Lillmi's Blog

PROGRESS

The girls have been working hard, while I watch, look and plan.  I’m not a gardener, but I love looking at it, planning things I’d like to see and showing it off to my friends, who know me well!

Those friends know it is a chore for me to stop what I’m doing and water the pretties that adorn the ground in front of the brick.  They know that I’d much rather pay someone else to make it so. Don’t laugh… I would much rather be planning a booth at the fair and gathering help to run it.  But at the end of the day, I want to sit with my love in the “garden” and relax while the fur babies run and play.

So, as you can see, there’s a little progress on this day.first copy of shrubs

After removing the overgrown and ugly, the “girls” cleaned and cleaned to remove roots, grass and amazing finds (old bottle opener). They named all the critters that scampered out. PRINCE CHARLES is a lizard and Queenie is a butterfly.  DAMMIT is a sweat bee, and I forgot the King Snakes’ name. Before laying the black “plastic”, as I called it, we took a day and Ronnie (our token man on the job) sprayed for weeds and whatever.  That’s ALWAYS his job at this house.  Now we are ready for the plastic.   Of course, it has a name!  Vigoro Weed Barrier Landscape Cloth.  I chose it because it let the water through. I don’t want to be wasting my time watering plastic!  I picked it up during one of my many trips to Home Depot to plan this project.  It took 90 feet and then I bought another roll to do a smaller area in the yard, you’ll see later.

Next, they added the black lava rock.  I couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was and since our roof is black and some of the brick is charcoal, it makes a nice visual contrast. I hope there’s not an obvious negative reason the cost is low. If there is… I missed it.  So, for now, I’m good with it.  I hope the sharp edges will deter the critters from digging up prized goodies.

I bought the lava rock at Lowes.  The salesperson kept trying to sell me on the red because our dirt is redish and may stay neater and brighter, but I still love the black.  I looked at river rock, white rocks, egg rocks, mulch, and more mulch! Who knew there were so many choices.  The black lava rock was around $5 per bag and we have now cleaned out their inventory and are patiently waiting for more to arrive.  It’s lightweight, so it’s not a problem for our handy strong girl to move it from the truck to the garden.  In fact, she took care of that little chore before we even knew it!

I took off plant-shopping and found some lovely boxwoods at our local Hudnall’s Nursery in Pittsburg.  Steve and Sherry are the nicest people and Steve is full of great advice.  We ended up with dwarf crepe myrtles, something purple-ish and the boxwoods. They’ve been in the ground almost a month and they are doing fabulous!  He suggested we use Landscapers Fill instead of peat moss, for the nutrition.  I think it was a great suggestion, and again very affordable.

Next… the septic pipe.  Yes, we live in the country and there has to be a clean out spout.  Of course, we weren’t at home when this happened, or it wouldn’t be in the middle of the yard!  So, the delimma is how to hide it, but still have access.  We had the 16×8 cinder blocks, so down went the plastic and round went the block.  You’ll soon see the end and the change of this project.

We only have a couple hours a day to devote to this, as everyone has another job… except me!  I have a side gig with Avon.  It’s my Plan C.  I stay busy, helping others reach their dreams, whether it’s their skin care dreams or their earning dreams. It makes me feel good to help, and it’s inside, where it’s clean.

I’m still looking for ideas to dress up the septic clean out spout, so if you have any, just post them below.  Diana wants to build a gnome out of clay pots. It could be portable, but could we easily mow around it?

So, for now… the breezes are slowing as the evening comes.  I’ll be lighting the keva soon and we’ll have a toddy in our garden. Everyday brings us closer to the goal. Each day we invest in it and each day it grows more comfortable.  The Girl Project is coming along nicely.

It’s a Girl Project

I finally settled on a project.  Well, I’ve chosen several.  Visiting with my friends, the other night, I learned it’s pretty common to “bite off more than you can chew” when you first decide to retire.

So, I’ve backed up to regroup.

Three months ago today, New Avon gave us notice and I had to decide what my future would look like.  I’ve always had a plan and always known what my DREAM was, but not necessarily when it would happen.  So, I have had the opportunity to reflect and rethink the dream.

