Real talk:

I am in the direct sales industry (formerly in luxury real estate), but I prefer to call it Social Selling since it’s what I really do. I sell products over social moments. I am a walking cliché sometimes (I just know the PTA want to run when they see me coming, and God forbid one of them has a zit!), and I am perfectly okay with that.

My company is fairly new to the market, but our momentum has been so positive and surprising that our industry is really listening. Sounds great? Of course! I launched my business with the company—I was even a part of their clinical trials. I was going to hit the ground running, achieve every possible rank promotion. And…

taking-care-of-you is not optionalNo.

Nope.

Not at all.

I hit the ground all right. Smacked my face right into the damn pavement. I didn’t know enough people. I was lousy at selling (there’s a big difference between luxury homes and luxury skincare, in case you didn’t know). I allowed a busy kid schedule to become my excuse. I allowed my airline pilot husband to be an excuse. (I even used my goats once as an excuse. Not. Even. Shitting. You.) My excuse matrix was really advanced. I’m a perfectionist, and when that doesn’t work out, I find an excuse to make it look pretty. Charms of being an only child—no one to call bullshit on you… ever.

I have amazing business days (y’all nodding your heads know what’s up), and then there are the days when half of your monthly parties cancel (is there some epidemic I should be concerned about? You all have personal issues going on? Are you all on your period at the exact same time? Are we that close?). I have days when my child is sick which means I cannot meet a potential new business partner (you can’t show up with vomit on your shirt, reeking of a college frat party). After a little vacation, I have days where lose momentum (ever have too many Mai Tais and forget to check in with your team right at month’s end and miss your bonus because you didn’t remind them to sell $25 more? Yeah, me either, but it’s possible, wouldn’t you say?). It happens. To the best of us, it happens. And some days I have that dreaded thing… what many of us are afraid to talk about, admit, or even acknowledge… the Confidence issue.

Emotional blockages get in our way often, and, at times, it seems nearly impossible to see a way around it, or out. Those ugly dark feelings of unworthiness, the icky sales-person feeling, the oh-my-God-here-she-comes-quick-look-busy-why-doesn’t-she-get-a-real-job moments, or, my personal favorite (it must be because it’s the one that makes an appearance over here frequently), the I-Suck-at-This disease.

worry-lessEvery home-based business has an annual celebration, whether it’s a seminar or a convention, or something snazzier like a Jubilee or Hoopla. They are designed to reconnect you to the business you so passionately dived into. You learn tech tools, hear inspiring stories, listen to keynote speakers, learn more about your industry, and who the movers and shakers are within it. You recognize the over-achievers top producers, highest earners, and best story-tellers. You most likely will return home with a renewed vigor and resounding compulsion to share your Why from the rooftops, and start networking and building your business. You may even buy every type of swag they can stick your company logo on without hesitation (hey, it happens).

Fast forward to my company’s first celebration ever… I registered right away. Counted the days until it was time to pack. I bought champagne flute pajama bottoms and a new dress, had my nails done, my hairs did, and exfoliated. And exfoliated again. And then one more time.

Yet I awoke the Monday before my Friday departure with this idea that I wasn’t going to attend our event. That I was only a Senior Specialist, that unless I was a Star, I wouldn’t really benefit. Although I had paid, signed up early, and had booked a hotel, I was unsure I had the energy and exuberance to attend. I also awoke with not one, but TWO zits on my chin (remember I sell skincare?). Yay me.

I have a petite team, not even named yet. I don’t perform well each month (I mean, I don’t suck, I contribute, but…), so how could I possibly attend? Before making any decisions, I decided to talk with a couple good friends within my company, my bestie, and my up-line. I had some wine, thanked the Universe, and went to bed wondering, is this just really for winners?

No.

No, it isn’t.

believe in yourself beyond reasonIt’s for people like me who put cereal in the fridge by accident, drive their kiddos to school in pajamas, drink a glass of wine and call it lunch, and wonder how in the hell anyone allowed them to have children. For people who live my life according to what’s on a to-do list. For people who leave their goats out overnight—for Pete’s sake!—and wake to them licking the deck window. (#truestory) Life gets hard sometimes, and it feels like we get stuck between a marathon, a sprint, or 30 days in the desert on a merry-go-round. I wake up, and never know which one I’m in for, ya know?

Got up the next day, and knew I had to go. I mean, I am blessed to not pay airfare, and with $200 worth of treats coming my way, I’m paying to be trained, motivated, inspired, hugged, and to expand my sisterhood. For an only child, this is huge. Alas, my two chin-guests and I arrived early Friday morning.

Best. Decision. EVER.

I met news sisters (and a couple of brothers!). I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. I shook hands, looked folks in the eye, and said thank you. I listened, learned, cried, and laughed again. I was inspired. I walked among giants. I understood. I said YES. I brought home swag, memories, and more names to add to my Christmas list. But really what I learned, was that I can do this business.

