Tag Archives: acceptance

Acceptance, Rejection (and the New WOW)

I am on a quest for self-acceptance – warts and all.

Concurrently, I’m becoming more and more clear about what I will NOT accept.

Unkindness.  Disrespect.  A callous disregard for my feelings.  Injustices perpetrated against myself (or those I love.)

I’ve discovered a new fight in me!  Brenda 2.0 is feisty!  She’s not buying what you’re selling (unless it is anti-aging serum, of course!) and she’s not afraid to tell you want she wants.

Which means that some new friendships have a short shelf life.

I have become a careful observer of behaviors that previously slipped under the radar screen.  For instance, I welcomed  a new friend to town and invited her as my guest for lunch.  The second time, knowing she was finding her footing, I took her to lunch again.  The third time was coffee…and she didn’t even attempt to pay her way.  The fourth visit – at her request – was another lunch.  When the bill came, she made no moves to her own pocketbook.

Here’s the thing:  I LOVE being generous.  But I do not love feeling taken advantage of or taken for granted.

And it’s not just about money.  Another new friend started a challenging position and was dealing with a host of nerves.  Each time I saw her, I’d encourage her and ask how it was going.  I delighted to hear about her progress and how what started as a source of angst had become a blessing.

When we recently ran into each other, an impromptu meeting turned into a half-hour conversation.  A completely one-sided conversation; a running diatribe about her position, her boss and her sales.

Not once did she ask how I was.  I don’t even think she knows what I do for a living!

I took a careful mental note.

Is it me, or is everyone completely self-consumed these days?

I used to be perfect fodder for narcissists because I was a captive audience with such self-esteem and acceptance issues, it never occurred to me that I was being bamboozled.

No more.

Now, we all fall into the trap of selfishness sometimes.  I love my other new friend, who admitted that in a recent conversation I wasn’t allowed to get a word in edge-wise.

Yes, I left the conversation considering if we would ever have another – after all, this is NOT the phase of my life where I’m going to waste time on one-sided friendships.

Then he called to apologize for running away with the conversation.

The point isn’t being perfect, but it is being humble enough to see how our behavior affects each other.

What are YOU accepting that is beneath you?  More on this (and the new WOW):

Oh, well let me praise my SISTERS and BROTHERS, because I am RICH with their love and kindness.

My real friends?  We FIGHT over who will pay the bill.  We always check in to see how each other is doing and usually have to be FORCED to talk about ourselves.  These precious gems are fail -safe cheerleaders, humorists, supporters, confidants…and truly the family God has given me.

This week, I will not retreat into my ever-ready shell.  I’m callin’ on you, sisters and brothers!  I can’t do this life without you, nor would I want to try.

Who comes to mind when YOU think of a sister or brother of the heart?

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Will the True Brenda Please Stand Up? (and the New WOW)

In my recent Toastmasters speech, “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” I referred to the 80’s as my heyday of dance while acknowledging that my persona wasn’t a true reflection of Brenda.

The decade, for me, was all about image. Sky-high hair that defied gravity (thank you, Aqua Net) and four-inch Candies’ spike heels made me feel invincible when I entered the club. Combined with three layers of makeup and pronounced charcoal black-smudged raccoon eyes, I perfected my Philly tough-girl persona.

I wanted to look tough.

The victim of vicious bullying throughout my high school years, my reinvention intended to keep away those who would dare tread on my heart.

A dark haired Madonna, I looked like the Material Girl.

In truth, I was Like a Virgin.

The disconnect between that sassy chick on the dance floor, and the word-nerd, old-fashioned girl at my core led to a multitude of brief and failed romances.

The guys at the club dug the unattainable disco queen, but when the lights came on, they soon realized she was the kind of girl you take home to Mom. And skedaddled to the next conquest.

All those years of wishing and hoping someone would fall in love with the true ME, it never occurred to me to…well, BE me.

An exhausting and destructive pattern had been established.  I went from the club girl Madonna to the church girl (aka Joyce Meyers or fill in your favorite Tammy Faye-ish) preacher.

DISCLAIMER: This is not to say I wasn’t sincere in my ministry, because I was. But the church became yet another stage on which to perform.  Because of its toxic nature, on the rare occasions that I dared to allow my true self to emerge, the leaders brutally punished/counseled/scolded me.

