The Ugly Duckling

When I first embarked upon the project of remodeling Annette Boxx’s house, I didn’t realize that I was reliving the Ugly Duckling story. I relate our progress of the remodel as transforming an Ugly Duckling into a Bea-utiful Swan not realizing how true to the original story the journey has been.

To refresh those who are not familiar with the original story, here is my interpretation, and only my interpretation as it relates to my situation.

The original story tells of a mother duck who hatches several eggs. One of the little birds hatched as a homely creature compared to his other siblings. He was ridiculed and taunted both verbally and physically – bullying at its best in the duck world! He wandered from barnyard to barnyard just trying to find a safe place to feel accepted. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find acceptance.

But the duckling is persistent and finds a flock of migrating swans for which he longs to join. He realizes because he is too young to fly, he cannot keep up with the Bea-utiful swans. He is taken in by a sympathetic farmer. But once again, he is not part of the clan of noisy children and others around him. He finds solitude his only recourse which is a lonely experience.

When winter finally thaws into spring, he sees a flock of swans descend upon the lake. While he hasn’t found acceptance among other ducklings, he longs to be like the Bea-utiful swans he sees on the lake. He decides that it is better to take his chances with these Bea-utiful birds than to continue to live a life of ugliness and solitude. Shocked, he finds himself taken in and accepted by these Bea-utiful birds and can feel accepted into the flock. As he gazes into the lake, he now sees himself transformed and feels the confidence, acceptance and freedom to fly with the rest of his new-found family. He, too, is now Bea-utiful and magnificent Swan.

How does this relate to our situation and project? Our Ugly Duckling house was also miserable and neglected. He couldn’t find anyone to help him and felt ostracized from the houses surrounding him. All around him, the other owners took pride in their homes and kept them neat and clean. This Ugly Duckling house was miserable, dirty and so different from the rest of the neighborhood.

He watched as new homes started building around him. Unfortunately, he didn’t have anyone to help him keep up with the “Joneses”, so he continued to deteriorate and stay ugly. “Why should I care if everyone else is improving and Bea-utifying if I can’t get help”, he cried.

Until one day, he met a couple who were willing and able to transform the situation. Reluctantly, he conceded and believed these people would change the scenery. This allowed him to fly into another phase of his life. The couple had vision and wanted to transform this Ugly Duckling house into a Bea-utiful swan.

That’s basically where my husband and I are in our Ugly Duckling Project. We acquired the house in June 2016 and are making Bea-utiful changes. While we still have several stages left to complete, it is already “molting” its ugly feathers. It has been both a personal and emotional challenge, but we can see the progress and future. This Ugly Duckling house is transforming into a Bea-utiful swan – but like the bird, it takes time and nurturing.

Thank you for those following our own Ugly Duckling story. It has been time-consuming and physically demanding (for “old” baby boomers) but also rewarding and personally fulfilling. Bea positive that this little house – although started out as an Ugly Duckling – is becoming a Bea-utiful swan. Stay tuned . . .

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No Matter What . . . Bea Positive!

REJECTION: to be deliberately excluded, to throw out as useless

Active rejection comes in the form of bullying or teasing. Passive rejection comes in the form of “silent treatment”.

The first question that comes to my mind is WHY? Aren’t we humans supposed to be social and interact with one another? Are these supposed to be “teaching moments”?

So it starts with kids; kids can be so cruel teasing and bullying others. How about some of these taunts?

  • “Half-breed” because you’re mixed racial ethnicity
  • “Midget” because you’re the shortest in the class
  • “Fatso” because you’re heavy, overweight
  • “Teacher’s Pet” because you make straight A’s
  • “Captain Klutz” because you can’t hit a ball, kick a ball, throw a ball, etc.

As time passes, rejection continues into adulthood. Now, however, rejection becomes more sophisticated, and passive. Is it because adults don’t want to reject someone outright? No, it’s much more subtle with the passive approach. How about a few like:

  • Your phone number has been deleted from your nephew’s phone; of course, “by accident”
  • Not being included in meetings and/or conference calls that others discuss openly in front of you
  • You call or e-mail someone and never get a response but hear about them through others
  • Your co-workers plan lunch and don’t invite you.  Better yet, they order “lunch in” and “forget” to get your order.
  • Put you on a project for which you have no experience or support – set up to fail and told you’re unreliable
  • You stand up for a co-worker who has been ostracized by the team – only to find out you are also outcast

It doesn’t matter if the rejection happened 3 hours ago or 3 years ago. The stinging emotional pain and psychological distress probably brings back bad memories and maybe a few tears. When you’ve experienced rejection multiple times, you start to question yourself . . .

  • maybe I’ll never grow up
  • maybe I’ll always be selfish
  • maybe I didn’t get the right birthday present, Christmas present, anniversary present, present “just because”
  • maybe I should conform so that “they” will like me and include me in their lunches
  • maybe I should be politically correct so that I can get promoted
  • maybe I shouldn’t be honest when asked “what do you think?”
  • or the ultimate, maybe I’m just a loser

Whether perceived or actual rejection, I think about the ultimate rejection. Heralded a week prior, betrayed by someone who spent 3 ½ years with Him, beaten, spit upon, lied about, scourged, mocked, crucified . . . So I have to remind myself that I have endured and will continue to endure, no matter the circumstances. . . not by my will but by God’s will and will probably never know WHY.

So no matter what, Bea Positive!

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names . . .”???

All of you have probably heard and recited the rhyme “sticks and stones may break by bones, but names will never hurt me”.  It sounds good and you think by saying it, it’s true.  There have been several instances in national news lately.  Here in FL, a young lady committed suicide because of the constant name-calling and bullying from classmates.  Most recently, we hear about an NFL football player who left the team because of the hurtful, shameful insults and verbal abuse.

I’ve been called many names growing up and in my adult life, and they have all hurt.  The emotional trauma and breaking of your spirit can’t be explained only experienced.  Thankfully, my experiences never drove me to suicide but the depths of depression were real and seemed permanent.  The good news that I want to share is that you can endure and will overcome.

I have a beautiful Japanese mother and dad who is a southern gentleman from Alabama.  As you might imagine, growing up was a bit of a challenge in school.  When I reflect now, I realize that the name-calling and being singled out enabled me to grow thicker skin with each experience.

I went to school in the 70’s.  Some of the names I remember include “half-breed”, “Chink”, “Jap”, “Nip”.  I don’t remember the year, but when “Tora, Tora, Tora” came out, the name-calling was relentless.  Yeah, the kids were mean and cruel, and I certainly didn’t understand why they picked on me.  I just remember the taunts in the hallway and notes being passed to me in class.

So now, here we are in 2013.  Some kids are still mean and cruel.  Unfortunately, they don’t just name-call to your face but “share” on facebook, twitter, text messages, etc.  My frustration and anger is that there is no intervention until tragedy happens.  The “mess in Miami”, as it’s now called, is an example where name-calling, insults, etc. came from an adult.  The young man who is the “bully target” checked into a hospital because of emotional trauma and left the football team.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  No matter how many times you say it out-loud or to yourself, trust me, NAMES HURT down to the soul.

I don’t know how to stop mean people.  I share my story because I choose to “Bea Positive” and keep a good attitude no matter the circumstance.

So my question to all of you . . .

  • What do you do when you suspect or see someone being bullied?
  • Do you stop it or do you tolerate it?

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