I was so excited to have more time myself after my son started driving. No more sitting in parking lots hoping he would hustle out of the locker room so I could hurry home to get dinner on the table by 8. No more getting up early to drive him to this or that random practice. No more having to adjust my work schedule around his summer football schedule. LIFE WAS GOING TO GET GREAT! I was going to have time to do all the things I had been putting off all these years.
Don’t get me wrong, I would NEVER take that time back. There’s something about a car ride that gets a teen boy to open up to you when you otherwise can’t get two words out of him. Something about good tunes, and looking out a window allows them to start relaxing and chatting about their friends, the annoying smart girl in government class, how much weight he needs to gain to play linebacker, and oh yeah – he needs lunch money. I truly miss our time in the car.
So I’ve had a little over a year to do whatever my heart contends. And guess what, the only thing I have truly accomplished is becoming a victim of time suck. Somehow being incredibly busy kept my procrastination tendencies away – I couldn’t afford to procrastinate. Now, I come home and think of a million things I want to accomplish, sit on the couch for a few minutes to do a quick Facebook scroll, and then next thing. I now it’s 7 pm and the hubs is asking about dinner…Eeek!
I’ve committed to 3 steps to help me get out of this time suck:
USE MY PLANNER. My life is in my phone – appointments, to-do lists, and my social media apps. I love the convenience of having all of my stuff in one place. Unfortunately, this is where my time suck starts. I check my to-do list, I scroll through my emails, and end up popping on Instagram for just a quick second and then 2 hours has gone by. Rather than using my phone, I am going to use my planner to prioritize my day. My planner allows me to set up my to-do list so that when I get home I can start checking off my list instead of scrolling and liking who knows what.
PLAN SOCIAL MEDIA TIME. This may sound odd, but since I use Instagram and Facebook for my business, I need to be on the sites daily. The problem I run into is that I log on intending to work and end up scrolling without a purpose. It’s not productive for me from a business perspective and I lose hours of precious time. When I plan on working the platforms, I am setting a timer so I’m not able to put off my work – after all, 10 minutes of focuses, productive work is better than 30 minutes of looking.
DO 1 NEW THING A WEEK. Remember those daydreams I had sitting in my car all those years??? Now is the time to put them into action. Each week I will plan something in my planner – dinner with a friend, going to a park to meditate, reading a book – whatever – as long as I hadn’t done it last week, or last month depending on what it is.
These ideas may seem elementary, but that the thing – it doesn’t have to be profound; it just has to work. What has worked for others, may work for me or maybe I will find a new twist to beating my chaos of being time sucked.
Marriage is BRUTAL. One day it’s smiles and sunshine; next the roaring midwest wind is ripping the skin off your cheeks.
The two of you can be smiling, laughing, communicating; feeling like you have finally mastered the thing called marriage. In a fleeting moment, that moment of certainty can crumble. Maybe it was a look, a bad day, an insensitive comment, or hormones raging out of control. And in that next moment, the recipient has to decide…am I going to ignore this, compromise, or retaliate? That decision can really influence the next hour, day, week, month, or maybe even year.
My husband is passive aggressive and does not like to talk until he has calmed down. I, on the other hand, have no problem, saying exactly what I want to say, when I want to say it, in the manner I choose – normally in a crazy furry of yelling. BUT..then I’m over it, whereas my husband can drag an argument out for a week with very little said because he doesn’t want to say something he will regret. Where I normally end up apologizing for my harsh words in the heat of the moment and he doesn’t always take me as seriously as I need him to because of how I responded.
I have a great husband. He’s patient, caring, helps out, and follows through. Recently however, my husband made a choice that surprised me. It was one of those random things that came up that you had assumed from previous conversations you were both on the same page about; but apparently not. NOT EVEN CLOSE!! It was one of those moments that as you getting into the depths of the argument, both of you are looking at the other like their viewpoint is completely insane and compromise does not appear to be an option at that point and giving in is neither of our styles.
After thinking about this for a few days, it’s not really what happened, but rather how it made me feel that bothers me the most. I felt insecure. Why? Do I feel like I’m failing as a partner, friend, lover? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it was his reaction when he found out I was upset. Maybe in that instant, I felt completely unloved by my partner and that our relationship was not on the level I had thought it was. I don’t know – I just know I felt angry and completely heartbroken.
