Tag Archives: Anne Lamott

In Praise of Predictability

In 2020, predictability went AWOL.

2020’s trademark? Wild unpredictability. Trips canceled, work pivoting to remote (or shutting down), kids homeschooling, mask-wearing, social distancing, and zooming instead of in-person interaction…all upending our idea of normal.

Which is why the Hallmark Channel calls to me every day of this yummy week off from work.

Most of my “vacation” days really aren’t that at all. Taken to accomodate a doctor’s visit with mom (or myself) or to deliver a virtual speaking event, I’ve failed at separating work from everyday life.

And then, all of a sudden – NOVEMBER.

What?

How can it be that 2020 is in the home stretch? It feels like just yesterday the rug was pulled out from under us all (and remains pulled). This Groundhog’s Day of staying put and isolated forced me – finally – to say, “Enough!”

If you’re going to be off, be OFF.

So this week I slept in. Meditated and listened to spa music. Baked the first batches of mom-mom’s raisin bread. And actually activated (for the first time in 2020) my out-of-office e-mail message.

So THIS is what people do on a day off!

“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”

– ANNE LAMOTT

While covering my kitchen with a thin layer of flour and practically burning the motor on my Kitchen Aid mixer with the sticky paste of raisin bread dough, Mark suggested I enjoy some holiday shows during the baking festivities.

Sucked in like a dust bunny to a vacuum, I was instantly hypnotized.

After three days of shows, all with either Christmas or Angel in the title, I realized the allure of these formulatic mini-movies.

They are predictable.

And in a year when NOTHING has been predictable, the comfort and joy of knowing what’s going to happen (and that the ending will be happy) warmed my heart.

For the uninformed, here are the five things you can always expect from a Hallmark movie:

  1. City woman/man consumed by work goes to small town where the Christmas spirit is alive and well.
  2. Main character falls for man/woman who embodies the Christmas spirit.
  3. Two or three near kisses are interrupted by snowballs, children*, or elderly characters (who may or may not be Santa and Mrs. Claus).
  4. A misunderstanding ensues, causing both parties to retreat from love.
  5. A Christmas miracle brings everyone together at the end for a guaranteed happy ending.

Why the asterisk after children?

In the Roach/Viola household, we’ve uncovered a common subtext in each Hallmark (or Lifetime) Christmas movie.

Mark coined the phrase, rendering me doubled over with giggles.

It’s the “Little Shitter” factor.

Please excuse the salty description, but I have to be true to the moment.

He walked in during my third or fourth consecutive show and said enthusiastically, “Hey! There’s the Little Shitter!”

What?

“Yeah. There’s alway a Little Shitter that shows up.”

What’s a Little Shitter, you ask?

It’s any child under the age of 10 deployed to evoke feelings of tenderness and manipulate the story so you root for the two main characters to finally kiss.

If you’d like to play along, next time you watch, look for the Little Shitter (LS). The winner is the first to shout “There’s the Little Shitter!” And if you’re so inclined, take a sip of hot cocoa (or cider, or mulled wine – three other minor props that unfailingly play a role in these Christmas movies) when you see the LS.

In a year when holiday gatherings lack the festive trappings of days gone by, a little escapism into predictability can warm the cockles of your heart.

And my wish for you – and your own Little Shitters – is that gratitude fills your hearts and spills over into a 2021 that is (hopefully) WAY more fun.

While this post is all about praise for predictability, my recent video was about the inevitability of change:

https://youtu.be/YCn-_bJ7KvM

Let your heart’s delight!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Give Me Just a Little More Time

Time flies, even when you’re NOT having fun.

I love the old song Give Me Just a Little More Time. Though the rest of the sentence is “…and our love will surely grow…” you could just stop it at the time part for me.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just supersize your day and tack on an extra three hours when needed?

Three extra hours!

I’d nap, for sure. I’d get that long overdue pedicure. Write some notes to people I love. Maybe even wander downtown or hit the gym far more often.

You know your life is out of balance when the reminder postcard from your dentist is three months old.

Seriously, how did life get so busy that I can’t make time to get my teeth cleaned!

This was one of my most-liked posts these past two weeks, and I know it strikes a chord with many of us:

I hear you! “How can I sit and so nothing when there is so much to DO???”

But to paraphrase the great writer Anne Lamott: “Everything works better after you unplug it. Including you.”

One of the drawbacks of being an optimist is that I think I can keep adding stuff to my plate. Which is now a Thanksgiving-turkey-sized platter. And soon I’ll need a trough if I don’t start saying NO.

By the way, no one is forcing me to do anything. I get excited and I volunteer myself for all kinds of endeavors.

