A Better Home

I flew home last night from Charlotte, NC. There have been less than a hand full of times I’ve ever needed to be home so badly. You see I’ve been gone all but about four days since early February. Not only did I miss two snowfalls we had in Chicago during that time but also, I missed home. It’s that simple. As much as I’ve said in other posts that home is where the heart is and though my heart traveled with me, I’ve been away from all the comforts my personal home brings me – coffee in the wee hours each morning with my David while we play Scrabble on our IPads, solitary walks in nature, my own home-cooked meals, my dog and my writing (hard to do when traveling) to name a few. Most of all I’ve missed my quiet time with David. He is absolutely positively the love of my life. As is our tradition when I return home from traveling, last night we went to our fave restaurant just a stone’s throw away from our house. Vincitori’s Italian – quaint and ever so yummy, it is my comfort place to go to when I get home. The restaurant was packed so we ate at the bar. Let me tell you, I was giddy with happiness. I kept patting David’s leg, rubbing his back and smiling at him while thinking in my head, there’s no place like home. Hallelujah, I felt finally home. Truly, home never felt better than this. And that my friends made me realize that being away from home for so long and dealing with all that went on these last few weeks gave me a new appreciation for home which in turn gave me a better home to return to.

Two other people I know have recently been gifted a better home to live in. One I learned about through a chance encounter one of the hair stylists at the salon I go to had with a new client. The other I know personally. Both of these people are now living in better homes. I know they are blessed and I know their families are as well. Let me explain…

Maurice’s gift gave someone a better home

No matter where I go I tend to be a “Chatty Cathy” and have tons of unusual stories to tell. Even at the salon I go to many of the stylists there know me and know this about me so the last time I was there getting highlights one of the stylists came over to talk. In no time she told me about the odd encounter she had the day before. A walk-in client had come in and so she cut her hair. They began a casual conversation and before long they started talking about where they both went to high school. When the stylist said where she went the woman in the chair said, “I didn’t go there but the mother of the boy that gave me his kidney did.” That remark led to more connecting the dots until oddly enough the hair stylist realized the boy she was talking about was Maurice, a 16-year-old boy that had lived with his mother above her condo years ago in Chicago. You see some guys that wanted his jacket gunned down Maurice in cold blood in front of their building on a day Maurice was excited about going to a concert that evening with his mother, the hair stylist and her son. He later died at the hospital from the gunshot wound. His mother decided to donate all his organs that could be donated. Now all these years later a woman that was a recipient of Maurice’s kidney was sitting in her chair. Talk about synchronicity! What a gift both these women received. The hair stylist got to see what Maurice had done for someone and the woman; well Maurice gave her a better home to live in while here on earth.

A better home for Chris

Chris Brami is my daughter-in-law Kathleen’s father. Well, actually he was her father as he recently passed away. He was diagnosed a few years ago with Alzheimer’s – what my own mother has so I understand it in an up close and personal way. But for a man so young, it was heart wrenching to have happen. He was in the prime of life if you ask me. Chris’s condition rapidly progressed the last few months and just this February while I was visiting he passed away. Kathleen, her mother (Susan) and her sister (Meredith) dealt with some pretty horrific stuff while he spiraled down. Finally towards the end it was apparent to them all that he needed to go home to a better place. I’ll never forget the last days of his life as I was staying with Kathleen and my son. The morning he passed will be etched in my mind forever. I awoke and walked out of my bedroom. As early as it was Kathleen and Ben were dressed and leaving. She had just gotten the call from her mother that he had passed. Kathleen said to me, “We said our goodbyes last night and left him in private. We knew he was ready to go to a better place. We gave him the space to do it and he did it in his own way. He went home to a better place.”

