When Retirement Isn’t Retirement

One of the pleasures of retirement lies in enjoying friends through an extended and delightful lunch on a Friday afternoon.  Of course, none of us consider ourselves retired.  Larry manages rentals.  Bill manages too many acres.  Debbie and I own small businesses.  Here’s the thing:  Every retired person needs a side gig.

Why, you ask?

  • Who couldn’t use a designated stash of mad money for travel?
  • Who actually enjoys living on a strict budget of just Social Security?
  • Who needs to pique the brain with stimulating interests?

I think I just described 99.9% of all seniors.  Boomers, think about the tax deductions if nothing else!  If you simply cannot fathom yourself in a side gig, comment below and let’s email back and forth.  I’m full of ideas.

Friends who know me will affirm this truth:  I am a serial entrepreneur, and at various seasons in my life I dabbled in several age-appropriate side gigs.  When the boys were young and being home schooled, I wrote a monthly home school magazine and earned side money as a freelance graphic designer publishing corporate newsletters.  When I owned a flourishing bead business and traveled to trade shows across the country, I also enjoyed a travel business.  Each served me well.  Each earned some money, but mostly  I found them immensely rewarding.  I haven’t changed.  Right now I sell a fabulous affordable skincare line, and am positioning myself as a blogger.  Writing brings me full circle to how I started, and since I think better with a pen in hand, it suits me.  Writing brings my soul to water and refreshes me.

Find friends who share your interests and live life more fully, with grace and gusto.  Retirement isn’t retirement.  Not really.  Hopefully not ever.

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Travel the World for Essential Oils…and never leave home.

Tonic for the WinBare It All micellar Tonic is my new best friend.  Yes, it removes makeup, but I seldom wear face paint.  So why do I love it so much?

First of all, look at the potpourri of herbal infusions packed into this baby!  Lavender, sage, peppermint and chamomile.  What a winning combo!  The toner gives my face a squeaky clean feeling, tightens my pores, and evens out my coloring.  What’s not to love?

Beyond that, look at its value.  One bottle costs $20 and it lasts me over a year, which averages out to about a nickel a day.  I consider that a pretty hefty savings.  Posh aims at being value-driven and Posh lovers everywhere appreciate their devotion to tight budgets.  Buy 5 and get 1 free, long-lasting and used in droplets…my pocketbook (and my husband) it.

Instructions on usage:  I use little round cotton pads from the drugstore.  I tip up the toner and pat four or five drops onto the cotton pad.  Begin at the center and gently round outward on your face.  Never rub hard, but just gently grace your skin with this lovely bouquet and let it do its work.  If remnants of makeup color stain your little pad, go again.  Apply a second moisturizer for the night and sweet dreams!

How do you get this fabulous elixir, you ask?  Travel to my site at http://www.madaboutposh.com and click on SPECIALTY FACE.  You’ll see the Bare It All toner in the fabulous array of products that complement your skincare regimen.  If you love adventue, poke around the other collections and enjoy a host of great naturally-based wonders.  I love to travel, but my pocketbook limits my forays to distant places.  Thankfully, Posh does the footwork for me, collecting the best ingredients from around the world, putting together just the right recipe, and seeking out companies right here in the good old USA to make their products.

We tone up a lot of things, like muscles and printers.  Why not our faces?  Keep your skin young and healthy, so people exclaim, “What?!! You’re going on 70?!! No way!”  I always sing the praises of my skin care routine.

I Suck at Hula Hoops

I know people who sway with the greatest of ease.  Hula hoops made their debut while I dawdled on the swings in third grade.  Kids on my block counted those plastic revolutions until I got dizzy trying to keep up.  Come to think of it, I fail at ALL categories of spinning.  My friends rhapsodized about the fun of carnival rides until I couldn’t wait to try one.  I rode my first in 5 grade, but it left me green and I truly woofed up my cookies.  Yup, I suck at all spinning things.

Yet every one of us manages to dance our way around the sun, day in and day out.  Some of us perform like a rapper with a caffeine buzz, while others waltz gracefully without breaking a sweat.  As you correctly imagine, I never end up at the waltzing end of that continuum.  I’m more the awkward spinner who never balances the hoop correctly and often sways madly trying to keep it from hitting rock bottom.  And when I try spinning multiple hoops?  Put 911 on speed dial.  Really.  One item at a time, please.

