Monday, October 12, 2015

This morning during Lilly's 4am feeding, as I was browsing Facebook on my phone, I came across a post looking for crafters for an event at the Waldorf School in Webster Groves, which led from one private school website to another, thinking about all the options available to Lilly, and the staggering tuition that goes with them. This early morning jaunt around the internet coupled with a conversation I had with my sister in law last night got my brain spiraling out of control, and I finally got up at 6 am to get the laptop and purge some of it.

The convo with Sarah was about one of the major obstacles in my life in the past year and a half, which requires me to begin with a Stuart Smalley moment: I am good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me! I am an open and honest person who enjoys connecting with people and helping them, and I won't be shamed for sharing my experiences, which I am going to do now.

At my last job, our household income was solidly upper middle class. A tuition bill of $1,000 a month would have been within our means. That job also meant 50+ hours a week at a company where everyone was bullied by one of the most unprofessional people I've ever worked with.  Monday morning meant you were going to get chewed out, and people trying to work in the conference room in the middle of the office were frequently pushed into conversations about race, religion and politics that were completely inappropriate for the office. I took a Xanax every Sunday night to fall asleep. There were less than 25 employees, and the turnover rate in the 27 months I was there was 30%. I didn't witness any unprofessional exits, but the ones who put in their two weeks did so only because they were staying in the industry and were smart enough not to burn bridges. They all quit for the same reason. The same person.

Here's a visual of Fall 2013. The Before picture was taking September 10. Francis and I had just returned from a trip to Disneyland for our anniversary. I had worked 70 hours a week from the day I returned from my honeymoon in May until this day in September, trying to manage $5 million in projects inherited from one of the aforementioned people who quit. I was docked the equivalent of a day's pay from my SALARY for that 3 day weekend, because I used my 5 (yes, only 5) vacation days on my honeymoon. You can see that I look pale and sick, and Francis looks pinched. Shortly after this photo was taken, I got pregnant, and then had a miscarriage. Low progesterone from the constant cortisol spike of being ambushed every day.

That short paycheck was the beginning of my new life. The two Disney trips in one year gave me the idea of becoming a travel agent and Disney specialist, which I did. I also read an article about how young people are turning to direct selling as a source of income in a difficult job market, and around that time I discovered Jewelscent on Facebook. That article opened my eyes to the idea that direct sales is the same as any other sales job, and that it's quite similar to a turnkey business or franchise. You buy a kit and you build the business you want. Eight months later, waiting in line for Aquaduck on the Disney Dream, I told Francis I was quitting my shitty job when I got back to St Louis, and I did. My last day was in June, and the "After" picture is September 10, 2014. As you can see, we were looking PRETTY HAPPY at the end of that first summer of freedom.

When you are self-employed and run a business, some days it is really, really tough to get around the haters. Some days it's not even hate, it's just a complete lack of support. It's even harder when you are working in two misunderstood industries and even "friends" say one is dying and the other is a scam. But at the end of the day, or rather, in the wee hours of the morning, I know my husband is happy and proud of me, I have a daughter who wouldn't even exist if I hadn't taken this road, I have made so many amazing, entrepreneurial, supportive friends, and I can always justify a Disney vacation. These days, Monday is my favorite day of the week.

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