Strive for the best home right here and now

I think everything we experience, every person we meet can teach us valuable lessons. I remember the day the hair stylist told me her story I asked her what she learned from it all. She said, “Well, I learned the importance of donating organs. Maurice’s kidney saved someone’s life and really, donating is a simple thing to do.” And I’ll never forget the peace that came for everyone knowing Chris had gone on to a better home. Maurice’s story and Chris’s family consciously letting him go to a better place have given me much to ponder. Add to that the weeks upon weeks I have been gone from my own home and believe you me, I feel more connected to home than ever before. How about you? Is your home all you want it to be? Can you think of ways to make it better? If so, why not start now to make a change? After all, home should offer us the best sanctuary for our souls that is possible.

To being home…

Chris Brami, July 22,1955 ~ February 7,2013

Chris Brami, July 22,1955 ~ February 7,2013

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Jamie Balzer

About Jamie Balzer

Jamie has worked in the field of interior decorating for over 10 years and has owned B&A Interiors, LLC for almost as long. Partnered with her daughter, Sammi Blake, Jamie has been honored to work in homes and businesses across the country. Knowledge and experience is but part of what she has to offer. As a young girl, Jamie intuitively understood that the placement of things, the color of things, and the arrangement of things evoke certain feelings. Working together with this knowledge, experience and intuition Jamie has answered the call to her life’s purpose- teaching the spiritual truth of what she believes- “Everything begins in the home”. As a branch of B&A Interiors, LLC, Living In Perfect Harmony emerged to teach her philosophy. Jamie believes, “if you live peacefully and beautifully at home, you are well, your family is well and that helps to make the world a better place”. Jamie's most passionate role is as a mother and grandmother. Jamie currently lives and works in the Chicago area but also continues her business in Charlotte, NC as both a decorator and a homespace coach. She is certified in Reiki Therapy which she believes broadens her success as a homespace coach. Jamie is available for private consultations, lectures and seminars.

21 thoughts on “A Better Home

  1. Jamie,
    Thank you for this tribute to my Dad. He struggled for so long and we miss him every day, but we know he is in a much better place.

    Also, what a coincidence that your image for this post is a Dogwood bloom – the Dogwood was my Dad’s favorite tree and every time I see one it takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of my dad.

    Thank you!

    • Kathleen, I am so glad you liked my tribute. I’m never sure if my words express what I am feeling but I really wanted readers out there to know how much I admired you, your mom and your sister for having the courage to truly let your dad go. It was humbling to watch it. As you might remember, the morning he passed I was planning to go visit him. Honestly, I was relieved that he had moved on and was finally at peace even though I didn’t get to say goodbye to him. As for the dogwood – I had no idea that was his favorite tree. I chose this image (thank you Susan Weems Muehl) for the hope Spring brings us. I DID choose it in tribute to your dad but more for the hope that readers would be inspired by this story and strive for a better home while here on earth for themselves. As I have always said, I believe there are no coincidences in life. This dogwood image is hopefully spreading a warm smile on your father’s face right now as he looks down from the heavens above! Thanks for writing…

  2. Welcome home, Jamie — I’ve missed your posts! And what a wonderful one this is. It gave me dual messages. First, there is hope. And the renewal that comes with spring. I think spring might be my favorite season for that very reason. I connect with it in a “fresh start” sort of way that children sometimes feel at the beginning of a new school year. New beginnings — each springtime walk in nature thrills me as the trees bud out, flowers poke through the ground and begin flowering a little more each day, and I become giddy with joy in all of it. The other feeling I noticed reading this post was “don’t wait”. Don’t postpone joy thinking you will be happy later when things work out in a specific way. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Just find the happiness in any way you can in each day. And Kathleen, I am delighted you resonated with the picture today! Jamie, I agree — everything happens for a reason, including the picture you chose for today’s post.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts in this comment you wrote. Anyone that knows me also knows that there are messages in what I write on several different levels beginning with the surface and then digging deeper and deeper into the more profound. Call it a curse if you will but all my life I have looked at things in very serious ways. So what I write (though my words often seem simple and silly) has deep meaning and many levels of life and spirituality to ponder. I love that you got the dual messages. You are spot on!!!! Most importantly, you got the message of “don’t wait”. We ALL must be aware of living in the moment – the literal moment of each minute we live in order to make our time the best it can be. We all have much to be happy for if we but look at the moment. As for spring being your favorite season, I find that every year at the beginning of each new season I am filled with joy and giddiness. Each season, each year is my favorite. I hope that means I love all that Nature gives us! Now for the dogwood blossom – which by the way is a superb image Susan (and I am forever grateful for your artistry) – nope, there are no coincidences in life. Each post that I write I diligently peruse all the incredible images you have given me for this Blog and I carefully choose the one I think speaks to my message. I like to think Chris Brami had a “hand” in this selection by gently guiding my mind to this specific one. Kathleen writing that it is his favorite tree confirms it! Thank you as always dear Susan for reading my Blog, commenting such wonderful thoughts and certainly for all the fabulous images you have provided for others to see. You truly have a gift and thank you for sharing it!

