Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Recently I had the opportunity to spend just over two weeks in the United Kingdom and Ireland on vacation. I visited London, Bath (the land of Jane Austen), Dublin, and Edinburgh with my roommate and my mother. It was a rich time of adventure, many new experiences, and fun touristy activities.

Lest you think that this trip materialized out of nowhere, we actually began planning the trip two years ago. I have always wanted to go to the United Kingdom to see the places I’ve read about and seen on T.V. In a conversation with my mom and roommate, we decided that we all wanted to go badly enough to make it happen. After establishing our initial game plan, we figured out a rough budget for the trip and the savings plan began. We set aside money each month to make the trip possible. It was an exercise in discipline and patience, and it paid out richly in the end.

Looking back on the time away, I am so thankful for the opportunity. We were able to pause our work and home life, spend some time unplugged from the daily things, create new memories, and fulfill lifelong dreams. I am still sorting through all of the photos I took on the trip. I’ve shared one of them with you above.

Looking ahead toward the coming weeks and months, the holiday season is quickly approaching. You and I have an opportunity (perhaps many!) to spend time with friends and family during the many celebrations of the winter season. How are you planning to use these opportunities to disconnect from the day-to-day stresses and connect with loved ones? What are you doing now to plan for these opportunities? Who is on your list of folks to connect or reconnect with?

My list includes a group of friends, three pairs of roommates, actually. Some are newer friends, some are friends from college and even high school. We have already scheduled our "Roommate Christmas" event where we will share a meal, exchange gifts, and simply enjoy each other's company. I also have family holiday traditions on the calendar that began the weekend before Thanksgiving and continue throughout the season. Then throw in some birthday celebrations, the list goes on and on. This time of year, I do my best to set aside extra time to nurture those relationships that matter.

I hope that your holiday season is filled with traditions both new and old, and that you find time to disconnect from the day-to-day stresses and connect or reconnect with the people who matter in your life. If you have a minute, click on the title of this post, scroll to the bottom and post a comment with ideas or traditions that you enjoy. I look forward to hearing from you as you too begin to plan your holiday season and look to wrap up the year with traditions and people that you love.

Permalink: http://www.askphoenixsolutions.com/blog/12/7/2016/looking-back-looking-ahead

Sometimes, Change Hurts

Photo credit: unsplash hjwkmkehbco-alvaro-serrano

Photo credit: unsplash hjwkmkehbco-alvaro-serrano

“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”

–Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

Concluding our change series, I would like to share some insights from the last year. And I’ll warn you now, this post is focused on one of the more difficult aspects of change: loss.

In October of last year our Ask Phoenix Solutions family was hit harder than we ever expected to be hit. One of our colleagues suffered a heart attack and days later passed away in the hospital. We were devastated by this loss. Looking back to “then” from our vantage of “now” has been so helpful to us in recent days.

Andrea joined APS as a Professional Development Specialist a year earlier. With years of early childhood education experience and a love for life that extended into her work life, Andrea was a terrific fit for the team. Whether it was reaching out to providers directly or working with the Marketing team on new materials to communicate our offerings, Andrea's perspective and personable manner drove her success.

Andrea's primary role at APS was to assist individuals and organizations with creating professional development plans. If someone was at a Step 3 and wanted to be at a Step 7, Andrea could help them map out the course to get them there. Her voice and laughter would permeate the office as she chatted calmly with folks throughout the day. She was a natural coach, guide, and cheerleader.

With Andrea's passing, the APS family spent weeks picking up the pieces and recreating the picture of what Andrea had been working on. We found ourselves looking at the world through the lens of loss and seeing the difference between then (life with Andrea) and now (life without Andrea).

Since Andrea’s passing the team has adjusted. We have moved desks around in the office. We have changed the office schedule to cover the times when Andrea would have been around to answer questions. We have a photo of Andrea with two other teammates on the bookshelf as a memento of her impact on our work and lives. We continue to be reminded of Andrea during our time together and now, at the anniversary of her passing, we are reminded again of our loss as a family.

Throughout the last year, the APS family worked to process our grief. Looking back on our progression I see a few things that we did well to help us move forward as a team.

Emotional honesty

We gave each other permission to “feel the feels” that accompany grief.


We stuck together. We did not require that any one of us process our grief alone. We recognized, then and now, that no one person could do or be everything we needed, but together we could work to meet those needs.

Attitude of gratitude

We were more thankful for each other and readily expressed that gratitude. We recognized that time could be short and wanted to be sure that our thankfulness was evident.

Loss in any form is challenging. There is no denying the impact of loss and the grief that accompanies it. And yet, we can survive the turmoil of change related to loss. By working together and helping each other we can meet and manage change, loss, and grief with grace and gratitude. We can enjoy the “now” and be thankful for the “then.”

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Permalink: http://www.askphoenixsolutions.com/blog/10/18/2016/sometimes-change-hurts