Category Archives: From Brenda’s Desk

Mom’s Hall Pass from Heaven

My dear mom, Edna “Bette” Costello, spent the last year dying.

What I’d envisioned as a warm and memory-making time together was stolen by COVID.

Despite straining to catch her breath from COPD and emphysema, up until January, she still had spunk.

https://secureservercdn.net/45.40.148.117/77f.2fd.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Maplewood-scaled.jpg

Spunk enough to be sarcastic. To weigh in on matters of politics and the love affairs of my friends. To complain about the food delivered to her door or the occasional caretakers who she felt lacked true caring. Or to drive by the Amish area of Sarasota on the way home from a doctor’s appointment, because she loved all things Amish.

2021 began with a hospital stay, which left her depleted. Then pneumonia struck, leading to a longer hospital stay and a brutal two weeks at a rehab facility where her downhill spiral gained momentum.

Worse, we weren’t allowed to visit except for one half-hour, once a week. And the visits had to be outside. Separated so far, we practically had to shout to be heard.

The second visit; the second week…she didn’t want to see me.

I tried not to take it personally. I knew she didn’t like being seen not as the perfectly coiffed and styled Bette we always knew.

February turned to March and my sister and I took drastic action because we couldn’t bear to be so separated from mom. We needed to see firsthand what kind of care she was – or wasn’t – receiving. We researched the best skilled nursing in Sarasota, and set up a new “home” at Bay Village; a place that allowed COVID-free visitors who adhered to stringent visitation rules.

All the hopes and dreams that a new residence would bring mom back to life were also quickly dashed. She could no longer do the simplest tasks herself. And that she couldn’t brought her – and us – to despair.

This fiercely independent woman was undone by her dependence.

But the point of this post is not to dwell on the end. The end and its memories brought me to a place of such darkness, I never thought I would emerge.

Believe me, there wasn’t an ounce of inspiration in all of 2021 to write to you or pick a new word of the week. I was consumed with trying to help mom and when she finally died, I was consumed with grief.

At her memorial service, I shared her beautiful life story and how, at the very end, I saw her say, “Oh…oh…oh!”

As if she recognized something long-gone and beautiful and finally wasn’t afraid to make her transition.

But that was no comfort for me. I saw the days where she cried, “No! No! No!”

And the agony of COPD-infused hallucinations.

I couldn’t shake the images from her last days. They haunted me.

People said I’d get “a sign” but none came.

I searched for cardinals…or feathers…or something.

Something to know not just that she was alright; but that she was alright with ME.

I think many children caretakers face the torment of, “Did I do enough?” “Did I make the best decisions?” Then there’s the guilt of being relieved that I no longer had to live in fear of a middle of the night call from a doctor.

I’d wait for dog walks or solitary car rides to cry, because I didn’t want Mark to be upset by just how bad I was. I’d call Shirlee every day because – of all people – she KNEW. And we’d cry together.

But she also knew I was especially tormented.

Because I was the daughter who would talk back.

Oh, mom loved that I would fight FOR her – and I was a fierce advocate when any matter needed correction. But I’d also fight WITH her, and those memories also haunted me.

I sank into a darkness unlike anything I have known in my adult life.

Then, exactly one month to the day of mom’s death, she came to me.

I believe God gave her a hall pass from heaven.

In the dream, I was doing my makeup and turned around and THERE SHE WAS.

Smiling – grinning, even. Shining. Radiant with love and joy.

Startled, I held her face and said, “Oh you are so beautiful!”

I felt complete, unconditional love and acceptance.

And that was the gift from mom’s hall pass.

No doubt, she was better than ever. Enjoying a long-overdue reunion with the love of her life, my dad, Sal. Visiting with her own mother, Edna, and cousin Mary. Free from the constraints of a broken body and free from all fears and worries.

I saw a glimpse of my mom in pure happiness, which is all my sister and I ever wanted for her.

So the new word of the week?

It doesn’t need to be pulled from a bag.

It is to LIVE.

LIVE!

While you have breathe and while you can love, LIVE this life.

It all passes too quickly.