I had to learn that social selling requires you to look at the business differently. As a not-a-business, but a Gift, rather. It shouldn’t look like anything else I’ve ever done. If it were the same, comfortable, it wouldn’t work. Growth occurs when things are uncomfortable. It’s not a job on the unicorn farm, it’s a long game. It requires doing the lonely work, being vulnerable, and truly knowing your Why. And I mean that deep place you keep your sincerest thoughts and feelings and fears, and rummaging until you hit the sweet spot, and know exactly why you chose this industry, this company, why right now, and what your value proposition is.

Call it moxie. Call it grit. Call it now.That Sunday, I flew home a changed woman. Color me cliché. But so what!? Whatever works, right?

I have met with four friends after returning (for lunch, for my company), all women I have known for a while. Each of them commented on my persona. They agreed I sound different. That my body language is different, my gesticulations are grand again. My attitude feels more fluid, more balanced, more calm, and more Amy-like.

The punch line?

Go.

Just go.

Whatever the event or occasion is, go to your tribe. Go alone. It’s ok. But go. There’s a new world waiting for you, and a new you waiting for the world. Go on the girls’ weekend; go to a book club; go to your training convention.

Go, and be extraordinary.

I was once given a Cherokee medicine stick by a woman. I gave it power, because it gave me power. I was Cherokee. I was special. That infinitesimal amount was enough to make me feel connected to something earthly and sacred, a tribe of my very own. I belonged.

I am only child, Einselkind, a lone wolf, a gang of exactly one. Because I’m also a military brat, I did a lot of hello-goodbye-hello-ing. I had a lot of lonely days, but being Cherokee gave me a connection, a talking point, roots—a tribe. A history.

Yet I often longed for someone to sit with at the lunch table on those lonely first days of school. A sibling would have been nice.

I used to crave siblings so badly that every Christmas I wrote Santa, begging for an older brother. Not just any older brother, but the one from the mid-80s Folger’s Coffee Christmas commercials. He wore a striped rugby shirt and a scarf, looking preppy and young man-ish. You know the one… He’s coming home from college, sneaks in early one morning to his perfectly decorated Cape Cod-style home and brews coffee that delicately fills the whole house with the nuanced, magical scent of Folger’s, permeating every inch with a decadent warmth and love. There was a little sister in the commercial and I wanted to be her. I imagined how much he’d love me, give me all sorts of advice, and let me hang out in his room while he dished all about college life. I dreamed of what he was studying, how he smelled. It was my fantasy, to have a brother with whom to bond, and complain about my mom and dad.

(I married a man with three brothers. I take back some of my wishes for siblings. Ha! Be careful what you ask for. Moving on…)

I lamented my loneliness to my parents, and they let me know I had many people close to me, they just weren’t “living.” (I see what they did there.) So I forced myself to own and even be proud of the family gone before me: a confederate soldier in the historical landscape (not that I like the side he fought for, but it’s still a unique story); Great Aunt Ida, who was an electric chair lady (I’m just going to let you think on that one for a spell. Yes, she was a circus act); my great-great grandfather who was kicked out of the state of Arkansas because his gun accidentally went off in a saloon (evidently, concealed carry was illegal back then… who knew? After the incident he packed up Grandma Maggie and their handmade bread bowl, and moved to Texas. Guns were welcome there); and finally, I had Cherokee blood in me.

Wow. Now that was special.

I remember the day my father phoned with news for me: I was no longer Cherokee.

Poof. Just like that, a piece of my identity disappeared.

My father had DNA testing performed to see what his ancestry contained. There was no Cherokee. Not a drop. Never was. A family story my father was even raised to believe. I didn’t have a tribe any longer. Mic drop. It actually knocked the wind out of me, and I struggled to say I love you before getting off the phone.

I was angry, as if this had been done to me personally. It wasn’t. I started examining my life, and really thinking about the tribes I do belong to. I may not be a Cherokee, but I do belong to other groups. I took to social media, to a private group to whine about something. The ladies are all military brats.
FYTWait… I am, too.

Hold on a minute… they are a tribe. I am similar to them. We don’t see one another on the regular; (in fact, there are a couple I’ve not seen since high school graduation in Germany).

I am a military brat. The brat tribe is huge and special and proud. We live around the world, and we bloom where we are planted. And likely if you have ever met one, they are gregarious, adaptable, and strong.

I am a mom. Wow. Now there’s a tribe. When you become a mother, there’s a piece of your soul that never stops crying, and that is universal. We raise humanity, we celebrate love and experience unimaginable pain at the same time. We have the strength of an ant, and the perseverance of a cheetah. We protect, nurture, and manage to do so with grace and sometimes good hair (we drink a lot of wine too!).

I am a mompreneur; a mom who owns and cultivates her own business, to help the family, to gain sanity from the laundry, to raise awareness of something bigger than ourselves. That takes sweat equity, love beyond measure, and an inhuman capability to manage 422 tasks at one time, again, while wearing mascara and serving something resembling homemade for dinner (sometimes!). Show me a mompreneur, and I’ll show you a superhero.

