All posts by brendaviola

About brendaviola

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.

Lavishly Spreading Love

When I splurge, I do so lavishly (not stingily.) Give me thick pads of butter on toasted raisin bread. Add vanilla ice cream AND whipped cream on my warm bread pudding. And please, fill the white cream so that it oozes to overflowing out of those chocolate covered donuts.

I’ve found most donuts to be quite stingily filled these days, and you can’t even find my all time favorite anymore.

Maiers cream-filled donuts could be found at Wawa convenience stores in a long white box with navy blue lettering. If you had a Maiers in one hand and a Krispy Kreme, Entenmann’s or Duncan in another, the weight of the Maiers was substantially heftier. And the first bite puncturing the cake-y dough would cause a sugary puddle of white heaven to spurt outward so that you had to quickly lick to avoid wearing it.

Today’s donuts can take two to three bites to even GET to the cream.

Why bother?

As a “go big or go home” kind of gal, I don’t just take my carbs and sugar in heavy doses. I want my love that way, too.

I don’t want to have to cajole love to respond or tiptoe around so as not to disturb it. When I’m far from camera ready and my foot is wedged firmly in my mouth, love me lavishly c ri

I want love like a bouncy, sloppy Golden Retriever puppy gets.

Don’t you just love people who take you as you are and who revel in your weirdness? It just makes you love them more.

For many years I attracted unsatisfying, dry donut kind of relationships. Working so hard to get to the the good stuff (if I ever got there) left me thinking afterwards, “Is that all there is?”

When attracting inadequate substitutions for good, juicy love, the tendency is to point the finger outward and blame all the losers for falling short. Or worse, to question one’s own worth and settle for less than because you think you are less than.

What it really always boils down to? What you attract is what you think you are worth. The quality of love you have for YOU sets the limit for the level of love you attract.

When I had my breakthrough moment and finally hit the mat, realizing I’d turned my back on the very person I’d be spending the rest of my life with (me); when I once and for all decided that loving ME would be a priority for the rest of this human experience, everything changed.

Because my vibration shifted, it changed what I attracted.

My love-tank filled and I had plenty to give away.

Now I am a walking, oozing, cream filled donut of love. If you’re waiting on me at the Publix, I’m gonna compliment your eyelashes. When you’re walking your dog, I will ask if I can lavish it with belly rubs. Don’t even get me started about close friends and family.

Let’s just say my biggest fantasies involve coming up with new ways to lavishly douse them with love. And the fun part about being generous with love is that you never run out. As one of the lines in a one-hit wonder song by New Radicals goes:

“Don’t give up

You’ve got a reason to live

Can’t forget

We only get what we give”

So whaddya want? You only get what you give.

And I want TONS more love, don’t you?

Here are my thoughts on LOVE and a brand new WOW (Word of the Weeks) for us to chew on:

https://youtu.be/7ini8ko_8WA

Ooooooooh…I love how communication builds off of love. If you love something, SAY it! If you love someone, TELL them. Don’t be stingy. Let’s be lavishly loving!

Let your love flow (and watch it flow right back to you.)

Love,
Brenda

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Digging Out of a Self-Dug Hole

It was a deep, dark hole.

And I dug it. (And not in a good, 70’s “groovy” kind of way.)

Since we are the CEO’s of our own lives, we dig the holes we choose to dive into.

This week’s video talks about the particular hole I dug, so I’m not going to re-hash that, but let’s spend a minute going over how to emerge from those self-imposed ditches!

First things first, stop beating yourself up for having “done it again.” You were on a high-flying disc, you felt unstoppable, you were bathed in positivity – then BAM, you got sucker punched by a thought.

It was a nagging thought; it could have been swatted away like a mosquito, but instead, you played with it.

You entertained it.

In the workshops I teach, I use the example of a known criminal showing up at your door. Would you let them in? Further, would you brew a pot of coffee and open up the guest room?

NEVER!

We should treat negative thoughts; hurtful self-talk and shame-filled internal accusations with the same vehemence.

However, when we fail to kick them to the curb quickly, they do gain momentum. And their companion playmates then join in to sling some mud. Next thing you know, you have full-on anxiety, depression, the blahs and the blues.

The worst thing you can do is kick yourself when you’re down.

