Lillmi's Blog

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?

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.

Artful Opinions

What a blistering week we’ve had!

I’ve read the complaining posts on several sites over the last few weeks about the Confederate statues and flag and I have to admit, I had to search for my own personal opinion.

Not that it matters, except that I really don’t like apathy and lately, it seems I have subscribed to it.  So, as I delve closer to the retirement path,  I’ve done some reading… from books…. real books.  I visited a library and found several books with hard backs, comfy paper and black typed words.  I can do that now.

Admittedly, I’ve skimmed them, picking and choosing my paragraphs (at least I’m honest about it) and here’s what I’ve concluded about myself.

I love statues for their art.

I am intrigued at the story of others lives.

Artists and those laborers who assisted, poured their heart, blood, sweat and muscle into the very core of  those projects.  They are mostly beautiful to behold and intricate in detail. Every mouth, hoof and eye are painstakingly designed and formed.  Every pedestal is planned, chiseled and completed to meet the display need.

In full disclosure, I am a 4th generation, direct descendant of a Confederate officer.

I am in agreement that if the offensive statues and monuments were placed there in hate… they should be removed in love.  Peacefully, with a purpose, in order to teach the promise of love.  Rather than destroy beautiful pieces of art, plan their appropriate removal. House them properly and use them to teach our future generations.

Those that were placed in the early years after the war, honoring the services of those who did what their hearts deemed right, are heartwarming tributes to a difficult time for everyone.   The marble monument stands to remind me that my relative was brave enough to stand for his belief when the call to action was sounded.  I didn’t know him, and didn’t know his opinions.  What I know is that he and the others in the small community felt compelled to serve.  He wasn’t apathetic and as far as I can tell, not wealthy or of a particularly high rank in his community until his valor and service deemed him suitable for advancement.

First Lieutenant David Richard Reynolds, CSA monument in cookville

It was the right thing for the time period in this community. To serve meant to act honorable.

Similar instances have occurred throughout our lives.

Vietnam war memorials have been erected and are enjoyed by millions, prompting patriotism and honor for lost family members and community acquaintances.  One day, someone will declare them a tragedy because of the atrocities that occurred and destroy the beautiful tributes to a difficult time.

Each war is strenuous for its citizens.  No war should be forgotten, regardless of the unfavorable sufferings and sorrow of its’ citizens. I would hope my great-grandchildren could have a peaceful way to learn and observe what can happen when the country must exude force.  

This part of transitioning to retirement is an important surprise to me. I have found so much more news and not all of it is hate-filled. But to find the great stories on heroes and everyday good… once must look beyond the obvious outlets.   While the streets are crowded with protesters, demonstrators (both loud and peaceful) and the skylight above is dimming from the nearing eclipse, I  can only hope and pray that someone, somewhere will see the true value in the art… and use it wisely.

I wonder about your opinion.

Oatmeal Memories

After a recent post where I mentioned the missing oatmeal, I received an email inquiring about the cookies.

Sometimes an event perceived as awful at the time can bring great, lasting humor to a family. The entire family can repeat the incident, but not without tear jerking laughter.

I think it’s amazing the choice of lifetime events we can access from our memories.  The feelings of frustrated embarrassment and the hilarious reactions of the teens present on that particular morning bring me such joy .

Parents spend a ton of thoughtful energy trying to choose the activities that shape and mold or at least provide distraction.

The outdoor activities – those involving water, sun and sky are the ones that have lasted with my family – and the kitchen adventures.

Once, after arriving home following a business trip Thanksgiving eve, with 16 or so coming to lunch, I grabbed my recipes and journeyed the seven miles to town to buy groceries.  Well, just imagine what products the store may have been running low on and you can guess the adaptation EVERY recipe would require! It was a catastrophe.  One of the ‘issues’ was the broth for dressing.  So my non-cook brain settled on soup.

Just let me end this quickly for you. Imagine dressing from a meatloaf pan, thick enough to be SLICED, and gray enough to scare anyone off!  To this day, no one even thinks of me when dressing is on the menu.

But, they all remember the day, the laughter and my personal decision to never cook dressing again!!

See, that activity shaped and molded some of the best cooks. I know them all… my children, nieces, husband, brother and in laws. They all have specialties and they all love to cook.  I have to say, the hubs probably became great at cooking out of necessity.

Aren’t I the lucky one?

 

 

What time do I need to wake?

Answer: I don’t NEED to wake!  

Change the sentence, please.  

What time do I want to wake?  

Answer: When I’m needed.

It seems that years spent multi-tasking for someone else has taught me to live my life around the NEEDS of the ______  (you can fill it in).  Moving from one topic or project to the next by spinning quickly was the way to control my surroundings. Staying in control was the point, after all.  Make yourself valuable and you’ll always work, I’ve learned.

No one NEEDS me to do anything.  The children are grown the hubs is really independent and I have no job.  In this new world, I often just sit and think about my next move, because I’m the only one who needs me today.

Before, the deadlines dictated the speed in which I made decisions.  Now, before I know it, I’ve “thought about it” for several hours and imagined many different scenarios, not reaching any destination on that map.

This morning, for instance. I headed to the laundry room to start a load and out of the corner of my eye I saw the beautiful handcrafted pantry shelf by the back door.  Now, I’ve not been one to really care about the pantry… except that the shelves were functional and available. My sweet husband painstakingly built the pantry to my perfect specs. The shelves had to be narrow to fit in a hallway, and I needed it to be sealed so I could clean it properly.  The shelves are a perfect compliment to the kitchen cabinets in the adjoining room.

I spent years cooking every meal for the family, until he retired.  He always cooked some along the way, after I planned it, did the dreaded shopping and always cleaned up afterward.   After he retired, he took over all the cooking responsibilities and that was perfect for me!

