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Jane & Harriet 
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin 
A couple of months ago I left John Lewis after 31 years and started my new adventure – a second career and a new way of living. Never ever could I have predicted how tough the time has been since then, in a number of ways, but I have certainly learnt a lot about myself. 
The first week seems a very long time ago! It was spent visiting the Aravind Eye Care System in India with a group of amazing leaders brought together by a fantastic company, Wavelength, and was a perfect way to start a second career! Aravind’s brilliantly straightforward purpose “to reduce needless blindness” and their clarity about how every single person connected with the organisation works to achieve this, is wonderful. Every department has a link to the purpose and having saved the sight of over 60 million people in the last 40 or so years, it’s a wonderful testament to the vision of a single man, Dr Venkataswamy. I loved India and its people – I was hugely motivated by Aravindand inspired by the leaders I travelled with. 
As well as losing my job at JL, I also lost my dearest friend to cancer at the beginning of February. We started commuting together in 2002 when she was an HR business partner for Sainsbury’s and I was working in John Lewis’s head office. But a void has to be filled so I’m consciously working on filling it with people I care about, doing things that bring me joy and doing things that add value. But as a determined list maker, organiser and do’er, I’m also learning to be a bit kind to myself, which is harder than it sounds. Having had a very regimented morning routine for so many years I decided not to set the alarm to see how that felt. Interestingly I’m still waking up within minutes of when it used to go off, but it’s so much nicer to wake up when my body says it’s ready! And then my 10 minutes of meditation and my 20 minutes of yoga first thing is a gift too – I’m not very good at either yet but I’m going to keep at it! And over the last two weeks I’ve seen an even greater need to take that time to leave the cares of the world behind, before I turn on the radio and hear how the news escalates and the crisis deepens. 
I found I needed to set up my new business pretty quickly, even though I knew it would take time for business to build – potentially now a lot of time! It felt a very important step forward. So that’s done and Helen Hyde & Associates now exists. And of course I now have more time than I could ever have imagined to design a website! Having felt completely overwhelmed by everything that I intended to do, I took a day to plan tasks for the weeks ahead. It is of course changing daily as meetings in London and networking events have had to be cancelled. But I’ve discovered like the rest of the world, that virtual coffees over video calls can be great fun! 
My planning resulted in 3 lists. The first connected to my portfolio career as I hope to build it. It has a “things to do” part but also “things to reflect on” as I know I don’t always spend enough time exploring new ideas – plenty of time for that now! My next list is things to do for the house; jobs I’ve been putting off and bucket list things and finally a list of all the wonderful people I want to catch up with or keep in touch with, to make sure I keep people right in the middle of my new life. And that of course has been easy to do as suddenly everyone else is reaching out. I’m talking to at least two or three people every day offering a virtual cuppa and some time to download and talk about hopes and fears, frustrations and pleasures – how wonderful and life affirming that’s been. 
The one thing I do know is that this time is a gift and I must learn to enjoy time again rather than racing with it to get that list achieved. So, (particularly poignantly having just lost Charlotte), each day I am taking a minute or so to notice something – in the first few weeks it was the colours in a daffodil bud, the sound of a blackbird – or at Paddington, a scruffy young man helping an elderly lady off the train with her suitcase and giving her a wonderful life affirming smile – things that without the gift of time I would not have noticed or registered. As my world has suddenly retracted, that’s become even more important. I’ve always been a full on proponent of the Pollyanna “Glad Game” and as the news daily becomes increasingly worrying, I’m truly counting my blessings each day. Health and happiness are suddenly now more valuable than ever. My hope is that this situation, ghastly though it is, enables us all to rebalance our lives and focus on what’s truly important. 
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