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.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

So easy to push it away.

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

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

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

It was this song by Stevie Wonder:

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

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

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

I’m with Billy Joel.

Leave a tender moment alone.

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

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

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Lovely Aunt Mary Gullo

My Aunt Mary made her transition this week.

I can only imagine her brothers and sisters, her husband, and the many who loved her just waiting to welcome her into glory.

From left, her brother (the deeply religious) Uncle Bud, her sister (the glamorous and fun) Aunt Helen, Aunt Mary (the baby of the family), my grandmother/her sister Edna, and her brother Dave, who had piercing blue eyes and was a great dancer and singer!

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.

Aunt Mary was a central figure after my dad’s sudden passing when I was 10.

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.

So pretty, wasn’t she? Aunt Mary was, for many years, a bank teller. My dad used to stop by her drive-through window in his mixer truck just to say hi when he was in the neighborhood. And he always used to sing the song “Cab Driver” because it included the line “drive by Mary’s place…”

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?

Her reply?

“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.

Aunt Mary is standing right next to my Dad – the third person from the right. Next over is my wonderful grandmother, her older sister, Edna. I don’t believe I was born yet!

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.

A timely and true reminder…to shower the people you love with love.

I hope that you think of your own Aunt Mary…or someone who has marked your life for good.

And shower them with love this week.

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Escape (without Leaving the Living Room)

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.

It’s Empire.

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.”

ABRAHAM HICKS

Great marching orders for the coming weeks! Enjoy!

Love,
Brenda

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Knowing Your Value and Embracing Your Worth

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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.

– UNKNOWN

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.

Love, love, love –

Brenda

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The Joy of Connection

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

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

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

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

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

Joyful, impromptu connections used to fuel my spirits regularly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I soaked it up like a dry old sponge.

Nix that.

Like a dry sponge.

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

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

HA!

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

Because birthdays mean connection.

And that’s the best gift of all.

(But the Ritz Carlton is a close second.)

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

https://youtu.be/2DxVLFbhc9o

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

With love,

Brenda

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Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?

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

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

We must be kinder. To ourselves.

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

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

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

We’re flawsome – and should embrace our flawsomeness!

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

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

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

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

The struggle is real for your human being.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until it becomes a habit.

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

Screwed up? Join the club.

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

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

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

It is.

And it’s beautiful.

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

More on that right here!

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

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

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

Much love,

Brenda

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Silence is Good Soil for Growth

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

C’mon, Brenda. What’s wrong?

Nothing.

No, REALLY?

Really!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brenda

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A Dream Goes on Forever

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

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

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

“A dream deferred makes the heart sick…”

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

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

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

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

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

Well, they were. For a season.

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

Gotta love my spicy Roseann-isms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s the beauty of life.

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

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

Sure!

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

I believe life should be happy.

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

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

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

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

This is what you were made for!

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

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

Maybe that’s a better word…purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

Much love –

Brenda

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All Worked Up (for Nothing)

This week, I got all worked up. For nothing. A few times!

When I realized just HOW nothing these matters were (and how wrong I was in each case!) I had to kind of giggle. Really glad that I didn’t complain publicly or tell anyone off, I filed my misstep in the back of my mind for future reference.

Before you have a cow, make sure it’s worth having.

Back in the 70’s, Gilda Radnor’s Saturday Night Live character, Emily LItella, would get ALL worked up over a subject.

My friend Renee Kantor LOVES this character and this week I WAS this character. Going on and on and on and on only to stop, think, and say “Never mind.”

My first “Never mind” involved an appointment with a contractor. “I’ll be there between 12 and 12:30,” said the text.

At 12:45 I was harrumphing! The nerve!

When dear old Sam arrived, Mark said, “Yeah…I saw him driving around in front of our house for fifteen minutes, but figured it couldn’t be the contractor because he kept driving past our house.”

Sam meekly said, “You texted me 6852 S. Lockwood Ridge Road.”

I replied, “Yes! 6852 S. Lockwood Ridge Road.”

Mark looked at me like I had two heads.

“Honey, that’s not our address.”

Oh my God! It’s NOT!

Now, back in 1990 I lived at 6852 Clover Lane in Upper Darby, PA. But that was 30 years ago!

This is a classic example of mental-pause, but for the life of me, I don’t know why I would conjure up that old address.

Sam went from being on my #$#%@ list to being the recipient of several mea culpas.

Next, I got into a fight with Google.

I’d been humming the song “Sweet Life” all day and finally asked my Google Mini, “Hey Google – play Sweet Life by Paul Stewart.”

It said, “Okay. Here’s a playlist from the 70’s of lite rock hits.”

I don’t want lite rock hits. I want a very specific lite rock hit!

Maybe if I say the artist first.

“Hey Google! Play Paul Stewart’s Sweet Life.”

Some godawful song that was CLEARLY not Sweet Life began playing.

I thought if I said it more forcefully, Google would finally obey.

HEY GOOGLE!!!! PLAY SWEET LIFE BY PAUL STEWART!!!!

