Monday, August 30, 2010

A Diamond in the Rough

While lying awake in bed last night (I am a severe insomniac) I was thinking of all the things I really love.  Other than the obvious being my friends and family, I was thinking of things that make me happy and what I want to do when I finally grow up!   I was trying to figure out if selling Willow House was a good fit for me.  I have never really been good in sales.  I am a more behind-the-scenes kind of gal.  For instance,  I love diamonds (what girl doesn't??), but I really love diamonds under a microscope, looking at the essence of the diamond, the color of it, the inclusions (imperfections), the qualities that make that diamond what it is.  I also love colored stones--there are so many interesting stones out there besides the run of the mill rubies, sapphires and emeralds.  Stones in all colors of the rainbow interest me. The deep navy blue of a London Blue topaz, the many shades of purple of a tanzanite, the uniqueness of a tri-colored tourmaline... And I love estate jewelry, old pieces created for someone long ago, those that surely have a wonderful, romantic or sentimental story behind them.  The mass marketed jewelry in the mall stores don't really interest me, even though some of it is beautiful.  It doesn't evoke any feelings in me, or make my heart go pitty-pat.   When I lived in Hawaii just out of college I worked in an upscale jewelry store.  Little did I know how much that little store would change the way I looked at jewelry and the enormous amounts of knowledge I would take away with me from working there.  I could have cared less about my commission, or if I sold anything, but boy did I care about the new parcel of loose stones we got in that day!   I couldn't wait to get my hands on them, or my tweezers on them, and check them out, magnify them, look at them under different kinds of light, and see how much fire they had!  That was what took my breath away!  Needless to say I never earned much money working there, but I earned-big time!-an education on diamonds that would rivial the Gemological Institute of America!   You see, the owner, Michael, had such passion for what he did, for what his product was, for a making sure he only sold the top quality stones, and for educating his employees (actually mentoring his employees to LOVE gemstones) so we knew all the ins and outs of what we were selling to the public.  He wanted his customers to buy something they would be proud of for generations to come.   After leaving Hawaii and my job at that store, I never found anyone or any place jewelry-wise that could compare to Michael and his gems.  I tried to work at a store when I moved to FL and to me the passion wasn't there.  It was boring, run of the mill stuff that wasn't special, and that job never held the same interest for me.   I worked in the inventory dept to get away from the sales part of it, thinking I would get back to that same excitement I used to feel when new items would come in, but it wasn't the same.  I think it was because my boss didn't really care if a beautiful piece came in.  If I tried to show him the beauty of something, he would brush me away and ask if I priced it high enough.  He only cared about the money that went into his pocket.  He didn't care about the happiness of his employees or his customers, all he cared about was his profit margins.  I must say it was night and day for me.   I realized that if you don't care about what you are selling and you don't care about your customers, there is no way it can fill you up with any kind of satisfaction or excitement!   Then I thought about Willow House, and how much I love their products and I thought, it would be the right fit for me if I can draw up that passion I have for the other things that I love (decorating and home decor)  and pass that along to my customers then it would be the right job for me.  I need to stop thinking of it as just being a sales job, and more of what I am bringing to the customers homes and to their lives.  To help them surround themselves with things they love and a home that can bring them joy and peace when they are in their home.   Ok, so that is now my focus and my goal!   Lets see if I can do well at it!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Dreamed a Dream

Fall has always been my favorite season.  Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Fall was such a beautiful time of the year color-wise and weather-wise.   The oppressive heat and humidity of summer started to give way to the crisp evenings and cooler days.   The days would start getting shorter, the leaves would change into gorgeous hues of red, orange and yellows.   We had lush woods behind our house that would turn, and our birdfeeders were flocked by bright red cardinals.  It was a time of change: new school year, new teachers, pep rallys, and the excitement of all the new school activities ahead.   I can still hear the marching band and cheers at the Friday evening football games.   Shorts and T-shirts were put away for jackets, jeans and soft,warm sweatshirts.  Everything was familiar, safe and comforting.  The song "I Dreamed a Dream" reminds me of how I felt back then..

