Trading Expectations for Acceptance

Where do we get our expectations from?

If you were a child of the 60’s and 70’s like me, we had plenty of unrealistic pop culture icons.

Like the Brady Bunch. All those groovy kids in a big house with parents that never fought – and a housekeeper to boot!

I wanted to be That Girl, living in the big city like Marlo Thomas and with a boyfriend handsome as Donald Hollinger. Oh, and with hair that flipped up at the bottom and never looked out of place.

Even outside of TV (and Instagram), we see how people present themselves on the surface, and it all looks so PERFECT.

Or we find out how much someone much younger and less experienced earns and disappointment (or jealousy) kicks in.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.

Our expectations can be dashed at ever turn. No one ever goes into a marriage thinking it will ever end. Few people take on jobs or make a career move that they think won’t pay off. You plan a vacation and don’t expect to get the flu!

We soon learn that there’s no crystal ball and there are no guarantees.

Which could be quite scary unless you believed that everything is always working out for you (and me.)

Lately I’ve been thinking about how many times my expectations have led to unnecessary disappointments. 

Is everyone required to march to the beat of MY drum?

When I impose MY idea of how people should be on them, I miss out on enjoying how THEY dance to their own rhythm of life.

My inner critic is LOUD, and the only thing that shuts it up is huge doses of empathy.

Putting myself in the other guy’s shoes for a minute silences the voice of judgment.

The good news is, we can always find our way back to love. The Four Agreements helps me with this:

  • Be impeccable with your word (Speak kindly and in truth to yourself and others)
  • Don’t take things personally (Oy!  The hardest for me.)
  • Don’t make assumptions (Another biggie.)
  • Always do your best.

Our biggest mistake when dealing with people not following OUR script? Trying to change them.  

Honey, you’ll wear yourself OUT.

I’ve decided to wave the white flag and trade my expectations for acceptance.

When I accept people, just as they are, the energy between us is completely different. It no longer drains or disappoints me to be with them. And oh how good it feels to spend time with someone who accepts me (more than expects from me.)

My friend Renee is a “no expectations” sister. She always lets me stay at her house when I’m traveling for work to Philadelphia. It may have been months since I’ve seen her, but she’ll take one look at me when I arrive and say, “Go straight to bed.”

She might have been looking forward to sister time and a long talk – but I don’t have to perform for her. I don’t have to dance around my exhaustion to make her feel our time together is worthwhile. For her, it’s enough that we are in the same house at the same time. And there will always be coffee time in the morning.

And coffee time means her husband Steve, who is a brother to me, will be at that table.

Those smiles! Pure love and acceptance.

Double doses of love and acceptance.

Renee is the one who introduced me to Angel Cards (the genesis of our Word of the Week tradition). We start every morning together picking a word for the day. There is a sweetness to the ritual that is amplified by Renee’s palpable hope that, for me, the day ahead will be the best day ever.

I can’t let Renee down, because she loves so purely and completely.

Everyone needs a Renee. And I am trying to be more like her.

More on that and a plea for help with the new Word of the Week! (The universe knows I need to work on this area, pronto!)

https://youtu.be/t10yJPuHbxw

How do YOU find balance in your life? Would love to hear your thoughts…

xoxoxox

Brenda

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From Breakdowns to Breakthroughs

If you’re in the middle of what seems to be a breakdown, hang on – your breakthrough is coming. If you seek it, you’ll find it.

That’s the beauty of wisdom. It’s there, sometimes hidden behind a bunch of hurts and painful memories. Perhaps it is shrouded by a busy life. So busy you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Wisdom is waiting for you, and with it is the clarity that comes from a breakthrough.

If you’re in need of a breakthrough and have used all the tools in your toolbox (talking to good friends, meditation, listening to You Tube videos on the topic, yada yada yada) maybe it’s time to bring in reinforcements.

Funny sidebar: I often get private messages from Facebook friends asking for advice on our Word of the Week messages. I always preface any answer with, “Please keep in mind I am not a licensed therapist…”

While I’ve learned a bunch from the school of hard knocks and good books, I’m not qualified to give counsel to anyone.

I have great regard for those whose love for people and genuine desire to impact lives for good resulted in their pursuit of professional counseling as their life’s work. One of my most favorite people in the world is Anna Coker, who has one of the biggest hearts known to man and uses her sensitivity, kindness, skill, and insight to help people heal.

From my past experience, finding a good therapist is often like going on a series of bad dates until you meet “the one.”

