So, you want to sell something online?

I’ve been waist-deep in the adventure of selling items on Belize Buy and Sell in the last few months, so I can tell you a few things about people who shop there:

  • When someone really wants an item, you will know. They message or call immediately, make arrangements for payment at once, jump in a vehicle and come pick up the item. There is no hesitation, whether they are making arrangements from 1, 50, 100, or 200 miles away.
  • A lot of it is impulse buying. As the seller you’re put in the position of watching people buy things they don’t need. I’ve had to accept that I am not responsible for the decisions people make on the spur of the moment about how to spend their money.
  • Sometimes people will watch an item for weeks, waiting for the price to drop, and/or waiting to have enough money to buy it, secretly hoping and fingers crossed that it doesn’t sell before they can buy it. Out of the blue they will contact you, and an item you thought had no chance of getting rid of, is suddenly gone.
  • Some people are there just for the conversation. They will ask all kinds of questions: measurements, age, working condition, history, and everything else. They make conversation with you knowing they have no intention of buying anything.
  • Some are there for the ‘window shopping’ and end up buying nothing.
  • Some take ownership of an item just because they want it, and anything you do that prevents them from owning that item puts you in their bad books. They will cop an attitude with you, try to beat down your price, and do what comes naturally to them, which, if you’re not strong, will make you feel that you have done them wrong.

I have been totally amazed to see the things that people go at like sharks after blood in the water. I can now sometimes tell from a bunch of items which will go first; at other times I post, and then wait to see which of the items it will be.

One conclusion I’ve come to through this is that people will always react towards you based on where they are on their emotional journey, so don’t take their behavior personally. I interact with buyers based on where I am, and they interact with me based on where they are. I’ve had people blast me or give me the cold shoulder because I followed through on my ‘terms of service’ which includes a ‘no holds’ policy and a delivery fee. In turn, I’ve had to respond to people with an apology and firmness; I’ve even chosen to give away an item rather than sell it to a particular person – a decision based solely on the tone of the interaction, which I felt could deteriorate into something that could wind up dragging my name through social media mud.

Belize is in that place where the transition into online shopping has started, but some still want to handle it as if it is the local grocery store. In the beginning I gave the advantage to particular people because I knew them; this experience has taught me to give the advantage to particular people because they have been good customers. In other words, when you become a seller in this country you trust a person’s pattern of behavior as a buyer, not as a friend or acquaintance, because when money is involved it is a totally different realm from just casually knowing someone.

As an online seller you learn that when someone says, ‘I really want this item’, or, ‘I’m really interested’, and they mean it, they will follow up with immediate action, just like in real life. You learn to spot the window shoppers, the impulse buyers, the people who are ugly in real life no matter how good they look on the outside. And sometimes, like a gift, you get to hold great conversations with people that you would never have met otherwise. (That is a good and welcome brahta).

Selling like this is not for the faint of heart, or for those easily offended. It takes perseverance on your part to keep reposting, (in spite of your pride), when an item is slow to sell. You must make sure to be accurate about the condition of the item you’re selling, (that means, no filters for your photos). Your integrity should show up as you do your part with delivery and meeting with the buyer.

A most important lesson I’ve learned though is that we all have something we’re ready to throw out that would be of value to someone else. I had three blenders, none of which were working. I was about to throw them out when I had the idea to post the jars for sale. I did, thinking it was a long shot. Within a half hour I had calls about those replacement jars from all over the country. Within ten minutes someone was at the door to pick up the first one. The speed at which they sold made my head spin, and it made me realize the truth of the saying, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into selling something, (or many things), online, just remember that even though much of it takes place online, the rewards and repercussions take place in the real world.

©Debbie Mendoza, October 2017. Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce and JoyHope.

Contact: (011) 501-610-4375

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My Facebook Yaad

Once, on a trip to a foreign country, I stayed in a place where the owner assured me that my things were safe in the room while workers fixed the air conditioning. Taking him at his word, I went out for the day. A few hundred dollars were stolen from me by people whose faces I wouldn’t recognize, but who were allowed into the sanctity of my space because someone else vouched for them. I felt so violated. Because I didn’t take responsibility for my temporary home I have to take responsibility for the fact that I was robbed.

