As I procrastinated a bit this past Saturday morning (instead of doing the cleaning I had originally planned to do) I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and then saw a notification to check my memories from “this day”. The first memory that came up was my post from last year; the day I learned Lynda Rodriguez, my good friend and mentor, had passed. As I read through my post and looked at our pictures together, I couldn’t help but remember that morning. I had woken up a bit exhausted that Thursday morning because I had come back from #SHRM19 in Las Vegas the day before. I started getting ready when I had this weird feeling that I should check my email. When I did, I saw where Nate Shannon, our GOSHRM president, had told us the terrible news. I remember automatically calling my friend Joan. I don’t remember what I told her and I can’t remember what she said to me; all I remember was crying. I knew this day was coming; things hadn’t been looking good with her health, but nothing could prepare me for that type of devastation.
As I was coming back from memory lane, my boyfriend Samir could tell something was on my mind. I showed him the post from a year ago. He kissed my forehead and said “Wow, it’s been a year already. A lot has changed since then. Are you okay?”
Indeed, a lot has changed since then. I stopped blogging because I couldn’t get inspiration, and every time I found myself a bit inspired, I felt like I was betraying her by not writing about her. But I couldn’t write about her, it was too painful. So, I kind of ignored our blog page (for over a year) and tried to focus on other things.
One thing I did take from Lynda’s passing was that life was too short and you just don’t know when your time will come. I think this pushed me to move out of my comfort zone.
I started applying for jobs because I had finally accepted I wasn’t happy where I was anymore and it was a long process. There were times where I didn’t get any responses from my applications, and there were other times where I did get a response, but the recruiter would then ghost me. Then there were the interviews I went to, but still didn’t end up getting the job. I didn’t let these things stop me though. When I had no clue what I was doing I would make up conversations with Lynda in my head and followed what I thought would be her advice. So the day that Heather Deyrieux, HR Florida President, called me about the Social Media chair position on the HR Florida Council, I decided to talk it over with my family, my job, and also in my mind with Lynda. As you probably know, I said yes and started my new responsibility in January. This role has been a great and challenging experience and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
At some point in February, talks about COVID-19 were intensifying, and soon after, it reached us in Florida. After a few weeks of it hitting Orlando, my employer at the time decided to lay off a bunch of people, myself included. I thought it was the end of the world, until I realized it wasn’t. As I had mentioned, I wasn’t happy there anymore. I was craving change and had been craving change for months at this point. Additionally, the job was affecting me emotionally, even though I tried to not let it affect me. After a few days of shock, I started feeling relieved. Don’t get me wrong, I was freaked out because I was without a job in a time where everyone was losing their jobs, but I was also emotionally relieved. I had no idea how stressed my job had made me feel and how stuck I was. This pushed me to apply to MANY jobs. It didn’t matter if I was overqualified for it, I still tried because I knew that at some point unemployment benefits were going to expire and I would then have to depend solely on my savings.
A month before my state unemployment benefits ended (two months before federal benefits ended), Amanda referred me for a job in an airline company. I wasn’t too sure about it because of the current climate but I had nothing to lose so I went for it. I contacted the HR Manager and he told me he was going to start interviewing in early June and said he would be in contact with me later.
I didn’t think much of it; I was interviewing for other jobs as well and I honestly thought he was going to forget about me in June, but to my surprise, he called me June 1st to set up an interview. The interview was a few days later and I thought it had gone well. I learned that this airline focused mostly on cargo flights and charter flights, so they were doing very well despite the pandemic. A few days after that interview I got a job offer for another place I was interviewing at. I wasn’t too excited about that offer, but I accepted it because I was afraid of my benefits expiring and being jobless. I was getting ready for a start date of 6/16 which was a Tuesday and was looking forward to being back at the workforce.
Monday afternoon on the day before I was supposed to start the new job, a few hours before the end of business day, Jonathan Fantauzzi, the HR Manager at the airline, called me to offer me the job and he wanted me to start as soon as Thursday if at all possible. This job was it! I was finally going to have the job title I wanted, with an excellent commute, good pay, and benefits, and most of all I was going to work with an HR team! No more department of one for me! I accepted and the rest is history :D.
A few days after I started my new job, I was talking to Jonathan about HR Florida, GOSHRM, Disrupt HR; basically, we were talking about networking events and conferences in general. After a while he said, “wait you must’ve known Lynda Rodriguez, she was my neighbor and she helped me prep for the SHRM-CP exam”. As he said that, my eyes watered; he continued talking about her and the impact she had on his life. While I listened, I couldn’t help but smile and see this as a sign. Lynda had been supporting me all along and that brought me to where I was in that specific moment. I do not think that was a coincidence.
A lot has changed since Lynda’s passing. It still is sad to think about her not being here with us, but it is also nice to think about her. She was a very positive influence in my life, and I know she would’ve been cheering me on and pushing me to be my best despite any obstacles I might face along the way. I don’t know if the writing bug will hit me again any time soon, but I am glad it hit me this time so I could tell you this story.