Why I was embarrassed to share what I did….

Holy shit balls batman! I just told everyone that I was embarrassed to tell people what I did! By “did” I mean, what I do for a living; how I make money. (aka: that thing I do every single day that gets the green that pays the bills) You know, that thing I say I LOVE! *slap my face *

Photo: Brooke Cagle

What the hell am I doing? I am proving a damn point. Let’s get to it!

It is so refreshing to finally be free of the embarrassment and now I am on a mission! What the hell happened? Let me paint the picture: I was in Phoenix, AZ in a room full of business professionals from ALL walks of life; and when I say ALL, I mean ALL! SO MANY interesting and incredible people in one place at one time, all wanting the same thing. There were 2,000 people (give or take) and our goals collectively were to up level not only our businesses but our personal lives as well. (and boy was I in for something I have never experienced before!)

Brendon Burchard on the stage greeting the room full of entrepreneurs had just instructed all of us to get in groups of 5 and share a few things.

  1. Who are you? Where are you from? and What do you do?
  2. What are you most grateful for in your life right now?
  3. What needs to change in your life and how will you go about it?
  4. Name 2 things you do that keep you at your best.

The one little thing about those four requests that caused me the most anxiety was “What do you do?” I was going to have to tell these strangers what I did and suddenly I was terrified! Wow! this was new! You see, my experience was that typically I watch (even my closest friends) roll their eyes at me or turn away only because if they made eye contact with me I just might ask them to sample my product, buy my product or *gasp* “join my team”. At this VERY moment (remember this is the first day of a 4 day training, just hours in) and I had my biggest “AHA” moment of the entire weekend! Can you imagine that?!

What the hell was wrong with me? I almost walked out, literally. No lie. As a matter of fact, the first three times Brendon asked us to do this I wanted to run for the door to leave; this first time though, I wanted to vomit. I didn’t, I cried instead. Here is the real kicker – not one person rolled their eyes at me – not one person turned their face away from me – and all the people I spoke with the entire weekend were more than supportive. I mention this because my fears and anxieties were my own, not theirs and my embarrassment was my own bull shit story about direct sales and what people thought about it.

Ok, so now I have to get down to the nitty gritty and decide whether or not I can handle this kind of embarrassment for the rest of my life, get over it or if I was going to make a change and do something about it? I felt like I had two choices:

  1. I could change what I was doing for a living or
  2. I could change the way people think about the industry

Both of these options seem big and scary and a huge undertaking. First off, embarrassment or not, I LOVE what I do and second, I WASN’T THE PROBLEM. The Direct Sales industry in general gets a bad wrap because of how a small portion market their business. Why am I holding onto the embarrassment for them? They should be the ones to hold onto that burden.

Just in case you live under a rock, you never check your messenger app or Facebook just isn’t your jam what I am referring to is the influx of Direct Sales vultures on social media that send you a friend request and as soon as you accept, they send your head spinning by adding you to their group (where they sell their goods). In addition to delivering a message in messenger (longer than your arm) chatting you up immediately about their product and how much you really need it and if you are really fucking lucky you get a notification that they have invited you to like their business page too (yay you!) *insert all the sarcasm*

This type of “marketing” has got to stop. Am I right? (the answer is a big fat Yes!!!) so, What am I prepared to do?

Watch this space for my mission and my tidbits and expertise on how I grow my own business. Truth bomb? Now that I am back from my High Performance Academy training, I am on fire and ready to make an even bigger impact and thrive personally and professionally.

Click on the button to subscribe to this blog and feel free to share the love, comment or blast my message too!

Move over rover. Watch out world. Hold on tight. I own my dream!

Peace, Love and Cheers!


P.S. Let me answer the questions mentioned above: (they really weren’t that scary in retrospect)

  1. Who are you? Where are you from? and What do you do? I am Mara. Wife. Mother. Friend and most importantly a Business Owner. I am from St. Louis, MO but currently reside in Illinois. I love the word Fuck (and cussing in general), theater, travel and enjoying a cocktail in a quiet pub with friends is my perfect evening. I am in Direct Sales. I run a dry nail polish business (proudly!) You can earn more about me and the product at nailingyourlife.com
  2. What are you most grateful for in your life right now? I am most grateful for the support I get from my husband (he is my rock when I let him be) and my friend Louise Cartwright for getting me to HPA. (This event was life changing!) Louise has always believed in me and my time working with her as my coach and now as my friend are my fondest moments. You know, I just needed to believe in myself, trust in myself and do the work to get over myself.
  3. What needs to change in your life and how will you go about it? So many changes but I will start with losing the embarrassment I have for my industry; being proud of my own accomplishments and then move forward from there developing my skills, forever learning and enjoying the journey along the way.
  4. Name 2 things you do that keep you at your best? I have been waking up at 5AM daily on working days since September and it has 100% change the way my days flow. Secondly, I read and I have a goal to read a book a week. This can be a challenge for me but one I am prepared to take on (I plan to share my current reading list very soon in a future blog but if you want to see what I have read in the past and enjoyed, I got you covered. Check out my 2018 list here. ) I would like to add that hiring a coach to help and learning how to quiet my mind through meditation along with always and I mean always looking for the good in everything keeps me at my best!