The gyrations of life sometimes leave me dizzy and disoriented.  I offer you three simple remedies should you be more like me than you care to admit:

  • First of all, determine your presence in this hula hoop contest we call life.  More than showing up, commit to engage in the process, improving each day in spite of your lack of coordination. Realize every single person on the planet sways in a rhythm personalized by circumstance and respect those differences.  Life=Swaying.
  • Secondly, serve others.  Today.  This minute.  Think of someone who needs your help and give it willingly.  That small act of service in your corner of the world, done by folks all around the globe, keeps our planet-spinning hoops from hitting rock bottom.  We all need a little timely help to keep the hoops swaying.
  • And finally, set apart 5 minutes or more for introspection.  This last step, most critical of all, helps you find your balance.  Isaiah said it well:  “Get thee up into the high mountain.”  As you gain a better perspective, life makes more sense.

I like to believe that hula hoops don’t define me.  I am more than the soul buffeted by swirling winds and dizzying life experiences.  I once saw a documentary on the frenetic lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties, and witnessed a world spinning out of control.  The crash was inevitable, but only because their hoops got so far out of whack.  By showing up, serving others, and finding balance my crazy world spins under control.  A hundred million of us all swaying in sync, keeps society’s crazy hoops from crashing.   I may sway like a drunken sailor, but hey!  I’m swaying.  I remind myself every day, “Be the hoop!  Just be the hoop!”

 

Count it All Joy

The new Posh line releases this week…without me.  (sigh)  I love Posh.  I love everything about Posh, except for missing conferences.  Ann Dalton designed this conference with me in mind, I’m sure, because it promises to be right up my alley, it being held in Nashville and with me being a country girl and all.

I wanted to go.  I mean, I really wanted to go.  But alas, I admit it was simply not meant to be.  The conference date this year got rescheduled from August to July, smack dab in the middle of summer church camps.  Dutifully (sigh), I decided to keep my priorities straight.  God first.  Posh somewhere down the line.  (sigh)

Summer camps became a summer thing for me more than 30 years ago.  People always tell me to have fun when I get ready for a camp, and I must look at them with that strange, are you an alien from outer space and do understand my language kind of gaze that leaves us all feeling just a little unsettled.  They do realize I’m not going as a camper, right?  It’s not about me having fun; it’s about me pouring out myself in service for others.  I find it fulfilling, not fun-filled.

Yet serving at youth camps does fill my soul.  The friendships garnered over the years enriched my life beyond measure.  They comforted me in an overwhelming way when Alma died, and I count those friends more precious than diamonds or dollars.  The rich comradeship from working on projects that actually go off without a hitch, or well, with very few noticeable hitches, I find more valuable than a paycheck.  And the moments I feel God smiling I count most precious of all.  Like Paul, I count it all joy.

I’m camping this week, but you can bet I’m humming an old country love song in my heart.  And I promise, no sighing!

The Therapeutic Value of Touch

The old saw rings true, “Once a nurse, always a nurse.”  I learned as a youngster the value of touch.  My mother was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis before I ever entered the world, and a rough touch left skin slips or bruises on her fragile skin.  I learned early on the art of grasping without leaving a mark.  I learned as a student in pediatrics that babies denied a loving touch develop a syndrome known as failure to thrive and die without intervention.  A gentle touch became ingrained as a way of life.

I now home school a sweet red-headed grand with freckles and a lovable chuckle.  In almost every way she is a delight.  She’s just…messy!  Very, very messy.  I often wonder how a little girl who loves Fancy Nancy and all things pretty, especially all things that sparkle, can present me such ugly work.

Do overs, extended bouts of penmanship, scolding, praising, nothing fazes her.  Every day I see her becoming more and more entrenched in habits of messiness. Thus I decided one day, after receiving yet another page of abominable handwriting, that radical action be taken immediately.  A campaign was in order.  A gentle undertaking to touch her soul.

pensI added a summer course of calligraphy.  We find character building scriptures on relevant topics and letter them in fancy styles, adding flourishes and swirls, and on her paper, that means a lot of swirls everywhere.  She loves it.  Her calligraphy requires a loving eye in order to offer any praise, but here’s the point:  She invests almost an hour in one line or sentence, which is 59 more minutes normally occupied in writing the same line on any given day.  I offer hope for improvement.

Every parent or grandparent possesses the opportunity to touch the life of a child, and every child needs those loving touches.  This sweetie just lost her daddy, so every hug, every word of encouragement, every smile wrenched out of her situation equals a weighted touch.  So I’m learning to be generous.  Touch a child, your own or another’s, and offer an imprint on a little growing soul.  The soul you bless may one day legislate your Social Security, save your life in an ambulance, or just eat family dinner with you…but trust me, two lives reap the benefit, both now and later.  I encourage you, gentle reader, touch a little life.  You’ll find it therapeutic for everyone involved.