I dreamed a dream in time gone by

When hope was high

And life worth living

I dreamed that love would never die

I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid

And dreams were made and used and wasted

There was no ransom to be paid

No song unsung, no wine untasted...

 Fall also meant the holidays were all around the corner, the excitment of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were near!  When my mother would be getting decorations out, we would be planning parties, getting together with friends.  I always knew that fun family times were ahead, the love of friends and those near and dear gathering for good food and good fun.

Alot of those warm fuzzy feelings of fall changed for me in August 1989 when I was 20 years old.   That was the Fall I went away to college for RUSH week for our sorority.  I was beginning my junior year, full of unbridled enthusiasm, happy to be back with my friends on the beautiful Butler University campus, ready for parties and dances.  I was only back a few days when I got the phone call that my mom was in the hospital and I needed to come back home.  It was serious this time.   She had been ill for a few years but I had no idea she was ill enough to go down that road we were about to travel.  A few of my best friends drove me back home, a 4 hour trip, sweet enough to know I shouldn't drive and be alone.  That was the weekend the rug was forever pulled out from under life as I knew it would be changed and no longer the same.   My mom passed away that weekend, as I was by her side...her life just slowly leaving her body as I sat there.  All of a sudden I went from being her child, still a kid, to having to be a grown up.  Suddenly I was alone, I had my father and brother but we were all grieving our own private loss and we couldn't understand what the other was going thru.  We lived our own hell.  I went back to school, and struggled the rest of that fall...the holidays came and went with little meaning.  There was no joy that Fall. 

That was over 20 years ago, but the Fall always brings those days back to the front burner of my mind.  Even though Fall is still my favorite season, I have had to overcome what I used to think of Fall and change it to something different.  I moved to a state where Fall barely exists for one thing, not on purpose, but strange how that has turned out!   Then in the Fall of 2003 I received one of life's most beautiful gifts, my first son Evan was born the same week my mom died all those years ago.  A new beginning for me!   A new reason to celebrate the Fall and embrace it.  A new reason to feel excitement and joy at the season before us!  I have begun embracing Fall again, welcoming it again and found the precious gifts I used to when I was younger in the season again.   Life has a way of coming full circle.  I don't believe in coincidences.  So this year I look forward to the Fall, the newness of a new school year, new teachers, new school, new experiences and new memories with my family and friends.  And this year, I WELCOME it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


We had a plaque hanging up in my house when I was growing up that said "Blessed are those that expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed".    I read that thing every single time I walked by it, but I don't think those words every were absorbed into my brain.   I think I looked more at the cute puppy on the plaque than at the words.  Because I still expect everything, and tend to be disappointed a lot.   I kind of wish I would just live my life by those words tho.  I do believe them.   But believing and really leading your life by something can be two totally different things!  By the same token, our parents told us to REACH FOR THE STARS!   And YOU CAN BE ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!   Why you can be president someday!   Really?   Me?  Doubtful-- with all the skeletons I have in my closet!  :)    So isn't that kind of the opposite of the plaque?   DON'T expect nothing,  EXPECT EVERYTHING!    Which is it?  Be blessed and not disappointed, or believe that you will get everything you want and then be extremely disappointed when life doesn't always give you lemonade?

I think it must be a happy medium between the two.   Try hard and you just might get what you want.   But you have to try, and not just give up and say "What the heck, I figured it wouldn't turn out alright anyway."   Having your own business can be tough.  It is tempting to just throw in the towel when you get frustrated.   When you try and try and nothing happens.   Doors are slammed in your face, sometimes literally!    How do you continually dust yourself off and get right back out there in the game?

