Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Torn Inside Out…

A little over a decade ago, I was completing my Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I needed some upper level electives to complete my credit requirement, and was browsing the course catalog for options.

I have always been drawn to people older than me. I spent a great deal of time with my great-grandparents, grandparents, and their friends as a child - more so than with people my own age - and as a result have always been able to chat easily with people of any age. As I read through the course catalog, I was drawn to a 300-level Psychology class called Adult Development and Aging. Psychology had also been a long time interest of mine, but as a non-traditional (adult) student, I knew myself well enough to know that I would not remain in school long enough to earn the requisite doctoral degree that is needed for so many careers in that field.

My major was Human Resource Management, and I felt this Psych class would compliment my degree. As soon as the semester began, I knew I was in the right place. The professor, Dr. Susan McFadden, was mesmerizing. I hung on every word, learning about aging, best practices of caring for the aged, and their dependency on our kindness as they move through the final years of life. I thought often of my grandmother who was still living, and the grandparents who had already passed, hoping I had shown them and their peers the sort of kindness and caring they so deserved.

Mid-way through the semester, Dr. McFadden announced that our class would be pairing with another group on campus for something called "The Polio Project". Our class would conduct interviews of older adults who had lived through the polio epidemic in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin in the 1950's. The other class would catalog and archive the interviews. A sign up sheet was passed around the class with the names of 30 survivors listed on it. Some had contracted polio themselves and lived to tell of their experience. Others had close relatives who had the disease. All we knew were their names. The stories would come later.

When I received the list, I first scanned for names I knew. Believe it or not, I am actually shy when I first meet someone out of the blue like this. Remember, I would just be showing up at their door with a tape recorder and a set of questions. If any of my grandparents or great-grandparents' friends were on the list, I was jumping at the chance to speak with them.

Long story short: there were none.

Instead, I picked a lady who shared a family name. I've spoken on this blog in the past about my Aunt Betty. She was one of my great-grandpa's seven siblings, was a prominent fixture in my childhood, and struggled with Alzheimer's in old age as so many of their other siblings did. Betty's married name was Koch (pronounced "Cook") and there was a Koch on the list. I scribbled my name next to that of Jo Ann Koch and proceeded to set up an appointment with her in the week following.

Jo was (and still is) a lovely woman and she invited me into her home with open arms. She was quiet, and was very open about the fact that she was not used to discussing her polio story. The words flowed freely between us, but her pain was evident. She relayed the story of how her family of six became a family of four within the span of six days in August of 1955. First her sister Jeanie contracted polio and passed away. As her mother was returning from the hospital in Madison after Jeanie's death, she was unknowingly passed on the highway by an ambulance taking Jeanie's twin Georgie to the same hospital where he, too, would die only six days after his sister. Shortly thereafter, their oldest sibling Jack also contracted the disease, but he survived after a prolonged stay in Madison and many therapy sessions in Oshkosh.

I remember the story vividly. I remember sitting in a small sunroom in her home on a hard wooden chair as Jo spoke through tears, and relived these heart breaking moments of her childhood. She spoke about gamma-globulin (I remember stopping her to make sure I was spelling it correctly), a drug that she and other children had been given to prevent them from also contracting the disease. She spoke of her parents, of how the family moved through their loss.

I remember writing up my transcript and submitting it. I remember Dr. McFadden commenting on the story after the fact, about the heart break and the impact it had on her as well.

Time moved on, and I finished the class. One thing lead to another and graduation came and went. I have never stopped thinking of Jo and her siblings. They've never left my mind. Her home is not that far from mine and I've often thought of stopping over just to chat, but who does that these days? That small action that used to be second nature to so many now seems like a potential inconvenience to someone, doesn't it? When did that happen?

Needless to say, I never stopped over to visit. Life moved on. I completed my Bachelor's and then my Masters degree. We had babies. In 2006, as you know if you follow this blog, our son Henry passed away. Shortly thereafter, I ran into Jo at a local restaurant and she commented about the article that had been in the newspaper about our family and Henry's death. We chatted for awhile, promised to stay in touch, and went our separate ways. Last year I ran into Jo and her husband one more time. Butch, Jo's husband, proudly told me of a book his wife wrote about her life story, the death of her siblings, and the many ways polio had touched her life. I remember wanting to read it, but once again failed to follow through.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I was working a booth at a local craft fair with my Origami Owl jewelry. Jo happened past my booth and asked, as she always does, if I was Sarah. I told her I thought of her often and that I would still like to purchase a copy of the book she had written. She went to the car and returned with a book complete with a personal inscription inside noting, among other things, that "our introduction has a meaning that is very special." I wholeheartedly agree.

