Category Archives: Lessons in Love

Everything in life boils down to love vs. fear. On my quest to vote with love, here’s what I’ve learned along the way…

Will the True Brenda Please Stand Up? (and the New WOW)

In my recent Toastmasters speech, “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” I referred to the 80’s as my heyday of dance while acknowledging that my persona wasn’t a true reflection of Brenda.

The decade, for me, was all about image. Sky-high hair that defied gravity (thank you, Aqua Net) and four-inch Candies’ spike heels made me feel invincible when I entered the club. Combined with three layers of makeup and pronounced charcoal black-smudged raccoon eyes, I perfected my Philly tough-girl persona.

I wanted to look tough.

The victim of vicious bullying throughout my high school years, my reinvention intended to keep away those who would dare tread on my heart.

A dark haired Madonna, I looked like the Material Girl.

In truth, I was Like a Virgin.

The disconnect between that sassy chick on the dance floor, and the word-nerd, old-fashioned girl at my core led to a multitude of brief and failed romances.

The guys at the club dug the unattainable disco queen, but when the lights came on, they soon realized she was the kind of girl you take home to Mom. And skedaddled to the next conquest.

All those years of wishing and hoping someone would fall in love with the true ME, it never occurred to me to…well, BE me.

An exhausting and destructive pattern had been established.  I went from the club girl Madonna to the church girl (aka Joyce Meyers or fill in your favorite Tammy Faye-ish) preacher.

DISCLAIMER: This is not to say I wasn’t sincere in my ministry, because I was. But the church became yet another stage on which to perform.  Because of its toxic nature, on the rare occasions that I dared to allow my true self to emerge, the leaders brutally punished/counseled/scolded me.

Oh, and then I got married.

I think back to my wedding day and am so grateful that it happened.  I always wanted the handsome man at the end of the aisle; a church full of people applauding my dream come true; the dance party scripted to my specifications.

I loved my wedding day.

Because of the toxic and backwards nature of the church, though, I rarely had alone time with my husband prior to the wedding.  He often joked that our first “date” was the night we got engaged.  And it wasn’t a joke.

We were two strangers who were crazy about each other and thought that would be enough to make it work.

And, to do so, I did what I do (or did) best.  I performed the hell out of it.

A life-changing trip with my girlfriends in 2016 (and a mini-breakdown from emotional exhaustion – performing sucks the life out of you!) revealed that I was burning myself out while trying to be who everyone wanted me to be.

In the process, I had lost ME.

Mind you, if my performance-based approach to life had been working for me, I would have kept it up.  It took 50+ years for me to realize that no matter how beautifully I performed, it didn’t make anyone else truly happy.  

Least of all, me.

What follows is a bit vulgar and not language I normally use in my writings. To those who might be offended, I apologize in advance.

Concurrently, I’m not apologizing for using this photo. Because this is part of the TRUE me! I find this to be funny!:

I remember seeing this card and laughing out loud.

It’s true.  Not so much the “F word” part, but the things I say and do today are far different from Brenda 1.0.

Discovering the true me – and the true you – is the quest of a lifetime. It takes honesty, bravery, and huge doses of unconditional self-love. 

But this is my one shot to be Brenda Viola. For the first time since my early 20’s I finally have given myself permission to be her.

I hope you like her, but if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Sometimes I don’t like her!

But I always love her.  And I hope you love the true YOU, too.

Parting thoughts on AUTHENTICITY and the new WOW, coming up!:

What a beautiful word to embrace this week!

Be KIND to you and others.

We can never have too much of that, can we?

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Faith Works by Love (and the New Wow)

What I had faith for was that I should go to sleep and wake up when this birthday was over.

To look at the circumstances (which is never a great idea when it comes to faith), my life was in flux, my marriage over and the future uncertain.

Uncertainty, by the way, is the #1 culprit of fear…and since faith works by love, well you know where this story is heading…

…except I was love-bombed.

With each gesture of love, like a flat tire being inflated, so were my spirits.

First, a pre-birthday card from my mom, with a $10 bill to “go buy ice cream.” Thursday was like Christmas – every hour I got a call from the lobby desk saying, “We have a package for you, Ms. Viola…”

There are so many flowers in my apartment right now, I feel like Miss America, not Ms. Viola!  (Thank you Renee and Steve and Roseann and Mike).

Cynthia is NOT a card person.  But she knows that I am and she sent three awesome cards – two laugh out loud funny ones, and another tender one that prompted liquid to spill out of my eyes.

