Unexpected Flowers in a Desert

Unusually for me, I’m already writing a new post for this blog. Last time I mentioned that I had been re-reading my old posts. The original reason was to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself, but it ended up empowering me with the knowledge of the ways I’ve grown as a person and how much scary stuff I’ve had the courage to try, not to mention reminding me of the downright awesome episodes of what I feel are pure miracles in my life when that courage paid off.

Before I had made the decision to jump off the hamster wheel of my day job, I used to use my  lunch hour to exercise along a trail that started right outside the parking lot of where I worked. It’s a pretty little path, made for walkers/runners and bikers and is well-maintained by the city. The setting is mostly natural scrub desert and, while it’s never more than a few yards from the road and businesses, there’s enough of a nature setting to make it a decent mini-escape.

There are some areas, mostly close to bathroom facilities or parking entrances along the trail, where the city has planted drought-tolerant flowers and made rock gardens, but for the most part, it’s just the natural desert kept trimmed-back and no cactus too dangerously close to the path. There’s few flowering plants here and even those that do have flowers usually have only a brief season to bloom. However, on a rare occasion as I walked or ran, I came across some flowers blooming beside the path that had no earthly reason to be there. They were not indigenous to our region and they were certainly nothing the city might’ve planted since they weren’t a species that could be maintained easily. It was always a delightful surprise to be moving along, taking in the greens, browns, greys and yellows of the desert and then, without preamble, to suddenly spy some brilliant purple or delicate pink like a little gem.

Whenever I used the trail, I put on my headphones and listened to my MP3, letting the music mentally shift me into a better frame of mind.  One of my favorites to listen to as I exercised was “Big Country” by Big Country. It’s got a fast beat that fueled my energy as I ran, but it’s come to mean a lot more as my life unfolds.

The song itself is about reaching for your dreams no matter what. It’s about moving forward and not giving up and that it is possible to turn your life around after a disappointment. There was one line I’m particularly relating to right now; “I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert, but I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime.”

Recently I was having a conversation with someone about how much that song meant to me at the time I was wrestling with the idea of retiring from my job and working without a net. I was thinking back to the times I ran along the trail  hot, tired and wanting to stop, when I would suddenly see a flash of unexpected color that somehow refreshed my mind and made me want to push on a bit further.

When I’m having those bottom-of-the-cycle moments it’s akin to my “maybe I’ll stop and walk now” thoughts as I exercised. I still have flowers in my life, but in my business it’s symbolic of the beautiful, unexpected things that have blossomed while I wasn’t looking.

It’s coming up on holiday time and it’s a busy season for everyone, but very much so for the retailer. Now is the gift-giving season and many people are out shopping and getting ready for loving gatherings with friends and family.It’s also the time many people fund-raise for their favorite charity or cause. People are in the gift-giving spirit and some save up a little all year to have money to give those in need.

One of the unexpected flowers in my life is my volunteer work at the hospice. The doctors, nurses, PCTs, social workers and grief counselors as well as the volunteers are among the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Their passion for their patients and the families is so beautiful, it’s hard to imagine unless you’ve been either a recipient or been fortunate enough to work alongside them. I’ve been able to experience both ways of knowing them and, let me say, it’s an incredible privilege.

They not only provide compassionate, tender care for their patients, but the support and loving understanding for the families is a genuine blessing to them as well. This past Fall the nursing staff asked everyone to contribute to their annual yard sale to raise money for families in need. They do this of their accord and on their own time. This year they raised $800 for their fund. I also have the honor to be on the Rock-n-Rodeo committee which is the hospice’s big fund-raiser. The money they raise goes to the We Honor Veterans program, which offers a special plaque of thanks for the veteran’s service and a ceremony where volunteers from the military base come in full dress uniform to present the plaque in a small ceremony to show them honor. I’ve been at three presentations so far and it’s incredibly meaningful both for the patients and their families. The other major part of the money raised goes for specialized therapies not provided by insurance, especially for children, that may be beneficial for their comfort and to help them stay with their families a little longer. The hospice will not spare anything that may make someone’s last times here on earth better and the funds cover any short-fall or non-approval from insurance.

My own son was the grateful recipient of these services and kind care from this very hospice. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done to go back there and volunteer my services. Knowing he was grateful and they made such a difference to him was my motivation to try to do the same for someone else. The memories of his loss were hard to face,  but once I pushed past, I found that being part of the blessing they bring is one of the most beautiful aspects of this life I’ve chosen. This all made possible by owning my own business, making my own schedule, but, more importantly, having the hope to try something new.

