It's About Living Better, Thoughts of the Day

It’s Been Awhile

I’ve never taken a month off in my life!  This was a first.

No writing, no recruiting for my direct sales endeavors, no creating posts or following up. No phone calls for orders (I just took what came in and felt grateful), no suggesting new products or looking for new affiliates. No cooking or dishes, no yard work.

I didn’t even enter my office.

The laptop was more of a dust-top!

So, how did I spend that valuable time?  We took a little 10 day road trip, then a smaller 3 day road trip and then…  we did whatever the day brought.  vladislav-babienko-703733-It's Been Awhile.jpg

Studies have long suggested that vacationing was good for productivity, creativity, employee morale and our overall health.  Many workers still don’t take vacation due to work constraints or finances.

In our case, Honey was physically worn out and needed to just lay around and let his muscles recoup. After years of physically carrying his day to day load, walking more than 7 miles with it and the time pressures of completing his daily rounds successfully, he was tired, sore and finally required hip surgery. These days, those same workers drive that 7+ miles and work in clusters. I guess it took the old guys time to get to the decision influencing level to save those following in their footsteps.

Later, workload didn’t keep me from going on vacation, it kept me from taking time to plan a vacation. We would choose the date in January and then, months later, the appointed day would appear and nothing would be in place to make it a good, quality release. So short “vacays” or combining vacation days with other events became the norm.  I’m here to tell you that those are just not the same as the last month we took off and were spontaneous most of the month.

We are not big travelers. Airlines have their share of issues these days and the airports are so crowded. There are just too many people around for us.  We don’t live off the grid, but my children would tell you we are in the middle of nowhere.  We like our peaceful surroundings, trees, no traffic (about 6 cars a day)… so traveling to big cities, in airports, train stations, etc. have no appeal.  Been there. Done that. It was fun.

We like to drive.  We like to be close enough to see the mountains, the trees, the animals, the local restaurants, the artisans and walk around small town streets.  I like visiting local museums, playing with grandchildren, cooking with my daughters and swimming alone.  He likes sleeping late, hotel waffles and looking at old stuff.  If we could figure out how to travel with both dogs, we would be in heaven.  Leaving them overnight, much less 10 nights, takes planning! And not worrying about them while we are gone uses up half the time of the “no stress” theme. They are so spoiled, boarding just won’t work. Besides, they always stink when they get home.

The dogs are big and what I call, yard-dogs.  They are mixed up breeds, sweet, affectionate and loud.  We didn’t train them to walk on a leash or socialize them (because that wasn’t a thing in our rural home), and they really like running in and outside all day. We won’t be traveling with them anytime soon.  They think the only time you get in the car is to go to the vet for shots and pedi’s.  Walks down the oil top road are familiar routes and don’t require leashes that keep control.

We planned half this vacation. I put my direct sales business,  Avon  on auto and we hired our friend to come each morning to feed the dogs, give them access to the yard and play with them for a bit. Then, our daughter stopped by each day to rub on them and hand out the treats. Our friend returned again and locked them up for the night because in the pasture and woods there are coyotes and now, a lingering bobcat.  See what I mean, it takes planning.

For my direct sales businesses, (retired doesn’t mean dead) I used Hootsuite.com to schedule all the posts on the pages and groups, packed note pads and copies of brochures to have at my fingertips.  I notified everyone that we would be on vacation, left them the website addresses and promised them a treat if they placed orders on the website during my absence. These businesses, can run automatically because they can use technology to get service and I’ll still earn a bit. I just need to work ahead.  Knowing that everyone is taken care of makes leaving for a few days, quite easy.  The few messages I received on my phone were forwarded to my lovely daughter for handling.  She was able to fill some emergency orders (gifts) from my very limited inventory and enter a few orders for non-techy customers in the Avon app, so I could complete it when I arrived home.

A couple things came up (with the dogs) during our half-planning that made us delay our trip by a week. But, when you are driving and retired, a week is nada!

Finally! The day has arrived.  Did we get up all energetic and ready to go?  No… we slept late, ran some errands, had lunch with friends and left at 5:30 pm on a half planned 3,000 mile road trip! No reservations, just the gps app and an end goal.  First stop… Ft. Worth (3 hours), to drop off my favorite living plant. Daughters-in-love are grand, especially when they have a green thumb!

No stress, no mess, ready to drive. Looking for mountains and grandchildren out west.

 

 

 

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!

 

www.youravon.com/lil
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!

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.