Once, after I had whittled down the number of my Facebook friends to people who I thought I could trust, a picture I posted with visibility limited to the privacy of ‘Friends’ was Whatsapped right back to me from someone who was blocked on my FB. The message behind the picture I received was, ‘You may block me but I have spies everywhere, even on your Facebook’. Once I uploaded that picture I gave up control of what my ‘friends’ could do with my picture, including forwarding it to someone I didn’t want in my space. I felt violated by someone I trusted, but didn’t know who that person was.

Once, on an ADO bus from Belize to Cancun, I sat behind a man who was scrolling through Facebook. From where I sat I could make out his phone screen. He sat back, seemingly relaxed and nonchalant, and used his thumb to scroll. At every female’s picture he stopped, used his thumb and index finger to expand the photo, and then moved the photo in every direction to see all that he could see. Our bus ride was hours long, and he used the time to carefully examine, as if under a microscope, every women who passed through his newsfeed. I felt violated even though his is a face I do not know; but his actions gave me insight into how some people handle social media.

These three lessons taught me that I had to do things differently. I used to be indiscriminate about who I added on Facebook. I thought I had a social responsibility to add people, even if didn’t know them. I either trusted the fact that we had so many mutual friends, or thought I could be an example to them. I kept some people on my Friends list because I believed they had my back. I assumed that my photos were safe with them.

When my FB photo was Whatsapped back to me by someone I had blocked on FB, I knew that I had to change how I allowed people access to my life. In that heated moment of anger I deleted most everyone that I knew to be a mutual friend with that person. After I cooled down I began dealing with this problem methodically.

I whittled the number of my Facebook friends from over twelve hundred to under five. Over the years I’ve come up with a few criteria that determine whether a person stays or goes, and I use the analogy of my yard, (as is appropriate when assessing any boundary). I will only allow certain people in my yard. The fence is intact and the gate is kept closed. Anyone passing by may see the house from the outside, but only a select number of people are allowed into the yard and even fewer, into the house.

My Facebook is a fenced yard. For now, I try to keep the number of friends I have there below five hundred. I’ve tried for three hundred but that is extremely difficult. (I’m still trying). This isn’t done out of anger, just like building a fence isn’t done out of anger. It’s a matter of being practical and protective. The more people you have in your ‘yard’, the less safe you are.

Here are some of my criteria:

  1. I play a game sometimes that I call, ‘Recognize that face?’. I scroll through Facebook and before I look at the name of the person who posted the picture, I try to see if there’s anyone in the picture I recognize. If I do recognize the face, the person is someone I know personally. If I repeatedly don’t recognize a particular face, then the person approaches my chopping block.
  2. When I pass you on the street, in the market, at the bank, at the airport, or wherever, and you look at me as if you don’t know me, or don’t acknowledge me in anyway, it’s instant chopping block. I look at it this way: if you don’t know me, pretend to not know me, or totally dis me, why should I give you access to my life by letting you into my FB yard?
  3. I do not accept friend requests from businesses that have a personal page as opposed to a business page.
  4. One of the most important criteria is that I get to determine the content I want to see in MY newsfeed, and that is not limited to profanity and nudity. Your FB posts can, and do, influence me by having an impact on my day, my thoughts, and/or my feelings. Also, your Facebook posts can show me whether you are someone I should or shouldn’t trust to allow into my FB yard.

Maybe because it’s digital and intangible we think it’s okay to allow people we don’t know, and people we don’t know if we can trust, to have access to our comings and goings.

The Proverbs repeatedly give direction about how to choose our friends, to guard our hearts, to not go certain places, to not hang with certain people. Using those same principles, we get to set up the boundaries of our Facebook perimeter, and protect it however we see best as we look out for our own well-being. They offer help in deciding how to manage our social media interactions. Here are examples:

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14).

