Saturday, November 17, 2012

Not the End of Our Story

Two years ago, the Canadian company I work for was bought-out by a large American retailer. However, the deal did not include any of the people or the company name – just the store leases. What this has meant for thousands of our employees is loss, sadness and uncertainty.

Yesterday at head office, where I work, our approximately 200 remaining people were reduced to 60. Some of those leaving had been with the company for their entire careers, many spanning beyond 20 and even 30 years. To them, what they have lost is much more than just their jobs. Over and over again, I’ve heard it expressed that it’s like losing family – and it really is. We haven’t always liked one another and sometimes we’ve even fought, however, the bottom line is that we all knew what was important; what we were working towards was the same.

The farewell parties and gatherings have been numerous – capped off by a huge gala this past Thursday evening. Over the last year, we’ve also had celebratory Facebook and Twitter campaigns to count down the final days for our customers. And we’ve even found a good home for our famous mascot, who has now been officially adopted by a wonderful children’s charity.

Yet despite the undeniable sadness we all feel right now, it’s important to remember that this is not the end of any of our stories – it’s just one more chapter closed – and that is not necessarily bad or good; it just is.

I have only worked here for eight years. And prior to this, I have left a few companies on my own, as well as experienced being part of a downsizing situation. But each time I’ve moved on, I’ve also achieved other milestones in my life, such as traveling the world, getting married, and the births of my two children. I also had the opportunity to run my own business, which I enjoyed very much. So although my time here isn’t yet up, once it is, I will try to remember my own advice and look forward to the next adventure – because I know for certain there always is one. 

Image: A country road in Caledon, Ontario.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hard Weather Lessons

What does it really take to unite people to a cause? Do we bond more easily in good times or does it take a crisis? Unfortunately, it seems like many of us are only motivated to respond when the going gets really tough – when situations reach critical life and death proportions. Whether we are talking about war, environmental destruction, a global health pandemic or economic collapse… nothing spurs the public on quite like a good tragedy.

So is this a bad thing? Perhaps we’d wish for people to see what’s going on sooner or that it would take less severe circumstances to get us all moving, yet, it’s through these extreme examples that we can often learn the most. Out of horrible, desperate circumstances we find incredible examples of heroism. Like a wildfire that burns long and hard, but leaves fertile soil in its wake, offering nature the opportunity for new growth – people who have been similarly devastated have to reach down deep to find the strength to turn their situation into a positive. But for those who are able to meet such a challenge, the rewards are often unpredictably wonderful and far-reaching and almost make sense of the original sacrifice.

Is this, perhaps, what life is all about? A continuous cycle of birth, death and renewal: proving our metal through the ups and downs, taking on the challenges that come our way, and growing better and stronger along the way. I think so.

I truly believe that as a people, we are on the spiritual cusp of something really wonderful and it has taken our current environmental crisis to pull us together, so that even the least spiritual-minded among us are forced to recognize how interdependent we all are on one another. We are not separate. That is an illusion. And the only way we can thrive on this planet is to recognize this as fact. We are all connected to each other and to this Earth – and the time has come for us to re-examine and embrace all the ways we are the same, instead of focusing so much on what makes us different.
Images: Belfountain Conservation Area in Ontario.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On Stillness

 Meet everyone and everything through stillness rather than mental noise. ~Eckhart Tolle

Image: Blue Heron on Penninsula Lake in Muskoka.