loquacious family

The ramblings of a wordy woman on life, love, and the Lord

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Heart Behind the Sell, or Here's My Pitch to You

Remember the old adage (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt):"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" ? I'm starting to think that this has some serious application to sales, specifically my new journey into Usborne books and independent sales consulting.

In the past, I've been approached more than a few times to "become a rep" or "build a business" buying and selling for various different at-home companies. Some were legit, some were shady MLM's, but all of them had an element of sales involved in both the "pitch" and the product(s).

What I always found unappealing, not to mention insulting, was the aggressiveness of the seller in approaching me and then following up with me to get me to buy in. Sometimes it was in how frequently I was being bombarded with the sell; in at least one instance, it bordered on harassment, particularly when it would recur even after my explicit requests for it to cease. Other times, it had to do with the forceful, sometimes emotionally-manipulative language being used. I was also offended because I found myself being targeted solely because the one approaching me needed to build a downline and I guess they had run out of options in their closer social circles; it was like I was being "cold-called" because I was an acquaintance or a friend from long ago.

Maybe I'm a terrible salesperson, but I just don't see how these pushy, in-your-face tactics actually work (and maintain friendships)! As a potential client/lead, I think I would far prefer for the products to sell themselves. I would want to know what the sales and specials are, and then I would want to be given lots of time and space to determine if I want to buy something or join the company. One business that does this well is Avon; they give you a bunch of colourful catalogues, and then they leave you be until you call them up to buy something. No deadlines, no pressure, and the onus to engage rests with the customer.

Now that I'm the one doing the selling, I want to be able to use my aversions and preferences as a consumer to inform my approach to sales. I don't want to commit the same atrocities that I've experienced from other direct sales folk, mostly because I care about my potential clients as people who have lives and families and critical thinking skills. They're not just "leads" or a means to my end; I'm here to offer them the service, not the other way around!

With this approach, am I going to be the best seller in the city? Probably not. But hopefully, because I really believe in the quality of my products, my passion for it will shine through nevertheless. And in being sensitive and empathetic to my clients' needs and feelings, I know that I will be able to build a business that I am proud of, regardless of the "bottom line."

So here's my "pitch:"

See that link on the side of the page? It goes to my Usborne Books website.

I sell these books because I love these books. They're beautiful, and as a bibliophile I find them so well made. Their pages are colourful, their layouts are easy to read and draw the eye to all sorts of interesting things, and many of the books are "interactive" in some way. I prefer non-fiction books with a high image-to-text ratio, and these books deliver on that front, too. When I started counting my own personal collection, I realized that (prior to becoming a consultant) I already owned 24 Usborne books (including bath books, board books, sticker and colouring books, history and art history books, craft books, phonics and young reader stories, plus a few non-fiction titles). I've also given many away as gifts for nephews and other children over the years. I've stocked my classroom libraries in both elementary and junior high with these books, and they've consistently been popular with my students. I am pretty sure every child in my life will now be getting Usborne for Christmas and birthdays until they're done school ;)

Anyway, these are books that I think are worth paying for, so I sell them to get them into the hands of people who also love books and want to start their own collection. I really believe that I have signed on for the right reasons; I'm not looking to become rich or make a ton of money from this venture, and I've mulled over the decision to join for a full year before signing on. Trust me, I really thought about it long and hard! :)

If you end up visiting the online shop and see something you want, please try to get a hold of me before you buy online. Usually, I can get you a way better deal if you order it through me rather than through my online store. If you want to host a party and get a few friends together, then you stand to benefit more because you get hostess credits toward free books, plus it's an opportunity to a)hang out with your friends, and b)get to handle the books yourself to see what they're like. If you're not in my local area, I can try to get you in touch with someone in your city.

And that's my pitch, and the heart behind my new sales venture. I hope it's not tacky or aggressive, and I hope I can honour those who invite me into their space by being as respectful as I can in my approach to selling.

