Turn Around and Swim

Life | Lessons | Laughter | Love


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It’s Gonna Be Alright Because N-Wide is on My Side

Awe F*^k goes the too smart for his bridges first grader. And the teacher giggles. But she can’t let the F-bomb drop and dissipate without consequence.

So she summons my then first grader to the podium where she frantically taught art skills to rambunctious little tikes. Perfectionism can be a curse when the tissue paper flower gets saturated with just a wee bit too much Elmer’s.

For my little Nooch is just that, a class-A perfectionist. Don’t start talking about how apples don’t fall far from trees now either.

It was what it was that Spring Day in May. Imperfect. He tried so hard to apply just the right amount of glue to his perfect tissue paper flower to make the perfect Mother’s Day Card. It was cut perfectly with perfect little bubble letters adorned in every color of the rainbow including the pastel palette, bright palette, spring glitter palate and classic color palette. I mean it’s not Crayola if wide tip washable markers don’t come in 50 shades of the original eight.

But it was all perfect and colorful until the glue runneth over and melted the tissue paper flower and made 50 shades of Crayola bleed all over his perfect Mother’s Day poem. He went from Roses are red, light red, deep red, off red to violets are blue, green and with yellow marble hue to what the f*^k is up with this glue.

So the teacher offers him an option. She could penalize him for dropping the F-bomb or leave it up to mom. Now naturally to some, leaving it up to mom might be the harsher of the sentence, while a 63 year old grandmother of 24 might impose the more lenient of penalties. But instead, as a perfectionist has to make the perfect decision, he tells his teacher he needs to think about it.

She is astounded. My what big bridges you have there little fellow. For you just dropped the F Bomb in class and you are telling me you need a moment to think about who will implement your punishment. Yet, she is laughing hysterically on the inside.

She sends me an email followed by a voice message with a giggle in her tone, about the events of the day. She further proceeds to indicate, that after several minutes, a pro and con list and summoning of a few fist grade colleagues, Noochie has decided to allow his mother to administer the punishment.

So as I learn of the daily news and think long and hard as to what would be the appropriate consequence, I accept and relay I will report back tomorrow with his penance.

Later that evening after I’m sure he squirmed all through after school snack, homework, dinner, and baseball practice, I mention to the little guy we need to have a talk.
Instantaneously, I am sure he had visions of a trip to Bath and Body Works. Perhaps they may have bubble gum flavored soap.

“Well my son, I appreciate you wanting to make the perfect Mother’s Day Card for me. I’m sorry the glue took on a mind if it’s own and wouldn’t stop flowing from its BPA laden bottle, but you have to have a sense of self control with your words. Plus curse words, in English, Italian or any other language for that matter must be refrained from,” I declare!

He is just kinda nodding his head, taking it all in and then says, “It’s gonna be fine.” Little dude. It’s not fine my man, you can’t drop F-Bombs.

I proceed to ask how he can be so nonchalant about using this language and he replies, “It’s gonna be fine. I’ve heard and know so because nationwilder is on my side. And if nationwilder, like the whole wide nation is on my side, then mommy it’s gonna be fine!”

Well, there you have it my friends, you can take the F out of the Bomb but you can’t take the bomb out of the kid. Or something like that. And I guess, when you feel like you are down and out, you’ll always have nationwilder on your side. Unless you are my offspring. We use another four letter word to protect us, it starts in E and ends in e.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

By Swimgirl November 8, 2012

 

People on the edge of love go with their heart and not their head.
– Sienna Miller

After a very long week of going about like a statue with my head cut-off, I decided to take last Sunday to slow down and just be.  Superstorm Sandy dropped a whopper on our area with roads closed, schools closed, businesses closed, power outages, flooding, trees falling and rain.  Lots of rain.  Nine straight days of rain.  No sun and no break.  Just rain, rain and more rain.

On the 9th day, the rain stopped.  The sky was still dark and gray but the rain had finally ceased.  So I plopped the kids in the car and decided to go for a Sunday drive down to the lake.  Not to my surprise the marina and park were closed but we could still gain access to the lakefront.  The water was murky and the seagulls and lake birds of paradise pigeons were bathing in puddles.  The winds were calmer and people were venturing out again.  A true testament that I was not the only one venturing down to the lake post storm.

Yet, despite the rain, and the rain again and still more rain, the gray skies and inconveniences of the week, this by no means was problematic or catastrophic compared to what the East Coast and the Jersey Shore were dealing with.  It saddens my heart to know that Mother Nature can be so beautiful yet so hurtful at times too.