Okay, so I’m not Cherokee. Pity party over. It was something I thought I’d passed down to my own children. However, I’m swimming in tribes! I don’t need identity running through my veins to connect me. I do not need a sibling. I do not need to rely on family history alone to feel grounded.

I can reach my hand out and somewhere, there will be many hands awaiting my grasp. It may be virtual, over the phone, over wine, at a meeting… but it’s there. I am not alone. I am never alone. For that matter, neither are you.

(Incidentally, the genetic mapping indicated that there is Icelandic heritage. You know what this means? I’m related to every Icelandic now!)

Have you ever been so paralyzed with indecision that making a choice between PB&J and ham & cheese seemed insurmountable? But not in a one-off child-induced sleep deprivation kind of a way. More like every day you are faced with thousands of “which ones,” “where tos,” and “how longs,” or “should Is,” and you never seem to have a definitive answer. Ever awakened and realized you didn’t recognize where you were in life? Ever look in the mirror and see that the human before you is not who you expected, someone you barely know? Like you don’t understand who that person is any longer, can’t align yourself with their philosophy? Perhaps it’s more akin to recognizing a 3rd cousin at an every-five-year family reunion. Every year, you know them less and less. You change, they change, but there are some familiar qualities, just harder and harder to discern. Yeah, like that.

That was me. Truly and authentically me. I felt an attack of conscience just vacuuming: Should I just do it and enable the family? Should I make one of the children do it and learn responsibility? I awoke routinely caught in an identity crisis: What am I doing here? Like I was a bad actor in a B movie titled Amy’s Nebulous Life. It was Groundhog Day, every day. As long as I didn’t move in any direction, the unknown wouldn’t happen, right? Safety in staying put, no second guessing for me, because that sure was a headache. I saved myself, or so I thought, by simply doing nothing.

And by doing nothing, I mean nothing exceptional.

Sure, I took care of family, cooked, cleaned, played Monopoly with my kiddos, watched the Super Bowl, loved my husband, read some books, and drank some wine with friends. But I was a shell. There was no movement, you know? The kind of movement where your projects are more than complete, ready for the next one, but rather they have meaning. They create something. Something special. Something with purpose. Somehow, you did something that created the butterfly effect. I didn’t have that. Truthfully, I had no idea I wasn’t moving, progressing, and only maintaining. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Sascha3Until one day… one day, lightning struck me at my core. My foundation shook; pieces of me broke away; filters through which I viewed life and others were lifted; I had an epiphany. (Almost like when I switched from white wine to red wine, but that’s a different post…)

My questions still didn’t have answers, but I knew it was about action. Saying Yes. Saying No. Being present. Being authentic. Stopping all the to-dos, and just allowing life to sometimes lift me to a different place. You know you’re a Gen-Xer by how many buzz words were born in your adult lifetime. Today’s people have no idea how colorful their lives are with catchy little phrases and idioms that mean everything… the struggle is real, folks.

But one buzz word stands out among all the others. A word that allowed me to judge myself harshly, hang my head in shame, allow a feeling of inadequacy to replace self-love in my head and heart. A word so powerful, I dared never say it, for I had no control on what it unleashed… so I ignored it. That word is “Why.”

Not the adverb, “for what?” but rather the noun meaning “purpose,” “drive,” “motivation”—your raison d’etre. That word scared me to death. It was palpable. I loathed that word being brought up as it was couched as the only thing you need to know in life, in addition to your social security number, how to cook a 3-min egg, how to balance your checkbook, and the Pythagorean Theorem. I winced. I ignored. I walked away. I said I didn’t know. I had mastered the art of inaction, indecision, and patented the sentence: “My why is personal.” Why shouldn’t it be?

It isn’t, I just didn’t know it… and I didn’t know how to be honest and say “I don’t know because I’m scared.” I’m scared to leave this little safe bubble—my 2×2 square place I sit, stand, cook, think, and feel within. I know one thing: the day my world changed, is the day my Why became… action.

That’s all it needed to be. It’s a goal. It’s a mantra, a philosophy, a state of mind. I learned that all action creates some form of change. And maybe—just maybe—that change created a domino effect of changes… which just might change the world. Who knows? I am not trying to change the world, per se. For me, that feels full of ego.

I want to change me. My universe.

Selfish? To some, maybe. Not to the beautiful people in my life. Changing me, being vulnerable, authentic, less worried about image, is being the best self I can be. And all the wondrous, delicious things and people in my life are worth being a better version of myself.

My Why isn’t anything like paying for a vacation, solving a Rubik’s Cube, or curing Zika… it’s about action. Where that action leads, I don’t yet know, but I’m moving and that’s the sexy part. With action, your Why possibilities are endless. And I’m no longer afraid to be me, to say yes, or to say no.

Forgive yourself for not knowing your Why. Just take some action.