Down to Size

It’s About Living Better is where I started trying to deal with no work, or different work, or a different lifestyle, or how do I explain it?

It was a regular thing to hear a few years ago… and maybe now.  “Our company is down-sizing and you are now out of work”.  Or a few sentences similar.  Everyone I knew professionally, was in the process of regrouping.  Either they were looking for a new position, or adjusting to a new position that allowed them to continue working, or making a decision to improve their odds of remaining with the current company.

I tried a few things, researched many more and made a few starts.

Finally, I’m here.  Working. “Semi Retired” is my description to my friends.

I am among the fortunate.  I live in a small rural area where connections are still made at lunch or walking down the street. No interview required, just an agreement and bam!

I absolutely love working now.  Probably better than I have for years.   My work is tailored to the company’s needs, and my schedule at home.  I give them my all. They receive way more than the agreement pays for because I care about them-and they, about me.

I work for someone who cares more about the people than any workplace I’ve ever been in.  Because of that, the workers are loyal, the work is well-done and everyone is engaged.   It’s not perfect for everyone.  And, it’s not perfect for them. But a consistent, caring company giving consistent, caring service, as a means for earning, is the goal.

There will always be those who take advantage of this atmosphere.  Supervising the milliniels hired into this workplace requires much patience and a steady head.  However, the loafers will eventually weed themselves out. This is the company that you join when you know you are good at what you do, enjoy working with others and want to earn your own way.

I should send my former company a thank-you.  Without that down-sizing, I may never have found this peaceful, caring and engaged company.

I wish this for you.

How can a Virtual Assistant help your business?

What is it that keeps you from reaching your end- of-day goal?

One more phone call? Answer that all important email or tag someone on a lovely picture of success? Text a reply, encourage the team?

Virtual Assistants perform a variety of time saving functions, helping you end your day on an up note.

Updating reports? Updating your social media? Tracking your email responses? Any task that will free you up to finish your day and grow your business. Sometimes, it pays to outsource time consuming tasks in order to complete the bigger picture.

Before you contact a virtual assistant, think about the tasks that might stop you from feeling overwhelmed or just overdone.  Are you willing / able to share documents for editing or layout? Would the sharing of your calendar to someone who can take part of the days’ work, help complete tasks faster or more efficiently? 

As a VA, I’ve had the joy and the surprise of sharing calendars. Joey’s wife had a birthday while he was in Europe. While he did the shopping and left a card on the breakfast bar for her to find, I had the privilege of making her day even brighter by posting his love note on social media, reminding the teens by text to be nice to mom, and have cookies delivered to her office at the precise time that her break started-all while he signed a multi million dollar deal across the way. They will all benefit from his previous attention to detail on this special day.

Reminders of upcoming anniversary, shopping assignments, arranging social media posts to post at the correct time and place are all very important tasks that tend to slow down the day to day processes of business… but are actually more important than most care about knowing. It’s the little things that make the work day bright!

A VA may be your trusted right hand that confirms appointments, gather quotes, schedule interviews, completes pre-interviews or someone that is available for your call when you need a voice of reason or someone to ask questions so you can come to your best conclusion, read your blog and post a comment or edit that email you wrote in a hurry. A VA can add your content to your own profile pages. The list is endless and the time saved will add needed hours back to your otherwise loaded schedule.

Most virtual assistants work for a company with prescribed services and fees. An independent VA is able to help you create your own right hand, providing needed services, for just the right agreed-upon price.

What’s possible? 

Try scheduling a Monday morning virtual meeting and discussing the week’s requirements. Or, share an online location where your VA can pick up and deliver work assignments, text, have a private text group, Facetime or Skype to communicate.  Assign your virtual assistant with projects that move quickly, but help your week go smoother. Agree on the service fee, pay half to get your week going and complete the payment online when the service is done satisfactorily.  It’s a win-win.

What’s stopping you from giving it a try?   Drop us a line! michelle@lillmi.com

Send your request for more info to michelle@lillmi.com

Time for a New Project

We are officially remodeling.

