Category Archives: Preparation

Yep, It’s Time to Go Back to School

It’s that time of year — again. While many families in the northeast, midwest, and the west coast are celebrating the midpoint of their summertime, with backyard cookouts, trips to the lake, and the kids being gone for another week or two away at camp, many southern state families are spending these final days of July shopping to replace the clothes and shoes their kids grew out of since last fall, and hectically going through the school district’s mandatory shopping list, in preparation for a return back to school soon.

In Tennessee, as with most southern states, students return to school before the end of August. In the Middle Tennessee area, which includes Nashville, students will be back to school by the first week of the month! Can you even imagine?

For one of the neighboring counties of Nashville, the busses will start rolling out this Wednesday, August 1. And almost all of the other area counties will follow less than a week later, with returns on August 6, 7, and 8! So if you sense a little panic from your southern Facebook and Instagram friends with kids, now you know why.

Fortunately, this is also Tax-free weekend (July 27-29) for the state of Tennessee. For those whose states may not offer this, it is a weekend once a year when parents can stock up for the school year, buying clothes, shoes, school supplies, and even computers, and pay no sales tax. In a state where the sales tax is 9.75%, that shopping bill can add up really fast. But so does the savings, if you plan ahead and do most, if not all, of your shopping during this time period. I mean, imagine a college student being able to save almost $100 for that $1,000 computer they need, by just choosing to purchase it this weekend versus next!

And now that parents are tasked with buying supplies for more than just their own child, planning your shopping adventure is even more important.

This is an actual list of school supplies for one of the local elementary schools:
  • Colored Pencils – Box(es)
  • Crayons – 24 Count
  • #2 Yellow/Wood Pencils Sharpened with Erasers, 24 Pack
  • Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Ruler 12″ Standard/Metric
  • Protractor
  • Pocket Folders
  • Pens
  • Composition Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Spiral Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Package(s) of Sticky Notes
  • Box(es) of Facial Tissues
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Canister(s)
  • Package(s) of Filler Paper, Wide Ruled

A Middle school list in the same district looks like this:

  • Pens, Blue
  • Pens, Black
  • Pens, Red
  • Pencils, #2
  • Package(s) of Cap Erasers
  • Package(s) of Filler Paper, Wide Ruled
  • Notebook paper
  • Package(s) of Graph Paper
  • 1″ Binders
  • Write On Dividers
  • Composition Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Highlighters
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Colored Pencils – Box(es)
  • Hand Sanitizer – Bottle(s)
  • Canister(s) of Disinfecting Wipes
  • Box(es) of Kleenex Facial Tissues
  • Paper Towels – Roll(s)
  • Duct Tape
  • Hot Glue Gun Glue Sticks
  • Package(s) of Index Cards
  • Box(es) of Reclosable Storage Bags
  • Package(s) of Printer/Copier Paper – Colored
  • Masking Tape
  • Package(s) of Plastic Cups
  • Box(es) of Plastic Forks

So don’t just shop. Shop wisely.

  • Shop at the right stores.  Find the ones that have the lowest price on the things you need.
  • Use coupons. As you see, the school supply lists have grown way beyond pencils and paper. Look for store or manufacture coupons for those paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and Purell that many schools now require.
  • For your student heading off to college, check out yard sales and online sites where you can find inexpensive desks, chairs, bookcases, and other things for their dorm room and apartment.
  • And don’t be too embarrassed to shop at discount stores and places like Goodwill, where they also offer special discounts on top of their lower prices, including a 10% Student Discount on Sundays; a 10% Senior Adult Discount on Tuesdays; and 10% Military discount on Wednesday. Again, every little bit helps!

When it comes down to it, making the most of your time and saving the most of your money, requires some planning and preparation. But your bank account will thank you for all of the dollars you save. And you’ll thank yourself when that money comes in handy later; usually unexpectedly.

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Not Another Women’s Conference!?

As we close out another important month — National Women’s History Month — I couldn’t help but take the timing of the ending of March to announce the kickoff plans of Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets “house events” later this year!

