Thirty. Nine.

Had my 39th birthday this past Labor Day. It was a lovely weekend, though I’d be pained to call it celebratory. Spent some wonderful time with my sister and her family, with my parents, with my inlaws, with my husband. It was fun. There were presents (a surprise) and cake (not a surprise.) There was lots of love and hugs and kisses. My family loves me, and I am more grateful than words can express for their kindness, patience, and generosity.

But (you knew there was a but) 39 is odd. Like an ill-fitting shirt that needs a little more fabric softener. It’s not hard like 29 was hard – there wasn’t a panic attack involved this year. It’s just melancholy, I guess.

There’s the knowledge that experience has bought, and hopefully a little bit of wisdom. But mostly there’s the feeling that you know less that you have ever known, except now you have a mortgage and a marriage and a job. I’m supposed to have at least some of this figured out by now.

And then you have your annual physical, where your doctor doesn’t mention the expiration date on your eggs but does mention that you get to have your first mammogram next year. Get to have. Like it’s a reward. And maybe it is.

But you realize that something subtle and powerful has changed. I’m young. But not young like I was a decade ago. Or maybe I’m younger. Though my knees will tell you different. It’s hard to tell, most days.

Most days that aren’t tonight. When I see can time creeping at the edges making its mark upon my flesh. Scratching lines on my face. Turning my eyebrows white. My eyebrows! I kid you not.

And now I want to bitch-slap time for being such an intolerable whore. Why the eyebrows? Why can’t time make my legs go bald instead?

Time is an asshole, that’s why. (Sorry for the language, Mom. Love you.)

Anyway. If you bump into me, do a girl a favor and don’t stare at my eyebrows. I know they’re turning white, but at least they’re distracting me from the other tortures of gravity.

But let’s not talk about all that right now.

Advertisements

ANTS!

After an unfortunate incident with a weevil infestation several years ago, I learned to seal every wheat-based item in my pantry. Everything is neatly organized in Oxo containers or Ziplock baggies. Well, yesterday it was almost everything, and today, it is absolutely everything.

What I did not know was that sugar ants can wiggle their evil little bodies into completely sealed double-strength Ziplocks. I don’t even know how they do it. What’s worse is that it took me several weeks of following ant trails to find out what was attracting them. And boy, were they having a right party.

It was like some gang of 6-legged frat boys raided my kitchen and ate everything they could get their little antennae on. Two bags of chips (sealed!) and two pounds of cashews (sealed!) And the fish food (also, sealed!)

AND OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! FIFTEEN DOLLARS WORTH OF CASHEWS!!!

I mean, I get it. It’s Texas. It’s hot as blazes outside, and inside, there’s A/C and water and dinner. But did they have to eat my cashews? Really?

All that was to say that last night I killed me some sugar ants. And now I have to go grocery shopping ’cause I’m out of cashews.

Stupid ants.

The Emotional Toll of a Career in Sales

Nobody likes salespeople. Nope, not even you. True story.

We’ve been programmed our entire lives to merely tolerate sales people. To demand their presence when we’re ready to buy but to avoid them when we’re only browsing. It’s just human nature. We want to feel in control of our decisions, to make a selection based upon our own research and instincts.

Salespeople, on the other hand, are paid to lead consumers to a purchase decision for a predetermined product or set of products. The job of the sales person is to convince you to buy from them. As soon as humanly possible, if not sooner.

But, of course, the consumer has their own plans and agendas and that agenda often involves the phrases: “No, thank you;” “I’m just browsing;” “I’m not ready to buy anything, today.” And a million other comments that simply mean “no.”

To a sales person (and I would think to any person) that’s a form of rejection. But that weary salesperson receives rejection far more frequently than the average consumer. It is our lot in life.

Consider this, a baseball player who bats 300 is considered at the absolute top of his game. And he hits only 30% of the pitches he receives. He misses 70% of the time, and 30% contact rate is considered amazingly successful.