This year I want to raise money as well. I’m on the fund-raiser committee already, but I want to contribute more than my time. To this purpose, I’m offering the Satin Set for Christmas gift-giving. It’s made up of two of Mary Kay’s most popular best-selling items. The Satin Hands and the Satin Lips set. They’re popular because they are for absolutely anyone. The Satin Hands is a pampering hand treatment that comes in three scents: Peach ( a fresh scent), Vanilla Sugar ( a limited-edition fragrance for the season) and Fragrance Free for men and those with scent sensitivities. I’ve been able to donate some sets to the hospice and I use them as a treat for the patients and their families. This is a free pampering that is really appreciated by those who I get to use it on. The Satin Lips is, of course, for the lips. It’s a mask and fragrance free, color free lip balm that moisturizes for 6 hours. My biggest purchaser of this is men, because it heals and protects with no trace of product on their lips. The sets are sold separately, but together they are the Satin Set and they make a fabulous gift for anyone who’s hard to shop for. I’m selling them for $57.29 which includes the tax and shipping is free to anywhere in the continental U.S. (except Alaska). I’m offering free gift-wrap and delivery for local customers.

I’m hoping to raise enough money to purchase two tickets to the Rock-n-Rodeo which cost $200 apiece. It’s an awesome gala with a silent auction, raffles , music and a gourmet dinner at a beautiful local resort. I would like to have a drawing for the tickets for those who purchase the gift sets as a thank you for helping me reach my goal.

If you like what I’m doing and want to help – not to mention get some easy gift-shopping out of the way – you can contact me and/or order at my website:

marykay.com/lmcfarland92

I would love to be able to write a check for a nice amount that I know will be used for someone’s good. Either on therapies for patients or covering the needs of a family in crisis,maybe even helping with funeral costs because people with genetic diseases or pre-existing conditions cannot get life insurance and it’s just cruel to think of the family that’s unable to bury their loved one properly. I was lucky; my son had Muscular Dystrophy and I couldn’t get even enough insurance to cover his burial costs. My family stepped in and helped pay and the funeral home who worked with the hospice gave their services and a casket for free. They did that because of donations received especially for this purpose.

Most ‘flowers’ in my life are unexpected; this is one that I get to plant myself.  Thanks.

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Plan “B” Sucks

I know it’s been awhile since my last post, but I was waiting for something really exciting to write about. I got tired of waiting and, on reflection, I realized that even though I haven’t hit the goal I wanted to by now, there was quite a bit to write about.

I like going back through these blogs and re-reading the about the events I’ve chronicled so far. It’s not vanity-at least, I’d like to think it’s not-because I don’t feel like I’m an exciting or terribly interesting writer. But looking back reminds me that even though I haven’t hit the mark, I’ve come a really long way.

Our training in Mary Kay is excellent. I like to read blogs and articles from well-known and admired CEOs who are sharing the secrets to their success, what steps they took and what obstacles they’ve overcome to be where they are. I have to say that most, if not all, of what I read from them is what we’re being taught already in Mary Kay. I’ve picked up books on the secrets to business success, inspiration and how to keep your momentum up. Some come at it from this angle or that, but it basically all boils down to the same things and when ever I read the articles, I’m struck by the fact that it’s really nothing new.

One of the things we’re taught at our training center is that the business has cycles. There’s the top, which is where everything is exciting and your enthusiasm is through the roof. This point is usually where your sales are good, you’re getting new team members or you’ve achieved some goal. Your excitement attracts new customers and team members to you so naturally, you just know you’re unstoppable. Things are going according to plan. On the bottom end, you feel stagnant and maybe a little bored. Maybe your sales are in slump and you’ve lost some team members and you’re wondering why you aren’t like so-and-so who seems to have it all well in hand. What we’re taught and warned about is that this happens to everyone. If we read too much into it rather than realize it’s a natural part of the process, we will be tempted to believe we aren’t made for this business and it’s easy to throw in the towel. The point I’m leading up to is that owning your own business is work, and work, no matter how much you like what you do, is not always fun.

