Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Interview in my Underwear

I've mentioned before that I have four sisters; each amazingly talented, beautiful and creative. My sister Mary is no exception. She has often inspired me with her willingness to grow and learn as a human being, her level of creativity and enthusiasm (astounding, really), and her writing ability. That's why, when she told me a particular story a few days ago, I invited her to be be a "Guest Blogger." You'll soon understand why... I had an important job interview the other evening; I'm a Realtor, and the people I was meeting with had interviewed three other agents and were deciding who to choose to help them market their home. They had had it on the market with another agent and wanted some answers as to why their home had not sold. After finishing my detailed marketing presentation, I was ready to answer the list of questions they had prepared for me. I watched as they reacted to my answers not verbally, but with body language that told me I was earning their trust. With arms now unfolded and leaning in towards me, she posed the final question: "Why do you think we should hire you for the job?"

I responded with an assessment of my superior experience and knowledge of the market. Before I left, I also gave them a list of client testimonials for them to review, filled with words of praise that I hoped would reassure them that I was the right choice.

On the way home, I thought about my answer to their last question and chastised myself for not making my response more personal. Alone in the car, I voiced a response that I felt was true and would convey my work ethic with more enthusiasm: "My clients who have worked with other Realtors tell me no one has worked as hard for them as I have and that I have shown them that I care personally about their needs."

The next morning, my interview was still fresh on my mind as I prepared for the day's activities (open houses, appointments, etc.) and tried to focus on my goals for the coming week. I reminded myself of a commitment I had made at my Friday Weight Watchers meeting. We had all agreed to acknowledge our own strengths and do something to use them to further our weight loss goals. I should find an opportunity today, I thought. As I stood unpretentiously in my underwear in front of a mirror, I knew I needed to make some kind of commitment to myself.

In a sudden flash of keen awareness (Oprah's "Aha" moment) and a touch of dejavu, I realized the opportunity was literally right in front of my eyes....a job interview with myself!!

As I stared at my reflection in the mirror, I looked deeply into the eyes of my "client," the person I was accountable to and responsible for. Looking back at me were deep brown eyes searching for answers, for some kind of reassurance, and commitment to the task at hand. I continued to stare, long enough to achieve that sort of "out of body" feeling, to more objectively assess what was in front of me.

A more perfect "Before" picture, I have never seen, as I looked out-of-shape, rather serious, and a bit lost. (I, too, wanted some answers!)

I slipped easily into third-person mode, and without averting my gaze, told my reflection that I was the person taking charge of this project; that there would be no interviewing other people for the job; that I was the only one who could help, the only one who could give her what she needed. I assured her (hereafter referred to as "Eileen") that while I was her only choice, I was also the person who knew her best and loved her most.

These words reminded me of an experience I had shortly after my father's death. He came to me and reminded me how I had once told him not to be so hard on himself. He then asked me to heed that same advice when I needed it. We also talked about God's love for us and of the precious gift of forgiveness our family had given him shortly before he passed away. I knew I had to accept that same gift of forgiveness for myself before I could wage this weight battle for the final time. I forgave myself for past failures and for putting others' needs before my own too often.

The eyes that stared back at me now were flowing with tears, and my promise continued, with more conviction. A part of me (still making the comparison between this chat with myself and my job interview) suddenly saw the ridiculous aspect of the "resume" I was presenting:

"Yes, I have been a bit busy for over fifty years...helping everyone else on the planet, and getting rave reviews!! I was simply too busy to pay much attention to you, but here I am now!"

This is where the giggling started, which soon erupted into uncontrollable laughter, as I imagined such a lame excuse being offered by anyone, much less someone expecting to be hired for an important job.

I recited my pathetic resume again and again, laughing harder every time. By now, the odd sounds of my out-of-control laughter had attracted the attention of my dog, Homer, who had assumed the "What the heck is going on here?" look, cocking his head and looking bewildered. This, of course, heightened the hilarity of the moment. (Poor Homer; he is very sensitive, and I may have traumatized him.)

It was, indeed, a very powerful experience, as I gathered my composure to make one last promise to "Eileen." "Yes, I really do mean it when I tell my clients that I will work hard to help them reach their goals, and I put my heart and soul into those efforts. I am promising you now that I will take charge of this weight battle for you...because you deserve it!"

