The End of an Era

This week marked my final week in a 16 year chapter of my life: working at JCPenney. But this wasn't just "any" JCPenney: it was AVENTURA - one of the company's top five stores. Over the years, Aventura grew a reputation of executing high standards of presentation, doing what was RIGHT not only for the customer, but for our market, and for thinking out of the box. We had become "legendary" out at the home office.



The past month was a bit awkward... watching the "new organization" take place (but not necessarily shape) and watching so many standards I had helped develop get tossed around, and even aside. Part of what kept me focused on getting through my final 30 days was actually near the end of it. One of the managers asked for my help in decorating the meeting room and the associate lunchroom for a Spooktacular Halloween Luncheon. And that I did.



I drew layouts. I gave myself a budget ($500) I made my list of quantity needs. I searched online for deals. I shopped around and managed to set up not only the 2 spaces for the luncheon, but the hallway, and the reception area. It really helped to lift the spirits of the people who work there, especially since the store was ALSO being decorated and set for CHRISTMAS. I executed what I planned, as well as came in under plan: $491. This all included cutlery, serve ware and cups for 300 people, decor, supplies to make decor, and a DVD I had made of the 16 year transformation of the store.


It felt GREAT to maneuver 8'x4' boards of foam core, feel the sticky mist of spray mount on my arms, inhale the spray paint fumes, trace and cut 80 bats, feel the tension holding the exacto blade in my hand, and even get one blister on my thumb from a hot glue gun. It hurt, but it meant I was ALIVE. I don't even remember WHEN the last time it was I was able to BE "this" creative... to BE in MY ELEMENT... to BE this focused.



It was all worth it in the end. I heard the sweet enthusiasm from the managers, the appreciation from the associates, and my boss say, "Lynda... You've outdone yourself." And I even managed to come up with a costume to tie into everything happening: The Legend Of Aventura....

FOCUS


Focus... that's a little difficult to do right now. Several ideas and emotions are streaming through my thoughts. Some good... and some NOT so good. I partially feel like Kathleen Kelly, from The Shop Around the Corner in "You've Got Mail."

"People always say change is a good thing, but what it really means is that, something that you didn't want to happen, has happened." She had a choice to make: stay right where she was or close her shop. When she decided to close her shop, her friend Birdie Conrad commented, "Closing the shop is the brave thing to do. You're imaging your life can be different. You are marching into the unknown, armed with - nothing. "

Although the nothing is only partially true (meaning no pay check to count on) the one thing I do have to arm my self with is my talent. Now where do I focus my talent? A part of me DID want to leave my comfort zone. A familiar place where I'd been working, developing my management style, as well as developing strong organizational skills, and was still able to be creative in problem solving. But I know, over the past two years, I nurtured and developed another facet of me: my creativity. I've grown to be VERY passionate about re-designing, staging, and event planning. All of which are so far and away removed from what I spent the majority of my life's hours doing.


Where do I go from here? What's the next step? Is there a manual for me to read? Is there a job description for me to follow, and maybe even "tweak"? My location (Florida) plus the economy have some of the odds stacked against me. Life has thrown me some lemons, and it's up to me to not only make the lemonade, but present it in a way that makes people wonder where can I get more?! In other words: sell it. But what is my "it".


I need to put my heart up on a shelf. I need to let go of the disappointments of my past. I need to believe "something" good WILL come from all of this. Everything happens for a reason. Loyalty working at one place for sixteen years wasn't all for nothing. It was all to strengthen me for what I will do next.


I just need to focus.

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