So how do I know when I’m out of balance? When I’m too busy to hear my inner guidance system.

If I don’t check in with myself on a regular basis, I easily lose my way. I forget that I am pure positive energy with limitless potential, creating my life, one thought at a time. Instead, I react to life as if playing whack-a-mole instead of being intentional about it.

And when I’m all caught up in the time suck tizzy of projects, plans, deadlines, and obligations, I’m out of sync with the REAL me.

Pulling this word “balance” has been a real wake-up call for me.

The greatest truth? No one can get me back into balance but ME. Just like I can’t blame anyone else for getting me OUT of balance.

So it’s time to start saying no to some things. Time to cancel some plans. And un-supersize my plate. You, too?

https://youtu.be/f0A_Ouwzad4

I love how this new word perfectly aligns with the call to restore balance in our lives.

Wishing you wisdom and grace to say no – and let go…

Love,
Brenda

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WOW (Word of the Week) for 9.6.15

Happy Labor Day weekend!

I set a new world’s record for napping this week, which is one of my favorite things to do, along with reading good books and meeting new people. It was a wonderful vacation, though not at all what I expected when we booked this cruise to Alaska. (You’ll find out why when you hear my preamble to this week’s video reveal…)

Last week’s word was TRUTH and I realized the importance of stepping away from the daily routine and unplugging my electronic devices to come to terms with what was really going on INSIDE of me.

We can blame our frustrations on other people and their behaviors, but this course leads to no resolve. Instead, taking the time to reflect and ask questions like, “WHY does this person annoy me so much?” or “Why do my buttons always get pushed in this particular scenario?” resulted in valuable answers.

My TRUTH revealed this week is that I have been trying to be superwoman to prove my worth in my professional and personal life. Anything that seems to shine a light on imperfection or a failure flares up a turmoil that results in responses that are LESS than my best me.

And really, is my worth wrapped around how quickly I respond to e-mails? Sounds silly when written out…

I was UNPLUGGED this week and the world didn’t end.

This inflated sense of self is really the other side of the coin of low self esteem.

I have decided that henceforth I can only do my best. Anything more or anything less is just me trying to compensate for fears…

…and signals that I’m not voting with LOVE, which is my highest aim.

I’ve felt a low-level anxiety leave this week, and it’s not invited back. I do not want to be driven to produce. I want life and projects and friendships to FLOW as spillover of my love tank being full.

Note to self:  If you’re love tank is empty, FILL IT.  Stop looking to other people to do it for me!

So THIS week’s WOW is a great opportunity to put all that I learned into play. Here we go!

What’s that?  I think I actually heard some of you thinking, “Well, I’m just not a creative person…”

HOGWASH!

Every time you’ve thought “outside of the box” or dreamed a dream for your life, you’ve been creative.  Every imagination that led to an action was YOU, creating your life.

This week, I’m going back to the best book I ever read about creativity, The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.  My sister recommended it highly; my niece, Deena created the cards we pull each week after reading it, and my friend Renee surprised me with the book, workbook and a daily meditation based on the book one Christmas.  So rich with insight, I’ve picked it up and put it down again a multitude of times in recent years, and I discover something new each time.

So from the chapter “Spiritual Electricity:  The Basic Principles” is a great foundation from which to begin our week:

How do you know if you are creatively blocked?  Jealousy is an excellent clue.  Are there artists whom you resent?  Do you tell yourself, “I could do that, if only…”  Do you tell yourself that if only you took your creative potential seriously you might:

  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s too late.”
  • Stop waiting until you make enough money to do something you’d really love.
  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s just my ego” whenever you yearn for a more creative life.
  • Stop telling yourself that dreams don’t matter, that they are only dreams and that you should be more sensible.
  • Stop fearing that your family and friends would think you crazy.
  • Stop telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and you should be grateful for what you’ve got.

Brenda speaking here:  Have you heard those voices in your head?

Me too.

I shout through the computer:  IT’S NOT TOO LATE!  YOUR DREAMS MATTER!

And yes, let’s be grateful for what we have, but never diminish the part of you yearning for more.

Let’s nurture our creativity this week; make some messy stabs at building something new; applaud our missteps as they lead us closer to our dreams…

The biggest concept around our WOW is that WE are the creators of our own life story.  Our free will, our imaginations, our choices; the respect given to our dreams and heart’s desires…they all combine to write the novel that can be our happy ending.

Yes, I believe in the grace of God (oh boy, do I!) and Divine intervention.  But too often we hide behind these truths and never get about the business of doing OUR part.

So let’s do our part this week, and write an exciting chapter in our lives.

How do you see creativity playing out in your life this week?

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