We all need time away, a little me time, time to process or not to not process, to unplug, unwind and hang with someone who totally gets you.
For my birthday, I loaded up the car, because I always over pack and headed to Holland, Michigan with my friend Marilyn. It was the perfect place to all of the above, and only three hours from home with just enough to keep us busy or not, for four days.
The location was beautiful, along Lake Michigan, with cute little towns, lots of great shopping, outside cafe's along the lake, a great hiking dune, with a 239 step climb and a two-mile trail. And we did it all in my convertible. What's not to like?
It was the perfect weekend with a great traveling companion. But for me it was something a little more. I've been making the most of my summer off from work, partially because I can't find another job, partially because there's so many things for me to catch up on and frankly, I'd rather be writing books for a living than anything else. But a weekend away, with a good friend, no kids, no husband, was what I needed. Time to just be me. Not mom, not wife, not pack mule. Just Sheryl.
I've been on a journey of sorts, one in which I've been taking myself out of my comfort zone, doing things that stress me out a little and it all started with the re-writing of my first book The Day of First Sun. In the five years since I wrote that book, I've evolved. I can tell because my evolution is reflected in Annie Pearce journey. She started out, maybe tough as nails, finding it difficult to let someone in and now she's a loving, confident woman who sometimes isn't. She changes and grows and is a far more complete character as she discovers who she is. Much like me, like the journey I've been on as I try new things, discover who I am and what I want my life to be.
For the first time since I lost my daughter to an undiagnosed neural muscular disease, I finally feel unstuck and in a place where I'm moving forward, and not standing still in the muck. Becoming Lola, my way of shaking myself up and moving out of a comfort zone has been an eye opener. Where once I thought incapable of doing the simplest things I now realize that when my car overheats three hours from home, I'm more than able to buy and use the antifreeze, let alone simply driving there in the first place.
Fear is paralyzing, and it's in the relearning to do the simplest things, we realize that writing that book is really not so hard. Only the first step is.
For my first steps, check out Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.comContinue reading
Not that I'm not proud of the story, it was deeply personal, there were other things that I needed to accomplish.
On the day I planned to take the book down, I received an email from a reviewer, advising me she just put a review on Amazon, and hoped she wasn't too early. With a weird twist of fate she received a request sent last August.
It was a nice review, much appreciated, and it made me think maybe I was too hasty to remove it. My goal with the book, share my experiences as an introvert and how difficult it can be to work outside your comfort zone.
All I've ever wanted to be was a writer and yet it's been difficult to find my voice. Introvert to Sales Goddess is a small step as I discover what I'm capable of doing and the voice that's been buried for years. If it helps anyone find themselves it's worth the effort.
Sometimes we have to put faith in ourselves and trust that our instincts are good. Good things will come when we do.
Excerpt from Introvert to Sales Goddess
I’m an introvert, and I’m shy. People can exhaust me just as much as they cause me anxiety. But I don’t hate being around them. It just depends on the situation. I can’t change that reality; I can only learn to live within that character trait—good, bad or otherwise. Because I am one of those often misunderstood people, I spend a lot of time observing and thinking. That’s why I’m an avid reader, and that’s why I love writing.
In a way I’m selling myself short, because I’m not an emotional wreck in social situations. In the right setting, I can be chatty and engaging, especially when the conversation is about me. It’s not because I’m self-centered. It’s because I know myself and can speak confidently about who I am and what I can do. And that’s pretty much what a job interview is, isn’t it?
I agreed to the second interview, even as I questioned the job and my ability to successfully do what would be asked of me. I didn’t want to start the job hunt all over again, and this particular office was only five minutes from my house; both valid reasons for pursuing something well out of my comfort zone. Overwhelmed by the nature of the job, I nodded quite a bit during the second meeting; still unsure of the position, I tried to be honest about my phone skills, or in this case, my lack thereof.
I politely shook hands as I met everyone in the office while trying to make sense of what I was agreeing to. But at the same time, I was able to separate that small piece of the job from the rest of the experience as I would be working for a small company in a field that I didn’t know much about, other than that it held some very exciting possibilities. And I knew some things about it. After all, I wear makeup. I dye the gray right out of my hair. I’m a girly girl. It could be fun.