My “adjusted lifestyle,” hasn’t just been about journaling and starting a website. It has been about making some real changes in my life that impact how I am living. Our finances are a big part of the way we live. There are financial issues you control (spending, utility usage, entertainment and luxury items, etc.), and there are financial issues you can’t control (the economy’s impact on your 401K, increase in property taxes or insurance, loss of a spouse or loss of a job, and many other things.). Regardless of the source, when something impacts your financial life in a negative way, you’re the one who suffers the financial consequences. Those consequences can be huge and long-lasting if you don’t face the reality of your new normal and make some adjustments.

The impact can be even harder on those who only have one income. Whether it’s a married couple with a stay-at-home spouse, a single person with no family or roommate, or an older couple in retirement, when your “normal” changes, you have to change with it, or get caught up in the financial repercussions.

One of the things I learned through the process of going through my last nine years of change, along with decades of watching my own mom figure out how to make ends meet during trying times; especially with a large family, is that planning is key.

People plan to finish school; plan to go to college; and plan to get a “good” job. But most people don’t plan, financially, for what happens when one of those other “plans” get interrupted. Ignoring the possibility that it can happen doesn’t change the reality when it does. So why not be ready.

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The Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets conference is designed to Inform, Educate, Encourage, and Challenge women of all ages on how to plan for a successful adjustment when life throws unexpected surprises at them. 

INFORM attendees on ways to save money, stretch dollars, and invest wisely simply by planning ahead.

EDUCATE attendees on resources available to offer assistance during their adjustment period.

ENCOURAGE attendees to try new things; be creative in finding or creating secondary sources of revenue.

CHALLENGE attendees to step out of their comfort zone; start a new business; turn a hobby or a passion into extra income.

While we can’t control many of the circumstances that may happen to us, we can have some control over how well prepared we are to handle those stops, detours, and many times life-altering events when they happen.

We’ll be kicking off the larger conference (launching in 2019) starting first with doing small group house events. 

Ultimately, the conference is designed for women to meet, network, learn, feel encouraged, and for some, to come to the realization that they need to stop trying to live the lifestyle they used to know, and start learning how to live a changed life, adjusting to their new normal

Stay tuned!

When Stores Close, Where Do People Go?

Back before the Christmas holidays, I remember hearing news about the toy store company, Toys R Us, closing some of its stores. I didn’t take a serious note of it; first, because I don’t have kids, and my youngest nephew is 16 years old. So it’s been quite a while since I’ve shopped in any of their stores. Second, news of the closing of “some” of their stores was not unlike the reoccurring news of Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, even Sam’s Club. It had become an all too real part of the news cycle. Another month, another retail store filing bankruptcy, mostly to reorganize, and in the process, closing several of their stores.

But then earlier this month, that news changed. It was no longer just some stores closing, but rather, news broke that the company planned to sell or close all 800 stores in the US. The part that jumped out to me in the articles I read was that as many as 33,000 employees would be affected!

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From what I understand, Toys R Us had declared bankruptcy back in Fall 2017 because of an almost EIGHT BILLION DOLLAR debt it was struggling to pay. Let that sink in… Other than the position we’ve allowed ourselves to get into as a country, where else do you hear about a business continuing to operate for so long with that kind of outstanding debt?

One of the things that came to mind was wondering how many employees took any action upon originally hearing about the company’s bankruptcy? How many people in upper and middle management pulled out their resumes and started working on updating their information? Or who of the hourly employees started looking for other places hiring in their community? How many even knew or gave thought about the financial instability of their company — even though the information was readily available and reported on?

Perhaps it’s hard to say with certainty what any one of us would do, given the same scenario. Or maybe you DO know, because you have already been in this situation. But I ask these questions because I’m curious as to why people stay in a place, making little effort to seek alternative employment, when they know the clock has already started ticking down towards the day when they will lose their job. An announcement that a company you work for is closing should signal that it’s time to get serious about making a change; preparing for reality — the new normal that’s about to fall up you. 

