Avon Broke the Great Gretchen Depression

I won’t lie to you – I have had a rough 2.5 years.  I have spiraled into a pit I thought I would never get out of.  Yes, times could have been worse, and I am grateful it wasn’t.  Terms like, ‘it could be worse’, in my opinion, cause a deeper spin into depression.  When people would tell me, “It could be worse”, well that made me feel worse.  Should I be in this deep of a depression because ‘it could have been worse’?  That would spiral me even further into depression.  But I would paste on a smile and present a semi-false persona to the world.

Yes, I know depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance.  I had a close relationship with my medical team and we have tried all sorts of medicine, but the depression continued.  You see, my depression was being caused by outside factors that affected me, and they went something like this (and in this order):

  1.  Certain family members acting out and misbehaving, wreaking havoc in my life.
  2. Losing my dream job at Stennis due to a contract change.  Fortunately, I was quickly hired by some awesome people, who I forever hold in my heart, but the travel time and pay could not sustain my household.  I got a call from the new contractor at Stennis, was re-hired, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was so thrilled to be back at Stennis, which is the most awesome place to work, but I still was depressed.
  3. I lost my beloved Frank the Faux Pug.  I had him 16 years, and I was his person.  His love was unconditional.
  4. The grief above all else, I lost my mother – the most stable, most remarkable person in my life, my biggest supporter.

In July 2017, I went to my first Avon RepFest.  I had been an Independent Avon Rep for four years, but never did partake in this oh so awesome festivity.  I had been working at growing my team, and my rewards paid off.  Avon nested 40 representatives to my team!  I titled upward, which means my team commission would be higher.  I was overjoyed and ready to work my business.  Between my first generation and second generation, G’Money Avon Team was 100 people strong.  I came home from RepFest pumped and ready to grow, grow, grow.  But I returned home to the same conditions from before my trip, and the depression set in again.

In September 2017, I received a call from a fabulous company in Memphis.  I had interviewed with them when I was losing my job at Stennis the previous year, but to no avail.  My daughter and her family were living up that way.  I had given all my time to helping my son raise my two oldest grands, I figured I could be near my daughter and get to help her with my baby grands.  I did not get any offers in 2017, but God knew I had to be near my Mom when we lost her.  Fast forward a year and I received an offer I could not refuse.  I would have to leave my beloved Spooky Hollow of Southern MS, but something had to give.

During this time of move prep, Hubby had an accident, totaled his truck and broke his neck.  This certainly put things in perspective for him while reflecting on the fact he could have lost his life.

I pack up my bags and head six hours north, by myself, to settle in.  Hubby had to stay home due to medical conditions and the fact I would be living with my daughter’s family.  There really was no more room at the inn, but they lovingly made room for me.  The depression was trying to lift.  I love my new job and I love my co-workers.  Could this finally be a replacement for the job I loved so much at Stennis?  Why yes, yes it could be.  During the three months I temporarily lived with my daughter, I had so much fun with my two baby grands, and another was on the way!  Those babies really got to know me, and this was an answered prayer.

On December 1, I think I was in a meeting, or working on a project with my boss.  When I return to my desk, I have many texts, phone calls and messages from Son and Hubby.  I thought what now.  I figured they were being Drama Queens over something.  This turned out to be a true emergency.  My husband had a stroke and was in the hospital.

Despite the car wreck and stroke, Hubby is functioning better than the doctors thought he would.  Life goes on.  There was still that nagging depression in my head.  I was homesick.  I missed my three acres of fun at Spooky Hollow Southern MS.  Several years back, the Family Unit (which consisted of me, Hubby, Son and two grands) was in transition.  We just moved back from Gulfport, and undecided where to live.  Son had a friend selling a place.  We drove out to look at it.  I said no way in heck was I moving there.  God has a sense of humor.  A month later, my husband lost his job and that spooky looking place was the only place I could afford for all of us on my salary.  I could have crawled in a hole and died.  My grandkids were depending on me, and this was all I had to offer.  For me, that turned out to be the biggest blessing.  Those on my FB page know all the antics we experienced.  We had so much fun on this piece of property, raising the grands.  I had such high hopes of turning this into a productive, and income earning, homestead.  That never happened.  By moving, I was finally giving up on that dream, and that hurt – hurt to the core.

