Life’s Playlist…. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus

Sunday was a perfect day!  One of those days filled with faith, friends and family, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Started off at Church.  The church I attend is filled with good people, people who love each other and are committed to their walk with God.

I saw some great friends, heard amazing music, was touched by unplanned testimony from my friend Carla and enjoyed a sermon of faith and promise from Pastor Adam.

After Church I traveled to Helen, GA to visit with friends who were visiting from Florida.  It is always good to spend time with my friends and to be able to see how their children have grown since I left Florida was amazing.

One of their daughters is my special friend Sophia, a sweet, spirit filled child who embraces her life challenges and overcomes with joy.

We went to a zip-line course and the kids and dads sped through the woods attached by tether to the lines.  We had some concerns about Sophia’s ability to do the course, but she embraced the zip line and giggled with glee as she traversed the course.

As Sophia finished the first line, we knew it would all be OK, as she shouted with glee…. “I came in like a wrecking ball!”

After the dads and kids had finished the course, it was fun to just sit and talk with them all.  We laughed, reminisced and enjoyed each other’s company.

As I come up to my three-year anniversary of moving away from Florida, it is always good to see my friends and catch up.

After a quick trip back to town, I met up with the family for Sunday Supper…. a special dinner for my sister-in-law, Donna’s birthday.

As usual our time together was filled with laughs, reminiscing and total joy as our 3-year-old princess kept us entertained.

We missed having Zach, Brett and Jade with us, but know there will be other times when we can all be together.

It’s days like Sunday that make me realize just how fortunate I am.  My life may not be complete, but with faith, family and friends, I can’t really complain about the things I am missing.

I love my life and I love the people who make each day a blessing.  It was a good day!

As the night grew to an end, Sam and Donna both mentioned that I haven’t been writing.  I actually have been, and completed the 500 Word, Jeff Goins writing challenge, I just haven’t been sharing all my words here.  I’ll work on that as I know the words I put here on my computer screen are another blessing I was given in this life.

Today’s song is for my friend Sophia…. Wrecking Ball.  Keep knocking down those obstacles sweet girl, you are a blessing to everyone who knows you!

Life’s Playlist…. A House Is Not a Home performed by Luther Vandross

Tomorrow the final chapter of my life in Florida comes to a close.

Good Lord willing, I am scheduled to close on the sale of my condo there.  I hope the new owners will be as happy in that little space as I was.

The Florida condo was my first major purchase, the biggest by far at the time I bought it about 15 years ago.

Two bedrooms, two baths, set on the fourth floor of a four-story building.  The condo is in a complex of 20 matching buildings with 24 units in each building.

I paid $54,000 for the unit.  I used an inheritance my grand-father left me for the $5,000 down-payment.

During the years I was in the condo I enjoyed it very much.  I got my first taste of political life there when I ran for the Board of Directors and was elected six years in a row.

When I decided to buy my home in Lake Park, I kept the condo as a rental, those were interesting days to say the least.

A year before I moved back to Georgia, I renovated the condo and moved back in.  When I moved back to Georgia, I rented it out again.

For the last two years I’ve had another renter in the space.

I recently decided I just wanted the condo off my books.  I put it up for sale and the tenant moved out.

I had an offer, we agreed on price and the purchaser couldn’t get funding.

Second offer came through and eventually fell through, it was below asking price but I accepted because I was starting to get nervous about the sale.

Last week I got a full ask offer, all cash closing in ten days.  JACKPOT, I took it.

Yesterday I signed the contract and sent it in….. LORD PLEASE LET THIS BE FINAL!

So todmorrow ends a portion of my life that served me well and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.  A piece of my heart will always be in Florida, but for me home is where I am today.

Life’s Playlist… Hero by Mariah Carey

Day 6 of the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins….. tell someone else’s story.

She watched her 11-year-old son, riddled with cancer, die a painful and grueling death.

I fist met her when a news report was featured on the local news channel in West Palm Beach, FL where I was living at the time.

Her child had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The most brutal of all cancers, for a child to get the diagnosis was quite rare.