There was the guy whose first instinct was to write me a prescription for Zoloft, which may be helpful for some, but simply numbed me to what was REALLY needing attention. And the woman who was so rigidly religious in her world view she couldn’t hear anything outside of it. Not to mention the toxic horror stories from my past church/cult life, where my deepest hurts were manipulated to control my life and rob me of my individuality.

And yes, some unqualified victims like myself were “made” counselors. I’ve already done that apology tour.

Church/cult experience aside, the other detours into less than helpful therapy still had some value.

Kissing the frogs helps you identify the prince (or princess) when he or she comes along.

Just like finding the best restaurant in town and wanting everyone to taste that particular, pillowy gnocchi, so too, when you find a great therapist, you (I) want people to know about them.

Sanna Carapellotti came to me miraculously through my writing coach, who recognized I had hit a creative wall. And he was sensitive enough to realize it had nothing to do with the book I was writing.

I followed this link to arrange a free, fifteen-minute consultation to see if we both felt she could help me. I knew within one minute that this was a “no BS” yet non-traditional therapist who could guide me to the answers. Her philosophy? You have everything you need inside of you. The answers lie within you. Sometimes you just need a little help to reveal them.

I went into the session thinking I knew exactly what the problem was. Which was, of course, someone else. THEY were the problem.

The tricky think about problems involving other people? You can’t change THEM. You can only change YOU and how you respond to life (and them).

Through a combination of skillful questions, interrupted by breathing exercises, guided meditation, tapping – you name it – we got there.

Oh boy, we GOT there.

My revelation came and it was truly like a light-bulb going off.

Just as profound as my Costa Rica Iboga journey, during which I saw myself shut down after my father’s death – unable to express or even be in touch with my feelings – this time I went further back.

To the incubator.

Born one month premature, I went immediately to isolation, hooked up on tubes and fighting for my life. Isolation separated me from human touch and the nurturing comfort a baby craves when entering this world.

I cried in…isolation.

Long after I finally made weight and could finally join my family, this deep-seated fight for survival stayed with me.

A pit-bull like fear ready to pounce on perceived threats and consuming endless energy has been my companion for these 56 years. This pit bull served me well, mind you. I appreciate its fighting spirit at the start and also at various junctures of my life when I truly fought for survival.

It’s such a relief to realize I don’t need to fight for something I already have.

My life is mine. I made it. I am fine.

No longer do I seek something I didn’t get those first few weeks of life from people or organizations or even my profession.

Unpacking childhood trauma makes the baggage of life much lighter.

And that’s the Reader’s Digest version.

Dear readers, I feel so free! So unplugged from negative energy!

It’s such a release to have clarity about why I have felt certain things and responded so extremely to perceived threats all of my life.

Remarkably, I’m not so touchy anymore!

Those same people who bugged the #$%@ out of me? I now feel empathy for them; even love.

Everyone’s story is different. This happens to be mine. What I can say is that help is available. And I hope you, too, love yourself enough to head off your breakdown and head toward your own breakthrough.

Interestingly, I recorded this week’s message BEFORE my session with Sanna. I think you will see a different, more relaxed face in upcoming video messages. How prophetic the new Word of the Week turned out to be!

https://youtu.be/YpGgKZinVRw

If you’ve hit a wall, EXPLORE the why.

If you are intrigued by my visit with Sanna, she has graciously offered a free gift, “The Healing Heart” to any of you who reach out to her and mention my name, Brenda Viola.

To your breakthrough!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Don’t Milk the Bad Stuff

Please DO milk the good stuff in life. Make the most of a hearty laugh, savor that cold, creamy gelato, and allow a compliment to penetrate deeply into your soul.

The trap? It’s so easy to just fast forward through life, or push aside a tender moment as we move on to the next thing.

Life isn’t a race to the finish line.

Smelling the roses and chasing butterflies along the way make the journey rich. And the long way is often the scenic route!

However, should you scrape your hand on a thorn, or a frenemy slights you, or a seagull takes a #$%@ on your head, don’t milk THAT.

Moaning about what went wrong only amplifies it, underscores it, and energizes more of the same.

Just. Stop. It. (Preaching to myself, here.)

Sometimes it’s a habit. We get caught up in the drama of the thing gone wrong. We enjoy telling the story to the gasps and collective groans of our audiences. (Have you ever noticed that, just like the fish caught gets bigger with each re-telling, the drama around your negative story only grows every time you tell it?)