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Apologies and Labels

Just a quick "I'm so sorry" to every reader who may have me on an RSS feed or "reader" app, who has had to endure an uninvited walk down this blog's memory lane today (and the last few days). I have been trying to add labels to my old posts, and for whatever reason some of them ended up being republished when I did so. It's probably user error, and I am fully willing to shoulder the blame of that, since I've been dealing with insomnia since 2:50 am this morning. It's now 7:00 am, and I'm blurry-eyed and a little delirious. Therefore it's highly likely that I screwed something up or pressed some button in error, thereby causing those posts to republish.

Regardless, thank you for your indulgence.

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Now that the unpacking is under control (only a few more boxes to go), and we have had a few days and nights to settle into our new home, I finally get to enjoy a little bit of breathing room. *phew*

I have to admit, while I hate the moving experience, I am absolutely in love with our new home and new neighborhood. It's cheesy to say this, but everything has been absolutely perfect. Too perfect, really; it can only be attributed to God's grace on our undeserving family, and nothing that we could have possibly accomplished by our own effort.

Now if you recall, I was quite concerned about leaving Yaletown (a family-friendly district of the downtown core). I hated to part ways with our breathtaking views and proximity to absolutely everything that we needed, and I grieved the fact that the Aquabus and Canada Line wouldn't be a stone's throw from our place anymore. I also worried about Little L's adjustment, since she is a kid who will sometimes have a meltdown if you put her shoes on the "wrong" way. How would she adjust to having to part with her "masterpiece" wall of ballerina decals? Or Elsie Roy's fabulous playground?

In hindsight, my concerns were for naught. God's goodness cannot be any more evident than in this: Little L has had zero difficulty adjusting to this new home. In fact, she is absolutely thriving; she prefers walking (vs. taking a stroller) to explore the little shops in the village, and has already established a few "favourite" places (including the neighborhood cupcake shop, the "hammer pond" and the toy store). She moves freely around our 4-storey, exploring and playing and generally enjoying herself. She lives for trips to the garage downstairs, where she can climb into our vehicle and pretend to go to Whole Foods with me. And not once this week has she even mentioned her "old home." I don't think I could have asked for a more smooth transition, praise God!

Not only has Little L settled quickly into this place, but so have Hubbs and I. We really, really enjoy living in a single-family dwelling, an experience we have never had together as a married couple until now. Being able to store our excess in our very own, private garage is a perk. So is having a larger kitchen, an office that doesn't double as a guest room, balconies, and multiple floors in our home. While this may not be a big deal for anyone else, for us these have all been *huge* benefits that we never anticipated appreciating as much as we do.

And then there's the amazing neighborhood, with most amenities within walking distance. I have already found a new chiropractor and RMT that is only 5 minutes away. Any store that we can't access on foot is really just a short drive from our new place, including a City Market that rivals Whole Foods in their selection of organic, healthy fare. The views are spectacular, the vibe is very quaint and relaxed and coastal-meets-maritime, and the air is fresh. We wake up to sunshine beaming into our bedroom windows, and not the annoying wail of an emergency vehicle trying to race through the busy streets.

If I sound like I'm gushing, it's because I really am. Hubbs and I have quickly converted from city slickers to suburbanites, and Hubbs is pretty certain that we will never move downtown again. Our expectations have been more than exceeded; everything is absolutely perfect for our little family, and this is the work of Jesus Himself intervening on our behalf before the Father. We take no credit for the fact that we have been able to live in a home in the best possible location for us. Thank You, God!

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Full Frontal, and Other Developments and Little L-isms

Got your attention, didn't I? But I'm not talking about nudity here (sorry to disappoint); I'm talking about where to sit when you're in a vehicle.

Up until just a few weeks ago, Hubbs had been our family chauffeur and Little L and I were permanent residents of the back seat. On rare occasion, I would sneak up to the front to keep my man company, but never on long distances and usually, only if Little L was in a particularly great mood. These were infrequent instances, indeed; I'm pretty sure I could count the number of times I've sat in the front seat in the past three years on one hand. Instead, I was relegated to back seat status, held captive by my desire to keep my kid entertained during long rides. When she was really little, I sang songs and read stories and held up toys and offered snacks. When she got a little older, I provided her with board book after board book during our drives. Once she was finally old enough to start using the iPad, I was her tech-support and snack attendant. We found driving with a screaming child to be a stressful (and potentially dangerous) experience, so we opted to mitigate this with my back seat presence. A worthy trade, in my mind.