I want to live again. To giggle again. To discover things that inspire me again.

I know mom wants that for me.

I believe God wants that for all of us.

Thank you for your patience as I took all of this year to find the light again. I see it, beckoning me to a new chapter.

But as a different person. Still me, but with a new understanding of life and death. A deeper sense of caring for the caregivers, the elderly, the infirmed.

A disenchantment with material things or superficial aspirations.

A deep desire for meaningful exchanges and true connection. To contribute and create in ways that feed my soul and spirit.

So I’m not too sure about future blog posts or words of the week.

But who knows?

Because you’ve all been so kind throughout the years as I’ve shared this sort of online diary with you, I felt that you deserved an explanation for my absence.

I wish you health and happiness and everything your heart desires.

With love,

Brenda

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The Superpower of the Season

This is a season like no other because this is a year unlike any other.

I embraced my traditions, like making raisin bread or watching Hallmark/Lifetime movies, but something felt “off.” Even decorating the house felt rote this year.

What was missing?

I began (where I always do) when I feel “off” – with gratitude.

Counting blessings is a great kickstart to joy. I thought about how one of my best friends in the whole world moved five minutes away from me this year. A move that likely would not have been possible without COVID making so many workers remote! (Ha! A reason to be grateful for COVID!)

I considered my Mark, who unfailingly runs to meet my car in the garage when returning from the store to help me unload bags of groceries. He considers it his duty to carry any package over a pound and it warms my heart each time he swoops in to be my hero.

Or my mom, who spent last week in the hospital. What at times felt dire, took a turn for the better! (When my mom puts her mind in a positive direction, few things are more powerful.)

Those are three big blessings to count during this holiday season! But counting them didn’t fully nudge my mood.

As I ambled around performing errands, I found myself captivated. The greatest Great Dane stood outside of Publix (our local supermarket chain here in Florida.) He was majestic!

He stood next to the Salvation Army bucket with his person, who faithfully rang the bell. I observed them being passed by, person after person.

The bell’s clear sound woke my soul.

“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came though, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.”

The bell tolled for me. A call to action!

It just took a moment for me to shake off the malaise and to open my wallet.

Yes, counting our own gifts can be a powerful exercise. But giving? That’s a superpower I realized needed to be dusted off and exercised.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE giving. I am known for buying and sending beautiful cards and packages in every season…

…but giving to someone truly in NEED?

There’s magic there.

It started with the Salvation Army, but it’s not stopping there. My plan is to, every day, look for someone in need and to somehow, some way – MEET that need.

I have dear friends who, like Santa’s elves, hide out in Target or Walmart to hand out gift cards to random passersby. Another friend seeks out opportunities to anonymously pay the tab at Dunkin’ or Starbucks.

Giving feels great.

It is the superpower of the season.

And if this year feels a little “off” perhaps an adventure in giving is just the tonic for your soul!

In this week’s video, I talk about infusing the season with LOVE…

…and may we all vote in favor of giving everyone – including ourselves – the benefit of every doubt.

With love,

Brenda

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In Praise of Predictability

In 2020, predictability went AWOL.

2020’s trademark? Wild unpredictability. Trips canceled, work pivoting to remote (or shutting down), kids homeschooling, mask-wearing, social distancing, and zooming instead of in-person interaction…all upending our idea of normal.

Which is why the Hallmark Channel calls to me every day of this yummy week off from work.

Most of my “vacation” days really aren’t that at all. Taken to accomodate a doctor’s visit with mom (or myself) or to deliver a virtual speaking event, I’ve failed at separating work from everyday life.

And then, all of a sudden – NOVEMBER.

What?

How can it be that 2020 is in the home stretch? It feels like just yesterday the rug was pulled out from under us all (and remains pulled). This Groundhog’s Day of staying put and isolated forced me – finally – to say, “Enough!”

If you’re going to be off, be OFF.

So this week I slept in. Meditated and listened to spa music. Baked the first batches of mom-mom’s raisin bread. And actually activated (for the first time in 2020) my out-of-office e-mail message.

So THIS is what people do on a day off!