Last summer, we worked diligently on the yard. I hired my girlfriends to come “help”.

For me, that meant I get to take baby steps into this new world.

1. I don’t have to dig.

2. I don’t have to plant.

3. I will water.

4. I will shop for plants and other fun stuff.

5. I will still be organizing the world around me. (control freak).

6. I will pay money to NOT dig and plant.

Ha! I enjoy sitting outdoors looking at “our” hard work. When I drive up the driveway, I am pleased and proud that “we” did all that hot work!

 

Fast forward 4 months. Here we are in January, starting a new project. No girlfriends. Just us.  You can pray for us, if you are so inclined.

So step one was to get Ronnie to commit to the project.

Wow! I can’t tell you how many objections I had to overcome.  I know that objections are just requests for more information, so I tried to use my best marketing techniques to answer his questions and sell him on the idea.

It must have worked, because three months after I began the campaign, he showed up for the appointment with our new friend Gail at Lowe’s.   She’s a magician, let me tell you!  We know we are over our head when you talk about construction.

The new project:

The front bathroom. The one our visitors see.  Our home is around 30 years old, and it needed to be redone.  We didn’t want to spend a lot, just enough to update it for selling purposes, in case we decide to downsize.

We decided to use a GC (General Contractor) to install a simple walk in shower and hardware and replace the vanity and countertop.  We were pleased that Gail came by first to take a peek and take some general measurements. Then, she brought the GC by and took even more measurements.

We spent a lot of time talking about what I thought it should look like when it’s done, the colors, textures and any changes we might consider.  I really felt like they listened well, and didn’t try to sell us on anything extravagant. The budget was always at the top of mind.

I’ve always loved the furniture vanities popular in some custom homes, so it was decided that I would be in charge of acquiring that piece of furniture and finishing it to match.

Gail found the most beautiful granite top, called Chaldonea, so the race is on!

I searched all the online garage sales and used a couple of apps to locate the perfect piece.  A beautiful maple Bassett Buffet.   IMG_4775

Today, I find we are starting in 6 days!  I ran to my favorite “paint” store and quickly got directions from Melanie at Sisters Restored, in our cute little downtown .  Picked up a few supplies and off we go!

Step one:   WASH the buffet.  Really, that’s what she said.  With Dawn.    That was too easy.

Step two:  Ronnie will repair the one drawer that has a loose groove.   GLUE.

Step three:  Let it dry.   I got this!

Step four : Paint.  We are using Annie Sloan Graphite… recommended by Melanie.

vanity

 

Here we go.  The buffet was a bit more narrow than the previous cabinet, so we have a little work to do.  A panel for each side, painted to match, will take care of the fit.  All in all, we are happy with the look.  Now to find cute little ways to disquise the makeup, lol.   I do enjoy cosmetics, so we need a place to keep them organized.  Stay tuned!

 

When You KNOW your WHY… then what?

Then, you need to know your how.

Where do you begin?  When does it really start?  What’s the first actual business step you should take?

I once met a very young mother, single and barely getting by.  She invested her last $25 for the month in the hope of being able to give her 3 year old child a fine birthday party. Her ‘why’, well it was simple – and by many standards, mundane.  I tried to help her understand that she could have a yard sale to earn the money she wanted.  THIS, was a business… for her future. Surely, she had a larger goal… a “real” reason for giving up her last $25 for the month.  Maybe, she could plan to pay the electric bill each month with her business profits, how about growing a big enough customer base to make a car payment, even save for an educational goal.   That size business goal would surely allow her to give the party each year and not just meet her immediate need.

So, really… your next steps are up to you and your ultimate goal (or your ‘why’).

In all cases, the next step is about you… not what someone tells you to do. There are normal steps in normal companies… but you are building YOUR personal business and it has to be about you.  So, how do you grow you?

Maybe you’ll spend time investing in yourself… spending time learning about the company, the products and services you choose to represent, the top producers in the company and the possibilities and probabilities.  If there’s time, it could be beneficial to learn the top earners routines, success stories and regular work habits.  Which of these can you adapt into your own life?  Did I say “life”?

