Brenda Viola is a "love evangelist" on a mission to connect fabulous people using life-learned truths, humor and all types of inspiration to encourage men and women to live life joyfully.
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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.
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.
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:
City woman/man consumed by work goes to small town where the Christmas spirit is alive and well.
Main character falls for man/woman who embodies the Christmas spirit.
Two or three near kisses are interrupted by snowballs, children*, or elderly characters (who may or may not be Santa and Mrs. Claus).
A misunderstanding ensues, causing both parties to retreat from love.
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!”
“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:
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.
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.
Yes, 2020 has been a scratched record, replaying disappointment, anger, angst, and turmoil 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.
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.
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 —
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!
I can only imagine her brothers and sisters, her husband, and the many who loved her just waiting to welcome her into glory.
I needed to write about Aunt Mary because I couldn’t say a proper goodbye and my heart was full of feelings.
As a kid, I looked up to her daughters Carol Ann and Mary Beth because they were older and so much cooler than me. Our families often camped together in the summers, taking road trips to Point Sebago, Maine or closer by to Dutch Wonderland. Aunt Mary and Uncle Pete had a truck camper and it was so fun to switch to THEIR ride so we girls could play cards or talk about Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy during the drive.
Once camp was set up, there were so many memories to be made! Teenagers going to the pavilion to play pool (and letting me tag along); the smell of hibachi’s cooking burgers and communal dinners at the picnic table. Roasting marshmallows until the charred skin burnt the roof of your tongue.
Such happy times…before our world changed forever.
Our world was rocked and we were all teetering on the edge of this unknown new life without my father. My mother, suddenly a single mom of a 15 and 10 year old with a host of decisions to make.
In the midst of that madness, Aunt Mary came to stay with us.
I started to write “swooped in” but Aunt Mary wasn’t a swooper.
Her greatest charm was her calm, and oh, how calm was needed in our horrible storm of loss.
She left her own family for almost a month. Sat at our dinner table. Played the piano. Gently reminded us to have faith, without saying a word.
Oh, Aunt Mary’s presence at that pivotal time meant so much to us.
The years passed and as happens when you get older, it’s easy to get caught up in your own stuff. I sure did.
I’d see Aunt Mary at family reunions in my teens and twenties. There’d be weddings (I’ll never forget Carol Ann’s in the garden at Smithville Inn) and funerals.
When her sister, my Aunt Helen, passed away, I was in the thick of church life and determined to take advantage of this opportunity to “preach the gospel.”
I asked to speak at the services.
Aunt Mary, in her calm and kind way, suggested that I could honor Aunt Helen without making a case for each person’s salvation. At first, I was confused. Aunt Mary was a devout Christian; a true believer!
It wasn’t until years later I realized that a true follower of Christ need not shove their version of the truth down anyone’s throat.
Aunt Mary embodied Christianity, because she embodied love.
She didn’t judge.
She was an accepting, sweet woman whose love deeply touched my life.
Many years after leaving the church I learned that she had breast cancer. All the memories of how she had been there for me and my family over the years washed over me and I made a committment to write to her every week.
I’d print out photos from Facebook or tell tales about my latest adventures in travel. Sometimes I’d just write to let her know she mattered and that I loved her.
The following year, I saw her at my niece, Deena’s, wedding. We had written back and forth preceding the wedding and she voted that I should go with the red dress, which I did.
At one point, she called me aside and said, “I’m all recovered from the breast cancer now, so you don’t have to write to me every week.”
I looked into her sweet, kind eyes and said, “Aunt Mary, I didn’t write because you had breast cancer. I wrote because I love you.”
And that happy ritual – sometimes not every week – but at least every other, has been a dear part of my life ever since.
I remember being a little afraid to write to her when my marriage ended. She – and all of my family – were “’til death us do part” kind of people.
Would she be disappointed?
“I’m proud of you, Brenda.”
Oh, Aunt Mary! Such healing words at such an important time.
I will miss you so much, yet know you are another angel watching out for me.
What a privilege to be your niece.
I was torn about going to her services because she meant SO much to me.
Jumping on a plane isn’t something any of us do lightly these days, so I prayed about it. I felt her calm and loving presence say, “It’s okay. I know you loved me.”
My wonderful sister, Shirlee, represented our little family at the memorial. She told me that Aunt Mary’s favorite song was sung. Oh how lovely…she now walks in glory with her body and spirit whole…
How glad I am that I have no regrets; I left no words of love unspoken. She deserved them all while she was here to hear them.
Many of you feel me when I proclaim “I need an escape!”
When packing a bag, searching for the right hotel room or perfect little restaurant, and exploring somewhere new are a few of your favorite things, staying put can be maddening.
I discovered joyous relief in recent weeks and it truly involved an escape.
But I didn’t have to leave my living room.
You may recall my obsession with Downton Abbey a year ago. Late to the party, when I finally discovered it, I binged during every spare moment. This proved challenging because Mark was not similarly enamored. I snuck in episodes when he was busy doing Mark things, like the lawn, the pool, or garage things.
Sure, I could have holed up in the spare room and watched, but the wonderful thing about having a true partner is that when the workday is done you really do want to spend it together. This is still new to me and I savor every minute of the companionship.
He’s a champ! He’ll even get teary-eyed when a singer on America’s Got Talent strikes an emotional chord. And it is so much fun to share episodes of Million Dollar Listing with someone equally jazzed by those New York and LA properties.
Because of Mark, I’ve eyeballed episodes of NOVA and Dirty Jobs – two shows that I previously ignored.
But when you find a binge-worthy show that sucks you in to the point where you discuss the characters as if they are family members and scream together out loud at the cliffhangers?