We chatted a bit more and said our goodbyes. At the next break in customers, I sat down and started to flip through the book. So many newspaper clippings and photographs of her family filled the pages along with her words. I had to close the book as tears threatened to fall, and I relayed Jo's story to my mom who was sitting with me. I also told my mom that for as much as I would love to read the book, and was grateful to have it, I truly didn't know if I could get through it. Having lost a child myself, I find it nearly impossible to read about other children dying, no matter what the cause.

I put the book in my bag and didn't give it another thought until this morning when I picked it up around 8am to flip through the pages again and maybe read a few excerpt. I wanted to see if it was something I thought I could handle. Then I found myself starting at the beginning and before I knew it 40 pages had passed. Off and on, throughout the day, I tackled chapter after chapter. Much of the information was familiar to me - all things she had shared with me during my interview ten years ago. All things I had never forgotten. Somehow though, the stories were so much more personal and meaningful. I laughed. I cried. I mourned for this family with a different heart… the heart of someone now who has also buried a child.

There is a part in the book where Jo shares their 1955 family Christmas letter. She comments afterwards that no where in the letter did her mother mention the twin's deaths. I could relate instantly. It took me years before I was able to say the words dead or died in relation to my son. In some ways, it is still hard for me today. If I was talking about Henry in those early days, I would say things like, "since Henry's passing." Somehow, that hurt less and felt less permanent.

I also realized very early on in my reading that this gamma-globulin that Jo had told me about receiving was the earliest form of IVIG, the treatment my son Jack receives every four weeks at Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin. It is an artificial immune system of sorts… Once thought to help ward off polio, now used to help ward off every sort of disease in the immune compromised.

In addition to small coincidences like these, it occurred to me that Mrs. Wentland was someone I have looked up to without even knowing it. After losing Henry, I spent many days at the cemetery, just walking around. A bypasser would think I was wandering, lost in thought. What I was really doing was looking for survivors. I would walk the rows of the cemetery until I found the grave of a child. Then I would look to see how much longer the mother lived, and think silently that if she could do it… if she could live with that burden of grief… so could I.  Mrs. Wentland survived three of her four children. Although grief touched her life in many ways, she continued to live and to love her family and move through the years after each loss with grace and dignity. She never forgot them. The grief was never far from her heart. But still she continued to work, and travel, and dance. She continued to live. This is what I aspire to do. Women like her are who I look to when the load of grief I carry seems to heavy. They survived by the grace of God, and I will too.

In closing, Jo speaks openly about her faith and the many ways it has helped and comforted her throughout the years. I have often said the same thing. I don't think it was coincidence that I chose her as my interviewee. I believe that our paths were meant to cross. That in some way, we each helped each other to heal just the tiniest bit. I will forever be grateful for this experience; for this introduction.

If you are interested in reading Jo's book, and I hope you are, you will find it available for purchase on Amazon {HERE}.

Torn Inside Out: Releasing Grief 40 Years Later by Jo Ann Wentland Koch

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Origami Owl Does It Again!

Origami Owl is an incredible deal in its own right, but the deal just got a little sweeter! For two days, while supplies last, Origami Owl is GIVING AWAY a FREE large silver locket, a limited edition snow globe charm, and a faceted ball chain with every $59.50 in retail purchases. Just enter your order at www.faith.origamiowl.com and for every $59.50 you spend, you will have the option to add one of the free sets as well.

Now THAT is happy!

Don't delay - this special deal will only last for TWO DAYS. Like all good things it, too, must come to an end!

Questions? Email me at sairabee@yahoo.com and I'll get back to you asap!

#origamiowl #freegift #twodays #dontwait #hohoho

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Origami Owl Warehouse Tour

Origami Owl's company culture is like none other I've seen, and the opportunity to tour their warehouse and meet their employees only solidified my love for the company and their mission. 

As a business student, I was bored by most of the companies we studied. IBM and Fed Ex.... snore fest. Places like Southwest Airlines and Pike Place Fish Market were different though. They expressed a genuine interest in their employees; in their wellbeing, and happiness. They focused on fun, and that focus was returned tenfold in the productiveness of their employees. The work place was more like home than a place employees longed to get away from. I was thrilled at last year's National Convention when I learned that our then newly hired Vice President of Corporate Culture, Yvette Torres-Dickson, was pulled from the ranks of Southwest Airlines. In fact, I think I cried. Major business student geek moment right there! 

When I took the tour of our Origami Owl Warehouse last week, I was inspired by the amount of love in the building. Employees met us on the dock and formed lines on each side of our group to high five each designer as we walked in. There was a dance party. There was a LOT of hugging and smiling. These people had been giving these tours for two days straight - we were the last group - but they still managed to give us every bit as much energy as they did for the first tour.