Yes, in my own personal realm, last week sucked horribly.  I was so busy at work and by Day 5 of the rain, I just wanted it to stop.  It was so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own personal struggles and daily annoyances that at times I lost sight of the bigger picture.  Such as that my family was safe, the roof over our heads was in tact, we had electrical power and fresh, clean water to drink and bathe in.  That our family pet was only tracking in mud not missing.  That my children having to be rerouted when school suddenly closed  was a blessing compared to the event where they could have been injured or missing in the storm.  Worse yet, a fatality.

We were all safe, inconvenienced, but safe.  Yet, it was so easy for me to forget all this.  Rather I went on ranting and raving about my busy, sleepless week until we were heading home from the lake and I was stopped at a red light.  I glanced over to get a peak of the sky to see if there were lake effect clouds moving in.  But to my surprise, I saw a sky that seemed to be invisible.  It wasn’t gray or cloudy.  There were no hues of black or blue.  It was as if the sky was gone.  It was more like an aura of white light that was inviting me in.  Saying don’t fret, don’t frown, don’t be invisible. 

As I glanced further down, I noticed the statue missing its head.  It was as if this exact picture was a replica of my life last week.  It was as if I was too invisible to recognize that there are people who truly are in need.  It was as if my body was stuck in motion last week, frozen in time, but my thoughts were wandering everywhere.  I was so full of mind but not mindful.  It took this scene above for me to realize the real meaning of the week.

Just like geometry is defined as, the study of properties of given elements that remain invariant under specified transformations, this week for me so to was geometric in nature.  There are some things that remain unaltered during times of transformation.  My personal thoughts carried on despite the turmoil elsewhere.  The statue stood still while the rain continued to fall.  But that sky, oh that sky changed.  It opened and allowed the light to shine in to give me the insight that it is so much more than what’s in my head, my own personal struggle.  By letting my head lead instead of my heart, I became invisible. 

Are you invisible?  It’s never too late to make a difference.  No amount is too small or too great. 

Superstorm Sandy Disaster Relief


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

“In this world people may throw stones at your success, it depends on you, what you make from them…a wall or a bridge. – Unknown

A two-year olds determination to find the flattest, most round shaped stone to accomplish the perfect skip.  Each stone is only an arm’s length away yet he searches and searches to find “the one”.  The one that upon a flip of the wrist will try to go against the current and ripple through the water fighting to compete with the waves for its own beauty.   

The water is constant, moving and changing each time a wave hits the shore.  The rocks appear and then disappear.  They are near and then as the water washes over them, for a two-year old they became so far to reach.  I watched as each time he was about to grab a stone the water washed over the area and he had to start again.  So near to that perfect stone yet so far.  He never gave up.

The blue waters go on and on for miles and miles.  As it washes over my feet I feel it’s cool, crisp touch and then it recedes.  The water as it encompasses my sinking foot in the sand is so calming and I want to freeze it there, to stay at ease.  Then as the water pulls back, it leaves my feet and gets farther away.  I want the moment back, the peaceful feeling.

There will always be a moment, a person an obstacle that comes between us and a dream.  There will be times we want to give up and throw in the towel or we can continue collecting the stones.  Taking each one and building upon to reach our destination, our goal, that at many times seems so far.  Yet with a little perseverance will be so near, right here!


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In Business, All Roads Lead Somewhere

"Action is the foundational key to all success."
- Pablo Picasso

I have spent the past nine and a half years building my business.  It is hard work, do not get me wrong.  Sales is what you make of it.  You define who you are and how hard you work.  Your clients are your judges and it is my position to retain them year after year.  Yet, the real work was the road it took to get here.  When I was handed my college degree, a pat on the back and a go get them cheer from the Dean of Students, never did I realize what that all entailed.

I applied for jobs everywhere in the field of insurance which  I decided to turn to after foregoing law school.  I got the typical, QBNE rejection for months (qualified but no experience).  Then I received an acceptance offer for my first real BIG job paying real low bucks.  But as an optimist, I thought, I have room to grow and move up and will have health insurance, so we will take it for now.  Even if it was just to be a resume builder; because working through college at a law firm wasn’t enough, you know.

