Sunday, July 09, 2006


"And what do you do for a living, Sandy?"

It's been a glorious week! The week of the 4th of July holiday was a week of vacation from my full-time job for me! Oh, the wonder of time off! It gave me an opportunity to get close again with the horses, try some new feeding routines, spend quality time with Lady-the-Dog, and even sneak a few minutes to sit by the pond and listen to the fountain. The evenings have been glorious and the moon has been bright! How many of you can say that one of the highlights of your vacation was to walk through head high corn fields by the moonlight? Oh! I loved my week off!

And it only seemed appropriate that this week of vacation would end with an invitation to a cook-out at the lake home of some friends of mine. Our friendship began through my full-time job and has deepened and come in to a very special place, for which I am grateful.

Leaving for the gathering, I found myself well rested and calm. My, now that was a surprise! To not be jumping in to the truck and speeding down the road wondering if I had enough fuel to get there or if I would be later still because I needed to stop and get fuel!!! Oh, vacation is a wonderful gift! I was calm and deliberate and actually doing only the speed limit in the right lane of the freeway!

Upon arriving, there were hugs with old friends and introductions to new acquaintances. There was a delicious dinner (I actually cannot remember the last time I ate a full meal!) and a scrumptious dessert. I was content. And full. And sleepy! I needed conversation or the group was going to lose me, that was for sure!

Seeing the dilemma, my host gathered me up and introduced me to a woman that I had not met earlier in the day. He introduced her to me by telling me that this woman was contemplating leaving her career in the Twin Cities to start her dream vocation - to become a gardener and run a nursery of exotic plants. Maybe I could share a few insights and experiences with her? Were there any pitfalls out there that she could avoid by listening to some of my experiences?

Feeling a bit under-qualified, I began scurrying in my mind for the proper place to begin - formulating the business side of it? insurance? liability? advertising? product procurement? traffic monitoring? pricing? tracking of sales, inventory, and expenses? Oh, my 20 year retailing background, I felt, would be most beneficial here! So I opened my mouth to speak.

And this woman, then, simply asked me, "And what do you do for a living, Sandy?"

Before I could think. Before I even knew my mouth was moving. And certainly before I had formulated any type of response, I heard myself saying, "I'm living my life's purpose."

We both stopped and looked at each other. She, a bit taken back by my response, and me, totally perplexed at my honesty and total nakedness to this, vacation can work miracles, can't it???

Seeing that the two of us were about to begin a rather lengthy conversation, my host had quietly slipped two lawn chairs behind us. We sat. And the conversation began.

How did you find a good corporate attorney? That you could afford, by the way? How do you insure compliance to IRS regulations? What about Wisconsin Department of Revenue statutes? How did you find a good business accountant? That you could afford, by the way? And how do you insure you are keeping full and accurate records of sales (donations) and inventory and expenses?

How do you advertise? Do you do direct mailings? Do you do radio spots? TV spots? Do you do Internet emailings? Do you have a website? How did you find a good Webmaster? That you could afford, by the way? Would you be willing to share him, by the way?

How do you deal with the worries of unexpected repairs? Unexpected rises in costs? Of unexpected drops in sales (donations)? And how did you plan for the time when you will no longer be the Executive Director? How did you locate a Board of Directors? How do you motivate them and keep them involved?

As you can see, this woman's level of curiosity was most thorough and she was most persistent. We talked until we both finally noticed that the sun was setting. I commented that I really should get home and check on the herd. Her last question once again caused me pause, as did her first.

"How do you deal with all the death?" she asked. In a much softer tone and in a much gentler voice, I explained that I do not think of crossing as death. Instead, crossing is simply moving on to another life. A continuation of the journey. And how do I deal with it? I cry. And when I'm done crying, I am grateful for the opportunity to have known the creature. Whether the creature be a horse, a dog, a cat, or a Human Being.

It was time to go. We hugged. And we thanked each other. Her, for the information and insights she had gained and me for the opportunity to tell my story. A good listener and a rested talker made a great pair that evening. And it all began with a simple question:

"And what do you do for a living, Sandy?"

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