Tag Archives: Clarity

Your Masterpiece is YOU (and the New WOW)

For our entire lives, we’ve been working on a masterpiece.

We may not call ourselves creative and a paintbrush may never have graced our hands – still, we are artists.

On my 4+ hour drive to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my friend Anita and her family, I had good company.  Joining me on the open road was the audio book of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Voice of Knowledge.”  A new friend had shared with me that Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” deeply affected his life for good. He highly recommended the trilogy of Toltec Wisdom Books.

The word “Toltec” means “artist of the spirit.” In the Toltec tradition, every human is an artist, and the supreme art is the expression of the beauty of our spirit. To consider that we are artists (rather than mere humans), makes us creators – just like the One Who created us.

From page 47 of The Voice of Knowledge:

How do we live our life? This is our art; the art of living.

There are two kinds of artists.  Those who create their story without awareness, and those recover awareness and create their story with truth and with love.

To think that I – that WE – hold the paintbrush to our lives is an awesome realization.  Is there something that doesn’t fit into our vision of truth and love?  Paint over it.  Create something new.  We have the power to do this.

We were BORN to write our own story and have everything we need to make it a work of art.  Yes, people will come along who will try to impose on us what THEY think our lives should look like.

When I handed over the paintbrush to other people, I became something other than the authentic Brenda.

It has taken many years to get her back.  As the song goes, “Reunited and It feels SO good!

This passage from page 68 excited my spirit so much I wanted to share it with you:

You are the only one who can change your story, and you do this by changing your relationship with yourself.

Every time you change the main character in your story, just like magic the whole story starts to change in order to adapt to the new main character.

I think of one of my favorite movies of all time, Frequency, in which the main character is able to connect to his long-deceased Father through a miraculous ham radio.  At one point he mentions that “cigarettes will kill, you Dad…” as an off-handed comment.

Long story short, that suggestion led to a decision by his Father that resulted in him changing the course of his life…and his death.  The script was rewritten.

I consider my decision four years ago to stop drinking.  After years of wrestling with, “Do I have a problem?” I heard clearly in my spirit that if I kept it up, I would die prematurely.  When tempted to sip a Cosmopolitan, I have reminded myself of that revelation to keep me from turning back.

The clarity of sobriety has graced me with so many gifts; most importantly, a clearness about what I want my life to be and who I want Brenda to be.  It has afforded me a newfound ability to call a lie a lie and step away from pretense and performance.  Being clear gave me the courage to walk away from those things that no longer “fit” the true me…and the health in mind, body and spirit to enjoy a new way of living.

It was the first domino in a series that led to removing Zoloft from my life, journeying to Costa Rica to get back in touch with my wounded soul and begin this journey to wholeness.

What a ripple effect!

I’m sure there will yet be many more changes to the main character of my story, but my point in writing is to encourage YOU to take that paintbrush and adjust your masterpiece accordingly.

Paint your beautiful life with broad strokes of love and truth, my friends.

And what a great word to follow up these thoughts on CREATIVITY:

What a wonderful assignment for all of us!  It is NEVER too late to be who you “might have been.”

I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday to be celebrated year-round…and my heart is overflowing with gratitude for this life I get to live (and create!).  I’m so blessed to share it with you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Clarity is Not for Sissies (and the New WOW)

This is NOT a manifesto against anti-depressants, but tells of MY journey to true clarity and the role that Zoloft (Sertraline) played in clouding matters.

You know that close to four years ago, I stopped drinking.  Haven’t had a glass of anything since November 11, 2013.  (Note:  It gives me goosebumps that I quit on 11:11, which is a power number. It seems the universe parted the waters that day, making a clear path for me to exit tipsy-land.)

Let me re-think the use of the word “tipsy.”  It is a euphemism, as is buzzed, to describe an altered state that numbs you from the pain of life.  

Such words make you feel better about being a drunk.

I quit alcohol because every bad decision or regretted remark or action in my life emanated from a booze-fueled state. Tired of being embarrassed, I no longer wanted to be voted “Most likely to break something” at every party. Some major falls led to a serious reckoning with how simply dangerous it was to navigate steps and life with a high blood alcohol content.

For me, clarity came when I heard in my spirit “If you keep this up, this is how you will die.”

Gulp.

So 2013 marked a new phase of clarity in my life.

Clarity is not for sissies.  You begin to observe things that didn’t bother you before; overlooked slights now hurt.  Suddenly, there’s fight in you, because you start to believe that you are worth better.

Sobriety and self-respect go hand in hand. As my self-worth grows, my capacity to tolerate disrespect shrinks.

Wait, Brenda – I thought you were going to talk about anti-depressants?

I am.

Sobriety fueled my recent life decisions.  What may have seemed to outsiders as a crazy, “Where did THAT come from?” action when I left my marriage, those who know me know I’ve never been more in my right mind.

But that action was just a beginning.

I’ve been on a quest for HONESTY.

As I continued to ask myself the questions necessary to peel away layers of dishonesty, I kept returning to a nagging question mark: My 10-year affair with Zoloft.

In the beginning years of my marriage, we went to Christian counseling.  The only thing I got out of it was a prescription.

