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!

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.

What Makes a Family

Family.  We are taught from birth that “family” should be at the center of our lives.  For those fortunate enough to have a strong, tight-knit family unit this is one of the greatest blessings of life.

For others, families are made, sometimes the birth unit isn’t ideal and we seek outside circles to complete that all important bond.

I was fortunate to have both.  My birth family is tight-knit, I grew up with both parents in the home and while we experienced tragedy, our family remained strong.

Today, my inner-circle is my family, my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.

I also have extended family consisting of cousins that make for an idyllic picture.

When I moved away to Florida, I was fortunate enough to find a group of friends who became my Florida Family.  These people shaped my adulthood and have carried me through many of the happiest and most difficult times of my life.

I am blessed and I know I am blessed.

Families come in all shapes and sizes.  I have lesbian friends who adopted a beautiful daughter of another race when her mom died shortly after childbirth.  This family is as strong as any I have ever known.

A friend has guardianship of a distant nephew and makes sure he is raised in comfort and love.

Another friend has a home filled with children of multiple races, starting as foster parents and eventually adopting the children when they become available or often times being ordered by courts to return the kids to the people who birthed them.

Families can be strengthened by “The Brady Bunch” syndrome when parents of children marry after divorce or loss.  The blended families can be strong or difficult, it depends on the parents.

Many people don’t have this same gift that I do and unfortunately sometimes our system fails those who need it most, betraying the family unit created through love and responsibility.

I have no children, I will never have children and that is my greatest regret in life.  I think I would have been a pretty good dad, but alas that wasn’t in my cards.  I make up for it by trying to be a super Uncle or supporter of my friends kids.

Families come in any shape and form and unfortunately for the most important members of the family, the children, adults often screw it up.

Case in point…. a child I will call “Henry.”

Henry is a foster kid.  He came to live with his family when he was 5, he is now 7.

At five years old, when Henry came to live with his new family, he joined a large rambunctious, fun-loving home filled with support, kindness and love.

At five, when Henry came to live with this family, he received his first pair of socks……. EVER!  Yes, at 5 he had never even had a pair of socks.

I don’t know where the dad is, but the mom was addicted and in and out of jail.

Over the past two years, Henry has thrived.  He is an adorable little boy, a bit shy, but totally a love bug!

He has a sweet smile, he has participated in school and excelled, played organized sports and been an active member of the family he now calls his own.

Henry knows he is loved and spreads that love with his parents and siblings.

Several months ago, the woman who gave birth to Henry decided she could care for him and wanted him back.

The woman who gave birth to Henry has a mother who is financing getting him back.  She doesn’t want him, she wants her daughter to have him back, like a new doll to show off.

The family that Henry has become a part of knows that he is best served by being with them and fought to keep him.

After many court dates, some the woman who birthed him didn’t even attend, the courts ordered Henry be returned to her.

Next week, Henry will be returned to a woman he doesn’t know as a mother, a woman who will be raising him in a half-way house, a woman who lives hundreds of miles from his FAMILY.

While we like to think our court system has the best interest of those who are the weakest among us, it is hard to comprehend how this is the best for Henry.

A child who never even owned a pair of socks until he was five, is being stripped from a family that has showered him with love, taught him responsibility and provided him the only real family he has ever known, will now be given to a woman who birthed him simply because she birthed him.

Are Henry’s best interests being provided for?  We can only hope and pray that he will adapt and continue to thrive, but it is my fear that this child will again be lost, a victim of a system that was designed to protect him.

Henry’s family did all they could, I pray they will one day see him again and he will be able to remind them they are HIS family and they did their job well.

Henry is one of thousands lost in the system each year.

Families come in all shapes and forms, Henry has a family, unfortunately he won’t be allowed to continue living with them after next week.

I pray for Henry, and I pray for the thousands of other children like him who fall between the cracks.  I pray that Henry knows he is loved and part of a FAMILY.