Are your first instincts to find a reason to agree or to argue?
Not just with others, but with YOURSELF.
An opportunity arises, and maybe it is a bit out of your wheelhouse but the thought of it scares yet excites you…do you say yes? Or do you talk yourself out of it before the thought ever becomes a thing?
Recently a friend marveled at some of the things I’ve been able to pull off in my 55 years, and most of it had nothing to do with credentials (though I’ve got them), connections (didn’t have many) or luck of the draw (I’m still counting on winning the lottery one of these days.)
All of the “wins” – getting in to voice-overs for commercials, or gaining speaking engagements – were because I said yes to life…and yes to ME.
Yes equals, “I have faith in ME.” And if you keep building on that faith, the challenges that inevitably come can’t win. Those temporary setbacks become stepping stones; opportunities for growth. Developing that YES on the inside shapes your resilience until it becomes your default.
The wins don’t always come fresh out of the gate. But if you keep saying that three letter word, the wins will eventually follow.
If you were a horse in a race, would you bet on YOU?
I hope the answer is…well, you know what I hope it is!
Saying NO and saying YES shapes your life…which is a great lead in to this week’s message:
Hey, if my sister can pick up a ukulele and master it, I can do the same with a guitar.
I’ve written about letting go before. A common thread in most of my awakenings this past year has been the discovery that there’s no “arriving” while we’re breathing.
Life is a constant journey, revealing layers upon layers as we choose to be honest – and inviting us to let go of the old with each new reveal.
When I went to Costa Rica two Septembers ago (my how time flies!) I was on a mission. This was an urgent journey to get to the root of Brenda and find out why she kept falling into certain traps that ham-stringed her happiness.
I got what I went for, and experienced a joyous release for many months.
As life goes, new challenges (even wonderful ones, like, geeze! I have a boyfriend!) raised old, un-dealt with issues and while I now had valuable tools to cope and resolve, sometimes you still need a little help.
If you know me at all, you know I NEVER thought I’d darken the doors of a church ever again, after experiencing cruelty, abuse, and toxicity at what had been known as Philadelphia’s Church of Our Saviour. NOTE: I also met some of the most wonderful people EVER, who remain my dear friends today; proof that good can come out of bad.
But this sweet guy who won my heart, Mark, was a regular attendee and – sheesh! – board member at the Sarasota Center of Light. I told him flat out that I would likely never attend with him, and if that was a deal-breaker, so be it.
And go figure, when he told me there was an intention-setting ceremony on New Years Day, something tugged at my heart and said “Go.”
When we had the pastor and his wife over for dinner some months later, I boldly announced, “I’ll likely never join the church, but I am enjoying it.”
You know how THAT story ends. (Yes, I’m a member.)
So in this community of spiritually-minded people, there are ongoing classes available to all, whether you’re a member or not.
Which leads me to this week’s post on letting go.
My new friend, Joan Volpe, was hosting a “Despacho Ceremony.” This is a very basic description, but it’s a sacred ceremony to render gratitude, write down intentions and name things that you seek healing from (or requesting healing for others.)
I was surprised at some of the the things, after all these years, that I wrote down!
Being bullied by Justine Carano and Frank DeCesaro in high school.
Then wrongly accused by some beloved old acquaintances who blamed me for their pain.
And kicking MYSELF for some decisions. Yes, I needed to forgive myself.
Had I known better, I would have done better.
We all have anchors that try to bog our souls down and keep us STUCK. Calling them out and acknowledging their very existence is a good starting place (and in the Despacho, there is guidance to help you through the process.)
And they end, there is a package (literally) that you’ve created, tied up in a bow. And you can either burn it, plant it, or let it go in moving water.
That Friday night’s date night was a walk to the Sarasota Bay at high tide…and letting go.
The symbolic gesture in itself was a mark in my life – a line in the sand and a decision that “no more” will the past have the power to shackle my future.
And I gotta say, some breakthroughs of varying sorts have emerged into the physical since that time.
And one thing I know for sure:
There will be more.
‘Cause as long as I’m living and breathing, I’ll be learning…and letting go.