My mom has always told me that you may not always like the person you are with, but you have to remember why you love them during hard times. So that’s what I’m doing. Our relationship isn’t irreparable, but rather just another bump and another learning lesson in our lifelong journey together. A lesson to bring us closer in understanding and respecting the other.
The good news is that we are moving on – taking it one day at a time, together. Every day gets better and we are getting back to a better place. At the end of the day, that’s all we can really hope for – for each of us to care enough to keep trying, to keep pushing, and to strive to be a better us.
I have a great husband….. who just happened to break my heart.❤️💔❤️
So I have been MIA for the last couple weeks in my blogging. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, but rather, the plates I have been spinning crashed and fell.
Have you ever noticed that when you are busy, you’re not just busy,…but every possible even that could happen, does? Story of my life. When you are a planner and thrive in routine as myself, this can cause a lot of stress if it’s not managed correctly. So what have I been up to??? Besides, work and back to school preparations for my son, we got a new puppy and my Young Living business has started to take off.
Meet Nucky! An adorable, cuddly, little ball of energy that I can barely keep up with. If you are unfamiliar with Rat Terriers they are a high energy, working dog breed – aka – I don’t get to sit much these days. He came to us from a family with 4 small children and unfortunately, they were not able to give him the time he deserved. Lucky for us, we had been looking for a puppy since my little Stitchers passed away a few months ago.
Nucky’s family had a nanny at their house all day, so he was never crate trained and is used to having a lot of action. When they dropped him off, he cried for an hour. It was heart-breaking. He was very loved, but doesn’t appear to have had many boundaries set up as the first thing he did was take a flying jump off the back of my couch…(this is not allowed at my house!!)
We are familiar with the terrier breed. Our last two dogs were a Pit Bull and a Boston Terrier. Very different temperaments, however, it seems all terriers are loyal, loving, smart, incredibly stubborn and strong willed, and will try to run the place if you allow it. Nucky seems to be no different.
The last 2 weeks, Nucky has been in Rachel boot-camp. Setting boundaries, learning manners, and obedience skills. Due to his complete disregard for rules, I have been more strict than normal to be establish as the “leader of the pack.”
Every morning I am up at 4:45 to take him on a run/walk and try to help him burn some energy before being placed in the kennel. This has actually been great on a couple different levels. First, it’s getting my butt out of bed and working out again. Secondly, it’s giving Nucky 1 on 1 time and a chance to work on obedience with him. He loves his morning walks and his little paws find my side of the bed about 4am every morning to make sure it’s not missed. He’s already learned to heel, sit, and jump up on command.
Crate training however, is another story. He’s terrified and seems to have a lot of separation anxiety. I’ve scoured every blog and article regarding Rat Terriers, crate training, and separation anxiety; trying to ease his mind and make sure he’s safe. So far, I’m failing.
We’ve tried leaving the gate open on the kennel and putting his food and water in there to encourage him to go in and out without being locked in. We have put in him in the kennel for short periods of time while we are home to show him being in the kennel doesn’t mean we are leaving. We tried having him sleep in the crate in our room, only for me to find him in the middle of the night with his head and neck out the top of the gate, attempting to escape. We’ve made it comfy, which he responded by shredding the blankets, my shirts, and the $40 pad to shreds in 2 hours. We have special toys for the kennel as well as kong balls with peanut butter and rawhides to keep him busy in his kennel. NONE OF THIS HAS WORKED!!
Remember how I mentioned, terriers are determined little guys??? Nucky is not only determined, but a little Houdini as well. This little 19 lb. ball of fury not only managed to tear up an area rug from inside the kennel and move his kennel across the room to find my two other rugs, he also managed to rip 3 bars off of his kennel and escape.
He goes into a complete panic when you leave or when he can’t see you. He moved his kennel across the room, chewing up my area rug and small rugs along the way. How a 19 lb. puppy has so much force is beyond me..I guess it’s sheer determination. He broke 3 bars off his kennel and escaped.
Due to safety concerns we decided to try putting his kennel in the laundry room with the kennel door open hoping he would also him to relax and gradually get used to his kennel. He does go into the kennel now, however, that was only after tearing a huge chunk of my trim off the wall and putting a hole in my door.
It’s incredibly frustrating. I have had dogs my entire life and have never run across an issue crate training like this before. On a positive note, it has been summer so the kids have been home enough that we have only had to have him in his kennel for a couple hours. Soon, however, they will be going back to school and I can’t imagine how much damage he could cause in 8 hours when left to his own devices. With him only being 8 months old and still teething, we do not trust him to run loose, unsupervised. More importantly, I’m very concerned that he will swallow a sliver of wood or hurt himself attempting one of his Houdini tricks.