When I was in the real estate business I learned to accept downs as well as ups just being a part of the business.  So many deals would go sour that you really could NEVER count your chickens before they were hatched--or bought a BMW because you had a big commission check coming at the end of the month when that house finally closed!   One false move and BAM!   The deal is over, done, kaput...and your BMW is sitting there shining in your driveway but you can't afford the gas to put in it.   Real Estate was full of heartache.  But it taught me to concentrate on the positive things, and to keep moving on, even when you felt like giving up.   Move ahead, try again, keep going.   Try a different bank, a different house, a different appraiser.   Don't stop marching.  Keep on truckin'!!   And that is what I have to do!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keeping it SIMPLE

I am kind of a wing-it kind of gal..have trouble planning things out too well ahead of time, and kind of like flying by the seat of my pants!   Funny that I should give birth to a child who is the complete opposite, and couldn't be more "by the book" if he lived in a library.   You can imagine the clashes that go on between us on a daily basis:  Me: "It's ok, just erase it or squeeze the word in above it"...Him: "I caaaaaaaan't!   Then it won't look right!!!!"   or Me: "We have to leave in a few minutes"...Him "When?"   Me: "I don't know, around 9am"  Him"  Ok, its 9:00 am right now, lets go (backpack on already)  Me: "Ok, I have to run upstairs, change, go to the bathroom, get your brother dressed, let the dog out..."  Him" BUT you said we would leave at 9:00, it is 9:00 now, if we don't go RIGHT NOW we will be late!!!"   I don't know where this child's worry of being late ever came from, as I am SO not worried about being late, I mean I try not to be late, but if I am a few minutes late I don't worry about it.   I don't think the sky is going to come tumbling down.   I think some day he is going to have an ulcer from all his worrying about being late!   Not me, tho, I am laid-back, casual Sue...

Which is why when I read "Keep it Simple" for party presentations, I thought "That is totally up my alley, if anyone can do simple it is me!"   This month with the really great hostess rewards, 2 of my family and friends have asked to host a party for me.   They both get to choose what they want out of the catalog and get 70% off an item or more--depending on how much $$ they generate in sales at their party!   And they get double the hostess Dollars which is free product based on their party sales too!   So it is a GREAT time for them to want to host a party and show all of their friends the fabulous new Willow House products!   Since I joined, I have only hosted my own parties, I haven't been "the consultant" and someone else "the host".   So I am kind of nervous to do these parties for the first time.  I have to be the expert!  But not really, because the products will sell themselves.  So I am keeping busy writing out some cheat sheets for my product info, and a few ideas on how to get the party invitees excited and just to HAVE FUN!

Being a host is really easy, because all you have to do is have something SWEET, something SALTY and something to don't have to spend a ton of money on an elaborate spread of food for the guests.  After all, we want the people to spend more time looking at the catalogs and discussing their own design ideas for the products and just enjoying the company of the other women at the party!   The simplier, the better!   The object, after all, is to MAKE money, not spend a ton of money on your party!   The easier your party looks, the more likely someone in the crowd is gonna think, Wow, I can do this too!  

So hopefully my wing-it-ness will get me thru and we will have some great parties in the next few weeks!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SAHM starting new adventure!!

I am a stay at home mom of 2 boys-one in 2nd grade, and one in preschool, and live in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.  I recently signed up to become a Design Consultant for a great company called Willow House (formerly Southern Living at Home).  Well, here at Willow House- we have gone through a transformation- we have a wonderful new company that not only has a new coat of paint, but has a new way of doing business that will set us apart in direct sales. I mention this to you, because if you or someone you know is wanting something more in your life- whether you want to decorate your home at a discount, you want to earn extra income to support your family budget or you want to build a flexible home based business - you truly can transform your life with Willow House.

I have never been more excited than I am right now about our business! Our new business model combines 3 businesses into one. We take what is great about our parties, combine that with a rich social media community and ecommerce business that is going to give us explosive growth!

In addition to sharing our products and ideas at parties, we’ve recently become able to sell online so guests can shop between parties. And we’re not finished innovating — late this year, we will launch a new media-rich community. And, early next year, we’ll reveal a whole new way to shop online with an expanding collection of enhanced eBoutiques.

So stay posted and I will offer design ideas, exciting information about Willow House and some details of my life trying to juggle starting up a new business and being the CEO of my very hectic household!!