When I quit my day job and launched my efforts at doing this full-time I was so excited.  I just knew that I would make director in about 6 months and be a car achiever before the year was up. This was entirely possible, but that wasn’t my journey. I had some learning to do. But…

I’m more confident than ever that I will be everything I’ve set out to be. This year has had some seriously scary moments and times of wondering if everything was about to collapse on my head. Yet everything has been slowly, but steadily moving forward. I made Star Consultant last quarter and I’m going for four quarter star this year. I managed to be in the top ten in our unit in sharing and sales for last year.  I had no idea I was in the top ten of anything.

Before this year I felt like I was bound in golden handcuffs. Golden handcuffs are what seem like security but are really things that keep you tied up in chains. For example, my sister (Sorry, Mandie) took over my job at the preschool. This was convenient because it gave her a bit more money and allowed her son to have a reduced tuition to go to the school and it gave her free after-school care at the very place she worked. Seems like a dream job, right? Uummm……No.

When I talk to her and ask how it’s going, she tells me how crazy the class is. Being a pre-school teacher takes a very specific kind of person, but even if you have the patience and flair for it, taking care of 16 two-year-olds every day, full-time can wear you down. And it barely pays a living wage. If it wasn’t for the lower tuition and free after-school care for her son, she wouldn’t make it from month to month. So she went to school and studied hard on top of working full-time, sacrificing her whole Saturday and time with her son every weekend to get her EMT licence. She graduated and started looking around for an exciting new job. She soon discovered that the higher paycheck she’d receive as an EMT wouldn’t cover the amount she needed to keep her son in school and pay for his afterschool care which she’d lose if she quit her teaching job. She decided that she needed to go to school for nursing, but unlike the EMT course, she’d need two full days a week to go to school. When she went ask for a reduction in hours to be able to go to school, she was told she was needed full-time and she couldn’t be spared. Golden handcuffs, friends. It was just enough to keep her afloat, but only barely, and, at present, no way to change that.

That’s what I realized when I broke those chains off my own wrist. It’s the old saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” that’s been so true for me. I could still be in that job, telling myself that I needed to be patient and wait for this business to take off, but the reality is that I needed to break away totally to do what I needed to do.

And that’s what I face when I let myself believe I can’t do this. It means going back to never quite getting ahead. Paying the bills but not much else. Feeling frustrated, over-whelmed and tired. And for what? What will I have at the end of it all? Working for someone else is like renting a house verses owning one. You pay and pay your rent but you never get to own the place you live in and make your house your home. When you work for someone else it’s their world, their rules and they decide what your work is worth.

The American Dream means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My understanding of it is that you make your fortune, own your own home and live the life you want to. The people in the early years of this country believed that if you worked hard, you could be anything you wanted. We built this country to guarantee that right to any who wanted to give it a go. Back then, most people were entrepreneurs. Plan “B” was working for someone else. They understood what still holds true today: “Plan “B” sucks.

 

Everything Old Is New Again

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

How Linda Got Her Groove Back

     Well, it’s been quite awhile and quite a journey since I last took a stab at this. I’ve made a huge, notable change to my life and that is the fact that I left my job at the pre-school and jumped into this full-time. It wasn’t an easy decision and I wrestled with it for months before….oh, heck!..It’s been in the works since I started Mary Kay, it just took me 2 1/2 years to work up the courage to step off the ledge.  So. It’s been six months of me chugging away at this, trying to figure it out and find a way to make it mine.

     I’ve always known my “Why” and have said from the beginning that it was for the freedom to work from home and, as time passed I began to want it for others whom I saw needed the extra income this business can provide. Here’s why this is important to me:

    My husband and I had four kids, three of those together. Our youngest son had muscular dystrophy and was handicapped his whole life. The life of anyone with this disease is generally not long and by the time he was 13 I could see we were really on the down hill slope. In October of his 14th year, he went into the hospital and the doctors told us he needed hospice care. They didn’t believe he’d make it to Christmas. They released him to go home and provided care so he could finish his life with his family.

    As you can imagine, this was devastating, but what made it worse was that, even though I wanted to be with him for as long as I could, I still had to go to work. My husbands’ income paid the bills, but my income bought groceries, gas, clothing and other essentials that were needed by the family. Every day I went to work and spent the entire time waiting for that phone call. All day, every day, for 10 months. We were blessed to have him several months longer than the doctors predicted, but the waiting-at -work aspect was torture.

