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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Friends are Wonderful Teachers

It’s Thanksgiving morning as I write this, and I’m thinking about my friends.

Friends have been the best teachers in my life and I think the reason why is because the love level is so high, the wall level is low.  With trusted friends, there’s no need to put up defenses or be on guard.

With friends, my heart is wide open, and revelations can penetrate deeply.

It’s not ALL deep stuff.  Though my friend Cynthia is as deep and insightful as they come, she’s my fashionista/stylist/hair/makeup and on trend friend.  Whenever we are together, there is always a conversation about, “Where did you buy that?  What serum do you use?  What diet are you on?”  We keep each other sharp (and smokin’ hot, I like to say!)

My friend Renee is a nurturer/caretaker/nursemaid/comforter who LISTENS in a way that always makes you feel heard.  She hangs on her friends words because she cares so deeply.  And research?  Just mention a topic you’re interested in, and the Inter-Nay (as we affectionately call her) conjures up the pertinent info and helps the Fab Four make informed decisions, while sending funny dog videos to keep us smiling.

Anita never skims.  She reads voraciously and has a PhD level knowledge about matters like quantum physics, spirituality, and health.  I tend to be a Cliff Notes/Readers Digest abridged version person, so how grateful I am for a friend who digs into the depths of a thing. She, too, is a world-champion listener, and always hears what I HAVEN’T said and asks the followup questions that provoke me to think.  She has a giggle like a teenager (and the bonus is that she lives directly on Jacksonville Beach, making for a perfect getaway.)  I will, however, always wonder why we live in the same state FIVE HOURS AWAY.  Seems wrong.  But it’s better than five states away.

On our recent girls’ weekend in Atlanta, Cynthia presented each of us with this “We go back, but we also go forward” mug. My coffee tastes better in it every morning!

These are my sisters from another mother.  And then there is my sister since birth, Shirlee.  So beautiful and talented, I could have been jealous, but she has always been so good to me I couldn’t help but adore her.  One of the greatest things she ever taught me was, during bad times, mark your calendar for two weeks away.  Guaranteed, life will be better by then.  (It’s true.  Bad times don’t last forever.)  She’s whipped up magnificent meals and desserts and watching her inspires me to try them at home.  She has NEVER stopped learning – now acting in local plays (even a film!) and playing her beloved ukelele with gusto.

Could I go on? Forever.

I could mention how Roseann taught me the power of a Hallmark card to really let people know I care.  (Hallmark should send her residual checks, I caught on to this so well.)  Or write volumes about Cindy, Linda, Hillary, Chelsa, Karen, Karen (I won two Karen’s when I moved to Sarasota!), Jennifer…

…you get the point.

We celebrate Friends-giving at my apartment complex, and with EDUCATION being our recent Word of the Weeks I couldn’t help but think of how much my beautiful friendships have taught me.  

And perhaps the point is not that friends are the best teachers.

LOVE is.

Onward to a new Word of the Weeks!

How perfectly does today’s post about friends go along with SISTER/BROTHERHOOD!

Keep learning, keep loving.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Resilience Says YES to Life

Is there a YES in you, or a NO?

Are your first instincts to find a reason to agree or to argue?

Not just with others, but with YOURSELF.

An opportunity arises, and maybe it is a bit out of your wheelhouse but the thought of it scares yet excites you…do you say yes? Or  do you talk yourself out of it before the thought ever becomes a thing?

Recently a friend marveled at some of the things I’ve been able to pull off in my 55 years, and most of it had nothing to do with credentials (though I’ve got them), connections (didn’t have many) or luck of the draw (I’m still counting on winning the lottery one of these days.)

All of the “wins” – getting in to voice-overs for commercials, or gaining speaking engagements – were because I said yes to life…and yes to ME.

Yes equals, “I have faith in ME.” And if you keep building on that faith, the challenges that inevitably come can’t win. Those temporary setbacks become stepping stones; opportunities for growth. Developing that YES on the inside shapes your resilience until it becomes your default.

The wins don’t always come fresh out of the gate.  But if you keep saying that three letter word, the wins will eventually follow.

If you were a  horse in a race, would you bet on YOU?