What does the color red, a lounge and shoes have in common?

I can’t even start to write before I giggle at the title of this piece. It is a trick question, 100% .

Let’s break it down though:

  • The color red by definition means: ” Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passiondesire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. “
  • The definition of a lounge is: an area in “a public place such as a hotel, airport or club, where you can sit, wait and relax”. (this is the kind of place you want to go to, hang out with your girls surrounded by comfort while sipping a coffee, tea or cocktail)
  • I am not even getting into the definition of a shoe but lets choose a RED SHOE and with a quick google search, you will find the energy behind wearing a red shoe. It’s is fun, flirty, powerful and radiant! I can quote and share with you the long list of finds for the meaning behind wearing a red shoe but I will save you the links and leave it to your curiosity. Feel free to share with me the feelings that wearing red shoes conjures up for you.

Alas, what do all 3 have in common? I teamed up with a dear friend Louise Cartwright to bring you a real and potentially very raw and transparent podcast, fondly called the Red Shoe Lounge. This podcast is for women. Women over the age of 40 will relate the best but the podcast can benefit women of all ages.

The list of subjects we plan to talk about could go on for days. (our podcast idea list is long!) . During our Facebook live announcing the podcast launch some quotes to share describing the podcast are:

  • creating your best life
  • going back to where we were really born to be… the expansive, the excited
  • the space where you are your best person, living your richest life with the most amazing people
  • find inspiration to make the changes you need to make to live your best life
  • we offer conversations that explore, excite and inquire
  • it’s about what is going on on a soulful level
  • all the things; sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (the things your kids don’t want you to share)

Our first podcast starts with how to create your best life; creating the life you want based on how you feel; your feelings create the life you want. Sounds all very woo-woo but it’s not all about that (although, I am a woo-woo advocate) you will have to listen and decide for yourself if it’s a podcast for you.

Louise and I are transparent, vulnerable and offer an open book into our lives and experiences. We share our own confessions and how we have personally overcome obstacles along the way. We keep it real by letting you know it’s not always easy, there can be huge challenges; however if you are ready to live your best life, now is the time.

You can find us at www.redshoelounge.com  Take a moment to look around, subscribe to get updates and listen to a podcast (or two or ten) 😉

Follow us on Facebook and YouTube and stay tuned to more updates!

Peace, Love & Cheers!


My 2018 Reads

Photo credit: Nong Vang

I am not an avid reader. I used to read a shit ton more and for years I only listened to books. These were the years of sleepless nights with young children and the strong desire to nap versus doing anything else. I listened to books in the car mostly via my CD player and I was a regular at the library checking out weeks worth at a time for my listening pleasure. A good murder mystery was always my jam! I still love a good “who done it” and the twists and turns that come with the suspense of it all.

2018 was the year that more than ever I dove into personal development, reading more about the betterment of my own life. I sprinkled in a novel or two to mix things up and I was reading more real books versus listening to them. (Audible is my listening pleasure now, putting up the CD’s and visiting the local library less)

Here are a few of my favorites of 2018:

1.You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero – Reading the Badass books felt like reading a self help book from a best friend. It helps that she drops the f-bomb a few times and is not shy about a good cuss word. Jen Sincero is vulnerable and real; achieving her level of success all the time opening up, embracing her true self and being real, this inspired me to do the same. Jen’s second book, the one mentioned above was my favorite of the two I have read.

Jen Sincero and Mara Graff

2. The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Schinn – I have owned this book for several years, have read it more than I can count and have gifted it just as many if not more but 2018 was the year the words really sunk in and made an impact in my life.