The man standing on the chair here is Shawn Maxwell, one of our company's founders. His energy is infectious.... even after two twelve hour days. 

This is where our third quarter hostess exclusive necklaces are assembled. The pieces are beautiful, and even more stunning in large quantities!

New designer kits getting ready to ship... have you received yours yet? Joining Origami Owl is one of the best decisions I've ever made. If you'd like more information on how a small $149 investment can change your life, too, drop me an email using the sidebar link to the right.

Of course there is always time for a photo op! Here's a little shout out to Team Faith and the rest of the ladies on the tour. That's me in white at far left.

After our photo op, we moved through the warehouse with our tour guide. Boxes and boxes of product and packaging packed all around us. 

Everywhere we looked, there were employees showing the love. Genuinely happy people, enjoying their time with us and with each other.

The jewelry aisles were overwhelming. So many pieces. So many things to look at. Here are some of our dangles, packaged and waiting to be picked for orders...

Every department and section marked clearly...

Employees picking orders...

More O2 love!

Packages waiting to ship!

Stand on the owl prints, please! Another photo op! How do you like my mint Converse sneakers? Owlsome!

One final pic with our tour guides and we're on our way.

I won't bore you with all of the safety signs I took pics of (safety is a priority!) or the motivational quotes posted all over the warehouse (*swoon*) or even the FIFO sign that I snapped a pic of in another moment of business minded bliss. Suffice it to say, this girl was thoroughly impressed from both a designer standpoint and a business standpoint. 

I asked my tour guide if Origami Owl had adopted the Fish Philosophy, because so much of the energy and culture I see here rings true of Fish. He had never heard of it. It's possible that he also thought I had lost my mind, but we won't talk about that. ;) 

Fish Philosophy or not, Origami Owl is doing it right. I suspect business students will be watching videos about the Owl Philosophy in the not too distant future, too... 

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Meeting Cassidy Stay

I returned yesterday from Origami Owl's second annual National Convention. A few weeks prior to convention, our Origami Owl family was rocked with the news that one of our designers, Katie Stay, and her family, were the victims of a senseless act of violence. Katie, her husband, and four of her five children were killed. Cassidy Stay, her oldest daughter was the sole survivor.

Origami Owl rallied around the family, spreading the word about this tremendous loss and through the help of Katie's mentor, loving sister designers coordinating tee-shirt fundraisers, and corporate initiatives to get the word out, we were able to add a significant amount of money to what was already being donated by others in the community and around the world.

Cassidy Stay was, and continues to be, on the hearts and minds of everyone in Origami Owl. When I was at convention, I heard rumors that Cassidy was actually there with us. I didn't know if it was fact or fiction, but I whispered a prayer for her nonetheless as I often have over the past few weeks. I prayed that if she was there, that some part of that experience would bring her a sliver of peace. When you are grieving, you cling to those slivers. You collect them, store them up, and fall back on them when times are the hardest.

Sunday morning, our hotel was abuzz with designers who were making their final arrangements to head home. Last minute hugs were being given. Shuttles rushing in and out taking friends to the airport or some other destination. I had booked another day at a nearby resort, so my travel companion and I opted to spend the morning at Mass at an old Basilica across the street from the hotel. While at Mass, I continued to pray for the Stay family, and for all of our designers who would be traveling that day.

On my way back to the hotel, I received a text message from my Senior Director, reminding me that she brought some motivational cd's for me, and that she was in line waiting for her shuttle pick up. When I returned to the hotel, I made a beeline for the pick up area in hopes of locating her before she departed. I peeked out the doors, but there were so many designers waiting that I had to go outside and into the midst of them to fully see who all was out there and whether or not my Senior Director was among them. After scanning the crowd and coming to the realization that she was no longer there, I turned to go back inside and came face to face with Cassidy Stay and her guardian.

In that moment, a million things rushed through my head. Is that really her? What to say…. do I say anything or nothing? What to do…. do I offer a hello or a hug or just a nod? Do I walk away as though I did not see her to give her space? It occurred to me in that moment that the things my minister told me the day we lost Henry were very true: People do not know how to act around the bereaved. Even though I consider myself a little better armed to handle a grief situation given my personal history, I still stood dumbfounded while this sweet girl stared at me wondering whether I was going to move out of her way or spend the day staring at her.

In the end, I opted for the hug. One thing I love about Origami Owl is that it's all about {LOVE}. Give love. Share love. Pass it on. I hugged her tightly and she hugged back just the same. I told her I was sorry for her loss. Safe words for anyone who is grieving. We chatted a bit, and I closed with, "God bless you," before releasing her and moving on my way.