Those of us that believe in the law of attraction have learned it’s not what you WANT that you get – it’s what you FOCUS on that you get.

If you want more instability at work, keep milking it. Talk to all of your co-workers about how unsettled you feel. Play out your negative imaginations, leading to paranoia. Read into every possible slight and anticipate the worst possible outcome.

If you want a better work life, use that amazing imagination of yours and envision your best-case scenario. Play out that conversation with your boss until it’s pitch perfect. Take every positive encounter and fertilize your desired outcome.

Our word these past weeks has been honesty, and I’m all for calling things as what they are. To a point.

There comes a point where it’s far more effective to conceive of what is NOT as though it is.

That’s where you go from living under the circumstances to being truly meta-physical. On top of the physical; over it.

Milk the good stuff and more will come your way.

Naysayers might criticize and say you make too much of a thing.

Can you ever have too much of a good thing?

My musings on honesty and a new WOW, coming right up:

https://youtu.be/o8lDz4-wrV0

Don’t despise what’s happened in your life if you learned something from it!

Have a great couple of weeks…

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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You Do YOU (and I’ll Do Me)

You do a great job of being you.

You’ve got all of the qualifications, abilities, talents, and instincts to do you incredibly well.

In fact, no one can do you better than you.

Further, no one has a CLUE how to do or be you better than you.

So stick with your instincts.

In my youth, I so easily and willingly abdicated my free will to the will (and whims) of others. So hungry for approval and so unsure of how to make my way in this world, a mere suggestion would change my course.

These were not usually fatal or egregious turns in the road, but they did make life more like a crazy dotted line in a Family Circle cartoon.

The problem with so easily deferring? When you encounter toxic people who do not have your best interests at heart (only their own).

You end up silencing your beautiful intuition. Courses of action are chosen that actually hurt you on the inside. You decide that your own feelings must be liars, rendering you out of touch with your emotional guidance system.

How grateful I am for the day when I said, “Enough!”

The great thing about life is that the truth always rises to the top, even though sometimes it has to hit you over the head to wake you out of the fog.

You will always hear whispers that question your dreams and capabilities. Most times, these voices aren’t from the peanut gallery. They’re your worst, familiar fears rising up to choke your creativity and stop you in your tracks.

Don’t waste time and energy wrestling them to the ground.

Ignore them long enough and they’ll dissipate, just like the Wicked Witch of the West when splashed with water in the Wizard of Oz.

I know, the temptation is to dig deep and try and figure out what’s wrong with you.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

You are exactly right. You are perfect, as is. And you are more than enough for any task or wish your heart could hope for.

Now stop questioning yourself and get back to believing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEFyhtKPfYM&feature=youtu.be

Being free to be you – and me.

An honest life is a free one. And freedom is the fuel that can take you wherever you want to go in life.

You’re going places, baby. Don’t doubt it for a minute.

xoxoxox

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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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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Christmas Cheer to Far and Near!

This image was from one of the very first blog posts I wrote – and the sentiment still holds true.

My annual attempt to spread Christmas cheer through sugar and carbs has drawn to a close.

I have a huge burn mark on my right arm (tended to lovingly by Mark, with antiseptic and aloe.)

Sometimes you have to be burned to realize how loved you are.

The list of people who receive this gesture of love seems to grow each year as my heart grows bigger and the list of people I love gets longer.  I wish I could leap out of every box opened and encourage the recipient to toast first, then SLATHER with butter, ’cause if you’re going to break your diet, you might as well do it right.

But most people know by now the raisin bread ritual and how to savor it well.

I think about my grandmother, whose kitchen was pretty much covered in flour by the time she finished her annual bread-making.

Edna Hartsell made a deep impact on my life…from the way she knelt by her bed at night (literally!) and prayed out loud for everyone (literally!) she knew to the way every car ride with her was a rousing chorale of gospel songs.  We learned, as Elf affirmed, that “The best way to spread Christmas cheer was singing loud for all to hear.”

Each loaf of bread is a tribute to my Mom-mom, who inspired me to a spiritual life.

We each have our own ways of expressing and embracing our individual faith.  Some like to cheer, clap their hands and shout “Hallelujah!” and other prefer to quietly meditate and center their souls on Source.