“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”

– ANNE LAMOTT

While covering my kitchen with a thin layer of flour and practically burning the motor on my Kitchen Aid mixer with the sticky paste of raisin bread dough, Mark suggested I enjoy some holiday shows during the baking festivities.

Sucked in like a dust bunny to a vacuum, I was instantly hypnotized.

After three days of shows, all with either Christmas or Angel in the title, I realized the allure of these formulatic mini-movies.

They are predictable.

And in a year when NOTHING has been predictable, the comfort and joy of knowing what’s going to happen (and that the ending will be happy) warmed my heart.

For the uninformed, here are the five things you can always expect from a Hallmark movie:

  1. City woman/man consumed by work goes to small town where the Christmas spirit is alive and well.
  2. Main character falls for man/woman who embodies the Christmas spirit.
  3. Two or three near kisses are interrupted by snowballs, children*, or elderly characters (who may or may not be Santa and Mrs. Claus).
  4. A misunderstanding ensues, causing both parties to retreat from love.
  5. A Christmas miracle brings everyone together at the end for a guaranteed happy ending.

Why the asterisk after children?

In the Roach/Viola household, we’ve uncovered a common subtext in each Hallmark (or Lifetime) Christmas movie.

Mark coined the phrase, rendering me doubled over with giggles.

It’s the “Little Shitter” factor.

Please excuse the salty description, but I have to be true to the moment.

He walked in during my third or fourth consecutive show and said enthusiastically, “Hey! There’s the Little Shitter!”

What?

“Yeah. There’s alway a Little Shitter that shows up.”

What’s a Little Shitter, you ask?

It’s any child under the age of 10 deployed to evoke feelings of tenderness and manipulate the story so you root for the two main characters to finally kiss.

If you’d like to play along, next time you watch, look for the Little Shitter (LS). The winner is the first to shout “There’s the Little Shitter!” And if you’re so inclined, take a sip of hot cocoa (or cider, or mulled wine – three other minor props that unfailingly play a role in these Christmas movies) when you see the LS.

In a year when holiday gatherings lack the festive trappings of days gone by, a little escapism into predictability can warm the cockles of your heart.

And my wish for you – and your own Little Shitters – is that gratitude fills your hearts and spills over into a 2021 that is (hopefully) WAY more fun.

While this post is all about praise for predictability, my recent video was about the inevitability of change:

https://youtu.be/YCn-_bJ7KvM

Let your heart’s delight!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Breaking Out of a Living Hell

Breaking out reminds me of that scene from The Shawshank Redemption, where the main character chips away, little by little, at the wall that holds him in prison. He’s determined to get out, even if it means slogging through sewage to finally be free.

For many of us, 2020 has felt a bit like that prison.

Unable to easily hop on a plane; adventurous plans or opportunities cancelled.

Zoom fatigue.

Jobs lost, bills mounting. Childcare and homeschooling! Aging parents in assisted living or nursing homes that don’t allow visitors.

Election season and endless vitriol inescapable on social media.

Civil unrest.

Yes, 2020 has been a scratched record, replaying disappointment, anger, angst, and turmoil over and over.

And over.

A friend recently encouraged me to consider all the things you still CAN do rather than focusing on what you can’t.

And that helps.

But what if that prison door was unlocked? Instead of agonizingly inching toward an escape, our main character could have just walked out instead of breaking out.

This idea struck me as I watched a recent episode of Lucifer on Netflix.

Yes. I know. You’re shocked that I’d watch – and even like – that show, aren’t you?

Well, I was too.

But it intrigued me because the story turns the traditional explanation of satan on its head and offers thought-provoking ideas that make for great conversations between Mark and me.

In the episode that caused me to think about prison, Lucifer explains that “hell” is a place only you can take yourself. And there is an open door…but people rarely take it.

So caught up in a loop of self-recrimination, guilt, shame, and replaying painful memories, hell’s inhabitants never escape this place of their own making.

Look, I’m not citing the show as gospel, but the idea has merit.

I’ve been the villain in some people’s stories and have mistakenly felt that if I wallowed in the sadness and grief of how they perceived I failed them, it would somehow absolve me.