I reached out to my vet regarding the issue. He had suggested using medication to help calm him in the crate while we recondition him. While this is a this short-term solution, the hope is we can help him find comfort in his crate and keep him safe while we are away.
The reconditioning began Friday night. We started by leaving the door open and throwing his toys in the crate and encouraging him to go get them. We have him at a point he’s comfortable going in and out of it. YES!!! Saturday morning we took him for a long walk and also introduced the medication. We then started crate training back up, putting him in there for 1 minute, 5 minutes, and finally up to 1.5 hours. He cried, he scratched at the gate a little, but it was definitely, a HUGE improvement. We were home, but hidden when we did this. We opened the garage doors, grabbed our keys etc. to imitate leaving. When he was quiet we would reappear and produce a treat or positive praising. Saturday night, we put him in the crate as we ran to McDonald’s (don’t judge me – I love Big Macs!) When we returned, he was actually laying relaxed in the crate and not crying..HUGE WIN!!
I typically spend Sunday mornings at Panera planning my week so this gave us a great opportunity to work with him again. I seem to be his trigger; when he doesn’t see me, he freaks out. My husband is home with him as we work to hopefully get him to 4 hours today. Fingers crossed!
I have also been looking into doggie daycares. Did you know they cost as much as a kid! My work offers a perk-up benefit that will reimburse you for child or dog daycare – one of the reasons I love the company I work for! I think I have found one for him that I’m hoping to take him to 1-2 times a week to help socialize and not keep him cooped up all day. Friday he goes for his evaluation and test run.
I will keep everyone updated on this. If anyone has had similar experiences and found a solution, feel free to reach out!
I recently started meeting new ladies through my Young and Living team. The entire experience of meeting them has been life changing for me. It was the first time in a very long time that I have been excited to see people and want to learn more about them. So what gives???
They are so freaking happy! Every single time I speak with them they are optimistic and positive. Even when their businesses are struggling or no one comes to a class; the amount of support and optimism these women show to one another is unreal. When I first started going, I thought they had to be faking it..no one is that genuine. But the more time I have spent with them, the more and more I learn that they truly are happy people out to help and support the people they meet.
Remember when your mom told you the people you hang around is the person you become. If you were like me, you probably just laughed. I have never been someone to follow others, I’ve always been my own person so I never thought much about it. Well..mom may have been on to something. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, has said that based on the law of averages, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
Think about how profound that is. You may voluntarily or involuntarily spend time with 5 people the most. Think about that coworker that you sit next to every day. Or the parents you sit next to at your kids’ practices/events, your spouse, or your kids. And yet, you have the power to change your average simply by adding a new person or removing a person from your intimate group.
The people I had been surrounding myself with, while not necessarily negative..ok some are..most feel stuck about some aspect of their lives and this “stuck” feeling gets them down and also feeling like, “this is it – I’m meant to be single forever,” or “I can’t afford to go back to school, so this is the best career I’m going to find,” or “my spouse and I fight constantly, but that’s what couples do.” Instead of finding meaningful reasons to be grateful for their current situation, or coming up with a plan of action, they have started making excuses or playing a victim role.
This week I had two different meetings about an hour apart and the experience I felt between the two was mind blowing. First, I had a happy hour with my normal crew. While it was a good time, I noticed how the negativity loomed over us. We went from talking about this person’s divorce to the cost of being a bridesmaid to the other gossip at work. None of the conversation was meaningful or encouraging to each other in any way. I became acutely aware of my anxiety and blood pressure rising – and I was only there an hour.
Next, I popped over to a business builders meeting with the new ladies. Everyone was excited to see one another. I met someone new and it felt like I had known her forever – warm and kind. We chatted for a few minutes after our meeting. We discussed our struggles with getting our husbands on board with us or who didn’t show to a recent class or how we raise our children differently. The difference however, was profound to me. The ladies accepted their situation and mentioned positives within it. “My husband thinks this is witch crafty, but he has started trying the oils and even came to a meeting.” There were no comments about what a crappy husband he was or that you don’t deserve that crap.” Instead it was accepted and the positive was reaffirmed- “it sounds like he’s trying to learn more and support you!”