Though my own spiritual path has been a bit like a Family Circus cartoon, full of twists, turns, detours, valleys, and mountaintops – I am so very very very very very glad to be a believer, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

My heart is full of appreciation for the Loving Presence that has sustained me through dark times and carried me to better days.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of my past year has been that this Presence is not like a butterfly that descends and departs (based on how good, bad, or tuned in I am) but that it is EVERPRESENT.

I can call upon the Power that created worlds at any time, for it resides in me (and I in it.)  There’s no penance to pay for a misstep, only a moment’s acknowledgment to get back into alignment once again.

Jesus said, “I and my Father are One.”

I get that now, Jesus.

I believe the One we celebrate this time of year would, if He were here, take us each gently by the shoulders and say, “You’ve got the Power!  It’s all right there – use it!”

In my fantasy conversation with Jesus I think He’d also say, “Sheesh!  Stop wrestling with your own worthiness once and for all.  You are LOVED – unconditionally!”

What a Christmas gift. 

Wouldn’t that be the best gift for all of us? 

I came face to face with this once again over the past two weeks when I realized how CONDITIONAL (still) my own love was for myself…

Oh my!  Isn’t it interesting that POWER ends up being our new WOW?

Wouldn’t that be the best Christmas miracle of all – to realize our POWER and walk in it?

I look forward to delving into this with you over the next two weeks.  And if you’ve never visited my other website, www.MEseminars.com, I’ve love you to download my e-book on the topic of my own journey to self-love.  My gift to you!

In the meantime, even if you didn’t receive a loaf of raisin bread this year, my heart is sending you Christmas cheer and heartfelt wishes for the FULLNESS of love to inhabit your heart, now and forever.

xoxoxoxoxox

With love,

Brenda

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Why I Love Airports (and Mark Roach)

Airports mean I’m going somewhere.

Even if the destination isn’t exciting, and sometimes that’s the case for work or a speaking engagement, I’m still going SOMEWHERE.

Oh the people watching! It’s one of my favorite parts.

This was always something I loved. But five years ago when I started working from home (and I’ve had four different homes since then!) getting AWAY from my desk is a joy to me.

Since “EXPLORATION” has been our word these last two weeks. I take time in this week’s video (and the most recent post) to talk about exploring and unpacking the baggage from our past.

But today, as I sit enjoying tuna poke and looking out over a feast of people, I’m relishing airports and the anticipation of exploration.

The crunchy wontons disappeared quickly. More, please!

This particular flight is out of Tampa, because through the Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) airport is growing in stature, sometimes it just makes sense to Uber for an hour to fly out of Tampa.

It’s a quick trip – two cities in two days, so no checked baggage is needed.

For the next 1.5 hours until my flight boards, I am not required to do anything… but wait.

Oh, I eat. And yes, I people watch! When the flight is delayed (or a layover is long), I get a neck/back massage. Or shop.

This may surprise you, but I am rarely chatty. I dig being alone! Only those magical, serendipitous, “Wow, the universe set this up!” encounters compel me to engage.

Oh, airports are ME time.

And writing time.

There’s nothing I love more than hearing the drone of public address system announcements behind me and the chatter of passersby while I type type type type type on my laptop.

Sometimes I look up and wonder about the stories around me.

I say a prayer for the haggard mom handling three kids while rolling three carry-ons. And marvel at the makeup-less beauty of youth in sweat pants as she waits, completely unaware of the stares that follow her. Ear pods block out her attention to the world she attracts.

Airports are both a beginning and an ending (depending on if you’re coming or going.)

Before we leave, we anticipate. When we prepare for our return, we reminisce.

Mark knows I like to explore airports, so he’s fine with relaxing while I wander around and grab those last-minute souvenirs. He is unfailingly interested in my conquests and observations, which makes me love him more.

And the times when I am not with him, I make sure to leave little post-it notes of love around the house. He knows I love taking off – with or without him. (Though with him is better.) But I never want him to think that life is better without him.

Oh, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This was supposed to be a post about airports.

But instead, I am in love. With a sweet man who cares about my every need. Who will not let me carry the groceries from the car to the house.

My me time in the airport has caused my heart to swell with appreciation for a man who loves me.

I am loved.

And for the first time in 56 years, I am settled into this feeling of bliss.

Which makes leaving, and coming home again, so wonderful.

I love having a life I don’t need to escape. Yet a life that gives me all the freedom in the world to explore.

