Another week down; another week closer to my deadline. I’ve had some very full weeks starting from January, when I finally decided to bring my “A” game. I had no idea I hadn’t brought it yet, but certain things have elbowed their way to the front of my awareness that I had staunchley tried to keep benched though this playing season.
When I was a little girl, my mom would get me ready for church. I would put on one of my best dresses, little socks and black patent Mary Janes. My mother would make sure my face was clean and carefully brush and braid my hair in two long braids. Then she’d tie my ‘for-church’ ribbons to the ends. She’d smile and tell me I looked very pretty. I’d look to my dad to see if he approved and he always smiled and said, in his soft and loving way, “Very nice.”
My older brother Guy always laughs and tells how he’d hear my mother tell me to go show him and my other brother, Dave, how I looked. I’d march into their room and stand just inside the doorway, hands on my hips and tapping my foot. “Fella’s,” I’d say, “Fella’s….” until they turned and said, “Oh! You look very nice!”. Then I’d get a smug look and spin on my heel and march back out, my unspoken request for admiration fulfilled.
I honestly had no fear I wouldn’t get it. When I put on my best clothes and had my hair fixed, I just knew the world was ready to be pleased with me. I felt like a princess. I loved the kind of skirts that swirled when I spun around; the higher the better. I loved my little plastic barrettes with the little poodles or bows (You know the ones I mean. The package that had the ones that looked like rectangle ears of corn. My own daughter had those.). I loved to wear tights and shoes with tap soles so that I clacked down the hall like the ladies with heels on. One Christmas my uncle sent me some clear palstic jewelry and some of those play heels that little girls love. I begged my mother to let me wear them to church and she did. I felt as beautiful as the dawn in my plastic finery and I made sure that everyone saw and commented on it. “Why, Ruthie!” the grown-ups said (that’s my family nick-name),” You look so pretty today! And what lovely shoes! You look very grown up!” I’m reasonably sure I preened.
When you were a little girl, didn’t you feel that way? Didn’t you love twirling your skirts and dancing with abandon just like any Disney princess? Weren’t you just sure that people could not help admiring your lovliness? I took ballet classes and wore my white tights and my black leotard and felt every bit the prima ballerina.
I love little girls and the no-doubt sense of their own beauty whether they love skirts and tights or shorts and sneakers. I could get just as dirty and mussed as my brothers, play army guys and pretend to be hunting, fishing or sniping and then go in and play dress up and have a tea party with my dolls. What I wore wasn’t the issue, it was how secure I felt in myself. I had dreams of being on stage and singing like Olivia Newton-John or Marie Osmond. Or being a fearless beauty like one of Charlie’s Angels or Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman or Lindsey Wagner as the Bionic Woman. You might’ve had some, too.
Then, of course, we get older and we are told by society, by convention, by well-meaning advice, or by harsh circumstances, that we are none of those things. We’ll never be those things, and it’s time to put dreams away. Slowly for some -much quicker for others- life unfolds in such a manner as we bury those ideas and desires and replace them with serious, practical thoughts. It’s for our own good and protection that we stop chasing those desires and ‘face reality’.
I had stopped dreaming by the time I joined Mary Kay. I had stopped believing in my ability to be anything special. I had learned to be content in my own little world, made even smaller after my son passed away. I was still grieving and every special day at the school where I taught was a reminder that one of my own children was missing from any celebration we had. I wanted to bury myself with my son. Inwardly, I had. It felt wrong to enjoy any part of life that he couldn’t be part of.
But Mary Kay reminded me of that skirt-twirling little girl I used to be. It offered a a much brighter existence than what I had been content to live. That little girl started to wake up and want to reach for those dreams again. Of course, I’d never be any celebrity I had dreamed of being, but maybe I could find a place of my own. I’m not talking about fame. I’m talking about a life less ordinary. Maybe I was made for success after all.
One of my biggest disappointments in this business has been the absence of any of my sisters in this with me. Mary Kay encourages family groups when possible. Why would you not share this with your family and friends? Is there anything better than sharing such a special journey with those closest to you? None of my sisters or closest friends have joined me despite my best efforts at begging. When I received awards and been recognized for any victories in Mary Kay, I’m most keenly aware of their absence. You want the best for those you love and I wanted them to feel special, too. No admiration or accolade felt quite right without their presence and, by extension, their approval . I would see sisters enjoying time together or working together and I’d feel a wave of homesickness for my own sister that would just about bring me to tears.