Truly, that first 50 mg pill seemed like a magic bullet.  Perhaps psychosomatic, nevertheless, I felt instantly happier, more able to cope, less irritable and more tolerant.

When entering menopause, the script increased to 75 mg. When we moved to Florida, my new doctor upped it to 100 mg.

Patients should obey their doctors, right?

I visited my sister last year and one of my little blue pills fell on the bathroom floor.  She found it and, with trepidation, asked me what I was on.

I thought nothing of telling her – after all, my healthcare provider prescribed the drug!

The counselor had drawn a little cartoon that showed how serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) would build a little bridge to my brain, helping the happy feelings get back where they belonged.

Shirlee, unimpressed by the analogy but without judgment, encouraged me to read about the impacts of these drugs and to consider weaning off of Zoloft.  It took many months, but for me, the evidence was clear.  If I didn’t get off, I’d be on this drug for the rest of my life.

Thus began Brenda Clear Phase 2.0.

My doctor, knowing of my pending divorce said, “Do you really think this is the best time to detox?”

Taking control of my own body and decisions that affect it, I said, “Yes. This is the very best time.”

Since early June I have been on a steadily-decreasing prescription of Zoloft and last week, went to zero.

Clarity is not for sissies.

My body revolted angrily against the disappearing drug. Irritation has returned, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, sleeplessness, headaches, cramping – yep, it’s been a real joy ride. But here’s the flipside: I FEEL again.

Yes, the difficult feelings were numbed, but so were the GOOD ones.  I now laugh more, cry more, and am more deeply touched by music and words and people.

I am alive.

Eventually, the physical symptoms will disappear.  It’s worth it to plow through them to get to the REAL ME.

I’ve missed Brenda.  It’s wonderful to get to know her again.

Here are my parting thoughts on CLARITY and the new WOW:

Hot diggity! (Wow, there’s a first-time use of THAT phrase.)

Let’s be INSPIRED this week.

Oh, and if my anti-depressant story has tugged at your heart, let me add that you should never cold turkey SSRIs.  There’s a careful way of weaning that your doctor can guide you through.  If INSPIRED to make a similar decision, I’m rooting for you.

And if you are not, please do not feel judged.  Everyone is on a different journey.  Some people have experienced great relief in temporary use of these drugs to get over a rough patch.  However, in my case, I found myself ten years later using the drug as an emotional crutch.

After finally ditching the crutches, I am learning to walk – and I hope to eventually fly.

xooxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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New Joys (and the New WOW)

What I love about life is that there is always something new right around the corner (if you are open to it) that can bring you an unexpected jolt of joy.

It has always been important to me to stay up-to-date on what the cool kids are doing.

That’s why I subscribe to my Entertainment Weekly magazine.  Even if I don’t read all of those recommended books, download the top songs or Netflix and chill with the latest TV, I at least don’t have a befuddled look of someone out of touch with the present day.

Now that I no longer share a TV (silver lining of living alone!), a whole world of pop culture has opened up to me. No, I’m still a Game of Thrones virgin, but I am completely caught up on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, fell in love with The Good Place and out of the blue, a dear friend sent me a CD that had me sobbing juicy, snotty tears.

I love a good cry, don’t you?

Believe me, I’ve had plenty of BAD ones.  Good cries bring the same kind of release that a sweaty Zumba class offers.  The last two pop culture cries that really “did it” for me were The Notebook (zero makeup left by the end of the film) and The Art of Racing in the Rain. (Best. Book. EVER.)

My friend, knowing that I was facing a challenging time, sent me Moana.  Are you familiar with this Disney animated film?  Well, you should be.  Not having given birth, Disney is not usually in my wheelhouse, but my beloved friends Anna Coker hit the ball out of the park with this gift.

Moana is a lovely little island girl with huge almond eyes and is destined to be the next island leader.  Her father, the Chief, guides her in the ways of the land – but warns her not to ever venture beyond the reef.  He paints the picture of danger and destruction and how she has everything she will ever need right there on the beautiful island. Why leave?

But the ocean calls her.  From the time she was a baby, she was drawn to be a wayfarer – to go to distant lands.

She doesn’t want to be a bad daughter, but she also wants to follow her heart.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to something MORE, but hesitated because you didn’t want to disappoint the people you love, you will LOVE Moana. 

I won’t tell you any more because you need to see it for yourself.  And have a good cry.

And when you do, this clip will make more sense.  It is now on repeat on my iTunes playlist:

If you have seen the film (it came out in 2016; where have I been?!), please let me know your thoughts.  Also, have you found something NEW that brings you joy?  Please share! My pop-culture “to do” list is growing by leaps and bounds, but it makes me happy.

Closing thoughts on JOY and the new WOW, coming right up!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are worth getting answers!

xoxoxox

Love,

Brenda

 

 

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Detours to Clarity and the New WOW

Our mother-daughter shopping adventure began miraculously.  We landed at a bridal salon called “The Perfect Dress.”  When mom described what she envisioned wearing to her granddaughter’s wedding, the lovely lady assisting us nodded with recognition.

This was a good sign.