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin... (Proverbs 18:24a).

The righteous choose their friends carefully… (Proverbs 12:26a)

We sometimes have it backwards: when choosing to accept friend requests we think about the sender and how they would feel if we don’t accept, instead of thinking about our own safety. What we put on social media inadvertently becomes the property of anyone who can see it. We lose control of it the minute we hit ‘post’.

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces, (Jesus said that in Matt 7:6). As this pertains to social media, the swine will go through your things, steal from you, and/or carefully dissect every picture you post.

It’s time to take back your social space. Design and erect a fence, and make sure your gate is functional. You can’t control every aspect of your social media, but there are some things you can, and should, absolutely take responsibility for. Set a number as a goal that you think you’d like to reach. Determine the criteria you will use, and get clicking.

The world doesn’t end when you unfriend a whole bunch of people; in fact, there is a freedom that comes when you do. You can acknowledge a person in public and be comfortable knowing that they don’t have to have access to your child’s graduation, your vacation pictures, or your time of bereavement. You should be respectful to people, but you don’t have to ‘friend’ them all.

©Debbie Mendoza, October 2017. Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce and JoyHope.

Contact: (011) 501-610-4375

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Love the moment

A favorite coffee mug of mine has got a big D, (the first letter of my name), in orange on the outside that’s made up of butterflies, flowers, and curlicues. It is so girly. On the inside lip of the mug are three words written in one of my favorite fonts: ‘love the moment‘, it says.

Moving and having a garage sale are part of this season for me of starting anew. Here I get to decide what I should hold on to and what I should keep. What matters enough to take with me into my new life? What is healthy to take with me? And it’s here I realize two things: how positive words have helped me through tough times, and how I don’t know how to be happy.

So I’ve been having a conversation with God over the past couple weeks as I’ve been packing, throwing away, selling, and driving. Where did I learn to not be open to happiness? Could it be in the Belizean saying I grew up with, ‘What sweet yuh wah sowah yuh? Was it in the years of disappointment, some of which came from my own bad choices? Was it when my baby died?

Maybe it was all those things. What I do know is that the happiness that wells up inside of me everyday feels like it bucks up against a lid. I have to deal with it because I certainly don’t want my behavior to slap it away.

I am so accustomed to having issues to tackle that I treat happiness as if it too is an issue.

O Lord, help me. Teach me how to walk in these blessings You have given me. Show me how to embrace the ways You’ve answered my prayers. Help me to not feel guilt over the things I cannot change, and to walk in the light of the ways in which You’ve intervened and brought such goodness into my life.

I often say, ‘Things don’t have to be how they’ve always been.’ That’s because I believe in our ability to change, and in God’s ability to intervene in situations. Now I have to take my own advice and remember that it’s okay to just love the moment, to enjoy being girly and like curlicues the way I do. It’s okay to be open to new things, like being happy.

I want to be like the returning leper to say, ‘Thank You’. One of the ways I can do that is to walk in the happiness that answered prayers bring. Many years of training have given me the tendency to think that happiness is wistful, fleeting, and will cause more pain in the end. Choosing to enjoy what He has given me shows my trust in Him so that even if/when the happiness fades, He and I will still be in relationship, and we will walk through whatever comes together because there’s nothing that’s coming my way that He doesn’t know about already.

Are you thanking Him for answered prayers by choosing to walk in the happiness He has brought you? Are you trusting Him enough to enjoy this season even though everything isn’t perfect? Or, are you allowing guilt to block you from the happiness He has gifted you with? If so, do like I am doing: just talk to Him about it. He knows it already, and is willing to help you get past the barrier of your history, and to help you walk in the new.

We can enjoy the happiness He brings because we trust in Him. That’s what I keep telling myself; and everyday it gets a little easier to believe.

©Debbie Mendoza, October 2017. Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce and JoyHope.

Contact: (011) 501-610-4375

Feel free to #like #tag #share