“I have noticed, in “casting the burden,” after a little while, one seems to see clearly. It is impossible to have clear vision, while in the throes of carnal mind. Doubts and fear poison the mind and body and imagination runs riot, attracting disaster and disease.” ~ Florence Scovel Schinn

3. The Champagne Diet by Cara Alwill Leyba – I read this book the first time I traveled on my own. It was not in 2018 but it did have an impact on me as one of the first books to influence my team name and my mindset around personal development and my health.
4. The Law of Attraction by Michael Losier – You can not even discuss the idea of changing your life without changing your mindset: Enter The Law of Attraction
5. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – this young woman revolutionized real talk next to my girl Jen Sincero. I love how real and raw Rachel Hollis is as well, she could be my sister from another mister.
6. Get Rich Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas – I can’t tell you how long this book sat in my Amazon shopping cart, month after month. I took it as a sign to finally read it when it showed up in my Sparkle Hustle Grow box. My biggest lesson from this read is about forgiveness.
8. The Dip by Seth Godin – teaching me when to quit. Literally. It’s a small yet mighty book. Don’t let the size fool you, the hour or two you take to read it will be time well spent.
9. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins – 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. READ IT. Get off your bum, run to buy it and READ IT. This book changed my perception of my own life. I listened to this book on a road trip (thank you Audible) and quickly bought the hard copy to keep on hand.
10. The Miracle Morning by Hal Enrod – This guys morning routine is one reason why he is a huge success. I don’t follow his routine to the letter but I have developed a morning routine that works for me based off of this book. How you start your day WILL effect your entire day and your life. Trust me on this one.

That leads me to a sneak peek of what I am currently reading and how this addition to my library is locking in my habits and helping with all of my routines. I am currently reading High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.

I can not tell a lie; the first time I started to read this book I hated it, like I wanted to throw it out the window. Who were these nuts that raved about this book? To me, it reads like a text book and I am not prepared to go back to school! There was so much hype about the book that I had to give it another go so let me tell ya how I am making it through: I listen to it while reading it! It has been a game changer! I actually love hearing Brendon’s voice while I follow along (highlighter in hand).  I still read it in snippets, it’s not the kind of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat (read #1 and #5 above for that – I couldn’t put either down) but it is a book I am thoroughly enjoying and learning from. Our daily habits and the tasks we create to achieve our goals are key to our excellence.

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”   ~ Aristotle

This is one of many books that is influencing how my 2019 is starting, along with the ten I already shared. Stay tuned to this space and follow my blog to find out what my 2019 reading list looks like!

Peace, Love & Cheers!


So, what are the rules?

About a year ago, I made a decision that scared the bejeezus out of me and altered the trajectory of my life. I made a few rules that I decided to live by; fondly labeled: My Graffiti Rules

Let me add a bit more clarity before I share this set of rules.  My last name is Graff and these are the rules I live by and graffiti by definition means “writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place”.  These rules, like graffiti is shared publicly, in all its unorganized glory in an organized kind of way.  It’s expressive and purely subjective.

So, what are the rules?

  1. First and foremost you have to throw a big middle finger at society and the rules that society has set for us. Those particular rules include but are not limited to; how you should look, feel, dress, act… etc.  (In other words don’t turn into a rude ass but try being yourself for once instead of like everyone else)
  2. Since I already mentioned the middle finger that leads me to the next rule; Embrace a good cuss word or 2 or 3 or 10.  My favorite happens to be FUCK.  It might be considered the most vulgar to some and the least favorite cuss word in general, (as a side note: if you are not a cusser and/or you don’t like cussing, then I might not be your cup of tea and you might want to move on) I happen to love this word as an expletive.  Some examples are: Fuck yeah! Fuckin‘ aye! and I am so fucking excited!  You get the point, right?! You will rarely hear me utter: Fuck you or Fuck off and if I do you had better listen and move away from me quickly because that is some kind of mad that is indescribable. Enough said. Fuck is my favorite cuss word of choice.  Do you have one?
  3. Start a routine. A morning routine, an evening routine – any routine at all, just get one. I started my obsession with getting a routine after I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Enrod.  I became obsessed with getting my day off to the right start.  Full disclosure; I do not follow the plan in this book exactly as described but it catapulted me into the world of structure and how it truly works.  The two other books that spout the benefits of a routine and are well worth the reads are The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.
  4. Meditate. Often. Add it to your schedule and make it something that is non-negotiable.  I can almost hear you now.  As soon as you read that you said one of three things:  A.I already meditate ” (good for you!) B.I don’t have time to meditate “, I offer you this quote by Dr. Sukhraj S. Dhillon:

    “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”

    and C.I don’t know HOW to meditate“.  I was an expert at B and C for many years using them both as an excuse to not ever get started.  I am not an expert so “teaching” you how to mediate is not going to be my strong suit but I can share with you the first meditation I was able to sit through.  If you haven’t heard of Bob Proctor, well – you have now! click this –>> link <<–to my first, favorite and indeed a tried and true meditation. After you try it out for yourself, let me know what you think! (and trust me, it gets easier and you will WANT to meditate)