I hope the answer is…well, you know what I hope it is!

Saying NO and saying YES shapes your life…which is a great lead in to this week’s message:

Hey, if my sister can pick up a ukulele and master it, I can do the same with a guitar.

I’m saying YES!

And hope you will, too.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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You Can’t Make Me Feel Bad

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that you can’t make me feel bad.

You can’t make me feel inferior, rejected, unworthy, afraid, or anxious.

No, can’t even make me feel lonely, unattractive, ridiculous, stupid or out of touch.

You can’t make me feel…ANYTHING.

I  am (and you are) the gatekeeper to such feelings.

Now, when someone says, “Gee, you look a bit pudgy these days.  One too many donuts?” it wants to MAKE me feel bad.

Or when the voice in my head says, “Sheesh, you look every bit your age in that photo, Brenda” it WANTS to make me feel bad.

It knocks at the door of my soul and says, “Hey!  Here’s a familiar bad feeling.  Can I come in and sit for a spell?”

Because it is a familiar voice, there’s a temptation to acquiesce; to just let it in and steal the next few hours (or days) of joyful living.

But I (and you) don’t have to LET it escalate.

Stopping a bad thought before it ever takes root or gains momentum is a key to walking in STRENGTH (our Word of the Weeks).

This shifts full responsibility for how we feel onto US.  Yes, other people can be entirely crappy, but why assign them so much power?

Ah, the beautiful shift from giving a @#$%& what other people think of us to standing firm in who we know ourselves to be is powerful.

And freeing.

And fun!

Feeling GOOD is critically important.  It is a sign that I am linked up to pure, positive energy (God, Source, the Divine).

Feeling bad?

The devil didn’t make you do it.

YOU did it, but entertaining words and thoughts that should have been kicked to the curb.

Now did I just make you feel GUILTY???

Ha!  That was a trick question!

I can’t make you feel anything.

Now, when I tell you you’re beautiful and amazing and talented and smart, let it lift your heart.  Enjoy the encouragement that comes from those who love you.  That’s the icing – but YOU’RE the cake.

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

 

WOW – such an appropriate word to follow STRENGTH!

Don’t fall for the lie that you can’t handle what is on your plate.  You can handle it, eat it, enjoy it, and throw that plate against the wall in triumph!

xooxoxox

Love,

Brenda

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The Ongoing Art of Letting Go

I’ve written about letting go before.  A common thread in most of my awakenings this past year has been the discovery that there’s no “arriving” while we’re breathing.

Life is a constant journey, revealing layers upon layers as we choose to be honest – and inviting us to let go of the old with each new reveal.

When I went to Costa Rica  two Septembers ago (my how time flies!) I was on a mission.  This was an urgent journey to get to the root of Brenda and find out why she kept falling into certain traps that ham-stringed her happiness.

I got what I went for, and experienced a joyous release for many months.

As life goes, new challenges (even wonderful ones, like, geeze!  I have a boyfriend!) raised old, un-dealt with issues and while I now had valuable tools to cope and resolve, sometimes you still need a little help.

If you know me at all, you know I NEVER thought I’d darken the doors of a church ever again, after experiencing cruelty, abuse, and toxicity at what had been known as Philadelphia’s Church of Our Saviour.  NOTE:  I also met some of the most wonderful people EVER, who remain my dear friends today; proof that good can come out of bad.

But this sweet guy who won my heart, Mark, was a regular attendee and – sheesh! – board member at the Sarasota Center of Light. I told him flat out that I would likely never attend with him, and if that was a deal-breaker, so be it.

It wasn’t.

And go figure, when he told me there was an intention-setting ceremony on New Years Day, something tugged at my heart and said “Go.”

When we had the pastor and his wife over for dinner some months later, I boldly announced, “I’ll likely never join the church, but I am enjoying it.”

You know how THAT story ends.  (Yes, I’m a member.)

So in this community of spiritually-minded people, there are ongoing classes available to all, whether you’re a member or not.

Which leads me to this week’s post on letting go.

My new friend, Joan Volpe, was hosting a “Despacho Ceremony.”  This is a very basic description, but it’s a sacred ceremony to render gratitude, write down intentions and name things that you seek healing from (or requesting healing for others.)