No! Be extra nice to yourself. Don’t dwell on the hole; think of a better-feeling thought – perhaps completely off-topic. Like that your favorite niece just got engaged – or that there’s a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer with your name on it. Count some blessings. You have a roof over your head, or friends that care about you. A job that pays the bills and a sunset you can catch if you look out the window.

If that doesn’t work, take a nap. Going to sleep will hit the re-set button on your mood.

Seeking those better- feeling thoughts and entertaining THEM will elevate you from the hole, and soon you’ll be back to your tuned in, tapped in, turned on self.

Yes, you are hearing my favorite Esther Hicks phrases in this post, and for good reason.

They work!

I bet you’ll laugh when you hear what nagging thought began MY personal hole since the last time we visited. How lovely to laugh at what had previously stung!

https://youtu.be/FOQmkjf-4As

Don’t you just LOVE our new Word of the Week?

xoxoxo

Love,
Brenda

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Adventures in Greece

Me on the Aegean Sea!

I’m back from my adventures in Santorini, Greece, and it was fabulous. I could talk to you about the historical sites, the amazing vistas of the Aegean sea, the kindness of the Greek people or the holiness of Good Friday’s lantern ceremony, but today I’ve got one thing on my mind.

Food.

I’d been on a special eating plan since November. I called it my “Santorini Bikini” mission, and by avoiding sugar and carbs I lost 25 pounds.

I was ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille, and planned to say YES to every sugary and decadent opportunity that came my way from London to Pyrgos.

After all, this was vacation – and for someone who enjoys food like me, I wasn’t about to deny myself gastronomic adventures on a trip of a lifetime.

Each morning, a breakfast tray of pastries – both sweet and savory – were delivered to our little villa, with dips of honey and chocolate and jam. Like the Cookie Monster, I devoured them; crumbs flying over the bedsheets.

In America, there’s a Wawa or CVS on every corner. In Santorini, there’s a bakery.

I made Mark stop at EVERY SINGLE ONE, from Pyrgos to Kamari, to Fira and Oia. Sticky, gooey, flaky treats abounded. These Greeks love their sweets, and coupled with rich, dark coffee – oh my!

Aside from the pastry shops, dinner was never complete without dessert. They have a traditional “orange pie” which is really more like a cake; warm and covered with ice cream. Oy! Mark’s favorite was cream cheese baked in phyllo that literally had us groaning out loud.

I came. I saw. I ate.

Upon my return, I said, “Brenda, don’t get on the scale. Give yourself a week or so to eat normally so you don’t have scale-shock and its accompanying depression.”

But I couldn’t help myself.

Eyes winced, I stepped on, prepared for the worst. I was braced to see that eight or so pounds had been packed on during my eating adventures.

One.

Just one pound!

How in the world?????? I ate everything! I ate Mark’s leftovers!

But I walked EVERYWHERE.

We walked up to the Parthenon. We hiked to the top of the Akrotiri lighthouse. We trekked the entire stretch of waterfront in Oia, Fira, and Kamari. Once we parked our car, there was no option but to tackle the terrain one step at a time.

It didn’t feel like exercise. It felt like…an adventure.

Most days I sit at my computer for a minimum of eight hours, and too often (when it’s not a Zumba night) I go right to the dinner table or settle in for the American Idol results.

Methinks moving more will be part of my daily routine. Especially if it means I can eat cake!

More on adventures and the new WOW, coming right up!

https://youtu.be/OXW2zNJt_g0

I love an invitation from the universe to ENJOY. So if you’re looking for a sign, this is it!

Happy Mothers Day and love to you all –

Brenda

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Being Present is a Present

It’s challenging to remain PRESENT when the phone attached to me at all times pings with alerts, updates and breaking news.

My goal has been to disengage from electronics and really BE with the people in my space.

Enter Elvira.

Actually, I have peacefully coexisted with this lovely woman for my almost two years at Cityside; have ridden countless elevators with her and her husband and even exchanged odd pleasantries*, yet never knew her name. (*Elvira has been known to blurt, “How do you wear a bra with that?” or other off-putting questions to literal strangers…like me.)

I never knew her name because I never asked.

Always headed to a meeting, to beat a deadline, or simply to get dinner underway, I rarely stopped to truly TALK to this woman.