    Well, God was good and my son passed away on an evening when we were all home so I never had to take that call, but I was angry about all the moments I missed because I had to be at work when I Wanted. Every. Last. Second. with him.  I had made the right call because my other kids needed what I provided, and I love them as much as I loved him but that didn’t make those moments any less gone.

    A couple of years later, I joined Mary Kay because, when I heard what the business was about, the idea of working from home resonated in my heart. Even though I didn’t have the same need as before, I knew I didn’t want to remain in the teaching job and this offered a way out. But still, it was the promise of freedom that spoke to me and the idea of helping someone else avoid the lack of options that broke my heart.

    As a teacher I saw so many families struggling to make ends meet. Some were single parents, some were married and both adults working, but still, they lived paycheck to paycheck and a day off meant one less day of pay. When you’re barely making it like that, a lost day is a real hardship. I hated to have to call them when their kids were ill because I knew it was hard for them, but, of course, I had to do it. That’s when my real purpose in doing this job began to come into focus.

    With this business, I have a chance to empower other people to have the choices I didn’t have when my son needed me most. Maybe I’ll never meet another mother who has the kind of dramatic circumstances I did, but so what?  Is their struggle any less significant to them? Isn’t their time with their children just as precious? Isn’t it just as lost when they have to go to work? The answer, of course, is yes.

    Even if they don’t work it full-time, even if it’s just a way to make some quick money to cover an unexpected bill or a day off or a better Christmas, at least they have an avenue of income that they can draw on from home. They can do as little or as much as they choose. Mary Kay, herself, set it up that way because she knew that women needed a way to balance work and family.

     What I get to offer is hope. Hope of something better; a chance to get off the treadmill of endless money worries and missed sports games or school functions. Or maybe the choice to be able to stay with their child in the hospital and not have to face the dread of a phone call at work when they already feel guilty for working.

    This past weekend, I had the privilege to host our Unit meeting in my home, which included our National Sales Director, Cindy Williams. You can’t get any higher on the ladder than NSD so this was an honor. During the evening we all stated our intention to become sales directors by June. Cindy was pleased and laid out all the requirements we needed to fill to make that goal and the time frame it required. I was suddenly aware of how woefully behind I was. And that’s when a shift happened in my brain.

    How can I fulfill my purpose if I don’t reach my own goals and dreams? What will I have to show that this IS a venture worth the effort? My word? I’ve been chugging through for almost three years now. Why should they believe me?

    Now is the time to get out there and do this. I have to show what this business can do for them by showing what it’s done for me and what it means to me. I hope you all can hear my heart: This isn’t about having people feel sorry for me so they buy from me. It’s about coming out the other side of the fire refined, purified and ready to help others. “My past makes me better, not bitter.”

    I have until January 31 to make the basic requirements to even submit for the director position. I’m finally ready to go all in. The pain of regret is now greater than the fear of talking to people about what I need to do and if they can help me get there. Currently, I need 7 more active team members and $1,800 in production. I’m calling all my contacts, messaging all my FaceBook friends and reaching out to strangers to get this done. I’m offering a special on the Satin hands sets, since they’re a universal product, good for both men or women. It’s a BOGO; buy one, get the next one 30% off, with the option to hold off buying the second set through March 12th. Or, there’s also the option to order any product $34 and over for 30%off as the second half of the BOGO. If I sell 100 specials by January 31, I’ll meet the production requirements, and what seemed impossible about 5 days ago has just become possible.

    Well, you’ve come this far with me; If you like what I stand for and you want to join my team or help me get my sales done, visit my web site at: www.marykay.com/lmcfarland92.  Thanks for listening.

    

Sittin’ on the dock of the Bay

     “Watching the tide roll away–Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay-y wa-astin’ ti-i-ime…”

      Well, the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Also, I haven’t gone underground,  been sent up the river or fallen off the face of the earth.

      I could give you some really good excuses for my absence, but that’s just what they are; excuses. The holiday’s were enormously busy and I had been given some advice that put me at a crossroad as to my direction with my business.

     In November, we were blessed with a visit from our National Sales Director and our retiring  Senior National Sales Director. This was a big dog deal. These ladies are about as close to Mary Kay Ash herself as we’re going to get so this was pretty exciting. What made it even better for me was that we needed a venue for a special meeting  for just our unit and them and I was able to offer my mom’s house!  Thank you, Mom!

