a career advancement plan that will positively impact your entire life. You can peruse her website at and then schedule a complimentary call to uncover your full professional potential and create a pathway to a more fulfilling career.

Grisel's credentials:

  • Named Top 15 Coach in Tampa Bay in 2022

  • Certified Organization Development Consultant

  • Bestselling Author of "Trust Your Wings: How I Left My Corporate Job to Start a Consulting and Coaching Business from Scratch"

  • 18+ years of professional career coaching and personal development experience

  • Supported 300+ individuals with career development since 2005

  • Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology

  • Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

  • Behavior Analysis specialization

  • Former Behavioral Health Therapist

  • Certified in Professional Development Skills: Communication Effectiveness, Conflict Dynamics, Training & Performance Evaluation Strategy, Positive Business & Society Change

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of literary, Southern Gothic, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative®, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and she has worked as an instructional designer for nearly twenty years.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mandy enjoys the movies, theater, music, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, and binging The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity and foster wellness. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four sons, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.

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