OK, I need to share this one with you:

Then Linda sent me a card that touched me so deeply I have to share the words with you:

THE OAK TREE

A might wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away

Shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.


I am writing this on Thursday night because another present is arriving.  My friend Anita hopped on a plane today and she will be here with me all weekend.  Vats of coffee, endless conversations, laughter and some tears comprise the agenda. And some Face-time with the rest of the Fab Four throughout our time together.

I am blessed.  I am rich.  I am not alone.  I have faith for tomorrow.

Love wove a miracle, stitched my broken heart together and has given me the best birthday of my life.

Who’d have thunk it?

Prior to being love-bombed, I faced another form of faith that attempted to suck the wind out of my sails.  Here’s more on that and the new WOW:

Never, ever, ever have I picked the word BEAUTY.

What a lovely word to begin a brand new year of my life.

Thank you for sharing it with me.

I love you –

Brenda

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Free to Be Me: A Lesson in Forgiveness

When age 50 arrived, so did a swift quick to my soul that if my desire was to be free, only I had the key.

I admire (with a tinge of jealousy) those light-hearted youths in their 20’s and 30’s who figured this out without wasting decades running on a hamster wheel, hoping for someone else to show up on a white horse to save the day.

When it occurs to you that (a) No one is showing up to save the day and (b) Life doesn’t owe you anything and (c) You’d better get crackin’ if you want to start living the life of your dreams…

…it can be depressing.  Especially if you dive down the black hole of “What about all that wasted time I’ll never get back?????!!!!!”

But is it wasted time if lessons were learned along the way?

Is it wasted time if, on the journey, you were able to love and be loved?

My life has been a series of Family Circle cartoon paths, rarely a straight line going from glory to glory.  My trajectory features dark valleys and nonsensical detours along with entire decades I mistakenly thought I was moving forward, but instead completed a circle. Over and over again.

And today I find myself tempted with the anguished thought, “You’re starting all over again…at age 54???”

Who says it’s supposed to be a straight trek to the mountaintop? And how can we judge our journeys by their seeming dead ends? If I hold myself hostage to every perceived failure, I will never be free.

One of my favorite quotes from this past week will encourage your heart if you’ve ever fallen into the trap of beating yourself up:

Therein, for me, lied the secret to my freedom: forgiving myself for what I didn’t (and couldn’t) know at the time.

And, as Maya Angelou said so perfectly:  “When you know better, you do better.”

Each day offers a new opportunity to know, and do, better.

Let’s give ourselves a break – and buckle up for the new Word of the Week (with some parting thoughts on FORGIVENESS):

What are you needing FAITH for?

Remember, it works by LOVE (not fear).

With much love,

Brenda

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Expectations, Marriage (and the New WOW)

Duane and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week and it was a perfect time to consider expectations…or the lack thereof.

See, when I met this dimpled, Italian man, I didn’t know WHAT to expect.

One thing was undeniable:  My world was rocked.  He gave me heart palpitations and goosebumps.  I found myself singing Carpenters songs with gusto and living for the next phone call or e-mail.

Actually, at first, I truly expected him to be a flash in the pan; just another of the many guys who’d take my number and never call.  Friends, who had not seen a man have this effect on me in years also tried to reign in my expectations; after all, they didn’t want their friend to get hurt.

When you’re 38 and haven’t been on a real date in years, YOU don’t want to get hurt again. You resist getting  your hopes up, only to have them dashed again.  Yet the feelings were so intoxicating…I couldn’t protect myself from them.

Swept up in emotion, I made a decision to risk being hurt…because the thought of NOT loving him was more painful.

Duane exceeded my expectations. He was in it for the long haul (see my recent video on INTENTION) and no matter what I asked of him, he jumped through every hoop (and there were MANY of them) to seal the deal and put a ring on it.

The next chapter, however, is where the rubber met the road: Marriage.

Because of the whirlwind of our courtship, I never stopped to consider my expectations when it came to marriage.

I mean, wouldn’t it just be more of the same?  Romantic, long talks on the patio; flowers “just because” and handyman tasks miraculously handled by my own, personal Magnum PI…

Yep, cue the rude awakening.

Not to say there haven’t been some very sweet and romantic times…but, as my friends ALSO tried to tell me, it’s mostly about negotiating a pleasant balance between laundry, bills, professional obligations, social calendars, broken dishes (I’m a bit clutzy) AND reruns of Hogans Heroes (Duane’s favorite show.)

