When we frequent a website, we soon begin to recognize names. We might never really chat with that name we recognize, but we remember it for one reason or another. I've known 'bsavage' for years, though I doubt if I've chatted with her more than a time or two. You know what I noticed about her? It was her upbeat attitude. I never ever saw her write a sad word, seems to me her words always made me smile. Isn't that something? I used Spotlight as an excuse to get to know her better because I wanted to know the secret behind those smiling words.
I asked her to be in our Spotlight. Here's what she said:
Wow, Sharon, really? You have touched my heart this morning. I don't know exactly how to go about something like this...perhaps you can guide me. I truly don't mind sharing. I have had many people in my life who have helped, inspired, or reminded me of what really matters, for which I am very grateful. So, let me know what to do, and I will do it!
Oh yes!! That's the kind of answer I always love. I thought she'd just jump right in and write her story, but then I got another little note:
Dear Sharon, I have thought this over and over, and I don't honestly know what to say. But I have read your articles about people, and you seem to capture their essence. So, I am going to ramble, and hope that you will edit appropriately, and perhaps you will tell me my own story.
Oh. I'm supposed to tell Brenda her own story? How can I do that? I only know that she always writes happy words, she always smiles, and she always shares her happiness. I can't possibly write a one sentence article! But pretty soon she picked up the pace and started writing...I love it when that happens. It made my job so much easier.
You told me to start with my own words to you, which were "I have had many people in my life that have helped, inspired, or reminded me of what really matters, for which I am very grateful."
So, I must begin with my grandmother. I had only one grandparent, the rest had passed before I was born. Grandma Phillips (Katherine), was married to Teddy (Theodore). As I understand it, Teddy died at a relatively young age, and my grandmother never loved another man. She had many offers (particularly from the town pharmacist, as I understand it, one of the most eligible bachelors in our small town), but she chose to live her life on her terms, and she chose to be single. She wasn't without fault, she had very, very dark days (some of which the family truly doesn't discuss), but she persevered. She grew her gardens. She listened to 'rock and roll' music in her kitchen on her transistor radio while we baked. She made me real home made popcorn, cooked in a pan, with Crisco, and smothered in butter and salt, while I had a bath in her claw-foot tub upstairs in her old house that I was sure was at least a little bit haunted. I knew it was time to get out of the bath when I smelled her popcorn. Then, we would watch Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett. Grandma Phillips babysat me for years on Saturday nights when my Mom and Dad had some 'them' time. I loved it!
Then, there is my mother, Violet Phillips Savage. My mother, now 82, married to my father for over 60 years, is and always has been a 'Force To Be Reckoned With'! My mother has always been the matriarch of the family, she took care of her younger sister Patti, and my grandmother, as needed throughout life. Meanwhile, my Superwoman Mother worked before it was politically correct for women to work (as an Executive Secretary), supported my Dad as a small town politician's wife (very effectively), had multitudes of friends (lifelong friends, to this day), was an entertaining Queen, was beautiful all the time, loved and encouraged and took excellent care of us four kids, and cooked and cleaned up every meal all the time, made lunches, was a chaperone on school trips, and again, looked beautiful all the time.
I remember she would finally sit down at about 10:00 at night and read the newspaper. Oh, and she kept a pristine and stunning home that she and my dad built and designed together, and she had a lovely yard and gardens. My dad is a retired carpenter, woodworker, and all around perfectionist. They worked together very well. My mother always said, "You need to have things to look forward to and to build together".
It must be said here that my mother did not do everything alone, she and dad were excellent at teaching us kids how to cut grass, weed gardens, plant plants, shovel snow, clean the house, cook and bake exceptionally well, decorate the house, put on parties, have good manners, and then...she put all those tools to work, all the time, every day, every weekend, all the time. And for that, I am extremely grateful. Sometimes I am quite shocked by basic life skills that people don't know and have never been taught. And I am always thankful that my mother never accepted boredom, she always said "If you're bored, it's your own fault". She also did not really allow for sulking much (maybe a few moments). I come from good, strong, stock.
Then there is me. Always the wild child, the youngest of four, the only one of my generation to move away from Western New York (okay, Buffalo area...). My first career was as a florist, I did that for about 16 years, Then, as a single mother, I made the ridiculous leap into selling real estate, a commission-only business. Somehow, I not only survived, I also worked out a deal with my employers that allowed me to live and support myself and my son. I had love affairs. I had heartbreaks. I made mistakes. But my son was ALWAYS my first priority; I did everything so that he had a good home and a good education and a good neighborhood. I climbed the corporate ladder eventually, (much as I resisted it), and have had a career in real estate (for twenty years), and as a real estate educator (for over twelve years).
I couldn't and didn't garden during the years of raising my son alone; we lived in apartments or condos and honestly, it wasn't even in my radar. All I wanted to do was raise my son as best as possible, give him a great education and a good head start. Okay, I think I did that. My son Phillip (named after his Great Grandmother Katherine Phillips, as mentioned earlier), is the most amazing, strong, self reliant, hopeful, joy-sharing individual I have ever known! And, he is My Son. ♥♥♥ (That link will take you to Brenda's son's music. When you get there, click on 'Look Within', you'll love it! And while you are enjoying Phillip's music, go here for a video he made for a feed the hungry non profit.)
Seems to me that perhaps your son might just take after his amazing, strong, self reliant, hopeful, joy-sharing mother!! Tell us more, Brenda! Tell us about this wonderful man you married.
I met my husband about nine years ago on match.com. BTW, I did a background check on him even back then, as my real estate background had taught me how to find info on most everything. It turned out that he is awesome! Tony is a retired Royal Air Force pilot, a Motorcycle Safety Instructor, and Garden Builder Extraordinaire!
