Somedays you need a break. Somedays you just need to look away from the normal and lock your gaze on something new and different.
You live better, when you do. A new perspective, a new background, a new short term focus helps the blood pressure decrease, the muscles relax, the future look brighter.
Times change and with that, responsibilities often become different. New responsibilities can be stressful – confining and confusing at times. These are the moments when distraction becomes important.
There are days I need multiple distractions… how about you? So leaving home or always having to purchase something for my personal “entertainment” is not always in my best interest.
When looking for distractions, there are a few things we can do quickly, without leaving home:
a. Find a box of photos that need sorting – photos bring good memories to mind, organizing anything from photos to cans in the pantry will provide a bit of distraction and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
b. Survey the pantry and freezer for meals that can be prepared and frozen for the future. You’ll be glad for the distraction and happy when you are too frenzied to cook.
c. Choose one window and clean it thoroughly. Add a drop of your favorite essential oil to the water… like lavender and lemon.
d. Lock yourself in a quiet room with a facial mask and quiet music. Wrap yourself in a warm robe and just close your eyes for 20 minutes… you’ll be fresh and feel energized for the next phase of the day.
e. Match socks. Shell pecans. Shred Cheese for tomorrow. Shine shoes. Mindless activities can provide a welcome distraction from a busy world.
f. Find time to read. Even one chapter will offer a distraction. Sometimes I need to read the same chapter 3 times, to actually understand it (concentration required), but for a short break… holding a book, looking at the words and illustrations can be a welcome break, when you can’t really leave the room.
These are just a few ideas, there are so many more that don’t require leaving home, spending money or gathering tons of supplies. The point is, when life gets too busy and you find your muscles tightening and your heart racing with frustration, find a distraction for a minute or twenty.
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 most everyone is engaged. It’s not perfect for everyone. 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 young workers 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. OR, you’ve never had a job and need to learn how to work for someone other than mom and dad.
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.
I may never have found my side gig, either. It just happened. After spending years in Direct Sales, I have ideas and techniques useful to newbies and I’m enjoying helping them! If you need some ideas, just email me!
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.
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! email@example.com
When I was a girl, I remember seeing Grandma with an apron in the kitchen and a small hankie in the pocket of that apron. In the hankie was a small round box of snuff. Close by was her coffee can (we won’t talk about that). She had a quilting frame hanging from the ceiling and a sewing basket was always nearby. She sat in “her chair”, sometimes with her feet propped up, always with a hankie in her pocket or sitting in her lap.
It was white, most of the time. Sometimes it had lace, or ruffles, sometimes it was thin and transparent. Sometimes it appeared to be more of a face cloth. But, ALWAYS a hankie on her person.
On the other side of town, Great Granny (other side of the family) rocked in her chair on the braided rug. She died when I was about 9, so my memories of her are not as complete. She cooked, sewed (in fact she smocked our dresses), and could tell good stories when she wanted us to take a rest on her big bed with the chenille bedspread and tufted pillows. She always wore an apron (hankie inside the pocket).
Mom gave me Great Granny’s apron when I started my Hope Chest, at 16. It was the first item to go in! It hangs proudly in my laundry room on a faux clothesline. The pocket has clothes pins in it, a safety pin through it and a hankie peeking out, of course.
Her hankies were printed, I know because I gave her some for Christmas. It was a box of three! I wanted to buy them because I saw her using Grandpa’s handkerchief once and it seemed so big in her tiny hands. I was so proud to give her that gift. Mom let me deliver the Avon brochures to earn the $.75 it cost to purchase that box with the cellophane lid.
Her daughter in law, my Granny, used elegant hankies. Her’s were more costly, I supposed, and fancy, as she was the first woman in our family to become a business woman. She was very fashionable, could design clothing and then sew them for the public. She mixed face powder downtown in her regular job and later took up bowling tournaments to win a little on the side. She finally landed in Real Estate, joining the Million Dollar Circle when I was 14. She pinned her hankie to her dress with a sweet brooch in the 30’s, kept one in her bowling bag at all times and I found one folded neatly inside her Bible when I was a child sitting in church. She used her beautiful hankie to wipe my mouth clean of the Ruby Shock red lipstick from mom’s Avon box when she came for a visit. And in her 90’s, she kept one in her hand or pocket to wipe her eyes as age related Macular Degeneration slowly and viciously stole the vision from her soft blue eyes.