Some of our biggest fights have been because I imposed upon him my EXPECTATIONS of what he (i.e., the perfect husband) should be.  Meanwhile, I sometimes forget that I am in NO way the model of the traditional wife.

I do not cook.  And I’d rather pay other people to do tasks that bore me, including detail cleaning, mending and ironing.

Oh, plus I stink at all of the above.

Yet Duane has never complained about how I fall short in these areas (at least, to my face!) Perhaps his restraint in this regard has shown up in OTHER ways.  Exhibit #1:  Notice his hair color in this photo on our wedding day:

And after fourteen years of swallowing judgment:

85% gray.  (But he still looks happy, right?)

Getting back to expectations, no one wants to be required to live up to an unattainable standard and then be judged and found lacking.

It’s not a recipe for a happy marriage.

However, standards of mutual respect, honoring individual preferences, healthy amounts of compromise and good doses of unselfishness SHOULD be expected.

Lowering our expectations in these areas reduces our marriage to “less than.” It ensures that we don’t fulfill our potential as a couple. It says, “I give up” on believing the best for us.

Thus, we fight.  And this was NOT something I expected in marriage.  

I had lived with roommates for all of my adult life and can only remember one real argument!  Certainly we, as a loving, married couple, could rationally discuss matters and achieve mutual understanding?

HA!  When hormones and tempers are flared, we Viola’s can get LOUD.  This may not be the norm for 95% of couples out there, but it’s the case here on Ridge Road in Sarasota.

Admittedly, the intense arguments of our early married years are now much fewer and far between.  Why?  Because we understand each others’ expectations much more than we used to.  Now I KNOW what drives him crazy, and I try to avoid it at all costs.

He knows the same about me.

Sometimes there are unknown alligators in the water that crop up and make for less than smooth sailing.

But there’s one thing we both expect:  We’re staying in the boat.  Neither of us is jumping ship. Oh, there are times when we both WANT to, but we wait until that wave passes…which it always does…and set sail again for another year of equal parts marital angst and bliss.

If I had any gem of wisdom to offer to those of you embarking on this journey called marriage, it would be this: COMMUNICATE your expectations.

You can’t get mad at someone for something you never said mattered to you.

Meanwhile, we’re heading into a new week.  So here’s what our new word is!:

I’m going to emphasize NOT complicating things this week by over-thinking.

How will YOU simplify?

xoxoxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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Irreconcilable Differences and the New WOW

So as we sit in the Tampa Airport, he reading his sports page and me typing this blog post, I  I chuckle to consider the host of irreconcilable differences that have been survived to date.

It’s far more than his love of the Cowboys and mine of the Eagles.

It’s his propensity to watch the same movies (Caddyshack, the Godfather I, II and III, Diehard and Happy Gilmore, along with Young Frankenstein and Christmas Vacation – even in the summer) over and over and over (and over) again, while I clamor to stay apprised of pop culture and the latest films, TV shows and music.  He thinks if it was created after 1989, it’s irrelevant.

I think the only way to STAY relevant is to know what the cool kids are watching and singing!

It’s his belief that one pair of dress shoes, one casual, sneakers and sandals are the only four items of footwear ever needed in a lifetime. And his horror when MY shoes moved into his house.  Ten pairs of black alone – flats, pumps, sandals, wedges, stilettos, mules, patent leather…in multiples of each.

I wonder at the men who sit in lounge chairs at department stores, waiting as their wives try on outfits. Not all of them seem miserable.

I wouldn’t DREAM of asking Duane to do that, nor would I have fun knowing he was unhappy every moment wasted there instead of watching the game.

Before I got married, I had so many unrealistic expectations, despite well-meaning friends and family warning me that marriage was no fairy tale.

The good news is, it isn’t always a nightmare and more often it is a happy, uneventful companionship that features him watching Hogans  Heroes reruns while I couch dance to “The Get Down” on Netflix on my iPad.

And this is how we reconcile those differences.  I do my thing; he does his – sometimes we do them together and it’s all good.

Our pillowcases say it all.  Yes, the struggle is real – but so is the snuggle.

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He golfs on Saturday mornings, and I play around Sarasota – shopping, strolling, wandering…

I stopped being disappointed that we are so different in our tastes and ideas of what fun is and started to embrace the fact that, in our marriage, different works.

Because the one thing we love more than Happy Gilmore reruns and new shoes is each other.

And THIS has been the wisest discovery in marriage for me

Here are more parting thoughts on WISDOM, and the new WOW!