So, now… while returning to direct sales for my “gig”, I have time to complete a few projects that will lead to that picture I see in my future.

To have what I desire, I need a pretty back yard.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just neat and comfy with very little maintenance required.  I really do not like yard work, but enjoy the benefits… whether I earn them or buy them.

I called a friend that loves to do outside work and has some great ideas.  She’s known me for 35 years, so she knows my likes and dislikes.  She listens to my concerns and my goals and encourages me in a different direction when she knows there is upkeep on the horizon.

The message I left her went a little like this: “Hi, Sherry. I hope you are ok today. My yard and my future well-being require your assistance. I hope you are free to visit soon.”

THREE DAYS LATER, she got the courage to call. She knew it meant work, because she knows about me and outdoor work.

She asked lots of questions and I found the answers. She has another friend who loves that work and would like some extra bucks, so she can help.   It’s a girl project!

Day one comes and goes… no one shows up  – not even me!

Day two arrives with the overgrowth being yanked from around the house and add-on.  Progress.

No more overgrowth!

No more overgrowth! Only the hydrangeas will remain. The rose bush will be moved and the grapevines come down tomorrow!

They decided to save the rose bush, and use it in another area. The hydrangea stays, the monkey grass is relocated for a bit.

The numbers of critters in the garden are the main reason I don’t like gardening.

I watched with goose bumps as the spiders (of all kinds) scampered across the house, tools and ground to find a new dwelling.  The King snake had to relocate and the lizards were moving quickly to the other side of the house.

We picked up the soapy water bottle to allow the bees and yellow jackets to crawl away and find a new home and I hate to admit it, but we sprayed that huge nest of wasps from under our chairs!

yellowjacket

Imagine! Sitting on the rusty old chair and a baby yellow jacket lands on your knee. Then another, and another. I turned over that chair and discovered their hiding place where all the little fellas were handing on for dear life! Soapy water, wet their wings and allowed them to scamper off to another location. I don’t like them, but they have a purpose.

The mosquitoes are another story, so we grabbed the Bug Guard and the Skin So Soft to be fully prepared.

Our brick has so many colors, I’m excited to shop for ground covers, plants and “littles” that personalize an area.   But, that’s another day.  For now… I feel comfortable walking outside where the plants used to reside and see the cleaned area with the weeds slowly giving way for a future oasis that is lovingly referred to as our girl project.

I’ve found that retirement is a time to do more than you possibly did while you were working!

One day I overheard someone mention that they wondered how they ever had time to work a “real job”.  I just laughed it off… until now!

I love selling Avon. Mostly, I love helping people solve their most current issue with their skin and sometimes assist as they choose gift items or daily care products for family and friends.  Since I love helping people, it stands to reason that the best part of my side gig is the face to face conversations and relationship building.

Through Avon, I’ve met women who want so badly to become their own person, so to speak.  What I love to show them is that THEY ALREADY ARE!  It’s their perception of what they would look like, if they “were their own person”.  I think what they mean is if they were energetic enough to work to become the person they see in their dreams.

When I decided to go back into direct sales, my friend asked…”Are you going to do whatever it takes to achieve (the incentive)?

WHATEVER is a big word, folks! I know, better than some, that it takes fortitude to build a direct selling business to the scale from which we would love to earn.  Replacing a salary takes work… and if you want to “retire” at the same time… one would be fooling oneself!

At the same time (within days) of our notice of downsizing, three tragedies struck my personal world.  ‘Overwhelmed’ is not even a big enough word to describe my life. Poor hubs. He’s so loving and loyal and knows when to get out of the way.  So, I did not do the WHATEVER.  I couldn’t hardly move. Or eat. Or make a phone call.  It was like life had ended during those days and weeks.

Then, a former customer called.

We had no relationship outside of Avon.  But, she remembered, that I knew the product she needed.  She remembered that I could find it for her, even if I couldn’t sell it to her.  We were both excited to visit and renew our talk about our children, her skin care need, my return to direct selling and her own plans for future retirement.

She was the reason, I moved passed the disaster.  My relationship with her was one of helping.  I helped her meet the needs she was experiencing at that moment.

