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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The Roosevelt Boys

Hi, we’re Teddy and Franky. When mom and dad need our attention, we are Theodore and Franklin, hence, she calls us the Roosevelt boys! Here is our story as told by mom.

Franklin came to his forever home in September 2015. Frankie was found as a stray and no one knows how long he wandered until Nate’s Honor Rescue took him in. What was amazing is that he is blind in both eyes and ended up with only 1 tooth left. Mac, my yorkie mix, was still around, and I took him to meet Frankie to make sure they would get along. There was no issue, and the two of them were having a good time being “boys”. It was fun to watch them play tug-of-war with all of the squeaky toys. Mac helped Frankie around the yard and the pool.

Unfortunately, less than 2 weeks after I adopted Frankie, Mac became ill. He was diagnosed with diabetes. But within 3 days his condition worsened. I was devastated the day he crossed Rainbow Bridge, and Dr. Mercak confirmed that he had a mass in his chest that caused his illness — diabetes was just one of the symptons. Thank goodness I had Frankie at home and not an empty house. We commiserated together but were very sad.

Fast forward to 2016 . . . I found love again. I was smitten with Roger immediately, but I had to make sure Frankie would be smitten with him, too. Well, there was absolutely no issue, and they are still inseparable. “Dad” loves spoiling Frankie, over-feeding and giving him treats throughout the day.

In May 2016, I called the vet because Frankie started honking and coughing.
The vet confirmed a heart murmur, enlarged heart and arthritis in his back and hip. I was devastated and called Roger immediately. I made sure Frankie had his medicines and supplements. Dr. Mercak and I discussed that Frankie is probably 14 or 15. Roger and I want to make sure Frankie lives the rest of his life comfortably and happier than he’s ever been.

In July 2017, I received a desperate call from Ann with Lost Angels. She had taken in Teddy, another stray found in the area. Teddy is also a yorkie, about 3 pounds lighter than Frankie. He is blind in his left eye and lost most of his teeth.

It took some heavy selling to Roger to take in Teddy, but he agreed. I took Frankie to meet Teddy, and we all drove home happy. Teddy took to his new home and us quickly. He is a “mama’s boy, loves his toys and enjoys nose bumping Frankie!

The Roosevelt boys bring so much joy to our home. Teddy follows Frankie around the yard and loves taking toys away from him. Old man Frankie puts Teddy in his place when he gets too close to dad or takes over his bed!

There is no better feeling than rescuing “fur-babies” and seeing them happy, secure and well-fed — thanks to Roger. Bea positive that you, too, can provide a “fur-ever” home to a dog who is looking for love, and don’t be surprised how much you will love back.

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 Water Woman by Wesley Cox

Life has a way of beating us down. Too many bad things happen to you in a short period of time. A loved one does, a special relationship ends . . . despite your best efforts to save it. You’ve been healthy all your life, but suddenly you have an array of maladies and injuries that are sapping what you thought was inner strength with endless supply. Instead, the physical and mental pain is dragging you down to a bottomless pit filled with depression and despair. Will you ever feel the warm, welcoming sun on your face or your back again?

Our own problems are always the worst. Our little world is crumbling around us, and we can’t stop the flood. We forget that our problems are but a grain of sand compared to the problems of the world. Life hurts and that is all you know and feel. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

When you come to this point in your miserable, wretched existence with pity party in full swing, you must remember the Water Woman. The Water Woman, you say? What in the world is this looney tune talking about?

Read on, my friend, and perhaps the parable will pull you out of that hold and restore your faith and strength. At this very moment, somewhere in some time, in some 3rd world village of some unknown village, a baby girl is being born. The essence of life and innocence is manifested in this child. Little does she know of the hand that she has been dealt. For she is the newest member of the Water Woman. Her lot in life will be to find water and carry it back to the village.

She will travel many paths and trails before her final day. Miles upon miles of danger are lurking everywhere including wild animals to maim, murder her. Diseases and infection are around every bend. Soldiers are all around to rape and pillage her and throw her into slavery.

For you see, you must understand that your special problems are minute in comparison to the life of a Water Woman. Your petty problems, your inconsequential foibles are but a passing breeze in the life of a Water Woman. . . what she would trade to have one day of your life. If I need water, I turn on the faucet. If I need food, I turn on the microwave. If I need a doctor, I go to the clinic.

So the next time you think of feeling sorry for yourself, remember, you could have been born a Water Woman, damned to an endless existence of trails and water holes. “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Give praise and thanks for your blessings as meager as they may seem to you. And give praise to the Water Women of the world; for without them, we would die of thirst.
Amen,
Wesley Cox

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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