  3. Very encouraging. More people would stay out of trouble if they focused on their home, not as much as what makes our own self comfortable, but how we can make home pleasant for the other occupants and guests. “The essence of living is giving.”

    • Lisa, all I can say is AMEN! Amen to your astute observation that it is important to make our homes pleasant for the other occupants and our guests. Imagine a world we would be living in IF and WHEN we created our homes, lived in our homes and treated our homes as a way to benefit others more than ourselves. What a truly loving and selfless act that would be. Thank you for such a profound statement. Dear readers, I hope that you read these comments and truly let this one sink into your heart. Then, live the words and create a home that others can thrive in! Yes by golly, “the essence of living is giving.” Thank you so much for your words…

  4. Jamie, it’s really funny because after I wrote that spring is my favorite season, I was already thinking “how could I think that?” Because it’s where I am right this second, that’s why!! And next I’ll be eagerly anticipating the lazy days of summer and then the gorgeous colors of fall and those perfect blue skies that accompany it, and then it will be winter again, which means soup and snowfalls. So, you are right — each season has its own gifts and joy. And for now, today, it’s wildflower season and buds on the trees and all the sounds the birds make when spring rolls around again.

    • Somehow I knew once you thought about it you would realize every season has a wondrous feel to it!!!! Today I walked in nature with gloves and hat on and still felt spring in the air. What a glorious feeling (and powerful) that Nature gives us each and every day and in each and every way whether it be a Carolina blue sky, a gentle rain, a thunderous storm or a beautiful snowfall. That’s why I know that the most important thing for each of us to do is connect/reconnect with Nature. To not be a part of Nature makes us disconnected from our true nature. It’s that simple!

  5. What wonderful stories of family and home….I always knew the Balzer family had something I craved, and now I am proud to have it for myself…………..there’s nothing like the peacefulness of home, surrounded by those who comfort you..thanks Jamie, for reminding me of that

    • Thank you so much for commenting Julie! It is such an honor for me to know that you (and anyone for that matter) will take the time out of their busy days to read my words – much less make a comment which takes even more effort! So thrilled to know you have experienced for yourself the peacefulness of home. Yes, being surrounded by those who comfort you is the most wonderful thing there is here on earth and certainly something many of us inadvertently take for granted. I hope that today and every day you find peace and joy in your home and furthermore, that others find it in their own homes as well. If each of us has anchored in our souls the comfort of home well, good golly Miss Molly what a wonderfully rich and healthy place we would live in!