One article I read talked about the gap between the time when some people can apply for unemployment, and the timing it takes to actually start receiving an unemployment check. And while that money is there for such a time as this, it won’t be the same amount as what most soon-to-be former employees have become accustomed to living on. By its design, it’s suppose to just tie people over until they find that next job. For some, they’ll have one the day their store closes. For others, it may take weeks or months.

So my question for you is, how prepared are you if you were to find out today that you will no longer have your job by the end of the year? Or by the end of the month? Maybe even by the end of the week?

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In a list posted by Clark, a retail and consumer news site, some of the other stores scheduled to close at least some, if not all of their stores this year, include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Foot Locker, Best Buy cell phone stores, J.C. Penney, Bon-Ton, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, J. Crew, Gap and Banana Republic, Teavana, and Michael Kor’s. Additionally, Ascena Retail Group, which is the women’s clothing retailer that operates the brands Ann Taylor, Loft, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Justice and several others. (https://clark.com/shopping-retail/major-retailers-closing-2018/)

How Are You Using Your Water Buckets?

You’ve heard us talk about “water buckets.” It’s even in the name of the website. But have you ever wondered what we’re talking about when we refer to them? Do you know what your water buckets are and how are you using them?

Your water buckets are those things you use to catch the “rain” of blessings that you’ll need to sustain you, not today, and maybe not even tomorrow, but at some point in the future.  Preparation is one of the keys to success. While you can’t know every possible bad scenario that could happen in your life, you can have a plan to better prepare yourself for how to deal with those circumstances as they come.

Everyone should keep water buckets around. Maybe it’s maintaining your own savings account after you get married; or learning how to turn your hobby into an income stream for your family. Perhaps as a single adult, you decide to take in a roommate so that you put the extra funds away for that emergency. Or as a family you purchase a house with the purpose of turning part of it into income property to help you pay your mortgage off early. Water buckets are ways to save money and resources today so that you have them to use later when you unexpectedly need it.

If you’ve been through a divorce, and suddenly found yourself dealing with the shock of returning to just one income; or your spouse carried you on their insurance, and now you’re having to pay for your own, along with the mortgage, and that new car that at the time seemed like a good idea — then you understand the concept of having the advantage of having something in those buckets to help with your transition.

Maybe you’re single, just lost your job, and now there’s no second income to fall back on; no one else to help pay those bills or provide some of the health benefits that you just lost. Or you and your spouse figured you’d “get around” to getting life insurance when you got older, only now they’re gone and you’ve had to use all of your savings to pay funeral costs.

Perhaps you still have your job, but with the cost of everything increasing, you’re just barely making enough to cover your monthly expenses, with no room for anything else. But then the brakes go out in your car, and there’s no coworker or bus line within 10 miles of where you live, offering no alternative but to some how get the car fixed.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar in your life or with someone you know, then you understand that life is full of unexpected surprises and unplanned stops in the middle of places you never imagined. And while we can’t control some of the circumstances that may happen to us, we can control how well we’re prepared to take on those events when they happen.

Being prepared for life’s unexpected turns means being willing to create and then implement a plan now, so that you are where you need to be, have what you need to have, or are on your way to accomplishing steps to help you if or when a crisis hits.

So when it’s raining outside, the grass is looking green, the flowers are colorful and all the trees are thick with foliage, don’t worry about your neighbors or friends looking at you strangely because you’ve placed your water buckets around the house to fill up. Maybe they haven’t checked the forecast to know that there’s a drought coming. Be thankful that you’re going to be ready for it.

There’s No Goodbye in Friendships

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I had a nice visit with a good friend the other day. She is moving away from my hometown, so this was our last time together for a while. Funny thing is that what I call my hometown, truly is the place where I feel the most at home (high school, college, friends, family, etc.), however, I haven’t lived there in over 20 years! But ever since I left, I have made it a practice to visit, typically two times a year; always making time to see my close friends each time I’m in town. And now, she won’t be there.