My son talked about moving up by me, starting a new life.  While that wouldn’t be ideal with all of us living under one roof again, I was thrilled at the thought of being near my two oldest grands once more.  I rented a house in a great school district, and figured we would be cramped for a bit until my son got on is feet.  Two events occurred that sent me spiraling downward again.  My son decided to stay south, and there was a possibility my daughter and family were going to be moving back home.  While happy for everyone to be getting on with their lives, I felt my world was really tumbling downward.  I drove home for an all too short Christmas Holiday visit.  This was the worst Christmas of my life, my first Christmas without my Momma.  The two oldest grands were with their Mom, so it was just me, Hubby and Son.  I left early Christmas morning to drive back north, alone.  I cried the whole way home.  I stopped crying long enough to buy boiled peanuts from a street vendor.  That was my Christmas meal – peanuts and Pepsi.  I was utterly miserable and depressed.

Time goes on.  My daughter gives birth to the most spectacular baby.  I was so glad to be living near them this time.  The other two births consisted of a mad dash for me and Hubby headed north.  But shortly after, daughter and family move back south, taking my three baby grands with them.  Hubby had to head back down for an extended stay for doctor visits.  I was truly alone.  I have been surrounded by people for many years, and now I was utterly alone.  I had not seen my sister or stepdad face to face in quite some time either.

If it weren’t for four things in my life, I would have gone totally mad.  I have my faith.  I have my family.  I have my job.  And I have the greatest Avon upline (the person that recruited me) that ever existed.  Karen stuck with me through this depression like she was blood family.  I would have given up on me long ago had I been her.  Karen’s mission in life is to empower women.  She is achieving that goal and living the life!  I kept looking at her and thinking I want to be like her.  I was letting my team down.  It had dwindled from 100 to 60 reps.  If I didn’t snap out of this, I was going to lose everything I worked so hard for.  The wheels were greased and starting to turn in my head.  I am in the process of reconnecting with my team, and growing my numbers.  Karen is with me every step of this way, encouraging me and having faith in me.

I was given an opportunity to return home, but I chose to pass that up for now.  God put me here for a reason, and I need to sit still (something I am not good at) and listen to what He is whispering in my ear.  I have a most wonderful job and co-workers.  After losing my beloved job at Stennis, I know how important it is to the psyche to work somewhere you love.  I know I can coast into retirement with this company.

And after retirement from Corporate America waits my Avon business and team.  I am building my business to be my retirement.  Avon isn’t work.  Avon is fun!  During the height of my depression, between August 2017 and May 2018, I almost quit Avon.  I disconnected myself from my team and my Avon sisters.  That was the worst thing to do.  This group is so much fun and focused.  I love these ladies and they love me.  I reconnected in June 2018 with our group and was uplifted and excited, waiting for the next RepFest.

In July 2018, I went to Columbus, OH for my second Avon RepFest and brought Hubby along.  He caught the Avon bug.  Hubby wants to do everything he can to help me grow.  He saw how much money I was leaving on the table by not excelling at what is readily handed to me, if we work for it.  I was able to walk across the RepFest stage with 200 other reps who had titled up to Bronze Leader since the last RepFest.  This was the most awesome feeling in the world.  I had tears in my eyes crossing that stage, especially thinking about what I almost gave up.  I was able to participate in a milestone breakfast, along with two members of my team.  We have all been with Avon for five years now.

As the history books say, WWII broke the back of the Great Depression.  Well Avon broke the back of the Great Gretchen Depression.

I had to give up my dream of living on a productive homestead, due to health issues and just simply getting older, and the family not putting its all into it.  I never have to give up this dream of Avon being my retirement.  I can work this business when I get home from my day job.  I can work this business when I am traveling with my day job.  I can even work this business from a hospital bed if that ever happens (oh Lord, please don’t let that happen).

