Category Archives: From Brenda’s Desk

Knocked Down (But Willing to Get Up!)

There are a few songs that bring out the fight in me when I’m feeling down.

The theme from Rocky always does it for me. Bill Conti’s horns always make we want to jump up and down on the couch with my arms raised in the victory pose.

Then there’s that “I get knocked down, but I get up again” song by Chumbawamba.  Its actual title is Tubthumping, but I never understood that (or most of the other words.) However, that fighter’s chorus just gets my blood thumping. (Or rather, “tubthumping?)

Our Word of the Week was WILLINGNESS and the truth is, sometimes I get knocked down and I DO NOT WANT to get up again.

I want to slink into the bedroom with a vat of pistachio gelato, curl under the covers and hibernate for at least a few days.  No phone calls; no texts:  I “vant to be alone” in full-on Greta Garbo mode.

That’s how I felt when I lost the final round of my Toastmaster’s Humorous Speech competition last fall.  I had won the club, area, and district competitions and gave what I felt was my best-ever performance at the BIG finale.

And I didn’t even place.

I smiled through the excruciatingly long awards ceremony, wanting to appear to be the good sport that I hoped I would be.

But I was mad.  And I felt robbed.

I swore I would never grace another Toastmasters’ speech competition with my presence and even considered quitting the organization altogether.

No, I am not 9 years old, but I was acting as if.

When the dust settled, I remembered why I got involved with Toastmasters in the first place.  I wanted to compete and perfect my craft; I wanted feedback and a track to run on to pursue my dreams.

When you feel like quitting, friends, go back to your “Why?”  

Your why is the fuel that will take your legs up to the top of the Art Museum.

Your why makes you willing to try again.

As I write this, I am preparing for a Saturday competition in which I will deliver “How To Fertilize Your Life” – the speech I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Yes, I want to win.  But more than that – I want to inspire the crowd assembling at the Gulf Gate Library on a Saturday afternoon.  I want to give them something to take with them that will encourage them to kiss their spouses, say thank you to a co-worker or compliment a stranger.

Oh, and yes, I want to win.

My dream is HUGE.  I want to be the Toastmasters International Public Speaking Champion.  Which means, if I am fortunate enough to win at Gulf Gate this Saturday, I’ve got several layers of the candy cane forest to travel through to get to my destination.

One step at a time, right?

Here’s the thing: We all get hurt.  Some wounds are minor bumps and bruises, like losing a speech competition.

Some are more profound, like finding out a church was really a cult and saying, “I’ll never darken the door of another church again.”

My nevers, however, are usually wrapped up in fear. Today I find myself attending a sweet little Center of Light with Mark every Sunday morning and finding joy in the ritual of a spiritual community.

Willingness is not only a trademark of resilience but also of saying YES to life itself.

Let’s not let our failed marriages keep us from being open to love.

Let us try yet again when we fall flat on our faces…

…and not let the past dictate our futures.

We so often wall ourselves up to protect from future disappointments, but then I remember that with every disappointment has come loving comfort by friends who have wooed me back to health. And whattya know, I’m up again and back in the fight.

More on willingness here…and I’ll keep you posted on Facebook about the competition!

Hefty doses of self-acceptance to all of us (no matter HOW the judges rule.)

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Fertilize Your Life with Appreciation (& the New WOW)

Sometimes you can feel like you’re under a pile of doo-doo, but later you realize (with appreciation) that it’s just meant to fertilize your life.

The seed of your dream is in the ground, and it is sometimes a dark place, compounded by the compost of, well, poopy circumstances.

Can I use any more childlike words to describe #$it?

I know that those of you who read my posts are generally like-minded; we seek to GROW our lives, don’t we?

My recent attendance at an Abraham Hicks workshop gave me an AHA that turned into a recent Toastmasters speech that I plan to take to the International Competition. (Nothing like thinking big, right?)

Here it is in written form (which I need to pare down by about 500 words to make my time constraints!):

It was love at first sight.

I was 16 years old…and no, it wasn’t the captain of the football team.

It was a 1981 Chevy Camaro Berlinetta.

This story, however, is NOT about a car.

Still, let me paint a picture for you.

