Henry’s sent me a letter, not an email mind you but a personally addressed envelope. Inside the envelope was a gift certificate for $25 off my next order with Henry’s. And they thanked me for being such a loyal customer but I would have to shop differently from now on.
I would have to buy online.
Because they were closing the local store where I live.
I am a camera enthusiast. I have purchased a lot of gear from Henry’s over the years. Although I generally know what I want to buy, it has been helpful for me to connect with the shop, physically handle and try out the gear, ask questions and generally enjoy a bit of an experience with buying new photography equipment. The employees were great and when it came time for trading up, they handled that part of the process in a painless fashion.
The website experience? Not great. And since I can buy camera equipment from any one of a number of online sellers, the site with the lowest price and the best reputation for fulfillment will prevail. There really isn’t much of a customer experience with online retailers of camera equipment. It has become, for the most part, an order and ship business.
I could tell that Henry’s was about to close. They had very little stock in the shop and they did not have much in the way of customers dropping by anymore.
My sense is that the local Best Buy is next. Last time I was in the store, there was very little in the way of stock and very little in the way of customers.
My experiences with buying online are so-so. The last item I ordered online took almost two weeks from the time I placed the order until it finally arrived at the house earlier today. And that was after having paid for expedited shipping. I called the online retailer and they did credit me the cost for expedited shipment.
I understand the business model that online retailers are exploiting: lower cost of operations, lower price for customers, with some degree of convenience.
All that said, I will miss not having a Henry’s nearby.
That was the subject of an email I received from TRX Training.
I first started using the TRX Suspension Training System when I was working with a personal trainer. Sadly, my personal trainer, after 5 years, decided to leave me for another career. Very sad, but I am slowly getting over the loss.
I have fallen off my core conditioning program and I could lay the blame on a multitude of factors. I could lay that on not being able to find another personal trainer. I could lay the blame on having too many competing priorities. Really, though, laying blame is more about finding excuses than making something happen.
With a lot of issues in life, stress inevitably creeps in. And stress can do weird things to perspective. I have been in a bit of a funk lately and blaming my lot in life: too many issues, too many commitments, not enough time, too busy. Many of the things that are important to do in life are getting dropped because I am too busy.
Too busy being stressed out.
I need to remind myself that life is not my enemy. My thinking is my enemy. If I want a different experience, I must change the way I think.
Lorraine bought me a book last night called The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha.
“You need to read this book and you need to act on it.”
No more excuses. Tomorrow never comes. Time to get on with it.
It seems a bit tiring, doesn’t it? The fear. The uncertainty. The volatility. Today it is Brexit. Tomorrow it will be something else.
This is not only echoed in the media that we read and watch but also in the everyday issues that we face. How important are these everyday issues really?
Ask yourself this question: will it matter a week from now? A month from now? A year from now?
Once in a great while an issue may well be that important. But, for the vast majority of the time, it simply isn’t.
This is a hard and important lesson for me to learn.
Scott Barlow, writing about Brexit in the Globe and Mail, captured the essence of the discussion that I had with Lorraine this morning:
For what it’s worth, my central thought this morning is this: Brexit, Donald Trump and rise of nationalism in the west is the result of the economic elites abrogating their responsibility to spread the wealth from globalization and technology and it’s made people angry and frustrated enough to look for scapegoats in the form of immigrants and vote against their own economic interest just to punish those in charge.
Sometimes we’re looking too far ahead and we begin to worry about how we are going to get there while other days we’re creating too much stress by saying yes, too often. We find our plates completely full. Whatever the reason, we’ve got to slow down and breathe.
Too many commitments and not enough time. It does come about by saying yes too often. Looking out to the future can create dissonance by making the current journey out of step with that vision of the future.
I really struggle with patience which is another way of saying that I find it very challenging to slow down. My personality is such that I expect to get everything that needs to be done in a day, well, done. If life throws a curveball, then I react poorly. I get angry, frustrated and guilty. All at the same time.