But now that I am soon leaving Cityside and the Word of the Weeks, PRESENCE, has been knocking at my heart, I let our most recent chance meeting evolve into an actual conversation.

Elvira speaks like a Russian princess. Her husband, appropriately named Boris, remains at her side with a lovely little terrier-type dog at his feet. They have settled into the ease of older age and enjoy apartment living, the Saturday brunches where the entire complex gathers and even attend all of the wellness sessions hosted here.

Which included one taught by me, “Raise Your Vibe at Cityside.

I expected the millenials and my vibe-conscious contemporaries to be present, but the first to grab seats were Elvira and Boris.

These 80-somethings came prepared to take notes, nodded throughout the presentation and asked great questions afterward. None, thankfully, about wearing a bra.

When we met in the elevator this past week, I mentioned that come Memorial Day Weekend I’d be moving out. When she learned that Mark and I had purchased a home she exclaimed in her gutteral accent, “Goot! You young people need space!”

I would love her forever for referring to us, 55 and 59, as young.

She and Boris had been quite accomplished in her home country, but coming to America, she was only able to clean houses. I don’t know what they ended up doing for their livelihoods, but it turned out great for them. They live well; their children come to visit and they go to visit them. I hear her hearty laugh and Boris’ quiet and supportive presence is always felt. Their dog adores them.

They are examples of a life lived well.

I wonder who you may pass by every day, yet never stop for a little chat.

If you allow yourself to be present, they might touch your heart, like Elvira did mine.

Now put that cell phone down for my closing thoughts on PRESENCE and the new WOW!:

https://youtu.be/CRqsH71cBi4

Oh, darlings! What adventures will we find these next two weeks???

I will be in Santorini, Greece and will MISS – for the first time ever – issuing a new WOW on April 28th. This little hiatus will continue until I come back in May for a Mother’s Day post on Sunday, May 12th. Almost a whole month of ADVENTURING!

Have fun, everyone!

Love,
Brenda

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Blessed Are the Tenderhearted

I’m talking to YOU, tenderhearted people. The tough, cranky, hardened ones don’t usually saddle up to my posts.

They find them annoying. I get it!

When I’m grumpy, feeling negative, pinched off from love and entertaining crappy thoughts, the opposite irritates.

Fortunately, I’ve trained myself to stay in the lane of good feeling thoughts, so when I step out of alignment, it feels like Spanx two sizes too small.

So back to YOU, tenderhearted people. You’ve decided that despite the knocks life brought your way, you’d roll with those punches. Instead of beating up on yourself and others for perceived failures, you overlooked them, choosing love.

You’re on your way to being one of those sweet people who just emanate the comfort of warm sugar cookies fresh out of the oven. Your presence makes those you encounter feel safe – and a little bit better than before you walked into the room.

Judgement isn’t even IN your wheelhouse. You understand that every person’s journey is different, and until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, their walk is between them and them.

I love you, tenderhearted people. You make this world lovely.

I met a tenderhearted person last week. Her name is Joanna Sanders, Municipal Clerk for the City of Port Townsend. She hired me to give the keynote at the Washington Municipal Clerks Association’s Annual Conference in Blaine, Washington (just across the Puget Sound from Vancouver.)

You know I love any opportunity to encourage people, and I was pumped and ready to go (it helped that they blared Aretha Franklin from the speakers prior to the start of the Conference.)

Prior to my introduction, though, was an invocation. And instead of a prayer, Joanna offered this reading from the play “The Time of Your Life” by William Saroyan. It touched me deeply, and I want to share it here with you:

“In the time of your life, live

so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself  or for any life your life touches.

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away.

Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption.

Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.

Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior.

Remember that every man is a variation of yourself.

No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart.

Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil.

These, understand.

Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live

so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world,                                               but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”


― William Saroyan, The Time Of Your Life

Only a tenderhearted person could choose such a meaningful, deep reading to open a conference. This invitation to LIVE was embraced by the crowd.

I wonder if, like me, any of the others brushed away a tear from their eyes?

The tenderhearted ones, I am sure, were a teeny bit choked up.

It struck me that we each have a choice to LIVE, NOW.

Life is precious – and fleeting.

Blessed are the tenderhearted, for they can feel – and let love IN.

More on tenderness and being in the NOW:

https://youtu.be/Dzffqn5X94U

Ah, distraction! It is a thief that steals time; robbing us of connection.