Why My DIL is a Bad Influence

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the girl to pieces.  Yet the fact remains…she taught me a bad habit.  A very bad habit.

Because they live on our property, we share a mailbox.  I collect their mail, meaning, all of her packages.  The UPS man stops here so regularly we’re on a first name basis, so you can see where I’m going with this.  Yes, she shops online.  A lot.  It started me wondering.  Why?  Does she get good deals?  Does she save time or gas?  What’s the attraction?

My first forays began so innocently.  Amazon, so naturally Amazon Prime, meaning free shipping!  What’s not to love, right?  Who could argue with that?  Do you realize just how quickly a person can rack up money spent online?  A single click and boom!  Suddenly I’m a proud owner of…more stuff.

I quickly banned trips to Amazon to once a week, and only with list in hand.  Then I discovered…you might want to cover this piece of information with your hand, it’s that explosive in nature… (and if you’re reading aloud, just whisper here) Tophatter–the most decadent and deceiving app of them all. You see the picture.  They tell you the retail price.  They show you the instantaneous savings.  The bidding lasts just two minutes, so you dare not contemplate on whether or not you need it or where in the world you would put it…hurry up!  Bid already!  Bid again!  Boom!  Now you really own more stuff, especially if you check it out several times a day, just to see what’s there, of course.

mailWhen I started adding up what I spent (as opposed to what I supposedly saved), I quickly realized yet another site needed banning.  I blame all this on my DIL, whom I love dearly and who, I am sure, buys only what she needs, because she is amazing.  But I ask you, is she worth her weight in stuff?  Because that’s what my unbridled obsession stacks up to equal or exceed.  Yes, she’s a very bad influence.  And, I repeat, I love her dearly.

Arches, Swirls and Whorls

My friend, Candy, possesses an instinctive flair for design.  Large floral arrangements look stately in her living room, and when I visit, I always think I should go home and create something just like it.  I love that look.  Yet when I go home and play with arrangements, the affect falls woefully short.  Imitations never measure up, do they?

The trick lies in finding the grace inherently deposited within each of us.  As individual as the arches, loops and whorls inscribed in our fingers, we create different testaments of that grace.  The tragedy of our century has been the enslavement of our daughters to the silver screen, which portrays a staged, manicured, false image girls vainly strive to imitate.  They cannot, for our daughters are real.  An unscripted life will never result in the elusive images of Hollywood icons.  Celebrities don’t even look like icons outside of the illusory realm of Beverly Hills.

Sug and NanaIn the process of trying to be someone else, girls lose their sense of self.  Bereft of those underpinnings they fall victim to depression, anorexia, and worse.  Talk to a girl, I mean really delve deep down, and you’ll hear her say, “Oh, if only I had a straight nose.”  “If only I had a flat stomach.”  “If only I had a bigger chest.”  “If only I had long legs.”  Insecurity plagues each one.

Conversely, maturity lies in eschewing cheap imitations for the real, unvarnished gleam of healthy skin and shining eyes and a good heart.  Girls need to see it modeled and hear our admiration when they express themselves.  They need the tools to discover and create their own grace notes, their own instinctive “prints” of natural beauty.

Spelling Tips for Boomers

The benefits of home schooling speak for themselves.  I know, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  After home schooling my three sons K-12, my neighbor’s kids for four years, and now grandchildren, let me just say this:  The building blocks of character training and the 3R’s stacked upon each other day in and day out create at last a masterpiece…a way of life I heartily recommend for other grandparents as well.

  • The structure of everyone doing their jobs each morning gives me time to focus on projects for ministry or for my business.  By lunch time we all feel productive.  I need the structure as well as my littles.
  • Evidence of learning new concepts, developing both knowledge and wisdom, blesses them…but it also blesses me with meaningful purpose in my life.
  • Intergenerational learning fosters bonds and maturity in both the younger who model older siblings, and in the older teaching the younger.  I know I still learn new things.  I always share from my perspective.  We all benefit from the arrangement.

Critics of home schooling bemoan the lack of socialization, never realizing that the home, full of all ages and all personalities, remains the primary classroom for rounding off the rough edges and errant ways of people rubbing shoulders all day long.  No one escapes to catch a bus.  We work out our differences.  When children learn to cherish the family day in and day out, their ability to fit into society is guaranteed.

Over the years I heard many a bureaucrat “tsk tsk” the notion that home school parents protect their children.  Yes, we protect them from drugs and gun violence, but what parent doesn’t want a safe environment for their children, especially when schools seem unable to stop mass shootings?