     Ladies had traveled from all over the country to take advantage of that weekend training ( including other sales directors) and they all came to my mom’s house! (There is just a bit of preening being done as I write that). I was really hoping to for a chance to share my idea with our NSD, Cindy Williams. This lady has been in the Million Dollar Circle five times so I was pretty eager to have a chance to pick her brain and get her opinion of my challenge program. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to do that since visiting NSD’s usually have a very tight schedule and there were quite a few ladies that were going to be recognized for their achievements at the meeting. As it happened, she sat next to me during dinner and I had the opportunity to explain what I was working on.  I told her about how it hit all the points I wanted to cover; new customers, referrals, and the possibilities of new team members. I had to admit that it seemed to have stalled out though, and I waited to see if she would have any advice.

     She listened very carefully to everything I said, looking me in the eye and nodding . When I was done, she gently, yet bluntly, said; “Uh huh, well, honey, that’s never going to work.”   I think my jaw hit the floor and my eyes probably looked like they were going  to fall out and land beside it.

     She  reminded me that Mary Kay is a business of personal service. I was never going to see the numbers grow because I was pinning my hopes on other people’s committment to my cause. One of the basic tenets of our company is the relationship we develop with our customers. Mary Kay works because the consultants really do care about the people we service. The challenge-takers would not have the passion I have for the company and products, nor the  knowledge needed to let people know why our product is the best, and why they should spend their hard-earned money for what I was selling.

      I won’t say this didn’t sting. I had spent quite a bit of time and energy, and some other people’s graciously donated time and energy ( I’ll always be grateful, Carolyn!),  putting together packets and invitations and coming up with new bundles to sell every month. I was sure I had come up with a brilliant business plan that would sky-rocket me to success and inspire and help others reach success as well. I was so positive I had a winning formula, I forgot a basic truth;  you can’t re-invent the wheel.

     On the other hand, it was a relief to hear her say that. I could see that it wasn’t working and since I was so sure it would, I thought the problem was me. It was becoming a big, depressing elephant strapped to my back that I was needlessly struggling to carry.  How could I ever hope to convince anyone that Mary Kay was a life-changing opportunity when all they saw was my frustrated efforts? Yet, I trudged on, telling myself  that I would only prove the doubting voices in my head right if I gave up. Yeah, it hurt to hear her tell me the truth, but it was like the pain you feel when the splinter in your heel is removed.

     I was liberated from the need to continue, but my hopes were so dashed, it took some time to recover. I don’t mean to imply I ever considered letting my business lapse, I just needed to re-set.

     This same weekend, as mentioned, we were having a special training seminar. It was called a ” November to Remember.” ( ….C’mon, don’t boo. What would YOU have called it?)

     Besides our esteemed  Mary Kay dignitaries, we had another guest speaker who had come in from New Mexico.  Her name is Deb Erickson and she’s a life coach and motivational speaker. I have to say, she was phenomenal.  During the hour and a half she shared with us, I learned so much about myself,  I forgot to mourn the death of my program. In fact, I had the most amazing break-through: I found my unit name.

    She told the story of her own breakthrough and how, at the end of a week-long seminar with another motivational speaker, she found the courage to do a firewalk. What got her through wasn’t skill, but seeing the people who went before her celebrating on the other side and calling for her to join them. She wanted to be where they were. She wanted to celebrate, too. If they could do it, so could she. And she did.

     Well, I want to be where Cindy Williams is. She says (with a thick Arkansas accent) “Girls, if I can do this, then so can you.” All I have to do is walk across my own fire, so to speak. She did it; why shouldn’t I?  Therefore, the name of my unit will be the Firewalkers. I have to cross that fire and celebrate with those on the other side, then I can be the one encouraging others to cross. Apropos, is it not?

     First, though, I have to go back to basics and try to master those skills that are tried and true for every successful Mary Kay business owner. And try not be distracted by trying to build a better mouse-trap….

 

Don’t Let Me Get Me

     Pink is awesome. I often sing that song to myself when I feel especially in need of a kick in the behind. Here it is, October 19th, and I don’t have a single Challenge taker yet.

     ” It seems that I been busy doin’ somethin’ close to nuthin’, but different from the day before.” ~ Prince. 

     Well, that’s not really fair. I have been doing things. I have a truly cool event coming up and I’ve had several ladies say they would probably attend. I went to a store in the mall and set up to have a booth. I also have a booth in an upcoming craft fair. I have a Coffee Shop scheduled for November as well. And I saw that several of my business cards were gone from my Coffee Shop flier. No calls from those yet, but I hope to hear from some of them soon.

