Sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all

The song by Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton “Say Something” is one of my favorites because it “speaks” to me. I don’t really care to read about other’s opinions as to why JT wrote the song. I look at music, art, writing, as an expression by someone to positively impact another’s life. So, in my case, it has impact but for probably very different reasons as to why he wrote it.

We all go through difficult times in life. Mine came when John Boxx died. I lost him 3 weeks shy of our 20th wedding anniversary. But the 2 years leading up to his death were the most traumatic and life-changing. What he endured was horrific, but it was also equally horrific to me nd his family and friends. You have to experience grief to understand that not everyone grieves the same. However, I only wanted to be comforted with presence of another human being. Someone experiencing a devastating loss can’t think straight and can’t tell otherrswhat they need because they need everything!

JT’s song, “Say Something” brings me back to a very dark and lonely time. I experienced a period in my life where I only wanted companionship and the touch of a hand. I couldn’t say something because I didn’t know where to begin. However, it’s human nature to want to find the right words to say, text or message to comfort the griever. But if that doesn’t work, it’s more comfortable to sever ties. (my experience, not everyone’s). The griever only wants to know that he or she hasn’t been forgotten or become a burden, and the one who is no longer here is not forgotten either.

I had a wonderful lunch with a friend who was not only my chiropractor, but she and her husband were spiritual supporters – to remind us that faith gets us through unbelievable pain, suffering and brokenness. I reconnected with Tammy Albano, and she and I had lunch last Friday – Good Friday. She represents what I interpret from JT’s song. She was present, used the two ears that God blessed us with but didn’t use her mouth. She was there with me for approximately 90 minutes and listened. That’s all I’ve wanted for the past 3 years.

So, thank you Tammy and Dr. Tony and their extremely talented son, Nicholas. I know John tried to provide insights on what to expect with a teenage boy but . . .. He also was a master at listening, something that I try to practice but know I’m not a master like him. One of my favorite “1 liners” from him was that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. That’s why he was so successful and loved (by most, except the sales people who called on him!).  He was always present with two ears and only provided input if asked. What a talent!

So yes, at that time it was my first loss,  I was “maybe looking for something I can’t have” — comfort and companionship not words. But I’ve learned that “sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all.” Bea present . . . just listen . . . and just say nothing at all (Justin Timberlakd YouTube.com video Say Something). Thank you, Tammy.

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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 . . .

Bea-utifully Broken

“Beautifully broken” coined from a friend I had for a season.

Suffering a loss I never expected, she was there for me.

Beautifully broken, I managed to make it to the other side.

I completed a dream that I never thought I could achieve.

Beautifully broken, I met a man who gave me hope, made me feel like a woman again, made me feel loved again.

Beautifully broken — but unlike Humpty Dumpty — all my pieces have been put together again. My husband loves me despite my broken-ness and weaknesses, and he makes me feel alive again. God is Good and sometimes healing takes longer than you want and definitely longer than others want. Bea positive and you can achieve your dreams and desires.

The Sunflowers

She comes out every morning with her coffee and sits on the deck. Her husband built the deck just for her because he knows how much she loves to watch and listen to the birds and other wildlife. She has always loved nature and her backyard provides solace and serenity every day.

She planted me and my 14 other buddies from seed back in May. We basked in the warm sun and drank in the daily rainfall. Each day she watched us grow taller and stronger. And then one morning just a few weeks ago, she walked out on the deck with her coffee and we surprised her! The night before, we all opened up in full glory and faced the sun as it rose in the east.

As she listened to the cardinals, blue jays, titmice, house finches, woodpeckers and Carolina wrens, she turned and looked our way. She saw me and my fellow sunflowers in full bloom! With help from the morning breeze, we swayed gently waving “good morning” to our lady friend. Then a beautiful smile came across her face as she gazed at our bright yellow “faces”. Our purpose has been fulfilled. All is well . . . let another beautiful day begin.

“We Are That Bread”

Two years ago we lost a great friend, father, grandfather, brother and husband. I didn’t think it was possible to move on and push through the darkness, but I did. In fact, God was merciful and helped me find a new love and be able to write a new chapter and book for my life. In the meantime, I wanted to share an impactful message from JB.

On August 22, 2015 what would have been our 20th wedding anniversary was instead a Memorial Service. John’s son, Jeri, shared a short but very moving memory of his dad.

JB spent over 30 years of his life working for Publix Supermarkets. Even after retiring, he was always excited to walk through the grocery store looking for new items and shopping for groceries! It was heaven for me because I despise shopping and especially shopping for groceries!

A special memory from Jeri was working with his dad in the grocery store. On one particular day, they walked the bread aisle where his father taught him one of his greatest lessons. Walking through the bread aisle, JB noted that there was one loaf of bread left on the shelf. He told Jeri, “if there was one loaf of bread left in the aisle, you know you had enough. If there wasn’t any, you don’t know how many people went without.”

