“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.”

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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

Ani Tsalagi

When you have suffered a traumatic loss in life, grief can be stifling and all-consuming.  For me, I felt abandoned and totally alone.  There was nothing but darkness all around with no vision of light.  For seven months, it seemed like I moved through a fog.

During this time, I started the process of building my log cabin, but it was more of a project rather than realization of a dream.  It was a distraction but didn’t provide enjoyment or pleasure.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to move into the cabin, but I was determined to build it.  Little did I know at the time that the log cabin construction would provide purpose to live life again.

In the seventh month of existing in a dark hole, the foundation was poured for the cabin.  A few short weeks later, the construction crew was ready to start stacking the logs.  It took all morning for me to gather the courage to drive out and meet the crew on their first day, but I did.  I never took off my sunglasses, but I forced myself to meet each guy.

Every day, I showed up to watch each course of the cabin be stacked.  It didn’t take many days before the engineer in me began to awaken.  I asked a lot of questions about the building process.  The guys began to expect me every day.  The more I became involved, the more interest I took in the cabin.  While I never took off my sunglasses, I began to slowly interact with the crew.  Funny how six blue-collar – some crude – guys melted my cold, impersonal nature.

In the crew, one man caught my attention.  He was the hardest worker and most experienced but the least vocal.  He was tall, dark, handsome, and I was mesmerized watching him.  As he worked, I was drawn to his hands which were strong, rugged and touched every log that was stacked.  I observed him through my sunglasses and caught him looking in my direction throughout the day.  One afternoon while he was working on the front corner of the house, he actually spoke to me and smiled.  I smiled back, all the while hiding my eyes behind my sunglasses.

Days passed and it wasn’t long before the rest of the crew sensed the attraction between us, not through words but through glances and smiles.  I noticed a tattoo on his left arm, but he never stood close enough for me to read what I thought might be his last name.  Finally, one afternoon I managed to make out the words above the feathers below – Ani Tsalagi.  That night while sitting at home alone once again, I researched Ani Tsalagi.

By now, the crew had been working on the cabin for about four weeks.  The tattoo gave me a reason to start conversation to the man to whom I was drawn to who was building my cabin.  The day after my research, I gathered up enough courage to speak.  We found each other standing alone around the house plans, and I asked the question, “so, are you Cherokee Indian?”  To his surprise, he looked into my eyes, no longer hidden behind the sunglasses, and said yes, “I’m half Cherokee Indian.”

That one question broke the ice between us.  From that point on, we smiled at each other more often and spoke to each other every day.  On April 5, he had my phone number.  At 6:30 p.m., I received my first text to which I responded, “you made me smile.”  His reply which melted my heart was “I have smiled since I first saw you.”

The log cabin is a fulfillment of a dream, “something to call my own”, a beautiful start to a new chapter in my life.  But it’s the man with the Ani Tsalagi tattoo who has given me a reason to love life again, a reason to smile and laugh again, but most importantly, a reason to love fearlessly once more and not be alone.

The Dance

Enjoying nature was one of many activities that John and I enjoyed sharing. We visited many botanical gardens, beaches and parks wherever we lived. On one of our first vacations together, we travelled to Fort Myers and stayed in a resort right on the beach. One of our days was spent on Sanibel Island, home of several wildlife refuges. We devoted an entire day at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

There is a four-mile scenic drive around Sanibel Island which is home to hundreds species of birds, reptiles, palms, seagrapes, myrtles and other native vegetation. John loved watching me enjoy my passion – photography. He drove along the dike so that I could snap away. Whenever we saw something that caught our attention, especially a flock of wading birds, we stopped to get a closer look.

As we drove slowly along the dike, I saw a lone Little Blue Heron off in the distance in the bay. He caught my eye, and I asked John to stop. We got out of the car and walked up to the edge of the water. The heron was the only bird in sight, but he put on what we later called a “happy dance” through the shallow water. We were thrilled to watch and I captured the show in several still, sequential photos.

The Little Blue Heron stood in the “knee-deep” bay, and my first photo was one where he appeared to be looking at himself in the water like it was a mirror. We imagined to ourselves that he wanted to make sure his feathers were all in place, and he looked handsome and presentable.

Gazing Into The Water

After a few seconds, all of a sudden he spread out his wings and stood on one leg. And then he started running through the water towards us. As he ran, he held his head high and held his wings out like angel wings.

Dancing Dancing

He glided across the shallow water flapping his wings up and then down and turned making a semi-circle wake in the water. Then, as suddenly as he had started his “dance”, he stopped. I caught him in this beautiful, graceful stance. His wings were held out as he stood on one leg, as if in a “Karate Kid” pose gazing into the water again.

Karate Kid Pose

He stood there staring into the water for several seconds, and we were sure he was pleased with what he saw. He stood up once more, raised his wings and continued sprinting and splashing back towards where he started.

Look At Me

All the while, he danced solo as if he was wooing a mate to join him in his tango, “look at me, look at me, I’m here waiting for you!” It was a lovely sight to behold; while we stood there, he never enticed a lady bird to join him.

We decided to return to the car and continue along the dike. Before John started the car, he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes. He told me how much he loved me, and I said the same back to him.  As we drove away, I told John, “that heron’s soul mate is just sitting back waiting for us to leave.  They just want some privacy.”  And we smiled . . .

John and I lived Richard Bach’s quote everyday: “Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.” We made each other’s life come to life; we were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime bond.  He didn’t have to dance to woo me; he had me at “hello”.

“As I Began to …

“As I Began to Love Myself” . . .

Charlie Chaplin’s Speech on his 70th Birthday (originally shared by Leah on 8/22/11)

As I Began to Love Myself

 As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.

Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY“.

 As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.

Today I call it “RESPECT“.

 As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.

Today I call it “Maturity“.

 As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm.

Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE“.

 As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.

Today I call it “SIMPLICITY“.

 As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.

Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF“.

 As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time.

Today I discovered that is “MODESTY“.

 As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening.

 Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT“.

 As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.

Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART“.

 We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.

Today I know THAT IS “LIFE“!

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