To condense the most recent part of my/our life, we made a whole bunch of money working together, building our lives and businesses. We reached great milestones that we had aspired to. We grew gardens and made ponds, improved our home, we traveled and lived every moment. We invested in a small vacation home and RV Park in Colorado. We are both strong and built a foundation that we thought would carry us though retirement.
Then, the economy collapsed. The 'real estate bubble' that I, as a very educated Realtor, never believed existed, blew up (Boy, was I wrong!!!). Tony's business was grading and trash haul off for new construction subdivisions. New construction ceased to exist in 2007 in Phoenix, AZ. The real estate industry came to a grinding, screeching, halt.
We lost our home, we had to give away over 100 koi and goldfish from our ponds, I had friends come over for what I call "The Great Dig". Thankfully, many of my friends share pictures of our roses that we gave away that day, blooming beautifully in their yards and gardens.
So, we moved into our vacation home as a full time, permanent home. We are so thankful for our lovely little town of Dolores, CO. Population: 800. We are so thankful for our home here. We are so thankful for our life here. We own a small RV park (if any of you are coming out west, come and stay here: Cozy Comfort RV Park.
Tony is now a school bus driver for Dolores, Mancos, and Cortez (who better to drive your children around than a retired RAF pilot and a Motorcycle Safety Instructor?). And me, well, I work in our local Dolores River Brewery. We are surrounded by real connections, real people whom we love, and a so-much-simpler lifestyle. We are so blessed. And, we re-build...gardens, life.
We talked a little more, Brenda and I. I asked a few questions, she wrote a few answers. I decided the happiness came from deep within, it was just a part of her, like eye color or the shape of her face. She continued...
This thing about writing an article really keeps at me. You tell me I have a story to tell, I feel like I have many stories to tell, and honestly, at fifty years old, I truly hope I continue to live many, many more stories. I particularly hope that I get to live them out for a long time with all of those I love, especially my Dear Husband Tony. I don't know which story to tell or what my message really should be. But writing about myself, (and I have written, and I fancy myself a decent writer) I don't know exactly how to do it.
"You are doing fine, my friend, truly fine", I said, and so she continued.
I have watched Oprah's final shows the past few days, and yes, I am a huge fan. I love Oprah because she is hopeful, and loving, empowering, forgiving, curious, strong. She loves nature, appreciates beauty, has worked her way up. She tries to teach us with whatever she has learned. I am married to My Love because one day Oprah said that it would be okay to try an internet dating site, as long as you were very, very careful. I met my husband on match.com, and we have been together for years now. He is the most amazing Man I have ever known, except maybe for my Dad.
She got a little quiet for awhile. Then I remembered that she had asked me to tell her own story to her. So this is what I said to her:
You think you don't have a direction but you do. You already have told me this about yourself:
You are a strong, strong woman.
You love life and you love people.
You meet adversity head on with a smile and a laugh that brightens up the room wherever you are.
You love nature, you love the outdoors and you enjoy working.
You enjoy playing and you love life. (I know I already said that before.)
You are happy, no matter the circumstances.
You will make the most or the best of any situation.
You make do with what you have.
You love life!!
You are a survivor.
You take adversity and learn from it.
You might tremble but you will not fall.
You are happy and you love life.
See where I'm going?
This is what you've told me, I knew nothing before you wrote this, except I loved your upbeat happy words wherever I saw them written. That's why I asked if you'd agree to this interview. I loved your attitude.
If you never wrote another word, I could write the article with just this much.
Is there anything about your life now that you'd like to change? I'm not talking about your life before now, I'm talking about where you are now. Are you happy or is there still a change to be made?
Hmmmm. I think the only sure thing in life IS change. I don't always like that that is the truth, but it is. I am very, very happy with where I am now. An ironic truth about my life is that I grew up in the country, with an idyllic childhood (which I didn't appreciate in my teen years), and I couldn't wait to move to the 'big city'. So, I did. I then spent the next 27 years living in or around cities, eighteen years of it in the Scottsdale, AZ area. My son Phillip, who is, of course, the Most Amazing Young Man Ever, told me many years ago that I would come full circle, and live in the country again. I thought he was mistaken... he wasn't.
But I digress, (which I do, often). I would like it if we could find a true sense of security again, but I think Helen Keller said it best. "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
And that, my dear, is one of my favorite quotes. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
The more life I live, the more I know for sure that I can't answer this question. If you asked me 10 years ago, I am quite certain that I wouldn't have answered "Owning an RV Park in Colorado, working in a brewery, DH Tony working as a school bus driver... and we love it!" I have absolutely no idea where I see myself 10 years from now, but I truly hope that I feel as loved, and blessed, and grateful, as I do today.
Do you have any hobbies, what do you do in your spare time?
I garden. As much as possible. I try to turn trash to treasure. I scrapbook, I am a photographer. Tony and I travel whenever possible. We motorcycle, we ski. I have several very good girlfriends, and we have times together. Important times, party times, time to talk, to vent, to discuss, and yes, to have some cocktails.
One more question, at the end of the day, what makes you happiest?
That most of those that I love are still strong and safe, and healthly... including me! I am very thankful for life and for living, even though this life I love is quite often very messy.
I admire you, Brenda, I love people who can face adversity head on and come out smiling on the other side. And I hope very much that you can see what others see in you. You, my dear, smile from the inside out!
You can visit Brenda at her Life Transitions Cubit, her Rocky Mountain Forum, and RV-ing.
Thank you so much for joining us for this week's Spotlight. Be sure to scroll over the pictures to see their description and click on them to enlarge. Join us right here next week to see what Nancy has to say.
To all of you, have a safe and happy 4th of July and take a moment to remember the true meaning of this historic celebration.