However, I had gotten so used to sitting in the back over the years that it never even occurred to me to sit up front sometimes. Sort of like how Stockholm victims don't try to escape after a while.

Then everything changed. Little L's car seat turned forward-facing (much to my chagrin).

And as we loaded Little L into her Foonf one day, she made an unexpected, unprompted request. She said, "I want Mommy to sit in the front." Shocked, we asked her if she was sure, and why she wanted me to move, to which she replied, "I don't want Daddy to be alone." After triple-checking with Little L, I calmly climbed into the front passenger seat, my actions belying the giddiness I was feeling inwardly. I was finally going to be able to sit with Hubbs! In the front! To me, this was a total victory of sorts. If you've not been a prisoner in the back seat for the past three years, I don't expect you to understand. It's okay. Anyway, the ride was completely uneventful and Little L was fine. No crying, no whining, no complaints or crazy requests requiring us to pull over on the side of the road.

Was this too good to be true? Had she grown up enough to be able to sit independently in the back?

The next time we had to take the car, she made the request again. And since that day, I haven't sat in the back even once. We still check with her on occasion to make sure that she is okay on her own back there, but honestly, I don't really care. I'm never going back (pun intended).


Babies don't keep, and neither do toddlers. My full-blown threenager preschooler's behaviour is equal parts awesome and awful. I won't dwell on the awful, but suffice to say, last Wednesday was not a great day. And for every two or three awesome days, there is one really, really crappy one.

But the awesome stuff just blows my mind. Like when she asks for some alone time, and plays unsupervised and uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Or when she yanks down her pants and goes potty before I even ask her if she needs to. Or when she helps me make Nespressos in the morning and gets this big smile on her face from accomplishing something that she knows will bless Hubbs and I. Or when she invents a story that is probably an amalgamation of five other stories that she has heard, modified and revised to incorporate her own little quirks. Or when she cracks a joke because she knows it will make her parents giggle.

So while I am hoping that the 4's are easier than the 3's, I am enjoying every moment of this new phase in her development. Here are some of her most recent words:

"In three weeks, I'm going to Moody Mountain in my sleep."


Her summation of the Easter story that we were convinced she didn't actually hear (due to misbehaving in Sunday School):
"First Jesus was alive, and then He was dead, and then He was alive again! The bunnies were soooo happy because Jesus was ALIVE!"

After Hubbs tried to convince Little L it was time to go home for dinner, she yelled:
"Wanna go on the slide! Wanna give my dinner to the birds!!"

Mid-tantrum: "I want to be sad for 20 minutes!"

While on a daddy-daughter date, she says to him, "I want to go to a different coffee place. The one with the coffee machine." (As it turns out, she wanted to come home and make me a coffee. <3)

"Miss Sara thought it was an impressive idea."

"My nostrils look kind of funny. They kinda look like hearts. I have to go get a wrench to fix them!"

After I tell Little L that her daddy is coming to give her a hug:
LL: Oh no! I'm worried Daddy is going to be stinky.
Me: Why?
LL: Because he is gonna make a really, really stinky poop!

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My C-Section Success Story - a Retrospective

As longtime readers, friends and family know, my birth plan for Little L was very crunchy/granola/natural (which is so completely unlike me). I had wanted an old-fashioned, through-the-hooha experience devoid of any drugs (save for nitrous oxide) or induction. I was prepared to breathe through the pain, endure a ring of fire, and even get torn in the process of pushing. I was ready to give birth!

But not ready for any other possible scenario. My pregnancy had been so smooth and uneventful that it didn't even occur to me that something might go awry during labour. I mean, there were no red flags for birth defects, no gestational diabetes, no pre-eclampsia - not even morning sickness. And yet, the labour was all sorts of bad. Little L was lying on my spine, her head was tilted to one side, and I was reverse dilating. Her heart rate got too steady (yes, too steady) and I was running out of time due to having had my water broken. A C-section was really my only option 47 hours later, even though it was the one thing I most wanted to avoid.