Once my back was turned, I burst into tears at the thought of the weight of the grief she bears and the road before her. I am so grateful to know that she holds a strong faith in Jesus Christ. That she knows there is light, and that His light can alleviate the weight of this grief if she will let it (and I have faith that she will). I will continue to hold her and her family in prayer and am confident my Origami Owl family and so many others will do the same.

This is a quote from Harry Potter that Cassidy quoted when she first spoke after her hospital stay. If only one remembers to turn on the light. His light. Day by day, the weight of grief lessens.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Origami Owl - Getting Started

The day I decided to join Origami Owl and start this journey, I told myself, "You're here to make money, not spend it." I can't even tell you the number of times I've had to remind myself of that simple truth since then. When you start a new business venture, it's so easy to want to make everything perfect. To have all new supplies and display pieces and oh my goodness, have you seen all of the OWLS out there?! Eeks!

There are few things in life that make me cringe more than hearing a new designer tell me she just received her $149 starter kit and already has over $500 invested in the company.

Wait, what?!

Please know that this is not necessary. Take a look at the photo below. This picture shows a simple but effective Jewelry Bar display that was staged by our corporate office at our first national convention. It uses all of the pieces included in the starter kit, and just a few extras to give it some height and texture.

This, my friends, is truly all you need to start your business.

If you have $500 to invest in your business, and I know some do, rather than buying the $149 starter kit and then investing $350 in your display, opt for the larger starter kit for $399 (giving you more product and business supplies) and continue to keep your display simple. Or, still get the $149 kit but use some of your funds to order from your launch party for yourself to give you more product selection.

The focal point of any good display should always be our jewelry. The bulk of your investment should be on your focal point.

Keep it simple.

Adapt to our Japanese Modern style…. less is more.

Think about the pieces you see in this photo. Outside of the starter kit, the jewelry tree in the background is likely the biggest expense on the table. Look for a necklace stand to hold your chains. Try to find something that can accommodate the 32" lengths without them dragging on the table, or find something you can use as a riser under it to give it some lift. I've seen lovely display pieces at Hancock Fabrics (theirs are taller than the ones I've seen anywhere else), and actually just purchased a two new chain displays for myself at a local going out of business sale. Total cost for me? $4 each for sturdy heavy duty display pieces that would have cost well beyond that if purchase from the supplier. There are deals to be had. There are coupons to be redeemed. Take some time to find them and save yourself some dollars that can then be applied elsewhere in life or reinvested into your business. 

The Jewelry Bar sign gives additional height and color to this display. When I started out and did my first event, I invested in adding a few high quality product photos from our back office to foam core so that I could display them on easels on my table. The quality didn't meet what I expected, but it still cost me over $50 to have them made. 

Learn from my mistakes. 

A large 12x16 photo frame (Hobby Lobby, WalMart, Target, etc.) on sale that is matted to hold a smaller 8x10 photo does wonders for height and texture. For many months I used that to hold the Origami Owl sign that comes in the starter kit. I have also been known to purchase 8x10 acrylic sign holders at WalMart (same as the ones at Office Max and Staples, but a fraction of the cost) and use those to hold our hostess exclusive flyers or our starter kit flyers (cut down a bit on each side to fit). It's informative. It's colorful. It's effective. It's reasonably priced. 

You can find flat white plates like those shown at IKEA and WalMart. Look for something with as little lip as possible on the edges to give the most display room possible. Plain white. The ones I bought at WalMart were about $1.49 each. I used them to display my lockets. Rather than a the domed cake platter full of cookies, consider displaying your take out menus (i.e. catalogs) upright in a clear square glass vase. Look for them in the do it yourself section of a local floral shop. Mine was less than $5. 

Display busts are a bit of an investment, but no one says you need to start with a huge amount of them. Even now, two years into my business, I will only have 2-3 on my table at any one time. These can be purchased at Nile Corp. or Gems on Display. Look for linen busts. You might have the urge to get white or black flocked busts, but the price difference is subtle and the dollar or so more you pay for the linen is well worth the amount of time you'll save with a lint roller trying to get all of the dust out of those flocked busts. I would also encourage you to opt for the free standing 3D busts as opposed to the flat ones with the picture frame back that pops out. Those will fall apart with enough use. The lifespan of 1 of these busts pictured is equal to about 2-3 of those picture frame style busts. They might be a bit lower cost up front, but in the long run you may end up paying more. 