I felt great helping someone else, rather than feeling sad and overwhelmed by the responsibility and loss in my own life. She became my impetus.  Our relationship made me move.

Now, we have a team. We are working a local county fair this week. We are meeting new people again and doing the WHATEVER.  My calendar is full and my floors need sweeping. The landscaping team I hired need answers and the dogs need baths. I have an Eastern Star meeting to attend tonight and my wonderful up line has stepped in at the fair.  I need to print more tickets to my workshop (for fair follow-up) and I have a 2:30 appointment with a young woman preparing to be a stay at home mom.  I’ll be starting two new team members this week, just like I did last week.  We will be counting the money together in 3 weeks!

How would I ever have time to work a full time “regular job”? Or for that matter, retire!

Success in direct selling … mine happens to be with Avon… is about the WHATEVER. Being a personal shopper is about doing what makes YOU feel good.

Being the business owner is about serving others!

I love being the owner… how about you?

National Day of Prayer

One of the things I can do whether retired or beyond busy, is pray.  A quick prayer is as welcome to the Father as a long, deep conversation because the Father loves his children. 

Simple. Honest. Bold. 

Try it… Father, bless Texas as you see her need.  Amen. 

Texas, my home

Sometimes I find inspiration on Facebook that is real:

“And for a moment, no one cared about statues, politics, race or religion. Everyone came together to help their neighbors, friends and strangers survive. Maybe God chose Texas to lead the way. To show the rest of America how to unify and work together towards a common goal. I have never been more proud to call myself Texan. Copy and Paste.. #Lovethyneighbor #godblesstexas #texasstrong #texasforever #ProudtobeATexan  #wearetexas”
   The sun came out today. I’m about 4-5 hrs. north of the disaster. In the thick of the volunteers. We seem to have been spared the rains, but not the worry and concern for those Texans and our guests trapped  in the devastated areas south of here.  

They are part of our family as sure as the sun came out! 

In my 60+ years in this great state, I’ve seen many demonstrations of big-hearted giving. 

Young men from our rural town have gathered their boats, gassed up their trucks and settled their young families.  

Young women have filled their cars and SUV’s to head south to help. 

The adults are mentoring the volunteers of tomorrow by encouraging them to gather water, clothing, toiletries, and other suitable donations.  

The Christians are praying, the government is planning, the people are doing what needs to be done. 

In our town, everyone has an opportunity to serve. In our town, children are led by example. In our town, the good citizens lock arms and hearts together and reach out when needed down the road. 

Lately, it seems our differences had driven a wedge in our family. The unforgiving and the negative assumptions have closed the minds and hearts of many.  

Maybe this rain will soak that wedge to pliable understanding and openness to thoughtful contemplation and unity. 

Maybe God will be heard and felt and enjoined with us as we stretch to reach those in need. 

Texas has a giant heart. 

Move over, Harvey! 

Monday

Today MONDAY –  Follow Up Day.

Following up from the weeks’ successes and moving the ‘almosts’ into the water as they decide to “step off the boat”, as my pastor, Chad, shared Sunday- is my Monday goal.

As I sat there 7 rows back,  listening to him, I could just see the incredible realization Peter must have enjoyed when he realized what Jesus was offering him.  His HAND! His SUPPORT! His PROMISE!  I loved that picture in my mind!  When we have the faith to ‘get out of the boat’, we just may find ourselves ‘walking on the water’ as Peter and Jesus did TOGETHER!  It reminded me why I love what I do!

Don’t worry, I didn’t miss the message… we were talking about having faith in seagullour heavenly Father to keep us safe as we do his bidding and move our lives in the right direction for His glory… not ours.  Still, it reminded me why I love what I do!

I can’t help but think of the similarity as I begin my follow up routine this Monday morning.

I’ve seen many people  start to do something they just knew they would love… only to realize their faith in themselves would soon falter and they’d be looking for something else along the way- because their experience wasn’t what they desired.  Many times, they just didn’t think it through or don’t have the skill, money or time to devote to a new endeavor. Sometimes it’s not important enough to acquire the skill, set aside the money or devote the time… but they are positive minded and they should be able to “do it”.