Avon is a sisterhood (and brotherhood as the male presence grows in the representative ranks).  I am encouraged, and I plan on encouraging others.  Think you cannot make a living with Avon?  Think again.  Our top representative is a man.  This man had $117,000 in sales in 2017.  Come on ladies!  We need to step up our game.  We had a husband and wife team recognized for team sales of $13,000,000 in 2017.  Yes, that is thirteen million.  Can you imagine what their team commissions were?  My little team of 60 people has sold $110,000 year to date.  That was with me spiraling out of control and being a rotten leader.  Can you imagine what can happen when I pour my heart and soul into this?  Stay tuned and see what I report next year.

Do you need something new and exciting in your life right now?  If so, please consider joining my G’Money Avon Team.  We would love to have you.  You can do this by going to:

  1. StartAvon.com and typing in ghegwood as the reference code.
  2. You can also simply browse my website, YourAvon.com/ghegwood.
  3. You can also see my Beauty Page on FB. @BeautyBuzzwithGretchen

I am not saying I won’t have anymore bouts with depression, because I know I will.  But, God willing, I do not EVER plan to disconnect from Avon again.  God blessed me with this opportunity and I am going to hang on to Him and my business for dear life.  I have a plan.  I am a person that needs a plan.  I read my Bible more.  I need to make quarterly trips back to New Orleans to see my sister, stepdad, his family (which IS my family also – they are wonderful), in-laws, out-laws….  Brief visits to New Orleans re-energize me.  And guess what?  Avon RepFest 2019 IS IN NEW ORLEANS.  You can join us!  I have a plan for diligently working my business.  That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Stay tuned to see what happens during the rest of 2018!  This is me.  I am Avon.

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Reba, Daddy & Me

This trip was almost 40 years in the making.  Hubby wanted to see Reba since he heard her first album, several years before he met me.  As usual, life got in the way, and other needs took place over Reba tickets.  One day, the Heavens opened and granted a wish.  I was going to Avon RepFest 2018 in Columbus, OH and taking the Hubby along for the trip.  Reba would be playing at the Ohio State Fair at the same time.  Gold!  Struck Gold I tell you.  I surprised him with tickets.  I bought the tickets late in the game, so we were not able to sit together.  That was fine.  I knew my Man would be oblivious to anyone else in the room except for Reba.  For me, this concert was all about Hubby.  Little did I know that I would be the one walking down memory lane.

Turns out, I ended up on a row by myself.  People were either on the sidelines dancing, at the booth buying t-shirts, or I smelled because my vehicle A/C broke a few hours back and we were sitting in bumper to bumper Cincinnati traffic before hitting Columbus.  I was minding my own business, enjoying myself, when THAT SONG came out of nowhere.  THAT SONG I had not thought about in years.  Now, I was sitting in the audience, hearing THAT SONG sung in person and it had an even greater impact than it did years ago sitting in Hubby’s truck.  I sat on that row by myself, tears rolling down my eyes.  Memories started rolling in……..

Sometime in 1992, riding with Hubby in his truck, Reba’s beautiful voice came through the radio.  This was a new song, one we never heard before.  At the end, I was bawling my eyes out and said THIS SONG could have been written about me and my Daddy.  Perhaps you heard it – The Greatest Man I Never Knew…..  I cannot hear this song without crying.  I cannot write this blog without crying.

The greatest man I never knew
Lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello
But never touched at all
He was in his paper
I was in my room
How was I to know he thought I hung the moon

Maybe it was the era of the WWII man, I don’t know.  Red, from That 70’s Show, reminds me so much of Daddy.  Dad did not have much interaction with us.  To me and my sister, our Dad just existed in the house.  We considered the Family Unit to be Mom, Sister and Myself.  We had two older siblings; however, they were already out of the house as we were growing up. Well meaning family members, who should have really shut their mouth, would tell me and Kris that our Daddy was different when Eric and Donna were growing up and he seemed closer to them.  Well thank you very much.  Kris and I had nothing to do with us being late in life babies.  We always figured Daddy, who was almost 42 when I came along, was just plumb tuckered out by the time we became active and needy.  We considered Daddy the grouchy, old German that lived in the house.