Note that there is no table linen shown. I know instinct is to run out and buy something fabulous again, but if you're doing home parties you may not need it. I rarely use a table covering at home parties… I reserve that only for vendor events. If you do feel as though you need something, consider a turquoise flat sheet from WalMart. It's O2 blue (matches the color of the blue branded table cloth in our back office exactly) and retails for less than $10. Again, as you earn more, you can upgrade if you decide that you'd like to. 

If you're thinking about joining Origami Owl, consider joining Team Faith with me. You'll find oodles more business hints and tips on our team page. We are a close knit group of designers from all over the USA brought together by the wonder of technology, and we'd love to have you join us! 

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Anything Is Possible

Jerry Seinfeld's, "I'm Telling You For The Last Time" CD/DVD is one of my all time favorite things in life. Yes, I have both the CD and the DVD. It had to happen. If there was a book, I would have bought that, too. One of the many things he laughs about in this routine is the fear people have of public speaking. He says:

“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. 

Number two is death. 

Death….. is number two. 

Does that sound right? 

This means to the average person…  if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” 

Funny, right?! And for many… truth.

I've never really had a fear of being in front of a crowd. I participated in many church events with my youth group that required me speaking or reading in front of hundreds. I've been singing my whole life with solos at various church and Oshkosh Choraliers Community Choir functions, weddings, funerals, high school musicals… no problem. I've even delivered eulogies at the funerals of some of the most important people in my life. There is one situation that will bring me to my knees though, and that is to speak in front of a crowd about my boys. I can sing to you. I can talk to you about Jesus. Ask me to describe Henry's final days though or Jack's struggles, and odds are I'll be a basket case.

The great irony is that the more I talk about these things, the easier they slip out of my mouth. I will often share Henry's story at my Origami Owl Jewelry Bars when I am speaking about how I discovered the company and their products. Tears will burn at the corners of my eyes, but I can get by without bursting into the, "full on ugly cry" that Oprah sometimes talks about.

Oddly enough, I actually seek out opportunities to share our story. Some would say I am a glutton for punishment and that I should know better, but the truth is that despite the pain, there is healing. Healing is what moves us forward, and I relish the chance to share our progress. Since the day Henry died, my prayer to God has always been, "Lord, let this mean something. Let this death not be in vain. Let someone else find peace through me. Let me use this experience to help others in some way." The only way my story will ever help someone else is if I share it freely. This is the very logic that lead to me accept the invitation to speak at a large Children's Hospital of Wisconsin fundraising event that was held this weekend in Oshkosh.

The event was Thunder in the Park - an annual Classic Car Show and Motorcycle Show/Swap -  one of the largest fundraising events for Children's Hospital in the Fox River Valley. We received a call a week ago asking if we would consider coming out to speak both Saturday and Sunday and, despite already having plans for the weekend, we found a way to make it work. Darrin would take Jack on Saturday while I was away at an out of town Jewelry Bar and I would take Jack on Sunday while Darrin was honoring another commitment.

"Easy peasy lemon squeezy," as my friend Lorie once said.

We had no instruction on what to say, and I had nothing prepared. Those that know me best will know that is not unusual. I find that speaking from my heart is what works best for me, and if I try to write it out ahead of time, I over think it.

We arrived at 1pm as agreed upon and were told that the band would be taking a break shortly and then we'd have our turn. Minutes ticked by and the band kept playing. 15, 20, 30, 45 minutes later and we were still waiting. The longer I waited, the more doubts I began to have. By this time I had run into some familiar faces, which is never a good sign for the waterworks - the more familiar faces, the more emotional I am when I talk. I began to have second thoughts. I tried to talk Jack into leaving. It was hot, we were hungry, and they had no idea when we'd go on stage. Jack was having no part of that whole "leaving" idea though. He wanted to see Doug (the event coordinator who bought him a tee-shirt the day before when he and Darrin visited the event) again. He wanted to get on stage. He wanted to talk in the microphone.

Finally, the band took a break and we were able to take the stage with Rob and Louise (who are very gracious, by the way - love them) of Rob and Louise in the Morning on 99.5 NASH FM. Another little boy in a wheel chair was on stage with us, but he didn't want to speak.

Louise invited Jack over and Jack asked if he could talk to the crowd… Maybe 100-200 people within earshot. No fear of public speaking here, Seinfeld. I was proud of him for wanting to speak, but also apprehensive because at barely six years old you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. It could be nonsense. It could be painfully embarrassing. It could be magic.

Louise handed Jack the mic. He cleared his throat and in his sweet little boy voice said, "Just give me a second…" I still wasn't sure where he was going with this, but then he started to talk. He told the audience about how he visits Children's Hospital every four weeks. About how it hurts when he gets poked with the needle in his hand but that he lets them poke him anyhow. He said he was brave because "Anything is Possible."