As we were walking to the car, one of ladies asked if I was ok. The truth was, I was completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by how annoyed I had been at the happy hour and even more overwhelmed by how emotional I was feeling with this new group of women. I have never connected with a group of ladies so quickly or on such a deep level. I tend to be introverted in large groups and getting to know people can take me a while, especially since I’m not much of a chit-chatter.
One of the ladies had mentioned the “Law of Attraction” in our meeting and how strongly she believes in it. She even shared some of her personal testimonies. According to Wikipedia, the Law of Attraction is, “..the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and that through the process of “like energy attracting like energy” a person can improve their own health, wealth and personal relationships.” By me shifting my thought process to a positive mind frame, I may in turn attract more positivity to my life leading to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Linking this idea to the Law of Averages, I should be able to improve my own “average” by changing a few of the people I spend the most amount of time with. Focusing my time with people that will bring optimism, happiness, and encouragement to the table, should allow my own energy to be affected in a better, healthier way.
Now am I saying, go out and ditch the people you may spend the most amount of time with? Not necessarily. remember the coworker – they’re not going anywhere. Maybe a family member is dealing with a deep personal issue that isn’t going to change any time soon and they need your support. But, you can change your approach! For example, if someone is a complete Debbie Downer, maybe, just smile, say something encouraging, and walk away. You don’t have to listen, you don’t have to stay in the immediate situation, you don’t have to let the negative energy overtake you. You have options.
Both concepts, the law of averages and law of attraction are simple ideas when you first learn about them. The challenge however, is that people don’t like change. People become numb to their day-to-day routines and may not even realize they are in a negative situation or that they are having a negative effect on others. It requires deep reflection and openness to the idea of something greater. It means putting yourself out there to meet one new person or speak up when others are gossiping. It means raising your expectations of what you want to have out of life and accepting no less. It means being confident in yourself to know the level of happiness you want and to take the first step towards it.
I hope one day we can all look at our lives and feel complete optimism towards our futures. Until that time, I’m going to continue to take one step forward towards that goal and remember to smile and bring out the best energy possible to others.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all that’s all that ever have.” – Margaret Mead
If you have ever worked in an office environment or any environment where you are close to a lot of people, you are probably aware of how easily a negative tone can overtake the workplace. It may start with a person having a bad day and that bad day turns into several bad days which leads to them expressing their discontentment to their coworkers, who then start to share their own discontentment. Pretty soon they are looking outwardly at other coworkers about who is or is not doing what they should or should not be doing and the entire feeling of the department has changed. They may be upset about recent changes in their departments or in the company as a whole, and are wanting affirmation they are not alone being upset. They may feel forgotten, underpaid, or unappreciated by their team and bosses. And thus begins the breeding ground for negativity and hostility in the workplace.
Maybe you’re not in a work environment, but a casual setting. I’m sure we all have been on a ladies night when the conversation turns to their relationships and partners. Which husband doesn’t help out around the house or with the kids? Which husband would rather play video games than take you out? Which one hasn’t picked up a sock or a laundry basket in years? Once one of the women start venting, very often the others join suit and attack of the men begins.
Are we being compassionate, sympathetic, or helpful to our friends when we join in this banter; or are we just bitching to get it off our chest? How often have you had these chats and found you go home and are angry at your husband because Sally’s husband is more romantic, or Jane’s husband takes her on trips. Pretty soon we are focusing on what is lacking in our own relationships, rather than being grateful for the life we have and the partner we have. After all, does your husband know what you consider romantic? Do you know each other’s love languages? Do you know that while Jane is being whisked away to Mexico, their credit cards are maxed and they are behind in their mortgage? Maybe, but maybe not. Keeping up with the Jones’s can be rough!
During our recent team meetings we were discussing out own growing pains as a team and the current morale on our team. One of my colleagues referenced the phrase, “assuming positive intent;” meaning assume people have good intentions and are doing the best they can in their positions. We don’t know another person’s personal situation; why they tired and crabby, why they are always gone from work, or why their productivity may seem lower than others. We can only assume they are working their hardest, doing the best they can with their resources, and have great intentions. Be compassionate towards others – after all, you aren’t walking their shoes. This is the idea behind “assuming positive intent.”
I went back to my desk and thought about how this theory of assuming positive intent could help me in my own evolution process. I’m an analytical person; I look to details and facts for decision making and tend to know the pros & cons to an issue fairly quickly. Having this mindset, it can often times put me in a not-so-open or even negative mindset..not what I’m wanting out of life or how I want others to perceive me. It’s draining and no one wants to be called “negative Nancy.”
