It's About Living Better, Thoughts of the Day

Cucumber Smile

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.

lillmi.com
Beautiful produce from the Farmer’s Wife in Mt Pleasant, TX.  An impromptu smile!

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.

lillmi.com
Alexia and her trainee were so welcoming and knowledgeable… making the shopping experience very personal and pleasant.

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.

lillmi.com
Yummy cucumber, cherry tomatoes, purple onion slices mixed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Check out the huge cuke leftovers! I need a bigger family!

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.

As for tomorrow?  Bring on the impromptu!

 

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It's About Living Better, Thoughts of the Day

Blooming Success!

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!

bloomingsucccess

 

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.

 

 

 

It's About Living Better, Thoughts of the Day

It Really Happens!

The clock on the wall says I'm late! What was planned, anyway?
Time stands still, or does it?
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

It happened.

I forgot what day it was.

Does that mean I’m really starting to feel retired?  I never thought that day would come, although I have friends who have experienced that phenomena.  Until today, I couldn’t even picture not knowing not only what day it was, but what hour and what comes next in my day… in my life!

This morning, I knew I was going to see a friend.  And, I knew I was seeing her and her mom on Thursday.  And I did that-because it’s Thursday!  But, then, somehow, I jumped to Friday and lost the balance of Thursday!

In the past I lived by, with and sometimes, for my calendar. Life was all about the planning, the scheduling and feeling all put together and in control based on a calendar of events and lots and lots (and lots) of alarms, notifications and reminder tones.  (I’m a Texan, it takes a scenic tour to get all the words in there). I was the queen of schedules.  My favorite quote to my team:  “failure to plan, is planning to fail”.  I’ve heard that quote attributed to many, but I heard it from my former boss.

I even taught my children how important it was to plan ahead. They need to feel confident going about their school days. Writing assignments in the planner, checking them off, color coding… the works.  Laying out their books the evening before, choosing clothing and cleaning off their shoes… all are ways of planning for success.

Oh! And my husband… he will pick up a heavy object and not know where he’s going to put it… in a heartbeat! PLAN AHEAD, Man!  I have kept his Dr. appointments, renewal dates and seasonal clothing changes scheduled for many years.

Planning ahead is important, but I think now that I don’t work away from home,  I must master living in my moments. Learning to NOT live by the calendar is a task that I think will require planning! Don’t laugh… it’s true.  It takes 21 days, they say, to break a habit. But do I really want to?

Today, I missed an important appointment because I forgot it was Thursday.  Can my calendar remind me at mid day what the actual day is? Maybe I really have given up living by the calendar… I did lose track of the day, didn’t I?

Maybe I need a new morning routine that is tweaked to remind me of the day of the week.   After my morning routine, I could place orders (yes, I still sell a bit) on Monday, take photos every Tuesday, demonstrate on Wednesday’s, visit local parks or businesses on Thursday, laundry on Friday, batch cook on Saturday? Sundays are traditional, I never forget them.  I could still use a calendar for birthdays…  yes, and special events.

I guess my new goal in my discovery process will be to find the happy medium in planning.  Not being run by the calendar, but running the calendar.  The notifications will need to stay, but maybe I won’t need quite as many.

So, I’ll plan to plan minimally. I’ll be successful, I bet… because it’s about living better.

I hope the rest of your Friday is great! (wink, wink)

It's About Living Better, Products!, Thoughts of the Day

Walking in Texas

Clematis bloomed for the dogs
Aren’t they scrumptious! I wish everyone, not just the dogs, could see!

The weather is beautiful!  It’s about time.

The sun is bright and the wind is fair, so it’s time to walk.

In Texas, a walk at certain times of the day will almost always include mosquitos. The little jiggers just think they belong with someone who is trying to work up or sweat…or not.  They buzz around one’s head until you feel like you will fall over from swatting. I guess they actually help increase your heart rate. That could be a blessing in the long run.

I try to remember to wear something dark so just maybe, I can hide from them.  I always use the Skin So Soft products to ward them away naturally. You know, I read the herb, jojoba, is a natural repellent, so apparently that’s why the bath oil works so well.  I put a 1/2 cap full in the dog’s bath water to help her fight them off.  It’s not a product for outdoor-in-the-sun use! It’s OIL. Duh!  If you plan on being in the sun, around the water and require protection, look at the other Skin So Soft product, Bug Guard with SPF!

So during our walk, before I got off point, I noticed beautiful blooms in my garden! Everyone knows I have a brown thumb, so I was so excited I had to take a picture. Any beautiful thing that I don’t kill is a miracle to be sure.  So, I hope you love my picture of the clematis growing in my yard… on a trellis… facing the dog’s yard.  Ugh!

That’s right. The one thing I planted myself, that’s growing beautiful, only faces the dog’s yard! No one from the street can see  it.

 

Even if they are in the driveway, they can’t see it.  It’s the one plant I planted and grew successfully and my dogs are the only ones to enjoy it.

Except me.  Except you.   I hope you enjoy your walk… without any pesky tag along flying blessings. Enjoy the view.  It’s a great way to live better!

