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A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

My mom used to have a plaque in our hall bathroom that said something along the lines of “Every experience God puts in your life is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.” It was a gift to her from her youth group when we moved away from Columbus. It was blue and white and kind of looked beachy to me. I always loved that plaque. I remember standing in that bathroom as a 4th grader reading it again and again, pondering what exactly that meant, wondering what this future may be that I may have already somewhat caught a glance of through my, albeit limited at the time, life experiences. That saying has always stuck with me, and I usually see it’s truth in retrospect.

Truthfully, this entry isn’t going to be nearly as insightful or nostalgic as it may appear, but the anecdote above applies nonetheless.

I’ve been in the process of getting rid of all my Mary Kay stuff. What I didn’t sell, I’m donating to a domestic violence shelter. Anytime I’m at the end of a road, I tend to look back and consider how I got there, evaluate the journey, and think what I might have done differently. Surprisingly, closing this chapter has been really easy for me. I guess it helps that it’s technically been closed for several months, but I’m just now getting  around to cleaning up the mess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely sad to leave Mary Kay behind, but my life has changed dramatically, and it’s simply not one of my priorities anymore.

Anyway, as I was bagging stuff up, I found myself in disbelief about how much I was taking away from my time with Mary Kay. I am thoroughly impressed and amazed at how much I grew as a person as a result of being mentored by those women. Every week, I stand on stage and talk to 300+ kids. I regularly talk to large groups of parents. I’ve spoken in front of our entire congregation. I lead meetings with my volunteers and catechists. Before MK, I barely passed my Oral Communications class. In fact, I only passed Oral Comm because I dropped it once and retook it with some GA who didn’t care what we did as long as we made some small effort at speaking coherently in front of the class. Before MK, I’m not sure that I had the confidence to lead anyone anywhere, let alone stand up in front of a group of people who are old enough to be my parents and gain their respect as their leader. Before MK my faith was nothing more than motions that I wanted my kids to see, not a real, living, life-changing relationship that I long to share with the young people of our church. Before MK I don’t think I really even knew who I was or where I was going, and I especially didn’t know how to set goals or manage my time in such a way that I could accomplish those goals with ease.

The directors in Mary Kay say that women come into Mary Kay for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. At one point I thought I was the lifetime person, upon my departure I decided I must have just been meant for a season, now I realize that I was most definitely there for a reason. I will be forever grateful to the amazing women in Mary Kay who had such a strong impact on my life, both in helping me achieve my goals as a consultant, and helping me become the woman I am today.

Ch-ch-changes

After Ben cam home, and even in the hospital, Josh and I kept commenting about how quickly I seemed to be recovering. For the first time, I spent most of my last day in the hospital on my feet or in the rocking chair instead of in bed. We even had an out-of-town house guest before Ben was three weeks old. Of course I was exhausted, but not in pain or even in poor spirits. In fact, from the minute he arrived, after the most painful, yet quickest, delivery I’ve ever experienced, I was in a state of absolute bliss. I was happy to meet all my boys, but this was different.  I attributed all of this to my new doctor. I thought for sure she must have done something differently. It didn’t take long for me to discover that, although I love my doctor, it wasn’t anything she did; it was just God’s plan. He had a project lined up for me, and my normal, slow recovery would have prevented me from getting on board.

On August 13, I accepted a job that I interviewed for on the 9th and applied for on the 6th. From the time I first saw the posting through the conversation when I heard myself accepting the position, I was in my own personal (yet obviously less significant) Garden of Gethsemane. I didn’t want to go to work. I feel sorry for moms who think they have to work outside the home. I had my whole family-raising plan mapped out in a beautiful mural in my mind. But we all know what they say about God laughing while we make plans….

I knew from the moment I read the posting that God was calling me to apply. I kept trying to forget about it, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. And, as Josh so astutely pointed out, I’ve seen many job postings over the years that I’m well qualified for, but none have haunted me the way this one did. I spent a lot of time in prayer, mostly telling God I didn’t want it. I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself and my husband of all the millions of reasons why we couldn’t justify my leaving the home. I didn’t know what to do, so I applied for the position. I told myself that I would interview and not get the position. Then, I would know wholeheartedly that I had misunderstood what the Lord was saying to me. I reasoned that doing so would keep me from feeling guilty, since at this point I had convinced myself that there was no way God would ask me to work outside of our home.