Anyone can think positive for ten minutes. Anyone can throw money at an opportunity and play at business. Anyone can start an exercise routine and anyone can start saving money.  Just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should.

Only the strong can keep a positive attitude when the sales don’t come in, or it’s too hot outside to run, or they really want to buy something outside the self imposed budget.

 

Because sales don’t always come in when we want them.  Sometimes, we need to leave the house and attend a function or spend .69 on a brochure and drive 15 miles to a location and drink sweet tea with a prospective customer before she will spend her hard earned money with us.  Sometimes, she will spend $5.00 and sometimes $50.  BUT, the JOY of meeting people and learning about their needs, and being able to HELP is the best feeling in the world.  Sometimes, we will sweat and do without.

I believe if our faith in our own abilities and willingness to develop ourselves to succeed can thrive, the real winner will be us!  It’s not about selling someone more, it’s about meeting their needs, solving their problem or providing a good example for a new team member.  Doing the right thing for each person is never wrong.

Sometimes someone needs a hand.

In sales, we get to meet an awesome person who allows us to come into her life and get to know her. We get to help her solve problems.  We get to care that she is here on this earth and how she is making out.  Some people need us to care! I’m glad I get to be one of those people.

So back to my Monday Follow Up.  While I know that not every customer buys every time, and not everyone I believe would make a great business partner will , I KNOW success is somewhere, someone down the line. I stay vigilant and caring and yes, positive minded.   I want to call, inquire, share great news and hopefully, provide inspiration.

During the week, I meet new people, visit new places and try new strategies. I gather email addresses and phone numbers, connect with others on social media and through referrals.  I unfold myself to them at the first meeting and strive for a connection.  I pay to play by furnishing the best samples, sales materials and services I can offer. I spend time developing my skill.

 

And then… comes Monday!

Without the follow up, we can’t finish the conversation.

Did I connect? Will they let me in? How will I help? How can I make a difference?  That’s what Follow Up is.  Trying to make a difference… in a friendly, business kind of way.   Helping someone else take a step out and be there to offer the support they need.  Giving my promise to give great service, thoughtful answers and a big hug (or handshake, as needed) .  Doing the right thing for the right person.  Doing this together.

That’s why I love what I do on Monday morning!

Fridays (before retirement) meant the end of a hard working week… at some places I worked.  My last job – not so much.  When you work with lots of people, encouraging them and answering their questions, facilitating their actions… you work when they need you.

When their work is also their past time, it normally involves some weekend contact.  So, Friday’s take on less meaning.  There is no end to your week when you work like that.

So, after a time, I managed to lose my work/life balance.  It wasn’t intentional… it just occurred.  It wasn’t even what the company wanted for me… it just happened. Even the team members  apologized every time they called on the weekend.  I was tired, not clearly focused and in the end, less motivated.

So, really… being available 24/7 didn’t do anyone any good.

I missed the grandchildren’s school programs, trips with girlfriends, seeing my sisters when they all got together, a musical at the local college, the birds building the nest at the edge of the porch, game day at church, my old friend’s funeral, time at the piano, organization meetings and local events I had loved before and most important, meaningful time alone with my love.

Balance is a fleeting skill.  When you don’t exercise the core muscles, you lose your balance.  If you don’t visit, go see the masses, have a drink with a friend, or watch the birds, your core muscles get weak. You can’t stand straight. You can’t carry on a current-content conversation, and you can’t listen to someone who needs to talk… because you are not there.

So, while I search for that elusive balance in my retirement, I have made a plan.  Every Friday… with intention, I will visit someone I haven’t seen in awhile.  Since I know it’s easiest to start in one’s “warm market”, I’m choosing my friend Dianne for today.  Last week, I stopped to visit my long time friend, Lou, at her volunteer station. We had a great visit and I felt so good when I left.

Today, Dianne… who is a former co-worker and now, friend, has lots of interests. I love to hear about her travels, the music concerts she attends with her husband, her adorable grandsons and of course, her new business interests.  I’ve made a list.

As usual, I am reminded that I don’t think I am through working yet… but I’m exploring the realms of retirement – on my terms – in balance with the rest of my life.