  5. Spend time with your dog.  If you aren’t a dog person, make it your cat. No animals to love and cuddle at all???  (hey, you might consider getting one) but if that is completely out of the question, no worries – there are plenty of animal videos to watch.  (You will have to google those on your own. Youtube and Facebook are great starts! and you won’t be able to watch one without laughing, crying or feeling an intense amount of love)  Why do I think this is important? My dog gives me unconditional love.  No matter what kind of day I am having my dog will hug me, lick me and do anything for me.  In my opinion, dogs in particular, will do anything to make us happy.  We could all use more happy.
  6. Read a book. I LOVE to read and yet I spent years not doing it? Why? Simply put, I didn’t take the time.  When you get to #8 you will understand this more but for now let’s discuss reading.  I read several books at once.  Sounds like it could potentially get confusing and I thought so too at first but let me explain.  I am ALWAYS reading and re-reading a personal development book.  I read this kind of book every single morning as part of my routine. (see rule #3) I highlight and underline things I want to go back and read later for reference and I do it over and over again with my favorite books. (My Favorite Books sounds like the next blog…for now, let’s go with whatever personal development book I am into at the moment as Book #1).  I am in a book club, we meet weekly and read a book aloud together.  This is also, to date,  a personal development book. This is a new concept to me and something we just started and I am liking it! (book club book is book #2) and the other kind of book I recommend reading is a novel – any kind.  I am personally drawn to a good murder mystery, loving a good “who done it”.  The entire time I spend reading is me trying to figure out who the guilty party is.  Therefore, yes, you guessed it (that is book #3)- I am always reading at least 3 books, at one time.  Not only are you learning while you read, it also keeps your brain in top notch mode.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands of articles on why reading is important, you get the gist. Read more. I found this blog with a simple google search on 10 Reasons why reading is so important. Your brain will thank me later.golden cup and basket with booksPhoto by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com
  7. Take a course and always be in at least one. All of the time. Invest in yourself. If you have a business, invest in that too.  The kind of course I am talking about is the kind that costs money.  Like even scary money sometimes.  It’s an investment, in yourself.  The best courses I have taken are the ones that cost more but the return in investment has been life changing.  I am by no means advocating going into debt and doing something that you can’t afford but consider that if you take a course or start a coaching program and actually show up to do the work, that course will pay you back; usually its tenfold. I will be sharing my personal coach, courses and experiences in days to come.
  8. Work less. You read that right.  Work less. I found myself working and working and working…..seriously though – probably 50-60 hours a week with little to no growth. We are taught to “work hard” to “earn more“; but at what expense?  I feel a shift in the workforce as of recent where more of us are learning how to be more productive during a work day so that we can play more.  That means getting a routine (and there is rule #3 again) into place to get more done in a day;  therefore in the end you can indeed “play more“.
  9. Do something that scares you. I am not the first person to come up with this. You have read the quotes about stepping outside of your comfort zone? One of my favorites is: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows thereComfort Zone Quotes - A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nI am going to go out on a limb and say that you should probably do something that scares you daily.  Don’t freak out, you gasped, I heard it. Start small.  The twinge of fear that you get when you think of something you might want to do but the first thing you say is “I couldn’t possibly“…yep, you know it; no matter how big or small – take that first step and do it anyway.  (I have the perfect example… this blog)
  10. Find JOY.  I can’t express this enough. I want to shout it to the rooftops, over and over again! This sounds cliche but its true!!! When you find Joy in EVERYTHING, then EVERYTHING finds JOY.  I give great thanks to the before mentioned author Brendon Burchard for the simplest of advice.  Set a reminder several times a day to ask yourself how much joy is in your day.  I have 3: the 1st reminder is at 10:00am (this is when I typically start my work day) “Are you bringing joy today, Mara? and How can you show up better?”  My 2nd is at 2:00pm and reads “How can you bring more joy into the rest of your day?” and the 3rd and final Joy reminder at 6:00pm exclaims “STOP! Are you being joyful?!”  My goal is to live every single moment of my life with joy and gratitude; it breeds more of the same.

There you have it! My 10 rules. Live it. Breathe it. Love your life.

I hope that you enjoyed my very first Graffiti Rules blog. Those rules aren’t so scary… it’s the sharing part, that’s scary.  Make sure you subscribe to get updates, comment below what you thought and share the love.  A good share will definitely bring me JOY!