Depending on your destination in business, you’ll need to invest time, money, other resources, your imagination and business skills. How will your business be defined?

www.youravon.com/lil
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

How will it differ from the other thousands of entrepreneurs? Can you see yourself with a calendar ALWAYS at your fingertips?  What about carrying business cards and maybe samples in the car.  Is it your desire to get up everyday, dress up and look smashing? Will you love being “on” all the time?  That’s what we sign up for when it’s a real business to grow.

How will you decide to run this business?  Will it be in person, in an organized area, online only or a combination of available options? Will you learn or use your skills in social media or special events along the fair routes?  I even know one woman who purchased an air-stream trailer and outfitted it to sell her wares in a pop-up store of sorts.  How will you operate?  What do you look like in your business?  What are you wearing, driving, listening to?

Now that you know your WHY… what’s next?  What do you need? What resources are required of you? In my business, I invested. Not just the $25, but 750.00 in event fees, 200.00 in event equipment (tables, signs, etc), and $2,000 in event inventory.  Within 90 days, the investment was returned, plus an average of 30% on the inventory, by following the companies suggested steps and a few of my own. So the next months and thereafter, the earnings have been 40% and about 10% reinvested.  Do I have inventory on my shelves?  The company says it’s not required, but they don’t tell you it’s a good thing to do.  Your judgement will tell you that.  I know which customers will always order their favorites, so I purchase ahead for them to receive the best price or incentive.  That’s the only inventory on my shelves.  I invest more heavily in samples.   I did a test once, I invested $5.00 in samples and the orders from those samples totaled $32.80 (at 40%, I earned about $13, the first time and I’ve lost count of the reorders of those products, to those customers.  Samples are a good thing.

So, how will I answer the original question?

When you know your WHY, then what?

Then, visualize yourself being successful. Where are you, how are you working, what do you look like? What car are you driving? Are you alone or with others?  Do you sit at a desk, in a booth or walk on the street? Do you work everyday or once in a while? Will you stay with it til you reach the goal or will you give it a set time to work for you?  Do that by writing it down, studying the winners, list the pros and cons, survey your support system for their opinions. Do the work, if it’s a long term plan. If you just need a birthday party, I’ve got lots of fundraising ideas for you.

If you want a real business, and you’re interested in my company, click here and make your easy investment.  You’ll decide later, and I’ll walk you through it, what other investment you’ll make.

I’m anxious to hear about your answers to the question. Feel free to comment below or message me here.

 

 

 

Fundraising with Students

Every year thousands of Student organizations across the nation work with sponsors to plan important community service projects and fundraising efforts that will be needed to support their plans.

Every year thousands of Non-Profit Organizations depend on the fundraising efforts of the community to help support their goals.  It’s a win-win.

As small children, parents begin by teaching us to share with others.  To donate to special causes and plant trees for the environment or deliver food to the shut-in neighbor.

By the time a student reaches the classroom, the education becomes more a formal avenue for sharing.

Community Service Fundraising For Students
Photo Credit: rawpixel-661925-unsplash

Teachers and club sponsors, (bless them) are diligently juggling the needs of the district, the students, the parents, the community and that’s just at work!  So fundraising needs to be simple, straightforward and achievable.

It’s an unbelievable opportunity to teach students about handling money, sharing, approaching a sale, customer service, entrepreneurship, trust and teamwork. It can be such a valuable character-building opportunity that Avon is proud to support.


It’s important to have a plan. 

What’s the Lesson?

How will a fundraising event support the objective?

How can the community use the funds from this project?

HOW will we support our chosen project?  Click here for a few recommendations

How much time is required to reach the goal.  What IS the goal?

Which students will commit to the goal reaching? Which parents or sponsors are willing to assist?

Where, when and how will the fundraiser take place?

What’s the hard deadline for submission and delivery?

Who will be in charge?

Who will analyze and report the results?


