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Curating a Tale of Renewal


Article by Laura Hartmann

Photography by Laura Hartmann

As anyone in the hospitality industry knows, the work-life balance is a struggle, you often work 60 hours a week, and spend many nights and weekends away from your family. But those of us in this industry love it. We love serving our guests, producing remarkable experiences, and we love working together as a team. Orlando is filled with tens of thousands of hard-working hospitality workers with this mentality, who are so significant to the culture here.

Never in my wildest dreams did it ever occur to me that a global virus would be shutting down THE industry that keeps this city thriving. We know how the devastating storyline goes, without tourism, the hospitality business has fallen apart, and for Orlando, this has truly felt like the twilight zone.

We've been hit HARD, however, the beauty in it all is the way the community has supported one another. Everyone who's jobs were personally affected, have been holding onto one another since March when the furlough phase began, which for many then turned into a permanent lay-off phase. Raising my own hand here! Most importantly though, we've been cheering each other on, as one by one, we've come to terms with the finality of our circumstances and discovering ways or new ventures to move on and REDEFINE.

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Is this real life? What was the point of everything I had worked for? What was the point of moving to Orlando for my dream career? Did I just become a stay-at-home mom?

I’ve asked myself those questions so many times over these last ten months as I've learned to transition from being a full-time career mom to a stay at home mom. I can only imagine the list of questions my peers have had as well over the same time span.

So how do you even begin to heal? I'll tell you what has worked for me, and what I've seen my hospitality peers do as well, as we collaborate daily with advice for pushing on.

To help others that have found themselves in a similar situation this year, I've crafted a helpful guide for use as a personal check-list to help you find balance in the new life that surrounds you.

10 Steps For How to Refocus and Redefine After Furlough or Lay-off:

  1. Commit to being intentional on your personal growth because you have the time now. De-clutter your mind, acknowledge, and embrace the sense of relief that any negative "work" distractions you had previously had now been lifted.
  2. Observe the world around you that existed outside your job all those years. Take a walk, look at the trees, go to a park, float in a raft, stare at the clouds, eat lunch outside. It's amazing what some fresh air can do for a soul.
  3. Hold your children and loved ones closer. Start to cherish the moments you would have missed, and will no doubt pass by quickly.
  4. Re-align with your faith, whatever that means for you. Connect again with the higher power that you believe in and allow yourself to get spiritually centered and open to letting life runs its course.
  5. Wrap your arms around the community that's in it with you. Don't be selfish, remember that this pandemic has affected millions and there are so many others in your same shoes, feeling the same way. Find them, connect with them, and create a support system with those that understand your pain. Figure out a way to give back, or simply cheer them on for their mini victories.
  6. Think about the hobbies, & passions you had growing up. Rediscover them, have fun, share them with your children, and find joy in resurrecting some of the traits that shaped you so many years ago. Get back to your roots. Remember who you were before you let a job define you.
  7. Explore your city. You've probably missed a lot working all those hours, for all those years. Visit new restaurants, or local attractions, take a drive, and go on outings with your kids (of course, wear your mask please.)
  8. Embrace your new budget. This one is not nearly as fun, because it's an enormous punch to the gut when that paycheck goes away. However it's critical to not only get your finances in check ASAP, but it's extremely empowering when you can relinquish your pride and strip away the superficial aspects that tricked you into being a source of happiness before. The money is gone, the luxuries are gone, but you are still ok, and will soon realize how much less STUFF you actually need or care about to be happy.
  9. Remember to treat yourself, in a prioritized way. This one can be hard for moms because our kids' needs come first. However, get creative on ways to earn or set money aside for yourself so you can layer in a few little perks that make you feel good once in a while. Prioritize what you can live without, and decide what those one or two things are that are game-changers for your self-confidence.
  10. Take time every single day to breathe IN and exhale OUT. It's a simple exercise that we tend to forget to do when we are running a million miles an hour. This new chapter was meant to be, and you need to believe that. There are much bigger plans in store for you, and now you get to start fresh on your terms with a blank canvas.

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The giveback and finding a sense of community point, (#5), is critical. I've become passionately committed to developing a community platform, called H&F Redefined, that promotes and supports the new business ventures of our peers and former colleagues that are in our same shoes. We call them Innovators, and they are all over the nation, but especially concentrated in Orlando. Consider us their hype team. It's our way of giving back. By thinking of ways that you can either build your own outreach program, or support another cause, it will not only feel rewarding and healing for you personally, but you'll lift someone else up.

Together, as a community, we will all move past this pandemic, and we will watch our beloved hospitality industry rebuild slowly but surely and watch as the magic of the tourists begins to flood back in, and jobs re-open. In the meantime, we have to maintain the focus on how this chapter will set us up for future success in every aspect of our lives. Enjoy finding the humor when you can, embrace a new calling, and allow your light to shine as you navigate "life after lay-off" like so many others in the City Beautiful.

We are all curating, our own Tales of Renewal.