Our Girl Project


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!

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, Thoughts of the Day

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.

Blessings, Thoughts of the Day

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.Slide44

The outdoor activities – those involving water, sun and sky are the ones that have lasted with my family, the holiday fun – 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?

Blessings, Thoughts of the Day


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.

Now, 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 meals 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  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!