The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind
I never really knew him
And now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had

Now please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  One of my first memories of him was on Saturdays, when Mom was working at the local A&P.  Dad would take a nap around 1:00.  Dad was rather round.  I would watch him in his room as his belly slowly rose and fell while breathing.  I would climb up on his belly and lay there riding the ride.  Never woke him up, or if it did, he never stirred to disturb me.  When I got bored, I would climb back down and go back to my Barbies.  Daddy also loved the Road Runner.  He would belly laugh at the antics of the coyote every Saturday morning.  He and I were the early risers.  We would get up and watch that cartoon together.  Later in the day, Sister, who was into hair and make-up (yet I became the Avon Lady), would want to wash Dad’s hair.  Why, I don’t know, because he didn’t have much to style.  Dad would obediently sit in the bathroom while Kris washed, rinsed then combed his 10 strands of hair.  At some point in the day, I would decide to iron Dad’s handkerchiefs.  I was probably only 6 at the time, and why they let me near an iron, I don’t know.  I would grab a can of starch, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, fold once, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, repeating each step until the kerchief was folded in the square Dad liked.  Never once did he complain about his handkerchiefs being scratchy on his nose.

Then the days turned into years
And the memories to black and white
He grew cold like an old winter wind
Blowing across my life

Looking back now, Daddy did pay attention to us, but just not in every detail like our Mom did.  Kris and I wanted more.  We wanted hugs.  We wanted loving, undivided attention.  Dad was rather cold.  And loud.  Dad, for the most part, always seemed cranky and yelled a lot.  That is what I remember most – him yelling.

Fast forward several years when I was a pre-teen and Sister was a teen.  The chasm really grew between us and Dad.  We wanted him to take an interest and look at our report cards like Mom did, and have conversations with us.  This rarely happened. Looking back now, during this chasm, I see that I grew selfish and snobby and probably did more to push Dad away instead of trying to draw him in.

We didn’t have much in common with Dad at all.  The biggest bond he had with Sister was his love of fruitcake (Gross!).  Kris could bake anything and everything she put her mind too.  I remember for many years, several months before Christmas, Dad and Kris would work in the kitchen together assembling a fruitcake.  Kris would bake, Dad would soak the finished product in alcohol, then they both would carefully wrap this disgusting concoction, and put it away in a cabinet to let mature.  The Family Unit never touched this stuff.  What we didn’t know was Dad would bring the fruitcake to work to share and would brag on his daughter’s baking abilities.  I heard he bragged on me too.  About what, I don’t know, because Sister sucked all the craft talent out of the Family Unit.  I can’t even draw a stick man.

Fast forward to when I turned 14.  Our oldest sister FINALLY had a baby.  This little package was so welcomed into our family.  Dad, the grouchy, old German, turned into a puddle of mush.  We had no idea who this man was.  He invaded the Family Unit with a vengeance.  When my niece turned one, Dad drove home from work with the biggest stuffed teddy bear I had ever seen.  He had it sitting in the front seat of his truck when he pulled into the driveway.  I blew a gasket.  I made a big scene about the fact he never, ever did anything like that for me – and I was his baby – the baby of the family!  Six months later on my birthday, he rolled into the driveway with the same teddy bear for me.  I saved that thing until a few years ago when we downsized. I had no more room for this big blue and white stuffed monstrosity, and stuffing was leaking everywhere.

Over the next few years, the grouchy, old German started changing.  He became human.  Old Woody was yelling less, he loved our friends – our friends actually came to our house to see him!  He would sit in front of the TV and laugh his head off watching Three’s Company.  He came to parades to see me march with my high school Flag Team.  Who was this man?

And then we learned just how cruel fate could be.  Dad was gone in a blink of an eye.  He died one month before I turned 18, 4 months before I graduated high school and 4 months before my sister’s wedding.

The greatest words I never heard
I guess I’ll never hear
The man I thought would never die
He’s been dead almost a year
He was good at business
But there was business left to do
He never said he loved me
Guess he thought I knew

Dad has been gone almost 40 years now, about the time Reba was breaking into the country music scene, about the time Hubby was first hearing of Reba.  Full circle – closing the gap with me hearing THAT SONG live.

My Dad was once a grouchy, old German, but he was my grouchy, old German.  He was my Dad.  He is MY DAD.  And I love you.  Guess I thought you should know.