I did realize early on that I had agreed to a sales position of sorts and within that framework, I would be required to talk on the phone to CEOs and company presidents as I tried to sell them on the idea of a sponsorship program. This wasn’t a completely foreign concept for me. I’ve asked for money before. I walked the Avon Three Day Breast Cancer Walk. I wrote letters asking for donations, helped my daughter with her Muscular Dystrophy backyard carnival. It was easy asking family and friends through a heartfelt and honest letter explaining what motivated me to do so. But asking money in the confines of a job, was a different experience, convincing companies that they needed this program to help grow their business was a completely different circumstance.
Truth be told, I do have confidence, though not all the time and not about everything. But when it comes to working at a job, I do believe that I can accomplish pretty much anything. But this job is like a roller coaster with peaks and valleys. Some aspects I’m very comfortable with while others, I seriously questioned my decision to even interview for it.
Within the last decade I’ve learned a lesson about worrying only when you absolutely have to. For me that means, I don’t stay up at night dwelling on a new job unless I have a valid reason to stress. As with every experience that’s ever made me uncomfortable in the days leading up to it, I discovered early that I was usually fine once I get there, once I’d immersed myself in the project or experience. Like a cat that falls from great heights, I usually land on my paws, no worse for wear.
It happens every time I travel to the city. I worry so much about timing and parking that I work myself into a tizzy before I go, then I’m oftentimes embarrassed once I get down there. It all seems like a silly thing to worry about, and I realize that I’m really okay, and that I can do it.
And with all this in mind I accepted the job at the rate I asked for. I had one week.
Are you an introvert? Are you an extrovert and want to understand the other side? Check out my new book Introvert to Sales Goddess now on sale at Amazon.com.Continue reading
She makes faces when we ask her to drive, she runs and hides if its time to text a friend. I worry about the future of my daughter, the smart and funny girl who no one realizes is smart and funny. It's because of crippling social anxiety. It occurred to me this summer that she only had two years left of high school and then it would be college and job interviews and moving away. I began to wonder, had we held her hand too long? Is it time to push her out of the nest, let her stumble and fall with our open arms waiting to catch her?
My goal isn't to have a child with 50 close friends. My objective is to make sure she's able to speak with her teachers and professors if she has an issue, to be able to walk into a class and find someone to sit and chat with, to go on a job interview and deal with her boss should something come up. Sometimes we're programmed to be able to handle these relatively mundane activities and sometimes, fear grips us and we're frozen.
Whether she admits it or not, she needs to be pushed. She needs to not make any more excuses as to why she can't do something. And she should no longer be able to tell herself she's fine the way the situation is, she doesn't need any friends. I know she's lying. There are those times she's upset she wasn't included. She gets angry when she thinks she should be in Honors classes and isn't. Deep down its there. And as a parent I know what's coming.
It boils down to the desire to not grow up. To remain a kid forever. But we all know that's simply not possible. The kid gets great grades, works two jobs, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She's almost already there and yet her preconceived ideas block her from moving forward.
Medicine isn't the only therapy for someone with severe anxiety. We learned that pills can only do so much. There's a rewiring that needs to go on, and learning and understanding that fear is nothing but the lies we tell ourselves. She tells herself plenty. And that's why I've chosen to be the mean mom, force her out of her comfort zone and make her face the things that scare her. She will learn one of two things: the first is, that wasn't as bad as I thought and I was being really goofy or she'll learn how to live with the anxiety and learn to maneuver through it so that she doesn't end up alone and hiding in her house with twenty cats.
I keep telling her life is more fun if you share with friends, if you go out and experience anything. She still doesn't believe me. I hope someday she'll understand. Reluctantly she's been trying. She's been texting, we've had her driving. It's a struggle, its work, but in the end, my goal is to raise a child who can live in the world, understand what frightens her and hopefully she'll have those magical tools in which to pull from to help her through what's hard.
It breaks my heart to throw the kid out of the nest, to watch her tear up when it becomes uncomfortable, but after some time, I know, I'm not here to be her friend. I'm here to be her parent. I still know what's best for her. And whether she likes it or not, adulthood is looming around the corner. If I dig my heals in a little deeper than her, she'll be alright.