So after a quick 365 days I got a BIG promotion with a little more pay.  Part of my new job description was to teach sales agents.  So here is little young me teaching the soon to be big wigs.  I took my position real seriously until I realized, what the bleep I was doing.  For a measly pay I was educating trainee agents who were about to start making the big bucks.  It was then that I decided to get my insurance licenses for my state.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

I passed with flying colors after a few back to back weekends in a state licensing class and was handed my two licenses.  Great, now what?  So I started to look in the newspaper (yes folks that is how it was done back then) and a little bit online.  Nothing to my defeat.  Then while in line for a hot dog and beer at a MLB game I over heard some well-dressed people comparing sales victory notes.  I ventured to proceed closer and closer to them acting like I was so into the crack of the bat while nibbling along on the dog.  Bam!  They were insurance sales agents and district sales managers.  Pot o’ gold I thought.

As a good judge of character, I tried to fish out who were the managers versus the sales agents and on my first approach, I succeeded.  I introduced myself and politely inquired, hoping I didn’t have mustard smeared on my face, as to how I could get some information as to becoming an agent.  They were so impressed that I was not a stalker I was so bold that I immediately was handed a business card.  I followed up the very next day with a phone call because in sales there is no such thing as a three-day wait.  After a very long conversation I was asked to come to the regional office for an appointment.

While at the appointment or interview, because you know they were so feeling me out, all I could hear was contract, contract, contract.  I was scared out of my mind.  I was given four big binders and was told to review them and go look for a place to have an office in a some rural town two counties away.  Huh?  Where is the glamour, the fun and what are all these contracts?  I was so intimidated.

Problem solved, I will just go to the next big name insurance company.  Now I know what to do and what to ask but I sure had no idea what to expect.  So, I call the regional office at the next company, indicate I am interested in a sales agent position and request an appointment with the district or regional sales manager.  I am awarded one on the spot.  I should have been skeptical but thought, another pot o’ gold.

Beep, Beep! Get out of my way!

The day of the meeting I arrive at the coffee shop early to gather my bearings and in walks a very well dressed male of my father’s age.  He has that look about him like he is looking for someone and I notice his portfolio bears the name of the insurance company.  I pop up almost spilling my coffee all over my skort suit (yep, we wore those then, shoulder pads and all) and put out my hand to him and say, “You must be Mr. Man.”  He looks at me and says, “I must be at the wrong place.  I was here to see Ms. Want-to-be-agent.”  I proclaim, “Yes, that is me, shall we sit?” He looks at me and says, “Oh, I picture you more of the drive a pink car and sell makeup kind of person.” “Excuse me sir, what,” I exclaim.

After a few harsh glances and an exchange of words he walks out.  Furiously I call the regional office and explain that I am very serious and determined to sell for their company and I demand an interview.  While I do not receive an apology, I do get an interview at the regional office.  Ha, done!  I never would have expected Mr. Man to be there let alone still working for the company when he greets me at the door to his office.  You have got to be kidding me, this jerk-off again?  I am ready to walk out when three more people greet us and proceed in and tell me I passed.

I passed what exactly?  “We wanted to see how you handle rejection and you passed,” they explain.  This is all wrong, they cannot do this but I am also a bit intrigued.  I do feel like a winner but I need to lay the ground rules that they will never use that talk with me or any future candidate again unless they want a lawsuit on their hands.  I might have omitted the part about the lawsuit, but I think I got my point across.

After months and months of interviewing, test taking, personality test taking, more interviewing, I get a letter that I have been accepted to their trainee agent program.  Thank heavens, as I am exhausted!  I am going to own my very own insurance agency.  Well sort of.  My contract says I will own all aspects except my book of business.  They will provide me with staff, marketing materials, ongoing training and the best tools in the industry to be successful.  Plus I will be backed by a big name company.  Yet, if I want to hand my hard work down to my children when I decide to retire it will be a no go.  But at the time I was a late twenty something unmarried, childless college graduate so I accepted.  After plugging away twelve plus hours per day, six days a week, I was becoming successful.  I was hitting all contests, levels of achievement and was considered one of the top trainee agents with the fantastic help of my staff mind you.

Yet, with all the success, I thought, here I am in my late twenties and owning some aspects of my business but something was missing.  Oh yes, the piece about owning my own business.  This is great, the  money was fantastic but I do not own anything when it is all said and done.  Yes, I will have a nice retirement with commissions streaming in after I retire and when they appoint someone to take over my agency, but this is not what I want.