Love it – here’s to finding our strength these coming two weeks, and letting go of anything that tries to sap our energy.
It’s risky to put yourself out there and decide to truly live. The idea that we can live fearlessly is a misnomer. The trick is how we respond to fear.
Fear can keep you on the edge of the diving board, never taking the leap. It can paralyze you in a moment of opportunity that slips away while you deliberate.
I’ve been on that end of fear and that’s where most of my regrets reside.
Lately I’ve been viewing fear from the aspect of “feeling excited and ready.”
That nervous bubble in the pit of my stomach is simply a reminder that I’m alive.
That’s a good thing.
A few Saturday nights ago, Mark and I were invited to a going away party for a mutual friend. She was taking off to start a new life in Sweden with a new love she met on vacation a year ago. At the party, she was surrounded by the love of friends and family. People offered toasts and well wishes, and there was an unspoken acknowledgement among us that this was indeed a risky move.
A new country.
A new relationship.
No guarantees that this would be her happily ever after.
The flip side?
Not taking the leap could haunt her forever with the question, “What if?”
At the end of the night, the guest of honor took the floor to thank those of us in attendance, and she said something really beautiful.
“I know this is a risk. But I know I am safe to take it because of all of you.”
See, there are no guarantees that risky business will pay off. But when it doesn’t, knowing you have people who love you; you will offer you their spare bedroom or let you call them at 2 AM is the comfort that softens the potential blow.
Did any of you watch America’s Got Talent? There was this amazing acrobatic couple, Duo Transcend. They specialized in risky, jaw-dropping moves that were downright dangerous. Her life was in his hands. His life was in hers. The love energy between the two of them was palpable, making their feats even more thrilling.
On their last performance before the final, she dropped him.
Then realized, this was part of the act.
Out of the sight line of the cameras was a soft landing place for him to fall.
We all have that same safety net beneath us.
Rarely are the risks we take matters of life and death. Mostly, they’re a leap from where we are to where we want to be. And if we end up being wrong about our desired destination, we can always course correct.
Don’t be afraid to try for fear of failing. Failure isn’t fatal; it’s simply a detour; a building block to success.
We can all look over our shoulder and recall things that didn’t go according to plan, but life still went on and ended up exactly as it ought.
Lessons learned. Conflicts created clarity of purpose. Contrast revealed what we really want and don’t want.
Our happily ever after isn’t an ending place; rather, it’s a continual unfolding as we create the life we dare to live.
And there it is: Dare to live.
Go for it. Be afraid and act anyway. Feel the pounding in your chest and take the leap.
There is an underpinning of love and well-being that surrounds you, not only in those who love you here on earth but also in the unseen spiritual forces commissioned to keep you safe and sound.
If you knew that you couldn’t fail, would you do it?
More thoughts on RISK, including how this very blog was birthed, and the new WOW, coming right up:
Is there something you’re holding on to that you need to release?
Just as you are safe to take a risk, you are also safe to LET GO.
Back in the day, it was usually a nice red wine or a very naughty Grand Marnier.
Because my feelings were on lock-down, I had to numb them.
When I started to allow my feelings to rise to the surface (thanks to getting off of Zoloft and eliminating alcohol), those feelings made clear what was TRULY influencing me.
Good feelings? Happy thoughts? Joyful intentions and a positive outlook? That means I’m under the influence of Source/God/Spirit…however you choose to refer to the Divine.
Stressed? Anxious? Feeling insecure and inferior? Oh, I have just unplugged my connection and I am all caught up in what I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
The senses are very compelling, but they are only PART of the story.
There is a meta (above) physical reality that is FAR more powerful that what my senses can discern.
It is in THAT universe where unlimited potential, lavish abundance and boatloads of creativity and inspiration reside.
One of the most powerful realizations of this past year has been that Brenda and Source are ONE. I don’t have to strive for a connection; it is not sever-able.
I don’t have to be good enough, or praise enough, or be holy enough to make myself attractive to God.
That’s the unconditional part of love where traditional religion goes off track.
Conservative Christianity’s view that a God that is love – and unconditional love at that – could damn a soul to “hell” always troubled me; yet I was so entrenched, it terrified me to consider otherwise. I felt guilty reading Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, yet I couldn’t pull myself away from the sense it made.