It was a second generation Camaro; the last with the rounded body style. Black leather bucket seats; a sun roof, silver pin-striping – I have no idea what engine type – but it didn’t matter…

…because it had air conditioning and an 8-track player…

It beckoned to me from the showroom floor.

Perhaps it was my mom’s way of honoring my dad’s memory – he was ALWAYS opposed to buying a used car.

Maybe it was the pleading look in my eye.

Whatever unseen miracle was at work, I drove that Berlinetta out of the showroom, certain it would

  • Solve all of my self-esteem issues,
  • Secure me a prom date and
  • Send my classmates into a jealous frenzy.

None of that happened, but what did happen was the minute I drove that car off of the lot, it depreciated by 11%. At the end of the first year, that percentage rose to 19%.

I learned the concept of DEPRECIATION.

Webster’s defines DEPRECIATE as to diminish in value over a period of time or to disparage or belittle. To DE-PRECIATE shrinks things.

Which got me thinking about APPRECIATION.

Could it be said that APPRECIATION grows things?

When I water and fertilize my flowers, they GROW. Saying “thank you” or complimenting a friend GROWS a relationship. When I make deposits into my savings, that account GROWS.

APPRECIATION is like a magical super-sizer.

Famed inspirational speaker and motivational coach Tony Robbins said it this way:

You’re enjoying the sunny Sarasota sunshine. (Or imagine that you are, dear Northerners!)

It brings a smile to your face.

You’re walking down main street and say to a passerby, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

They agree, smiling.

And your appreciation has made a beautiful day even better by the very act of appreciating it.

Appreciation GROWS things.

When I throw my Burger King wrapper in my garden bed, it chokes the roots.

If I don’t tend to the weeds or protect my plants from critters or pests, they fall prey.

My actions – or lack –  of appreciation can either SPEED or IMPEDE growth.

Appreciation is ACTIVE.

When I moved out on my own, my Camaro didn’t have the oil changed regularly.  (I hear you groaning.) It became a repository for fast food wrappers and dents and parking tickets from Glassboro State College. It eventually died on the highway.

Because of the way I DIDN’T take care of it, it had steadily diminished in value.

Had I appreciated it and cared for it, it might be a classic – the target of oohs and aahs at car shows.

And when it comes to matters of the heart and appreciation, I think of my marriage.

It started with roses and cards and praise…

…and ended in shouts and divisions of property and our very lives.

We stopped appreciating what we loved about each other and the marriage continued to shrink.

How do we DE-PRECIATE our lives? We:

  1. Nit pick
  2. Start complaining
  3. Focus on what’s wrong instead of what is right
  4. Let negative thoughts take up residence
  5. Poison our dreams by marinating on their impossibility

Has  anyone here been guilty of these?  Me too, so how do we FERTILIZE OUR LIVES? Through APPRECIATION.

  • Acknowledge what IS GOOD right now.
  • Praise progress – even baby steps.
  • Remember what obstacles you’ve surmounted.
  • Recall how far you’ve come.
  • And be good to YOU.

Yes, be nice to yourself.

Stop complaining about what you didn’t, should have or might have been or done.

The past is in your rear-view mirror. You’re not going there.

Regrets do NOT serve you or anyone else. Guilt is a non-productive emotion, and if you look ahead, the sun is shining – always, even behind the clouds.

I want my life to GROW.  I want MORE GOOD STUFF – and  I don’t want to take the blessings of life for granted until they de-preciate from view.

What do you love – who do you love, RIGHT NOW?

  • Fertilize
  • Compliment
  • Applaud
  • Praise
  • Even worship it (or them) with appreciation

AND WATCH YOUR LIFE GROW.

We had two less-than-sexy words this past two weeks, but I was inspired with a fun take on RESPONSIBILITY and TRUST.  Here it is, plus the new WOW:

It’s a mandate to go with the flow, my friends.

May that flow take you ever closer to the life you’ve imagined.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

 

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Waiting in Wonder and the Power in Patience

I am in love with waiting patiently these days, because I have found the POWER in this space in time.

The waiting period between now and a dream actualized gives us time to PREPARE for the moment.

Mohammed Ali put on those boxing gloves long before his first fight.  Oprah Winfrey practiced speaking as a little girl, long before the cameras were rolling. And everything you  (and I) are doing right now is preparing us for OUR moment.

My recent attendance at an Abraham Hicks workshop reminded me that waiting is a juicy time.