As I spent more time in prayer, my prayers changed from “I don’t want it. Don’t ask me to do it.” to “I don’t want it. Don’t ask me to do it. But, Lord, I want to do your Will.” Funny how God works on our hearts like that… I just kept repeating Jeremiah 29:11 to myself, trying to remind myself that God’s Will for me was best, despite what it may look like to me. Meditating on that verse, Jesus’ passion, and Mary’s “yes” to the God through the angel Gabriel were all that kept me going. I was so stressed out. I did not want to leave my boys. I did not want to leave them in the care of someone else. I did not want any more responsibilities than those I already had.

But as I’ve already given away, the position was offered to me and I said yes. I know I’m perfect for this job. I never once questioned my qualifications and abilities. My whole life, educationally, professionally and personally, has prepared me for this position. I know if I interviewed me, I would have hired me too. I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but I am truly an asset to our parish. I am so humbled by and grateful for the opportunity that lays before me. It’s a huge responsibility, but I’m happy to take it on, challenges and all.

Josh and I are doing our best to adjust at home. Luckily, my hours are flexible, and we belong to a church that values life, so the kids aren’t so much of a problem. They’ve been up at my office many times when I’m supposed to be working. Right now, we don’t have a weekend, or even a single day off, together. If I’m at work, Josh is at home and vice versa. The exception is Wednesdays when we both go to work. We just hired an amazing babysitter and the boys love her. Leaving them with her was a little tough for me, but knowing how happy they were about playing with her made it so much easier.

I have no idea where this path will lead. And it’s definitely put a big hole in my mural. But as God keeps reminding me, He’s in charge. Not such an easy lesson for this control freak to swallow.

What’s Really Holding Me Back?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what direction I want to go with my business. Since the beginning of this pregnancy was a little rough, I took some time off. I’ve still been servicing all of my existing customers but I haven’t done much to generate new business or even grow my current business. As I was cleaning out the garage today in preparation for our big move, I found myself staring at my Mary Kay nook. Since our apartment is small, I keep a lot of my stuff (not product. I’m talking about booth display stuff and shopping bags and peanuts and whatnot.) in the garage. I realized as I looked at all my stuff that I needed to make a decision. If I’m going to make this “break” a permanent one, I need to do it. Otherwise, I need to get moving again.

I just don’t even know how to make this decision. I adore both my sales director and my adopted sales director so I’m sure I’ll be spending some time on the phone with them soon, but ultimately I need to figure out what I want and what is best for my family. And really, that’s just an excuse. Working my business in no way negatively impacts my family. The boys don’t mind at all when I’m gone. They love having Josh all to themselves. And what family would complain about additional income? Especially the significant amount that comes in for the small amount of time I actually spend out of the house. So, I guess what it really boils down to is do I want to do the work?

That question really bothers me. I’m not at all a lazy person. I’m organized and get a lot done on a daily basis. But, for some reason, when it comes to getting my business moving again, it seems like laziness is exactly what my problem is. But even that doesn’t make sense. The work it takes to get moving isn’t hard at all, it’s a lot fun. I love holding parties and skin care classes. I love getting to know new women and helping them feel beautiful. I love watching other women fall in love with both Mary Kay products and the company. I love the products and the company and its so much fun to share that.

This is why I can’t make a decision. I keep going around and around with myself and I can’t even pinpoint what the problem is. So, I told myself I was going to get rid of it all. I was going to have a big going out of business sale and give away all of my supplies, training materials and other goodies. That very literally made me want to cry. I don’t want to get rid of my Mary Kay stuff. I’m a really good consultant, and, more importantly, I really enjoy it. I achieved a lot of success very quickly and then dropped the ball.

Why? The truth is, I know the answer, but I don’t like it. And I definitely don’t want to admit it. But I’ll lay it out here. Maybe if I just admit what the real problem is, I can finally make a decision and get moving.

I’m not satisfied with mediocre. I never have been. Not personally and not with my business. But in my business, I reached a point where I was going to have to stretch myself, step out of my comfort zone and overcome some personal belief barriers to keep moving. So what did I do? I froze. The truth is I froze before I even moved to Texas. Based on what I learned about my business doing my taxes, it appears I froze right before seminar last year. Then, the move and the rough start to my pregnancy were perfect excuses to watch my momentum slip away. Sad isn’t it? I was faced with an opportunity to grow, something I claim I want to continuously do, and I didn’t. I told myself I couldn’t. I just shut down.

