Thursday, April 20, 2023

Reflections - Turning 59

I recently had a birthday. To celebrate I managed to get myself laid off a week ago so that I am currently on a "paid sabbatical". For the last 15 years, I have worked at Hyland Software which has been a fantastic experience. It was great working at a very succussful company with even better people. Hyland, like many other companies is struggling to find center after being very successful during the pandemic, has been struggling (relatively speaking, mind you) since then and the current economic downturn (inflation-driven really) is making it harder not for just Hyland but for a lot of tech companies. Layoffs are happening across the industry.

There are other theories as to the real purpose of the layoff. However, this post is not to talk about Hyland or its layoffs but rather what does mean for me as I enter the next year. What do I want to do next, do I really want go jump right back into the rat race or do I want to change my life completely by leaving the "tech" industry and doing something else. I know for a fact, that yoga teaching will not pay the bills for me. But what does "pay the bills" look like moving forward, do I really need to stay on the path I'm on, or do we make serious lifestyle changes so that our footprint and therefore cost of living are reduced? One post cannot address and I am certain that over time that whatever I think today will change, shift, morph to something different. That change is one of three things we are certain of - death, taxed, and change. Everything changes, every minute, every second.

So part of being laid off in a situation like this often means getting a severance package. My severance packages is generous enough that I don't need to immediately take action to find a job. I will have to find somthing eventually and I'm fairly confident I will but for now I'm not thinking about that. I have been working since '88 which means close to 35 years straight. I worked 11 years at an AT&T subsidiary in Japan, several years running my own company that eventually failed, and then 15 years at Hyland Software. During that time I addressed my alcoholism, quit smoking, and tried to fight off diabetes which I did successfully until finally being diagnosed last year. I became a certified Yoga teacher and am currently about to graduate a 300 hour teacher training program where if I am successful I will be a certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher (300hr) and a Yoga Alliance 500hr Registered yoga teacher. This year will reach 1000 taught, 9000 more to go for mastery. That's alot of life lived and doesn't include being a husband, a father, and all of those other things that go into life. I was eligible for a sabbatical at Hyland, my second one so I am considering the next two months to be my sabbatical that is well deserved.

As I got the notifications of being laid off, a story I learned in my first 200 hour teacher training program with Marni Task and her Jivarasara Yoga program, a story found on page 45 in the Jivamukti Yoga book by Sharon Gannon and David Life, the co-founders of Jivamukti Yoga. The story, which you may have seen versions on social media (I saw one on Instagram), goes like this:

There once lived a farmer. He lived on a farm with his wife, son, and one horse that the family had raised from a colt. The family planned to enter the horse in the annual county fair and hoped it would win prizes that could lead to breeding opportunities. This would ensure a nice future income for the farmer and his family.

The night before the fair, a violent storm swept over the countryside. When the farmer and his family awoke early the next morning, they found that the fences had been blown down. Their prize stallion was nowhere to be found. The farmer's wife was besife herself with despair. The neighbors came and joined in the wife's grief. "What terrible misfortune has befallen us!" cried the wife. "Yes, yes, this is most unfortunate" the neighbors agreed. But the farmer said "fortunate or unfortunate, I don't know, let's wait and see."

A week passed and the farmer and his family were sitting at the breakfast table. Looking out the kitchen window they saw a heard of horses galloping toward the farm. It was their faithful stallion, leading five horses and a little filly behind him. He had found a heard of wild mares, and now he was bringing them home. The farmer's family ran out to open the corral gate for the horses. The farmer's wife was overjoyed and exclaimed, "What a fortunate turn of events, this is unbelievable!" The neighbors rushed over, exclaiming, "How fortunate you are!" The farmer just said "Fortunate or unfortunate, I don't now, let's wait and see."

Over the next weeks the farmer and his son were busy training the new horses. One day the son was thrown by one of the wild horses. He suffered a bad fall and broke many bones. The farmer's wife was very upset. Between her sobs she said "We never should have let those wild horses in; this is a most unfortunate accident! My poor son." The neighbors came to commiserate with the wife about her misfortune. And the farmer said, "Fortunate or unfortunate, I don't know, let's wait and see."

Two days later the king's soldiers came by the little farm. The king had declared are on an adjacent country and the soldiers had orders to draft all able-bodied young men into the army. On seeing the Farmer's son with both legs and both arms broken, not to mention several ribs fractured and numerous lacerations on his face and head, they left him home and continued on to the next family. The farmer's wife wept with relief, crying, "How lucky we are! This is most fortunate" The neighbors , most of home had had sons taken off to war, said, "You are inidded most fortunate." The farmer said, "Fortunate or unfortunate, I don't know, let's wait and see."

This back and forth of "fortunate" and "unfortunate" continue on for a bit more. The point of this story is fairly self evident. Life will have its up and downs, and there is no reason to over react as many of my former colleagues that were laid of a few years ago keep telling me, they end up in better situations because the got laid off. The often quote the pithy saying of "as one door closes another door opens". Of course it can be a little stressful when your in that state of uncertainty because the other door has opened yet. Completely understandable particularly if you have young children to take care of and provide for. The point of the story though is that life will always throw you curveballs, some "good" and some "bad". Feeling stress and anxiety about it do not actually help the situation, those natural feelings and tendencies only negatively impact your health and wellness - mind, body, and spirit. Really easy for me to say an write in a blog post, really hard to actually execute. Being human means we react, we stress and we feel anxiety. It is completely natural.

The work is to not react but to respond, to become that farmer of not getting too high or two low. This is literally what professional athletes will tell you as well, I've heard it so many times in post game interviews for professional sports. Athletes have to have a short memory. Learn what you can from wins and losses and apply it to the next time as best you can. Let go and move on.

So that's what I'll be doing for a bit. Decompressing after 15 years with Hyland, getting it out of my system, so that I can move one and see what next is in store for me. I'm keeping my options open - Let's wait and see.

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