May you steal no more these next two weeks!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Niceville Opened My Heart

Niceville lived up to its name.

When the Okaloosa County Public Library System asked me to present the keynote address at their staff education day, I looked the area up on the map and said, “There’s no way I’m driving to this one!” A good 5+ hours away, the Niceville Community Center was sort of in the middle of nowhere, between Destin and Ft. Walton. In no way would I turn this into a mini-vacation; it would be a quick “in and out” flight.

Still, I wasn’t willing to risk being late for the engagement, so I took a later afternoon flight out of Sarasota and booked a room at the Niceville Holiday Inn Express. All I needed was wifi and a place to rest my head before hitting the ground running in the AM.

No expectations. Certainly no great expectations. This was, pure and simple, a quick gig for which I was grateful.

But Niceville opened my heart with their…well, niceness.

Who shows up to a hotel greeted by a desk agent saying, “Well hello, Miss Brenda! We’ve been expecting you!”?

Victoria seemed genuinely delighted to welcome me, and in the process, charmed me. As we went through the normal ritual of checking in, she smiled and said, “Now have I got a TREAT for you!”

Her glee in delivering the news was drum roll worthy! This woman was so excited to tell me that she was upgrading me to a suite, she actually paused before the big reveal.

All I needed; all I wanted was a bed and wifi. Instead, I got a TREAT. And the treat wasn’t’ actually the suite. It was Victoria’s enthusiasm to be, well…nice.

I smiled as I unpacked my overnight bag, finished some work, and caught up on e-mails. My stomach growled. Wow, it HAD been a long day, and I was hungry — but my options didn’t seem promising.

There was only one option within walking distance – a Ruby Tuesday. I haven’t been to Ruby Tuesday in years! I had vague memories of a good salad bar, but in the recent decade I’ve become a chain restaurant snob. Give me a little, independent, family-owned joint. I eschewed franchises, but hunger prevailed.

As I entered the door, I waited for perhaps 30 seconds for someone to greet me. She did as if seeing a long lost family member returned to the roost. “Oh honey I am SOOOOO sorry you had to wait! Let me get you a nice seat…”

Of course it was a nice seat. I was in Niceville, and it seems EVERYTHING in NIceville is…well, nice.

Food snob – ha! That was the yummiest salad bar, sirloin and sweetest sweet potato I’ve devoured had in AGES. Was it the food? Or was it that everything was so surprisingly…NICE?

The walls came down. This was not going to be a “get in and get out” experience. From the waitress who I observed hugging her regular customers to the bartender who treated the gang assembled as family, Ruby Tuesdays was THE place to be. Because everyone embodied NICE. And Niceville warmed my cold traveler’s heart.

Which was the perfect lead-in to a rousing keynote speech, delivered with heartfelt appreciation for the NICEness of the people of Niceville.

I was nicer because of them.

Reluctant to leave after my second session, Dealing with Difficult People, (are there any difficult people in Niceville?) I waited for my Uber. While the librarians enjoyed the sunshine and dined alfresco on boxed lunches, we told each other our stories of how we ended up in the Sunshine State. I waved goodbye to my new friends, convinced that my driver would also be…NICE.

Yep, an array of candies and toiletries (!) awaited me in his white Dodge Caravan. Doug told me his life story on the way to the airport; a story of leaving his high-paying corporate job to tend to his elderly mom’s health. A decision, he said, he’d never regret.

I agreed. And considered just how big a tip I would give him.

The nice-ness I experienced in my Niceville experience opened my heart. Nice will do that far more than any fancy restaurant or big city shindig.

Real time update: Writing gloriously interrupted by the sound of cheers as the entire airport stops what they are doing to applaud soldiers just returned home from Afghanistan.

Sheesh! My heart swells!

Fun side note: In the middle of my first presentation, it felt like a jet soared right outside of the Community Center and the sound almost made the building quiver. I asked the audience, “What was that?”

“Oh, that’s just the sound of freedom flying.”

The Kauffman EOD Training Complex and EOD Memorial are close by, in Walton County, Florida at the Eglin Air Force Base.

Let freedom ring! And may nice-ness prevail, not just in Niceville, but everywhere.

My closing thoughts on openness:

https://youtu.be/yDSKcsOjiUY

A visit to Niceville will make even a toughened heart tender.