As we sit back relaxing on a cushioned daybed, I stare out into the backyard from her screen porch, and wonder, why haven’t we done this more often. Mango tea in one hand, and no bugs to swipe away with the other, I am enjoying watching the birds bounce around on the large crepe myrtle, which has lost most of its flowers, but whose greenery still provides a safe haven for the tiny birds to play. In the distance, I can hear what must be squirrels jumping tree to tree; or perhaps it’s the rabbits she says have made themselves at home in her yard. It’s a beautiful sunny day; but hot and humid, as I remembered a South Carolina June day is suppose to be. The ceiling fan in the porch makes it tolerable, but of course, I’m here for the conversation anyway.

Lisa is unusually calm today. I expected to find her running around trying to take care of last minute things; maybe even stressing out that everything wasn’t going to get done in time. But she was just the opposite. Since it was her husband’s new job that initiated the move, she’s had the benefit of having his company handle everything for the move. So as the two women inside continue to wrap and pack up boxes in the kitchen, and the five or six guys continue to carry furniture out onto the large moving van, she had the time to sit and simply chill out with me for an hour or so to talk.

It’s been about a year since she first got word that this day might be coming. I remember the first time she asked for general prayer, that they would know which path they should take with some opportunities coming their way. The final determination was made months later; right as school was getting underway. So that meant making other decisions based upon their son’s school as well. The delayed time for departure, I think, gave her some extra time to prepare as much emotionally for it, as she had to do physically and logistically.

I think that sometimes we forget about the emotional toil that major life changes can have on us. People often only consider the financial challenges or physical changes that might be ahead. And while we may all be impacted differently when our lifestyle is forced to go through a change, we are, nonetheless, all still impacted! Preparing for your new life mentally and emotionally is just as important as all of the logistics you might handle to prepare physically. It’s definitely not an area you should neglect as you make plans for your new normal.

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Before I left, I picked a bowl of blueberries from her backyard one last time (and threw them in a salad later that day). Jokingly, I told her I would be back next summer to meet the new owners, just so I could help myself to the blueberry bushes.

I’ve alway loved what they did with their backyard, filling the landscape with peach trees and blackberry bushes. Though the pending move made her skip planting a vegetable garden, it has in the past been just as spectacular as the vast array of carefully planted daylilies, and black-eyed Susans; mums and daisies; azaleas and multiple magnolia trees. It’s a Southern girl’s dream yard!

So of course I said yes when she offered me some of her hundreds of daylilies, and then gave me a large container herb garden filled with everything from chives to rosemary; mint and oregano. Graciously, I promised to take good care of it all.

Best news of all…she’s actually moving about 350 miles closer to where I live now!

From Zero to Hope: Part One

Yesterday I had to go for my three-times a year follow up to check my thyroid levels. My doctor and I are actually the same age, so it’s funny to watch him struggle through some of life’s unfair assaults on our aging bodies like I do. He had just returned to work after having surgery on both wrists for carpal tunnel. We certainly aren’t 20-something any more. But I swear, there are days when I feel a good decade older than the calendar says I am!

After our usual time together, I followed my routine of heading around the corner to get my blood drawn. Sitting down chatting with the woman who had been drawing tubes of blood from me for almost two years, the conversation somehow ended up on the topic of the importance of living within your means, and planning for the unexpected. We’d been talking about the recent gas shortage in Nashville, and the impact it had on some people. I began explaining to her about why I’d topped off the gas in my car — because I knew I had several appointments coming up that week; and running out of gas was not going to be an option. She admitted that did not. “My sister called and told me to fill up my tank on that Friday,” she said. “But I figured I’d get around to it later in the weekend, and went about my day.”

