Remember how far you’ve come!

wooden bridge

 

Remember how far you’ve come; not just how far you have to go.

No way! Those were my thoughts when I learned that I was going to need to speak in front of an audience…

This is my story, the story of how I achieved something I believed impossible.

Almost two years ago, I decided to embark on a new journey. The journey of starting a business…little did I know that I was going to need a lot more than just talent and willingness.

I took a course and got my designation as an Accredited Staging Professional. In that course, I was given a manual. That manual would guide me and help me start my own business. In the manual there is a list of 50 crucial things to do in order to succeed; like establishing my professional policies, establishing a business name and email address, obtain a sales tax id number, order business cards, open a business bank account…I followed each and every one of them and put a check mark next to each number as I moved on. One of those things was to join networking groups, the chamber of commerce, WCR (Women’s Council of Realtors).

I will never forget the day that I first visited a networking group. It was  BNI (Business Network International). I was in Luby’s, with 40 other people having breakfast. I was enjoying my warm creamy and tasty oatmeal when I was told that I will have a turn to stand up and say my 30 second commercial which consist of saying your name, what do you do and what’s the best referral for you. I almost died! The taste of the oatmeal was no longer sweet in spite of all the brown sugar. I thought, I’m not prepared to do that! Nobody told me I was going to have to do that! What do I do? What can I say? Where is the bathroom? What if I hide in the bathroom and don’t get out until they move into the next part of the meeting… I thought, I have no option. I’m going to have to do this. When my turn came to stand up, my hands were shaking, I felt goose bumps and my heart was beating as fast as the hooves of a horse on a racetrack and my voice started shaking as soon as I started talking. I began by apologizing to the audience and making excuses that I wasn’t prepared to do that. I don’t even remember what I said, probably nobody even paid attention to my words because my cracking voice and my nervousness said it all.

According to the manual, this business was going to require standing in front of realtors and doing presentations about Home Staging. It is recommended to give at least one presentation a week in order to market your services and generate business.

I clearly remember one night, right before bedtime, sitting in bed, reading my manual with  the soft light of the side table lamp on; “Making Effective Presentations – How to prepare a 5, 15 or 30 minute presentation.” Just the thought of having to do that was killing me! But as I continued reading I came to the part that said; “ If you don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of others, don’t torture yourself” PHEW!!! I don’t need to do that! I’ll do other things to market my services but there is no reason to torture myself with something I can’t do.

Fortunately, in the list of crucial things to do, was joining the local Toastmasters too. I researched TM Clubs in the area and found one close to my house. I was pleased the first time I visited. Everybody’s approach was warm, friendly and inviting.  I was very impressed by the professionalism and by the member’s public speaking skills. I said “Wow! When in the world will I be able to do that!”

I joined the club and immediately started learning. I learned the importance of eye contact, body posture, I learned not to apologize to your audience and not to make any remarks about your level of nervousness.

One day before I had the opportunity to do my first speech in Toastmasters, I was asked to give a 15 minute presentation at Champions School of Real Estate and even though I wanted to say no, I said yes. I memorized the information and practiced, practiced and practiced more. I sat my family and neighbor down and did my presentation in front of them. I listened to their suggestions and said “oh well, there is nothing to lose.” Risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The presentation wasn’t that bad. I was nervous but at least I survived!

In Toastmasters, I started with my Ice breaker and tried to do a speech per month after that. Some speeches went well and some speeches were a disaster, but I learned from each one of them and from the evaluations given.

I continued presenting speeches at TM as well as doing multiple presentations at Champions School of Real Estate, real estate offices and even at the Home and Garden Show.

One day, as I was doing a presentation for a Real Estate office, I was feeling so calm and so confident that the AHA MOMENT hit me and realized that  there was no way I could have done this a year ago. I have achieved something my mind couldn’t even conceive!

One day Kathryn approached me about becoming an MCE Instructor and to teach a 2 hour MCE class. “2 hours!! What am I going to talk about for 2 hours? I took the challenge and now those 2 hours fly by.

Sometimes you don’t realize how far you have come until you look back. Even though I still have a long way to go, I have now developed my public speaking skills and the confidence needed that when someone asks me to do a presentation I say “Absolutely! I would love to do that!”

Spring Decorating

 

spring flowers in small vases

With Spring Time upon us we are all noticing the vibrant colors of the beautiful wildflowers everywhere. Fashion and decorating trends seem to be inline with nature this year as well. We are seeing brightly colored jeans paired with vibrant accessories. Color blocking is trendy with the use of bold statement colors grouped together. I know that all of this color has me feeling renewed, refreshed and ready for the warm months ahead.