Have a beautiful couple of weeks!

Love,
Brenda

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Saying Goodbye to What Doesn’t Serve You

Saying goodbye is never easy. I’m getting on a plane this week and know that every minute of every day, I’m going to miss my Mark, my bed, my morning coffee (made MY way) and my regular rhythm of life.

I will be moving soon (that’s ANOTHER blog post for another day) and I realize that pieces of furniture I’ve LOVED just don’t fit into the new place, so I have to say goodbye.

And my closet? It’s still got that gown from 20 years ago that PERHAPS my thigh could get into, but for pure nostalgia’s sake, I haven’t the wherewithal to say goodbye to it.

DISCLAIMER: I am DELIGHTED that I didn’t say goodbye to my black leather skirt from 2002. Because for the first time since then, I can wear it again! (Go me!)

Then there are the deep and profound goodbyes that are the signposts of moving on; growing into yourself – and settling into your own self worth.

I posted this meme this week and it was widely shared, but one comment struck me: “Easier said than done.”

No one said it would be easy.

Likely, this “getting rid of what doesn’t make you happy” kind of goodbye will rip your guts out. It will leave you heaving in sobs on the floor. It will cause you to question your sanity.

The comfortable ditch of misery will try to call you back – or at least call your judgment into question.

Seeming friends will call you selfish, or worse, cruel for saying goodbye.

Religious types will muse about your departure with head shakes and concerns about fulfilling your holy calling.

Drinking buddies will say, “You don’t have a problem! One glass won’t hurt…”

But you know you must go.

Whether it is a relationship, or a church, or a job, or anything with which (or whom) you have been entangled, there is a breaking point. And you know, for your own sanity; for your well being; for any hope of having a life of peace and joy, you MUST sever this tie.

Some of you are nodding your heads. You’ve been there and come out the other side. I applaud your bravery.

Some of you are teetering on the edge of the diving board, looking that long way down and terrified of jumping.

I get it.

On the three biggest goodbye decisions of my life I teetered for YEARS. I talked myself out of cutting bait because I kept assuming I was wrong; that I was the problem. So I kept working on me.

That’s not a bad thing. In all that working on me, I learned some great things and grew tremendously. (INSERT PRIVATE JOKE: My friend Cindy and I have coined a phrase, “I learned me something…” when we have an aha moment. It is horrible grammar but makes us giggle.)

There came a point where it became pointless to keep working on me.

The boat only goes around in circles if you’re the only one rowing.

Instead, it was time to do something FOR me.

Leaving is hard. But living a life that is unhappy is harder.

In every leaving, there is a rebirth.

You get to create the life you really want…if you are willing to say goodbye to that which no longer serves you.

More on this topic from our Word of the Week, “PURIFICATION” – and a brand new word to sink into for two more weeks:

I’m hopin’…that you’re open.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Hey, Beautiful! (Yes, I’m Talking to YOU.)

I had a beautiful time a few months ago giving the keynote speech to 600+ librarians at the Michigan Library Association’s Annual Conference. The capacity crowd smiled, nodded and laughed throughout the presentation and when it ended I thought, “That was just beautiful.”

Why? Because I felt so alive, doing what I believe I was born to do. Encouraging others – and seeing that my words were hitting the mark? Talk about satisfying!

Until I saw the organization’s social media post featuring yours truly at an unposed moment.

I looked like the Michelin Man with three tires at the midsection. No joke.

I was horrified.

My beautiful experience had now been tainted by an un-Instagram-worthy moment. My only recourse? A) respectfully ask that they remove the post and B) start SOME kind diet, immediately.

Before those two action items came into focus, self-loathing kicked in. How could you let yourself gain so much weight? How could you deceive yourself for so long through loose clothing?

Then despair: “You know, you’re getting older. Maybe just give up on trying to avoid fat and eat the damn twinkies.”

But I’ve been proudly vain for 55 years. By God (and my Rodan and Fields eyelashes), I’m not about to give up on being hot now! (I vowed to myself.)

That was 22 pounds ago. Thank you, OptaVia, for being an eating plan that helped me jump start a healthier me.

I want to get to the place where self-loathing isn’t even in my wheelhouse; where I can – warts and all – look in the mirror and smile at myself.