I was surprised at some of the the things, after all these years, that I wrote down!

Being bullied by Justine Carano and Frank DeCesaro in high school.

Then wrongly accused by some beloved old acquaintances who blamed me for their pain.

And kicking MYSELF for some decisions.  Yes, I needed to forgive myself.

Had I known better, I would have done better.

We all have anchors that try to bog our souls down and keep us STUCK.  Calling them out and acknowledging their very existence is a good starting place (and in the Despacho, there is guidance to help you through the process.)

And they end, there is a package (literally) that you’ve created, tied up in a bow.  And you can either burn it, plant it, or let it go in moving water.

That Friday night’s date night was a walk to the Sarasota Bay at high tide…and letting go.

The symbolic gesture in itself was a mark in my life – a line in the sand and a decision that “no more” will the past have the power to shackle my future.

And I gotta say, some breakthroughs of varying sorts have emerged into the physical since that time.

And one thing I know for sure:

There will be more.

‘Cause as long as I’m living and breathing, I’ll be learning…and letting go.

 

Love it – here’s to finding our strength these coming two weeks, and letting go of anything that tries to sap our energy.

Love,
Brenda

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Truly Living is Risky Business

It’s risky to put yourself out there and decide to truly live. The idea that we can live fearlessly is a misnomer.  The trick is how we respond to fear.

Fear can keep you on the edge of the diving board, never taking the leap.  It can paralyze you in a moment of opportunity that slips away while you deliberate.

I’ve been on that end of fear and that’s where most of my regrets reside.

Lately I’ve been viewing fear from the aspect of “feeling excited and ready.”

That nervous bubble in the pit of my stomach is simply a reminder that I’m alive.

That’s a good thing.

A few Saturday nights ago, Mark and I were invited to a going away party for a mutual friend. She was taking off to start a new life in Sweden with a new love she met on vacation a year ago.  At the party, she was surrounded by the love of friends and family.  People offered toasts and well wishes, and there was an unspoken acknowledgement among us that this was indeed a risky move.

A new country.

A new relationship.

No guarantees that this would be her happily ever after.

The flip side?

Not taking the leap could haunt her forever with the question, “What if?”

At the end of the night, the guest of honor took the floor to thank those of us in attendance, and she said something really beautiful.

“I know this is a risk.  But I know I am safe to take it because of all of you.”

See, there are no guarantees that risky business will pay off.  But when it doesn’t, knowing you have people who love you; you will offer you their spare bedroom or let you call them at 2 AM is the comfort that softens the potential blow.

Did any of you watch America’s Got Talent?  There was this amazing acrobatic couple, Duo Transcend.  They specialized in risky, jaw-dropping moves that were downright dangerous.  Her life was in his hands.  His life was in hers.  The love energy between the two of them was palpable, making their feats even more thrilling.

On their last performance before the final, she dropped him.

We gasped!

Then realized, this was part of the act.

Out of the sight line of the cameras was a soft landing place for him to fall.

We all have that same safety net beneath us.

Rarely are the risks we take matters of life and death.  Mostly, they’re a leap from where we are to where we want to be. And if we end up being wrong about our desired destination, we can always course correct.

Don’t be afraid to try for fear of failing.  Failure isn’t fatal; it’s simply a detour; a building block to success.

We can all look over our shoulder and recall things that didn’t go according to plan, but life still went on and ended up exactly as it ought.

Lessons learned. Conflicts created clarity of purpose. Contrast revealed what we really want and don’t want.

Our happily ever after isn’t an ending place; rather, it’s a continual unfolding as we create the life we dare to live.

And there it is:  Dare to live.

Go for it.  Be afraid and act anyway. Feel the pounding in your chest and take the leap.

Be alive.

There is an underpinning of love and well-being that surrounds you, not only in those who love you here on earth but also in the unseen spiritual forces commissioned to keep you safe and sound.

If you knew that you couldn’t fail, would you do it?

More thoughts on RISK, including how this very blog was birthed, and the new WOW, coming right up:

Is there something you’re holding on to that you need to release?

Just as you are safe to take a risk, you are also safe to LET GO.

