What do you do when you no longer do what you did

I worked for hotels for close to 20 years, the last few in management. I was slowly moving towards burn out which near the end, turned into an all out speeding downhill towards a full out crash.

I had left the industry in February of 2010 thinking this was it, no more.  I met my sister in Costa Rica and played on beaches and in the surf for 3 weeks. I even got a tattoo!! The story on that will be in another blog.

I got home on March 15th 2010 to no job and very few responsibilities. I kept thinking that this was perfect! I could really sit and focus on what I wanted to do! Take some courses, volunteer, and take my time. What I did not know at the time was that it was perfect, but for a whole different reason than I thought.

My Dad had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer back in August of 2009 and the doctors  had given him 12-18 months.  I got home from Costa Rica the day of the 15th, and jumped on a ferry the next day to go and visit my parents in Victoria. My Dad and I just hung out for 2 weeks. I drove him to a few sales calls, but even the short time in the car left him in great pain, so those ended quickly. So we just stayed in watching golf, Formula 1, Nascar, anything and everything that was on TV.

One evening during my time at my parents house, I was coming upstairs and I heard the both of them laughing. Once I got to the upstairs landing, I poked my head in their room to see my Dad sitting at the edge of the bed and my Mom standing beside him, wiping his arms and neck down with a cool cloth. They were both watching TV and laughing at whatever was on the screen. In that moment, I saw compassion and love and recognized a connection between the 2 of them that preceded me and my sister.

The day I was heading back to Vancouver, we attended a jazz festival. People that hadn’t seen my Dad since the cancer had kicked in, looked shocked at his appearance. As I had seen him throughout the sickness, I hadn’t seen how skeletal he looked until I saw him through other people’s eyes. Had I known it was the last time that I would see my Dad upright, I might have stayed longer.

Just over 3 weeks later, I was at my Dad’s bedside in Hospice saying hardest goodbye of my life, so far, yet also the most beautiful that I had ever experienced. He died just after sunset on April 27th, 2010, leaving behind a legacy of a love of jazz music and a dry, sarcastic sense of humour that occasionally bordered on the dark.

My sister drove flew back to Ontario after our Dad died to get her truck and drive back out to the coast and I started to pack up my Dad’s belongings with my Mom back at the house.

A month after my Dad died I was offered a job in a hotel that I had already worked in and for a position I had been in previously. As anything new at that point was freaking me out so the old familiar was what I went with.  My heart wasn’t really in it, but my brain took the lead on this decision. And sometimes that is just what is needed.

I stayed at the hotel for just over a year and by then realized that I really couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the same patience for people and I would get angry at little issues. I wasn’t shining anymore. I had been supported by my colleagues and managers, which would not have happened at any other hotel, so I knew how special it was and I was grateful for how it ended.  It was bittersweet parting for me. I was leaving the industry that I been in for so long, an industry that allowed me to travel & live abroad, to see Tony Bennett live in one of the ballrooms of one the hotels I worked in, that brought amazing people into my life that I am still friends with!. It allowed me to meet family in Scotland that I hadn’t met before, to spend my 33rd birthday in Paris and a Christmas in Prague! I had so many adventures and so much to be thankful for.

Once all the papers were signed, and I walked out the doors of the hotel for the last time as an employee, I had time again to think about what I really wanted to do. I went to Victoria to visit some friends and from that trip and through some connections and the Universe nudging me with a number of signs, I decided to back to Victoria from Vancouver.  I was offered a job in a local company that gave me a fresh start in a new industry which helped me realize that I wasn’t stuck in hospitality, and that even at 40 years of age (please note sarcasm), I could learn new skills.  Just over a year later, I stepped away from the company and launched my own Virtual Assistant business.

Which is where I am now. Seanna Nichol Virtual Assistant. To think back to that time and how concerned I was with what I would do next, to what I am doing now, traveling and working from my laptop, I am just grateful that I stepped out of my own way. I like to think that I was also in part guided by my Dad who had died with most of his song still inside of him and he didn’t want that for me hence some of the nudges.

So what do you do when you no longer do what you did? You do something different.

Seanna xo


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