So yes, I love airports. But I love Mark Roach more.

https://youtu.be/D1D1O49md1M

This is such an appropriate new Word of the Weeks for me. Can’t wait to talk to you more about it! Until then,

Boatloads of love

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Bob’s Cleaners is a Peaceful Place

When you think of peaceful places, what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s the waves gently lapping on the shore at the beach; staring at a fire pit while roasting marshmallows – or sitting in a pew, listening to music as you wait for church to begin.

An unlikely spot for refuge is your local dry cleaners…unless, of course, you’re going to Bob’s.

When I moved from downtown to the Gulf Gate area of Sarasota, one of my first delightful realizations was that it would once again be convenient for me to take my dry cleaning to Bob’s! I MISSED going there.

Why? Because the minute you walk through the door, you feel zen.

There are a host of positive, inspiring messages decorating the walls (and soft music is always playing at Bob’s.)

Any place can slap some peaceful quotes on the wall; that doesn’t determine the vibe. A vibe is always about the people and the energy they bring to a situation.

Enter the guy I always referred to as Bob. (But he’s not.)

This is Craig, who is the smiling, gentle presence that welcomes those who drop off and pick up their dry cleaning.

When we moved to the neighborhood, I was SO excited to introduce Mark to Bob’s Cleaners. (You might have thought I was taking him to a new restaurant or a sporting event.) We walked in and there he was, smiling from ear to ear and acting like he’d seen an old friend.

I wanted to make the introduction, but realized I only assumed his name was Bob. He sweetly clarified, “I don’t mind what you call me, but my name is really Craig.”

Craig’s very presence makes you feel like you’re wrapped in a soft blankie.

It’s impossible to imagine him getting all worked up about something.

He exudes calm, which has a calming effect on everyone he encounters.

On a recent visit, another smiling gentleman and I entered around the same time and began chatting. He drives out of his way from another TOWN, just to get up and close with the peaceful vibe at Bob’s Cleaners.

You know, people will forget what you said…but they always remember the way you make them feel (paraphrased Maya Angelou.) Businesses that make me feel peaceful, like Bob’s, will always earn my loyalty.

More on stepping away from drama and embracing peace!:

https://youtu.be/uh2jf5FJaT4

Are you hearing the encouragement to stop talking yourself out of what your intuition knows? Me too.

Have a beautiful week, everyone!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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The Art of Showing Up

This week’s post honors those who have mastered the art of showing up for the people they care about.

It may be inconvenient, uncomfortable, risky, and completely beyond the call of duty, but they show up.

Remember that co-worker who gave you a ride to work when your car was in the shop? Or that twenty dollar bill stuck in your pocket when you ran out of cash before the next paycheck? These angels among us never “ghost” you in times of crisis.

Perhaps it is that listening, non-judgmental ear when you tell the SAME story for the 84th time, or the gentle encouragement after you break a promise to yourself that says “tomorrow is a chance to start fresh.”

Showing up is an art because we don’t get hatched being kind, selfless, compassionate or caring.

Our baby cries are all about US – what we want and need and must have NOW. I’m an advocate for loving yourself enough to take care of you, and I’ve written volumes on that subject.

But those beautiful souls who, despite their own drama and pain; despite their harried schedules and limited resources, who dig deep and give when you need it the most…

They make life not just bearable; they add joy where sorrow lived.

So adept at showing up (even when you don’t have the courage to ask), these beautiful people are the catalyst for everyday miracles.

When my marriage ended, I experienced those who had mastered the art of showing up. Renee, Cynthia, Anita, my sister, Shirlee, Roseann, Karen…I could have never survived without you.

There were nights that I would call Anita and have nothing to say and it was okay. She’d just listen to me breathe on the other end of the line – sometimes for hours – until I could handle the aloneness enough to hang up.

Back in my Bible college days when I scrounged up change to put gas in my car, my cousin Kimmy would drive up from South Jersey and slip a $20 bill in my pocket.

I tell a few more stories in this week’s video, but my heart is full of gratitude for the tender, generous hearts who have mastered the art of showing up.

They have schooled me in true love, and it has been a healing balm.

More stories from my “showing up” files – and a lovely new WOW here:

https://youtu.be/FHda6015E20

What a lovely word to begin my birthday week. I think I’ll take it for the entire year!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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You Don’t Have to “Sell” the Truth

When someone throws the big-time sell at you, don’t ignore your internal GPS truth system.

I recall sitting at a kitchen table with an earnest couple who gave me the sales pitch of a lifetime about how joining their church would ensure I’d fulfill God’s purpose for my life.