It’s escapism at its best.
So what is my new obsession? It’s the complete antithesis of Downton Abbey and its high-collared formality and British accents.
I know! When it came out in 2015 it broke every record for prime time TV, but I missed it.
But God knew it would be just what I needed NOW.
The Lyon family show is filled with drama, chair-dancing music, true love, and the OUTFITS?
Cookie Lyon is my fashion spirit animal.
Lucious, her bad boy ex (and future) husband played by Terrence Howard is the man you love to hate and always root for, even if he’s on the wrong side of the law.
But Cookie? A fierce mother; a suffer no fools business woman – she is EVERYTHING.
When Lucious fell victim to amnesia, Cookie had NONE of that.
“I’m Cookie Lyon, baby – and I’m unforgettable!”
We are deep into Season Five and shudder to think what will happen when we hit Season Six. The Final Season.
Oh, and we started watching it on free TV but couldn’t wait for a week to pass for the next episode. In all, we’ve spent over $100 just to get our nightly Empire fix.
Considering the money saved on zero flights, hotel rooms, dinners out, and Ubers in 2020, we’re still ahead.
What are we going to do when we can’t pretend we’re at the Lyon dining room surrounded by outrageous chandeliers and art? Oh to be at that huge, ornate table with goblets of fine wine, sumptuous meals (sometimes whipped up by Cookie but always served by help) and followed by impromptu jam sessions?
I shudder to think. These people are embedded in our lives! We have dinner conversations about “Will they or won’t they?” and stream the show’s music during the workday.
Like the song that makes me dance around my office like I’m in a music video:
Hakeem loves the ladies and is a rapper. Jamal owns a silky smooth R & B falsetto and serves as the moral compass of the family. And Andre? A tortured soul with a huge heart.
Yes, he tried to kill his father, but by the next episode they’ve forgiven all. We forgive the Lyons ALL of their transgressions!
Around every corner is new drama and something new to fight about!
Yes, they fight each other fiercely, but like a pack of “Lyons” always pull together to protect the family.
So why do I write this ode to Empire?
Because it accomplished something I sorely needed. An escape from the same old same old life lived each day since COVID-19 descended (and continues) to plague Florida.
This escape also gave me a gift; a new favorite love song. You’ll love it, too.
The best part of this escape? I didn’t have to do it alone.
I could Dream On With You, Mark Roach.
Thank you for putting up with my love for hip-hop, outlandish outfits, and for understanding that there’s a little part of me that longs to be Cookie Lyon.
So if you, like me, crave a getaway, indulge in a little harmless escapism.
It might just be the tonic you need for this oh so strange year we’re having.
And dreams? I speak about them in this week’s video:
One of my favorite quotes:
“It’s not your work to make anything happen. It’s your work to dream it and let it happen.”
Great marching orders for the coming weeks! Enjoy!
When you know your value, it changes the way you perceive the world (and others).
Settled in self-assurance and rooted in a healthy love for yourself, slights roll off like sunny-side-up eggs sliding off of a brand new-teflon frying pan.
Oh, but in the valleys of self-doubt where you are riddled with imposter syndrome and tormented by evidence of falling short? Every interaction supports your flawed premise.
Offending words, behaviors, and seeming rejections stick like flypaper to your soul.
Oh, to be free of that sticky paper consistently! It still attaches itself to me on occasion and like Taylor Swift, I gotta shake it off.
And remind myself who I am.
My friend Anita shared this story with me this week and I just loved it. I bet you will, too:
A father said to his daughter: You graduated with honors. Here is a car that I acquired many years ago … it is several years old. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father, and said, “They offered me $1,000 because it looks very worn out.” The father said, “Take it to the pawnshop.”
The daughter went to the pawnshop, returned to her father, and said, “The pawnshop offered $100 because it was a very old car.” The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The daughter took the car to the club, returned, and told her father, “Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it since it is a Nissan Skyline R34, an iconic car and sought after by many.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The father said to his daughter, “I wanted you to know that the right place values you the right way.” If you are not valued, do not be angry, it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.
Can you imagine the horror if she had accepted the used car dealership’s offer? Or the pawn shop? Sheesh!
But until you know the value of what you have, you’ll accept less than you’re worth.
This subject of knowing your value and embracing your worth came up this week at my niece, Deena’s, virtual baby shower. Yes! The beautiful Deena who designed the font for the cards I pull every two weeks is gonna be a Mama in October!
All of the shower attendees were invited to offer advice on being a good parent or a lesson learned to encourage and support Deena.
I couldn’t cough anything up! In my mind, since I’d never given birth who am I to say anything?
And then the universe dropped this into my lap from my beloved Abraham Hicks:
Relative to our children or any children with whom we would interact, our one dominant intention would be to give them a conscious understanding of how powerful and important and valuable and perfect they are.
Every word that would come out of our mouths would be a word that would be offered with the desire to help this individual know that they are powerful. It would be a word of empowerment. We would set the tone for upliftment and understand that everything will gravitate to that tone if maintained consistently.
– ABRAHAM HICKS
Can you just imagine how blessed a child would be having been brought up THAT way?
Powerful. Empowered! Valuable! Confident!
Made me a little jealous thinking about babies nurtured in such an environment.
And then I thought: I am the CEO of ME.
I can nurture myself with the truth of my value and worth.
And so can you.
It really does help to eliminate the sticky flypaper!
Thoughts on my “question mark” weeks here, and a new word we can all let sooth our hearts:
And that’s a recipe for a great-ful couple of weeks.
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.
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…”
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:
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.
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.