Redundancy in a Pandemic with HarmonyBlaze

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma from the fitness and wellness blog HarmonyBlaze. Here, Emma, shares her reflections on being made redundant during the coronavirus pandemic.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your life. 

So where do I start! I’m Emma, and I describe myself as a thirty-something blogger based in sleepy & rural West Yorkshire with a massive ASOS addiction and a love of Lycra and adventure.

Aside from blogging I’m generally quite an active person – I run with a local running club a few times a week, love long walks in the countryside (especially if there’s a nice cold pint at the end of it) and most nights, after work, I can be found in the gym.

I love health and fitness so much that I recently started studying to become a personal trainer – it’s something that I’ve looked into quite a bit in the past and decided that it was now or never midway through the pandemic!

I much prefer nights in compared to nights out, I’m a real family gal and I’m a huge softie…no you cried watching How to Train Your Dragon!

I’ve been blogging for over 6 years (on and off) and set up HarmonyBlaze back in October 2014 as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings on life, love and everything in between

Although HarmonyBlaze may have purely started off as a pseudonym that gave me the confidence to open up online, it has now become a big part of who I am as a person.

For those readers that don’t know, could you tell us more about your blog, Harmony Blaze?

One of my first jobs out of university was Brand Manager at a cosmetics company and as part of that I dealt with bloggers on a daily basis – they were only a small company and all the PR fell to me so I would look at who aligned with the brand and approach them etc.

I spent so much of my time reading blogs that eventually I started to get the itch to start one myself back in 2012. Back then I went under the name ‘The Beauty Review’ because that was all I knew. When I started HarmonyBlaze a few years later, I wanted to focus more on life as thirty year old and incorporated pieces on fitness as part of that.

Over time those pieces started to takeover and in 2017 I won Best Fitness Blog at the #BloggersBlogAwards. 

However, over the past few years I’ve had a bit of a crisis of confidence when it has come to blogging and lost my way a little. This was partly due to my job at the time and also because I felt a bit of a fraud in the industry (aka I had massive imposter syndrome). 

Over the past year I have worked with a fantastic coach (Sophie Cliff) who has helped me to find the joy in blogging again by bringing it back to basics for me – I love writing, I love sharing and my passion is healthy living. By focusing back on my why I have found my creative mojo again and I’m now creating content that I hope will educate, empower and inspire like-minded, heart-centred ladies to glow up and live their best life.

Recently, you lost your job as a result of the pandemic. What was your redundancy experience?

Being made redundant came as a huge shock to the system.

Although I knew my company was making cutbacks, I thought I was safe. They had a ‘digital strategy’ for the future and as I worked within the digital team, I thought that I would be needed more than ever.

Although I know people who have been made redundant, I never really knew what the process was like. Mentally it was a really challenging time as it felt as though it was really drawn out (the legal process is 45 days in length from being made aware your role is ‘at risk’ to your contract being ended) and I craved closure. 

There were a lot of tears – I cried because I was worried about my colleagues, I cried because I was angry and I cried because I was worried about what the future would hold for me. The one thing I didn’t cry for though was the job itself – at the point I was made redundant I had been on furlough for around 8-weeks, so I think in some way I had already said goodbye to that chapter of my life. 

But the tears passed quickly and I think that is because of the positive mindset that I have created over the past 12-months. 

Your word for 2020 was growth. How did this experience change your outlook on the year? Did it give you more time and room to grow? 

I always wanted this year to be pivotal for me, but I knew that in order for it to be I needed to grow which is why I chose that word and I told myself in January that I needed to ask myself ‘how will this help me grow’ before reacting to events, questions, opportunities etc.

So when I was furloughed in March, I asked myself just that; how will this time help me to grow. I’d wanted to relaunch HarmonyBlaze with a fresh new look for a few months at this point but not having the time held me back. So I used my time to grow my site … it felt so good to have the mind space to be able to focus on my hustle again!

But redundancy not only gave me more time (particularly to work on my vision for the future and a physical business plan), it also gave me a little financial freedom to pursue my passions.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is get my level three certification in personal training, but time and money have always held me back. Now I’m a few months into my course and well on the way to changing the ‘Trainee PT’ in my bio on Instagram to ‘L3 Personal Trainer’. 

Obviously back in January when I chose my word for 2020 I never realised how important it would become to me. But now I couldn’t be happier that I ditched the traditional resolutions and chose something that would guide me through the toughest period of my life. 

How do you look back on your redundancy now several months on?

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve told myself to not to worry about the things I cannot control and to focus on the things that I can. I applied this mindset to my redundancy as well and now looking back on it I see it as one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Yes it was scary, it was mentally very challenging and one of the hardest experiences of my life (nothing can prepare you for the conversations you have to go through in order to get through the process), but it has also been one of the most liberating, empowering experiences too.

It has taught me that I am stronger than I think and has opened more doors than it has closed.

With the extra time to assess your priorities, do you have any advice on how others can address their work life balance? And find fulfilling work? 

My biggest advice would be to spend some time reflecting on your life before the pandemic using the balance wheel and look at where your time was being devoted and how this made you feel.

I realised that I was devoting a lot of time to things in my life that made me unhappy, stressed or frustrated. 

I knew that I wanted to have more freedom in my life to innovative, to create and nurture and that I wanted to do all this and still have more time to spend around the people that make me feel good. 

Another really good reflection activity that I have done is to look at my diary every week to see what plans I had made pre-pandemic. Anything I’ve felt sad for missing, I’ve added to a post pandemic bucket list (brunch with friends, live music, races) and those that I haven’t I’ve left in life PC (pre-covid).

Life for me right now is all about leaning into what feels good, not what I feel I should lean into regardless of how it makes me feel. 

What are your aspirations  for the future? 

My big goal is to create a safe space online for people to share their wellbeing experiences without fear of being judged – be these related to physical, mental, emotional or spiritual experiences. What this space looks like yet I haven’t quite figured out but it’s something I’m working on.

I also want to create more time in my life for memories. I feel as though I have had to put my life on hold in some aspects for the last 5-months or so, as I’m sure many people do, so I want to create the time in my life to make up for 5-months worth of staying at home.

So more travelling, more time with the people I love and more time experiencing new things.

Do you have any advice for staying positive in times of uncertainty? 

I think my biggest piece of advice would be to try not to worry about the things you cannot control.

When I was first told my role was being made redundant, one of the first things I did was try and educate myself on the process so that I knew what was on the horizon and what I could prepare for.

There are some fantastic resources out there (Citizens Advice and ACAS to name just a few) and it honestly empowered me so much throughout the process.

Lastly, is there a charity close to your heart that you’d like to mention?

I’ve supported a number of charities over the years through running, but the one closest to my heart is Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Both myself and Mr D (my long suffering boyfriend) have lost people close to us to Alzheimer’s and seen the disease at it’s most destructive. 

ARUK are the leading Alzheimer’s research charity in the UK aiming to find a cure for dementia and are aiming to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025.

Read more interviews here.

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