     Things have been crazy at my full-time job and I’m usually wanting nothing more than my slippers and to curl up in bed at the end of the day. Unfortunately, I have too often indulged in this. Instead of making calls, either follow-up or appointment making, I’m checking out the latest episode of Paranormal Witness or Dexter. Also, my son has gotten me hooked on the Game of Thrones book series. I’m a sucker for reading. I read everything. Books, magazines, the back of shampoo bottles, the insert in a box of tampons. Yeah, I typed that.

     To me, Fall is about coziness. Warm robes, hot cocoa, smells of cinnamon and coffee, crisp breezes, decaying leaves, soft slippers and hours of reading on the porch. It is not cozy to make phone calls that make your palms sweat while you wait for someone to answer. I hate making phone calls. I really hate leaving messages. I leave the worst messages! I do ok while identifying myself, but then something goes awry and there’s long uncomfortable pauses while I come up with a way to sound clever or at least make my point. The pauses pretty much do away with any hope of that. Or I can’t keep it short and sweet and I end up sounding like a drunken rambler a la Margot Kidder in the “Can You Read My Mind?” monologue from the first Superman movie. Dreadful!

     What all this procrastinating is doing is feeding my deep well of doubt regarding my ability to do this job with any amount of success. As mentioned, I haven’t had any Challenge takers,  I had an unexpected and disastrous banking issue which caused me to lose about $150 of desperately needed funds, a product returned (unused, not dis-satisfied with) and I’ve lost one personal team member and the other is closing fast on her inactive termination date. Let’s not even mention the wretched, horrible, family related drama that makes the idea of alcoholism faintly appealing.

     October is generally my favorite month but this time I’ve had a  particularly bumpy road to follow. Rack up a few new scars on the knees and I think I might’ve scraped my nose a good one too. But……so what? I’m not dead am I? I expected to lose team members; I’ve said so from the beginning. And that banking thing?  Well, let’s just say I may be moving to a credit union in the near future, but I was able to take care of it, albeit minus the $150. The product return? Well, that’s why we have a guarantee which I am always happy to honor.

      I am thinking, however, that I might discontinue this challenge program. I’ve offered something new to a few ladies and this seems to be generating more interest. It’s the “$100 Shopping Spree with Me” offer. What this requires is a shopper who will invite 5 ladies over the age of 21, who either have never tried Mary Kay or have no current representative, to meet with me and play Mary Kay. There is no minimum to sell,  just the guests as I’ve said. If this requirement is met, the shopper gets a $100 shopping spree of Mary Kay products. I’m going to offer 10 of these a month.

     If I get this done, I will have seen 50 new faces in one month. That gets me my Power Start. Chances are, there’ll be at least 5 of those who will want to hear about the opportunity. Power Start Plus! And most of the time, if someone tries our products, they’ll want to purchase them. Our products are completely awesome and it’s another great way to help those who otherwise couldn’t afford what they want or need.

     My challenge was to keep this program going for a year and if I drop it, I’ll have missed the mark. But if it’s not working, is it wise to go on? I still believe the theory is sound but I’ve not been able to motivate anyone to complete the Bundle Challenge. In fact, I haven’t had anyone sell anything for a few months. Yet, I hate the thought of giving it up. I think it’s a great idea. And, unlike, the $100 Shopping Spree with Me, I at least am gauranteed not to use my personal funds to honor my part of the challenge.

      Thoughts, anyone?

 

Desperately Seeking Susan…or Paula..or Anne..or..

   Really? Desperately?

   Well, maybe,… but not the way it sounds. I’m on a mission here, folks; I have a mountain to move. Anyone want to help me push?

   As mentioned in a previous post, I sort of put myself out there to try and submit for DIQ by the end of November.  O.k., scratch sort of, put in did commit to it for the end of November.

   I can hear you asking what in the world is DIQ?  D.I.Q. stands for Director In Qualification.  Ahhh, Director. My dream position. If I make director then I’m either ready, or just about ready, to do Mary Kay full-time. This is my goal.  I want to be my own boss. I want to have flexibility to do what I want, when  I want. I want a new car that I don’t have to pay for.  I want to be instrumental in helping women make positive changes in their lives. I want to help someone else reach their personal best. I like to cheer people on. I like to see them be successful! I don’t want to dread going to work; I want to love it!