This awakening was the first of many to follow…and just like playing whack-a-mole, as soon as I learn something new I learn there’s more to learn.
We’re all on our own, individual journeys. Some of you are further down the road than I, and maybe I’m down the pike from where you are…but the best part is it doesn’t matter.
Ha! Doesn’t it often turn out that when you think you’re ahead you’re really behind (and vice-versa?)
This isn’t a competition. No one has the corner on the market of spirituality and everyone has a little piece of the truth.
I have found that the safest, most peaceful space to live in is where love truly wins.
In that space, everyone wins.
My closing thoughts on awakening and the new WOW, coming right up!
Well, hello possibilities! What risks are YOU going to take this week?
I’m learning that some lessons are like Groundhog’s Day. They don’t go away until they’ve done their work.
Have you hit your head against a familiar wall, time and time again?
Maybe it’s to stand up for yourself; embrace conflict and be assertive.
Perhaps your Achilles heel is to stop falling for the bad boys just because the chemistry rings your bell.
Or learning to say “No” to extra duties when your plate is completely full.
My Groundhog Day lesson? It always comes back to self-worth, ego, and the motivation for why I do what I do and want what I want.
Oh, my journey to Costa Rica settled many deep-rooted issues related to loving myself. There was no turning back from what was a uniquely healing experience. But, as life would have it, there are LAYERS of healing; layers of release; layers of understanding and, as was our Word of the Weeks, WISDOM.
When you feel less than, you have to produce MORE than.
Simple doesn’t cut it. Grand is required; success has to be super-sized.
Yes, I am a believer in abundance and that there’s plenty to go around, so yes, get me some! But lately there has been a shift to ask myself, “Why?”
Am I still trying to prove something to myself?
Or am I still that child seeking to finally win approval through my amazing performance?
Ugh. THAT performance word again.
Well, I’m letting it rise up and smack me (gently) in the head and heart, because sometimes things have to come up again and around another way before you get the richness of release.
Here’s what I do know: I am trying too hard when I’m stressed.
Some of the best gifts of my life had nothing to do with how hard I worked to make them happen.
I want more of THAT.
And, side note to myself (and to you, too, if it helps): Everything doesn’t have to happen TOMORROW.
I tend to feel quite sensitive to the passage of time, and find myself urgently attempting to fit everything in before I die.
Which is a lousy way to live. Today. In the now.
Because today is the only today you get.
So I’m thinking it is wise to walk away from the desperation of stress-fueled achievement (and taking a nice LONG weekend to visit my friend Anita in Jacksonville just to wiggle my toes in the sand and accomplish NOTHING for the next few days.)
Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!
More thoughts on WISDOM, and a brand new Word of the Weeks (WOW):
May none of our AWAKENINGS be rude ones…instead, may we sense the gentle nudge of SPIRIT and see with new eyes and a wide open heart.
With my enthusiasm level running on empty this week, and since I’m learning to take cues from my feelings, I encouraged myself to disengage from my regularly scheduled life.
My office looks out over the apartment pool, and I love seeing the palm trees sway and hearing the soothing drip of the water spray.
I look, but I never venture OUT there during the week.
I’m something of a machine when I’m in work mode, and I don’t take kindly to interruptions when the highlight for me is crossing off items from my “to-do” list.
It was lunch time, though, and I was weary. Nothing on that “to-do” list beckoned me.
So I broke from tradition, put on a swimsuit, grabbed a towel and sunglasses, and gave myself a half-hour to refresh.
Within five minutes, I was sound asleep.
Those of you who know me understand that I am a world-class napper, and can zonk out in even an upright position.
After what was about 15 minutes, I felt a tickle on my foot.
It was as gentle as a feather, and I didn’t awake with a start. No, it was more like a sleepy eye-opening that revealed the culprit.
The most adorable three year old boy in the history of forever.
I actually thought HE was a SHE at first, because his hair was halfway down his back, all black and curly. He was trying to get from his mom’s chaise lounge to his dad in the pool, and I was in the way.