  6. Wow, what two wonderful stories. When a person passes away you are so sad until you realize all the gifts they gave to family and friends. It came be as simple as talking about your favorite things to your child that they will remember, donating organs, helping someone or even a simple smile. Many times I smile just coming up my driveway. I hope others enjoy their home as much as you do. Home is where you can make memories, relax, cook, play and rest. Sometimes it takes being away that you realize how much you miss the/your normal things.
    Mary Ann

    • M.A., I’m glad you enjoyed both of these stories. Both of them affected me and I knew I wanted to somehow write about them. Having been gone from my own home for so many weeks I realized that both of the stories fit well with how I felt coming home to both my physical home and the emotional home I dwell in with my David. I am truly a blessed person to have what I have in my home and my life with David. Both my home and my David offer me unconditional love and a total respite from the outside world – and that is a TRUE definition of a sanctuary. I do imagine the incredible joy you feel when simply driving up the winding driveway to your home. I feel it,too when I approach your home and certainly I feel it abundantly when I approach your lake home – which is one of the most comfortable homes I have ever been in. Keep up the good work of creating a space others beckon to be in. If you read Lisa’s comment, it is more important to create a space for others to draw comfort from that for you yourself- you do it in spades. You and Jimmy are the consummate hosts. Not many people can make that claim! Thanks for writing…

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  8. LOVE :-) Being there for the memorial service was an inspiration to see three women holding their heads high and truly trusting in the Lord to take their husband/father home. They were at peace and were all holding it together so well. What an amazing way to say goodbye and remember a loved one! What a tribute to him!

    The organ donor issue, I am SHOCKED it is still an OPTION. I don’t understand how someone could not want to say others, even when they are dead?!? I mean, what better way to leave this Earth, this temporary home, than to give life to another human being?! Amazing hearing how two people with tough paths ended up crossing and completing the circle of life and thought for one another!

    In regards to home, I love my home and I love making it more and more homey and pleasing. I do feel however, that my home may always be my parents’ house on McSpetz Lane. I lived there from 5 up. The memories with family and friends are so immense and pleasant. I love pulling into the driveway, letting Hazel jump out (which began with our beloved Sadie Bell) and run up the 1/4 mile driveway. There is nothing better than watching her ears flap while driving through a forest up to the place where most of my memories come from :-) It is always clean, welcoming, and ready for visitors regardless of the time. And for me, the woods and seclusion just make you feel like you’re at a mountain retreat, yet your minutes from Salem and Roanoke :-) That home, I will fight to keep in the family!!!

    As for my own personal home, I am helping my own “home” by attending church regularly, praying, teaching Tanner to pray, reading books and articles by religious authors (regardless of background or denomination), working out regularly, eating and drinking more healthily, etc. And I am beginning to fall in love with my own “home” again.

    Matt and I are also working away at projects in our new house and constantly rearranging, etc to make it feel more like a home. It is wonderful being able to make a house our home together with our son and truly begin our family life together under one roof and above all, under God :-)

    Glad you’re back, Aunt Jamie… I’ve been waiting for some inspiration!

    • Cathy, I am thrilled to know you are so consciously working on both your physical home and your “being” home – that spiritual part of you that goes with you wherever you go, wherever you roam. I hear you,too about your parents home. It is truly one of the most welcoming homes I have ever entered. At the same time, reading how you feel about it brings a tad bit of sadness to my heart. You see, because my children experienced a “broken” home and no longer have an anchored home to return to full of memories and good times, I hate that for them. I will never forget the first time Sammi,Ben and spouses visited us here in Chicago. Sammi was looking for a glass to use for some water and started looking into cabinets. She turned to us all and said, “Wow, this is weird to be at my mom’s house and not know where anything is.” That hit me like a ton of bricks thought I never said anything about it. Just knowing that she was in an unfamiliar place made me sad for ALL my children. I’m not sure what lesson I want to “teach” you from this story other than to say make sure your home is secure in love, peace and joy. Make sure your home continues to be one that Tanner will always feel a part of and know that he is anchored in security of that home. Simply put, what you have written absolutely positively reinforces my firm belief that everything begins in the home. Keep your home a blissful sanctuary! By the way, I remember the moment you are taking about in the church sanctuary when Susan, Kathleen and Meredith entered the Memorial Service. They were truly three women united in love for Chris and proud to be there seeing him home. Love to you today and every day.