Aaaand that is where I lost it. To hear this sweet child… this child who likely does not even remember life before Children's Hospital (his appointments started at 21 months of age)… talk so frankly about his pain and his optimism. I have never been so proud.

As a homeschooling mama who was very active in extra-curriculars, I sometimes mourn the fact that Jack will likely not sing the Star Spangled Banner at a basketball or football game. That he might not participate in solo-ensemble festivals, or have the chance to perform in musicals like his mama did. My mom loved those moments when I was on stage. The pride on her face was evident. I have quietly longed to experience the same someday, and today I did in the most unlikely venue... In a park filled with motorcycles and the men and women who ride and/or love them. I watched them wipe their tears while my son spoke. I even watched as some of those who were seated stood and gave him a standing ovation when he said, "Anything is Possible."

Cuteness Overload: He later asked me, "A standing ovation is way better than a sitting ovation… isn't it, mama?"

He continued to talk briefly about his experiences at the hospital, and about how his grandma, who was also wiping away tears, sends an infusion present with him every week. Then he closed by thanking everyone for being there. So much wisdom and experience in this little man that God has given us to care for and nurture. What an amazing blessing he is to us and so many others.

Such a short message, but so powerful. Anything is possible. Don't give up. It might be uncomfortable, but in the long run, it's worth it.

I do not think the world has heard the last from Jack. His mountain is waiting, and he will move it one day.

God bless,

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Origami Owl Landed In Puerto Rico!

Hola Puerto Rico! Have you heard the news? The fastest growing Social Sales business in the country is on the Island and ready to launch your dreams into reality. Have you ever thought about doing something on the side to learn a little extra income? Are you looking for a full time work from home opportunity that is filled with fun, friendship, personal growth, and amazing income earning potential? Maybe you just like all things that sparkle and want a little discount on your own purchases?

Whatever the case may be, I encourage you to take a closer look at Origami Owl. The products are gorgeous, and the opportunity is out of this world. I would love to speak with you more about the business opportunity and would also like to invite you to attend on of the informational meetings we have scheduled in your area this May. You have nothing to lose by attending!

Thursday, May 15, 2014:  Ponce, PR
Registration 6pm; Presentation 7-9pm
Address: 1150 Caribe Ave, Ponce, 00716, Puerto Rico

Saturday, May 17, 2014: San Juan, PR
Registration 10am; Presentation 11am-1pm; OR
Registration 3pm; Presentation 4-6pm
Address: 200 Convention Blvd, San Juan, PR 00907

Take a look at what Origami Owl has to offer. It could be just what you've been looking for. I can't even begin to tell you how blessed we are to have found this company. They have been a life saver for us in more ways than one as I continue to stay home with my son Jack and also earn a full time income with my business. 

If you just can't wait to get onboard, hop over to www.faith.origamiowl.com and click Join. Enter mentor ID #5321 and you'll be on your way! Hoot, hoot! 

Owlways and forever,

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Loving the Locket Life!

Origami Owl Living Lockets has come to the forefront of life here in Wisconsin. These days, I am a full time mentor and Executive Team Leader with the company and if I am being totally honest, I am loving every single minute of it.

If you remember, I joined Origami Owl in the early fall of October 2012. I had originally requested a catalog that summer with the intent to build and purchase a locket in memory of Henry, our oldest son who passed away in November 2009. As I started to write up my order, I realized that for only a little more money I could purchase a starter kit and maybe help other bereaved parents tell their stories through these amazing "scrapbooks you can wear." By October of 2012 I was active and booking parties left and right. 

Today I mentor a team of nearly 150 designers from coast to coast and still am very active in the field. I average about 6 Jewelry Bars (i.e. home parties) per month as well as 2-4 events. In November I topped out at 27 Jewelry Bars in one month. It was pure craziness. I didn't know if I was coming or going, but I knew I was enjoying it every step of the way and at the end of the day, and that's what matters most. I was helping people tell their stories, I was helping my family by earning extra income - for the first time in my life earning more in one month than my husband did, and I was having fun doing it. What more could I ask for? 

As I look forward to the rest of 2014, I very clearly see myself promoting to Director by year end. I have that goal set for myself by New Years Eve and am focused on it like a laser. I am also in talks with our local community college to start teaching a not-for-credit class on Network Marketing for other consultants from any company who are interested in learning more about this amazing field and how to make their businesses succeed. I love that I will be able to pay it forward in that way, among others. 

