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Sandra Valks: Beyond Boundaries- Learning to Trust Your Inner Voice

We’ve all heard the old myth of the frog that is dropped into boiling water – jumping out very quickly!  OUCH! And how the frog in the normal water, heated gradually, will become unconscious and eventually meet its death. Turns out that the frog didn’t die of being cooked, but rather became unconscious, delaying making a better decision, a right time to change course and jump out.

That was me – the frog that delayed making a life-changing decision …until it was made for me! Picture my normal life – my traditional life –  High school, teachers’ college, marriage, teaching, children, follow my husband in his career, set my own career and dreams aside.  Everyone else goes first.

Marriage was expected. I did it. Dutiful wife was expected. I did it. Society expected me to be prim and proper.  I did it – or so I thought-because otherwise, “What would people think?” Marriage was forever.  You made a promise.  “You made your bed, now you lie in it.” As the years unfolded, my fiery spirit started calling to me – calling me to something more.

Who was Sandra, I thought?  Surely there is more. No teaching jobs were available – a time of more teachers than classrooms! Businesses would say I was just a teacher, and couldn’t make business decisions. What was I to do? The children were 10 and 12 years old, I was now waitressing for five years. 

Time was passing me by. I enrolled back into high school to rebuild my confidence and thus began my winding journey of self-discovery. Against my husband’s wishes, I was recruited to sell life insurance.  He was adamant that “there were only 3 people no one wanted knocking on their door:  Religious fanatics, vacuum salesmen and insurance salesmen!”

Besides, “people will die and you won’t be able to handle it. Then what will you do? ”I was equally adamant that I was going to try.  I determined that if I made it 6 months, I’d go for a year, and if I made it to a year, I’d go for two… and if I made it two, I’d go for 5.

Here’s a word of caution regarding goals:  When I had made it to 5, I had forgotten to say I’d make it to 10. It seemed I was pretty exhausted, running so hard and pushing myself to succeed.  That 5th year was a downer!

 Well?  Sandra being Sandra, I shortly thereafter, sucked it up and went back to work, thriving within the business.  I made MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) 5 years in my first 9 years in the business.  Now there are only about 3-4% of life insurance who qualify for MDRT.  It’s a high benchmark. Even as I attended my first MDRT Conference – treating the entire family to the trip to Disney World where the conference was being held, I knew in my heart, I didn’t deserve it.  

It wasn’t enough.

All these big wheels here, making such successes and I was still the little farm girl, the young woman stepping out where she wasn’t supposed to be, pretending to really be somebody! Business competitions came around twice a year, and I struggled to land enough sales on demand.  Others would ‘save their applications up’ in advance of the competition so that they could drop them in and be stars.  I’d choose to put my applications in as I got them, fearful that holding them could be a big problem if someone actually died or developed some ailment and I hadn’t sent their paperwork through!  My integrity and personal ethics dictated to me “Put the business in now, Sandra.  Just put it in.”

group of people sitting beside rectangular wooden table with laptops

 Couple this competitive business in a man’s world – there were very few women in life insurance sales – with a flurry of night time appointments.  I drove out to people’s homes after their dinners.  Mine was a ‘common family market’ because I didn’t feel professional enough, smart enough, worthy enough to talk to business owners and affluent people.

I scheduled in family time.  I committed to myself, that just because I was chasing my dream to be something more, that my children and family duties would not suffer.  I became Super Woman, Super Wife, Super Mom. I qualified for conferences that I didn’t belong at. I paid for wonderful family trips that we all enjoyed – and I wondered when it would all come crashing down because I was found lacking. 

We regularly spent summer weekends at our camping trailer.  I very seldom would miss a weekend, maybe never.  I’d arrive there on Friday evening where the family was already settled in.  I would have already planned the weekend food. I tried so hard to do it all, and to do it all ‘right’ – whatever ‘right’ would be.  It was exhausting!

group of people near bonfire near trees during nighttime

Naturally, not being always at the beck and call of my family, no matter how hard I tried, tensions built. In hindsight, I know now that I had become a workaholic to run away from an unhappy relationship. I knew I wanted more fulfilment in my life and I knew I was expected to go make money and then come home and be the normal little wife and mother.  Conflicted was my new word I coined for it.  “No, no, says the therapist – that’s not a real word!”  Well to me, it was very real.  I was feeling VERY conflicted. There was a huge pull tearing me apart to know that there was more to life – and I wanted it and I couldn’t have it! 

In reflecting back upon it, I started realising that as a child, I had absorbed the unspoken burdens and expectations carried by my parents and their ancestors. The weight of duty, resilience, and the necessity to work hard, keep secrets, give freely, be humble, don’t brag, don’t show pride.  All of this shaped me from an early age. No wonder, as I consider it now, that I had full-blown Impostor Syndrome!

How could it be any other way? My parents married in the Great Depression and raised my siblings and I like we were still in the Depression! Why on earth wouldn’t I be caught in this painful state?  It was welded deeply into my Beliefs I developed, deep into my core. The tension became too much.  My unhappiness became too heavy.  My yearning for something more became too great – and seeing no way out, this Super Woman crashed into the depths all the way to clinical depression. 

