Remembering a Free-Wheeling Spring in Life’s Playlist…. We Are the World by Various Artists

When “We Are the World” was released in the Spring of 1985, I was a junior at Georgia Southern College. (Now Georgia Southern University)

There had never been anything like “We Are the Wold” and to date nothing has ever replicated it.

Recorded by many of the music industries top artists, the song was recorded with the entire chorus in-studio together just after the American Music Awards.  During the months leading up to “We Are the World” the continent of Africa had been decimated by drought and thousands of people had died.

As a result the fund-raising effort “USA FOR AFRICA” was formed.

This was the first world-wide call to action, in support of a cause like the ones we see so frequently today.  All monies raised by record and cassette sales (yes, you had to go to a store and BUY music back in the dark-aged 80’s) went directly to the relief efforts.

The song played constantly on the radio and I remember laying by the pool, at the apartment complex I lived in, and each time it would air, 40, 50 and sometimes more of us would break into song.

Those were great days, when I hear this song I think back on great friendships and fun days in the sun singing for a cause.

Enjoy the song and see how many artists you recognize!

Life’s Playlist…… One Day More from Les Miserables

Movin’ On…..

Six years and ten months ago I started the most rewarding career adventure of my life.  On Friday it ends.

In August of 2010, I was hired by Berman Enterprises as Marketing Director for a struggling shopping mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Downtown at the Gardens.

The adventure that began that summer was more exciting, demanding and fulfilling than I could have dreamed.

 

I went to work for six young guys who had purchased the property in hopes of breathing new life into the failing shopping center.  We did that.

Those six young men were the best guys I have ever worked for.  They cared about what they did, they cared about the properties that they owned and they cared about those of us who worked for them.

I felt part of an extended work family that made me want to do my best everyday.  That familial spirit that was instilled in all of us from Kevin, Adam and Casey, Jeff, Brian and Ben Berman was something each of us carried with a sense of pride.

For almost four years we thrived.  From a property that was only slightly over 40% leased when Berman Enterprises purchased it, to a property that was at almost 100% leased four years later is a testimony to all of our hard work and the leadership of our owners.

In 2014, the property was sold to Excel Trust, a management company headquartered in San Diego, my employment was part of that sell.

As a member of the Excel team, I was given the ability  to expand my reach and work with a variety of properties along the east coast of the United States.

During this time of expanded responsibility, I moved back to Georgia, settled into life in my hometown and continued to do work that effectively improved properties across the company portfolio.

For two years, I loved working for Excel.  Six years of an amazing career filled with respect, challenges and opportunity from 2010 – 2016.

In 2016, Excel was sold, my employment went to the new owners.

This Friday, I will put my company issued laptop into a Fed-X box and send it back to the company I have worked for over the last several months.  I resigned last Monday.

As I move into the next phase of “what I will be when I grow-up,” I am at peace.

I have complete peace in knowing that I am doing what is best for me.  I am stepping away from a large salary and benefits for a peace of mind and self-respect to see what opportunities lie ahead.

I’m going to devote my time to my store Impressed, I’m going to write and yes, I am going to write that book.

Over the last months I have been putting more and more time into writing and during the last few weeks have been given a renewed spirit that I can’t wait to explore.

I am 53 years old and I’m starting over…. daunting? Yes.  Exciting, DEFINITELY!

To Berman Enterprises, Excel Trust, the amazing co-workers, community leaders and tenants that I had the opportunity to work with, thank you for 6 wonderful years, now it’s on to the next sixty!

Commitment is a Quality Worth Remembering

This weekend I attended the funeral of a man I didn’t really know.

I had met him only once, ironically at another funeral.

When I met him his gentle presence seemed larger than life, just like his stature.  He was a big man who made a presence when he entered the room.

Over the last few months he had been diagnosed with cancer and seemed to be responding well to treatment and surgery.

At last report he was on his way to recovery, a long battle, but expected recovery.

Last Tuesday night he died.

While I didn’t know him, I felt compelled to be at his service.

As I entered the funeral home, I was struck by the people of all ages who were in attendance to honor his life.

I meandered and talked with a number of people and reminisced about the life that he and his wife, my second cousin, had created for themselves.

Over the last years, through photos, I had seen the love affair blossom with my cousin and her husband.  They lived on a boat in Charleston Harbor and every photo I ever saw of them burst from the screen with smiles from ear to ear.

My cousin had reconnected with her husband some years ago at a High School Reunion.  Both of them single, they soon learned that they were soul mates and began a love affair that so many of us only dream.

Standing beside her husband’s casket, you could see that my cousin was heartbroken, but the smile still shown through her pain.

A warm embrace and introduction of her children, whom I had never met, and I moved along to others in the room.

After a final few moments of family time, we all proceeded into the chapel of the funeral home for the service.

A flag draped casket; red, white and blue flowers; a floral reproduction of the boat that my cousin and her husband shared all created a backdrop that was befitting a gentle giant.

The entire service was conducted by family.  My cousin Chris,welcomed those in attendance to the service of his brother-in-law.

Chris encouraged us to “listen.”  Listen to the stories of a life well lived, laugh when it was funny and don’t be ashamed to cry when warranted, but most importantly, listen.

I did listen.

I listened as grandchildren sang and cried as the refrain from “How Great Thou Art” filled the chapel.

I laughed at stories delivered by a son and daughter who in their grief stood to testify for the character of their father and I cried, as they cried knowing the loss they were feeling.

When a son-in-law rose to deliver the eulogy for a man who came into his life 11 years ago, to marry his wife’s mom, I listened.

In this role, the Pastor spoke of commitment.

He painted a picture of this gentle giant’s commitment to family, country, community and God.

He shared stories of a love and respect of country, both as an active duty and retired military man.

We learned how a love affair for the ages put a smile on my cousin’s face and how they challenged each other, each day and loved until the very end.

A commitment to family included a blended family, children and grand-children were never “step,” but family.

I listened as I heard stories of community service, volunteerism, giving of ones self and a love for fellow-man that should inspire each of us to live better lives.

Finally, I listened as we heard about this man’s faith and the knowledge that we all know where he is now and where we will see him again one day when our time comes to enter life-everlasting.

I learned a lot today as I listened, and in the final moments of a service befitting a gentle giant, one who had brightened the life of those who knew him and provided an everlasting love for one in particular, we sang.

Led by a son-in-law, pastor, we sang “God Bless the USA,” and as we approached the chorus, in unison we stood and we sang together, a moment befitting a life well lived, a life filled with commitment, a life worth listening to.

As I drove away from my loved ones, I couldn’t help but think I wish I had known Hugh Veal.  I wish I had known the man whose commitment to family, community, country and God had brought a congregation to our feet in song knowing “that’s what Hugh would have wanted.”

I wish I had known the man who put the smile on his Laura’s face, the smile that is dimmed now, but will shine again with memories of a love for the ages.

I wish I had known Hugh, but today, I listened and felt a bit closer to this gentle giant who touched the lives of those he loved, his community, his country and now sits with the Lord, a life well lived through commitment.

Life’s Playlist…. Defying Gravity performed by Idina Menzel