But knowing is half the battle, right? I don’t know if that’s true or not. I know very well what the problem is, but I still haven’t faced it. I keep trying to call it another problem: a family conflict, a time conflict, and energy conflict. Deep down I know, as I’ve already mentioned, that none of those are really the problem. I guess step one is to refuse to make excuses for what the problem really is. From now on, when thinking about or talking about my business, I will be honest about the real reason I’m not working right now. Step two is to decide whether I’m going to put on my big girl panties and grow or if I’m going to stay in my comfort zone and look back fondly at the time I spend in Mary Kay.

To further complicate the problem, either choice comes with its own brand of fear. If I move forward with my business, I’m going to have to face the fears that shut me down before. Walking away from my business comes with the fear of regret for what might have been. I’ve spent far too long trying to make this decision based on which fear would be easier to deal with. (I’ll go ahead and tell you. For me, it’s the later.)

As I said, the thought of walking away from my business honestly brings tears to my eyes. I love Mary Kay, the woman, the product, the company, the women, the mission, the charity, everything. I suppose I’ve come to that crucial point that all relationships eventually reach. The point where love the feeling isn’t enough. It’s time for love to be a verb. I just have to decide if I’m going to take action.

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr

Allison LaMarr is one of my favorite motivational speakers. She writes a weekly blog, Digging Deeper, and I have learned so much from her! Despite the fact that we’ve never met, she is one of my mentors and has made a huge impact on who I am as a person. I don’t intend to use my blog to just copy and paste other people’s thoughts and ideas, but in this instance, I couldn’t help myself! This is exactly what I was trying to accomplish with my New Year Resolutions and much more eloquently said. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. If you click the link at the bottom, you can register to have her blog delivered to your inbox every Wednesday. It’s totally legit, no spam or anything. I seriously want to be just like Allison when I grow up!
January 6, 2010
2010: The Hero Within
Happy New Year, my friends!  I’d like to personally thank you for carving out a few moments to dig deeper with me each week. This is our chance to dig a little deeper into life on a weekly basis…to stop for just a few moments amidst all the hustle and bustle to take a deep breath and make sure that our perspective is clear, our priorities are in order, and our mindset is healthy.  Whether you are a working professional, a full-time parent, or an aspiring dreamer, the objective of our weekly discussions is to help empower you to wage war on mediocrity and achieve a life of daily excellence!

The launch of a brand new decade has no doubt caused us all to stop and consider the crazy phenomenon of the passage of time.  What were you doing a decade ago?  Where were you a decade ago?  Who were you a decade ago? A decade = 10 years = 120 months = 520 weeks = 3,650 days = 87,600 hours = 5,256,000 minutes = 315,360,000 seconds.  This New Year’s Eve as James and I sat on the couch in our pajamas watching Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest host the Times Square happenings, we couldn’t help but laugh at how different our celebration was 10 years ago.  Not three feet away on a bookshelf stood a framed picture to commemorate the moment.  I was a senior in college, we were 6 months from being married, and we were all dressed up in a roomful of friends, wearing party hats, dancing and singing along at the top of our lungs to Prince’s famous words, “Tonight We’re G onna Party Like It’s 1999”, with silver metallic numbers “2000” decorating the entire room. 10 years ago, the future was bright, the world was at our fingertips, and we didn’t have a care in the world.

Now, we’ve got a house payment, a toddler, and a closet full of clothes that used to fit.  Yes, we partied our way into 2000…and we yawned our way into 2010.  But the funny thing is, I wouldn’t go back and trade it for the world.  As I watched my son sleeping on the monitor and my husband “tweeting” his New Year wishes, there wasn’t a place I’d rather be.  If we could rewind and do things differently, I think we would all make different choices, based on the lessons we’ve learned.  I’ve made more stupid mistakes than I can count, and some of them cost me dearly – both financially and emotionally. Some of my mistakes hurt other people, and some of my mistakes I’m still paying for.  Of course, we can’t go back, but we can choose to move forward. We all have a clean slate before us, beginning in 2010.  What will you ch oose to write on yours?

