Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cliff and Bobbie Stutts, Tavernier


Bobbie – “We moved to the Keys permanently about 10 years ago. We lived in Miami and had a house down here for a few years before moving down full time.”
Cliff – “Me getting sick caused a lot of changes in our lives. We sold our home, sold our business, and moved to what had been our weekend/vacation cottage. Everything was about getting my health back together for about 9 years. Now, I don’t want getting sick to be my identity; I want to get past that. Let’s just say it was a life changing event, but we had a soft landing.”
Bobbie – “Believe it or not, it was a really good opportunity for us to look at our lives and evaluate what was important to us. And we realized that none of the things we had lost were important. It made us more focused. Life is more ‘distilled’ now.”
Cliff – “One positive thing that came out of it is that I probably wouldn’t have started playing music again otherwise. My background in music is that I went to school for it; I was a Grad assistant at UM, and have a masters in jazz performance. But I ended up not liking the way money and music mix together; so I did what I thought was the reasonable thing to do since I wanted to have a family, I went out and sold life insurance… Which eventually I hated! Then I ended up selling roofing tiles and learning Spanish and had a 25 year successful career. But, I may not have ever gone back to playing if I had not had this happen. So that’s a good side of it.”
Bobbie – “And we live in the Keys. This is the only place I’ve ever been where there is not a lot of attention or importance placed on appearance. People just accept each other the way they are. The people you think would be the most unlikely friends end up being the best friends. I love living near the ocean. It really is like Mayberry here. Now that I’ve lived here for 10 years, when I have to go up to Broward or somewhere like that, it’s just too many people. I don’t like it! I feel like, in a place like this, your stress level just goes way down.”
Cliff – “For me, the weather is important. The sunshine, and being outside, changes my mood from melancholy to brighter, so I try to be outside as much as possible. I like the natural environment. I would much rather live in a more rural place than an urban one. My grandfather used to tell me that it was important to spend time in a natural setting, because when humans get together, they can create false realities, and when you get outside of that you start to see things clearer. I just know that I much prefer to be in a more rural setting and I love the Keys.”
Bobbie – “We have two children, a son and daughter. Our daughter and her husband are in Sunrise. They have a daughter, our granddaughter, who is everything to us; she’s just a bright spot in everything. We just love her!”
Cliff – “And our boy is out in L.A. He’s into motion graphics for television and film. He turns 30 this year!”
Bobbie – “I went out and visited him recently. I had never been to California. It was really fun. We are so proud of both our children.”
Cliff – “Bobbie home schooled both of our kids.”
Bobbie – “It was great for us. It’s not for everyone, but it was for us. I really felt like, if my children were supposed to develop a world view of themselves, then I needed to be a part of that. I just had a really hard time with how schools are segregated by age. I mean, I would hate to walk into a room and be told, “Ok, you can only hang out with people who are 55.” I wouldn’t want that. And you’re not really training your children to be children; you’re training them to be adults. So anyway, home schooling worked for us; we did a lot of alternative education stuff. They both came out very smart, very independent, and they are good learners.”
Cliff – “She was an amazing mom and an amazing teacher. I’m proud of my family.”
Bobbie – “All of our adult lives, our faith has been very important to us. With the rough ride we’ve had the last few years…something like that can either ruin you or it can give you a perspective that’s better. You know how everybody says that everything happens for a reason? Well, I don’t really believe that. I believe that life is just life, and the important thing is that you remain the person you want to be regardless of what happens in your life. I think as far as our faith is concerned, although it has definitely been a little shaken at times, we have survived and we probably have a more realistic approach to our relationship with God. He comes through for us every time. I’m proud that we are still the same people we were even with everything we’ve been through.
I also don’t like that saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I say that when life gives you lemons, if you like lemonade, that’s great, but if not, just order a soda. You’re not stuck with lemons, just order something else. There’s always a bend in the road. I don’t like lemons!”
Cliff – “I went from being a pretty successful business person with a stay at home wife, to pretty much just being on the couch, and her having to go out and find work, and it hasn’t been easy. She worked at K-mart for a while and now she’s working as a server and bartender. She has done whatever she had to do. It’s a super big regret to me that she had to go through all that. But she doesn’t feel that way. She tells me that it’s her time.”
Bobbie – “I felt like I had 20 to 25 years to do exactly what I wanted and now I can go back to work and give him that.”
Cliff – “Well, the couch wasn’t really what I wanted! Believe me; I would have had a lot more to say when we were picking that thing out if I had known how much time I would spend on it!
It’s like back when we were in college, she’s tending bar and I’m playing bass. We’ve come full circle!”
Bobbie – “I like working. I work in a good place where I like the people and it’s rewarding. It’s physically challenging sometimes, but that makes me feel good too; knowing that I can do it. We manage. Things are easier with money, but not necessarily better.”
Cliff – “I want to see how good I can get, musically. I want to practice and practice and just see how good I can get. That is one thing I always wondered…if I had stayed in music, what I would have done with it. Well, now I have a chance to find out.”
Bobbie – “I have to confess that I am not a resolution maker or goal setter. To a large extent, I’m just about letting life happen and being who I am. I do a lot of creative stuff, like making jewelry and I want to keep doing that more and more. I lost both my parents young, so in my mind I know very strongly that we don’t have any guarantees about the future; it’s only the present that matters. You can make all the plans you want, but the future isn’t guaranteed.”
Cliff – “The older I get the less I am about teaching anyone any lessons. I prefer to just live, gently if I can. I just want to keep living the way we are. I’m happy with what we’ve got going. My family is what is most important to me.”
Bobbie – “The most important thing is to just be here now. Don’t be somewhere else in your head or your spirit. I want people to look at my life and realize that you can go through some bad stuff and get really mad at God and he can handle it. He’ll still take care of you. No matter where we’ve been on the spectrum, he’s always been faithful to us. Just hold on to the person you think you are. Don’t let go of that. And, play with your children, play games and have fun. Eat good food. Don’t take it so seriously.”

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