It wasn’t long enough ago, only about 11 years so this one still hurts a lot. I learned long ago not to talk about what hurts because many say get over it. Unfortunately those words aren’t helpful in getting you over things, writing is helping.
I’ve had many different jobs as I’ve moved around, I adapt quickly to what’s available. You have to feed kids so you do as you must. When I moved from Idaho to Minnesota I went back to selling Real Estate but we lived in the lowest income County in the State, with the home prices of 35k to 50k I was barely covering gas and advertising.
One night I went to a candle party at the home of a new friend, it was PartyLite, like Tupperware but it was giftware and candles. The consultant told us we could average $100 per show in income, I listened closely and told her to contact me. Two weeks later I had my “starter show” and my 6 required parties to start. I had a hard time in the beginning, we’d just moved to the area and I knew only the ladies in the bank and restaurant in town. I was her first consultant that made it past the 6 parties. I love her still.
The card from Lisa thanking me for the guest list for my starter party. She says "I'll think we'll make good partners - and I know you have what it takes to be successful." Powerful words, I looked at them often and they lived in my heart.
By year two I had my own unit of consultants and was making a real income. I was also earning sales and booking awards left and right. I could have cared less about the awards, all I wanted was to earn enough money to pay bills and fix up the disaster of a house we bought. I was Blessed to have a leader who saw what was inside people, not the outsides. She and Mark (the Cowboy) believed I could do anything.
That year there was a chance to earn an all expense paid week at the Waikaloa Hilton in Hawaii. Air, hotel, tips, food, drinks and entertainment. If you had enough points you could earn a second trip for a guest or buy it down with points. I knew we couldn’t spare a dime so I set my eyes on earning two full trips. And I worked, God did I work. I called every person who said maybe, I gave away extra “wax” for extra bookings. I drove all over southern Minnesota, down into Mason City and Estherville Iowa, Sioux Falls SD, if someone knew someone within a 3 hour radius, I’d go do a show. I drove through ground blizzards, fog and tornado warnings. All I could think of was I was finally going to have a real vacation, in a real hotel, and it would be everything I ever wanted.
I had an 8 x 10 sheet of paper with a pyramid of squares on it and it was where we were to color in each square for the sales and sponsoring for the trip. If I got home at 2 in the morning, I sat at my desk to figure my sales and colored that stupid square in. It was the main thing on the bulletin board in my office, there were also brochures of the hotel. Around those were brochures with the cherry cabinets I had picked out for the kitchen and other things we needed to remodel it. I was averaging 4 shows per week and would do 2 back to back on Saturdays. Between shows, driving, training and paperwork I averaged 60 hours a week. In my spare time (hahaha) I ripped out walls, drywalled and helped with the livestock.
Spare time spent remodeling my dream kitchen, the tub went upstairs.
During this time Lisa, my leader, had her goal of becoming a Regional VP, it meant she needed 6 units with a certain number below them. Every month I sent out a newsletter to my team with training tips and held unit training in my home to help my consultants. I also attended leader training and Regional training in Minneapolis, it was almost 3 hours away so two Saturdays a month I would leave home at 5 am, and usually still do one evening show. It might sound awful but I loved it, the women were the type that build each other up. There was fun, love, support and someone always had a solution. Regional trainings averaged 150 in attendance. It became like a giant family. I was honored when Susan, the Sr. Reg. VP, called me to ask me to do training. She had the national sales averages and said my guest average was far higher than the national average. I had adapted my Hostess training to make sure there were more guests at each show. When you have low income women, they don’t spend much so you need higher attendance. I was to train on how to get more guests to the show.
1997 my first full year and the first note I got from Susan. I was number 7 in sales out of around 30,000. She wrote "Feel Proud of your Success Doris" Powerful words, I was walking on air.
I was nervous, Susan earned in the mid six figures and had a large productive region. She was also very caring and genuine so it was important to me not to disappoint her. I was a little nervous to stand at a podium in front of 150 women, all with pens poised over notebooks. I had handouts of the document I adapted as a hostess checklist, and one I kept for myself to make sure I didn’t miss a single extra step. I wasn’t doing anything special, I was just very regimented. My goal was always that my Hostess got $100 in free product and if I made that happen, I made at least $100, and had a Hostess that would re-book.
Training went well and afterward there were the usual people coming up to clarify things. The following month something wonderful happened to me, many women came up to thank me for helping them increase their guest count. They were sincerely happy and proud that they had done the work and it paid off. It’s not an easy business, there’s a lot of rejection and many people look down on those who do it. You must constantly push yourself but you can never be pushy with others. I had a warm glow for days, I helped people achieve things they couldn’t before. I was hooked on it.
I earned the two trips to Hawaii and except for the flight everything was first class. The one night we didn’t have a meal or banquet, they gave us $100 to go out to eat on our own. The theme was the 70’s and we all brought outfits to dress up, they had make-up booths set up and there were wigs, including rainbow afros. I only went for the blue eyeshadow and mascara, men were wearing polyester leisure suits with fake gold chains. I had on a turquoise suede mini skirt and boots. They’d flown in KC and the Sunshine band for a private concert. On banquet night they brought in Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach for a private concert. It was the most fun I ever had on a trip, going sightseeing with all these couples we knew and having romantic time alone too.