This is so much bigger than the cliché of annual resolutions that are forgotten by Valentine’s Day.  It’s about a deep-seated desire to continually change and grow into our potential, into our purpose, into the person God created us to be.  The challenge, of course, is that becoming that person depends on our choices.  We must make the proactive choices that defy human nature.  Remember, human nature isn’t on our side. Human nature is lazy, apathetic, narcissistic, naïve, and always takes the path of least resistance.  Human nature’s inclination is to do as little as possible to get what we want. So, to combat and overcome those internal inclinations, we must be aware of and alert to the fact that living in response to our feelings and emotions will lead us straight to destruction.  I have rarely felt like getting off the couch or turning off the TV.  I have rarely felt like getting up at 5 AM or passing on chips and queso. I have rarely felt like lacing up my running shoes or making one more business call.  I have rarely felt like saying “no” to the stores and stores of beautiful clothes, shoes, and purses that call my name from the mall.

Gosh, when you stop and think about it, it would practically take a hero to make those kind of iron-strength choices every day.  But, guess what?  That’s exactly what you can be.  A practical hero.  An everyday hero.  A hero within.  Sound silly?  Of course it does! But wouldn’t you feel more inclined to make the right decisions if you were running around with a red cape and super powers?  So, throw on the cape – at least at home – and step into that power of potential that already lies within you.

Last week, James and I conducted our third Annual Review.  (For more details on conducting your own Annual Review, see the 12/24/08 edition of the Digging Deeper archives.)   There were two things about this particular session that stood out to me. First of all, heading into a brand new decade caused me to go back and analyze what I want to change from the past one.  Of the past 10 years, if I had to give a painfully honest assessment, I would say that I lived four of them proactively and six of them reactively.  The sad – and shocking – piece of that revelation to me was that I easily thought that at least two more of those reactive years were proactive while I was living them.  But, from a hindsight perspective, the results of those years speak for themselves.  It really is sho cking to see how blind we can be to our own naïveté and apathy.  And, the second thing of note that struck me during our Annual Review was the insight that tracking can provide.  Because we had now conducted this session for three years in a row, we were able to go back and document our performance against our plans in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  We were able to see patterns and trends of poor decisions along with wiser ones.  And we were able to learn from those patterns and trends as we head into 2010.

As we looked back at our past three years of documented goals and activity, it was rewarding to look at our progress and humbling to study our errors.   But, the thing that stands out to me most about the past decade is the wonder of Father Time. We’ve all ticked through the past 5.2 million minutes, and God willing, we’ll tick through at least that many more.  So, when this decade winds to an end, what story do you want yours to tell?  As those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years tick by, a few of them will be momentous and noteworthy.  But most of them will be humdrum and forgettable. And believe it or not, it’s those most forgettable days that define an everyday hero.  It’s the most humdrum hours that separate a victory from a loss.  Because in those un-notable moments, we either get swept away by the current of human nature – or we don’t.

The past decade may have been horrific, fabulous, or just so-so for you. You may desire a complete turnaround in this new season.  Or, perhaps you just want to keep building on your progress from the past. To create different results, we must approach our situation differently.  Whether you need a quantum leap or just incremental improvement, your future results depend on how you handle you.  How you handle yourself today, and how you handle yourself tomorrow, and the day after that. There’s no magic formula or magic pill.  The cape may give you confidence, but the hero is already there.  You hold the power of change, but you must turn the key daily to unleash that power.  Ignore the naysayers, and stop playing that broken record of past defeats and unkept promises to yourself in your head.  My prayer for all of us this year is Deuteronomy 33:25.  May God work such steadfastness of mind in you that “the bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days”.


Visit us on the web at www.allisonlamarronline.com

New Beginnings

sunny beginningsWhen I was younger, one of my favorite times of the year was back to school or the beginning of a new semester. I relished shopping for school supplies, often coordinating my pens and folders by color or theme, and the potential for success that lay before me. I made similar resolutions each time usually related to organization, time management, and procrastination (or more specifically, not procrastinating). I absolutely adore new beginnings of any kind. Naturally, celebrating New Years and making new year resolutions is something I really enjoy.