My relationship at home was strained to breaking. Even though I tried so hard, I did EVERYTHING I could think of…I wanted us to go to marriage counselling but no, it was me – I had the problem.  I went to counselling.  Divorce was not a word that had even been considered, until I could go no further.  Deep pain – Wrenching failure. – I was emotionally and mentally broken – my hands empty – tears erupting from deep in the earth and up through my toes to flow out my eyes. 

I had remained so strong with my stiff upper lip because I knew if I ever started to cry, I’d not ever be able to stop.  And it was true – I cried for three years – keeping control of myself until I would be by myself once again. Slowly, ever so slowly, I came back to life.  Years of amazing programs and group work pulled me out of my misdirected child’s core beliefs, one by one, peeling and peeling away until I could see myself opening like a butterfly.

a table topped with a cake covered in daisies

Unbelievable!  That slow opening of light and life – that journey to BEING ME – NOT someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s whatever – but ME in all my aspects, in all my beautiful possibilities!

While my childhood was filled with simple joys and a strong sense of community, there were subtle and not-so-subtle messages that seeped deeply into my consciousness. The need to conform, to fit into predefined roles, and to suppress certain aspects of my true self became ingrained. I felt the pressure to live up to the expectations of others, to be what I believed they wanted me to be.

It was time.  It was time now, to step into a new freedom to be who I was meant to be. Slowly, over the decades, I discovered the tough reality of my Straight Talk. As I began to grow in my communication skills, to listen, to encourage others, to guide and coach and cajole others into their own confidence, I was recognized first by others and later by myself, that I always strive to be empathetic and compassionate in my approach.

I still love hard.  I still try hard.  I’m learning to relax and celebrate this Crone’s role of Coach Sandra – Compassionate Queen of Straight Talk with all the value it brings from my life of enormous lived experiences. Even here, in my 7th decade, I’m learning to ask for what I need and learning to accept what is offered.  The way ahead still means that I get to ‘grow so I can glow’!

 My life has been rich.I embrace it even as I struggle to let go of beliefs that no longer serve me. I’m grateful for friends and mentors who will not let me rest without reaching my potential. Today I can say proudly, “I AM a seasoned professional and I have earned my freedom and unapologetic self-expression through a lifetime of diverse lived experiences.”

I truly have merged all my life experiences into this holistic overview. Imagine a world of adventure, travel and curiosity!  Laughter and play changing mindsets! Imagine blending a lifetime on stage with 40 years financial planning and 30 years communications training! I KNOW the power of words.  I KNOW the power of reframing.  I KNOW the power of choosing my LIFE! I have merged these worlds seamlessly to create my unique path.

I am called to empower others in becoming effective communicators and to guide them through the complexities AND simplicities of emotional AND financial well-being. Yes, I’m still unravelling the edges of Impostor Syndrome, still flexing my mindfulness and mind awareness using Mental Fitness.

“On the surface, I look like a grand success! Sometimes I even FEEL like a grand success! But the truth is, that much of the time, I feel like I’m swimming and floating around in this huge space, wondering which thread I should latch onto, in order to find my way to some harbour where I can tie myself and BE.”

And the next thing that happens, once I’ve had that little rest?  I wonder where I can be off to next!  What lies just around that bend in the road ahead?  Curious and excited, ready to rise again!  and off I go! 

I have truly been blessed that I have been fueled by compassion and have tested the power of resilience while navigating the complex landscape of self-expression.  Courage has been, for me, the decision to confront the shadows that occasionally clouded my path, one challenge at a time.  It has been the excitement and anxiety blend to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ that has added such variety and fulfilment to my life.

It is my hope that my story will serve as a testament to the resilience and unwavering spirit that can thrive even in the most challenging of times. Despite all of your internal struggles, remain steadfast in your commitment to embrace YOUR true self and share YOUR authentic voice with the world.

About Sandra Valks

Sandra Valks is a seasoned professional who has earned her freedom and unapologetic self-expression through a lifetime of diverse lived experiences. With a background in Finance and a passion for all things Communication and Toastmasters, she has merged these worlds seamlessly to create a unique path in her 7th decade of life.

As a Communication Specialist, Sandra embraces her calling to empower others in becoming effective communicators and guides them through the complexities of both financial matters and emotional well-being. Drawing from her extensive knowledge in Finance and her natural ability to connect with people, she excels in unpacking the intricacies of money management while nurturing personal growth.

Sandra Valks is a seasoned professional who has earned her freedom and unapologetic self-expression through a lifetime of diverse lived experiences. With a background in Finance and a passion for all things Communication and Toastmasters, she has merged these worlds seamlessly to create a unique path in her 7th decade of life.

Sandra’s wealth of knowledge, coupled with her genuine care for her clients’ growth, makes her a trusted partner in their pursuit of a flourishing life. Embrace the opportunity to work with Sandra Valks, and discover the power of effective communication as a catalyst for personal and financial success.

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brown leaves on pathway during daytime
Sandra Valks
Sandra Valks

A remarkable Communication Specialist, Sandra embraces her calling to empower others in becoming effective communicators and guides them through the complexities of both financial matters and emotional well-being. Drawing from her extensive knowledge in Finance and her natural ability to connect with people, she excels in unpacking the intricacies of money management while nurturing personal growth.

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