Have a beautiful couple of weeks!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Under the Influence Of…?

We are all under the influence of SOMETHING.

Back in the day, it was usually a nice red wine or a very naughty Grand Marnier.

Because my feelings were on lock-down, I had to numb them.

When I started to allow my feelings to rise to the surface (thanks to getting off of Zoloft and eliminating alcohol), those feelings made clear what was TRULY influencing me.

Good feelings? Happy thoughts? Joyful intentions and a positive outlook? That means I’m under the influence of Source/God/Spirit…however you choose to refer to the Divine.

Stressed? Anxious? Feeling insecure and inferior? Oh, I have just unplugged my connection and I am all caught up in what I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

The senses are very compelling, but they are only PART of the story.

There is a meta (above) physical reality that is FAR more powerful that what my senses can discern.

It is in THAT universe where unlimited potential, lavish abundance and boatloads of  creativity and inspiration reside.

One of the most powerful realizations of this past year has been that Brenda and Source are ONE.  I don’t have to strive for a connection; it is not sever-able.

I don’t have to be good enough, or praise enough, or be holy enough to make myself attractive to God.

That’s the unconditional part of love where traditional religion goes off track.

Conservative Christianity’s view that a God that is love – and unconditional love at that – could damn a soul to “hell” always troubled me; yet I was so entrenched, it terrified me to consider otherwise.  I felt guilty reading Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, yet I couldn’t pull myself away from the sense it made.

This awakening was the first of many to follow…and just like playing whack-a-mole, as soon as I learn something new I learn there’s more to learn.

We’re all on our own, individual journeys. Some of you are further down the road than I, and maybe I’m down the pike from where you are…but the best part is it doesn’t matter.

Ha! Doesn’t it often turn out that when you think you’re ahead you’re really behind (and vice-versa?)

This isn’t a competition.  No one has the corner on the market of spirituality and everyone has a little piece of the truth.

I have found that the safest, most peaceful space to live in is where love truly wins.

In that space, everyone wins.

My closing thoughts on awakening and the new WOW, coming right up!

Well, hello possibilities!  What risks are YOU going to take this week?

(I’m rooting for you!)

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Living It ‘Til You’re Learning It

I’m learning that some lessons are like Groundhog’s Day.  They don’t go away until they’ve done their work.

Have you hit your head against a familiar wall, time and time again?

Maybe it’s to stand up for yourself; embrace conflict and be assertive.

Perhaps your Achilles heel is to stop falling for the bad boys just because the chemistry rings your bell.

Or learning to say “No” to extra duties when your plate is completely full.

My Groundhog Day lesson? It always comes back to self-worth, ego, and the motivation for why I do what I do and want what I want.

Oh, my journey to Costa Rica settled many deep-rooted issues related to loving myself. There was no turning back from what was a uniquely healing experience. But, as life would have it, there are LAYERS of healing; layers of release; layers of understanding and, as was our Word of the Weeks, WISDOM.

When you feel less than, you have to produce MORE than.

Simple doesn’t cut it. Grand is required; success has to be super-sized.

Yes, I am a believer in abundance and that there’s plenty to go around, so yes, get me some! But lately there has been a shift to ask myself, “Why?”

Am I still trying to prove something to myself?

Or am I still that child seeking to finally win approval through my amazing performance?

Ugh.  THAT performance word again.

Well, I’m letting it rise up and smack me (gently) in the head and heart, because sometimes things have to come up again and around another way before you get the richness of release.

Here’s what I do know: I am trying too hard when I’m stressed.

Some of the best gifts of my life had nothing to do with how hard I worked to make them happen.

I want more of THAT.

And, side note to myself (and to you, too, if it helps): Everything doesn’t have to happen TOMORROW.

I tend to feel quite sensitive to the passage of time, and find myself urgently attempting to fit everything in before I die.

Which is a lousy way to live. Today. In the now.

Because today is the only today you get.

So I’m thinking it is wise to walk away from the desperation of stress-fueled achievement (and taking a nice LONG weekend to visit my friend Anita in Jacksonville just to wiggle my toes in the sand and accomplish NOTHING for the next few days.)

