Lillmi's Blog

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!

 

 

 

We apologize- your approximate wait time is 11 minutes.

If I’m lucky, they will offer to return the call … in 11 minutes or more… but I won’t lose my place in line!  Yeah, right… how do I know that and where is this line?  I’m a strange person that loves to stand in line!

Anytime I see a line of people, I simply get in the longest one and start talking! It’s a great place to meet people and learn how their world is different from mine.  Sometimes I find a person I can help, if they are open to it.  Sometimes they need to know what I have learned, but they just don’t know it yet. Always, I learn from them. It’s a matter of listening.

I know someone who would be terribly embarrassed while I do my “line thing”, so I try to shop alone. The samples in my bag or the business card in my hand never take away from the store owners objectives because I love to shop at successful businesses!

They have the longest lines, you know.

So, how can I stand in line for 11 minutes while I’m on the phone… waiting for the approximate moment someone will answer?   Let me check on my online friends… who is standing in line with me today?

PROCESS:

Send a PM to Billie… “Wanna do lunch?  I have something new to share!”

Apply SSS Soft and Sensual  REPLENISHING Hand lotion! The fragrance alone makes waiting better! When I’m in an actual line of fellow humans, the soft fragrance always evokes curiosity!

LOVE a post of Zanders then follow up later today with a call.  “Got time to visit?”

TEXT a great product story to a follower in the northeast. Her son has his first date tonight!

EMAIL Polly about her leggings! What a snazzy design!  I wonder what she’s up to these days.

POST Birthday wishes to everyone…. There! Done!

Oops… 10 minutes… gotta get my thoughts back around the person waiting to give me great news! I’ve worked my way near the front of the line, I trust!  I wonder what I will learn about the personality on the other end of the line?

 

The process is unfamiliar.  The benefits are obvious.  I have to admit, it takes practice.

Taking time to sit and enjoy the morning sunshine (or clouds, for that matter) can be enlightening.  Take today, for example.  I like to sit barefoot.  The cool stones feel fresh and my favorite pair of Clarks get to rest a bit.  The usual grass was laying about and I realized, I had a choice.  Let it lie or sweep it up.  No one really cares.

Taking a little slower pace is probably good for everyone – except while playing Super Mario with the grands!  Walking with Trixie requires a little enthusiasm to avoid being dragged up the oil top road, but she LOVES a slow brushing session when we return.

We watch the neighbors walk by (they must sleep later, as we are already sitting at the patio table when they appear).  The young couple across the road are moving quickly to load the vehicles and get down to the oil top to start their daily work ritual. Two more trucks head to work and we are alone again. The neighborhood is quiet.

Today I plan to work further on the process of slowing down. The plan is to enjoy each day as God intended.  I think HE intended us to be happy… or why would we have apples, oranges and beautiful red flowers?

Spending some time in the flowerbed,(unearthing the worms and relocating some of them to the other side so they can slowly work the ground) reading, reflecting and sharing, making music and cooking food are all great options for today.  I’ll need some lemon water and SSS Bug Guard – the one with SPF.

Maybe today I’ll use a pen and paper to write… slowly, so the penmanship is pretty, again.  I bet I can do that barefoot at the patio table… don’t you?

BOOM! Trixie Adventures

BOOM! 

Trixie grass
trixie scared

Trixie is still here! She’s still our baby.  When the fireworks started she came a runnin’!

Her secure spot is anywhere she can get to rub against us. Either under our feet, on the sofa next to us (#$#$%^&), or with her head safely tucked on our laps.  She moves from one person to the next until she feels safe.

This morning she was raring for a walk (since she wouldn’t go out last night). It was just before daylight and the wind was whispering: “I dare you to come out… I’ll hold the rain back until you get at least 1/2 mile from the house”.  The birds were just barely singing and the world was still quiet. No cars… just Trixie and I walking up the hill to our target turn around, and the wind.  She’s a great walker. Slowly and surely she walks ahead, checking out all the new roadside adventures.  Today, a turtle waited for us- yesterday it was a Texas speed bump.  They sniffed at each other and the walk continued.  She took a sniff at the fresh grass and the overflowing pond across the way.  I enjoy the peace that comes in the morning walk – the stretch my legs needed so badly after a nights rest.   And the rain came… 1/2 mile before we reached home again.

THEN… BOOM!  Thunder struck and here comes Trixie… to the safe place, under my finger tips… all the way home in the rain.