My mother used hankies many times through the years. She tied my lunch money in them (until it became fashionable to use socks) and pinned it to my dress. She embroidered initials and sweet little flowers on the corners of some for gifts to give. She made dolls from them and we used them once for Halloween ghosts. She pinned one across the v-neck of my sweater for modesty when I was 12. And once, she lost a lot of weight during an illness and her wedding ring fell off. I watched as she tied her treasured black-hills gold band to a hankie and then tied it to her bra inside her work uniform.
When I was 18, mom really didn’t want me to marry. But sadly, she participated with a smile and a hankie. Her mother, my Grandma, had given her a beautiful blue hankie with small pink flowers on the corner and a white edge. Grandma didn’t get dressed up to go anywhere anymore and this was a fancy, sheer hankie – made for a special occasion. Mom tied it to my bouquet so I would have all the generations of love with me. I kept it in my wedding journal with the pictures neatly pressed with the dried boutonniere worn by my dad. Later, I tied that same hankie to my daughters bouquet in order to send generations of love down the aisle with her. I made a baby cap with some purchased hankies for my granddaughter and my friends daughter and made hankies for work peers as gifts, back when I could sew. For a long time, I kept a hankie in my Bible, like Granny. It came in handy with small children, emotional moments and emergency spills.
My friend, Rita, slipped a hankie in a card when my mother died. I was surprised to find it there and appreciated it at that moment. I used it for months as her absence became more and more real. What a lovely gesture of thoughtfulness. That one measure of kindness has added comfort to my life so many times. The same hankie comforted me as I bid farewell to my sister and a few good friends since then. I used it when I was nervous, when I was sad, and when I was afraid. It’s like the tears in that hankie brought strength when I needed it most.
Yesterday, while cleaning a buffet drawer, I came across a stack of hankies. The fabrics are all different, some are printed and not, lacy and plain. They are everyday hankies that were owned by some great women. I started collecting them as the powerful and loving women in my life left the earth. Today, I washed them fresh and pressed them (yes, with an iron) and made them ready to give someone else comfort. I hope the new owners will feel comforted by the generations of love carried within the tear-filled and lipstick- stained threads of the women who came before me- full of love, faith and determination. My heritage.
I think it’s time these treasured hankies get back to work, don’t you agree?
I’ve never taken a month off in my life! This was a first.
No writing, no recruiting for my direct sales endeavors, no creating posts or following up. No phone calls for orders (I just took what came in and felt grateful), no suggesting new products or looking for new affiliates. No cooking or dishes, no yard work.
I didn’t even enter my office.
The laptop was more of a dust-top!
So, how did I spend that valuable time? We took a little 10 day road trip, then a smaller 3 day road trip and then… we did whatever the day brought.
Studies have long suggested that vacationing was good for productivity, creativity, employee morale and our overall health. Many workers still don’t take vacation due to work constraints or finances.
In our case, Honey was physically worn out and needed to just lay around and let his muscles recoup. After years of physically carrying his day to day load, walking more than 7 miles with it and the time pressures of completing his daily rounds successfully, he was tired, sore and finally required hip surgery. These days, those same workers drive that 7+ miles and work in clusters. I guess it took the old guys time to get to the decision influencing level to save those following in their footsteps.
Later, workload didn’t keep me from going on vacation, it kept me from taking time to plan a vacation. We would choose the date in January and then, months later, the appointed day would appear and nothing would be in place to make it a good, quality release. So short “vacays” or combining vacation days with other events became the norm. I’m here to tell you that those are just not the same as the last month we took off and were spontaneous most of the month.
We are not big travelers. Airlines have their share of issues these days and the airports are so crowded. There are just too many people around for us. We don’t live off the grid, but my children would tell you we are in the middle of nowhere. We like our peaceful surroundings, trees, no traffic (about 6 cars a day)… so traveling to big cities, in airports, train stations, etc. have no appeal. Been there. Done that. It was fun.
We like to drive. We like to be close enough to see the mountains, the trees, the animals, the local restaurants, the artisans and walk around small town streets. I like visiting local museums, playing with grandchildren, cooking with my daughters and swimming alone. He likes sleeping late, hotel waffles and looking at old stuff. If we could figure out how to travel with both dogs, we would be in heaven. Leaving them overnight, much less 10 nights, takes planning! And not worrying about them while we are gone uses up half the time of the “no stress” theme. They are so spoiled, boarding just won’t work. Besides, they always stink when they get home.
