My Newest Venture

The newest member of my income-making family.
The newest member of my income-making family.

By all accounts, I am an entrepreneur.  With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to earn funds from funerals and gather wealth from weddings.  I’ve written blog posts for profit and gardened for a little green.  I was lucrative at landscaping and remunerated for my readings.  In short, I am always looking for a way to make some money.

And so, when I bought my new-to-me John Deere L130 garden tractor last fall, I knew there had to be a way to cash in:  Enter my neighbor.

Having hired my kids to mow his yard each summer for the past decade, I knew he would be looking for a replacement mower after the boys moved out last autumn.  As the grass turned green this spring, I subtly dropped the hint that I would be happy to mow his yard, but only if he wanted me to.  I knew I could knock his yard out in record time with my new 48-inch cutting deck and teeth-rattling 23-horsepower under the green hood.  Reluctant at first, he was quick to sign on after mowing his yard himself for the first time this year.

I was thrilled!  A yard that took my boys 45-minutes to push mow would take me a mere 20-minutes of comfortable riding.  For very little effort, I would make quite a bit of dough.

For many years my neighbor paid my boys up to $25 per mowing job.  However, because we are friends, I’m only charging $20.  But problems started early on when my “friend” texted me one evening as the thunderclouds began to form on the horizon.  He wanted me to mow before the rain hit; a difficult task as I was just finishing my own perfectly manicured lawn.  The tension began to rise when I explained how his last minute request fit into my pricing schedule:

  1. The Friend and Family Rate ($20) = This is subject to change by how snotty you are if I don’t respond to your beck and call (See #4)
  2. The Convenience Rate ($35) = I mow at my own convenience
  3. The Use-To-Be Friends & Family Rate ($50 + the cost of gas) = (See #1)
  4. The Emergency Rate ($75) = My car payment is due so I’m mowing your yard whether you need me to or not.
  5. The It’s About To Rain Rate ($85) = You didn’t look at the weather and now you need your yard mowed right away.

This text request clearly fell into price #5.  However, the argument was entirely my fault.  I failed to provide my pricing schedule up front.  My neighbor was under the impression that every yard mowing came in at the Friends & Family Rate.

To alleviate any future confusion…or fist fights…I’ve decided that I should print business cards with my services outlined (weddings, funerals, lawn mowing) and the pricing schedule above.  I expect that I should soon be able to retire from my day job and simply drive around the neighborhood on my mower, cutting grass, performing weddings and the occasional funeral, raking in the cash as I roll!

She Likes Out, She Likes In

Knocking At The DoorIf you have followed Austin’s Acre for very long, you know my affection for my Yellow Lab, Sidney.  She burst into our lives in August 2009 and we’ve never been the same since.

Among her many interesting quirks, and she has many, Sidney has decided that she really likes to go outside.  She will pace, circle, whine and stretch until someone allows her to escape the confines of our spacious home.

However, once outside, she might get a drink of water or tinkle in the grass…Or she might not.  Either way, she is quickly back to the patio door watching for any and all movement inside.  At this point in the game, she had decided that she really likes to come inside.  She will pace, circle, whine and stretch until someone lets her escape from the expanse of our back yard.

Within 20-30 minutes, this cycle repeats itself.  The dog cannot make up her mind.  Inside?  Outside?  Inside?  Outside? There are so many wonderful things that a dog would love just outside the door but all her important people are still inside!  The decision is too difficult.  Her little dog brain is in constant conflict so with her big dog heart.  She lives a life of distraction, unable to decide where she wants to be and what she wants to do.

It’s pathetic, really.  But, in truth, it is not too dissimilar from our own journeys through life.

We want the next great gadget but we also want serenity and peace.

We want the bigger, better house but we also want to rest on weekends.

We want the fatter paycheck but we also want to work less and relax more.

Are we in or are we out?  Do we want the adventure or do we want the comfort?

Perhaps today we can try to escape this neurotic pattern.  Perhaps today we can enjoy life where we live.  Make the most of the quiet without seeking the noise.  Take advantage of the day, the hour, the minute by doing nothing.

Listen to the birds and feel the sunshine on your face.

Put a great piece of music on the stereo and let it move your soul.

Turn off the TV and play cards with your family and friends.

Turn on the radio and listen to the baseball game the old fashioned way.

Enjoy a long walk and never once look at your watch.

Be present.  Live life without distraction.  Enjoy your location, wherever it might be.

Day 58 – Another Mowing

2013.04.20With the deluge of rain that we’ve received over the past week and the warm temperatures that accompanied many of the days, my yard has exploded!  Mowing was quite the chore!  And if my calorie counter is correct, I just burned another 1500 calories in the process.

So why is it that I’m not melting away before my very eyes?  Why am I not a leaner, meaner version of my former self?  I grunt and strain against the mower and the green growing in my yard.  I huff and puff as I trudge from one end of the yard to the other. And yet, I remain, as always, a sore, but fat version of me.

Well, friends and followers of Journey to 50, it will not continue to be so!  I vow change!  I declare that the yard and my determination will see results and both will benefit from the effort!  This is a fight I will not lose!  This is a Journey that I will not quit!