It doesn’t.

People who cannot forgive WANT you to torture yourself for the error of your ways.

And anyone, isn’t everything between you and…YOU?

Who hasn’t done wrong?

Or failed to act?

We make our own hell right here on earth by torturing ourselves for our failures.

For missed opportunities.

Or for how we may have let someone down.

One of Mark’s favorite lines that I have adopted is, “If it would help, I’d do it.”

At some point a few years ago I realized that guilt and regret only serve to drag down my energy. It renders me incapable of joy. Sans joy, I am depleted; a walking zombie.

I quit the apology tour and walked through the door, free.

It was just a decision. To forgive myself.

Forgiveness equals freedom.

And for those of you walking around still paying for the past, my wish for you is that same freedom.

Let yourself off the hook.

Yes, learn the lesson! When you know better, you do better…and now you know better. Since we don’t get a do-over, please don’t spend this limited journey on planet earth a living hell.

The door…is open.

Communication can take many forms; breathing a prayer, expressing an apology, writing in your journal.

There are words inside of you that, once spoken or written, will heal your soul.

And that is my wish for you.

With love,
Brenda

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Is Gaper’s Delay Jamming Your Dreams?

Traffic jams are such an annoyance. No one likes a traffic jam!

Actually, they can be downright infuriating.

After all, you left in PLENTY of time to arrive at your destination, only to be stuck on the freeway.

You strain your neck out of the window, trying to figure out WHAT’s going on. Fuming, you inch forward at a snail’s pace.

Too many minutes pass and you finally see an accident…but one that occurred quite some time ago. The paramedics have long left the scene; the debris cleared. Cars are removed from the flow of traffic.

But traffic isn’t flowing.

You’re in a jam.

Because you’re you, you breathe a prayer for the poor souls who were in the accident. But next you say, “Why did every one slow down?”

The fascination of something gone wrong is magnetic.

It draws you in.

You can’t help but look.

And so it is in everyday life. (Even off of the roadway.)

That curt reply to your lengthy e-mail. The maddening lack of collaboration on an important project. The juicy tidbit of gossip about a colleague. Fixating on your neighbor’s tendency to leave their trash can by the curb long after pick-up day.

Nagging little things!

Or, bigger things.

Like the drama that unfolds regularly on our TV screens or TMZ alerts. The tragedy of human life lost. Or the bluster of the election season with its fear-inducing ads.

Attraction to negative things creates a gaper delay. It jams us up, delaying our better selves and our higher hopes.

It holds up resistance to the flow of good.

No, I’m not saying to ignore the truths of life. But must they have SO much of our attention?

What you give attention to grows. And by that attention, you attract more of it. Even if it is something you abhor!

My friends and I have a rule. When we’re “gotten” by a thing and feel we must talk about it, we preface the conversation with: “I’m giving you just a ten-second rundown because I don’t want to energize this anymore.”

We understand that language with each other.

It’s not that we don’t care, and if we WENT there, we’d be marvelous commiserators.

But would it help?

Would it do any good?

We have decided we’d rather be co-creators of that which we WANT.

So we flip the script and move the conversation to one that feels better.

Yes, so that thing happened, but how can we see the good in it? Or let’s daydream a bit and imagine the thing we WANT happening.

This bad thing? It’s only temporary anyway. No matter what it is, it will pass!

And the next thing will come along.

This is the cycle of life.

I want to accelerate the good and attract more of it.

What I see right now?

It’s actually OLD news. Because I’m going forward.

If you feel you’ve been waiting way too long for things you want or for change to come, consider if you’ve jammed yourself up by gaping at the UNwanted.

Change the subject in your mind. Encourage your friends to help you stay on track. Take a nap to stop the momentum!

And feel the relief that comes from once again, putting your pedal to the metal.

My last two weeks? A rollercoaster! And thanks to angels of mercy, I made it through…

Thank a healthcare worker today!