Before I can see it, smell it, taste it or touch it, I can ENJOY it.  

I see the lines of smiling people as I sign my books.  The light on my face is warm,  as I encourage a standing room only audience to love themselves in a dark auditorium. I can taste the salt in the air at the yellow house on Casey Key with a writing room that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday morning, I even saw the sunflowers on the windowsill as white curtains billow through the kitchen on a sea breeze.

It’s PALPABLE!  And not complicated.

Complication enters when I entertain conflicting thoughts on the same topic.

When I meditate on the details and how-to’s and uh-ohs, my power stance putters.

When I meditate on what is being created, it jazzes me so much I could levitate.  It fills my faith tank so fully that I’ve got too much readiness to believe the bad.

What a thing to NOT to feel guilty about what the world deems important.  (Note to Mom: No, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop being responsible.  I will continue to work hard, pay my bills, remember peoples’ birthdays and to eat my vegetables.)

What I am learning, rather, is to not give attention to the squeakiest wheel and instead give focus to my INNER BEING.

My life – your life – is a petri dish.  We establish (or not) a vibrational ecosystem that supports (or not) what we desire.

What is manifesting (or not) is what is dominant in our thoughts. Thoughts become THINGS.

“If you are not realizing movement on a topic, this influence of your inner being is being dominated by opposing thought.” – Abraham Hicks

What?  You mean I’m hamstringing my own progress by entertaining opposing thoughts?

I thought I was just being practical!

Instead, I choose to be impractical and simultaneously psyched about the pipeline and its contents.  THAT is where the fun is!

And SATISFACTION – right here and now, while you are “waiting” is proof that you are in alignment with SOURCE, God, the Universe, or however you wish to describe the Almighty Power that created ALL of this.

Find as many ways to feel as good as you can feel.

BLISS OUT.

Worry is not how you love people, least of all yourself.  Worry is clutter and resistance to that which we seek to manifest.

So what do I do today?

What inspires me.

My inner being (just like curling in the Olympics) creates a path of least resistance to my dream (which shall be referred to as REALITY from now on) as I chip away at little pieces through inspiration.

Find the POWER as you patiently wait. Don’t wait in loss or longing or lack.  Wait in joyful anticipation.  Enjoy it BEFORE it shows up in the physical.

And know that for this very thing; this moment in time, you exist.  The spark of Divine put inside of you the desire to create this very thing – not to frustrate you!  No! To give you a juicy vision, full of vitality and friskiness, as the cake bakes in the oven.

Who knew patience carried with it such power?  Here are my parting thoughts and the new WOW:

https://youtu.be/4_C3OqGYgsE

A two-fer!  That makes sense since it’s going to fuel us for two weeks!

May your “to-do” list be completed.  I trust that it will.

And don’t forget to let your SOUL win the day, not the drumbeat of what you can see, feel, taste, smell and hear.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Thoughts About Thoughts (and the New WOW)

Not all thoughts deserve to be vocalized.

There are some ideas that burn in your brain and demand to be voiced.  In my experience, I’ve found that those are usually the ones better left unsaid.

A passionate pounding attached to a thought is an indicator that I need to sit on it for a while, until it is less energized by the heat of the moment.

Sometimes, those thoughts eventually diminish in power and disappear all together.

Others STEW to a simmer, and you can’t shake them like sticky tape.

One of the best ways to dislodge nagging thoughts is to expose them.  

Sometimes, I talk to myself and that helps.

Other times, I expose those murky thoughts to a trusted friend and in simply speaking them out, their power is reduced to a manageable status.

Then there are times when the thoughts just won’t exit, and a conversation must be had with someone about whom you are HAVING those thoughts.

Yuck.

I love encouraging people, talking up the good, speaking life into situations, coaching to dislodge negativity.

But I HATE sticky conversations that could result in:

  • Anger
  • Rejection
  • Defensiveness
  • And raiding the refrigerator to assuage the angst of the confrontation.

Since this past week’s word has been COMMUNICATION, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve had to have some tough conversations.

I went through my process, first talking to myself.  Then talking to not one, not two, but three trusted friends.  During this time, I backed off from the person about whom I was having the thoughts to “clear my mind.”  But the backing off in itself was also communicating.

