Happy Birthday

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!

It’s a Process

Stunning photo! by Patty Black on unsplash
The time it takes to change to a beautiful creature, with a peaceful purpose, is for me!

It’s a process.

Trying to find balance in a world that was created around family and work and responsibility.  To renew beliefs that have always been there but not fully explored while off doing other things.

It’s a process to be comfortable doing nothing, or having nothing required of you except what you determine.

Photo by Patti Black on Unsplash   (beautiful, huh?)

As a young mother, the days were ordered.  Get up at the first whimper, place everything in order before the full-out assault to the morning and get everyone and everything done before running out of the house to work. After work chores included a time schedule to get everyone to bed on time and ready to repeat the morning ritual.

Hopefully, everyone leaves in a great mood, ready to attack the day with a positive attitude.  That, too, takes it’s toll.  It can be exhausting to take on the responsibility of everyone’s happiness.

As I’ve aged and they are raising their own, I see the challenges from a different perspective. I see them accepting the responsibilities with more grace than I.  I think that’s a positive thing. They have a clear direction for their families and goals for the future.  More positive to enjoy.  I see God’s blessings as they move forward with their lives.

My mom and dad retired. I mean, they actually did not work or even think about having anything else to do after they retired.  They fished, she quilted, he watched tv, they gardened, took long drives, played dominoes with church friends, helped others and they took turns bugging us on the phone.  It was sweet and I loved those little phone calls about the weather or the mosquito population.

I don’t know anyone doing that anymore.  I just don’t know them.

Everyone retiring has something else to do.  They trade stocks, write blogs, sell handmade crafts, sell antiques, sell a used car or two and some even work part time at local businesses (where they probably have a trusted connection) that need a little extra help now and then.

I have an 80+ year old friend that continues to care for one infant in her home, until  the baby can crawl.  Then they move on and she takes another for some lucky working mom who needs a grandmother to nurture her newborn while she is away. What a great job!

Many sign up to sell something. It’s the easiest thing to do.

Some just want to sell a little product they believe in.  It’s a good way to earn a little and stay sharp with business skills.  It’s a good way to contribute to social causes, too.  Selling the products that benefit the American Cancer Society, for instance.  Those who sell the products earn a little here and there and enjoy a personal discount.  Usually, 20-40%, based on their volume of designated products.  They purchase materials and pay shipping from those earnings (so take about 10-15% of those earnings away) and the sales taxes collected benefit the communities where the products are sold.

The problem is the recruiting.

Most direct sales companies have realized that using the MLM model is a money maker for them… and their top recruiters. So, why wouldn’t they offer that to everyone?  The truth is, very few recruit. Most sell and will take a recruit if they walk in the door or sign up under them.  They’ll get a small bonus for that effort and possibly a 1099 to go with it.

Those associates who choose to pursue the dream of success, using the MLM stream, are flooding the social networks, emails and all other phases of communication. There’s so much of it that now  many potential customers will not even look at the products (which could be smart purchases) because they don’t want to get flooded with opportunity reminders… over and over and over again.   I don’t blame them.

The saturation of consultants in MLM’s is great. I have seen, from experience, that there are so many more non-successful at reaching their dreams, than there are those who reach the top.  But, then… where is the “top”, for you?  HOPE.  That’s their magic.  Offering hope. Because anyone CAN, but few DO.

The saturation is so great because they tout  “start your own business” for such a small monetary investment and the “freedom to work as you please” while the newbies dream of posting on the social medias and waiting for the orders to flood the carts!  NOT! When the big offers of success disappoint, they quit.

Because the company forgot their new associate signed up to sell a few good products to their contacts and that WAS their dream. Then the companies brainwash those well meaning sales associates to buying into the HOPE.   And, the MLM label killed their initial dream.

It’s a process.

As I enter this new stage of life, I really want to sell some great products I believe in. Having worked in the industry as an employee, I have learned the value of the products and their ingredients.  While I’m not actively recruiting, I’ll gladly help anyone who does happen to sign up under me.  I’m not goal-reaching, other than buying and selling at a good return. It’s something I love to do and I hope the MLM aspect of my company will not hold me back.

This is truth. And it took me a time to come to this point.

When I first started, I went all out. I worked it like a business.  Every day I made 5 to 10 contacts and every day I posted or wrote posts for scheduling. I gave up weekends for events and spent a portion of everyday in self development.   In the first six months, I signed over 20 new associates. I earned bonuses and even a trip. It was fast and furious.  It was fun, getting to know my team and helping them get started.  Within 3 months, all but 11 are gone. Because they only wanted to sell a few products, not recruit. Because selling just a few products doesn’t make the money all the video’s and training talk about and everything the company offers as incentives, is focused on the recruiting.  They only wanted to sell!

So I asked myself.  Do I want to retire with the stress of working it like a business?  Or why did I come here?   I know, first hand what must be done.  I came here to prove a point.  I wanted to show them they chose wrong. I could do it better than most.  So, I did.   I took their bonus money, their rewards, even the trip and now I have confirmation that I don’t want to retire with the stress of working it like a business.  I want to sell a few great products.

And, I still love some of the products. And, I really like some products my friends sell.   I want to speak honestly about those products, and if someone orders from my affiliate website, I could earn a bit, but I want them to not be afraid of receiving too much spam. Did you know you can buy and then unsubscribe? A customer has a choice!

When I started blogging, my goal was to document the discovery process of my unplanned retirement.  I’ve looked into affiliate links, cottage industries and the printable market.  The thing they have in common is that they are selling something.

What I’ve learned, is it’s the same.

While it’s not a designated MLM, numbers do count.  They earn by recruiting others to their affiliate or t-shirt business or download or membership site!  It’s the same thing – without the label.  Getting attention to your site or the proper link is recruiting. It’s selling.  The payoff doesn’t come with a pre-paid trip (but you can buy your own without paying income tax on it) and you don’t need a fancy title to find your success.  The dream is the same… hope.  We hope to find joy in writing and recruiting to our affiliate(s).

It was a process.

I choose to sell a few great products that I believe in. Those products happen to be sold by some companies who also offer the MLM stream of income  – but those companies  are more than an MLM and, personally, I believe they do themselves a disservice by not finding a better balance between the earning opportunities and the product offerings.

The associates who represent the products should not be punished or held back because of that lack of balance. After all, they came here to sell a few good products with a good name to some good people who have supported the company for years and years.

I hope the MLM description of the companies that sell my favorite products, won’t kill my selling dream. My dream is about living better.  What’s yours?