At what level will the project include the students? Planning,  Neighborhood Sales, Digital Sales Team, Expediters (assemble the orders), Distributors (deliver), Monetary Team (manage the finances). Recognition Team (plan to recognize top sellers and/or teams), Marketing (get the word out to the community) Quality Assurance (help others with struggles).

Depending on the age of the student, teachers may need a parent meeting or a lesson on making change, shaking hands, greeting, selling and personal safety.  (Don’t forget PARENTS need to accompany smaller children and keep older children within sight)

For upper grade students, goal setting, planning and achieving are empowering lessons to support decision making for the future. Self awareness, presentation and safety are also corresponding lessons.

MORE THAN JUST MAKEUP is pleased to offer virtual and age appropriate introductions to the students’ fundraising project when registering for an Avon Fundraising Event.

Each project will include a Memory Jogger Activity to help students identify potential customers or locations to collect donations and sales.  An Event Planning Checklist is also available to registered organizations.

Student fundraising projects can be unbelievably successful for both the givers and receivers, with careful planning and support of a dedicated team.   Choosing a well recognized company, trusted for years in the US and abroad, that can provide professional resources, will help your fundraiser succeed.

What are your fundraising challenges?  We’d like to help.

 

 

 

 

Long weekend Try-Outs

I tried a few new products this weekend.

First, Oui French Style Yogurt, from Yoplait.

Now, I know it’s probably not new, but it is new to me.  I’m that girl that hates to shop in the store. You know the crowd,  the overwhelming choices and being the planner I am… I never go with out a list.  AND, I only buy what is on the list!  So, for me to find something new on my own, without first hearing about it from a friend, is just a miracle.

So, on this day, I just couldn’t get up the appetite for anything at home and went looking for “yogurt”.  Thank goodness my list didn’t have a brand or flavor already chosen!  As I entered the dairy section, (after a 6 months absence) I noticed the yogurt section had changed dramatically. There were so many different labels and offerings.

Point of clarity: I shop a small local grocer when I’m desperate. Price won’t matter. Cleanliness does. Service does.

So back to the hunt for the yogurt.  I’m sure someone who walked up might have thought I was a wax figure as I stood there reading each variety of label front.  Peach, strawberry, blueberry, vanilla, orange, caramel, chocolate… and it goes on!  Line after line of white plastic containers with all sorts of flavors and styles.

THEN! Right above my eye level there’s this glass jar of yogurt. I could see the product inside. Brightly colored yellow on the bottom…lemon. Pastels with fruit were strawberry and raspberry.  Beautiful!

So, as you can tell above, I tried it! Don’t you love the smooth texture of yogurt?  This is supposed to be french style… and I’m not a gourmet, so I really couldn’t tell the difference between it and other Yoplait yogurts. But, let me tell you… on this day, at this time… it tasted excellent!

I love that the label is removable and the container is glass.  It has a rounded edge and it’s quite adaptable for other uses.  I do love to re-purpose.  Here’s what I used the first jars for:

I can’t wait til I find some ribbon or maybe tape to decorate them. I’m sure I’ll have a complete collection soon. While I like the clear water in the flower container, I think I have some music print wrap paper to decoupage the pencil jar for the piano. I’ll be looking for rose gold washi tape for my foundation, to match my system!   I have a special event coming up soon and I think they’ll make nice bases for centerpieces. Maybe if I start now, I can root some pretty ivy for the table.   It’s sort of like having baby food jars again, without the twist at the top.

The next thing that was new to me was a personal cleanse product. I’m not great at this but why not? It’s a long weekend, no where I have to be and it just might give me a jump on next week’s health kick.  Yeah, I decided to try to summon up some extra will power and do a better job planning meals and getting exercise.  So, I read some labels and most seemed rather daunting. I found this one from ESPIRA.  It says it’s a 3 day cleanse.  Three caps in the morning and three in the evening for three days. Easy to remember… the power of 3!  I really couldn’t tell I was “doing” a cleanse and I felt great at the end of the three day period. Everything seemed quite natural and it seems it helped reset my metabolism rhythm.  I read someone said it’s the gift that keeps on giving, ha!

www.youravon.com/lil
three day gentle cleanse to help reset metabolism

Of course this brand has other products and I think I might try the Hunger Block. Taken 30 minutes before meals appears to be the secret. All the products are Vegan. And, as I’m going to do a better job of meal planning, that may just support my goals while I return to better habits. There are also shakes that one friend loves. She adds peanut butter and almond milk to hers. We’ll see.