Actions really do speak louder than words, and silence can be deafening.

What could have been “nipped in bud” three days sooner with a candid (but loving) conversation, was made needlessly bigger by my ghosting of the person.

Yep, the four-letter monster of FEAR crept in, I allowed it to shut me down, and in doing so,  my thoughts became further jumbled.  When they finally came out (not in graceful, flowing words), it was like verbal diarrhea.

The good news is that COMMUNICATION (in this instance) was two-way.  And the recipient was full of love, not fear.

That meant I was responded to with patience, kindness, thinking no evil and taking no account of a suffered wrong.  Thank God for a person who lives by the four agreements!  (They don’t take things personally.)

It’s not your perfect communication that is effective in life, though sometimes it’s a catalyst for great good.  No, sometimes it is your jumbled up blapping, met with love, that reveals what is most important in life.

Which always turns out to be…LOVE.

My closing thoughts on COMMUNICATION and a quite appropriate new WOW to take us through the next two weeks:

Hang in there!  We’re ALL waiting for something.  May we have extra doses of patience to wait with JOY and not angst.

Much love (and as my friend Denny always used to say):  Love much.

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Little Things and a BIG Life

My friend Roseann has said for years that it’s the little things, like sharing dinner at the table with her husband, Mike, that make her life rich.

This view of life never resonated with me. For 14 years, I ate by myself on the couch while we each “did our own thing.”

I became the queen of the grand gesture.

The trip to Normandy…the lavish birthday parties…the Tag Heuer watch.

To me, it was a “go big or go home” approach to life.  Little?  Ha!  That’s for losers.

Now that I look through the lens of lessons learned, I see that my grand gestures were desperate attempts to bring meaning and satisfaction to a life lacking in what mattered most.

Tenderness. Connection. Laughter.

My grand (and expensive) strokes were also my stabs and finally doing the great, big thing that would make my life WORK.  

Do you remember when old cars took some work to “turn over” on a cold winter morning?  You’d turn the key and pump the gas; the car gasping for life…

…yes, that’s how I see many of the years in my rear view window.

This is not a post about regret, however!  No, no, no!  This is a post about finally seeing the light!

It’s about really and truly and finally understanding that no external thing could fix something wrong on the INSIDE.

That no grand or lavish gesture can evoke love that isn’t there already.  And that nothing you do can make other people happy if they choose to be miserable.

And most of all, if you are not happy, no one else and nothing else can make your motor run.

Finding peace within my heart and falling in love with ME has changed everything.

I beat this drum with everyone now, and I’m sure it is a bit annoying.

But can you really say that you’ve settled into a full-blown love affair with yourself?

Can you boldly say, “I’m wonderful!”

When you think of yourself, is it with the tenderness that you would offer an innocent baby?

This seismic shift changed everything for me.  It took a trek to Costa Rica and a visit with a shaman to get there, but man was it worth the journey.

Now friends, you don’t have to go to Costa Rica or take a psycho-spiritual journey to get there, but whatever it takes, please get there!

Oh please forgive yourself!  Oh please stop regretting the past!  Oh please…because life is too short to put a band-aid on and we were never meant to be the walking wounded.

How tragic to get to the end of our days (and gee, we don’t know if that will be TOMORROW!) and consider that we wasted it all being unhappy and that unhappiness served NO purpose.

And how tragic to numb ourselves or empty our bank accounts in the attempt to compensate for a broken heart we never forgave.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of picking up Shasta for a play date.  Mark and I wandered around until we ran into an arts and crafts festival.  We meandered hand in hand.  I bought a cheap anklet, we sampled kettle corn and Shasta was loved on by every passerby.

And I said to myself, “What a wonderful world.”

Louie Armstrong, I get it!  Roseann, I get it!

In a lifetime of talk about having an expansive life, I realize just how BIG little is.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE sniffing the air at any Ritz-Carlton.  I plan to visit Greece and publish a few books.  And birthdays?  Puh-leeze!  I love an excuse to party plan!

But those things will all be the icing on a cake that is sweet already.  And I wish the same for you, too.

Here are my closing thoughts on EXPANSIVENESS and a brand-new, never before received Word of the Weeks!

It’s a week to speak up!  (And to listen…)

May these last two weeks of February bring riches to your heart.

