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!

Short Notes – Table of Hypocrisy

I stay out of political debate.  I used to get into it but the conversations never changed anyone’s minds and it did nothing but harm relationships.

I have said I didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but I DID vote and I stand by my choice.

I support the President, I hope he succeeds because to wish anything else is un-American.

What Kathy Griffin did is DISGUSTING, it is un-American and it is dangerous.

The comments about Mrs. Trump and their young son Barron are also disgusting, un-American and dangerous.

Just like the comments over the last eight years when referencing  former President Obama and his family were disgusting, un-American and dangerous.

I find it interesting that those who are so appalled by President Trump’s actions and comments have grown silent when it comes to Kathy Griffin.

It’s also interesting how some of the ones who are most upset by the latest political commentary embraced the hostility towards leaders of the past.

How many seats are available at this table of hypocrisy?

Why would anyone who could really be a great President for our nation put themselves through this?  I guess we really do get what we deserve when we tear down those who step forward to lead.

Hopefully we the American people will grow weary of this mentality of destruction before it’s too late.

 

Life’s Playlist…. Memorial Day… America the Beautiful / God Bless America performed by David Phelps

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.

 

Before Facebook…..

Yesterday, while doing my weekly grocery shopping, I ran into a friend I have known since childhood.

Her husband and pooch had recently been injured in a car accident and I caught up on how their recovery was going.

We went about our way and then I ran into her again in the bakery.  I asked about a mutual friend who had been undergoing some life struggles and she let me know that our friend was doing well and moving forward.

I laughed as we were talking and asked “what did we do before Facebook?”  You see, Facebook is where I found out about both of these ongoing life events.

She responded back, “we talked on the party  line!”  We laughed and went on about our shopping.

As I wandered up and down the aisles of canned goods and, meats and dairy, I pondered, what DID we do before Facebook?

For the sake of conversation I use Facebook to encompass all social media.  The term could easily be, what did we do before Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat or any of the other social media platforms that I am not cool enough to comprehend.

No matter the format, what did we do before Facebook?

  • We used our phones for talking.  We actually picked up the receiver, got a dial tone, punched in a number and talked to the person on the other end.
  • We actually looked at people when we walked down the street.  We sometimes even nodded or said hello!
  • When we went to the bathroom, we did our business and left.  With the inception of social media, my bathroom breaks have grown longer and longer.
  • We didn’t overshare.  I am COMPLETELY guilty of this, I get it, but we overshare now.  It seems as though we are more worried about what our next posts will be instead of living our lives.  When was the last time you went to a concert and just enjoyed the music?  Now, we try to make sure we can get the perfect shot or video.
  • Our computers and phones were used for computing and phoning.  In this social media world we now live in, my computer is open to Facebook from the time I get up until I go to bed.  When I am not with my laptop, I have my phone in my hand.
  • Our search for a fulfilled life now competes with other’s photos and posts.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  When I didn’t know that my friends were at the hottest club or movie premier, I could handle it, now I suffer from FOMO anxiety!
  • Emergency room visits for walking into walls and fountains were practically non-existent prior to social media overtaking our world.  Now when someone walks into a wall, you can be assured their faces were in their phones, finding out what excitement other people are experiencing in their world.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a critic of social media.  I love it and utilize it to the fullest.  I know what you had for dinner and you know the same about me.  I know who loves Trump and who hates him.  I know when you have a kidney stone and you know when I feel excited or frustrated, it is all a part of social media.

What I fear is that, like you, our lives are becoming more about our social media posts and less about life.

Social media is a wonderful part of our lives, when we use it as a supplement, not a forerunner.

While social media has its downfalls, the benefits of these photos, posts and videos far outweigh the negatives.

Through social media, I stay in touch with family and friends around the world.  I celebrate their joys and cry for them when they suffer.

Our world has been made smaller through social media.  Prayer circles for loved ones who are suffering or being witness to the first kiss of a new husband and wife allows us to narrow our circle and become one humanity.

I love seeing your children on their way to prom, or first steps, words and life milestones from your bundles of joy.  My heart grows stronger when I see complete strangers stop in their tracks to honor a fallen soldier as his body is received back on American soil.

Our world is a complex place, filled with a humanity that moves at the speed of light.  This world is brought together through social media, so if I don’t hear from you by phone or a knock on my door, I don’t take it personally, I know you are out living your life, like I am.

Keep sharing, I enjoy watching your adventures and hope you will forgive my overshares, it’s a big beautiful world out there, let’s experience it together!