The dogs are big and what I call, yard-dogs. They are mixed up breeds, sweet, affectionate and loud. We didn’t train them to walk on a leash or socialize them (because that wasn’t a thing in our rural home), and they really like running in and outside all day. We won’t be traveling with them anytime soon. They think the only time you get in the car is to go to the vet for shots and pedi’s. Walks down the oil top road are familiar routes and don’t require leashes that keep control.
We planned half this vacation. I put my direct sales business, Avon on auto and we hired our friend to come each morning to feed the dogs, give them access to the yard and play with them for a bit. Then, our daughter stopped by each day to rub on them and hand out the treats. Our friend returned again and locked them up for the night because in the pasture and woods there are coyotes and now, a lingering bobcat. See what I mean, it takes planning.
For my direct sales businesses, (retired doesn’t mean dead) I used Hootsuite.com to schedule all the posts on the pages and groups, packed note pads and copies of brochures to have at my fingertips. I notified everyone that we would be on vacation, left them the website addresses and promised them a treat if they placed orders on the website during my absence. These businesses, can run automatically because they can use technology to get service and I’ll still earn a bit. I just need to work ahead. Knowing that everyone is taken care of makes leaving for a few days, quite easy. The few messages I received on my phone were forwarded to my lovely daughter for handling. She was able to fill some emergency orders (gifts) from my very limited inventory and enter a few orders for non-techy customers in the Avon app, so I could complete it when I arrived home.
A couple things came up (with the dogs) during our half-planning that made us delay our trip by a week. But, when you are driving and retired, a week is nada!
Finally! The day has arrived. Did we get up all energetic and ready to go? No… we slept late, ran some errands, had lunch with friends and left at 5:30 pm on a half planned 3,000 mile road trip! No reservations, just the gps app and an end goal. First stop… Ft. Worth (3 hours), to drop off my favorite living plant. Daughters-in-love are grand, especially when they have a green thumb!
No stress, no mess, ready to drive. Looking for mountains and grandchildren out west.
I love things that are impromptu and special, don’t you?
Like an unintended event that caused two friends to have time together – unplanned and totally unique?
I had a day like that recently and it turned out to be a fun day filled with surprises.
The original plan for the day was to clean out two drawers (it’s a process), cook a new recipe, try to sit and write something personal, bathe the dog and trade my rental car for another.
Instead, I found myself getting dressed quickly, lunch at a new restaurant with my friend, a walk about town (complete with a tad of networking) and a new discovery. I didn’t get the car returned, but I did make the phone call. There’s always tomorrow, right?
So, about the discovery.
I have a wonderful reputation for NOT cooking much. When I have, over the last 10 or 25 years, there hasn’t been much to brag about. Instead, I’ve entertained quite a few with my screw ups. We’ve laughed over ingredient subs (because we lived 8 miles from town) that didn’t work, ingredients left out, burning biscuits, gray dressing and I could just go on and on.
So much so, that when the covered dish dinners were planned, everyone told the hubs what to bring and suggested I might bring the ice, tea, paper goods, plastic ware, etc. It worked for me!
Now, things are different. It’s part of my adjustment to not working … some call it retirement, some call it unemployed. I call it a new season. So lately, I’ve focused my energies on cooking healthy meals, eating at home, trying new things and resurrecting the meals I used to cook “before”. I still choose to stay away from the Oatmeal Cookies… so humiliating.
So back to my day.
While walking around town, we ventured into a few little shops. Adorable. My favorite was the Farmer’s Wife. An indoor, air conditioned (thank you) sweet little produce market complete with a selection of wines, beers and healthy treats. Veggies everywhere, a just-right mix and amount for a cute little market.
The owner is so knowledgeable about her family-farm produce that I just couldn’t keep up with it all. My mental notes were not clicking. I was too relaxed and enjoying my friend. I zeroed in on this beautiful pale green, velvety cucumber… as long as my arm! Honestly, it was smiling at me. It was beautiful and I was amazed at how heavy it was. She told me all about it, and I forgot it’s name. Her description was perfect and I felt an urge to give into the tempation. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do with a cucumber that large. But I had to have one. I grabbed two of the cleanest yellow squash I’ve ever bought and knew this was going to be an interesting evening.