By Saturday afternoon, she found herself driving around town to four different gas stations before finding one that hadn’t run out of fuel. “And then I paid much more for it than it was the day before,” she said. We continued our conversation, so that I could pretend the needle prick didn’t hurt, and I shared with her how it’s become a passion of mine to try to help women to not put off nor feel guilty about taking care of themselves. I told her that it needed to start with proper planning. She was lucky because she found an open gas station, and paying more for fuel is better than not having it at all. But I asked her if there was any particular reason why she didn’t go ahead and get it on Friday after she heard the news, and her sister’s advice. She admitted there wasn’t, which lead me to talk about the importance of planning, and finances in general. I told her in the big picture, this was something minor, but it could have turned into a bigger deal. “You spent more money paying for gas, after spending a lot of time being worried that you might not find any, all because you wouldn’t heed the advice and take the time to get some earlier, when you could.” When I was done, she said, “You know, you should write a book.” I laughed a little, and then shared with her that I had already begun working on one. But in the meantime, I told her, I was sharing my story and other people’s stories, advice, and encouragement through this blog. So I gave her my card, told her to check it out, and then said I’d see her again in four months.

Sharing the stories of female friends and associates who have been through different trials, and how they were able to make it through, is important to me. I don’t have all the answers…I just have my story. My friends don’t have all the answers, but they can share what worked and didn’t work for them. It’s their story. And most of you reading this right now…you have your own story. What connects the stories I choose to share, is not just what people do to plan and prepare for the unexpected things that can happen in their life; but also what they did to survive when those unexpected things happened. There are those who live in denial — after a job loss, a divorce, the death of a loved one — who will continue to do things as they always have. Then there are others who acknowledge the changes in their life, how it has impacted them — on personal, social, and oftentimes, financial level — and then they make an adjustment for their different lifestyle. They adjust to their new normal, so that they can move on in the life they now have.

Below is part one of the story a single mom, entrepreneur, and friend shared with me. It’s about the curve ball that life threw her; inconvenient timing and all; and the journey that followed. Remember to come back for part two of her story, next week. Perhaps something she shares might help you or someone you know as well.

From Zero to Hope

I cannot really put my finger on when I took a wrong turn off my life journey toward hope. It could have been the aftermath of drama in high school, the blurry and illogical moments in college, or the sudden and tragic end of my marriage of 12 years. Regardless of how I got to my lowest point, I can recall the emotions affecting my daily life beginning around Christmas of 2006. It was at that time I discovered the reality of a pending divorce, I was 34 weeks pregnant with my second child and the mother of a four and a half year old son. It has been 10 years since I began my journey from zero to hope. I can proclaim two things about this type of journey.  The journey is messy and it takes a village!

There is no Hallmark Channel story here. My tragedy transformed how I viewed myself, shattered my confidence and caused misplaced views of my value. I do not know about you, but trying to “dream” for yourself is hard enough. Yet, I needed to look past myself and begin a new life for the joy of my two young sons. There is no magic formula to regaining purpose after tragedy. In the beginning, every decision was painstaking. I found myself overwhelmed every five minutes, either dealing with my emotional struggles, the emotional and physical needs of my children, or just battling loneliness. This was my “zero” point. As much as I wanted to move forward, I often lost strength or ran out of resources, time and/or money.

Today, 10 years later, I own my own business, work from home and am able to play an active role in my children’s lives. I must admit it is not easy to look back. I have not arrived, but I know I am so much further than I was when I started out. The process for me is like a winding road with rest stops, exits to amazing or scary places (all distractions, I might add), and the homes and hearts of friends and family. At the surface, the process seems simple enough.

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What this little graphic does not show you are many nights I cried for one reason or another.

  • The struggle of overcoming stereotypes as a black woman with two kids; some assuming I was never married and the boys had different dads.
  • Endless nights trying to find strength to take every necessary “next step” for my children and me.
  • Another night having to turn down companionship or relationships because my new life demanded transformed priorities.
  • Struggles to believe I had worth and value.

The list goes on and on. This is the “messy” of the journey. Did I always make the right choice? No, probably not. So finding courage and strength to forgive myself made it even more “messy.”

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More from Kathy Phillips in Part Two…

Along Comes a Baby and More

Two weeks ago I spent Saturday afternoon at the baby shower of a long time friend. Sometimes, it’s really hard for me to believe just how long I’ve known this young lady, because she was only 13 years old when we first met. I’ve watched her grow up; become successful in not one, but several careers in her young life; fall in love, get married, and now…prepare to have her first baby!