    • Cathy, I forgot the most important thing I wanted to say responding to your comment. About the hair stylist… part of what she told me when I asked her what she learned from the meeting with the kidney recipient is the true awesomeness of God and how he brought the woman to her chair to let her know about Maurice. I left that out of my Blog post because unfortunately there is a “limit” to the number of words in each post that is recommended in the blogging world and I wanted to make sure I wrote about Organ Donations- such a simple thing to gift and yet with extraordinary ramifications as witnessed by this story. I knew if I got comments to answer that I would speak to this in one of them so thank you for giving me the opportunity. But, that day the two women connected was no coincidence and I know God created the moment for them both. The hair stylist told me that Maurice was such a cool kid with a huge heart. He died close to ten years ago if I’m correct and imagine the awesomeness of this “chance” meeting. This moment like so many that we see happen each day points to the true glory of God and the heavens above. Incredible!!!!

  9. And BTW in regards to Mom and Dad’s SML house, it is VERY homey and welcoming! Mom has a lot of great plans in regards to renovating it, but I do want to stress that in those plans needs to remain a very homey and cottage feel :-) Updating and renovating aren’t always the solution for a space :-)

    • Ditto. There is something special about the simpleness of their cottage. It certainly beckons to me. More often than not it is the simple that is the most pleasurable.

  10. We are “Home”. After being away from Roanoke for 5 1/2 years, we are Home. We didn’t know this was our Home when we packed up our children almost 6 years ago due to a job relocation and feeling obligated to take it. Missing family events and celebrating holidays alone. Watching my children at school functions being the only one in the audience rooting them on, it soon became clear we needed to go “Home”.

    When I recieved a text from Craig this past November my heart dropped, all it said was “Start packing”. I knew what it meant, I had waited for that message and even began to give up on it. He didn’t have to tell me twice, I knew we were going Home.

    Even though we are currently at my In-laws, our own house is in sight and on the road to being ours….we are back in Virginia, we are in Roanoke, we are near family, We are HOME…and I can’t explain how good that feels. I have to remind myself while driving in town sometimes, that we are not here just for the weekend, I don’t have to pack and get the kids back to WV before dark, Blake can go to the Weinie Stand anytime he wants and Ryleigh is in heaven being able to see her beloved Grammy all the time.

    It may be a small town to some, but for my family Roanoke is Home and we are so grateful to be back. It took leaving for a short time to realize this is where we belong. Thank You for reminding us all that Home, does not have to be fancy or huge, it does not have to impress others, Home is truly where the heart is.

    • Oh Crystal, I cannot even finish this without tears beginning to trickle down my cheeks. What beautiful words. What passion I feel coming from you and thank you, thank you, thank you for writing home in all caps HOME. It says it all.

      Give me some time to digest all you said and I’ll write again. You say it all so beautifully. I hope Craig, Becky and your own Craig read this. Truly beautiful…

  11. Ok Crystal, I’m crying, seriously tears pouring down my cheeks! That is how I feel about Roanoke, it is my HOME. I went to Radford to be close to HOME and I quickly came back and don’t intend on moving again. It was at the top of my “prenupt list”! I will not move from Roanoke and I’m so blessed to have Matt slowly calling this his home and falling in love with everything I love about it. The people, the events, the scenery, the closeness to everything, I could go on forever! I LOVE that are nto a native to Roanoke but call it your HOME :-) I have found that most people from here move away because it’s too small, yet when all the hustle bustle slows down, and the materialism doesn’t make them “high” or happy anymore…. They return HOME to Roanoke :-) We are soooo blessed to have you guys in town now and can’t wait to help you move into your new home :-) We’ve loved having you around whether it’s a couple drinks, building a shed, playdates, help with Tanner, etc… We can’t get enough of you guys :-) So glad you’ve been able to come back so soon! And thanks for warming my heart today :-) I LOVE the last thing you said “Home, does not have to be fancy or huge, it does not have to impress others, Home is truly where the heart is”… More people need to read this, take time to explore the true meaning, and begin living it out… That is when you begin to feel truly home and truly “full” in life! Love you :-)

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