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

Cleaning The Mirror

January has been an amazing month for me.  As I wrote in a recent post titled, Post-Holiday Confessions From A Decorator, I had some really, really heavy-duty stuff to deal with the first couple of weeks of the month – which is why I chose to use the holidays to be still, to be quiet and to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.  Last week was my “down time” to review and then renew after all the heavy-duty stuff I had experienced had come and gone.  Little did I know that a simple trip to the movies over the weekend would be the proverbial wake-up call for me to listen up and that another big lesson was coming…

Important messages come to me from the oddest places.   Some of the messages are good and some well, suffice it to say, not so good.  Here’s an example of a good one – I remember when I first began my blog I had numerous articles written and ready yet, I still couldn’t find the words for my opening post that in my view would best explain what I meant by my tag line – Everything begins in the home.  I fretted and fretted for weeks trying to come up with just the right words.  Then I attended my niece, Britney’s wedding and voila, the words were said out loud to me.  Funny- I had been searching for the words in my head – little did I know that I would hear them from someone else.  I remember I felt cold chills come over me when the words started from the lips of Reverend Bob McAden.  A voice in my head said, “Listen up Jamie.  Here are the words you have been searching for”.  I listened and boy oh boy, they certainly were the words I needed.  So, once more thank you Rev. McAden for the words you spoke and then allowed me to share in my blog post, The Sacredness Of Home.  They were (and still are) the perfect words to explain and express the importance of HOME.

Anyway, I had another one of those messages this past Saturday and at the oddest place – the movies!  Here I was thinking I would sit back and be entertained.  Oh no, not this time around – this “not so good” message was meant to teach me I still had work to do on myself.

The Man in the Mirror

The movie, Joyful Noise started out normal enough but something came over me when the Michael Jackson song, Man In The Mirror began to be sung by the incredibly gifted singer-actress, Keke Palmer.  I felt goose bumps begin to erupt, I felt the pulsations in my body of recognition that it was time to focus and I felt the overwhelming knowledge that I was supposed to listen up to every single word…

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways…

If you wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make the change”

Hearing those words brought me a flashback of this past Christmas Eve.  My David and I spent the entire Christmas Eve day in downtown Chicago.  Being home alone we thought that this would be a fun and different way to spend the day so we rode the train into the city and went exploring.  We walked and walked and walked.  It was cold and windy so we both had on heavy coats, scarves, hats and gloves.  While walking down Rush Street a man approached me and asked for my spare change.  Ever the polite southern woman I answered him, “No thank you”.  After all, I was walking briskly in the cold and would have had to take my gloves off to get to my purse to get to my spare change – way too much time and trouble.  Well, I didn’t think another thing about it until about ten minutes later the man was ahead of us on the street talking to another gentleman.  He turned to me and said, “I want you to know I don’t ask people for money all the time.  I just recently lost my job.  You don’t need to be sorry for not giving me yours”.  I was mortified to say the least.  Had I seen my reflection in the mirrored storefronts I passed, I am sure my cheeks would have been red.  But the real shock came two blocks later when we crossed the street and headed in a different direction.  At the intersection David watched the man continue down the street and then stop to talk to a homeless woman.  David watched him take all the money from his pockets and give it to the woman (clearly someone that needed it more than he did) and then walk away. When David told me this, I was stunned and truly humbled.  Here I was busy on my way (on Christmas Eve no less) and I didn’t take the time to give my money to a down and out man on the street when just a few minutes later he gave what he had to someone less fortunate.  It was all I could do to keep walking and not run for the nearest alleyway to privately shed tears of shame and sorrow.  Would I have liked to see myself in a mirror at that moment in time?   Not hardly!

Cleaning my own mirror

So when Keke Palmer sang the words I realized change (actually more change) needed to begin with me.  I needed to look in the mirror, take a look at myself and make a change.  W.O.W.  Here I was comfortably sitting in the movie theatre, “convalescing” from a grueling few weeks of immense stress with the assumption that I had “prevailed” through all the trials and tribulations of the last five years, wanting to relax and enjoy a hit musical-movie.  Yet somehow I was being reminded of Christmas Eve in downtown Chicago in a not so flattering way.  I could visualize the man on Rush Street in total detail.  I even remember the homeless lady- she was wearing a white coat and carrying all her belongings in a grocery cart.

Hearing the words of this song put so much into perspective for me.  The words brought on a myriad of thoughts to ponder and truth be told – many of which might take years to work through.

  • Everyone has their own vantage point from which they view life.
  • The way we present ourselves to the world must always reflect our true selves.
  • Mirrors reflect our true colors not the black and white we perceive.
  • To inspire change in others we must first change ourselves as thoroughly and effectively as we can.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Love is the most important verb in the English language.

I’m not sure where I am going with all this newfound insight.  I just know that besides carrying small bottles of hand sanitizer with me everywhere I go, I will also carry small bottles of Windex in case I ever lose “clear sight” of the reflection others see of me in my words and actions.  Moving forward I want to “clearly” see my true self in the mirror and at the same time I want to present to my family, my friends, my fellow human beings and my earth home the true reflection of who I am.  And, in each and every moment of each and every day I need to be mindful of the power I have as an individual to inspire change in the world.  Let it begin with me as I clean the mirror.

“And no message could have been any clearer

If you wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make the change”