The news report told the story of a fund-raiser for the child that had been scheduled at his school.  Due to regulations, my friend had been informed two days before the event, that it would have to be cancelled.

The news unsettled me,  how this event had to be cancelled over stupid regulations added insult to injury for this family that had already seen far too many bad turns in their lives.

At the time, I was the Marketing Director for a local retail/entertainment center.  The story haunted me through the night and the next morning when I arrived at work, somehow I was able to locate the mom’s phone number and contacted her.

Within an hour she was in my office and we were planning the logistics to move the event to our center.

We hit it off right away, through the tragedy that she was enduring, we became friends.

The event came and went at our center, but our friendship sustained over time.  We kept in touch and she would give updates about her son’s condition.

About a year after our meeting, my friend’s son lost his battle with the disease.  He passed away in their family home.  His little body suffered and by the time he passed he was constantly in pain with his family suffering every moment with him.

During those painful months, my friend rode every roller-coaster of emotion imaginable never leaving her child’s side.  Since his passing she feels guilt, sorrow and a broken heart that will never mend.

Not long after her child’s death, my friend opened a retail store in the tiny town I served as a City Commissioner for.  The thrift and consignment store was opened as a charity to assist families of children suffering with cancer.

My friend had found a new mission, one that would honor her son and allow her to give back in ways that would help sustain other families dealing with the same issues she had endured.

From opening day through the years the store has been opened successes have been difficult to measure.  Financially, the store has never operated to its anticipated dream, located in the small run down shopping center of a neighborhood that was fraught with crime, drugs and prostitution, it was difficult to make a go of the mission my friend envisioned.

Featuring a wonderful selection of furniture, clothes, antiques and accessories, the store should have been a success, unfortunately the neighborhood blocked that possibility.

My friend always kept her head-up and worked towards her mission.  Through her constant grief, her vision to honor her son never wavered.

A couple of weeks ago my friend announced the store will be closing.  Her continued battle to make the store meet her vision would come to an end.

The store will close, but I know my friend….. her vision and commitment to families who are going through the unfathomable days she went through will not.

My friend is a warrior and she is guided daily by an angel that helps her put one foot in front of the other.  The store may be closing, but my friends broken-heart will go on, she will persevere, she has already done more than she will ever know and her journey continues, through pain she will continue to heal and help others in her child’s name.

 

Life’s Playlist…..Rise by Katy Perry

For all my friends and loved ones in Florida in the cross-hairs of Irma…. be strong, we will be there for you when the storm subsides and you will RISE!

If you are staying put, PLEASE hunker down and be safe, don’t try to be a hero.  For those evacuating, be strong!

Love to all!

One Nation…..

Usually when I sit down to write my Sunday post, I have an outline in my head about what I am going to write, that is not the case today.

I had planned on writing a light-hearted post about the Eclipse; unfortunately the circumstances of the last eight days does not allow me to do that.

For the last week I have battled myself as to whether or not I even wanted to write this post.  I try to stay non-political, but I know if I am going to be honest with myself and the people who honor me with reading what I write, I have to write this post…… if only I knew what to say.

I think like many of you, I have no idea how to even address the issues that face our nation when it comes to race, but why should we, our nation has battled this issue for the last 200 years and we still can’t get it right, so I am just going to jump in, share my thoughts and let them lie.

I have a feeling what I say won’t be popular with either side, but here goes, as I sit here in front of my keyboard I still don’t know what to say.

Like many of you I have been shocked by the comments and actions we have seen played out on our television screens over the last week.  How have we gotten the issue of race in America so wrong for over two centuries and we still don’t have any end in sight to what tears us apart as a nation?

I am a son of the South, I grew up in rural Georgia, moved to Atlanta after college and then on to south-Florida and back home again just two short years ago.

During my time on this earth I have been fortunate to live and work in some of the most vibrant multi-cultural cities in our nation.  Atlanta;  West Palm Beach, Florida;  Lake Park, Florida;  Orlando, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va and my home Clayton, GA.  In each and every one of these communities I have worked with, laughed with, cried with and loved people of all races.

I deplore racism on every front, but I deplore racism on ALL sides.  In my life I have found just as many white people as black people who disgust me in their actions and beliefs.