And I hope everything that seems a bit lifeless has life breathed into it with new inspiration these next two weeks —

Love,

Brenda

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Leave a Tender Moment Alone

Billy Joel famously sang “Leave a Tender Moment” alone back in the 80’s and I thought about that phrase this week as I tried to push feelings away.

Hey! I’m busy! I don’t have time to get all misty right now…

Ah, but I am alive. And so are you.

We are not machines, though it can feel like it sometimes. Especially when you realize hours have passed by and your to-do list isn’t any shorter than when your day started.

We zero in on “get it done” mode and pay no attention to those pesky feelings behind the curtain.

Despite trying to ignore the interruption, sometimes a feeling visits you. One that is tender and swathed in lovingkindness. It nudges your soul, penetrating your stonehearted busyness so inconveniently.

So easy to push it away.

My Google mini takes one song suggestion and regales me with a day’s worth of music; some are songs I haven’t heard or thought about in years.

I plug away at my computer making work happen, largely ignoring the background noise.

Then, involuntarily, I felt my heart squeeze. A tender moment interrupted “machine-mode.”

It was this song by Stevie Wonder:

It’s a tender song, evoking all the feelings of the love we have for family and friends. And since Aunt Mary’s transition, the need to say these three words while we can is top of mind.

When you stop and let a tender moment breathe, your heart swells. Tears can spill. But oh, how alive you feel!

And then you make the phone calls. Or texts. The “these three words” messages that let someone know they starred in your tender moment.

I’m with Billy Joel.

Leave a tender moment alone.

Thank you, Mark (and so many of you) who “hold up the light.”

And if you’re experiencing a setback, don’t forget to consider the comeback!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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The Joy of Connection

My need for connection causes me to whine to Mark at least once a week.

Poor guy, he must be thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

He’s perfect. But he’s here with me all the time. Knows all my stories.

We are embedded in the daily rituals of life together, which are Groundhog’s Day-like in this era of COVID-19.

It’s tedious for me to kvetch to him because he can’t FIX it. (He loves fixing things.)

Joyful, impromptu connections used to fuel my spirits regularly.

Conversations across tables at restaurants, bonding over food envy (what DID they order?) Seatmates on airplanes telling fascinating tales of business and travel. Fashion shows in and out of dressing rooms with random patrons oohing at just the right moment, sealing the sale.

The dressing rooms are closed. You have to buy stuff and bring it home to try it on, which takes half of the fun out of it.

And you KNOW there’s no flying around happening anytime soon (for me, at least.)

Restaurants? On occasion, but have you noticed that people don’t make eye contact any more? It’s so hard to create connection behind a mask. I think I gained a few more eye wrinkles just trying to OVER express my hidden smile.

Which is why, THANKFULLY, this past week was my BIRTHDAY.

Anyone who knows me even a little knows I make a big freaking deal out of my birthday each year.

And not just because of presents, though anyone who knows me knows I LOVE PRETTY BOXES AND BOWS and surprises contained within them.

I love my birthday because people make a genuine effort to connect with me. Cards (rather than bills) in the mail! Bouquets (flowers AND fruit) were delivered to my door this year! Video messages and my brother-in-law Tony even performed an original song (written by my sister, Shirlee) sung as Elvis.

Dear ones connected through Zoom, Marco Polo, e-mail, text, phone, Vox, Hallmark, Facebook.

Other than smoke signals, every form of communication was employed.

I soaked it up like a dry old sponge.

Nix that.

Like a dry sponge.

Before we get into this week’s video, I gotta tell you a funny. Mark’s daughter, Tara, sweetly called me to wish me a happy birthday.

Not knowing me as well as most of YOU, she began, “I know when you get older birthdays aren’t a big deal…”

HA!

I gently protested, “Oh, I may be older, but birthdays are ALWAYS a big deal for me.”

Because birthdays mean connection.

And that’s the best gift of all.

(But the Ritz Carlton is a close second.)

More on connections, asking for what you want, and telling your story the way you WANT it to be here:

https://youtu.be/2DxVLFbhc9o

May our question marks turn into exclamation points of joy for all of us.

With love,

Brenda

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Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?

When we are hard on ourselves, is it because we think going soft lets us off the hook too easily? Do we brutally hold ourselves accountable to validate our goodness?