Origami Owl has given me so many things - some tangible and some not. In February of this year I was able to take my mom on a all expense paid trip for two to the Fiesta Americana Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico after earning the company's first incentive trip. We were able to celebrate her 60th birthday in a way that would have never been possible otherwise. She is already looking forward to our annual convention this year where the company will reveal the location of their next trip. Mom isn't going to convention - she just really wants to know what trip I might take her on next year... Love that lady! She makes me smile. 

Mom and I at the welcome dinner in Cabo San Lucas. 

Here we are with Origami Owl's CEO Robin Crossman. 

The gorgeous view from our suite.

In addition to the trip, I've grown so much personally and professionally. My background in business was an asset going into this endeavor, but the patience and perseverance have been tried and gained each step of the way. It isn't always easy being part of a brand new company. There are stepping stones and stumbling blocks, but each one is a learning experience and I take them for all I can get out of them. Each one boosting me to the next. Each a little easier to work through than the last. Each well worth any effort expended. 

If you have ever given a thought to joining a Network Marketing company and would like to experience the pure joy and positive energy that comes with being a member of the Origami Owl family, let's chat. I would love to welcome you to Team Faith. Drop me an email at sairabee at yahoo dot com or find me on Facebook {HERE} and let me know what questions you have. I would love to see you achieve your dreams just as I am achieving mine. 

God bless! 

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cinnamon French Toast Bake from Pillsbury

I originally pinned this to my {NOM NOM NOM - SWEETS} board on Pinterest a few months ago. There are so many things to pin on Pinterest, many of them fall by the wayside after the reach it to my board and never come to fruition, but I couldn't get this one off my mind. I've always been a sucker for cinnamon rolls - especially warm ones that are a little bit gooey. I had to try this. The kicker though, of course, is that pesky Weight Watchers plan I've been telling you about. This does not fit in. At all. I tried to calculate points but I swear to you when I entered all of the info and then submitted for a calculation, the response, "LOL" is all that came back. ;)

I decided to save it for a special occasion. Then it's ok, right? Well, no, probably not.... but I'm nothing if not realistic, and that realism tells me that eliminating indulgent sweets from my life entirely is not a path to success. It's a path to regrettable binge-fests. So I scheduled this baby for Easter breakfast and bought the calories... err... ingredients.

Fast forward to Easter morning, and it was as if God spoke to me saying, "Sarah, you do not need those calories. You will not make that dish!" No lie. I woke up with an excited little boy and sat down to watch him search for Easter eggs and felt my entire back compress like an accordion, one vertebra at a time. I was paralyzed. I was in excruciating pain and unable to move. Aside from wondering how the crap I was going to get better, my first thought really was that it was a message from God. No lie... this is how my brain works. I appreciate the help from above, but perhaps next time he could make it so that the Pillsbury Grands are out of stock before I get to the store rather than immobilize me? I'm just sayin'. 

I never did get the dish made on Easter. I didn't really get off the couch until Wednesday, actually. We ended up having this for supper last Friday night. Easter was over, but I had the ingredients on hand and had to use them up.

I don't think I have ever in my life put so many calories or grams of sugar in one baked dish, but I forged on. I'm not really a huge sweet eater, so I wasn't sure I would like it. I thought it would be too sweet. Like, sickeningly sweet. Cinnamon rolls plus butter plus 3/4 c. of syrup (!!) PLUS the icing that comes with the rolls? I was scared. 5 eggs seems like a lot, but they have a LOT of sugar to balance out. 

Fortunately, I was scared for no reason at all. This dish was deeeeeelish!! Sweet, yes. But overly sweet? Not really. No more so than any other coffee cake or cinnamon roll you might have tried.

The bake cuts nicely into squares, and we served it up with sausage links and fresh fruit on the side. (Note that we serve on small kid-sized plates these days. That's one way to make sure your portions don't get out of hand.) We had a ton of leftovers and it reheated well, although the first serving is always the best. This dish could also be made ahead of time and then popped in the oven when it's time.

1/4 cup melted butter

2 cans Pillsbury® Grands Cinnamon Rolls
5 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup maple syrup (I really think you could drop this to a 1/2 cup without effecting the flavor)

Melt butter and pour into ungreased 13×9" pan. Separate cans of dough into 5 rolls reserving the icing for later use.  Cut each roll into 8 pie shaped pieces and add to buttered baking dish.

Beat eggs in medium bowl. Add cream, cinnamon and vanilla and beat until well blended. Pour over cinnamon roll pieces.

Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle 3/4 cup syrup over the top. Bake at 375 for 20 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. I cooked mine for 20 mins and the center was VERY gooey. Too gooey. This cuts better and tastes better (even to someone who likes gooey rolls) if it is firm. I would recommend checking the center as it cooks and taking it out when the consistency at center matches that at the edges. Cool 15 minutes.