Ah…let your heart be “LIGHT” this week.

(Let means you need to give yourself permission to lighten up.)

Undo those heavy burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ – which is LOVE.

Find your giggle again.  Force yourself to smile.  You’ll feel better.

Be with people who encourage your heart.

Or encourage someone else.

Have a light-filled week, my friends!

xoxoxoox

Brenda

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Huge Doses of Love (and the New WOW)

If there is one mantra that you’ll hear from me over and over, it’s this: It’s not about perfection. In fact, it rarely is the person who says and does it all right that touches my heart.

No, it’s the imperfect soul that is humble…apologetic…able to own their flaws and share their story to help another that gets me every time.

Which reminds me of my mom-mom’s raisin bread.

It’s uneven, often too brown on the outside and sometimes gummy on the inside…but boy, is it baked with love. I’m sure some of the loaves I’ve delivered have fallen far short of my grandmother’s standard…but they sure were baked and packed and mailed with love. (Besides, anything slathered with butter tastes good. At least, that’s what I suggest.)

And because LOVE never FAILS…when you slather what you do in love, it’s just imperfectly perfect.

Don’t get stuck on perfection today (or any day.)  Let’s stay stuck on LOVE, even as we unveil a new WOW:

On this Memorial Day weekend, I can’t help but think of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy.  I think about the heartbroken mothers and fathers whose sons went off to war, never to return to pursue their dreams.

The spouses who were left to raise young children who would best know their parent by a faded photo.

A soldier in uniform always “gets” me.  When I see them at the airport – or anywhere – I am compelled to stop and say “Thank you for your service.”

But in the midst of barbecues and Memorial Day sales – the start of the “beach season” for some and simply an extra day off for others…let’s pause to honor the land of the free because of the brave.

 

“No greater love…than to lay down your life for a friend.”

We honor that great love that inspired  the call to service, and also think of those they left behind today.

It’s Memorial Day…and we remember with gratitude.

xoxoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Jump-Starting Joy When Your Delight Battery is Dead

You’d think in the midst of a week where DELIGHT was our happy Word of the Week, I’d just walk around smiling, right?

But NOOOOOOOOOOOO…

My hormones took revenge and played ping-pong with my emotions.

Storm clouds (and the occasional lightening bolt) hovered over my head. Instead of looking at my husband, I glared – and the smallest, most innocent comment from him received a snappish, wicked-witchy answer.

Happy anniversary, honey.  (Tomorrow marks 13 years since we said “I do.”)

Indeed, I was not the poster child for delight this week. In fact, I was at a loss about what to write to you today until an unexpected opportunity to jump-start my dead delight battery arose.

Taking it changed everything.

We went to Cannon’s Steakhouse as we do every Friday night to enjoy my swoon-worthy singing friend, John Russo. Just being around him and our fellow Lounge Lizards (that’s what we call ourselves) is usually all I need to improve my mood.

And it did. A little.

There’s this 90+ year old lady named Shirley who is always there on Friday nights. I’d love her just for the sparkly hats she wears and of course, her name, which also belongs to my sister, though spelled with an “ee” at the end.  Shirley can’t help but make you smile because at various interludes in John’s performance, she gets up and tap dances throughout the restaurant, wearing a smile that could light any dark place.

Seeing her always makes me breathe a prayer that I’ll be a similar hoot at an advanced age.  And that I’ll get to BE an advanced age.

But what triggered the return to joy wasn’t just John, or the Lizards, or Shirley, or the fact that my husband gave up his failed attempt at growing a beard and shaved that day.

It was a sneaky little thing that happened between me and my heart.

John announced that the lovely couple sitting with Shirley was celebrating their 75th anniversary.  Seventy-five years!  Sheesh!  And I thought I slayed the big one by making it to thirteen!

Then it came to me.

Secretly buy their dinner.

I slipped Brad the bartender the credit card, asked to remain anonymous and voila!

Doom be damned.

Ha!  Take THAT hormones.  I’m going to kill you with kindness.

It DELIGHTED me that, regardless of what I was feeling, I could send a shock wave through the universe, defiantly choosing a loving act when I thought my love tank was empty.

Turns out, there are always reserves in that tank.  And miraculously, drawing upon them fills it up again.

It doesn’t have to involve a credit card.  Maybe it is something only you can do and be that, when extended, tips the scales for someone else (and your own at the same time.)