It’s taken two years for me to come to terms with this, but as Jeri said, “we are that bread.” Those of us who were fortunate to know JB realize what those four words mean. He left enough “bread on the shelf so that you know you had enough.” His smile, kindness, compassion, love, and especially his wit provided enough. We who had the opportunity to know him and love him are enough. On August 1, 2015, he had done enough. His job was done . . . he can rest in peace. All of us who knew JB for a few moments, days, months, years, know that “we are that bread”. We will continue his legacy and make sure “no one goes without.”

The Empty Pillow

Once upon a time, birds of the air, beasts of the Earth, creatures under the sea were created. God was pleased but not complete. Man was added to the masterpiece. Day after day, Man watched over the birds, beasts and sea creatures.

Night after night, Man slept alone and woke up to an “empty pillow”. All of the birds, beasts and sea creatures had companions. God with all His mercy and compassion realized that Man also needed and deserved a companion, so Woman was created. No more “empty pillow” for Man!

That is a very simplistic summary of how I believe we were created. It convinces me that we were not meant to live in solitude. Some people we meet along life’s pathway are friends. If we are blessed, we find a “significant other” who is our best friend and true love. Some of us bear a child or children who we love and nurture, and some of us have fur-babies we can love and cherish. Throughout our relationships, we share laughter, tears, fears and successes –but most of all, love.

In my short life, I’ve crossed paths with 1000’s of people and adopted eight fur-babies. Some people were placed in my path for a season, and I’m blessed with those who are life-long friends and family. The hardest lesson I’ve learned through all of my relationships is this: What do you do when you wake up in the morning only to find an “empty pillow” – an unexpected void in your life?

I’ve experienced and somehow endured many, many, many “empty pillows” — each heart-wrenching no matter how long the relationship lasted. But as I said good-bye to each “empty pillow”, whether they left planned or unplanned I managed to endure. As the song sings “only the strong survive”.

For me personally, God always provided a new opportunity. With each “empty pillow”, a new friend or family member or 4-legged rescue was placed in my life’s pathway. Each was an opportunity to fill my void with a new “pillow” at precisely the right time. These new “pillows” will never replace the “empty pillows”. However, I’ve learned that all my “empty pillows” have provided new life and love to another.

I, too, have been given a new beginning. At just the right time when God knew I was ready, He blessed me with not only a best friend but a true love. My husband and Frankie make sure I don’t wake up to an “empty pillow”. My husband is my life and gives me a reason to wake up each morning.

We never know how long our relationship will last before we wake up to yet another “empty pillow”. Despite the grief with each situation, I managed to “push through” and “keep on going on”. I learned that it doesn’t matter how long the relationship lasts, but the gift of spending time and love together is what is important. Experiencing and appreciating the special bond between me and my friends, family members, and pets – but most of all my husband, my life-partner – gives me lots of love and “pillow talk”!

Bea positive and embrace each day with thanksgiving and anticipation to love fiercely and whole-heartedly with heart and soul. Someone will cross your path who needs a “pillow” from you or maybe they will provide a much-needed “pillow” for you. Bea-lieve because it happened to me.

Bea-Day

My birthday is in mid-April and for many years coincides with Easter. This year was one of those. The past few years have been emotional and full of change. Why is it that years that end in 9 are the hardest? This year I turned 59, and it was a tough transition. It’s just a number, right?

For many years, we lived close enough to my parents to spend my birthday with them. Over the past 3-4 years, so many things happened personally that it wasn’t feasible to meet. However, this year was an exception, and we made plans to spend my birthday/Easter weekend with my parents.

We met halfway between FL and AL in Valdosta, GA in a pet-friendly hotel. My parents traveled with Princess, and we had Frankie. Conveniently we had adjoining rooms which turned out to be a blessing. Princess has serious separation anxiety, so Frankie was the perfect companion to keep her quiet and settled so we could enjoy dinner together.

The restaurant we chose was a short walk across the parking lot. We had a very pleasant waiter who looked like Wesley Snipes! He was so nice and took pictures of mama, daddy, me and Roger for special photo memories of our time together. We “messaged” the pictures to my sister, Beth. Her response was hilarious – “you must be at Olive Garden because the breadsticks gave it away!”

As we ordered our entrees, my father told “Wesley” that it was my birthday. After we finished our dinner, “Wesley” and two other waiters showed up at our table with two ice cream desserts. Well, to my embarrassment, they couldn’t just set the desserts on the table, they sang Happy Birthday to me!

We spent one more day together enjoying lunch and dinner as a family. On Tuesday morning we departed and went to our respective homes. Reflecting on the time we spent together, I realized how fortunate I was to spend my birthday once again with my parents and with my new husband. We all know we have fewer years ahead of us than behind us. Bea Positive that when you have the opportunity to spend time with your family – don’t let it slip away.

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