Two weeks before my trainee agent contract was to expire and I was to sign the BIG one, I resigned.  They were shocked and I was elated.  Throughout all this time as a trainee agent, I had reached out to the man whose agency I took over.  He told me he had a son slightly older than me that worked hard for him everyday in high school, college and beyond.  He knew the ins and outs of the agency and all the customers.  The customers knew him and many since he was a little boy.  Dick was a fantastic agent and told me he would only consider his son taking over his agency if he valued all of his same ethical and business principles.  Dick was confident his son would preserve the integrity of his agency but the contract Dick signed many, many years prior would never allow for his son to take over.  So, when Dick retired so did his son.  What better of a person to take over the agency and here I am where his son should be.

Luckily Dick’s son went on to a place known as the uncaptive agency.  He persuaded me (not forced a contract) to venture down this path.  That August when I closed Dick and his son’s insurance office my office, on my last day, I never looked back.  The very next day I walked into my new office, down the road and almost ten years later I have grown a successful business on my terms and in my way.  Of course, there is contract signing but I do not mind the terms now.  I agree to honor the Founder of the company’s principles and in turn I own my book of business.  They advise against just giving it to anyone, family or friend, without careful consideration.  But like Dick, I would never have someone take over the empire I am creating so I can watch it fold in my retirement.

I never regret the path I took to get here, my own business, and the training and people I met along the way.  I truly believe your character is shaped not when you are on top but when you are in struggle.  That is the real test.  As for Dick and his son, Dick is enjoying golf on a daily basis in a warmer state and his son operates his own agency down the road from mine.  We are great colleages and his dad will forever be our mentor!

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
                             –  Booker T. Washington


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Know When to Wear it and Know When to Tear it

Mom and Business Owner

On similar principle of a gambling song, you also have to know when to walk away and when to run.  But since we are not hatching those chickens in this post, we will save that concept for a later time. 

The proud to wear it or just tear it is a debate I initiated with myself yesterday evening.  A friend forwarded me an article about the dynamics of combining motherhood and business owner into one label.  Perhaps if you were running a come play and make cupcakes company, then combine along.  If you operated a daycare, then my how the association of the two would make any parent feel soothed upon drop off of little Sally or baby Billy.  If your inflatable business needed a pick me up advertisement line, then the blending of the two titles, may lead to an instant sales boost.

The point is, yes, I do agree to an extent that incorporating mom and entrepreneur into one title would prove very rewarding and beneficial at the appropriate time and in the appropriate business setting.  But if you are about to provide closing arguments for your client’s defense on white-collar crime, I am sure the jury is out that they do not care that you are a mom.  If you are selling pharmaceuticals and meet with Dr. Illhearyourpitch, he may not be so interested in buying your happy pill just because you are a mother.  As both mother and business owner, I believe you have to pick and choose when to wear the “mom+entrepreneur” hat and when to tear it off. 

My number one priority is being a mother but I do not have to wear a label of “mom+entrepreneur” to remind myself, I am mother and business owner.  As if I am queen, now watch me soar.  Some people, clients, colleagues and business associates just do not care.  Whether they are parents or not.  Sometimes when we slip off the “mom hat” and slip into our power suit, we get that exhilarated feeling like I am back.  I still exist!  It is an empowerment to know we can transform from mom to business owner and back and forth. 

The juggle of the two makes us in a league of our own.  So, why would we need a special title adorning us?  I would like to think of it as our own very special club of which mothers who are also business owners only know the codes that lead to success at home and on the business field.  The most important one being, when to wear it and when not to wear it.  It is all about transformation and when working with a vast client base, sometimes it empowers you and other times it negates you.  So, you need to tweak your game plan and know when to put it on again and off again.

I am by no means saying you should hide motherhood or pretend those stretch marks are not tattooed to your abdomen under that power suit.  That would make you fake and who wants to do business with someone who is dishonest.  Own it and leave it at that.  You don’t have to walk around with an “I am Mom+Entrepreneur” t-shirt like you are queen of the business world.  Be proud you have accomplished so much and still manage to be all in for your kids and your company.  Keep the “mom+entrepreneur” secrets to the club members.  Knowledge is power.  Knowing when to wear it and when to tear it off is what makes us successful in business and in motherhood!

“Where woman has taken her place in business she has found her method ready-shaped for her, and following that, she does her work, if with a certain amount of monotony, yet without undue fatigue. Her hours are fixed, and as a rule she gets needful change of scene as she goes to her business and returns to her home or the place where she lives.”  – Anna C. Brackett