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

More thoughts on WISDOM, and a brand new Word of the Weeks (WOW):

May none of our AWAKENINGS be rude ones…instead, may we sense the gentle nudge of SPIRIT and see with new eyes and a wide open heart.

Love to you all!

Brenda

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Ode to a Natural Woman (and the New WOW)

The ultimate natural woman, Aretha Franklin, passed this week.

She was no record-company manufactured pop star.

She was the REAL deal.

So as we close out a couple of weeks where were focused on the word AUTHENTIC, it’s fitting to give the Queen of Soul her proper R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I remember her restaurant scene in the Blues Brothers and how she stole the show.

And how a King was moved to tears when the Queen sang Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors:

Here is the beauty of authenticity; it FLOWS like a river out of you.  Aretha’s singing was effortlessly, perfectly delivered from the depth of her soul.

She wasn’t trying to be anyone else. And inherently, she knew she didn’t need to be.  She had the goods! And she walked in her worth.

A Queen, indeed.

May we each Embrace Our Flawsomeness™ and authentically walk in our own worth. 

Let’s not focus on all the things we are NOT. For we ARE so many more.

Here are my closing thoughts on this life-word for me and a different spin on what makes us AUTHENTIC:

May you have all the WISDOM you need (and then then wisdom to walk in it!) this week.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Enthusiasm is Childlike (and the New WOW)

With my enthusiasm level running on empty this week, and since I’m learning to take cues from my feelings, I encouraged myself to disengage from my regularly scheduled life.

My office looks out over the apartment pool, and I love seeing the palm trees sway and hearing the soothing drip of the water spray.

The office view – but on a cloudy day, the chairs are empty!

I look, but I never venture OUT there during the week.

I’m something of a machine when I’m in work mode, and I don’t take kindly to interruptions when the highlight for me is crossing off items from my “to-do” list.

It was lunch time, though, and I was weary. Nothing on that “to-do” list beckoned me.

So I broke from tradition, put on a swimsuit, grabbed a towel and sunglasses, and gave myself a half-hour to refresh.

Within five minutes, I was sound asleep.

Those of you who know me understand that I am a world-class napper, and can zonk out in even an upright position.

After what was about 15 minutes, I felt a tickle on my foot.

It was as gentle as a feather, and I didn’t awake with a start. No, it was more like a sleepy eye-opening that revealed the culprit.

The most adorable three year old boy in the history of forever.

I actually thought HE was a SHE at first, because his hair was halfway down his back, all black and curly. He was trying to get from his mom’s chaise lounge to his dad in the pool, and I was in the way.

So he held on to my foot to find his own footing.

When I looked at him, he just grinned.

I was in love.

I then observed him splashing with abandon, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Next, a family with four little blonde babies came strolling in.  Three were little girls with bows in their hair to match their swimsuits…and Jack.

Jack was ALL boy.

Once he was fully entrenched in his safety gear, he proceed to jump.  Up and down.  And up and down again.  Then into the pool, squealing with joy.

There was no second-guessing or self-conscious “Who’s looking at me and do I look/jump/sound okay?”

This was pure, childlike enthusiasm.

Jack flirted with me as he splashed around the pool, knowing he had me at hello with the mischievous glint in his eyes.

But he didn’t know how he affected my heart.

Oh, to return to that place of childlike glee!

Did I ever even have it?

I remember being so self-aware of my 100-pound self as a child, I don’t think I ever HAD a moment that I wasn’t self-conscious.

But my word of the weeks  – and my word for the entire YEAR is ENTHUSIASM.

And by George…or, by Jack – I want to be like a child in my approach to life.

Children were my teachers this week, as you can see and hear from this week’s video:

In the spirit of authenticity and NOT being self-conscious, I am less than a week away from my first-ever open-to-the-public event in Sarasota.  I have 80 seats to fill and think that three tickets have been sold.

GULP.

But whether there are three or three HUNDRED, I’m going to give it my all, with childlike enthusiasm.  If you are in the neighborhood on August 11th, please come!  Even better, make my day and secure your seat by visiting:  https://www.sarasotacenteroflight.com/event/running-on-empty-raise-your-vibration

Most of all, if you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!

xoxoooox

Brenda

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