My problem was, I didn’t feel I really deserved it. I did not feel strong enough on my own to have any real achievements. I tried to keep that younger-me in check so she wouldn’t make me look foolish if I failed. I could always count on my sisters to keep me in line and tell me when I was about to embarrass myself. I did not feel approved.
Please don’t get me wrong, My sisters are some of my greatest supporters. They are my best customers and they buy from me regularly. My oldest sister gamely comes to events once or twice a year. My other older sister lives in Georgia, but she buys when she can and she always listens when I go on about my business. I bounce most of my ideas off her and it was she who first suggested I tell my much expanded and deeper “I” story which was the beginning of this series of blogs. My younger sister finally dipped her toe in the skin care and is giving it a try. My sisters are awesome. But I still miss being able to share the victories with them. It’s hard to convey the depth of your triumph to someone who hasn’t taken that step with you.
Enter my Mary Kay sisters. Since I started, I’d heard that term. I was a bit uncomfortable with it at first because it sounded a little cult-ish to me. I would say ‘fellow consultants’. That felt more comfortable. I loved my ‘fellow consultants’ but it was hard to use the term ‘sister’. Until I started doing this full-time, that is.
Doing this full-time has taught me that I am a part of a team. We count on each other for ideas, encouragement and help. I made the decision to go for director for my own goals, but also to help my own Director reach her goal of being a National Sales Director. It takes a team of willing women for one woman to reach each step in leadership and becoming a director is HARD work. I had to make a decision that is essentially life changing for me. But being on this team means I must bring my “A” game to the table because it’s not just about me, it’s about my efforts helping someone else. I want to be a part of this because my director has put so much into helping others just like me learn to reach and strive for their own potential. She has several offspring directors who are, in turn, going for National Sales Directorship themselves. She deserves this.
Last Saturday was our half-year awards (Mary Kay starts their working year in July) and my red jacket ceremony. I had seen red jacket ceremonies before, but I had forgotten some of the details. For instance, I had forgotten that the other red jackets gave the newest one gifts. Ususally something red. Plus, during the awards part I found out I was one of the “Queens of Sharing”, meaning I had shared this business with others, and that I was #6 in the top 10 of over 200 consultants in Marye’s unit! I was so surprised. I knew I was going to have my ceremony and get a prize for finishing my Focus 50, but I had no idea that I was going to be honored in any other way.
My director called my aunt (my recruiter) up to give a little speech about why she thought I was so special and it was such a beautiful speech, I was almost over-whelmed. I did have tears in my eyes by the time she was done. And so did my Mary Kay sisters. When I had my ceremony they were so warm and so full of congratulations that I almost cried again. They presented me with the loveliest gifts and spoke of how proud they were of me.
It was my husbands’ first time at any event and I looked up and saw him looking at me with such a proud smile. In that instant, that little girl who used to twirl her skirts and flit from room to room practically demanding the admiration she thought her due, was back. I felt truely lovely for the first time since my wedding day. Not so much on the outside, but inside, where it counts. Where all those dreams of being like one of the beautiful women I admired and wanted to be were buried.
And for the first time since I joined Mary Kay, I wasn’t lonely for my sisters. I felt, for the first time, that with them or without them, I had achieved something worthy. Mary Kay sisters don’t replace my own sisters, but I know that I have a different kind of family with my business. Women who do understand what I’ve been doing and reaching for and who’ve been taking this journey as well. They know what it takes and how it feels to hear ‘no’ after ‘no’ until the excitement and victory of a ‘yes’! Hitting my goals and being recognized made me feel like the princess I used to think I was.
Long ago I was a little girl who had no doubts of herself and her place in this world. I locked her up and let the key to her get old and rusty and eventually lost. Without her, I felt old and lost. Mary Kay was the vehicle to showing me how to let her out and with it, my belief that I could be something special.
Would you like to find your little girl, too? Or maybe you never lost yours but you like what you can gain from Mary Kay and the people you can meet. We’d love to have you, no matter what. You can join us even if you don’t live where I do; I can have team members in any state in the U.S. Why not give it a try? I never thought I could even get this far, yet, here I am. Visit my website and check it out if you’re curious. I’d love to answer any questions you have and contacting me obligates you to nothing, but you may find you like it: www.marykay.com/lmcfarland92