When One Door Closes……..

Friday afternoon, I boxed up my company issued laptop and sent it back to the company I have been working for, effectively ending a chapter in my life that has provided joy, challenge, financial reward, stress and opportunity.

When I decided to resign from my job, I did so knowing that I would be giving up a lot, with hopes of gaining more.

The last year has been a difficult one, I have seen my voice diminished, my judgement questioned and my passion for a job that I have loved eliminated.  I knew it was time to move on.

While the passion for my job was gone, new opportunities came to me and I am now ready to see where those opportunities will take me.

When I bought a small business last year, I did so with plans of it being a simple investment that I would sell in a couple of years.

Impressed quickly became more of a passion and the thoughts of it being an investment vanished.  I found in Impressed the opportunity to capitalize on my artistic sensibilities and nurture my entrepreneurial spirit.

Who knew that t-shirts could be so much fun?

While I embraced the new business, I also committed to more writing.  I have always enjoyed writing and started this blog years ago, but somehow never had the time to devote to it.

In January, when I decided I was going to concentrate on my writing, the “pay-off” was immediate.

Over the last several months, I have been given the opportunity to write a monthly column for Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine and had a featured column in the summer issue of Cabin & Cove.

The feedback from my articles has encouraged me and I look forward to more opportunities to share my words with others.

For several years I have heard from family and friends that I should write a book.  Well, yes I should, and I would love to, however as with many things in life, fear prevented me from pursuing that dream.

The final agreement I had to make with myself when I  decided to leave my career was that I would pursue the opportunity of that book.

Once I made that decision, again, doors opened and I am now diligently working towards making the dream a reality.

Yesterday, I locked myself in my house, put everything aside that I should be doing and wrote.  I wrote all day and once I closed my computer and sat down to watch TV, I started thinking and wrote some more.

It was a great day, filled with opportunity that I am actively pursuing a dream that has simmered inside me for many years.

Who knows if it will happen, but I can honestly say I am inspired each time I sit at this keyboard with the opportunity to write.  When the words start to flow and a sentence appears on the screen that I like, the excitement I feel is unlike anything I have ever known and I anticipate the words that will follow.

So here I am, I have set a new course and plan on seeing it through.

I believe in visioning, when you see something in your mind and will it to happen.  I am in full visioning mode.

I can see Impressed being successful and continuing to inspire my artistic and entrepreneurial spirit.

And I vision more opportunities to write, more opportunities to put words on a screen that inspire me.

I can see my book cover, I can see people reading my work and I can see a new happiness and challenge that I have embraced.

On Friday, I closed a door, but have thrown open my heart to a world that is filled with opportunity, excitement and new challenges.

Am I afraid? You bet!

Am I worried about the change in income?  Yes, and Georgia Power probably is too, but more than fear, I am excited by what can happen, what can be my greatest passion, what can be my next step.

On a personal note, I covet your prayers and hope you will remember me as I move into this next phase of my life.  It won’t be easy, but I look forward to seeing where the road leads me.

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.

I Really Can’t Imagine

This morning when I chose my “Sunday Playlist” song, I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe filled my thoughts.

The words and sentiment of this song have had an impact on me since the tune was first released in 2001.  It is one of my favorite songs of all time.

What touches me about the song is that it gives voice to what we all imagine that moment to be, when we meet Jesus and find ourselves in the arms of our Lord.

Like you, I have envisioned heaven to be a place of perfection.  A place where the streets are lined with gold and angels fly by like birds living within an arboretum.

When we think of heaven, the beauty is incomprehensible.  I think we imagine having anything and everything we could want at the touch of our fingertips, a Willie-Wonka view of what is in store for us in our eternal life.

However, if you dig a bit deeper and imagine what we truly crave, those never-ending Super Bowl Games, the pizza buffet that goes on forever and the ability to eat whatever you want and never gain an ounce really isn’t what heaven is going to be all about.

As my faith and body have matured, I now think about the relationship of heaven and how that will be through eternity.

Have you ever watched one of those videos where a soldier comes home from war and surprises his or her family?  In every single one of those videos unapologetic joy bursts from the screen…… that is what I envision heaven to be.

I envision that we will see those reunions constantly, with overwhelming joy as loved ones, friends and a newfound eternal family are united in God’s presence.

Those moments of reunion will be filled with laughter, tears, joy and most importantly love and as many times as we witness the blessing of eternal life it will never grow old.

When I think of heaven, I know that God’s plan will be in place.  War, starvation, hate, judgement, lack of grace, all these human emotions will disappear.

When I think of heaven, I look forward to the days where we are all accepting of one another as the brotherhood of man and our unity outweighs any difference.

It would be nice to think that when we get to heaven days filled with double-stuffed pan supreme pizza awaits our every meal, but I think we are actually going to be too busy to worry about such mundane tasks as eating.

The celebration of homecomings, gentle nudges to those still on earth and helping to lead the lost sheep home will be what fills our days.

It’s true, I can only imagine what it will be like and I am sure my imagination doesn’t even come to close to the magnificence of what we will find when we reach heaven.

I’m sure Pizza Hut will be there as will an endless game of football and my 32″ waist, but those will all be sidebars to what matters.

The rewards of heaven will include more comprehensive work for us all.  The glory of having our angel wings will be our uniform as we work to ensure those left behind gain their wings too.

I can’t wait to be reunited with those I love.  The thought of seeing my friends and family free from pain and affliction is a promise I hold in my faith.

But as much as I look forward to strolling along those streets of gold, the rewards I imagine most are for the works yet to come.