So how could assuming positive intent help me grow as a person and lead a happier life? I investigated this theory in more detail and thought about how I could incorporate it into my daily life and what the benefit would be to me. Here’s what I came up with. Disclaimer: it’s SO SIMPLE! If I worry less about what everyone else is or is not doing, my stress levels should and happiness should, increase. My mind won’t be racing with a thousand thoughts about how it’s possible Suzy coworker comes in after me and leaves before me. I’m going to assume she has a good reason and I’m also going to assume my boss is a capable person that can handle the situation. Obviously this will be easier said than done and in my case often times when one things starts bothering me, it can quickly escalate and pretty soon, everything can bother me.
In my quest for finding a process of “assuming positive intent,” I ran across Byron Katie’s, The Work. I had never heard of her and the more I read the more fascinated, I became. I’m an action-oriented person and her theories and ideas fit my personality and goals very well. In her process, she offers a facilitation guide to help you walk through the steps. It was easy to use and very insightful; actually, MIND BLOWING!
My goal for the next 12 weeks is to really focus on assuming positive intent with my peers, coworkers, and family. Here’s my game plan:
I’m going to reference the material I learned from Byron Katie and attempt to use it when negative thoughts appear.
I’m going to take a deep breath before saying anything to anyone about my thoughts.
When negativity arrives, I’m going to take a quick walk around my building or block. Since I’m so passionate, I may find it easier to remove myself from the situation. Also, in doing this, I will be removed from anyone else’s negative intentions.
Meditate to bring myself back to my core and realign my focus.
Use my essential oils, such as “Joy” or “Peace and Calming” to bring me back to my “happy place.”
I picked 5 different ways to practice this so that no matter what situation I was in, one of them should be a doable solution. I’m excited to try this and see the effect I can have on others and myself by assuming positive intent in my life!
My 7-year-old niece came to visit me this week. Being a mom of a teenager, there’s a lot of things I had forgotten about when dealing with smaller children. For example, a meal can take 45 minutes to eat. Getting out the door is a much MUCH longer process. Keeping them on task requires a lot of redirection. They are incredibly chatty and will talk and talk and talk. Mostly, I had forgotten the insane amount of PATIENCE it requires.
Let’s be honest, I was not blessed in the patience department. I had very little patience with my son when he was younger and while it’s gotten better as I’ve aged, it’s definitely something I have to be very mindful of on a daily basis. I’m an action-oriented person and like to see immediate results. I’ve never been the mother that counts to 3 or repeats herself constantly to get him to do something. Being an aunt however, is different. I only see her a few times a year and want to have fun with her.
In my quest to not lose my shit every day and become a better person; I started meditating about a year and a half ago. I wish I could tell you that I have this wonderful spot to meditate in, that I religiously meditate every morning to set the tone for the day, and that I am completely in tune with myself. Unfortunately, that’s only partially correct. Just like changing any behavior, it takes time and requires keeping it front of mind. Even this far into my practice, I’m still growing and learning with every session.
I actually love meditating. Meditating in the morning, gives my day has a renewed sense of purpose and focus. I’m not a morning person so often times waking up early to meditate doesn’t work out, but I do find a lot of peace meditating before bed. Meditating at night provides a calmness that allows me sleep better. Some people however find that meditation wakes them up, so this evening meditation may not work for everyone.
I meditate on my living room or bedroom floor, depending on the time of day. This summer I have been meditating in my hammock and have found it to be an incredible experience. Not only am I getting in touch with myself but there is something about meditating in nature that makes the experience that much more special. I have found it especially rewarding to focus on nature in my meditation. The rustle of the leaves, chirping of the birds, the gentle breeze on my cheek is calming and sets a great background for meditation.
If you are considering meditation or are new to practicing, here’s a few tips I have found to be helpful in my practice:
Be flexible – there may be days it may seem almost impossible to focus your energy in meditation. Your kids may come in unexpectedly, your phone may ring, your dog may try to give you kisses as you meditate, you may be completely exhausted. Try to find a time in your day that most distractions can be eliminated, but don’t get upset with yourself if you planned to meditate for 20 minutes and can only get through 10 – it’s ok!