   And I do love being a Mary Kay consultant.  Now, I know many of you out there are thinking,” Well, that’s o.k. for you, but I’m not the salesperson type.”  So what? I am definitely not the salesperson type. I never want to sell to anyone.  I am not comfortable with the thought of convincing someone to buy something. I mean, I like to earn money, but I don’t want to feel like I pressured anyone into it.

   The beautiful thing about this is, I am NOT looking for salespeople. I am looking for women (or men) who want to share good skin care with others; who want to enrich someone else’s life.  It’s so easy, I don’t have to sell at all. I just present the products as they are and let them sell themselves. 

   As I’ve also said, I was afraid I wouldn’t like the products, or find that their worth was being over-blown, in which case, I wouldn’t be able to sell them. But really, what I was afraid of was selling itself. I did not want to sell! I couldn’t stand the thought of getting in front of a group of people I didn’t know and try to persuade them to buy from me. …. Still, something inside wanted to try for those things I did so desperately want for my life. So, I took a chance. And I’m falling madly on love with this.

   What I need for DIQ is 10 qualified team members What does qualified mean? It means a team member with a $200 wholesale order.

    “Well!”, you say,” $100 for the starter kit AND a $200 order just to be qualified? If I had that much extra money lying around, I’d put it in my gas tank; pay a doctor’s bill; buy groceries or new shoes for my child, etc., etc.”

   All is not as it seems. You see, we make 50% of what we sell, one of the highest paid direct selling commissions. One of only three, I believe. No one pays higher.  Anyway, the first party I had, I made almost $400 dollars which was a payday of almost $200 profit. I ordered what I needed and then ordered other things I wanted to keep on hand, a nearly $400 wholesale order. From my very first party. I made back the initial $100 investment, and chose to put it back into my business. Voila; qualified!

  And one of the BEST parts of this business is you get to pick your team. You never have to work with people you don’t like ever again. That is a total boon. Yes, I’m sure there may be people in Mary Kay I wouldn’t like, but I haven’t met one yet. The sisterhood is amazing. The support you will receive, both professionally and personally is truly wonderful.

   As for the time issue, as in: ” I don’t have time right now.”, I’d like to politely remind you that I have a full-time job as well as this plus a house to run, a disabled hubby, a frustrating teen-ager….you know how it goes. Mary Kay allows you to work on your schedule, not someone elses. We are trained on how to work it in the time we have. You can work as little or as much as you want.

  * Humph*, I just looked back over what I wrote and noticed that I just started saying ” you” instead of “I”. I apparently have more faith in my powers of persuasion than I thought.  Bilbo is getting braver. Yay!

    So, maybe you think this isn’t for you? Well, referrals are the best gift I could get right now. Do you know someone who might like this or just needs a change? Extra money? Something they can do from home?  But why don’t you give it a shot? You really have nothing to lose. Visit my web-site to contact me, the address is :  marykay.com/lmcfarland92. We could have coffee or a conference call with my director if you don’t live close by. Or call me. Chances are, if you’re on my Face Book friends list or have my cell, I want you on my team.

Liqiud Courage

        Sorry. I’m not talking about alcohol. Not that I’m against a drink now and then, I just don’t recommend it before entering a selling situation. After, well…that’s up to you.

       No, ladies and gentlemen, my liquid courage comes in a small, plastic tube. Beige 1 tinted moisturizer, SPF 20, to be exact. Now, you may be wondering what that has to do with courage? Well, as some of you know, I’d always hated my complexion. It was acne-prone, shiny and all-around make-up repellent. I could never seem to get my foundation shade right and even if I had, my make-up never lasted more than half a day anyway; put it on in the morning and it had slid off my face by noon. Seriously, ask my friends. We all know kids are cruel. We were probably cruel to some ourselves.  I heard all the usual comments that accompany this kind of skin and few really creative zingers that left bigger scars on my psyche than my acne ever did on my face. I learned to layer on the products and became a big fan of full-coverage everything.

         When I signed up for this business, I did it for the opportunity to be my own boss. I had never really tried the products and I was worried that maybe they weren’t as great as everyone said. If that was the case, I’d be in trouble because there would be no way I could sell something I didn’t believe in. But guess what? It works. It works spectacularly well. For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable in my own skin. I may not be model pretty, but I think I look pretty good most of the time. I’ve had several people tell me they thought I was much younger than I am and one young lady said, “I hope I look that good at that age.”  Woo Hoo!