Lately I've come across quite a few stories about people who have had some very scary, and sometimes fatal, experiences following a C-section. I've also read blogs from moms who feel like a failure or are super disappointed with not having experienced vaginal childbirth, and accounts from people (like Kate Winslet) who actually lied about their procedures out of sheer grief and disbelief that they had not been able to give birth naturally. I can fully empathize with all of them, and I would never dare minimize the hardships that many women face following a C-section. Emotionally, physically - this is a major surgery and sometimes the cost that a momma pays is unbelievably high. And even when it is a smooth and successful C-section, some ladies now associate the process with shame and other devastating feelings that cause them great psychological distress even years down the road.

I do want to put a positive story "out there," though; not all C-sections are heinous, and not all of them have devastating results. While a surgical birth is obviously not the most natural option, it can be the best choice under certain circumstances. As one doctor assured me while I was labouring, "there is no shame in having a Caesarean when it's the safest thing to do for the health and welfare of yourself and baby. It doesn't make you any less of a mother; it doesn't minimize or negate the fact that your body created and nurtured this little being. You're still the mommy, you're doing the best that you can for your baby, and you can hold your head high knowing that you did everything you can to protect your little one." Those were powerful words for me to hear, and necessary too (although at the time, they didn't sink in quite as deeply as they do now).

I believe that when a new mom-to-be is faced with the possibility (or inevitability) of a C-section, sometimes the scary negative stories are simply not helpful, and it's important for them to know that there are good C-section stories too! I would have loved to have read some of those before my own procedure, that's for sure!

So here's mine: my C-section and  recovery was the stuff of legend. Seriously. Despite the weird shaky arms and shivering that the epidural brought on, I had zero side effects during and after the operation. I didn't go into cardiac arrest or lose a ton of blood, my blood pressure didn't soar or dip, and it didn't take me 6-8 weeks to recover. In fact, I was able to have my leg compression bandages and catheter removed within the first 18 hours post-partum. I could get up and walk to retrieve my baby girl from her bed right away; I think my IV was removed later that day as well (although maybe it happened on Day 2 - it's a bit blurry now).  Despite having been warned that I might be out of commission for several weeks, in reality there was no down-time needed. The only thing I had to do differently was not lift heavy items for those first few weeks. In my case, the pain of the operation was not unbearable, so I didn't need to medicate heavily on codeine or ibuprofen (although I did take Advil and Tylenol-3's regularly for the first week or so). Residual scar pain, infections, blood clots, hemorrhaging - I was mercifully spared all of these things. I am fairly certain I'm not the only one with a story like this to tell, either.

How blessed I am, and many of us are, to live in a country where emergency C-sections are readily available to those who need it. I'm thankful that this medical procedure exists, period, and am quite certain that without it, Little L would not have survived. I may not have, either. So while I might have a twinge of regret that I never got to experience pushing my baby out through my nether regions, I'm also overwhelmingly glad that things happened this way instead, and I still got my "happily ever after" (healthy baby) despite having nothing from my birth plan work out as I had intended.

So be encouraged, if you are facing a situation where a natural vaginal birth is simply not in the cards for you. Read up on the risks and benefits, get a great OB, and know that not every C-section is a war story, and you aren't any less of a mom or woman for having one.

Oh - and another benefit of C-sections? I don't pee when I laugh, and my hooha remains intact ;) 

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Low Rise: A Big Problem

Little L is a fairly tall and big child for her age. She weighs nearly 37 pounds and reaches almost 39" in height. Her clothing size is fairly consistently a 4T, although depending on fit she can wear anything from a 3T to an XS (4-5) in the girls' department.

A problem I've noticed recently is that when Little L wears certain pants (and sometimes even when she wears leggings), she risks revealing some bum crack. The top of her underpants often end up showing, as does that section of her tailbone that leads to her bottom.

This is immensely disturbing to me, because she's 3 years old, and the people who design and make her clothing should (in theory) be cognizant that the consumers of their bottoms would be very young. Some kids her age still wear diapers, so one would think that the problem would be one of excess material around the butt, or pants with too high a rise to accommodate puffy diapers, not the opposite.