So, first let me say… next time, I’ll buy this one on the way to the car… not on the way to shopping! It’s big enough to make a difference. Like I said, it was an impromptu day.
Once I got home with my cuke, I had to decide what to do with it. It wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator. Had I forgotten there are only two of us now and neither of us eats too many cucumbers? I immediately photographed it and text the pictures to my very best foodie friends. I guess I’ve had my head in the sand, because they knew exactly what it was. I’m even more excited now.
I cut the tip off and it’s more solid in the middle. The seeds are so tiny around the outside of the slices. I cut about 10 slices and proceeded to gather some ingredients I remember mama using on her cucumbers. Olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley, cherry tomatoes, purple onion slices and how beautiful it looked. I added a little kale and spinach under it, tossed it all together and there ya go! Not the new recipe I had planned for tonight, but a new recipe I remembered from my childhood. I don’t know if I ever really made it myself, but I can just picture her doing it now. Her hands were just like mine are now. I remember the way she sliced the cucumbers (she sliced two at a time). I remember her washing the onion after she peeled it. I remember how she covered the vinegar bottle opening with her thumb to let the proper amount drizzle out all over every single slice. Mama loved cucumbers. Into the frig for about 20 minutes and I just couldn’t wait any longer.
Well, the texture was a little different. The slices were crisp and the fresh fragrance was “melony”. I think I added a little too much vinegar but I can adjust that next time, after all I have plenty. After cutting 10 slices, it still looks whole.
So, any covered dish dinners coming up? I’ll donate a cucumber salad for your event. Ha! I’m off to grab my computer and research some cucumber recipes. I have lots to use and it’s so tasty, I don’t want to miss it.
Sometimes our plans are just that… our plans. I love it the way God makes us see that ours are not necessarily His. Beginning with the ‘unintentional’ and ending with a beautiful day of friendship and the gift of sharing a new discovery with my family and willing friends, the day was way more successful than I could have ever hoped. Remember, it’s about living better!
Feel free to share your impromptu moments below. I’d love to read them.
It’s been almost a year since I learned about life changing forever! Everything happened at once. It was both annoying, maddening, freeing, frightening and I felt blooming crazy.
One of the things that helped me find a little sanity was the Girl Project. I had always wanted to be able to go out to the back yard (garden, for my new UK buds) and sit in the morning with coffee or tea. I imagined myself enjoying writing from the patio, watching the dogs play safely away from the trucks (Texas folks like to drive trucks, ya know). I would be able to smell the aroma of beautiful flowers, see the green trees at their best, the blue skies of my rural life and there would be no work involved to keep it that way! Ha!
Well, the no-work part didn’t happen. I’ve had to pull some weeds, shape some shrubs and prune the roses. Much easier than if I had to do it all from scratch. Remember, I love my desk and my car… not a shovel or trowel. I love heat and air conditioning, not sweat and cold. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and I didn’t have to sprinkle the yard or cover anything from freeze. My “girls” made sure everything was just as I needed it to maintain their hard work and my granddaughters are closer to the ground than me, so they did a great job when the weeds started growing faster than I could pull.
It’s been getting a bit dry, and it looks like the rain is coming. The farmers across the road are mowing their pastures, so it must be time to mow the yard. My love is out there getting that done, so I took some time and scissors (I know it should be a different tool) and ventured out to see what blooms I could find before they get pounded away.
What a beautiful sight! I am so excited! Take a look at the blooms from the back yard. They weren’t there a couple days ago… yesterday we were out and about til dark, but this morning!! How exciting I am to show you the blooms I brought in!
Now, I’m not an arranger, so I guess I need to put that on my list of things to do in retirement. Because, the “girls” did so well, I know I’ll have blooms all summer on the hydrangeas, beautiful color from the variety of lily’s and the fragrant gardenia! The honeysuckle on the dog’s fence is fragrant and the rose bush is climbing across the new closed-in porch. The miniature crepe myrtles are still growing and I’m just totally excited. It’s going to be perfect.