        I seem to be a walking cliché these days. I understand I’m not making earth-shattering revelations of character, but it’s the first time in my life I can see these things at work on how I live. I thought I had to have everything  just- so for this to work. I thought I had to be just-so for this to work. In holding on to that, I took a lot longer to really try at this. I never knew how much energy got sapped from my life by letting perfectionism rule the way I did things.

        Mary Kay’s products have helped me get to the point that I can wear our sheerest foundation formula with pride, but learning this business has led me to reach for my personal best potential. With that comes the bonus of looking for it in others. Letting go of that need to be perfect has allowed me to focus on other people; to see what they bring to the table.

       So far this month I have two challenge-takers. I need 8 more to fulfill my own monthly goal. I may not make my goal but it won’t make or break me. In the past, if something wasn’t immediately successful, I gave it up. In the past three months, since I really started going with this, it’s become easier and easier to get back on track,  dust off  my scraped knees and keep going forward. Disappointment has had a harder time bringing me down or keeping there for very long. I intend for these blogs to be less about trying to climb my hurdles and more about which ones I’ve conquered.  Well…..I’m off to conquer.

This Wave of Doubt has a Strong Undertow

        Well….I got smacked between the eyes this weekend.

          As you may remember from a  previous post,  I mentioned that there are some people who see my failure in my Mary Kay business as a matter of course. They assume I’ll do poorly and try to be “honest” with me about how I’ll eventually end up licking my wounds and settling for my sub-par existence like a good girl. After all, they’re only trying to “prepare” me for what everyone else sees coming.

        It was also mentioned that women would rather buy their foundation cheaper and in a glass bottle with a pump whereas ours was just in a “plastic tube”. …Ouch. I wasn’t feeling all that well when this was said and my shields were down to 35% power, so my confidence took a direct hit. Fortunately, my starship was not destroyed.

        Now, don’t scold me. I’m well aware that I need to learn to brush that stuff off, but I was still smarting from only having 3 challenge takers this month and no sales from those. I had just written my last post about bravely going on and I was starting to feel foolish. After all, I wasn’t seeing the growth I had hoped for and everyone else was seeing me not having any success either. I started to consider giving this whole thing up. Because, well.., it costs money to put those packets together. It takes a lot of printer ink and a lot of paper. I spend a lot of time writing up the customer info cards and filling out 100 invitations to my challenge celebration. Not to mention what I’ve laid out for prizes and party supplies. And fewer challenge takers means a smaller well from which to draw new challenge takers from.

        Well….I went home and took some ibuprofen, said a prayer and climbed in bed. I had two guest scheduled for the brush clinic the next morning so I recited the Bilbo Baggins speech and went to the training center. One guest cancelled. The other not only showed up, but bought a bundle from one of my challenge takers. And she’s considering joining my team. Take THAT Smaug.

       I re-scheduled the guest that couldn’t make it and today I spoke to three people I hadn’t had the courage to speak to yet. Result: four new bookings. I have the challenge celebration on the third of September and I have some more leads to follow-up. I hope next week I’ll be a bit less pathetic and whiney. Why do I continue to doubt when this is so clearly the way I’m supposed to go?

       As for cheaper and in a pretty glass bottle? I say, first of all, what’s cheaper: a perfectly matched foundation that you’re happy and confident in or one that may or may not match your skin tone?  A foundation that offers a full money back guarantee or one you may not be able to return? A foundation that comes in a glass bottle or one that lasts 5 months with everyday use, has anti-aging properties and comes in a plastic tube that you can not only squeeze every last drop from, but is easier to recycle? If it lasts 5 months ( and for some ladies it lasts much longer), and it’s $20 a tube, that’s a grand total of $4 a month when you break it down. Hmmm…a dollar a week. And that’s our highest priced foundation. I’d say that’s pretty economical.

     So. I had a bad few days. In Mary Kay bloody knees are mentioned  frequently.  I was all set to say I have a new scratch when I just now realized I have not had a fall. I didn’t give up,  I just thought about it. So this is more like a stubbed toe. It’s painful and I hobbled for a while and did that “Hsssss…owww….hssss..owww…hssss..owww” thing as I went but….I went forward.  Hooray for Bilbo!

     Oh yeah, and I sorta committed to submitting for DIQ by the end of November.  … *GULP*

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