I’m an introvert; the type of person who if I have more than one scheduled event in a day, I’m not happy. It’s not because I hate doing things, it has to do with needing down time; time to recharge, to refresh and to get away from people.
As an adult I realized that I’m responsible for adjusting to situations that render me anxious. I can either hide from those experiences, or I can face them head on. Knowing this, I recently took a job at a small firm in which I was to sell a service to members. It was such a departure from the types of jobs I normally take that I wasn’t sure it was the right path for me. I’ve always hated speaking on the phone, I need visual cues to adapt my conversation, but this job, I lost that and talking on the phone is generally stressful for me. But I’m adult and I realized that the only way I can gain experience and feel comfortable was to make myself uncomfortable.
I took the job against my better judgment because I’m 46 years old. I have more experience, more live behind me and most importantly, the desire to make a change. But what I really have is a 16 year old daughter who I recognize in her, all of my struggles. And as I live through them once again and for my daughter, it breaks my heart.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing her struggles as she works through her fear and anxiety. The goal is to help her grow into a functioning adult and learn to enjoy her life, not hide from it. I recognize me in her and as a parent; I want her struggle to not be as hard as mine was. But when is the right to let go of our children and push them out of the nest?
We decided it was time to make her uncomfortable, to bring the fear to the surface and retrain her thought process on anxiety and fear, reconditioning her to learn what she needs to take a step toward what makes her scared. She doesn’t like it; it’s hard to watch her cry and fight it, but in the end, it’s my job to help her reach adulthood as happy and healthy as I can.
She may not like me now, but I’m hoping by the time she reaches adulthood, she will at least see that the emotional pain was all worth it. We aren’t always able to go against are basic personality. My daughter and I will always be introverts. All we can do is find a ways to deal with it so that life is better, more rewarding and fulfilling.
Sometimes raising kids is really hard and we have to do things that break our hearts, but in the end I know for my daughter, she will come out on the other side stronger than she started.Continue reading
Every bad situation has a rock bottom. That place when you just can't endure the sadness, frustration or pain any longer. For some it can sink deeper than others, we all have our limits. They're determined by our experiences; all that baggage we carry with us, our struggles our travails. We all have them, we all dig deep as we endure and our brick walls or rock bottom are ours and ours alone.
My rock bottom isn't one experience, it's a period of time, that encompasses a whole lot situations. A job, a personal relationship, health issues, regardless of what comprises my rock bottom, I think I finally hit it. I think the climb out of mediocrity and moving slowly upwards, the lack of sleep, the lack of fun, the constant work, the job change, finding myself taking one step forward and moving two steps back, finally crashed down around me.
I feel as though I'm walking through a pile of rubble. All of my experiences broken pieces lying on the ground around me. All examples of my trudge through mediocrity and I'm tired. Sleepless nights tossing and turning, dreading the daylight because its ugly and it doesn't lie. It shows everything for what it is, in all it's brightness, exposing what I try so hard to hide.
Near tears all the time, because what I do while awake is for everyone else but for myself because when I try to do for myself, the rest of my life crashes in around me. Things don't get done, kids get angry, guilt that I should be anywhere other than where I am chokes me. I clench my jaws as I keep the tears from falling.
I don't believe in self-help books because I know what the issues are and I know what I need to do in order to release the stress, remove the sadness and let go. I know what I need to do. But will circumstances allow me to make the changes and do what I need to do to not feel like this anymore.
It's the feeling of walking on a treadmill, the one in which I walk at a brisk and steady pace and yet I move nowhere. I think this is my rock bottom, my fork in the road. The time to make the decision on where I need to go. I just need to find my way out. It's not a matter of picking the path less travelled. It's about picking the path that will allow you peace and happiness. For some that's through the untamed jungle and for others it's the path that leads them to the dream.
I've given up the last year of my life for the dream. I've given up time with family and friends. I've given up time for myself, I given up hobbies and I've agreed to do things that I don't wish to do, things that are good for others but not good for me. Because somewhere along the line someone wrote doormat on my forehead.