A long pause ensued as I let the words sink in and looked to see if she trusted me....She did!

I can't wait til my Friday Weight Watchers meeting, when our energetic leader, Sue, will enthusiastically praise me for meeting my "First 10 Pounds Off" goal. I will have to modify my preplanned response for her when she asks me how I did it. Instead of saying, "I owe it all to determination," I will now say, "I owe it all to determination and a new found personal commitment; the kind that is powerful and lasting...The kind that gets the job done!"

And I will highly recommend an "Underwear Interview" to all of my fellow weight watchers; it's the most important job you'll ever apply for!

Mary Eileen


  1. I think many of us don't give ourselves the best we can because we're too busy worrying about how to take care of everyone else.

    This was a great post!

  2. Barb, I am honored to be a guest writer on your awesome site.
    The fact that I have gone public with my story has made my commitment even stronger.
    I was even bold enough to take some "before" bathroom mirror photos for my future book!!
    Thanks again!
    Love, Mary Eileen

  3. Dear Mary Eileen: What an incredibly uplifting post this was. I too am struggling with some pounds I need to shed. Thank you for having such courage and also for inspiring me to continue my quest for a lighter body frame. You are an inspiration.


  4. As always, I believe that the two best writers in the family are Mary and Barb! I come in 3rd behind them- ha ha. :) As the older wiser sister (only by God's design and grace!) not to mention my own awesome 5 year experience of WW membership and being a WW leader, I applaud Mary and welcome her to the exhilarating journey! I always hated science, but to me it felt like the greatest experiment, and it still continues to this day. Put on your blinders and go for it, striving for excellence in all things. I still can't believe that most of the time I am a healthy person, but I act as if I am. :) I used to serve Bart Starr's wife Cherry in the produce section of Sentry grocery store in 1974, and thought that only beautiful rich people ate healthy food, but I found out otherwise! Now, checkers sometimes remark about the contents of my cart. Amazing... Mary's story is already affecting people I know, and I will be sharing parts of it in my meetings this week and maybe later. Thanks for the inspiration, and keep on becoming your best self!

  5. Too often, we use our talents for others but forget to save some for ourselves. I once had an epiphany of my own when I realized that I have incredible skills keeping a number of emotionally disturbed, behavior disordered kids disciplined but could not discipline my own "Inner EBD child." While in the past, I had always given her what she wanted (extra dessert, large fries, candy, candy, candy), I finally said, "ENOUGH!" Now, when she begs for something or demands it, I simply tell her "No. That's enough! Now stop it." And she does, most of the time. I think it all boils down to making the decision and keeping it in your conscious thoughts. Thanks, Mary, for reminding me to use my talents for me, too!

  6. Great post. Thanks for sharing your self interview.

  7. Very nice Mary! Thanks for sharing your inner self Eileen. One line in your story said "I was also the person who knew her best and loved her most" I believe that there are alot of people in your life who would argue with you and say THEY love you the most.
    I found Geris comments funny because I too served Sherry Starr quite a bit but it was at Hardees not the produce department:)

  8. Self love. What a concept!
    I so identify with this wonderful post.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration to take a good honest look at how much I owe it to myself to lose some much needed weight.

  9. Mary, I admire you so much for being so true to yourself and for your determination. Thank you for sharing your interview and the inspiration to look deeper in to the reflection in the mirror.

  10. Of course this on the surface was about weight loss but really it could apply to many challenges. This sounds like a good technique of checking in with yourself. Another one I read about was to write yourself a letter but it is written to a younger self. For example what would you tell your teenage self now. thanks

  11. Great post and very inspiring! I too suffer from the "being too hard on yourself" syndrome.

    In the picture you showed, you looked beautiful to me!

  12. Thank you Mary for reminding us all that we need to love ourselves first.
    What an emotional and inspirational post!

  13. From my beautiful niece (edited for privacy):

    Wow, I am constantly amazed by this family, I'm so proud to be a [insert our family name here]! That was wonderfully worded Aunt Mary, with a message. Love you! :) Lauren Rose


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