Oh, and then I got married.

I think back to my wedding day and am so grateful that it happened.  I always wanted the handsome man at the end of the aisle; a church full of people applauding my dream come true; the dance party scripted to my specifications.

I loved my wedding day.

Because of the toxic and backwards nature of the church, though, I rarely had alone time with my husband prior to the wedding.  He often joked that our first “date” was the night we got engaged.  And it wasn’t a joke.

We were two strangers who were crazy about each other and thought that would be enough to make it work.

And, to do so, I did what I do (or did) best.  I performed the hell out of it.

A life-changing trip with my girlfriends in 2016 (and a mini-breakdown from emotional exhaustion – performing sucks the life out of you!) revealed that I was burning myself out while trying to be who everyone wanted me to be.

In the process, I had lost ME.

Mind you, if my performance-based approach to life had been working for me, I would have kept it up.  It took 50+ years for me to realize that no matter how beautifully I performed, it didn’t make anyone else truly happy.  

Least of all, me.

What follows is a bit vulgar and not language I normally use in my writings. To those who might be offended, I apologize in advance.

Concurrently, I’m not apologizing for using this photo. Because this is part of the TRUE me! I find this to be funny!:

I remember seeing this card and laughing out loud.

It’s true.  Not so much the “F word” part, but the things I say and do today are far different from Brenda 1.0.

Discovering the true me – and the true you – is the quest of a lifetime. It takes honesty, bravery, and huge doses of unconditional self-love. 

But this is my one shot to be Brenda Viola. For the first time since my early 20’s I finally have given myself permission to be her.

I hope you like her, but if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Sometimes I don’t like her!

But I always love her.  And I hope you love the true YOU, too.

Parting thoughts on AUTHENTICITY and the new WOW, coming up!:

What a beautiful word to embrace this week!

Be KIND to you and others.

We can never have too much of that, can we?

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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I Vant to Be Alone! (and the New WOW)

Did you ever want to run away and just be alone?

It’s no one’s fault (although I sometimes try to place blame), but every now and again I have this urge to pack a bag, disappear, and not be heard from for about a month.

In my fantasies, my place of escape is a little apartment over top of a restaurant or other storefront above the cobbled streets of Sorrento, Italy.  No one would know me and I could do my favorite thing – wander – with no expectations or obligations to fulfill.  Deadlines, be gone! Projects, phooey!

Imagine the thrill of no guilt for falling short, running late; no need to procrastinate and no one clamoring for my attention.  

(Yes, Shasta – I’m talking about YOU.  And your Daddy.)

Aaaaahhh, the beautiful respite of PEACE (our Word of the Week) and quiet.

I do like my own company. And I don’t usually annoy myself.

There’s a reason why those old “Calgon, take me away…” commercials resonated with an entire generation of women.

Still, I know in my heart of hearts that true peace is not circumstantial – and you don’t have to sequester yourself to enjoy it.

The culprits of my unease this past week could all be tied to ruminating…obsessing…overthinking – and trying to control things (and people) beyond my control.

As the captain of my ship, only I could “right” it.

It didn’t happen instantaneously.  It started with soul-sucking depression.

Then I remembered:  Anxiety in the heart causes depression.  I did a little digging and found this, “Aha!”:

Yes, that is my familiar flaw – falling into the performance trap.  Wanting everyone to love me and approve of me.

Can you relate?

It was like having a spiritual cold.  All I wanted to do was stay in bed and eat carbohydrates.  And on a week where PEACE should win!

The good news is, I am no longer comfortable sustaining soul-ish lows.  Formerly my comfort zone, I kicked that way of life to the curb many years ago.

I simply refuse to waste this life being anything other than full of enthusiasm and expectancy.

So I made a decision, which didn’t miraculously change the way I felt.

I followed up on that decision with actions and simply kept doing what I knew to do to jump start my heart and get me back to peace and joy: Exercise. Evicting negative thoughts. Talking to wise and spiritual people. Eating healthy food. Forcing myself to smile. Counting my blessings.

Until I felt like me again.

No, peace shouldn’t be circumstantial, but unless we can run away to Sorrento and script other peoples’ responses to us, the circumstances sometimes do rob us of that peaceful, easy feeling.