Next, I will be moving around more. I’ve decided to sweep the sidewalk everyday instead of every two weeks. I’ll also take both dogs walking instead of one. If the hubs wants to walk one of them, that dog will be extra happy.  I earned a Fit Bit once during an incentive, and I have it all charged up and ready to go.

So, I think having a long weekend when you are retired is a little useless. I enjoyed them more when I was working. Now, they appear to be an opportunity to explore and find something new. Of course, it’s still a time to remember or celebrate certain historical acts, but as far as being off work… I’m always off.  (maybe in more ways than one)  Just as a note, I may earn a little from any purchase you make of espira, but the yogurt review is all on me. I love it and plan to be specific on my shopping list.  Lemon is my favorite flavor!

Finding new products and taking time to share them with others is a great way for me to be about living better, in my book!  I’d love to know your thoughts about how I spent my long weekend. Just take a minute and jot it down at the bottom of this post.  Subscribe, if you like.  I’ll let you know what else I discover about my new retirement adventure.

It’s a Grand Night with the Grands

This morning.

Excitedly, I enjoyed the grand girls.  Rarely do they stay over on a school night.  A series of comical events took place and that’s how it came to pass… but that’s another post!

First, I need to say the eldest will graduate high school in a couple of weeks.  I was present when she was born, but my favorite baby memory was toddling as fast as she could across the living area, slamming the wall with the loudest thud! So excited that she arrived first at the wall, turned with eyes blazing and CRASH! Down came the shelf holding granny’s antique ruby cut glass goblets.

Every single piece broken and shattered.  The now 18 year old graceful beauty, stood there, frozen with the biggest smile and eyes flickering.  Trying not to panic, I said ‘great job!’, be very still”.  Poppie was about to lose it behind me.  She was barefoot.  I reached over, grabbed her up and we laughed as Poppie grabbed the broom.  Safe baby, no more ruby cut glass goblets.

Now, during her last two weeks of high school, I get a night. Like the days when her mother was small, I made school lunches. Turkey on cheese bread, veggie bag, lil cheese and freshly made fudge.  I even drew pictures on the sacks so they could tell them apart (I bet they appreciate the heck out of that embarrassment ).

The middle child is just exactly that. She agrees to second fiddle when the sleeping choices are discussed. She’s happy to wait her turn in the conversation and pleasantly lays out all her clothes for the morning. Since I’m a makeup freak, I’m her best friend right now. I have tons of makeup. She especially likes the airbrush because it’s different, but shy’s away from skin care (which is ok, for now).

The ‘little’ is all under my feet! She wants to help make fudge. She talks incessantly. She’s excited to learn to read the recipe, and I am able to help by stirring the sugar and butter, as her reach is quite short. She didn’t taste it once… not even once! She measured twice and got everything just right. A little impatient waiting for it to boil, we had time to talk about her upcoming piano recital, the STARR test tomorrow (what?) and my iPad needing charging. She was first to rise this morning and prepare for school before making her way to the kitchen to check on the fudge.

At grandma’s we always have ice cream with breakfast. We’ve done it since our now 20 year old grand was a tot. Her mother was not too sure about that, but continues to deal with the ritual.  Today’s menu includes egg taco’s, salsa (we usually have pancakes) and ice cream. What else?

https://lillmi.com
Ice cream goes with breakfast at grandma’s

Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

It’s fun to be a grandma. You don’t get days like this very often. When I do, I try to make the very best of them.  Soon (very soon) there will be two to stay over on a school night. It will never be like this again.

How excited I am to see the next phase, when I have three adult grands and six little’s. What’s your favorite grandma guilty pleasure?  At this time, while discovering my own retirement phase, it’s definitely going to be an adventure in living better! 