This year I put a lot of thought into what my resolution would be. I’m not really a fan of the generic goals like lose weight, get finances in order, get healthy, etc. All of those are great, but they basically predetermine your failure. They’re just too generic. There’s nothing measurable or concrete about them. Yet, I kept coming back to the same generic statement. I just want to be a better person. I’ve been hovering around this thought for a little over a year, but haven’t done much about it. Why? My guess would be because it’s too generic and I never formulated an action plan. So, to make my new year resolution, I decided to break down this concept of being a better person. If it goes well, perhaps I’ll continue expanding and elaborating on the same theme each year. For now, year one of becoming a better person, here’s what I’ve come up with.

I took a look at my life and picked out the major pieces that define who I am as a person. After all, how could I improve who I “am” if I don’t know who I am to begin with. I came up with these subheadings to “me”: spiritual, personal, wife, mother, entrepreneur, friend. I ultimately decided to sufficiently improve me, I would make a small, daily goal for each of these categories. In effect, instead of making one broad resolution, I’ve made several small daily resolutions.

  1. I will pray the Rosary each day. (This will probably require getting up a little earlier so I have the time to myself.)
  2. I will read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. For example, today is the second so I read chapter 2. Following my chapter I will play a round of “Bible Roulette” to allow the Lord to speak to me/learn a little more about the Bible.
  3. I will read at least one chapter of something I enjoy each day. (This one kind of stresses me out. I have no idea when I’m going to sit down and read for pleasure, plus I’m really bad about not taking time out for me, but I think this will be a much-needed daily “recharge” time for me.)
  4. I will greet Josh with a smile and a kiss and tell him I’m glad he’s home each day. (This sounds obvious but after several years of marriage and dealing with kids all day, Josh doesn’t usually get the welcome he deserves when he walks in the door.)
  5. I will spend individual quality time with each boy each day. (Research shows that just 15 minutes of quality one-on-one time with a child does wonders.)
  6. I will do one proactive activity for my business each day. (I’m not focusing so much on building new business right now, since the baby will be here before we know it. However, I definitely don’t want to lose all my momentum in the meantime, so this is what I’m starting with.)
  7. Each day, I will attempt to brighten one person’s day.

So those are my 7 daily goals. I got a new planner (the kind with both a monthly and a daily view) to help me track my goals. Each day, as I complete each goal, I will write the corresponding number in my planner. This will allow me to see which goals I’m struggling with and help me get back on the proverbial horse after I fall off. For me, tracking it the most important part of goal setting. It’s really easy to set goals, but sticking with them and eventually achieving them all comes down to the tracking. I think I’ll also report my progress here in my blog, since its important to have some accountability. It’s much to easy to make excuses to myself, but if I have to tell someone else what a slacker I’ve been, I’m much more likely to stay focused.

It takes 21 day to form a habit, so if I find I’ve accomplished (accomplished meaning successfully made it a true daily activity…like eating) one of these goals, I may replace it. I may also modify these goals as needed. My tracking sheets will speak for themselves.  But, for now, this is my plan to become a slightly better person this year.

Here’s to a great 2010!

Russian Roulette

Despite the arrogance of my last post, it really does hurt to watch people I care about suffer. I get so angry with them because I honestly believe they choose to be in the situations they’re festering in. Nevertheless, it breaks my heart to watch them slowly and almost systematically destroy their lives. Believe it or not, that is not an overstatement. People seem to have so little comprehension of the fact that the choices they make today will most definitely affect the rest of their lives. At the very least, every choice has the potential to do that.

Lately, I feel as if I’m the one who’s trapped. Trapped in some viewing room watching people I love slowly torture themselves. And, somehow, they don’t even seem to realize they’re doing it. How is it possible to sabotage your own future and not see what you’re doing to yourself? How is it possible to be so blind to your own situation that you can’t hear the truth that a trusted friend tries to share with you? How is it possible that when I reach out to try and help, all they see is someone who “acts older than she should,” someone who just needs to “lighten up?”

There was definitely a time when I was “lighter.” A time when I too made insanely stupid choices. But, you’d be a fool to assume that I would go back to that time if given the opportunity. I have no idea how I managed to escape primarily unscathed. Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize how lucky I am to merely have a few emotional scars from that period of my life. I just don’t understand how so many can be so blind. Sometimes it feels like everyone around me is playing Russian Roulette with their lives. I pray everyday that they also emerge unharmed, but the thought of what that chamber could hold terrifies me.