We’re not parking cars, here. We need no validation.

We must be kinder. To ourselves.

There are plenty of critics, naysayers, judges, and frenemies who won’t hesitate to point out our shortcomings or pounce on even an unintended slight.

Let’s not join their chorus. Life is already kinda hard.

At a recent (virtual) workshop, I began teaching on one of my favorite chapters in The Public Servants’ Survival Guide. All about how perfectionism is our foe and that yes, we are flawed, but we are awesome.

We’re flawsome – and should embrace our flawsomeness!

I felt the audience’s eye-rolling and inner protestations even though I was the only one on camera. Which stoked a little fire and brimstone message from this normally perky uplifter.

Some of you talk to yourselves like you wouldn’t talk to your worst enemy! Your inner voice is MEAN!

If those thoughts you allow yourself to think about you evoke tears or despair, here’s one thing I know for sure: You’re NOT voting with your inner being. You’re letting your human being win.

Now, your human being can be kinda fun. It can be bought new shoes or bake in the sun. It loves a good, dense cheesecake and a rich rerun of Empire. But in the deep and spiritual matters of life, it’s a bust. Your human being is easily cranky from lack of sleep or traffic or that intermittent fasting you’re trying 16 hours out of each day.

The struggle is real for your human being.

But your inner being? It’s ALWAYS love. Loving you and others is its constant state. It bears all things, believes and hopes and is constantly rooting for well-being, which is your natural state,

To often we vote with the unnatural states of confusion, frustration, self-degradation, and other lesser feelings.

When I reflect on the times when I raked myself over the coals for a mistake made, it NEVER made things better. My self-inflicted suffering didn’t change what was wrong, it just made me feel worse. No amount of tears, nausea, or sleeplessness could change my screw up.

Several come to mind. Like not proofreading a calendar project well enough and going to press with two August 13ths. Or slinging a sharp retort to an undeserving and kind partner. Oh, the pain of words spoken that should rather have been swallowed!

We all miss the boat. But must we drown ourselves to prove our sincerity?

Unfortunately, unless you choose to truly become a student of feeling good who believes well-being is everpresent, voting with your inner-being feels like hard work.

Until it becomes a habit.

Then, thinking kindly toward yourself and others is the happy flow of life. It is the path of ease and least resistance. And when you live there, life is easier (and you’re definitely not so hard on yourself.)

Screwed up? Join the club.

No one came forth for a perfect ride, but to enjoy it – bumps and all.

Stop making a mountain out of that molehill. Feeling terrible doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself.

You don’t need to prove your sincerity or good heart to anyone.

It is.

And it’s beautiful.

Now start acting like you love yourself. Or even better, get to that most-important business in this life journey and really fall in love…with YOU.

More on that right here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttbwDKTSYag

Yep – it’s our responsibility to own how we feel and what we’re thinking.

As the CEO of our own lives, let’s commit to feeling good again!

Much love,

Brenda

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Silence is Good Soil for Growth

My silence on this blog the last few weeks had some of you concerned.

C’mon, Brenda. What’s wrong?

Nothing.

No, REALLY?

Really!

There was a time when I had to have a constant stream of ideas and motivational thoughts in this online “diary” of sorts. All, of course, intended to inspire and uplift.

But as I grow, I feel led to choose my words more carefully.

This blog is a joy to write and to connect with you? It’s wonderful.

But recent events in our country rendered me silent. And in the silence, I could be still and listen. And think; learn.

I didn’t want to speak, because I didn’t want to mis-speak.

Other voices needed to be heard, and boy, I listened. What I heard in the silence shook me from the complacency of my upbringing and I think I’m starting to “get” it.

This is a pivotal time in our nation and I want to be on the right side of history.

I don’t want to live by default or on auto-pilot.

Turmoil? It’s a good thing if it causes us to question ourselves and leads to growth.

I haven’t arrived, but in the silence, the seeds for growth have been sown. More on that here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjScaXcNkW4

I wish you and yours good health, much resilience, and an abundance of love.