Love, love, love –

Brenda

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To Be Clear Means to Flow (and the New WOW)

Sometimes the next step seems as clear as mud.

I’ve been considering the ebb and flow of life and how clarity comes in moments built upon moments.  And the preceding moments aren’t often pretty.

Confusion, dismay, disappointment, regret, angst – in the muddy periods when it’s a dog eat dog world and you’re wearing Milkbone underwear (thank you, Cheers, for one of the best TV show lines of all time), it can feel like nothing will EVER change.

You trudge along, sticking to the glue-like mud.  The rain pours down and so do the tears.  You catch a glimpse of your longed-for destination way down the road and wonder if you’ll ever get there.

But you keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Or at least stepping up and down so as not to sink into the quagmire. Because you’re no quitter, and even in your dark spaces, there’s a glimmer of hope that says, “You’re gonna make it.”

Yep.  You’re gonna make it.

You know why?

Because love never fails, and you are dearly loved.

Oh, you may not feel so much like it right now, with your snotty nose and tear-stained cheeks and really bad hair day.

But you are dearly loved.

Love surrounds you.  And as long as you keep voting with love (and not its evil arch-enemy, fear), the clouds are going to part.  The sun will break through.

You’ll realize your destination is closer than you ever imagined as you dejectedly trudged through the mud.

When I made my desperate move in June 2017, I had 48 hours to find a place to live, hire movers, get an attorney and set up a new life.

There was a narrow path, but it was clear, and I took it.

So often, after you make your grand move, it’s like all the grace and space collapses and suddenly, you wonder, “What am I DOING?”

Will I make it?  Will I crumble?

A bold move is often followed up with a swift kick in the gut.

Don’t take your cue from the kick.

There were days when I howled crying from loneliness and anxiety.  I missed my beautiful house.  I missed my lovely little Shasta.  I missed and mourned for the love I once had shared with my husband.

I questioned my sanity.

But the passage of time did some miraculous things.  It caused me to fall to my knees and ask the questions of a lifetime…questions borne of a desperate desire to NOT replicate the mistakes that brought me to this place.

The hard questions ushered in answers that spring-boarded me to a new way of looking at life…and a new capacity to attract good because finally, I WAS good.

I say all of this to say, “Hang in there.”  Clarity WILL come.  Keep slogging away.  When the clouds part, your path will become clear – and you’ll be ready for that step because of the valuable life lessons learned in the quagmire.

More on that, and a new WOW, coming right up!

Oh, to be a bigger person.  I look forward to giving everyone a big break – including myself – in the coming two weeks.

Much love to you all!
xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Forgiveness and Gratitude (and a New WOW!)

It’s been a deep dive into the topic of forgiveness these past two weeks, which has spurred reflection on some of the low-lights of my life story.

Remarkably, when I look over my shoulder, where there used to be painful stings, there are instead wellsprings of gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been WRONGED.

Yes, used and abused. Baited and switched!  Misled and taken advantage of, too.

There could be a host of sad country songs written about the girl who was 100 pounds in kindergarten, whose dad died when she was 10, who gave her all to a church cult, married a man she hardly knew, became alcohol dependent, and then left him 14 years later to enter uncharted territory.

Can you cue the wailing?

Except, all there is, for me, is gratitude.

That 100-pound little girl learned to develop more than a pretty face to survive.

My dad’s death gave me the gift of appreciating the fragility of life and the importance of saying “I love you” as if it could be the last time you see a loved one’s face or hear their voice.

The cult, while trying its darnedest to warp my faith in Spirit and destroy my trust in people, still gave me some of the best friends a girl could ever have.  They will be with me forever, as the sad and angry memories fade into nothingness.

My marriage?  We made it to Sarasota – together!  I think we are both grateful for the journey that got us here. Plus, there’s no doubt Duane Viola will be my friend for life.  He loved me and jumped through a million hoops set up by the church to help me escape.  I’ll be forever grateful for the years we were partners in life.

Finally escaping the dullness of an alcohol-soaked life and the strength it took to become truly sober led me to today’s clear-eyed focus, and a desire to live-life fully.  (I am eternally grateful that the many falls and near misses didn’t “off” me prematurely – and I am grateful for the forgiveness offered to me by many who I offended with my slurry behavior.)

And then making a break to chart a new course as a single woman at age-54?