Start small – it may sound easy to sit in silence for several minutes, but it can actually be very difficult. The American culture is fast-paced, loud and constantly on the go. Multitasking is seems to be an expectation, rather than an exception. When your mind is used to racing all day; telling it to suddenly be quiet confuses it. When I started I was only at 2 minutes and it seemed like an eternity. I would find myself peeking my eye open to check my timer because it had seemed way longer than 2 minutes (I was probably only 45 seconds in!)
The idea that you are focusing your concentration on your breathing or listening to a is easier said than done. Ideas start popping in your head, your grocery list starts to be created, frustrations with relationships may start to surface, you may find you get emotional, and while all that’s going on; you have to redirect your thoughts to a single focus. Don’t consider these thoughts failing in meditation, instead appreciate them and then redirect yourself back to your breathing. Your mind WILL fight you at first!
Use an app – I recommend using an app, such as Insights Timer, or Headspace, to help you get started. I personally use the Insights Timer and love it because it’s easy to use, has guided meditations, discussion groups, local meet-ups, and it’s free! It logs when you meditate and will tell you how many days it’s been since you meditated as well as share other stats. The guided meditations in the app really helped me focus and learn how to channel my thoughts. There are several different types of guided meditations, such as recover, inner peace, music, breathing, and spoken guides. They offer different lengths of meditation to allow you to find one that fits your current stage in meditation. I recommend checking out the reviews to see if one of the guided meditations may be a good match for you.
Incorporate it into your current lifestyle – My most favorite aspect of meditating is that you can literally do it anywhere! Rough day at the office..take a few minutes to meditate at your desk, in a quiet nook. A lot of offices now offer meditation rooms, take advantage of this benefit! Sitting in the car waiting to pick up your kids from practice – meditate instead of scrolling through Facebook. Incorporate it into your workout routine. If you practice yoga, use this time to meditate as they work hand in hand together.
Get comfortable – find a position that you are comfortable in. I found it really difficult to sit cross-legged with my hand resting on my knees. My legs fall asleep, I fidget constantly because I don’t normally sit cross-legged, and so I am just uncomfortable. Depending on the day, I may sit cross-legged, I might lay on my back with my legs against a wall (great at night,) or I may just sit straight up in a comfortable chair with my feet planted on the ground. Do whatever works for you. You set the tone for your practice! I have found I am more successful in my meditation when I am comfortable and listen to my body rather than following a strict idea of what traditional methods my meditation needs to follow, however, I do try to use the traditional methods more often than not.
Don’t jump up! – At the end of your meditation, it’s easy to want to jump up and get going again. If your eyes are closed, open them slowly. I recommend taking a few minutes to reflect. What went well? What did you struggle with? Did you like the guided meditation? I will often jot these thoughts down in a notebook. It helps me watch for patterns in my practice. I may find that meditating at 6 am brings better productivity in my day vs 5 am. Maybe I find that certain days of the week are easier to master my mind than others. Keeping a few short notes, not only helps hold me accountable, but keeps me in tune with my progress.
Without meditation, my mind would be a mess and my patience lost more than it is. Meditation has helped my “evolution” process in more than one way and keeps me on track to be a better mother, aunt, wife, and person. If you haven’t given meditation a shot, I strongly recommend giving it a try.
Fresh out of college I landed a management position in a classy women’s specialty store. I was stoked and ready to rule the mall! I soon learned however that in order to effectively manage a specialty store you need mad multitasking skills. There are very few positions that allow you to be a sales person, coach, visual merchandiser, HR manager, inventory specialist, customer resolutions expert, and a metrics analyst all in one day.
My district manager was sharp as blades and a die-hard for the retail world. She also had started right out of college and worked her way up the ranks, filling in for Regional manager and other corporate positions when the company needed her. She had been with this particular company her entire career.
You can imagine my disappointment when my direct manager told me the DM was hesitant to promote me since I lacked “floor presence.” WHAT!! I run my ass off and customers love me. I went hours without eating or drinking because the store needed me. Was it because I wasn’t a crazy loud person when a client walked in the store? Was it because I allowed employees to share their point of view or ideas? Or was it because I looked young so people didn’t take me as seriously as an old wrinkled up lady with heavy eyeliner and frizzy hair? How could she come in for a 2 hour visit every month and decide I don’t have presence? Luckily, my direct manage saw the diamond in me and encouraged me to continue. She coached me continuously and taught me how to “play the part” when the DM was around. And sure enough I got promoted!