And that ratio applies to salespeople, too. The best in any industry have around a 30% close rate; meaning only 30% of our sales pitches result in a purchase decision. Or, 70% of the time, we are rejected: “No, thank you.”

In baseball, it’s hard to take a ball racing at you personally. But in sales, we’re dealing with real people who use words and actions to reject our offers. It’s personal. Every single time. And it’s exhausting.

And I’m sure there are more resilient salespeople out there than me. There have to be. But I think it would be fantastic if large organizations kept a psychologist on retainer for their sales teams to help build resiliency in the face of daily rejection.

Or maybe I’m just being overly sensitive. I mean, it’s just business, after all; it isn’t personal.

That’s Not Good Enough, Jennifer

A year ago, I heard that phrase nearly every working day. It was an unrelenting push for performance, for perfection.

I was spending four or more nights a week away from home, in a strange hotel. Getting lost on the way to the bathroom.

I made friends with the TSA agents at the airport. “Opting out today, Ms. Knighton?” “Good morning, Jennifer. How about a gentle back rub on your way to the gate.” They were really fun TSA agents, actually.

But all the travel, the lack of sleep, the sales and deals and negotiations won…none of that was quite good enough. Never good enough. Never enough.

I broke down.

I remember wracking sobs on the hallway tile. Screaming to any god who would listen: “I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE! IF THIS IS LIFE, I DON’T WANT TO LIVE.”

I want to blame the person who was pushing me so cruelly. But it was really me – always raising the expectation for what is good enough. And in this game of perfection, nothing ever is.

I was able to silence the voice who spoke those words so frequently last year. I’m having greater difficulty silencing the gremlins in my mind.

I keep telling myself that I’m not good enough. And I keep telling myself to shut up.

Confession: I Am a Workaholic

This realization should come as no surprise to me. But it kinda does. When I take time off, I feel guilty for not working. And then I feel guilty for not enjoying some down time while also feeling guilty about not working. It’s stupid, really, to feel guilty for feeling guilty. Stupid or crazy.

It’s not that I can’t rest. I can. But I must force myself. I must actively redirect thoughts as they stray back to work and household chores and the things I should be doing instead. (Note: should is a guilt work. When you find it, kill it. Kill it dead.)

#thatisall

Depression, Work-Life Balance, and Rediscovering Self (or Navel Gazing for the Over-30 Crowd)

I don’t want to get into this too much here, but let me just say that I can tell the state of my mental health by the non-work-related writing I do. (See: this blog and the lack of posting since July 2010) And also by the heart palpitations, anxiety hives, and panic attacks. Crushing chest pain is a sign that something has gone seriously sideways in life.

Anyway, I haven’t written anything lately. The past couple months have been busy:

First, we bought a house and moved to New Braunfels. We have two ponds full of goldfish and Koi and a herd of deer who are constantly begging for food. We see all variety of birds – including a Cardinal family who built a nest by the living room window and birthed another generation, hummingbirds everywhere, and roadrunners. We also have scorpions and tarantulas and snakes, oh my!

Then, once we got into the place, My sister-in-law and I repainted my office and decorated it with some lovely dark wood and lots of art. Remind me never to paint a 10’x10′ room with 12′ ceilings. Ever. Again. What on earth was I thinking? The upside, however, is that the place is everything I wanted in an office – sunny and relaxing and with a beautiful view.

Lately, we’ve been entertaining just about everyone we know at the house. The month of July is already booked with guests and we’re scheduling into August! Apparently, this is The Place To Be. And it makes me so very happy.

In work-related travel news, I’ve been to Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio (twice), Arizona, and North Carolina. And none of that includes the tornado-related stranding in Dallas or a trip to Houston. And really, that is just the tip of the iceberg of my sales business. Too many places to go and not enough time to do it all.

I’m going to try to get back to a more regular posting schedule, but I can’t promise anything. Because I just don’t know if I’ll have the energy to be anything more than a neglectful writer on my own blog. In the meantime, I’ve got to figure out where things have gone wrong and set them to rights again.