After the rain, I plan to start loving my dream yard. I’ve picked out my tea cup, my tea flavor and I have the press all ready to go to the back yard on my beautiful copper serving tray from Avon Living. I’m glad I got it during the holidays. The copper is perfect. There are some beautiful serving pieces, I think I’ll just need to add to my perfect backyard table… stay tuned. It will be a great place to test products, write suggestions and continue my venture into my personal retirement transition. Who says you have to stop all work? Aren’t you supposed to do what you love? I love playing with makeup, rearranging furniture (poor hubs) and redecorating on a budget. The daylight will be fantastic!
Since this is written, maybe I won’t even “work” … just enjoy the day, the dogs and some lovely blooming success. Sometimes the success is just about living better in the moment.
Now, let’s all be thankful for the rain that WILL find my backyard! I have confidence in the farmer’s judgement, my girlfriends’ advice and good labors and my ability to adjust to my new found freedom.
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?
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!
This was mom’s Birthday week. Had she continued to walk on this earth she’d have celebrated 86 birthdays. She was 24 when I was born and 32 when the sixth child arrived. She could sing alto in the choir, work in the school cafeteria, dance in front of the TV, create feather flowers with the neighbors, drove the get-away car while we papered houses, and we could hear her calling at 9 pm, three blocks away. I’ve been thinking a lot about her this week.
I know my mom baked birthday cakes for us every year… I just don’t remember them. Not even one. She was a cook, when she worked and I’ve seen pictures of me with siblings standing around a cake or two.
I had two childhood parties for my birthday. The first, no one but my grandmother and family came (which was a crowd). I waited for friends, but honestly, I can’t remember if I invited them. Daddy had just poured a new sidewalk next to the porch and I took great care to draw a hopscotch game for the party. I found the flattest rocks in the backyard and smoothed them with water to use as a puck. I wore red shorts and played barefoot for hours hoping they’d come. It was thirteen days before Christmas and it was an unusually warm day in Texas. My sister told me to quit waiting because we ‘had built-in friends’ and we didn’t need them to have a party. I was 10.
Five years later, the second party was great! I had begged to have one at night. I was a member of the drill team, student council and choir at school, youth choir, Sunday School, and the Girl’s Auxiliary at church. I had close friends who lived near, or whose parents would drive them. Our home was tiny. Mom moved all the furniture around to give us a dance floor. My brother loaned me his black light posters and stereo. My sisters helped remove the pictures from the walls and hang the posters. In retrospect, I can’t believe she let us go to such redecorating lengths. We bought records that I loved with the money Grandpa gave me and my friends brought some, too. We had chips, dips and rice treats, Dr Pepper and Birthday Cake… it was store bought and decorated. I thought it was the best! We danced, laughed and the crowd spilled out to the front yard where a few innocent kisses were stolen while we whispered secrets to each other.
After most of the kids left, mom took my two stay-over guests and I out to play a little more. We gathered the pink toilet paper and blessed some unsuspecting acquaintances with being popular! It was an honor to be ‘papered’, ya know. Mom had a great arm… she could throw that roll over the highest tree or roof. I can still hear Daddy now… ‘Peggy, you’re going to pay the fine if you get caught’. She just smiled as we went out the door. We drove down the main city streets, vacant and inviting at midnight in the suburbs. She slows the car just enough to let the lights turn red. Someone yells ‘Chinese Fire Drill’ and everyone jumps out and must circle the car, and jump back in before the light changed. Giggles, trips and falls… after three or four of those, we were worn out and ready for sleep on the pallets prepared for us while we were gone. It was a wonderful Saturday night and Sunday morning was church day and we couldn’t possibly be late! First… off to our friends to help clean the yard! We wanted to stay friends … and we wanted their Dad to welcome us again! So up early… lots to do!
When I turned 40, Mom and Daddy drove 45 minutes to decorate the door of my downtown business with a big handmade sign (Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s Forty), placed a baby picture ad in my town’s weekly paper and delivered a home baked cake to my office. I arrived at work to find that sign and knew it was her doing. I was so glad they took time away from the daily fishing trip to join me for lunch. It was a great party.
Mom knew how to have a great party. Not the fancy kind with pretty glasses and silver, but the kind that touched you where it counted. In your heart.
My mother taught and lived this: everyone matters. It wasn’t some slogan, it was real. All six of us knew we mattered. Everything is not perfect when the family is large and simple. What matters is that she and Daddy grew a family and it is beautiful. Mom was the heart of our family and taught us to remember that the heart matters when it’s about living better!