Nope.

My blood pressure rose. The lovely lyrics and the melody that made my heart smile all morning was GONE.

I was pissed off at Google.

A good twenty minutes passed before it even occurred to me that maybe I might be wrong.

I shifted from my verbal orders to an online search of the song “Sweet Life.”

By Paul Davis.

Ooops.

This song fills my heart with gratitude for my sweet life, shared with my Mark.

When I finally said it correctly, Google began playing to perfection.

I went from being all worked up to chair dancing and singing loudly:

This old world seems to be in a hurry But darlin’ we’ll just keep on takin’ our time ‘Cause we’re livin’ such a sweet life Oh what a neat life Sharin’ my love with you We’re livin’ such a sweet life Oh what a neat life Makin’ our dreams come true We’re makin’ our dreams come true

– PAUL DAVIS (NOT STEWART)

As Mark Twain so perfectly stated: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

This quickness to frustration, even anger – it’s not my normal way of responding to life. It likely is somehow related to this eternal pause button we’re ALL on right now, in the midst of a pandemic that has disrupted every plan once held for 2020.

What can you do when you get all worked up?

Take that little step away from the instigating event and think (sooner than I did) that perhaps YOU may be at fault.

And if you are, laugh at it. Apologize. (Though Google doesn’t really care, Sam sure did.)

Getting worked up is a choice. I want to expend precious energy on things that later don’t make me say, “Never mind.”

Our WOW was “relaxation” and there I was, getting all worked up! How did I resolve it? Well, the story is to be continued, but here’s a start:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOM5T1BaAik

On the other side of letting go is FREEDOM, and that’s what I want to fill my question mark with. What about you?

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Truth in Advertising and Lessons in Integrity

Integrity (to be truthful) isn’t what causes me to whip out my credit card.

No, it’s usually a vision of a new, improved me. Insert the word “serum” and I’m a goner. Show me that Lori Greiner from Shark Tank gave it a thumbs up, and I say sign me up. Before and after photos? They’re eye candy to me and I look for the PayPal prompt.

I love buying hope.

Who knew my love of seductive advertising would collide with our Word of the Week (WOW), integrity, this past week?

It’s usually easy-peasy to find some inspirational quotes that resonate with our WOW. But integrity?

Look, I’ve got a glaring half-inch of gray hair at my temples. My toenails are an unkempt, chipped, sick blue color. You can now pinch way more than an inch (if you dare try) and my fingernail-less hands now fly unhindered over my keyboard.

The truth? I’m thinking about my next meal or series to binge-watch.

Not integrity.

Even though it being the word of the week nudged at me. I should get some inspiration on this, right?

Then my sister called.

Shirlee is the perfect example of integrity and I’ll give you two of boatloads of examples I could share. These are just from THIS week.

I belong to Backstage, an online portal for voiceover artists, actors, and all types of performers. We see gigs that appeal to us and submit auditions. It’s fun! And voiceover work always provided shoe money for me since my early twenties.

Now that my sister is building quite a reputation as a gifted actress, I sometimes see ads for jobs she’d be perfect for. And I sent her one, this week:

WOMAN WHO IS SIXTY; MUST LOOK FORTY.

Well of course, that’s Shirlee!

I read further. The commercial promoted a skin cream. And it was a paying gig, non-union. Perfect!

So I sent it to her, already planning how we’d record her audition and spend the booty.

Not so fast, Brenda.

We’re heading into a showdown with INTEGRITY.

She graciously thanked me, then sweetly said, “But wouldn’t that be lying? I mean, I’ve never used the cream…”

“It’s a paying gig! Who cares!”

Then silence.

Had any of the thousands of models hawking serum possessed an OUNCE of integrity, I may have saved THOUSANDS of hard-earned dollars.

But Shirlee?

She’s one in a million.

Example number two: While coexisting on lockdown at home, she and Tony have made fabulous meals, watched wonderful movies, created art with pasta…

Seriously. She’s beautiful, nice, and a creative genius.

…and she also taught Tony – for the first time in his life – to play Solitaire.

As she completed the deck, which resulted in a “no win” Tony said, “So now what?”

“What do you mean, ‘what’?”

“I mean, that’s IT?”

“Yes. When the deck is done, you either win or lose.”

“No! Don’t you shuffle what’s left and try to win?”

“No!

Shirlee had never cheated at Solitaire.

Perhaps the memories of Mom-Mom’s favorite admonition: “Thou God See-est Me” ingrained on her heart from youth kept Shirlee’s sinful nature at bay.

Or maybe she simply doesn’t HAVE one.

Who knows? I say thank you, Shirlee. You gave me something to write about during a week when all I wanted to do was eat cheesecake.

And for all my life, you’ve been the female Jesus and a beacon of all that is good and right with the world.

Parting thoughts on INTEGRITY, and a comforting new Word of the Week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8b0uc7Vymo

Which means we can return to our recliners and eat cheesecake in peace.

xoxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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