Brighten the Gray!

Posted in April of 2018, it’s a great repeat for today! Texas weather… you can never tell what’s happening!

 

It’s a dull day!

The spring weather brings excitement, and not always the best kind, in Texas.  Last year it was tornadoes everywhere and so much hurt and loss. This year, so far, it’s rain.  Gloomy rain on my part of the earth… and lack of rain on the other part of the state.  I think people who live in small states don’t always fathom the incredible size of Texas.  We can have all types of weather in one state at any given time.  The old saying “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes,” is often true and you could really add… “just drive 100 miles… it will change”.

Today, though, is dull.  It’s cloudy, and gray outdoors.  My attitude tends to follow.  I feel cozy in the winter when the fire is roaring, open and free when the sun is out and air is warm, and dull when it’s gray, cold and rainy in April.

So, here’s the routine to bust out of the dull hum-drums.

WATER… lots of it.  Room temp and ice cold. With infused fruit and just plain. With ice cubes of frozen fruit and warmed with herbal tea. With lemon slices and cucumbers.  WATER!

Fresh fruit for breakfast. Served cool and maybe on a bed of cheese or some yogurt for dipping.  Maybe in a shake!  I’m looking for glow and shine here!

A  break for my conversation with father God and jotting some notes or completing a discovery task.  Briefly sketching out my day “wants” with my “musts”.  Adapting them to the weather.

Mental note: chocolate is great on dull days!  So are pj’s and a popcorn!  However, eating healthy will certainly help cure a gray days dull! Lots of people take vitamins to restore their shine and glow.  Take this vitamin quiz to get a better idea of which supplements are good for you.

Another good way to send the dull-drums packing is to play music.  I love to play the old standards. Piano playing is therapeutic for me.  Sometimes I turn up the volume and  listen to upbeat pop or old rock, dancing with the broom while I attempt to focus on sweeping!  Singing along and dancing energetically is a great way to brighten your day.

ahdiat-fanada-381637-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Ahdiat Fanada on Unsplash

My granddaughter can’t wait for rain! She grabs her green frog boots and splashes every puddle. One foot, then two. It’s a favorite rainy day activity… removing any gloom in that home on a gray day! We could do that, too!  You are never to old to splash!

Whatever you do on a gray day… don’t give in.

Turn on the lights, make up your face and glow! Call an old friend and renew that acquaintance, save some blooms before they drown and arrange them where you can enjoy the nature.  Cook a great meal and open the perfect bottle of wine!

It’s about living better... and it’s up to you!

 

Today Could Just Be Different

Today COULD be the day that everything changes.

When I awoke and stepped on the cold tile floor, I thought… “why am I doing this?”

For just a few dollars, I could purchase a small rug that would make my feet warm when I wake up in the mornings.  For a few dollars more, I could probably buy some new house-shoes and for just a few hundred, purchase carpet.   So, “why”?    I’m waiting.

I’m waiting to make the right decision for the new flooring. Of course, the decision hasn’t settled on me yet.  So my feet get cold.  I don’t want to buy a rug, because when I settle on the flooring, I won’t need it.  Same with the shoes.   That’s why.  I’m waiting.

When I started my Avon business, I had waited about 6 months from the first time I thought about it.  In that 6 months, I didn’t make any extra money and I didn’t meet any new friends and I didn’t add any new skills to my life that could make a difference.  The price of the start up kit changed and the incentive offers changed – but I waited.

FINALLY, I moved in the right direction… starting my business with a sweet lady with an English accent that really kept my attention!  I met new people, banked some cash and best of all… added some skills to my life that changed me forever.   It was a gradual change, but it began with that first decision.

If you are waiting on something to ‘settle’ on you before you make an important decision, let me encourage you to move toward the ‘decidin’ part’, as my grandmother called it.  Get on with it and enjoy meeting others, earning extra money and adding skills to your life.  It will change you.

I hope you’ll choose to join me at Avon.  But, first… I’m off to choose a rug!