She pulled out a gorgeous, flow-y, chiffon dream of an outfit.  It was simply stunning and mom looked just amazing in it.

The look of joy on Mom’s face made me say, “Ole Jed’s a millionaire!  We hit the jackpot on the very first try!” I began snapping photos and texting my sister with the good news.

Surely, I lived a charmed life.

Until they brought out the color swatches and her hoped-for shade wasn’t available.  And to order this perfect outfit would mean biting our fingernails to see if it could be delivered in time; equally unsure that it would not require alterations.

The potential angst led us to decide that with all of the yet un-tried shops in Sarasota, there had to be something on a rack somewhere that fit the bill perfectly.

Let me just say that the sheer fact that mom and I didn’t off each other in the process of driving hundreds of miles, sampling dozens of outfits and speaking to scores of retailers is a minor miracle.  We did Sarasota, Venice, Fisherman’s Village, Bradenton, University Park.

A tipping point was when one not-so-helpful clerk said, “Gees…if you couldn’t find anything in Sarasota, you’ll NEVER find anything.”

Glares ensued.

The frustration built to a crescendo until a moment of…CLARITY.

Wait a minute!  Why don’t we go back to that very FIRST shop and see if we can pull that magical outfit right off of the rack and take it with us?

(By now, the color was inconsequential.  Nothing else made her feel as wonderful as outfit #1.)

True, there were no guarantees that the store would allow us to buy a sample .  But I was willing to slit my wrists, hand over my American Express, kneel and plead to take that @#$%# outfit out of the store.

We left, outfit in hand.

But the point of the story is that sometimes it takes TIME to have your “aha” moment.

Wouldn’t it be great to just wake up in the morning and know EXACTLY what you needed to do, what to say yes and no to and how to navigate the day?

I’m still waiting for my script to show up.

This wedding reception outfit story is simply meant to encourage you NOT to give up.

At some point, you’ll know.  And when you know, you can DO.

There are far more important decisions in life than what to wear.  Along those lines, here are my parting thoughts on CLARITY as well as the new Word of the Week (which you’re gonna LOVE!!!):

Oh yes, friends.  I am celebrating a successful trip with mom and that a gorgeous outfit is going home with her today.

I’m also looking forward to celebrating every little thing this week.

Won’t you join me?

xoxoxox

Brenda

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A Visit from Mom and the New WOW for 4.3.16

Thanks to a visit from my mom, I have learned once again to SURRENDER any and all preconceived ideas of what 80 should look and act like.

First of all, she’s got so many likes and friend requests on Facebook (she doesn’t say yes to them all) there’s never a lack of people to chat with on a given day.

When we stroll through a shopping center or grab a bite to eat, SHE’S the one that turns heads. Methinks if she lived here in Florida, she’d have a host of potential boyfriends vying for her attention.

The fabulous John Russo sang to her on Friday night and I don’t think I’ve seen her smile so brightly.  He has that same effect on me.  Oh, and if 80 is the new sixty, 93 also blew my mind.

At the restaurant on Friday night, John introduced us to Shirley, a spry 93-year-old who tap danced along to his songs.

I felt young and invigorated and remembered that it’s never too late to live life fully.

Here are more thoughts on surrender, and the new WOW:

What’s crazy about this pick (and why I looked so surprised by it) was that it is ALSO the very same word selected by my company to be its quarterly theme – so I’ve been thinking a lot about clarity already.

And I’m ready for some!  How about you?

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Truth, Lies and the New WOW (Word of the Week)

Our WOW was TRUTH and never have I received such a response to a simple post that emanated from a REALLY tough weekend.

Another example of how your MESS becomes your MESSAGE.

Those of you who aren’t into Facebook make have missed out, so I am putting it here because what I was grappling with bears repeating:

So in the midst of our WOW (which is TRUTH) I have had a few revelations about LIES.

They don’t always come from sleazy salespeople or sweet talking guys you meet at a bar.

The most dangerous lies lodge in your mind.

They jump on a perceived slight and try to settle in with a whole story to support the negative jolt of feelings. They prey on a fear – usually your worst fear – and try to set up housekeeping to erode your joy.

After an attack of particularly hurtful messages in my head this weekend, I realized that instead of playing with them, entertaining them and helping them stay lodged between my ears (which ultimately sinks down into my heart), I needed to DISCARD them.

Why give credit to every message that pops up in your head?

And how do you KNOW its a lie? Well, if the TRUTH sets you free (it may upset you at first, but ultimately it brings freedom), a LIE puts you in bondage. LIES have a posse that includes anxieties, insecurities, torments and overall soul-sucking properties.

Lies

Let’s kick the lies to the curb this week. And when you hear one, instead of wasting your energy fighting it, put your energy into reinforcing the TRUTH.

You are loved.
You are accepted.
You matter.
You’re beautiful.

And the list goes on.

I also was pretty fired up about truth leading into this week’s WOW.  Here it is!

Ah…

A week filled with things that are easy to understand or do!  (Or sifting through the complexities to GET to the simple things.)

What an interesting word!  I’m looking forward to how SIMPLICITY plays out and what new understanding I will have of it at the end of this week.

What does it mean to YOU?

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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