Airess Adventures, It's About Living Better, More Than Just Makeup, Thoughts of the Day

The Magic of Adulthood

Something happens when you are a young parent.  Every baby seems a bit brighter than the last, more talented than the neighbors child and more calm than the kid at the day care.  Oh, and those eyes! How adorable and did you know her poop smells sweet?

I remember one evening after work, sitting in my mother in law’s den after dinner talking about all the important lessons I wanted to teach my newborn.  Music, (classical, of course) books (Chaucer, thank you) and museums (art!).  I went on and on about what was available in our large city and how important it was for my baby to know all of them.  She said (probably in an effort to get me to stop talking), “I’m sure you’ll give your baby a wonderful life and then, you’ll have to enjoy the magic of adulthood”.   I didn’t understand.

Every child has challenges and rewards… even the golden and seemingly perfect require special attention that keeps a mom busy from daylight to dark.

Teens stretch the boundaries, practicing what we taught them as babies, to see if it will get them to adulthood at a quicker pace.  Letting them (and encouraging them) to reach a little further with each experience may be a little tough, but necessary.

How else will they learn to properly react and to make those secondary decisions? Tethers like rules, curfews, dress codes, speed limits, allowances… all are about living better in the future.  They are the seatbelt that keeps our children safe in the traffic of life.

Then the true magic happens.  They live to adulthood.  They graduate, make a few decisions, regret a few choices and reboot to survive nicely… without you.  Making that adjustment is easier for some parents (and children) than others.  It can be a sad time or a glorious freeing time.

Some however, must be stuck in the middle for a bit.  Being stuck in the middle can be an obvious bother to the new adult and the parent… that’s where I was for a long time. Stuck in the middle. Between their childhood and their adulthood. Between guiding and nurturing and helping them move on! Eventually, they move and finding your place becomes a little more difficult.

Stuck in the middle is like being forced to live the life of a wall flower. With emotions swelling up when you (think you know) know the answer, they won’t listen and both are afraid to take that step out – for fear of offending someone or being outdated and just flat wrong, or being ridiculed for a belief.  After spending years as the teacher, all of a sudden they can think for themselves and you wonder… “who told them they could do that”?  It’s humorous when you think of it.

Just recently, I discovered the magic of adulthood means someone else can plan the menu for a get together, take a dare and live through it, purchase clothes for the grandkids and be the helping hands this world needs. These magical adults can have their own opinions, disagree with mine, change their spiritual direction and move away!  They can move into a house, mop their own floor, fix their own car, shop for food and stay away for months, if they like.  They’ve learned the magic of adulthood and are living it.

So what does this magic mean for me?  freestocks-org-547542-unsplash.jpg

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The magic of adulthood allows me to move forward, pretend they aren’t sneering at my suggestions or political views, and enjoy their children and their futures from the side.  The magic of adulthood is not just for the children, it’s for all adults.  Music, art, museums without the diaper bag, road trips, laundry for two instead of for five is a snap, and trying new dances or walking paths can be an adventure. Enjoying the passion of entrepreneurial fun for profit, practicing music again, sharing free time as a local volunteer may be rewarding for some.

It’s looking pretty bright out there.

So, here’s to the magic. Here’s to the babies, now grown and gone from my lap. Here’s to the freedom to have beer at breakfast or champagne with lunch.  Here’s to time… to walk, to visit, to read and write.  To play dominoes and cards, to create beautiful gardens and clean guest rooms.  More music, art and museums, too!

The magic of adulthood awaits us, one and all and it’s definitely living better!

Our Girl Project

PROGRESS

The girls have been working hard, while I watch, look and plan.  I’m not a gardener, but I love looking at it, planning things I’d like to see and showing it off to my friends, who know me well!

Those friends know it is a chore for me to stop what I’m doing and water the pretties that adorn the ground in front of the brick.  They know that I’d much rather pay someone else to make it so. Don’t laugh… I would much rather be planning a booth at the fair and gathering help to run it.  But at the end of the day, I want to sit with my love in the “garden” and relax while the fur babies run and play.

So, as you can see, there’s a little progress on this day.first copy of shrubs

After removing the overgrown and ugly, the “girls” cleaned and cleaned to remove roots, grass and amazing finds (old bottle opener). They named all the critters that scampered out. PRINCE CHARLES is a lizard and Queenie is a butterfly.  DAMMIT is a sweat bee, and I forgot the King Snakes’ name. Before laying the black “plastic”, as I called it, we took a day and Ronnie (our token man on the job) sprayed for weeds and whatever.  That’s ALWAYS his job at this house.  Now we are ready for the plastic.   Of course, it has a name!  Vigoro Weed Barrier Landscape Cloth.  I chose it because it let the water through. I don’t want to be wasting my time watering plastic!  I picked it up during one of my many trips to Home Depot to plan this project.  It took 90 feet and then I bought another roll to do a smaller area in the yard, you’ll see later.

Next, they added the black lava rock.  I couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was and since our roof is black and some of the brick is charcoal, it makes a nice visual contrast. I hope there’s not an obvious negative reason the cost is low. If there is… I missed it.  So, for now, I’m good with it.  I hope the sharp edges will deter the critters from digging up prized goodies.