In spite of how long it’s been since I first met her, I was still truly honored to be remembered and invited to her baby shower; as well being at her wedding, and the weddings and baby showers of her sisters. And after 23 years of having the pleasure of our professional relationship, what matters more is the lasting personal friendship.

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In addition to hanging out with her though, I ran into some other ladies who I’ve met in the same circles over the years. What is so cool about that? I realized at some point in the afternoon that we were all talking about our business, ministries, and professional activities we were engaged in.

Since starting Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets, I’m always on the look out for finding young teens, college students, and women who are taking control of their financial futures by creating, developing, designing, and running their own businesses now, and not waiting for some magical moment to descend. So whether it’s service-oriented, consulting, talent-driven, beauty and fitness, health care, or even the entertainment industry that I myself am a part of, when my friends and former associates start branching out on their own, I want to be a major cheerleader, to help spread the word, as well as sharing any knowledge and suggestions I might have in any given area.

As I sat there listening as we caught up with one another, I took note of one young lady who said she’d been really busy lately working, but primarily for other people. She had been a Work for Hire with another company, but the content was totally hers. She said she was ready to take control over her brand. I knew she was right. She DID need to take over her own brand.

Another lady chimed in moments later, and said she’d been running her own company for almost a year, but was having financial challenges due to her lack of discipline with her money. I was impressed at her honesty. Since she was a single mother, she knew how important it was to get control over that area of her life, not just for the sake of growing her business, but for her family. I asked a few direct questions and uncovered at least a large part of the problem. For her, she was spending way more money picking up meals on the way home, rather than going shopping and preparing them at home.

It can be very tempting to take the safe way out — like working for someone else and picking up a pay check. Or the easy way out — like running through the drive-thru on the way home. But in the end, it almost always costs you more money. Being a Work for Hire, might be a way in to getting business, but it should be just that — a way to get in, not a means to stay in. Otherwise, your talent, and hard work is building someone else’s company and bank account. And at the end of each month, stopping by restaurants and fast food chains might seem economical, and definitely convenient, but the money adds up. Where you see only spending $10.00 on dinner tonight, it becomes $50.00 by the end of the week, which quickly adds up to $200.00 or more by the end of the month. And that doesn’t include the groceries that you DO buy for the other meals of the day. The reality is that smart shopping and creative meal planning will cost you a lot less than pizza, a bucket of chicken, or four kids’ meals a few times a week.

As I’ve said many times before, planning is the key. Whether you’re planning how to branch out on your own, build your own business, create a secondary source of income; or planning how best to save money for your family on meals and other household items, the main part of the process is the Plan.

When’s the last time you’ve asked yourself about your Life Plan? Do you have one? Where do you want to be this time next year? What about five years from now? Ten? Have you even given thought to what your financial situation will be when you’re ready to retire? What happens if you lose your job years before that retirement time?

There are a lot of questions we prefer not to think about; after all, we’re young, or perhaps already well off; or we think our job will last forever. But the truth is that we can’t control what the future holds. Things happen. Life happens. But we can begin to plan for various outcomes so that we are better prepared, should something unexpected come our way.

Why not grab a journal, and take a few moments to ask yourself some of these questions. Then step away, and come back to your answers later. Are they what you think they should be, or what you want them to be?

Think about that, and let’s talk more about it later.

Christmas in July

Today marks the start of what I call the period of “mixed feelings.” While I’ve enjoyed the six weeks since school ended, I have just six weeks before the Fall semester starts up, and almost that much work to do in preparation for my classes. And while summer just officially arrived less than two weeks ago, this July also indicates that we are now headed down the second half of the year. It’s weird…we count down to summer, and before you know it, we’re counting back up to winter. And with that…Christmas!

Lest you think I’m one who can’t live in the moment, let me explain.

I don’t know where the phrase “Christmas in July,” came from. But after working in the music industry for almost two decades, I do know that most artists record their Christmas albums this month. Why so early? Well, it’s obvious. To get the recording completed, mastered, packaged, promoted, and shipped/distributed in time for the post-Halloween but pre-Thanksgiving radio play of the first single, and to take advantage of the short sales period, they have to start working on it in July. Just like fashion designers are already planning to showcase their spring and summer 2017 lines this fall, so that you’re ready to purchase them in season.