This post isn’t about dieting as much as it is LOVING myself (yourself; ourselves) through every stage of life.

While my outer self got thinner these past few months, I’ve continued to focus on my inner me. Because that’s where beautiful begins for all of us.

Spending some quiet time – just 15 minutes – to APPRECIATE and stir up positive aspects is more powerful than any beauty serum. (I know; I’ve tried them all.)

When I’m thinking anxious thoughts, or feeling left out – maybe even a tad jealous – it’s like wearing a cloak of ugly. (Note to readers who may think otherwise: I do not fart sunshine and rainbows; I deal with the same petty stuff we all do on occasion.)

But when I take the time to set my soul in alignment with Source/God/Spirit – Who is ALWAYS loving me – I shine.

After a gloomy week of worrying about my mom’s health, my workload, my bank account. Oh, also my puppy dog, my ex-husband and pretty much everything (worry is like sticky tape; it attracts a bunch of cohorts to gang up on you) I made the decision to stop.

Worrying is simply thinking about what you DON’T want.

– ABRAHAM HICKS

Instead, I spent time that morning thinking about what I DO want. In fact, Mark and I were headed out to romp around Key West. Before we left the cottage, I announced five things that I wanted to happen that day.

With one block of our walk, a woman stopped her car in the middle of the street. She stuck her head out of the window and literally shouted, “You look so pretty! I love that dress.”

(One of the things I had asked for was a delightful encounter with a stranger.)

That was delightful – and I felt beautiful. Not just because someone shouted it from a car window (though how much fun was that???) But because I was thinking beautiful thoughts again.

Here are my parting thoughts on our recent word of the week, BEAUTY:

https://youtu.be/LyK9p0AUT6Y

Well, beautiful people – let’s wash those negative thoughts right out of our minds!

With much love,

Brenda

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Understanding Takes Time (So Relax)

Can you think back to a time in your life when you thought, “I wish I knew THEN what I know NOW?” Or, “What was I THINKING when I did THAT?”

The person who invents a working crystal ball would make a killing on Shark Tank. (Mr. Wonderful would never call it poo-poo on a stick.)

But would we really want to know everything before it plays out?

I did what I did (and you did what you did) working with what I knew at the time.

As my favorite Maya Angelou quote goes, “When you know better, you DO better.”

Oh how I wish I understood that my time in high school would have been better spent studying or participating in activities rather than hiding from cliques and crushing on boys who never gave me the time of day.

If I understood that my time in college would rush by, hoisting me into the working world for the REST OF MY LIFE, would I not have savored it more? Instead, I finished in 3.5 years so I could get out there and start making a living. (Which was $75 a WEEK at the local cable TV station.)

Would I have taken the QVC job had I known I’d be laid off less than half a year later?

Or would I have joined that church if I had known it would be a destructive cult?

Would I have married my ex if I knew fourteen years later the marriage would end?

Well, in a way I’m glad I didn’t have a crystal ball. Because there’s no more captivating entry on my resume than that QVC experience. I made the best friends of my life – to this DAY – in that church. And my ex and our journey together got me to where I am now, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Time offers clarity of perspective sans the pain of the experience.

No, we wouldn’t have chosen some of the pain, but it sure was used for GOOD, ultimately.

What I do understand is that all things work together for good, aka, “Everything’s always working out for me.”

I bemoaned to a counselor once, “What about all the wasted years??? Is it too late for me???”

Her reply: “What was wasted if you learned from it? And while you have breath, is it ever too late?”

Some of you may be going through stuff you simply can’t understand right now. Give it time. Clarity, and with it, understanding, will come.

And in the meantime, look back over your shoulder and consider the mountains you’ve climbed; the dark tunnels that eventually flooded with light – and know that this, too, shall pass.

https://youtu.be/OKiV59jZNOM

How lovely that in this two week span that includes Valentine’s Day, the angels are asking you to consider BEAUTY. I’m looking forward to digging into that word over the next two weeks.

Until then,

LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE –

Brenda

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When You Love YOU, You Laugh More

My ability to laugh is directly related to how secure I am in my love for myself.

Stick with me. Don’t touch that dial.

I believe if we dare to be brutally honest, this self-love thing is an issue we skirt around all the time and can avoid until we draw our last breath, which is too late to reap the benefits in this one shot we have at being US.