 

Most of us don’t redecorate every season or even every year. It’s just not practical. And maybe you’re not quite ready embrace this year’s obsession with florals by covering your walls in flowery wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper is back in a BIG way. How can you bring this season’s mood into your home without totally breaking the bank and redecorating? You can easily add a touch of cheer with fresh flowers. Of course a large arrangement can brighten up any space but try adding groupings of small blooms in unique vases scattered around different places in your house. If you are an apartment dweller like I am, it won’t overwhelm you. Other ways to brighten up your living space are to add flower photography to your walls or purchase a new brightly colored throw and some gorgeous pillows. In your bedroom, update by changing your linens to reflect the season. It’s a great, inexpensive way to change the look and feel of a room.

Floral print

Some of the most popular colors seen in home décor this year are deep peacock blue with lemon, apricot and raspberry accents. If you’re not
ready to embrace these bold colors you can still update your space by using the more muted watercolor hues like green, blue, yellow or purple.

 

Keep in mind that all of these bright colors are best shown on a neutral background. If you keep your furniture neutral, which is the most expensive part of a room, then you can easily update with accents and feel like you have a new room.

Spring Decorating

Spring Flowers

With Spring Time upon us we are all noticing the vibrant colors of the beautiful wildflowers everywhere. Fashion and decorating trends seem to be inline with nature this year as well. We are seeing brightly colored jeans paired with vibrant accessories. Color blocking is trendy with the use of bold statement colors grouped together. According to Pantone, the color of the year is Tangerine Tango. I know that all of this color has me feeling renewed, refreshed and ready for the warm months ahead.

Flower Photography

 

Most of us don’t redecorate every season or even every year. It’s just not practical. And maybe you’re not quite ready embrace this year’s obsession with florals by covering your walls in flowery wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper is back in a BIG way. How can you bring this season’s mood into your home without totally breaking the bank and redecorating? You can easily add a touch of cheer with fresh flowers. Of course a large arrangement can brighten up any space but try adding groupings of small blooms in unique vases scattered around different places in your house. If you are an apartment dweller like I am, it won’t overwhelm you. Other ways to brighten up your living space are to add flower photography to your walls or purchase a new brightly colored throw and some gorgeous pillows. In your bedroom, update by changing your linens to reflect the season. Even changing out the cup towels in the kitchen can liven things up. These are great, inexpensive ways to change the look and feel of a room.

 

 

Some of the most popular colors seen in home décor this year are deep peacock blue with lemon, apricot and raspberry accents. If you’re not ready to embrace these bold colors you can still update your space by using the more muted watercolor hues like green, blue, yellow or purple. White Vases with FlowersThese are all great choices for a fresh look in 2012. Keep in mind that all of these bright colors are best shown on a neutral background. If you keep your furniture neutral, which is the most expensive part of a room, then you can easily update with accents and feel like you have a new room.

Christmas Decorating

Christmas Decorating

In my family, we have always set aside a day to get together and decorate for Christmas. It’s a tradition that started when I was a girl. With Christmas music playing, we would get all the boxes down from the attic and spread them out on the living room floor. As we opened each box, it was as if we had missed seeing the decorations from the last year. They were new again and we were reminded of our favorite ornaments and of memories from past seasons. I’m sure there were some adult beverages (hot chocolate for the kids) involved in the process. We made a huge mess and the décor wasn’t perfect at all but it created such a warm feeling inside (possibly from the beverages) that I kept the tradition going in my own family when I had children.

 

When toddlers are involved, you never know how things will turn out so I’ve never had “the perfect tree” but it was always adorned with love.  Now that my kids are old enough to join in having those adult beverages with me, the tree is still a little less than perfect but we do what we can. There is no perfection sought. Even though I know it makes for quite a bit of work to do all of this, I still look forward to the tradition each year. It’s not exactly what Normal Rockwell paintings are made of but it’s my own quirky family and I love ‘em.

 

I want to encourage all of our readers to attempt to let go of trying to make everything perfect during this hectic season and focus more on making good memories. Slow down a little and enjoy your family and friends. It will be OK if you don’t bake the perfect cookies or have the perfect outfit, hair and nails to go to that fabulous party. And I promise, nobody will notice if you have too many red balls in one area of your tree!