I am a white middle-aged man, I do not think I am better or worse than any other person on this planet.  I was taught to respect my fellow-man and honor them for the character they create, their actions and their work-ethic, not their past, their heritage or the political affiliation they identify with.

Some say, as a white man I have privilege, I don’t.  I have worked for everything I have ever gotten in my life and I am proud of the life I have built for myself through hard-work and dedication.

We have all seen racism and bigotry played out through the history of our nation, it’s despicable.  Allow me to relate two stories that happened to me during the 1980’s, both still disgust me today.

When I was in college one of my best friends was a black woman named Lisa.  We shared a Major and became friends through group projects, club affiliations and studies.

Our college was in a small town in south-Georgia.  One Saturday, Lisa and I were working on a project and needed to run into town to pick up some supplies.

As we walked down the Main Street of the town, a small group of KKK members were assembled in front of us.  Obviously Lisa was nervous, but steadfast that we needed to get where we were going.  We walked directly towards the small group of hate when one of the members of the group approached me and said “boy, what are you doing with that?”  THAT!?!?

I was with a young woman of grace, dignity and intelligence who was working towards a college degree, a young woman who would make an impact on the world.

While I wanted to share my feelings with this pig who had spewed his hate on us, I didn’t.  I didn’t because Lisa continued to look forward, stood tall and kept walking.  I learned a lesson that day, when hate is ignored it is silenced.

When we finished our errand, Lisa walked back towards the group, there were no comments thrown our way, only silenced haters by a young woman who showed what character is made of.

The second incident occurred in the late 80’s in Atlanta.  As the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration was approaching, my friends Greg and David and I decided we would attend the parade to honor Dr. King and the vision of an America free of hate that he dreamed of.

On the day of the parade, the three of us boarded a MARTA train headed into downtown to participate in the festivities.

During the short train ride to the parade route we heard a few comments from others on the train, it was uncomfortable but we knew it would be OK once we got to Peachtree Street.

It wasn’t.

During that afternoon we were ridiculed and shouted at, it was made clear to us that three white guys were not welcome and instead of showing our support for Dr. King’s Dream, we left before the parade could even begin.

Certainly we all have stories we can relate regarding race, these are just two, but they exemplify the problem we have as a country…. BOTH sides have people who stand in their corner who do more damage than good, BOTH sides have a long way to move before we can truly be the UNITED States of America and BOTH sides need to listen and talk more than stepping up on their soapbox in an effort to prove their misguided point.

In my soul I know that these bigots, racists and hate groups are a very small minority, but let us be clear they stand on both sides of the argument.

President Donald Trump hurt the conversation this week with his comments, and as many of you, I was repulsed by what he said; however, if you are repulsed by the President’s comments and not equally repulsed when Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal publicly stated she hopes the President is assassinated you have a problem.

This week, Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi said the statues of Confederates in the US Capitol have always been offensive and called on Speaker of the House Ryan to have them removed.

My question for Ms. Pelosi is, if they have ALWAYS been offensive why didn’t she call for their removal when she was Speaker of the House?

The hypocrisy of our elected leaders is offensive to the constituents they represent.  At some point we as Americans have to tackle this issue on our own and stop allowing the grand-standers who live off the public dole to set the agenda.  These elected individuals are not who should be changing the hearts and minds of Americans, that is our job, they should be working on creating jobs, the economy, our nation’s safety and stop trying to shirk their responsibilities as elected officials to govern.

There are those who now call for the removal of all Confederate monuments around the country, if and when they are removed what happens next?  Will we remove monuments of our Jewish leaders, Hispanic, Black, Gay, Italian, Christian, when we cover up our history we don’t have a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past and grow towards a more perfect union.

I have been blessed to know and love people of all races, creeds and sexual orientations.  I have known very few people in my life who are not accepting of others, because I choose not to allow that type of bigotry to infiltrate my life.

Thankfully I know our nation is filled with people like me, it’s now time we put the hate groups in the trash where they belong and work as a nation to stitch together this great divide created by a few.

Love always wins, it’s time we the majority, those who truly love our land and it’s people, prove it!