The harsh reality was however, that in getting my own store, I still had her for a DM. She was a micro manager on the highest level and still thought I didn’t have presence and rarely valued my opinion. She would call me or my associates first thing in the morning quizzing us on our SMART action plan for the day. She’s was no-nonsense lady and micro-manged on every level. She pushed hard and expected everything. She didn’t care that I was single mom all alone in town where I knew no one, working 65 hours a week. She cared that we were staffed, that the store was visually excellent at all times, and that our sales goals were met. I worked hard for her. I liked the challenge. I loved my team and the customers that I developed relationships with. I was great at coaching behaviors and reading numbers. Having high energy on a daily basis was hard for me, but me being an ambivert; I adapted.
In our district meetings, my DM would always provide self-development material. One year, she laid of bunch of affirmation rocks on a table for a little exercise. There in front of were the words, “EVOLVE.” I’m not sure why, but I took that little rock home with me.
It laid on my desk at home for years. When I moved, it went with me. – with the word always in the back of my mind. I always had dreams of being the best in my field, getting the recognition of my peers and colleague, and especially my district manager. I saw how she treated the other manager that “had it together” and I wanted that look; that approval.
Unfortunately, during my time with this company, I experienced a personal tragedy that completely changed my emotional and mental state. Handling multiple hats, being constantly pulled in different directions, and having my every decision critiqued, started to take a huge tole on me. I was struggling just to get out of bed and smile every day and not break down. I never told her about my tragedy because I was afraid she would find me weak.
I’m an incredibly stubborn and strong-willed person. I often use it to prove people wrong; I suppose this is why my drive to succeed in my position was so important. I wanted to show her I had it in me. For 5 years, I tried to prove to myself I was ok and that I could get past it.
Finally, it all came to a head. The store was suffering, I was suffering, and my son was suffering. I had to look in the mirror and realize I couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much. I couldn’t handle the long hours, high demands, stress, and the amount of time I was missing with my son. After investing 10 years of myself into this company and career, I called it quits.
I vividly remember my last day. There were no good-byes or good lucks from my peers; even the ones I thought I had developed a close relationship with. I realized that by me not sharing the personal trauma I had been trying to overcome, I had allowed a different type of rumor to be spread and it had been decided I was lazy, unorganized, and incompetent. While I can see the point of view, unfortunately, the reality was I was doing the best I could with my mental state at the time. It was a huge blow to my pride. I was so ashamed that I had “failed” and scared of what to now do as a single mom who no longer had a decent paying job or great benefits. I was angry, hurt, and exhausted.
As I walked toward the door to leave, I looked back and the most unreal sense of sadness and loneliness overcame me. This store had been my life. It was my baby. I watched it grow and evolve for 10 years. I knew its innermost secrets and it knew mine. It was there when I moved into a new location and it saw the pride on my face. It was there as I cried in my office when I realized I was exhausted and facing defeat. Memories of laughter and late night visual moves poured into my mind like the Niagara Falls. Faces of my associates danced in my head. With each memory I felt myself slipping away from a life I had known for so long.
I lived off my 401k for 1 year until I learned the commission world of jewelry sales to make ends meat. After priding myself on being with the same company for 10 years, I switched jobs several times in a short couple years. I had no idea what direction I was headed or what I wanted. The retail career I had known for so long felt foreign and more of a burden than a blessing at this point. I was tired of selling, tired of always having a smile on my face, and tired of people treating a retail job like it was nothing. I felt lost and with each job change fell deeper and deeper into desperation of finding myself and my passion again. The sense of failure loomed over me like a huge black cloud.
Little did I know, the rough path I had taken, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Allowing myself to “fail,” and feel vulnerable, really allowed me to focus on my priorities gave me encouragement to move forward. After all, I had failed once and survived, I could do it again. This thought process gave me the confidence to be uncomfortable and put myself in awkward situations, knowing, it will be OK and that I could get past anything.
There was an incredible sense of freedom I experienced once I took fear by the horns and that little rock that sat on my nightstand every day became more and more ingrained in my mind…EVOLVE. What did that mean to me? How was I evolving as a person? How was I improving the world?
That rock has been with me for over 10 years. It’s gone from my desk to my nightstand to my work desk – right in front of me encouraging and pushing me to step out of my comfort zone and EVOLVE.
Evolving is a process. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it. The only failure is if I don’t try, grow, or learn from an experience – and that’s where I’m at today, growing and trying new things every day. The word EVOLVE is no longer just a word on a rock. It’s a part of me, my motto, my action verb. It’s what I’m about and what I live for.