I have been experiencing an extended period of stress over the past few months. In looking at the literature, there are a number of things that can help manage and reduce stress. I need to incorporate a few of them into my daily life. This list comes from the Canadian Mental Health Association:
There is no one right way to deal with stress. The tips below are common strategies that are helpful for many people. Try them out and see what works best for you. Remember to look at both short-term and long-term solutions when you’re dealing with stress.
Identify the problem. Is your job, school, a relationship with someone, or worries about money causing stress? Are unimportant, surface problems hiding deeper problems? Once you know what the real problem is, you can do something about it.
Solve problems as they come up. What can you do, and what are the possible outcomes? Would that be better or worse than doing nothing? Remember, sometimes solving a problem means doing the best you can—even if it isn’t perfect—or asking for help. Once you’ve decided on a solution, divide the steps into manageable pieces and work on one piece at a time. Improving your problem-solving skills is a long-term strategy that can help you feel like you’re in control again.
Talk about your problems. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Loved ones may not realize that you’re having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be able to help in two different ways. First, they can just listen—simply expressing your feelings can help a lot. Second, they may have ideas to help you solve or deal with your problems. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of loved ones, your family doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you may have access to one through your school, workplace, or faith community.
Simplify your life. Stress can come up when there are too many things going on. Learning to say no is a real skill that takes practice. Try to look for ways to make your to-do list more manageable.
Learn helpful thinking strategies. The way you think about situations affects the way you respond to them. Unhelpful thoughts, such as believing that everything must be perfect or expecting the worst possible outcome, can make problems seem bigger than they really are.
Learn about stress management. There are many useful books, websites, and courses to help you cope with stress. There are also counsellors who specialize in stress. There may be stress management courses and workshops available through your community centre, workplace, or school.
Start on the inside. Practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or breathing exercises can help you quiet your mind and look at problems from a calmer, more balanced point of view. With time, these practices can help you manage your response to stressful situations as they come up.
Get active. Physical activity can be a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Activity could be anything from taking up a new sport to walking. The most important part is that it gets you moving and you enjoy it—it shouldn’t feel like a chore. If you experience barriers to physical activity, try talking to your doctor or care team for ideas.
Do something you enjoy. Making time for hobbies, sports, or activities that you find fun or make you laugh can temporarily give you a break from problems. Listen to music, read, go for a walk, see a friend, watch your favourite movie, or do whatever makes you feel good. This can give you a little mental distance from problems when you can’t deal with them right away.
The Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship sent me a copy of their latest report on the impact of automation on Canadian jobs.
The report, entitled The Talented Mr. Robot: The Impact of Automation on Canada’s Workplace, attempts to look at the Canadian job market over the next 10 to 20 years:
The report indicates that nearly 42 per cent of the Canadian labour force is at a high risk of being affected by automation – the replacement of workers by technology and computerization – in the future. For years, automation has been restricted to routine, manual tasks. The more recent rise of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics means that automation is now entering the realm of cognitive, non-routine tasks and occupations…
I suspect the transition to fewer jobs for highly skilled people may not end all that well. We are already starting to see what happens when a large part of the population becomes marginalized in terms of employment opportunities.
As I get older, I become more and more convinced that we each have a purpose in life. We have our own yellow brick road. A path we follow on our journey of life.
There is joy, there is sadness, there are forks in the road. And sometimes there are roadblocks, challenges that force us to think differently about our lives.
And yet there really is no choice but to follow the yellow brick road.
My wife gave me a calendar as a gift this year, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
I keep it at work. And I read it every workday. I catch up on the dates I have missed whenever I am away from the office.
There is a surprising amount of wisdom in this calendar. Today’s thought in particular:
Which is wiser, optimism or pessimism? Optimists understand that no one has a crystal ball and that no one can accurately predict the future. Along these lines, they know that although pessimists feel confident that things won’t work out, they are only guessing and assuming that this is true. Optimists believe that, because no one really knows what’s going to happen, it’s far wiser and makes for a more pleasant and joyful experience if one is optimistic, if one assumes the best.
If your energy is primarily negative, if you continually look for flaws, problems and verification that life is essentially bad, then where will the bulk of your energy lie?