So he held on to my foot to find his own footing.
When I looked at him, he just grinned.
I was in love.
I then observed him splashing with abandon, and I couldn’t help but smile.
Next, a family with four little blonde babies came strolling in. Three were little girls with bows in their hair to match their swimsuits…and Jack.
Jack was ALL boy.
Once he was fully entrenched in his safety gear, he proceed to jump. Up and down. And up and down again. Then into the pool, squealing with joy.
There was no second-guessing or self-conscious “Who’s looking at me and do I look/jump/sound okay?”
This was pure, childlike enthusiasm.
Jack flirted with me as he splashed around the pool, knowing he had me at hello with the mischievous glint in his eyes.
But he didn’t know how he affected my heart.
Oh, to return to that place of childlike glee!
Did I ever even have it?
I remember being so self-aware of my 100-pound self as a child, I don’t think I ever HAD a moment that I wasn’t self-conscious.
But my word of the weeks – and my word for the entire YEAR is ENTHUSIASM.
And by George…or, by Jack – I want to be like a child in my approach to life.
Children were my teachers this week, as you can see and hear from this week’s video:
In the spirit of authenticity and NOT being self-conscious, I am less than a week away from my first-ever open-to-the-public event in Sarasota. I have 80 seats to fill and think that three tickets have been sold.
Just to put you all on notice, I’m expecting an amazing year.
For years, I’ve said, “Watch out. When I turn 55 my world is going to explode (in a good way.)”
And today, I turn 55.
For years I’ve been setting myself up for a rip-roaring year and I believe that outrageously wonderful things are ahead for me!
No, I’m not “psyching” myself up.
I’m just AM up.
There’s a real reason why I can so boldly say that 55 is going to be one for the record books.
I believe that my world is surrounded by well-being, underpinned by love, and fueled by a Divine love that is FOR me.
And you are too, by the way (but we’re talking about me right now. ‘Cause it’s my birthday.)
I believe that any and everything I ever wanted shows up like a series of birthday presents, because God/Source is not stingy. There’s plenty of blessings to go around for everyone, and when you are loved unconditionally, you get rescued when you fall.
God breaks the fall every time. I count on it.
Further, like a magnet, everything good is coming my way and even if things appear to be “off” they ultimately work out for my good.
I love how bold this is! It’s invigorating to bask in a good feeling and to choose to live EVERY day expecting great stuff.
Now, you might be reading this and feel truly annoyed.
What about all the BAD stuff, Brenda?
Annoyed people, my head is not in the sand.
But really, when did focusing on the bad ever help anyone?
C’mon! You know my story! We could mention all the low-lights here, but when I look over my shoulder, they all led me RIGHT HERE. To this amazing point of happiness in my life.
And I’m not turning back.
Nor am I looking back, ’cause that’s not where I’m headed.
And I wrote and felt all of this BEFORE I picked the new WOW, which I also selected intending it to be my word of the YEAR. And even though all of the words that preceded this video were about my approach to life, I so hope the same for you.
That would be the best birthday present of all. For all of you lovely people to fall madly in love with yourselves, to boldly believe that you deserve good, and by expecting it, to attract so much good stuff that you feel like you’re living in heaven on earth.
That’s what I’m going to wish for when I blow out the candles later today.
In the meantime:
Oh yes – now THAT’s a word I can sink my heart into this year.
I should have anticipated that, upon picking the word Celebrate that the next two weeks would provide opportunities to grumble, complain, moan and groan.
It’s always that way with the WOW; it challenges me (and some of you, too) to embrace a positive in the midst of the speedbumps of life.
Enter edition 5.0 of Adventures in Airports.
Each quarter, I fly to Philly and participate in work meetings. Whenever possible, I try to fly out of Sarasota, because the local airport is literally five minutes from my home. There are never direct flights (yet, I’m praying that will change) to PHL from SRQ, but the hour drive time to and from Tampa usually makes up the difference.
So SRQ it was, and a mid-afternoon flight stopping in Atlanta. Let me begin by telling you everything that went wrong.
Once settled at the gate, the thunderbolts came, and with them, the first of 3 delays.