S, P, Lisa and I in Hawaii. We were her first three consultants and first three to promote. We lasted through to her promotion to SRVP which surprised the corporate office, it's rare in home party plan MLM.
"No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care"
The push for the trip launched me and I kept doing the same things and promoted a unit out of mine. Lisa eventually became a Regional VP and we had our own Regional training in Mankato less than an hour away. At her promotion party, all her leader team were to say how she’d changed our lives to thank her. She had truly changed mine, I went from seeing myself as a nothing and living in near poverty to being a respected leader and replacing a Celebrity with a DeVille, used, but still comfortable on those long drives.
I spoke a little about those changes and one of the biggest things for me was cheese. I went to the store every week and looked with longing at the cheese but never bought any, there were times I could only let my daughter have one glass of milk a day. Cheese was a luxury because I was the only one who loved it. I talked about what it felt like to shop every week and be free to buy any cheese I wanted. That night I became known as the cheese lady. Sigh.
The cheese lady wearing a bracelet with a charm from every trip, a rare photo of Mark, the Cowboy, smiling.
I continued to give training regularly and afterward when someone came up to me and was struggling, even if they weren’t in my unit, I’d get their number and call them a week after to see how the tips I’d given were working. I’d send atta girl post cards and call their leader to let them know so they could recognize them too. It felt good helping others the way Lisa helped me.
In my 5th year my mother was visiting and I decided to stay with her and skip Regional training. I called Lisa to tell her and she said it wasn’t okay. I was shocked, I never missed training and pitched in more than many other leaders. We gently argued for a while and we were both adamant, I told her absolutely not, it wasn’t mandatory and she was being unfair, other leaders blew off training all the time.
She got very serious and told me she was going to ruin a surprise, then told me the women in our region wanted to give me a special award. Not the leaders and not my own team, the consultants that weren’t mine. They wanted to honor me for helping everyone even when it would never benefit me, and they wanted to do it while my mom was there. She made me promise not to let it show and act surprised.
I got off the phone glowing. I’ve had many sales awards, plaques I shove in a drawer, everyone gets that stuff. This was me being loved and appreciated, something I didn’t get much. I was excited and told Mark and went to my mom and asked her if she wanted to come see me get an award. Trainings had to be fun or no one came, and she would finally see what I did for a living. She never wanted to hear about it before and she said no thank you. There’s nothing to do in rural towns you have to drive an hour just to go to a mall so Mark joined me and told her he had been and it was fun, with skits and prizes and they only took an hour and a half. I kept pleading with her telling her it was important to me and finally I asked her why she didn’t want to come. I’ll never forget her words, “I’m just not interested in these things.”
It was like she put a knife in my heart but I said that’s fine. I went that Saturday and Lisa got up and did the spiel about “the cheese lady” for all new consultants to hear. I’d explained about my mom so to spare me embarrassment she told everyone she was ill. She presented me with a framed document and gave me a tight hug and thank you. Then another leader who worked for a cheese wholesaler came up with a giant basket filled with 50 lbs of imported cheeses. All the leaders had chipped in to thank me too. I was busy being a good little actress looking thrilled, inside I wanted to crawl under a rock in shame. Just like when I was a little girl, not good enough to care about.
I didn’t cry about it, I used to never cry about things. I just went on until many years later when I finally cried about everything. But that was the day I realized my mother would never think I was worth her time or interest. She’s never wanted to know anything about how I think or feel, never thought anything I did mattered. Today I know it’s not me that’s lacking it’s her and my dad but that’s my head.
The same as the photo above but finished, if I was lacking I wouldn't have earned the cash for everything. I learned to install ceramic tile too.
The opposite view. Convection oven, bow window, beveled glass doors with the lead between glass and cherry cabinets. The drawer boxes were maple with dovetail dado construction. We built every inch to be our dream kitchen and cowboy proof.
My youngest was a teenager at the time. She was standing there in our dream kitchen watching the whole scene like many times before. This is how my children learned to treat me this way and how I learned to accept it. Be careful who you expose your children to, toxins spread.
No matter how many times I push this memory, and the others like it away, they return and hurt. They never came if I had any achievements, they weren’t drinking, they simply didn’t care. This morning I got up and the memory returned so I cried. As I write I heal and I’ve stopped accepting toxic treatment.
People tell me my parents did the best they could but that’s bullshit, they did the least they could. The fact is they did a lousy fucking job of being parents and I’m tired of crying. I took a free candle kit and by my second year was earning what many people with a degree can't make. I averaged 6 shows a week, had up to 15 people at a time I managed and we remodeled 3,000 sf of disaster. It's time to look at me with my own eyes and because of writing, it's what I've started to do.
"No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." I learned that in leader training too.