You may fault my spelling, but home schooling spells F-A-M-I-L-Y to me.  Our littles range in age from 3 to 13, and we dote on each and every one of them.  Grandparents enjoy a unique opportunity to participate in this process.  Let me see…precious days with the littles or sitting with the gray heads at McDonalds each morning…I can’t imagine living any other way.  It’s about producing a lasting legacy.  It’s a lifestyle I heartily recommend.

 

How to Knock the Ball out of the Park

Steamy evenings with no shade and bleachers full of families; yes, Little League season has arrived.  Knuckle biting begins with the first painful swing with a miss.  The grip on the bat tightens.  The next mighty swing cuts through the air with gusto bordering on despair.  Strike two.  Coaches begin their litany:  “Relax.  You don’t have to hit it out of the park.  Just keep your eye on the ball.  Just connect.”  When that ball gets whacked the crowd lets out a mighty roar.  A home run often occurs due to the lack of fielding, but we cheer as if Casey himself wielded the bat.

As we get older, knocking the ball out of the park gets a little harder.  The competition improves.  No one sits in the bleachers cheering for us.  In the ball game of life, we flounder without a coach, clear cut baselines and umps to call foul play when fate deals us an unfair blow.  Instinctively, we try harder, harder.  Tension mounts.  Try harder.  Try harder.  And what would the Coach say?  “Peace, be still.  Wait on me.”

You may laugh, but I finally learned this lesson through Posh.  Instinctively, I’m a try-harder-kind-of-gal, a make-it-happen-if-I-die-trying-kind-of-gal.  But Posh isn’t like that.  Posh gives me out of the park products.  All I have to do is relax.  Offer samples.  Let the product sell itself.  The products themselves whisper the same refrain, like this self tanner.  Excellent product.  Put it on and wait for the results.  Be patient.  The blessing comes.

Posh grace notes transfer over into other parts of my life as well.  Relax.  Wait.  Just connect with the blessing. Be humble and patient.  Yes, who’d have thunk it?  Sometimes life’s lessons smell good and look good, too!  Posh and Little League.  That’s my summer.

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Are you the Gift, the Box, or the Gift Wrap?

Sometimes life just rips us apart.  Suddenly your heart, your whole self, or maybe your life as you know it drops into a cleft, what feels likes a endless chasm, until it strikes bottom and then it hits you:  I am undone.  Retirement signals such a change for some, divorce for others, for me it was sudden loss.  Yet I am just one of many who meander through this painful time, and I write for personal clarity as well as for others in like condition.

The realization may settle slowly, fluttering softly yet constantly drifting downward nonetheless, and the sudden knowing feels just as stark as the clang of a bell when a brawny man wields a sledgehammer at the carnival.  Either way, there comes that moment of when your heart registers the bleak knowledge that life as you knew it will never be the same again.  Day after day, at least for awhile, we wear the hollow cloak of life severed from its original purpose, feeling adrift, feeling lost.

Take time to reflect.  You may feel like the gift wrap.  Gift wrap lies torn or crumpled after its been ripped apart to reveal the joy of a present given to another.  Sometimes reused, it seldom lives on as pristine as its first wrapping.  The frugal save it.  Minimalists discard it without a second thought.  The wrap bears only symbolic reference to what lies inside the box.  Inexpensive and easily tossed, the gift wrap merely decorates the box.

The box lies empty after the gift is lifted from the security of its housing.  A sturdy box serves multiple uses besides protecting the palpable love of the giver.  It accumulates trash, stores treasures in the attic, provides a way to hold a jumble of items too disparate to categorize, moves dishes from one house to another…but a box always remains a utilitarian item, and at its pinnacle, a form honored with holding a precious gift.  The box serves its purpose nobly, and then slinks back to the realm of less regard.  After all, it’s only a box.

The gift, ah, the gift.  Simultaneously the thoughtfulness of the giver and the joy of the giftsrecipient, the gift epitomizes the heart of the exchange.  In everyday life the gift is visible evidence of energy transcending into matter, a thought taking root in the life of another.  When life casts us down and signals an unshackling of the ropes which moored us at a familiar port, a familiar and much loved life, the Creator who placed the spark of life within us expects us to remember that the spark still glows.  It may glow dimly perhaps, but the spark glows irrespective of sorrow or change.

We can adapt in a meaningful way to bless others near us, as well as others we meet on the street, for loss affects us all.  Be the gift.  Not the box.  Certainly not the gift wrap.  Be the person whose spark upholds and blesses, the gift in the hand of the Giver.  Be the gift to someone today.