self improvement

OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

“Why don’t you think about being a Strategies Coach?” Neil Ducoff, one of my mentors and friends and also the founder of the consulting company, Strategies, asked me in a conversation we had a few weeks back. We were talking business, one of my favorite topics and certainly Neil’s too as he has been a strong voice in the consulting world of all things beauty business for well over twenty years. I had been speaking to him about needing some jolting. I was feeling a little redundant and complacent after sixteen years in the beauty business and his suggestion was something I had been toying with adding yet another layer to my already pretty full life. But this is how I roll. I like action, movement, challenges and though business ownership gives me that trifecta sometimes I need a little more of a wake up.

I haven’t worked for anyone but myself (and my team) for almost twenty years. I haven’t had to report to anyone, answer to anyone, request time off from anyone. This has mostly ups and on the surface most people who are employees rather than employers may look at this with a bit of envy I imagine. But what many don’t see are the sleepless nights, the weeks when I may have to forgo a paycheck, dealing with floods and employee theft and all of the other inside details that hide in the backround of the gloss that the outside often shines with. The notion of having to be accountable to another company intrigued me. To having to follow a set of someone else’s rules, dress code, time and process gave my heart a little extra flutter.

So after sleeping on this for the past two weeks and doing the due dilligence of speaking with the head honcho of the training for about an hour, I decided to march forth. I accepted the challenge of learning something brand new, out of my box of always having to create and enforce and instead rather follow some rules and regs of a company I have worked with for over sixteen years since I began my own business.

In this decision that I deeply considered before saying yes, I weighed the pros and cons. The pros are numerous especially as it relates to my own business development. I will see what it feels like to experience being spoken to, critiqued, encouraged. I will directly feel what my employees feel when I have to review yet again how to properly clean a room from floor to ceiling or what it feels like to get a not so positive comment about a treatment for the first time. These examples may seem like the cons versus the pros, but I don’t see it that way at all.  This major dose of humility about to enter my brain and heart will be great for my business.  I am confident it will strenghten my resolve for constant improvement and growth in the expectations I have in my own company.

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The cons are minimal, they mostly represent the travel and away from my home time, not being able to cook my own meals and sit down for dinner with my partner. The flutter in my stomach that came from the first read of the instructions of the training seemed at first glance like a con rather than a pro. But after the second and third read, I went from Holy Shit, what have I gotten myself into to Oh yeah, bring it on. Bring on the challenge of having to create a Power Point Presentation in front of my peers out of the gate. The last time I created a Power Point presentation that didn’t look like an eighth grade project was over fifteen years ago. I am open to learning and this is the best part of this new path I am about to skip down.

I have spent countless hours developing a team of women, developing systems so that my business could run efficiently without my physical presence. I have taken classes, but they always are to improve my coaching skills to bring out the best in my team and my business. This is different. This is an opportunity for me to be a student, a kind of employee who has to report to some else’s agenda. At fifty four, this is a great shift. I know I will come out the other side after talking down my nervous stomach because I am about to embark on a new challenge.

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I love new challenges and this one that comes in the form of two intense weeks of training is exactly what I need. Despite the workload ahead to prepare for this training, I am looking forward to the shake up. For those of you who know me, you probably are thinking “Can she ever just settle down?” Truth be told, I have been feeling like I have been too settled recently. There is a sense of urgency that is a force in my life after losing three women peers last year to breast cancer. Not to sound doom and gloom but Am I next crosses my mind on more ocassion that I care to admit. I am not worried. I am pragmatic and this in itself is the driver in the race I call my healthy and joyous life as it is right now.  Out of my comfort zone is an investment in me and it is exactly what I need.

