Author focuses on adapting to ‘change’

Published Jan 1, 2014 at 6:39 am (Updated Dec 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm)

Info Box: Dr. Becky Johnen, Ed.D.

McMurray resident Dr. Becky Johnen earned a bachelor’s degree in education of exceptional children from Penn State University, a master’s of education degree and a reading specialist certificate from Elmira College and a doctorate in adult education from Nova Southeastern University.

As a retired educational administrator, Becky Johnen currently provides consulting services on strategic planning, leadership, standards, teaching and learning and a focus on dealing with change to organizations, civic groups, businesses, nonprofit and educational organizations.

She is the developer of “Challenging Adults to Read Effectively: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors,” a contributing author to the EDL workbook series “Reading Strategies and Thinking Strategies” and has published journal articles on learning difficulties and disabilities.

We all experience shifts from the comfort zone in our daily routines. Changes can be welcoming, but often we try to ignore altered lifestyles, feeling quite comfortable with the status quo. Learning new procedures and facing possible uncertainty can be frightening and we try our best to ignore what is usually inevitable. Nonetheless, changes are constant.

Living in a safe and protected environment as a youngster presents an about-face as new challenges and responsibilities become reality.

The secure days of high school end with graduation. That door closes, but a window opens as the search for employment or choosing a college or technical school for further education continues.

Unfortunately, changes may be abrupt. Jobs are often eliminated. A search for new employment creates an immediate transition but an out-and-out career change or a move to another city definitely creates a series of changes adding plenty of stress. Natural disasters, disease, illness or the unexpected death of a family member or friend presents additional unpreventable changes.

We often fight our security blanket being lifted away, forgetting that all the challenges we face come about with change. Eventually, we come around but need guidance to locate another safety zone.

Dr. Becky Johnen of McMurray is author of “Facing the Sunshine and Avoiding the Shadows: Strategies to Stay Sane and Positive amid Change.” Its theme and contents came about when she was dean for the Lebanon Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College and active in the College Reading and Learning Association.

“I watched my staff and colleagues become frustrated, angry, depressed and stressed over changes in postsecondary education. As I traveled to speak to a group at an annual CRLA conference a few years ago, a flight attendant’s emergency preflight instructions to those with young children caught my attention. ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first and then put the mask on your children.’”

Becky found the attendant’s words to be inspiring, providing a focus for the presentation she was preparing. Taking care of ourselves so that we can meet life’s challenges is important to all of us. It offers the stamina to deal with everyday demands and changes without becoming drained and burned out. Being asked to do more and more with less, having many needs, but not enough resources or being asked to do the impossible can deplete energy. It was then that Becky made a commitment to help others accept adjustments or changes to their lives.

“We need to know what gives us energy so we can face what we’re dealt with,” continued Becky.

Today’s families and workplaces face changes regularly. Resisting change leads to greater stress and psychological effects. Being aware, exploring options and learning what works best for us as individuals are essential.

Through humor, personal examples and motivational delivery, Becky’s book deals with change as a fact of life. It focuses on 16 strategies and techniques as a guide to help us to accept and embrace change.

Becky Johnen plans to speak about “change” during gatherings of local organizations, libraries and at workshops. She can be reached by email at

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