Well, that story is being written as I type these words today.  But I think Rascal Flatts said it best:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through

I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms

This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes it did

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it’s true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yeah

And now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
Ooh, ooh
That led me straight to you

Yes, wounded.  But, yes, healed.  And I wouldn’t trade a thing that led me to this lovely, holy space in this life.  

Friends, I hope you can say the same.

Here’s an exhortation to take us from the word FORGIVENESS to a new word to end the month of January 2018:

May we each know with CLARITY our next step forward!

Sending you bunches of love and gratitude for the connection we share.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Tony the Transformer (and the New WOW)

Some people are transformers by their very nature. My brother-in-law, Tony, whose “birfday” is today is just that kinda guy.

Tony joined the Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico, where he and Shirlee lived for their first years of marriage.

They say that inspired peoples’ energy changes the atmosphere. From the time this wide-eyed 12-year old girl met this hurricane of a man, Tony has made an impact on every room he enters.

Full disclosure: He was my sister’s boyfriend, but I had a HUGE crush on him.

Who wouldn’t?

These were the days of Saturday Night Fever, and man could this Italian heartthrob DANCE.  He didn’t have practiced, official moves.  But he tore it up with his own Northeast Philly disco swagger.

I loved when HE offered to pick me up after the middle-school dance.  He’d strut up to the cafeteria, cigarette in hand, John Travolta-like hair – and collect ME.  Yep, I was the luckiest girl at Cleary Junior High.

What’s that sound? Just the tears of heartbroken women throughout the Delaware Valley when they learned Tony DiBacco was “off the market.”

Oh, and he can SING, too.  No, he never really knows the words, but they’re always on key.  He does a MEAN Elvis and, had the course of his life gone a different way, I have no doubt he would be some kind of an entertainer.

Tony DiBacco is surely a star in my universe.

With my father’s death just a couple of years before Tony entered the picture, we three Costello girls were kind of somber.  Mom had to try and simply maintain the inner and outer workings of running a household, while valiantly serving as mom AND dad to her 15-year-old, Shirlee, and 10-year-old me.

There was no Christmas tree for us the year after Daddy died.

Then Tony swept Shirlee off of her feet and we then experienced SUPER-SIZED Christmases. So many presents!  So much fun opening them!  He would shake every box elaborately and try to guess what was inside.

Tony, to this day, brings electricity to any party.  He constantly cracks one-liners, is unfailingly generous, as handsome as ever…and today, when thinking about our Word of the Week, Transformation, it felt right to devote the column to him.

Tony, I love you.  Thanks for being a wonderful brother and husband to my sissy.  Thanks for always being full of life and fun.  You are a treasure!

I pondered how to transform my own life in 2018, and hope you will understand and support a big decision I reveal in this week’s video:

Looking forward to wearing my forgiving clothes with you over the next two weeks!

And feel free to wish Tony a Happy Birfday (he never pronounces the “th”) in the comments!

xoxoxoxo

Love,

Brenda

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Let Your Heart De-Light (and the New WOW)

The carol goes, “Let your heart BE light…” but I’m flipping it to “Let your heart DE-light” in honor of our recent Word of the Week.

There’s nothing like treats in the mail (instead of bills) to delight your heart, and my cup ran over with jelly and jam joy with this package from my Aunt Joan upon my return to Sarasota:

Aunt Joan gets regular shout outs on this blog for her constant love and support.  However, she will be scolded this week for totally blowing any semblance of my diet with her amazing “What are they called?” fruity, crumbly cookies.

I ate them all.

Myself.

But the pièce de résistance of her over-the-top gift package was the silver cuff that sits atop the jams in the above photo, engraved with these words:

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

How true!  I started 2017 with the intention that it would be an “annus mirabilis” or “year of miracles.”  It was all that and a bag of chips, but the road was forged with grit and tears, hopes and fears marked by bold and brave moves that surprised even myself.

When the dust settled, I marveled at the complete and utter paradigm shift that had occurred.

My life had been completely upended, purposefully.

It was HARD.  Detoxing from Zoloft, settling into a single person’s life, finding a new rhythm and learning to love me, myself and I was a journey as jungle-like as my trek to Costa Rica.

My expectation was that I’d navigate this new way of life for a few years and then, maybe, someone might come along that I’d like enough to spend time with.