 

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BEHIND THE TIMES

BEHIND THE TIMES

Ahhh. Glorious Sunday mornings. Wake up, nestle up close and personal with the warmth of my partner’s comforting skin on my skin, his hands firmly placed on the non sensation but kind of still feeling breasts, deep breaths and generous love as we contemplate who will get up and start the morning coffee grinding and making ritual. He volunteers and I greedily accept sneaking in a few extra minutes of a king size bed to myself before moving. I hear him and watch him as he exits. “Watch your eyes,” he usually says to prepare me for the entrance of light into my realm, previously dark as the morning sun is still hiding. I watch him get dressed, his sleek trim runners body from years of discipline at the gym. At seventy he takes my fifty two year old breath away. I stare like I am looking at a piece of artwork as I do every chance I get which makes him feel uncomfortable. Like I am “blowing smoke up his ass,” he frequently says likely in disbelief that at seventy he can still be admired like he is a thirty something. I am not bullshitting him. I never bullshit actually, I am truth like it or leave it.

I make my way to the comfortable couch where the Sunday Times awaits, the smell of coffee wafts. I can hear the heat cranking as it begins its slow climb from nighttime comfortable 61 to my new rule of fuck this, I work too hard to be cold, 70. Yeah baby. No ten layers for me in my own house. I am not living with my father anymore who kept our old poorly insulated Jamestown converted summer houses at something like 59. I remember last year when I finally freed myself from the ban on heat escalation because of my younger year training I never questioned. Talk about liberation, when the first gas bill came in and it wasn’t crazy, I was thinking why the hell did we freeze so much back in the seventies? Probably his parents did the same thing and he likely never questioned. Fuck that. I am going to be warm and that’s that.

As I settled in with my coffee and the Sunday Times, the Sunday Review section was my first stop and as usual, it would not disappoint my hungry morning brain. Without Her, by Amy Chozick, followed by The Heartbeat of Racism is Denial by Ibram X. Kendi supercharged my mind filling it with thoughts I hadn’t considered. Guess Who’s Coming to Peanuts, by David Kamp introduced me to Franklin, the first and only black cartoon character in Charlie Brown comic strips introduced “cautiously” on July 31, 1968. I discovered how Franklin came to even exist as Franklin’s birth was no accident relative to the timing of Martin Luther King’s death three months earlier. I continued on with two other heart palpitating producing opinion pieces that satisfied my liberal and social consciousness, completely energized by my new found brilliance.

As I moved on to the Sunday Styles section, I started to feel a bit like my 100 year old grandfather trying to navigate an Iphone. Meet Your Masters, by Nellie Bowles with the tagline, “The revolution will be ushered in by young cryptocurrency millionaires,” (yes it appears this is a real word), Revolution? Bitcoin? Cryptocurrency? Who am I and what planet do I live on? I had a flashback to some old Star Trek episodes I used to watch gathered around a small black and white tv at my friend’s grandparent’s gas station on a lazy afternoon smoking pot watching these at the time futuristic reruns thinking I was living in Back to the Future.

Then there was all of this language I was unfamiliar with as I made my way through a piece about a new app called WeCroak reminding you five times a day to stay humble because basically no one gets out alive. I think a few bouts with breast cancer does this just fine and I don’t need to spend one penny on an app reminding me to appreciate life. Apparently Death, a once taboo subject is now “trending.” Yes the word “trending” was used in the article to describe the awareness of Death movement apparently popular with 20 and 30 something’s. Have I been sleeping? When did words like trending to describe death or even worse, five times daily reminders of death? When did the word bitcoin ever become a real word and how on earth did it even become a real thing that could actually be associated with the possibility of becoming a millionaire? When did the word genderqueer become a word as I learned about this in the article above the Death app one to describe someone as a genderqueer farmer?

My head was kind of spinning yet I was excited as I usually am to learn. Period. I love to enhance my mind, my thought process. I am a happy and receptive student and reading the Times helps me travel down a path that brings me great pleasure. I try to see other sides of the conversations, but I haven’t really found other conversations that don’t have a tinge of disdain for these topics in other news arenas so I stay comfortably reading page after page on a Sunday morning lazily into the afternoon. I am literally and figuratively “behind the times,” pun totally intended. That being said, I am a hungry enthusiast about all of these topics that I am often unfamiliar with and open to learning about them. At the same time, though relieved and happy to be ‘behind the times’ knowing I don’t have to get caught up in the energy that is all of this twenty and thirty something. This is the joy of getting older, the glorious passing of the torch to the next generation. I’ll leave that to my son. He can take the baton and get jazzed about bitcoins and Death apps.