Brenda

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A Dream Goes on Forever

A little known Todd Rundgren song is a favorite of mine: A Dream Goes on Forever.

My interpretation? Our dreams sustain us through difficult times. They are unsinkable corks, bouncing up as lifesavers (sometimes despite our best efforts to drown in our sorrows.)

Like flowers yearning to break through the cracks of cement, these resilient buggers called dreams stretch onward and upward.

“A dream deferred makes the heart sick…”

Oh, boy (or oy vey!) I’ve had some sick hearts over the course of 56 years. From not getting the part of Dorothy in the 4th-grade play (and instead, cast as the Lion) to watching my younger friends marry during my single 20’s and 30’s, life dumped some #$%^@ on some of my dreams.

“…but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12

Beating out thousands to land a job as one of the original QVC Show Hosts! Finally walking down the aisle to a packed church cheering the end of my single days!

Some of you quizzically read those last two lines, knowing that I was unceremoniously dumped by the shopping network and cut bait on an unfulfilling marriage after 14 years.

Hey, weren’t those dreams fulfilled supposed to be trees of life?

Well, they were. For a season.

My tears dried after losing the part of Dorothy. Life went on. Life marches on! What mattered SO much once is just (as my friend Roseann likes to say) a pimple on an elephant’s ass.

Gotta love my spicy Roseann-isms.

Thoughts of dreams stirred my soul this week when immersed in a Sex and the City marathon. The show begins in their twenties with invincibility fueled by cosmopolitans and a fabulous foursome of friends. Over the course of a decade we watch breakups, losses, cancer, babies and so much more that Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte could never have imagined.

Had they a crystal ball, they might have avoided most of their adventures to avoid pain.

And so might have I, as I pondered this photo from my past:

This photo captures the moment in time when I prepared to graduate from college. Already working in my chosen field, there was no doubt in my mind I would be the next Diane Sawyer.

It was my dream to write and speak words. To use them skillfully to inspire and inform.

Also, to be fabulously wealthy and famous. (Look, I’ve never claimed to be Mother Theresa.)

Oh, had I a crystal ball I would have definitely bypassed that QVC audition, kept driving past the church (that ended up being a cult)…

…but in the choices made to avoid pain, I would have lost some of my best stories. And my best friends.

I may not be Diane Sawyer, but I’m really glad to be Brenda Viola.

Yes, Viola. I loved my ex, still hold affection for him, and love that last name. It fits!

Just as I have changed over the years (my taste for pitch black, sky-high hair replaced by golden highlights), my dreams also evolved. Some have come true! (Published author, anyone?) Some remain to be fulfilled.

But that’s the beauty of life.

I believe the dreams of our hearts are Divinely planted. And they must grow! They will materialize in perfect form when the gestation period has ended.

But aren’t we supposed to learn lessons from disappointments?

Sure!

And once learned, we move forward. To think that life is meant to be a constant string of lessons learned from heartbreaks runs counter to the idea that God (Source, the Divine, All That Is) is good and life should be happy.

I believe life should be happy.

Perhaps my message today is if you are pregnant with a dream, don’t abort it.

Turning your back on your dream is to turn away from your very self.

Your dreams are intertwined with your gifts and answer the question, “Who am I?”

They light you up. You feel most alive when expressing from that deep, holy part within you where the dream lives.

This is what you were made for!

John Russo croons a standard from the Rat Pack. My sister, Shirlee, acts on a moment of inspiration and whips up a calligraphy masterpiece. Artists are brave souls!

I have friends who claim they don’t have dreams. Oh, but when they express their gifts, they so beautifully live their purpose.

Maybe that’s a better word…purpose.

But I’ll stick with dreams. And I hope you stick with them, too.

On this topic of how what we want evolves over time and how when WE change, everything changes, here’s this week’s video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7S8BZ-CNsc&feature=youtu.be

If your dreams are feeling choked, your hope has been deferred, and you feel a bit adrift – take heart. We all weather such storms. These, too, shall pass.

Ask for the grace to help in time of need (and don’t be afraid to ask for help.)

Much love –

Brenda

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