The universe had other plans, and now I find myself in love with a guy who wants to sit and map out our intentions together for 2018.

If I’m dreaming, please, nobody wake me up.

That’s not to say violins are playing and I have stardust in my eyes.  Life is real and relationships are the best opportunity to put to work all the spiritual truths collected over the course of a lifetime.

Here’s the kicker:  This is a man who laughs.  Alot.

He laughs when I get all wonked out about imaginary fears.  When I spill the soup all over the counter and miss the bowl, he chuckles.  I trekked him through an entire parking garage at the airport until I realized we were in the WRONG garage.

At every turn, I’m braced for the blow; the harsh, eye-rolling, “Brenda!” tinged with exasperation.

Yet the blow never comes.

Every time I get all heavy, Mark Roach gets all LIGHT.  And not in a diminishing or condescending way.  He just thinks that life is too precious to get all riled up about insignificant stuff.

These kind responses are healing another layer of my heart so bruised from being so darned hard on myself for far too long.

If you ever struggle with giving yourself a break, my closing thoughts on delight will hopefully encourage your heart.  Plus, we have a fantastic new Word of the Week (and Word of the YEAR!):

What do you want to be?

WHO do you want to be?

What do you want to become?

Where do you want to live?

What do you want to do?

These questions that I posed extemporaneously in this week’s video are the very ones I am asking myself as I head into 2018.  I hope you will ask yourself the same and we can begin INTENTIONALLY our year of TRANSFORMATION.

Much love to you all –

Brenda

xoxoxox

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My Christmas Surprise (and the New WOW)

Sometimes life hits you with a surprise and it feels like a dream.

My friends, this is my story – and it is a very happy one.

As you know, my marriage ended in 2017 and my goal was simply for PEACE; to rediscover Brenda and reclaim her joy.  I wanted to become whole, authentic and to carve out a life that made space for my dreams, gave Spirit free reign and brought healing to my heart.

In none of the above-listed equations was a man-component envisioned.

The love story I was working on was the one with MYSELF.

Who knew that this very emphasis would unlock the door to meeting someone special?

It was QUITE a surprise.

But before we get to the good part, there were plenty of entertaining detours!

For months, friends encouraged me to “get back out there”…but I didn’t want to.  I just wanted to enjoy my peaceful apartment, go to Toastmasters meetings, dance at Zumba, hang at he CitySide lobby with my new friends and read good books in solitude.

I did all of that, but then I got a little bit lonely.

My friends, Larry and Brian, scolded me.  “It’s 2017, Brenda!  You need an online dating profile!”

NO WAY.

Brian gently suggested that I open my mind; that I could be selective and set my boundaries.  That I could swipe and delete and be in control of the experience…and that I should at least TRY.

After some resistance, I became WordGirl22 on Our Time, Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish.

A series of painfully wrong dates ensued – one with a man that demanded that I “twirl for him” so he could see my physique.

I did not twirl.

After a week of thinking there were actually only tin cans instead of good catches in the fishing pool, I disgustedly looked through the latest photo gallery of candidates hitting “No…no…no…no…”

…but then, out of nowhere, “Hmmmmmm…..”

He had dimples.  I’ve always been a sucker for dimples.

Boldly, I wrote, “Nice dimples.”

And the rest is history.

The dimples were attached to a lovely man named Mark who has become my best friend and has made this holiday season both merry and bright.

I felt the need to share this with you because you have been with me for the lows, and I wanted to give equal time to the highs.  Plus, some of you have seen me posing with a handsome man on Facebook and “Inquiring minds want to know!”

So now you know.  My smile is higher wattage and the exercise of building a relationship is putting into practice all the internal spiritual lessons and healing I have sought this year.

What a happy surprise!

And an encouragement to all of you that, whatever pain you may have faced this year – on the other side of it is a gift that you could never have experienced any other way.

May yours show up soon!  (And when it does, please tell me about it!)

In the meantime, I talk about my supportive friend Kevin in this week’s video, and have for us all a perfectly DELIGHTFUL new Word of the Week:

Kevin is just one of the friends that turned my year from traumatic to tremendous.  Thanks, little brother!

Sending you all huge doses of love and DELIGHT.

May all of your dreams come true –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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