That’s normal.

But thank God, my new normal isn’t STAYING there.

As my heart’s love tank slowly begins to re-fill, I’m looking forward to the new Word of the Week, too!:

Well there we go!

Permission to get our hopes up!

Have a beautiful week, everyone – full of EXPECTING good things.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Blessed vs. Stressed (and the New WOW)

Inflexibility renders me STRESSED, not blessed.

Here’s what trips me up: I am an ultra-prepared person.  When I deem something important, I mark it on my calendar, plan what to wear, make notes on my goals, leave early to arrive early and show up with my tank full of readiness.

Yes, I am a goody-two-shoes in matters of preparedness, and as a result I expect everything to go according to plan.

My mantra?  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Wouldn’t it be great if life followed the script of such simple equations?

Ah, but then there would be no need for flexibility.

One of my 2017 goals is to up my public speaking game, obtain certification and yes, to win a national speaking contest.  My course charted, I joined the local Toastmasters group in Sarasota.

I’ve spoken publicly for years and years and have no fear at all when it comes to saying my piece. It is a joy to conduct workshops and training seminars around the country in my spare time, and, as my Mom likes to say, “Give Brenda a microphone and she’s in her glory.”

Desiring to take this part of my life to the next level, by good fortune I met a young man who – through Toastmasters – entered a national speaking competition, subsequently secured a book deal and now speaks for a living. He’s living his dream.

So to Toastmasters I went, and it is HEAVEN for word nerds, grammarians and lovers of the art of speech (yes, there really are people out there like this.  People like me!)

They actually count the number of times you say “um” or use throw away words and poor grammar; vocabulary and staying within the prescribed time counts and you are publicly evaluated for each and every spoken way you participate in the meeting.

Stressed by such rigors? No way! For people like me, it’s a total rush.

Run like a well-oiled machine, these meetings are ULTRA prepared with assignments for the forthcoming week scheduled at meetings’ end.  Jumping right into the fray, I signed up for my first mini-speech – a two-minute exhortation to kick off the next Wednesday night.

Oh yes – you bet I was prepared.  When my message finally crystallized, I wrote it out, timed it, practiced it over and over, refined it, timed it again, made Duane listen to it repeatedly and by the time Wednesday rolled around, I was bursting with the promise of what would be a glorious debut.

I departed early to be in my place with a bright shiny face well in advance of my slot in the agenda.

On the drive, I practiced my two-minutes.

I practiced so much that I missed my turn.

And ended up 10 minutes out of my way, resulting in an unforeseen detour.

Which planted me directly in the middle of the aftermath of a horrendous traffic accident.

I would definitely be late.

Living the seven stages of grief, I rested on anger for quite a while.  “This is not fair!  I was so prepared!  I left so EARLY!”

Despair had a field day, too.  Sadness, too.  It took much of the stalled time in traffic to finally get to acceptance.

This was beyond my control. If I missed my turn to speak and my hard work been for naught…it would not be the end of the world.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall bend and not break.

Yes, I arrived, and just in time for my spot on the agenda!  Had I stayed stressed and freaked out, I’d  would have been too flustered to stand and deliver my speech.

A speech, ironically, entitled, “Enjoy the Journey.”

HA!

More thoughts on being flexible here – and an interesting new WOW:

Sometimes the very discernment needed comes from asking yourself, “Will this really matter in five years?”

Is the answer no? Let it go.  Relinquish the white-knuckled grip on that thing trying to steal your joy!

Have a blessed (not stressed) week, my friends.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Sisters and Brothers from Another Mother (and the New WOW)

Don’t you love when friends turn into sisters and brothers?

This week I was reminded of how my circle of friends has widened since moving to Sarasota. My first six months were spent in tears of loneliness. Would I ever find my tribe?

I’d go to get my nails done and actually look around for potential friends. (You know, like in the children’s book, “Are You My Mother?”  only the “Are you My Future Friend?” version.)

Thank GOD for my main posse, who were my anchors during those stormy (and lonely) months. Renee the kind comforter; Anita the soulful listener; Cynthia the sassy sophisticate. They never failed to “show up” for me.  Because they are so GOOD at being sister friends, I made the mistake of comparing everyone new that I met to them.  Who could measure up?