We drink vats of red wine to compensate. Or work relentlessly to prove our worth. Pay no attention to that gross insecurity hiding behind my bravado! The Academy Award for acting like I’m not a wounded child goes to…YOU. And me.

Look, I realize you (and I) are well aware of our imperfections. Some of you look in the mirror and literally see yourselves as disfigured, and you couldn’t even choke out the words, “I love you” to yourself in the mirror.

If a genie granted me one wish, oh how I would wish that every person reading this could not only say those words but let them heal their broken souls; that the power of this love would propel them to a new level of life that renders them untouchable from the fiery darts of others and unable to produce weapons to self-inflict wounds.

Too many of us hobble along like that for an entire lifetime. I sure did, until my breakdown/breakthrough in Costa Rica. How pointless when a handicap is a product of our own making; because of the dark thoughts we allow to run rampant in our heads.

Instead, these self-loathers compensate by being amazing givers. People who meet them are SO impressed! They think they are so smart, so engaging, so attractive and personable!

And they (you) are.

But imagine how powerful you would be if YOU really believed in your amazingness. If you didn’t speak such hateful words to yourself; if you truly hit the mat and chose to “Embrace Your Flawsomeness” once and for all?

I know, you’re saying, “Brenda, I thought these past two weeks were about humor! And your subject line was about laughing ! I did not bargain for all of this talk about self-love.”

So I’ll share a memory of fat little Brenda. Here’s a visual to help:

Yes, I’m the one on the right; the one who could only pick from the “Chubby” section in the Sears catalogue…and who had to have specially made shoes to hold my big, round, flat feet.

I know, you’re thinking, “What a cutie pie!”

But put yourself in my “had to be custom made because I was so obese” shoes.

Every day, the kindest words I heard were “pleasingly plump.” The worst? “Fatso.” “Pig.”

No one wants to play on the seesaw with the fattest kid in school. And you can’t run without peeing your pants, so you don’t even try. I spent most nights crying myself to sleep and hating myself because I didn’t look like everyone else.

And because I believed the self-talk that concluded because I weighed more I was less than; that as a result I was unworthy of love or to excel at life – I couldn’t laugh much.

I’ve written before about being bullied in high school. By then I was quite slim, learned how to use makeup, dressed well and smelled good. No joke – you can see for yourself here:

With my mom and mom-mom. I had NO idea how lovely I was.

Despite my physical transformation, in every comment I heard a slight; I felt rejection.

Instead of my inherent sensitivity being a blessing to myself and others, my lack of self-worth produced hyper-sensitivity – taking the gift of feeling and using it as a weapon of self-destruction.

I wonder now: Had I sooner dealt with this issue of of finally loving myself – would I have found a silver lining of levity in those high school years? Instead of hiding in bathroom stalls or detouring to avoid certain cliques, would I have been more likely to laugh than cry?

But you can’t laugh at yourself when you hate yourself. You can’t shine as the star you are when you scurry to hide from the spotlight. And the further downfall? A constant propensity to be offended; the inability to lighten up or find humor (especially when you are the butt of the joke.) How many red flag indicators do you need to prove once and for all that your self-worth is running on empty? And who loves you enough to say, “Enough of this self-debasement!”

Well, I do. I am weary and heartsick by friends who think it’s funny to put themselves down. Who apologize and edit themselves out of family photos because of their self-loathing. Who, after a few drinks, say the ugliest things about themselves and no amount of saying, “You are wonderful – beautiful – amazing” even makes a dent in the fortress of self-rejection they’ve built over a lifetime of self-talk.

When you get to the end of this journey and are finally released from this body, you’ll have an amazing “Aha!” that none of the crap you slung to prove your unworthiness was real.

But then it will be too late.

So now what? Well, I wrote an e-book on the topic, which is a good introduction from my perspective. Better, Louise Hay wrote a book about mirror work that is excellent, if you’re serious about jumping off the “I suck” train.

It IS work. But it is work worth doing. Please start building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. You’ll get your laugh back.

Here’s some final thoughts on humor and a new WOW that can help you if you are facing a conflict or a sticky relationship situation:

https://youtu.be/ITS68ekZzNg

May UNDERSTANDING build bridges these next two weeks.

Sending you so much love –

Brenda

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