I bought the lava rock at Lowes.  The salesperson kept trying to sell me on the red because our dirt is redish and may stay neater and brighter, but I still love the black.  I looked at river rock, white rocks, egg rocks, mulch, and more mulch! Who knew there were so many choices.  The black lava rock was around $5 per bag and we have now cleaned out their inventory and are patiently waiting for more to arrive.  It’s lightweight, so it’s not a problem for our handy strong girl to move it from the truck to the garden.  In fact, she took care of that little chore before we even knew it!

I took off plant-shopping and found some lovely boxwoods at our local Hudnall’s Nursery in Pittsburg.  Steve and Sherry are the nicest people and Steve is full of great advice.  We ended up with dwarf crepe myrtles, something purple-ish and the boxwoods. They’ve been in the ground almost a month and they are doing fabulous!  He suggested we use Landscapers Fill instead of peat moss, for the nutrition.  I think it was a great suggestion, and again very affordable.

Next… the septic pipe.  Yes, we live in the country and there has to be a clean out spout.  Of course, we weren’t at home when this happened, or it wouldn’t be in the middle of the yard!  So, the delimma is how to hide it, but still have access.  We had the 16×8 cinder blocks, so down went the plastic and round went the block.  You’ll soon see the end and the change of this project.

We only have a couple hours a day to devote to this, as everyone has another job… except me!  I have a side gig with Avon.  It’s my Plan C.  I stay busy, helping others reach their dreams, whether it’s their skin care dreams or their earning dreams. It makes me feel good to help, and it’s inside, where it’s clean.

I’m still looking for ideas to dress up the septic clean out spout, so if you have any, just post them below.  Diana wants to build a gnome out of clay pots. It could be portable, but could we easily mow around it?

So, for now… the breezes are slowing as the evening comes.  I’ll be lighting the keva soon and we’ll have a toddy in our garden. Everyday brings us closer to the goal. Each day we invest in it and each day it grows more comfortable.  The Girl Project is coming along nicely.

Our Girl Project

It’s a Girl Project

I finally settled on a project.  Well, I’ve chosen several.  Visiting with my friends, the other night, I learned it’s pretty common to “bite off more than you can chew” when you first decide to retire.

So, I’ve backed up to regroup.

Three months ago today, New Avon gave us notice and I had to decide what my future would look like.  I’ve always had a plan and always known what my DREAM was, but not necessarily when it would happen.  So, I have had the opportunity to reflect and rethink the dream.

So, now… while returning to direct sales for my “gig”, I have time to complete a few projects that will lead to that picture I see in my future.

To have what I desire, I need a pretty back yard.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just neat and comfy with very little maintenance required.  I really do not like yard work, but enjoy the benefits… whether I earn them or buy them.

I called a friend that loves to do outside work and has some great ideas.  She’s known me for 35 years, so she knows my likes and dislikes.  She listens to my concerns and my goals and encourages me in a different direction when she knows there is upkeep on the horizon.

The message I left her went a little like this: “Hi, Sherry. I hope you are ok today. My yard and my future well-being require your assistance. I hope you are free to visit soon.”

THREE DAYS LATER, she got the courage to call. She knew it meant work, because she knows about me and outdoor work.

She asked lots of questions and I found the answers. She has another friend who loves that work and would like some extra bucks, so she can help.   It’s a girl project!

Day one comes and goes… no one shows up  – not even me!

Day two arrives with the overgrowth being yanked from around the house and add-on.  Progress.

No more overgrowth!
No more overgrowth! Only the hydrangeas will remain. The rose bush will be moved and the grapevines come down tomorrow!

They decided to save the rose bush, and use it in another area. The hydrangea stays, the monkey grass is relocated for a bit.

The numbers of critters in the garden are the main reason I don’t like gardening.

I watched with goose bumps as the spiders (of all kinds) scampered across the house, tools and ground to find a new dwelling.  The King snake had to relocate and the lizards were moving quickly to the other side of the house.

We picked up the soapy water bottle to allow the bees and yellow jackets to crawl away and find a new home and I hate to admit it, but we sprayed that huge nest of wasps from under our chairs!

yellowjacket
Imagine! Sitting on the rusty old chair and a baby yellow jacket lands on your knee. Then another, and another. I turned over that chair and discovered their hiding place where all the little fellas were handing on for dear life! Soapy water, wet their wings and allowed them to scamper off to another location. I don’t like them, but they have a purpose.

The mosquitoes are another story, so we grabbed the Bug Guard and the Skin So Soft to be fully prepared.

Our brick has so many colors, I’m excited to shop for ground covers, plants and “littles” that personalize an area.   But, that’s another day.  For now… I feel comfortable walking outside where the plants used to reside and see the cleaned area with the weeds slowly giving way for a future oasis that is lovingly referred to as our girl project.

Growing the Business, Products!

Success is about the WHATEVER

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.adobe-spark-post (2)

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?

Growing the Business, Thoughts of the Day

Friday… day

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 soGorgeous Purple flowersmeone 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.

Thoughts of the Day

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.