During my summer vacation, the local Hobby Lobby in the town where I was visiting friends already had not only their Autumn display, complete with Halloween pumpkins and Thanksgiving wreaths, but also two aisles of Christmas decor up exactly 24 hours before the Summer Solstice!

Even the Hallmark Channel has figured out a way to get in on the craziness. For the first two weeks of July, their Movie & Mysteries channel will air their Christmas movies from past years, while promoting the new ones coming up this holiday season (which for them, traditionally begins on Halloween night).

But rather than fight against it, why not take advantage of it?!

This weekend, you can begin finding some awesome sales on two seasons of stuff — the summer season we’re in, and the winter season that’s still over five months away. Retailers are moving summer out to make room for the fall. Along the way, they’re putting last year’s winter items back out, in the hopes of not having to warehouse it, so that they can fill the racks with the new season’s display. If you’re like me, it’s just too hot outside to get in the right frame of mind to purchase a winter coat in July. But for those who know you’ve got at least three full months of great weather conducive to the outdoors, then why not take advantage of drastic price reductions on summer — like bathing suits and beach towels, clothes and shoes, outdoor patio furniture and accessories (like outdoor pillows and rugs), outdoor lighting and candles, grills, and even air conditioners.

For those of you who took advantage of the mid-summer mark downs last year, I’m sure you enjoyed pulling out your summer patio chairs with the new cushions that you got for 50% or more less than your friends; and putting up that table umbrella that cost you 60% or 70% less than the one your neighbor bought in season. And this week, when everyone paid full price for those red, white, and blue flag colored plates for their Independence Day festivities this weekend, you pulled that box out from the closet that you collected  paper plates, cups and napkins in from last year, and gladly signed up to provide the paper products for all of the cookouts and picnics you’ve been invited to! Because you are not just a smart shopper, but you understand the value of saving money and making it a purposeful act to plan ahead.

So to you, and everyone else, Happy 4th of July Independence Day everyone!

 

Why You Should Make a Plan to Get Prepared this Year

Last month I started seeing commercials from a popular grocery store chain advertising several  non-perishable items. It wasn’t a standard store advertisement about the latest promotion, sale, or couponing opportunity. To paraphrase the tagline for this campaign, it was about stocking up the pantry with essential items (canned goods, bottled water, etc.) to remain prepared. I think one of the line was “Winter’s coming. Be prepared.”  It caught my attention because it’s the same thing I’ve been saying for years. Last year’s unexpected winter ice storm that hit the South, definitely caught many of my college students off guard and unprepared. Some people, however, feel that if they don’t live in tornado alley, along a hurricane coastline, have a house at the lake, or live in the upper Midwest during the winter months, then they don’t have to worry about weather related issues. The truth is that a natural disaster can strike at any time, almost anywhere. But it still surprises me how many people don’t take that reality very seriously; some just refusing to take the time to plan ahead.

So as I’ve been watching the news coverage of the flooding in Missouri over the Christmas holidays, I was reminded of the Nashville floods of 2010, and watching the creeks around my neighborhood flowing over and covering streets and highways. And hearing of people trapped in their homes; some calling out for help because they had children in the home, but no groceries in the house. Who knew that just five years later, I’d be watching the same thing happening to my hometown of Columbia, SC, including my college alma mater (University of SC). Two days into the flooding they were on a boil water advisory due to contamination of their water supply. After checking up on several friends, I learned some were without both water and electricity.

My sister woke up to discover her house completely surrounded by water, with both streets into the neighborhood flooded over. She and her boys were trapped for a few days. But because of our upbringing, she was prepared, having gone shopping the day before after hearing of the possibility of excessive rainfall and flash flooding. She was fortunate to have only lost power for a couple of hours, and not a couple of days, as some did. I wasn’t surprised at her level of readiness.