No more oatmeal raisin cookies missing the oatmeal for me!

Today, in my new life… learning to NOT WORK outside our home, I am compelled to move that can of beans further back on the shelf so it won’t fall.

BAD MISTAKE! There goes my focus.

Well, just suffice it to say, the cans are all sorted, dusted and neatly placed on those handcrafted, beautiful shelves.  The boxes are all faced to the front and the bags are secure in plastic containers.  The wood has been dusted and

Pantry Shelves, a distraction for a time

little “gifts” left in the corners (screws, nuts, light bulbs, non-working batteries) have all found another home and the beautiful pantry is well organized.  I’ve swept the floor, the cob webs from the corner and even the ceiling. I cleaned the windows in the door and as my eyes wander away from my project, out the windows to the dusty car… but first!

What’s the target for today, I remind myself. 

From the book, Intentional Living, by John Maxwell,  I learned that it’s ok to do new things badly the first time.  I’ll do them again, and next time I’ll do it better — keeping my eyes on the target, completing at least one task at hand, on time without getting sidetracked.

 

An hour later and once again, I’m headed toward the filled washer (now with cool, no suds-water) to start the load.  If I just hadn’t glanced away. If I just had kept my eyes forward, focused on the task at hand, the load would be done!

One step in front of the other, then check back to see what I missed! That’s the plan!

 

 

 

rFor the last several years, I’ve been completely enthralled with my Avon adventure! The people with whom I worked were completely fun and supportive and I enjoyed the semi-competitiveness of the nature of our work.  Those dedicated representatives in the various districts, for which I had responsibility, are as varied as there are representatives. Each is different… each has a different agenda… each achieves it in her own way and each provides a tribute to her heritage and her indomitable, entrepreneurial spirit.

I’ve given up a lot since taking it on.  Not because anyone said I had to, but because the job was extraordinarily fascinating and empowering and exciting and joyful and really made me feel needed and wanted and important and successful – ah, there it is… SUCCESSFUL!

I have met and now enjoy knowing the most incredible group of women. They come from all walks of life, and as you may expect, bring with them their own little quirks and joys.  I’ve met those from other countries, other socio-economic backgrounds and different belief systems. Their music, their food, their values – more than entertaining and enlightening,  They, above all else, have made my time with Avon meaningful.

All things must change, I hear.  Avon became New Avon, with new values and ways of working. They finally pulled the trigger on the tough decision of eliminating the balance of my position with the company.  I’m sure someone had empathy with us, but I didn’t see it anywhere. That’s NEW Avon. Heartfelt sentiments would be the old Avon.

The good thing… a new adventure begins soon.  As with every job opportunity, I’m taking with me a new set of skills. Taking a look at our place in this world at this time… Ronnie and I are surprised to see that, it’s really time for us to take time for ourselves.  Another new challenge awaits as I figure out how NOT to work for anyone else.  Think I can do it?

My first job was at the ripe old age of 15 and I earned $1.00 per hour.  Since that time, I’ve worked with the exception of maternity leave for a few months with each child.  Amazing how time flies!

So, as I look back at all the people I’ve met, the children I’ve watched grow, the changes in the world around me and the exceptional working women I’ve known… it’s been a great run.

I loved working for the global Avon. As with any large ship, it takes a long time to make it turn around in the ocean. I wish I had been there earlier to enjoy the calm seas.

I have to say thanks to Avon for yet another milestone in my life… the opportunity to stop and acknowledge a long working history and the return to something more fun. Now my goals will be mine alone- what a change. It was inevitable.

Shabby Chic Dog

We saved her.

She arrived on the first day of school… and was still in the driveway when I came home from work.

A day or two later, she’s still in the car port. We realized she couldn’t walk very far because her pads had slipped. Someone told me that their pads slip when they are chasing a vehicle down the black top road (probably trying to keep up with her owner).

How rude! 

Someone brought this lovely creature and left her in the Texas August heat, without water or food… to fend for herself.

Now, let me tell you that I am/was not a “dog” person per se. I’ve had cats for over twenty years and only twice in my life did I own a dog… jointly, with siblings.  So, keeping a dog- especially, a HUGE dog was not in the plan. 

We advertised, posted her on Facebook, told everyone we knew that we had a beautiful, white, house trained dog living with us that needed a home. We had her spayed,  groomed,  everything we could to make her appealing to a new  home.

She’s still here.

And her name is Trixie Honeysuckle. She has three pillows and rotates between them throughout the day. Did I mention she is Large?  She weighs 72 pounds and the vet mentioned that her ideal weight is 80. She walks on a leash, sits for treats, LOVES to ride in the truck… and she’s ours.  She knows where her home is and can make her way back without us. 

So, a large white dog in a 2100 sq. ft. home, with no fenced yard, means we sweep, dust and vacuum daily. We bought a Ferminator… God’s gift to dog owners… and we brush, bathe, pet, cuddle and walk our baby on schedule. It’s a good thing the hubs is retired!  We’ve made friends with the vet, vet-tech and the spa keeper.  

We’ve met neighbors we hadn’t become acquainted with previously, because they have dogs! We buy silly toys we haven’t had in the house since the grandchildren were babies. We always have cheese cubes available, now. They are the “gold” treat.

Today, exactly 7 months since she came to us… I redecorated the living room.  No longer will you see olive sofa’s with long white dog hair clinging to the sides… or her long white offerings laying on the dark coffee table.  I found the perfect decor to match the perfect dog — shabby chic. 

So, don’t come looking for her now, she belongs in this home… our shabby chic dog, in our shabby chic home! 

Perfect.