It will come to you as a gentle invitation, which you can choose to ignore or embrace.  I can only say embracing it was good for what ailed me this week.

So what’s ahead?  Here’s parting thoughts on delight and the new WOW:

Scaling back should never be equated with “settling for…”

What does SIMPLICITY mean to you?

This post is sealed with a KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetie).

xoxoxoxoxox

Brenda

 

 

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Airport Inspiration and the Word of the Week

As I de-planed in Charlotte with, thankfully, plenty of time to make my connecting flight, I made a pit-stop into the nearest restroom.

I planned the usual – a quick tinkle, hair fluff and lipstick application, then off to Terminal C.

Boy did I get far more than I bargained for, because this particular lavatory was run by a burst of inspiration named Patricia.

“Well HELLO and welcome to the happy zone!” she bellowed to everyone who entered her domain.  

“Come on in beautiful ladies!  You’re going to have a wonderful day!”

I scrambled to find any cash to stuff in her tip jar; her effusive joy in loving on complete strangers was infectious. I stuck around a little longer than necessary just to soak the love in.  Then, she burst into song.

I had to capture it. So for all of you who weren’t fortunate enough to be at the Charlotte International Airport, here’s Patricia:

Now we have Patricia whenever we need a jolt of joy!

I was also struck by how she took what some might call an undesirable job and made it her domain. She OWNED it, showered it with her own special sauce and  made peoples’ days, every day.

It’s all in the attitude you bring to whatever you do, isn’t it?

Thanks, Patrice, for helping me end this word of the week with a technicolor display of INSPIRATION.

Now, how about a new WOW?  Here we go…

Truth!  It’s a week to cut to the chase (but don’t cut anyone off at the knees.)

Being honest with ourselves and others is a path to freedom. 

Bear in mind that life doesn’t just offer hard truths. There are also soft ones, comforting ones, healing and happy ones.

May we find them all this week – and yes, let the truths set us free!

xoxoxoox

Brenda

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The Journey to Healing (and a Return to Purpose)

A long time ago (it feels more like a lifetime ago), I truly believed I was fulfilling my purpose in life.

So unshakeable was this conviction that anything that dared to interfere with it provoked my outrage.  So self-assured was I that my path was correct, I missed my sister’s baby shower and several other key family events.  They conflicted with my church obligations and church (notice I said church, not God) was numero uno.

This in itself should have been a red flag, but when you’ve invested a good deal of time and money into something, you are most resistant to hearing that, ahem, you might be wrong.

Yes, this former life of mine was wrapped around church life; I’ve detailed it previously but as my life continues to unfold, I see new layers and shades that tainted my life and my perspective…and, in keeping with our word of the week, I see where HEALING has taken place.

I’ll back up again for a very heartfelt disclaimer: My experiences are in no way an advertisement against church attendance or membership. Everyone’s got their own journey and there are certainly some wonderful houses of worship that serve as places of refuge and community that meet deep needs for so many people. Oh, and there are SO many wonderful men and women who sincerely want to help people and do so in the context of their local church.

But when my church broke my heart, the last thing I needed to do was jump back into the fray. I tried, by the way – after all, it’s pretty much all I knew in my adult life.  But when I would visit a new place, I’d find myself sobbing hysterically during the music or walking out in a huff during the sermon. I no longer “fit.” And for me, in retrospect, that ended up being a good thing.

However, before it was a good thing, it was a tormenting thing.  Here’s why:  I was no longer “putting out” for God.  That sounds crass, but hey, I’d been a productive little soldier for 15 years; spent every waking moment either ministering to, counseling someone or otherwise trying to lasso someone onto my religious team.  All of a sudden, I wasn’t even going to church?  My self worth was at an all time low.  Something on the inside was broken and I felt like it could never be fixed.

Had I plugged right back in and gotten back to doing what I had always done for the previous 15 years, I might never have had the breathing space to question, deconstruct, assess, observe, reject and embrace what the REAL me believed. Not the me that I created to fit others’ expectations, but the real Brenda.  The college girl with purple hair and a penchant for the Clash; the 100-pound kindergartener who developed a sparkling  personality to withstand the taunts of her classmates; the high- school sophomore who escaped into writing and dreamed of leaving Buena, New Jersey one day…and so many other versions of me that I let die on the vine in order to become what and who supposedly spiritual people wanted me to be.

I took my leave from all things that even reminded me of my former church life.  I avoided many sweet people, because I felt like I had nothing to offer them anymore.