It also pisses me off because our society, as a whole, has a tendency towards explicit material and the hypersexualization / oversexualization of children, particularly young girls. Some light reading on the topic:

30% of Girls' Clothing is Sexualized in Major Sales Trend

Protecting Children from a Sexualized Childhood

The Disturbing Sexualization of Really Young Girls

A Target Intervention on Behalf of My Daughters

I won't bother rehashing the content already described in these links. Suffice it to say, I am not interested in making Little L look "sexy" or "trendy" or like a Bratz/Barbie doll. I don't want her navel or her ass to be on display, and I don't appreciate that my purchases at Old Navy or Target or Joe Fresh will sometimes cause her to have a plumber bum. I think I am going to have to start bringing a tape measure to check the inseams/rises on pants before I buy them for her. And I am going to have to start putting her in tunics and dresses along with pants, to compensate for the low-rise problems we are now encountering.

This is just so wrong on so many levels. I'm gutted that this issue even exists. Why can't kids just dress like kids?! When even pants get the sexualized treatment, our culture needs to give its head a shake!

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So... we are moving.

And I don't mean from one part of downtown to another. I mean, from the bustling heart of the city to a quaint and quiet little suburb 45 minutes away.

And I don't mean from one high-rise to another, either. I'm talking about going from concierge services and multi-floor dwellings to a multi-floor, single-family townhouse with a double garage and carpeting (!!!).

I haven't lived in a single family home in two decades. So, like, more than half of my life has been in some sort of high-rise. I also haven't lived in a 'burb in almost as many years.

I feel a little disoriented.

Now, some would say that this is a good thing, that we are moving for Little L to be closer to school, and that we are going into a larger, less costly, and more upscale space in a close-knit community that really is lovely. Our new home is also very close to water, and to playgrounds, and to amenities and Starbucks (3 blocks). Really, it's everything that we could ask for, and more.

But I fear that I am becoming an old person, the kind that is almost afraid of change. I'm not quite at that stage where I am openly refusing to adapt, but I realize that I have developed quite the comfort zone in terms of living in an urban, busy, walking-culture environment, and to transition to a slightly more driving-oriented lifestyle is a huge change for me. I didn't even know just how big a change it would be until we found this new home and accepted the rental offer.

Up until now, my biggest worry was Little L: would she be willing to move? Would she like her new home? I know that kids are quite resilient little creatures, but my girl won't even accept having her left shoe taken off before her right. Her little Type A personality was definitely cause for worry. And yet, the moment she stepped into the new townhouse, she was enamoured with it. She kept climbing the stairs up and down, referring to the place as "my new home." She even claimed a bedroom before our tour was over! So yeah, I think she will be fine.

But here I am, a grown woman who has lived in three Canadian provinces and two continents, and who used to move every 1.5 years, worrying about my transition from the downtown core to the little village that is in fact only 10 minutes away from densely-populated, high-rise-infested, commercialized Richmond. What gives?!

So now, as I prepare for the move and all the ugliness that relocating entails, I find myself intentionally trying to savour "last moments" in the neighborhood. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I think I'm grieving. And because I did not expect to mourn our move, I feel ill-prepared to deal with it emotionally.

Good-bye, beautiful parks and playgrounds where Little L spent many hours of the first three years of her life. Good-bye, tasty Italian cafe where our little family often goes on our lunch dates.
Good-bye, seawall walks to the beach and to Science World.
Good-bye, hundreds of tasty restaurants that we have been intending to try, but haven't had time for.
Good-bye, community centre with that cool shaded area and the red benches and colourful lights for Little L to play.
Good-bye, walking-distance-train station and all of your convenient stops.
Good-bye, gorgeous sunsets of False Creek.
Good-bye, delicious Sweet macaron Bake Shop and decadent Ganache cakes
Good-bye, VPL Central Library and your giant, welcoming children's section
Good-bye, Chapters and the American Girl section that entertains Little L for hours
Good-bye, quick and easy drive to the aquarium.
Good-bye, well-lit moonlight walks around the neighborhood
Good-bye Yaletown.

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