At the first announced delay, some fellow passengers began grumbling. One woman started to freak out a bit. A seasoned traveler, I thought to myself, “Chill lady. You’ll get there…eventually.”
You know that scripture, “Judge not, lest you be judged?” By the third announced delay I WAS that hyperventilating woman, and it was clear that no Sarasota flight would get me to Philly by the next morning.
A quick search revealed a Tampa flight leaving in two hours. Scurrying to retrieve my bag (carry-on size, but holding a huge hairspray, therefore checked), I hailed a cab and said, “Get me to Tampa ASAP.”
There would be just enough time to arrive, check in, get through security and make the flight.
Except after 20 minutes of smooth sailing, traffic halted to a standstill.
As the minutes ticked off, I began Googling OTHER flights. My only other options were revealed to be connections to Newark rather than Philly, and an earliest arrival time of around 11 AM. Two and a half hours AFTER the start of the meeting.
Yes, it occurred to me during this tense standstill that CELEBRATE was the just-revealed Word of the Weeks. Which I found utterly annoying.
Then my phone battery died. I had no USB charger, only one that would fit an electrical outlet. And my taxi driver’s phone was a Samsung, not an Apple.
Did I mention that the thunderstorms followed me during the entire route?
When, just a little over a half an hour before the flight was to board, I arrived at the American Airlines terminal, the check-in screen informed me that it was too late to check my bag.
Goodbye $15 can of hair spray.
Trudging through security, I beelined it for the gate. As I found myself starting to relax and even celebrate making the flight, the monitors announced that those of us attempting to get to Philly would be delayed. First an hour. Then almost two.
I’d get to my destination around 1 AM.
Did I mention that to fill the void and the sheer boredom of waiting in airports for a total of 5 hours I ingested every unhealthy, carb and sugar laden option available to me?
By the time I arrived, I was exhausted, bloated, grumpy and…grateful.
Because here is everything that went RIGHT:
I never pack a carry-on sized bag. NEVER. I love having several shoe and clothing options, my makeup case is almost the size of a carry-on itself, and I HATE hoisting a carry-on and flailing to shove it in the overhead.
But for some odd reason, I DID pack my smaller luggage. Had I not, when I finally checked in at Tampa, I could have gotten on the flight – but with no luggage. Which would have been my particular idea of hell on earth.
Did I mention when I booked that last minute flight from Tampa that first-class one way was actually CHEAPER than the main cabin?
When I went to board, the flight attendant looked at my maximum sized carry-on and quite large computer case and said, “Ma’am, you can’t board with both of those items…”
You should have seen the look on my face.
Until she said, “Unless you are in first-class.”
A cause to celebrate. I nodded, numbly, thanking my lucky stars that by some sheer twist of fate, I was indeed in first class.
Which enabled me to plug in my phone.
So I could find out that my wonderful brother/friend, Steve, would personally pick me up from the airport in the wee hours of the morning.
And take me to his home where the most comforting person on earth, Renee, would have my pillows fluffed and soft music playing when I arrived.
So many things went wrong, yes. But so many things went RIGHT.
It’s all how you look at a thing. (Which was ultimately the correct conclusion I came to, after kvetching and moaning and grumbling.)
The scriptures say that complaining overwhelms your spirit. I would add that celebrating buoys your spirit.
Our days are full of plot twists. We can’t control what happens to us, but we sure can choose how we RESPOND to what happens to us. So why not celebrate?
And sometimes, that’s what makes all the difference.
It seems like the universe is continuing with this theme of positivity. I blapped out a word during my closing thoughts on CELEBRATION…and wouldn’t you know, it was a precursor to the new WOW. Here we go!
By the way, for my SW Florida area friends, I am conducting my first open-to-the-public workshop on August 11th at 11 AM at Davis Hall (Sarasota Center of Light). It’s all about how to raise your vibration when you’re “Running on Empty.”
We’ll laugh ALOT and learn, too…and the point is to spend time on YOU so you can course correct and get that happy tank full again. Click on the above photo or here to link to the event and buy a ticket. (Best $25 you’ll ever spend.) Please share with a friend (and I hope to see you there!)