I was certain that not only did I lack answers for them, I had nothing to say at all.  About anything.

Pouring myself into my career to make up for the lost years (and finances) was a form of healing for me.  To enter into discourse with intelligent people; to rediscover my creativity; to make friends with new people untainted by a memory of who I used to be…yes, like a deflated balloon slowly filling with air, I was coming back to life.

And for several years, that was more than enough.

Except for the yearning.  Where was my PURPOSE?  Why was I HERE?

Would I ever know the joy of feeling like I was doing what I was born to do again?

After some years had passed, my beloved friend, Cindy O’Krepki, created an amazing blog, “Simple Pleasures Everyday Love.” Cindy and I had ministered side by side, even calling each other “the bookends.”  I was so happy to see her unique and lovely voice; her beautiful take on world burst forth once again. Good for her!

When she later invited me to guest blog, I was nervous, excited, fearful and hopeful – all mixed together.  She knew…

In the fragments of my broken self, there were yet  stories to be told – and in the telling would come healing.

I vividly recall her saying to me, “When you have your own blog…” and thinking, “WHAT?”

It was too huge a leap for me to conceive that a one or two spot guest blogging exercise could ever lead to something more.

What it did, however, was stir a yearning in me to do what I have always loved most:  encourage people.  Turns out, I did have something to say – though the message was far different from those long-ago days.  And that message – of LOVE, love, love – was birthed from a heart that actually NEEDED to be broken so it could be re-set properly.

Would I have ever chosen my particular wound?  Not a chance.  Am I glad it made me who I am today?  You bet.

You know what they say; your mess becomes your message.  There’s no testimony without a test.  Such phrases may sound  cliché, but  I can’t deny that within them lies truth.

So for this outpost to stir up my gift and use it again, I am grateful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It has been a long road to get here, but I am so glad to have found you.

And that hard and painful road you may be walking, even right now?  I promise you, if you continue to choose love, choose love, choose LOVE over fear, you will get to the other side and be a better version of you, with a story that can heal others (as it heals you, too.)

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Your WOW (Word of the Week) – 8.2.15

Did you have some revelations this week?  As you’ll hear in this week’s video, I have a few things to say about my own less than pleasant awakenings!

I feel like breaking out into a chorus of “I get by with a little help from my friends…”

Where would you be and WHO would you be without key people who SUPPORTED you at key times in your life?

I think of Kathleen Martin, who I haven’t seen in almost 15 years…and I wouldn’t even know where to find her.  But in the late 80’s I lost my license for a month.  She went a 1/2 hour out of her way to pick me up and drive me to work each day so I wouldn’t lose my job, too.

Then there’s Julia Capaldi.  In the late 90’s I had been laid off of my job and was unable to collect unemployment.  Weeks turned into months turned into dire straits.  I will never forget receiving a card from her with five $100 bills…a lifeline when I desperately needed it.

Some of the greatest joys of my life took place when I was able to support someone else.  Whether opening up my home  (at one point I had seven roommates in a three-bedroom townhome) or speaking a word of encouragement at a difficult time – how alive it makes you feel to be woven into the fabric of someone else’s life.

Who’s the Laverne to your Shirley?  The Ethel to your Lucy?  This is your person – and if you are richly blessed, you have more than one.

This week, thank someone who has been one of the pillars of your support system…and don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help if you need it.  How often do we resist picking up the phone because we “don’t want to burden” others with our stuff…when five minutes later you could feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of you thanks to that listening ear.

Oh!  And if you are inclined to go on and on and on and on about your latest trials and tribulations, take a break from that this week and instead, let’s look for opportunities to lend our support to someone else.  (You’ll find your own stuff diminishes in the process.)

As one of my favorite scriptures, Galatians 6:2 says so perfectly:

Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians has to be my favorite book in the Bible.  If we were visiting in person, I could go into my full-on dramatic recitation of the ENTIRE book (yes, I memorized it once.) Two things I love about this particular passage – it speaks to fulfilling the law of Christ.  And what’s that law?  LOVE.  The second thing I love about this passage is that five verses later it talks about the spiritual principle of sowing and reaping.

Karma, baby!

Every time you have extended yourself to a needy soul, been a shoulder for someone to cry on or shown up for a friend in need when others scattered, you’ve got a spiritual bank account of good stuff coming to you.  Now, you didn’t DO all that good stuff to get it in return, but that’s just how the whole sowing and reaping thing works.

Is there someone in your life who showed up to support you when you needed them the most?

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