Remove the covers from the icing and microwave on medium or 50% power for 10 to 15 seconds. (Should be thin enough to drizzle.) Drizzle icing over the top. 

The recipe I pinned originally was found {HERE} on the aptly named Oh My Sugar High! site. They suggest sprinkling with powdered sugar and serving with syrup if desired. Not only did I not desire, I just don't think it's necessary. 

I think my husband gave the best compliment..... "We never have to go to Cinnabon again!"

Good thing, too, since the local one closed. We used to visit once a year to split a roll, and that's about how often this dish will make it into my rotation. It might be an Easter standby from now on. I mean, unless God has other plans.... 

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Weight Watchers Update

For those who missed my original post about my Weight Watchers journey, I joined (again, but after several years away) on February 16th, 2013 with a new determination to achieve the one thing in life I've ever wanted that has been seemingly unattainable: my goal weight.

I have struggled with obesity my entire life, though frankly I hate that word. Such negative connotations associated with it, but that's a post for a different day. This is probably my fourth time with Weight Watchers and my sixth or seventh "serious" attempt at weight loss. Every time I get going, I get thrown off by life events or long cold winters or really yummy breadsticks. It doesn't take much.... or at least it didn't. I've had a little epiphany in recent weeks though and I'm hoping it will help me stick to the program this time and reach my goal once and for all.

What I've realized is this:

1.) I really don't even enjoy the taste of most of the high calorie, high fat foods I eat.

2.) I am a stress eater.

They say knowing is half the battle, and I'm hoping that's true. If so, I'm halfway to success, right!? SO, now that I know these things... what do I do with that information? Well, for one I stop talking myself out of healthier options with words like, "but I don't like the taste of that." Because the God's honest truth is that I don't really think the taste of what I had been eating was that spectacular either. The fast food and delivery restaurants are convenient, but not nutritious and certain not gourmet. If time is tight I'd be just as content with a Weight Watchers/Healthy Choice/Lean Cuisine freezer meal, so why not choose that? And before you comment telling me all the reasons those aren't particularly healthy either... I KNOW. At this point they are winning the health argument because they are going head to head with things like stuffed crust meatlovers pizzas, cheesy bread, and ice cream. I'm considering the alternative. And, also, that's just an example. I actually don't eat that many freezer meals. Maybe three a month, if that.

The biggest factor in my weight loss success at this point has been portion control and tracking. I track everything. Every bite. If I'm not able to find point/calorie totals, I guess, and I always make sure to guess generously. I'd rather over-guess than under-guess.

I allow myself one evening of splurging (after weigh in... doesn't everyone?). If I'm craving anything with unreasonably high points, I save it for Thursday night. I count through the day up to weigh in time, but then I stop and let dinner and dessert be what they are and get back on track Friday morning. Oddly, the last two times I've allowed myself this free time on Thursday evening, I really haven't even enjoyed it. It might stop entirely or be reduced drastically in the coming weeks. We'll have to see.

I eat three meals a day and two snacks. My choices haven't always been the best... I'd like to do more clean eating... but I've come a LONG way and I always count whatever I'm putting in my mouth and so far, despite occasional Pop Tart and Eggo breakfasts, I've done well. Better than ever, actually. As of yesterday I'm down 18.8 lbs, and I'm pretty happy with that number. I could eat better. I could exercise more. I could try more healthy recipes. I could start some sort of squatting and tricep regimen so that my rump and arm flab dwindles proportionally to the rest of me (which sadly does not seem to be the case at the moment). Eventually I will find the time and/or willpower to do all of these things, but for now I am doing enough. Every day I do enough, and I always will.

No pressure.

Pressure equals stress, and stress equals bad choices in the food department.

Every week I update my weight loss story in one of my Origami Owl lockets. I love wearing it as a reminder of how far I have come, and particularly love the combo of this rose gold locket with the olive accent stones. I'm happy. I have faith I will continue on this journey. All is well.  :)

Would you like to start a weigh loss locket to tell your story? Or do you have a different story to tell?

Start your locket {here}.

Would you like to host a Take Out Party and collect orders from friends to earn your locket for free? Email me at sairabee at yahoo dot com to get started. You don't have to live near me to do this either. This is possible anywhere in the country! 

Would you like to join my team and help other people tell their story? There is a waitlist for new designers right now, but don't let that stop you. There was a waitlist when I signed up, too. It didn't slow me down at all. Email me at the address above and let's talk. I'd love to have you join me on this journey! 

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