They persistently pounded on the need to be planted, despite my dreams of travel. My television career was in its infancy, and in TV, you couldn’t stay put in the Delaware Valley (one of the top markets in the country) and gain the experience you needed to rise through the ranks.

The thought of moving to Lima, Ohio to hone my craft…and then to a middle market and finally, a big city – maybe even back home to Philly – thrilled me. This was the path I knew led to my desired outcome: A successful career in broadcast journalism.

And I was being told; being SOLD, that staying put was what GOD wanted.

I bawled.

I remember sloppy tears streaming down my face and crying, “But why would God want something for me that I DON’T want?”

“Ah,” they said. “That’s the voice of rebellion trying to talk you out of the will of God.”

Since when do you have to sell someone on the will of God?

Still, not wanting to rebel against God, I acquiesced.

Fourteen years later, this “church” revealed to be a cult, and over the course of those fourteen years I had the very life sucked out of me. Each “sell” involved me taking action counter to my God-given instincts.

Any resistant truth I haltingly uttered resulted in ME as the guilty party for daring to question authority. Chastised for wanting some semblance of normalcy (like, say, dating, establishing credit or having medical benefits), giving credence to my feelings signaled carnality.

Feelings, they said, were liars. Only the spiritually weak listened to feelings.

This was the master stroke of control that made me a walking zombie. I could quote any scripture for any situation, but I had lost the ability to think for myself. Why? Because when I dared to do so, it resulted in “counseling” and threats of disqualification for the ministry.

I often wonder if an alternative universe exists in which I left that table and listened to my heart. Who might I be today?

Fortunately, I believe everything is always working out for me and boy has it. To this day, the dearest people in my life are those that I met in the cult. Those I escaped with are the kind and tender friends who helped me find my mind again. But it took YEARS; even another fourteen, to fully understand the danger of suppressing my internal emotional guidance system: my feelings.

To realize that if it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t in alignment with that which is Divine.

Jesus doesn’t want or need me to suffer for him to prove my love.

And the truth sets you free.

I own my part in the charade because I abdicated my ability to choose for my life. At first, I thought they were more spiritual and would know better than me how I should serve God. Later, I acquiesced mostly just to stay out of their counseling offices where the most vile twisting of truth would render me full of self-loathing and confusion.

The good news is that truth won. It never fails to rise to the top and it will win the day.

And when you truly are flowing with the Divine, there’s no such thing as lost time.

We are eternal beings. And we’ve only just begun.

My parting thoughts on TRUTH and a double whammy WOW:

https://youtu.be/I01_2fOZ47w

It is rare to have a two-word WOW. I wonder what opportunities to put yourself out there on behalf of someone else will present themselves this week?

Let me know what happens as you take them!

Much love,

Brenda

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Pretty Little Lies

They’re just little lies.

You know the little soul band-aids I’m talking about? They tell you “just one” is hardly a problem. But you KNOW that one leads to another and another until you’re headlong back into a bad habit.

Whether it’s a cookie, a cigarette, a missed day at the gym or that glub glub of red in a wine glass – you know your poison.

Well meaning people will try to assuage your doubts, believing the best of you – but the best of friends say, “Warning, warning! This is fire not to be played with!” They WANT the best for you (and are well aware of the worst of you.)

Generally, when we want to go back to our poison, we do it in secret — because the LAST thing we want to hear is that we shouldn’t. ‘Cause we really WANT to…whatever.

Bad habits are a slippery slope. They are familiar grooves in our soul and the OLD us wants to play that record again. That’s why it’s best not to play…even a little bit.

These pretty little lies talk you out of your resolve and make you forget why you quit in the first place. Seductive little buggers, they’ll even begin crafting a whole new story just to defend your lapse.

So you fall. And you stay there for a little bit until you really do remember why you quit in the first place.

The good news is, each day offers the chance to start over. In fact, each moment extends that opportunity.

We’re all grown-ups and don’t need to hit rock bottom to make smart decisions.

We just need to love the truth more than the lure of those pretty little lies.

If they weren’t pretty, we wouldn’t fall for them. So how do we know they are trouble?

When you protect them, hide them, defend them and don’t allow anyone to dare broach them with the light of a question…that’s your warning sign.

My pretty little lie is revealed toward the end of this week’s video, and if any of you have stumbled, I hope it helps you get back up again:

https://youtu.be/HwQsmbwMz3Q

How appropriate that TRUTH is our new WOW!

xooxoxox

With love,
Brenda

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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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