It's my rock bottom. The place where I say Enough. Because I no longer want to settle for mediocrity. I no longer want to believe that someone else is thinking of me and this is good for me, especially when I know it's not. It's time to no longer let someone dictate what's best for me. Only I can be the judge of that.
This is my rock bottom. My acknowledging that this is no longer acceptable. I have a dream and not honoring me, is no longer allowed.Continue reading
It's funny that as an introverted writer, I find myself in a job that requires me to meet people and contact them on the phone call. As a result I worked on a short book of essays describing my fear, of phones, feeling like a fraud as I navigate outside my personal comfort zone.
I opened myself up completely. It's the real me. I've come so far in such a short time that if my experience can help any either understand what it is to be an introvert or how to pull yourself out of the fear and anxiety that holds us back, than it was worth the trip down memory lane. Here's the unedited excerpt of how far I've come and where I hope to be.
–Introvert to Sales Goddess
At my class reunion I met a former classmate who was also a published author. I was green with envy, the kind that made me regret everything that led me to that time in my life. When I couldn’t find a job, I remembered that feeling and decided it was time to do what I had always wanted to do when I was a kid, and that was to write for a living. I had started my career reaching for that goal, but kids and life got in the way and I put it aside. Again, I lacked the confidence to push forward and trust that I could write a book. But after my reunion, I had a goal. I would write that book. It was the best decision I ever made and for the first time in my life I gained real self-confidence. I was proud of myself and I woke a passion inside of me that I never had before.
When I finished the book and the edits and the attempts to find an agent, I self-published. And while trying to sell my books amazing things began happening for me. First I went to my first Wizard World with my own booth and sold to strangers, meeting and talking to them. I met artists and writers, and had a community of people to discuss the ups and downs of this crazy venture. I attended my first book expo in New York and met marketers and came up with a plan on how to reach more people.
With the new confidence, I found I was able to finally lose the baby weight; I bought more fun clothes and changed my outlook on myself and on my life. I straightened my hair, which I could write a whole other essay on because; man did that change everything for me. But I was finally off of that treadmill and really moving forward.Continue reading
I claim to be a shy introvert. I hate being center of attention, I have a hard time coming up with things to say. But I'm really good at observing and I have an understanding of what people are thinking and what they're going to do. I'm not weird, I can't be fixed, I am who I am. So how did I end up with a job in which I have to sell? It's one of those things that just sort of fall into your lap and you have to either continue moving forward or melt into a puddle of nerves.
Handling groups of people, speaking in front of even the smallest group sometimes leaves me anxious. It depends on the importance of what I have to say, the relevance to the conversation that determines how uncomfortable I'm going to be. The reason for me is, I have an inability to think quickly enough to move a conversation forward. That makes me a much more effective writer, because I can take my time to craft my message, think it through and re-edit until my fingers read. I'm a much better writer. Go figure. Which leads me to prefer sending emails to making phone calls. So why in the world would I accept a position that requires me to sell, to talk to strangers on the phone and ask them to join our newest program?
Because I realized that if I were to move forward as a writer, I needed to interact with people I don't know. To learn to be comfortable in situations that leave me anxious, you need to throw yourself at them rather than run from them. For me that is all about making phone calls. I'm the type of person who feels like I should always have a reason to contact someone by phone. And if there's no reason, I make no call. And yes that means I very rarely call someone just to chat. Though if they call me just to talk, I'm open and a little chatty. Approach me fine, but don't make me approach you. Yeah, it might be the whole fear of reject or maybe it's just the fear of I don't know what to say. But whatever the reason, placing myself in uncomfortable situations is my way of becoming stronger. Getting familiar with something rather than run from it should then increase the size of my comfort zone.
That's why I took a job that seems so out of my ability and skill level. You can't change your basic personality, but you can learn to work around the traits that hinder your success, you can adapt and quite possibly grow out of some of the more difficult ones to live with. I may never dump the shyness, I may always be terrified by the sheer act of calling strangers to sell a product, but maybe not. Maybe with practice, I'll get comfortable and my zone will be wider. And maybe then I can sell myself and my books and live the dream I keep dreaming.