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I contacted a high school friend of mine after the worst part of the flooding event was over, and asked her to share with me her family’s story of how she prepared for that October event.

I’m typing this on my tablet as I sit under the hair dryer at my beautician, which is where I was when I really started paying attention to the weather reports.

My husband and I had talked earlier in the day and he told me he would go to the grocery store and pick up some things. When I got home late that evening, I found he had picked up a few things, but not enough to be stuck inside for a couple of days. So by the time we went back to the store that Saturday morning, the only bread left were a few packs of hamburger buns. The checkout lines were down the aisles; but we got what we needed.

Since our water supply comes from a well and not the city we made sure we had enough bottled water, because we knew if the power went out, the pump wouldn’t be able to pump water for us. So I also filled up one of the bathtubs, along with some jugs with water to be able to flush toilets. You gotta be able to use the bathroom, right?

While I was never a girl scout, my daughter was, and her troop leader had taught them a lot of survival skills. Having to prepare for this weather was kind of like preparing to go camping; primitive camping. You have a checklist of things you need: sleeping bags, tent, snacks, flashlight, lanterns (the wind up, battery-operated kind) oil, and a Coleman. 

By Sunday morning, when I heard church services were cancelled, I realized how bad it was in some places. Although we were blocked in due to streams and creeks flowing over the bridges we needed to cross to get out, our area of town was basically ok. We experienced no loss of power, had safe water supply, and our house did not flood.  The only ting we need was some roof work.

We were truly blessed. We had everything we needed. My philosophy is that it is always best to be prepared even if the predictions don’t come to pass. I know there were many people who weren’t, and unfortunately, suffered as a result of it.

My New Year’s wish for everyone reading this is that you make a resolution to make a plan for your life this year. That plan should include things to do to remain prepared in life; prepare for those things which we can do, since there’s certainly many other things that happen that we can not control. Increase your chance to truly have a Happy New Year!

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

 

 

Welcome Back!

Yes. Welcome Back to Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets. That’s what I tell myself every winter and summer break when I actually have the time to devote more attention than just a Facebook post (find us and join our group on Facebook — catchingraindropsinwaterbuckets) or make a Pinterest share(https://www.pinterest.com/ggproverbs31/catching-raindrops-in-water-buckets/). The conversation doesn’t end when I’m not here. I’m just having it multiple other places too; places where I can drop in briefly, share a tip or two; give out a challenge to those ladies who are, like me, still trying to find, secure, and grow our place in this world amidst the changes, and sometimes, challenges of our “new normal.”

My New Normal included transitioning from a Talent Agent, to starting my own business (gloriagreenentertaiment.com) to now being a full-time college Professor. My job requires more of my time than I at first imagined, as well as much of my physical and mental energy — as working with older teens and young adults often does. And as much as I love what I do and the impact I’m having on college students interested in the Recording Industry, I strive to be careful to take my own advice, from personal experiences and the experiences of other women I’ve watched having to transition in their jobs, martial status, and other life changes. I don’t ever want to be in “that place” again where I rely soley on another entity or someone else’s financial ups and downs.

In the sporting world, a team’s Offense often gets most of the glory when they win a game. But the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how many points the team puts on the scoreboard, if the Defense isn’t keeping the other team from scoring just as many (or more) points, then there would not be a win. As is often said, “the best offense is a good defense!” That’s how we have to approach our life…our jobs, our finances, our relationships…It’s not just about how well you’re doing what you do but also, how well you prepare for what you may end up having to do, even if it wasn’t originally in your playbook of where you saw yourself coming into the “game.” As I’ve said many times before,

Life is full of unexpected surprises and unplanned stops in the middle of places you never imagined yourself ending up. And while we can’t control all of the circumstances that may happen to us, we can control how well prepared we are to take them on when they happen.

So with that reminder to myself, as well as all of you, I now go back to working on the other parts of who I am. I’ve dusted off the water buckets, and put them back out around the “yard,” ready to catch the raindrops during this rainy season so that I am prepared, and able to survive the next dry spell, when/if it comes again.

What about you? Do you even own any water buckets?