So it’s going to be a strange holiday season on the blog. I’ve never been big on end of year recap blog posts or new years resolution posts, etc. I guess usually I’m just too damn busy at this time of year.
But it’s been a big strange year and it requires some reflection before we can safely steer this blog in to 2012… I will also be following this up with not a resolutions post, but some personal goals/expectations for 2012. Closing one door and clearly moving towards another. That’s the goal here.
2011 started at a bit of a low which was I guess a sign of things to come. At the end of 2010 I had just finished opening a warehouse and implementing SAP EWM at work with Indigo. Coming out of the Christmas retail season after just implementing a major project (at the same time Christmas was happening) was just exhausting and it was a bit of a struggle to function sometimes. Indigo itself was (is) facing tough times with ever increasing competition from eBooks and a more digital minded consumer base (and competing with Amazon).
So work was tough but I loved the challenge and I honestly loved scrapping with Amazon, it was one of the most appealing aspects of taking the Director job with Indigo’s online operation. Fighting a giant is a hell of a rush. But there was a bigger truth that was harder to cope with: Indigo as a company had changed. It wasn’t a fun entrepreneurial environment anymore. That youthful energy I found the first time I showed up for work at the corporate offices was gone. We spent years pushing and fighting to become a “Billion Dollar Company”. Indigo in those days was an environment where new ideas would flourish and a culture of excellence wasn’t a bullshit quote from the mission statement. It was what we showed up every day to do: make a great company, offering great products in an experience that was geared towards the customer. Indigo did manage to become a billion dollar company this year but the company that crosses the finish line looks nothing like the young, entrepreneurial and energetic company that got it there. They key personalities that did the heavy lifting and built the strategy are now long gone.
As the threats and competition heated up Indigo did what many failed enterprises have done: money for everything not needed as part of the core business dried up (despite large cash reserves), the needs of the employees were cast off and all the projects focused on moving the business forward were cast aside to “get back to basics” (the department I was part of in Supply Chain (Process Improvement) was closed out as an example). Instead of moving forward we moved side ways. We did more (or thought we did – we tried) with less.
So winter 2011 I found myself coming out of a tough Christmas season on the back end of a year and a half long project with 10-20 hour work days. It was not easy. Morale was low all around and anxiety high. So when Spring 2011 came around and I started hearing credible noises that there might be some sort of restructuring that would leave me on the outside I have to be honest: I was hopeful.
So when the layoffs came I was happy to be on the list. The layoff and the arrangements involved with it meant I would have time to get a much needed reset and find something new.
I spent June and July mostly at the cottage, spending time with my family. When I was laid off I had a few priorities I set out for myself:
- Catch up time with my family. The EWM/Warehouse project kept me away from home a lot and I needed not just for me, but for Paige and Tammy to spend quality time with them
- Spend time learning and getting back to my software route. Early in my career I decided I wanted to get in on the business side of business. My goal when I went corporate at Indigo was to get involved with something that was heavily tech focused but would have me representing the business end of things, not the tech. I already had strong computer and technical skills but I wanted to spend some time honing the business end of things. I had accomplished this but it had caused atrophy in my technical skills! So this was a great time to get caught up on things.
- Find something new and exciting to do with my career time.
June and July were very much about #1. The plan was to keep going with #1 (and the cottage) through in to September at which point I’d ramp up the learning (I had done a lot of reading through the summer, but I wanted to start working on the projects to put the knowledge to the test) which in turn would get me in the mood to start on #3.
Then August 10th happened.
My grandfather was put in the hospital and the earth shifted off its axis for a while.
Then August 27th happened.
My grandfather passed away and the earth fell off its axis completely.
August and September are lost in a haze of hospital visits followed by a funeral followed by grief.
I don’t necessarily want to relive it all but I’ll boil it down to its lasting impact and what I’ll remember when I look back on 2011:
- I live in a different world now. A man I loved and drew inspiration from is no longer in my life. There’s the world before his death and the world after.
- My atheism was challenged and came out intact. The death of someone you love is as sure a test you’ll have ever of the things you believe and the faith you hold. On the night we told Paige (the night of his passing) Tammy and I frantically read as much as we could and debated how we would explain what would happen. In a moment of frustration I said “this would be so much easier if I could live with telling her he’s with the man in the sky”. It was a moment of honest questioning and reflection. A moment of clarity. Transformative and entrenching. In the end we told Paige the truth. It wasn’t easy, but it turns out some things in life aren’t easy.
- I’m aware of mortality like never before. I’m a very easy going person. Almost to a fault. But Papa’s passing has introduced a sense of the seriousness and finality of the finiteness of life. There was a period this drove some serious anxiety. I’d have to get out of bed occasionally to check the doors were locked. I felt unsafe and antsy even in the security of my house. Luckily this has mostly faded now and I’m back to my care free ways. But there are scars, some things will never be the same.
And that brings us to the last few months. Paige has celebrated her fourth birthday, the family has with more than a little sadness gotten back in to its December-crazy-holiday-events-calendar and I’ve been working on projects, learning new techs along the way. So from my layoff goals I’ve hit #1 and #2 to satisfaction. Now as Christmas and the New Year period are coming up I’m working on getting ready to attack #3.
The reason I wanted to make this post is I wanted to share what 2011 was to me. I saw the Big Pictures The Year in Pictures post and I realized looking through it that so much happened in the world this year and because of the things going on in my own life it feels like most of them are from another century. This post is part apology and part chronicling what I imagine will be one of the most transformative years of my life. Apology because I’ve been a bit withdrawn from the world this year, and not all because of my Papa, but also because I just wanted to spend time away from things with my family. I haven’t been in touch with people and events as I usually am but that’s starting to change now as I work back towards the working world, etc. So if you’ve been impacted by that, I’m sorry, it was necessary for me.
Next up… 2012 – what happens a next, hopefully a better year…