Then there’s my sister sister, Shirlee, who is an earth angel.  I won the sister lottery when I was born, and she’s a gift that keeps on giving me tidings of comfort and joy.

There are the friends you hardly see at ALL (unfortunately)…but they are THERE.  If I needed Cindy or Roseann, Judy, Linda, Hilary or Antoinette, at a moment’s notice they’d drop everything on a dime to lend their wisdom or kindness without judgment.

When I finally began to relax (and stop whining), a new bouquet of budding friendships emerged. Five-foot-nothing, southern belle Kyle instantly became a huge connector and cheerleader who never fails to make me smile.  Karen, who I always introduce as my “two-time-published author” friend has proven to be a true go-to for impromptu adventures and rich conversations. My new across-the-street neighbor Darcy looks like Blake Lively (and I won’t hold that against her) because she makes me feel like her most favorite person in the world (and who doesn’t love feeling like THAT?)

I’ve got two Kim’s – my cousin as well as a long-lost friend from ages ago who came back into my life this year.  You couldn’t find two bigger hearts so full of love.

There’s all of you out there that I’ve never met, but you have become my sisters.  Suzan Alexander, can you feel the love?

I can’t forget the guys. John, my brother, sings Sinatra to me and no matter what my week is like, it heals or lifts my heart. Eric, my favorite collaborator, is always learning new things and sharing them with me, while being a genuinely kind man. Doug, who calls me “lass”, notices new shoes and hairdos (and, along with the other Sarasota Lounge Lizards made Sarasota finally feel like home.)

That really is what our sisters and brothers of the heart do for us.  They make us feel at home in this world.

We go back with them…and we go forward.

I say all of this with a heart full of gratitude and love along with a little fear and trepidation that I have certainly left someone out who should be named.  If you were omitted, part of the reason I love you is because you are so wonderfully forgiving.

I count on that breath of kindness from my sisters and brothers.  No matter how much is in your bank account as you read this, if you have at least one sibling of the heart, you (and I) are rich.

Now for the new Word of the Week!

Hmmmmmm!  I’ll admit to a teeny buzz-kill when I pulled the word OBEDIENCE. However, if history continues to repeat itself, I’ll find some nuggets in the week ahead for which I’ll end up being grateful.

Who are your sisters and brothers of the heart?  And how have they impacted your life?

xoxoxox

Brenda

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WOW (Word of the Week) for 9.27.15

Just as I had settled into a nice, easy take on WILLINGNESS (i.e., bad hair days and dancing in the rain) I came face to face with a far more weighty situation that I was NOT initially WILLING to face.

What were the telltale signs?

Hurt.  Anger.  Justification.  Torment. Despair.  Depression.

My entire arsenal of defense mechanisms kicked in…but in that space there is no resolve.

In fact, for some of life’s hardest junctures, there simply is no resolve.  You can’t change the past.

But there is always a choice here in the present.

Will I choose love or fear?

And if someone hurt me (or I hurt them) – am I WILLING to forgive us both?

Life can be a running string of regrets and offenses when fear and unforgiveness win.

I choose love.

I choose forgiveness.

And when the past comes back to haunt you with your failures, take comfort in Maya Angelou’s words:  When you know better you do better.

In other words:

Every hard fought lesson learned is a building block.

Yes, Brenda 2.0 fell short.  But that was 15 versions ago.  And I am NOT willing to hold myself hostage an obsolete version of me.  And I hope you won’t, either.

Which is quite a preamble to this week’s WOW.  When I recorded this, I was a bit at a loss…but now I see – all the pieces of life work together as a tapestry.  If you look closely, you’ll see ugly bits of fabric and lovely ones, too.  Focusing on just the one or the other causes you to miss the full picture, which is a combination of it all.

We all have failures and regrets in this life.  But what did you do with them?

Did you change and grow and evolve and learn?  Do you know better and then do better?

Then stop obsessing over that ugly bit of fabric.  It’s just one piece of you.  Yes, it may be the only thing that others see, but that is their choice.

You can choose to see through the lens of love and forgiveness.  And when you do, you can see how all the little pieces have come together – and continue to come together – to make you who you are today.

What does SYNTHESIS mean to you?

 

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