Tag Archives: Depression

A Dream Goes on Forever

A little known Todd Rundgren song is a favorite of mine: A Dream Goes on Forever.

My interpretation? Our dreams sustain us through difficult times. They are unsinkable corks, bouncing up as lifesavers (sometimes despite our best efforts to drown in our sorrows.)

Like flowers yearning to break through the cracks of cement, these resilient buggers called dreams stretch onward and upward.

“A dream deferred makes the heart sick…”

Oh, boy (or oy vey!) I’ve had some sick hearts over the course of 56 years. From not getting the part of Dorothy in the 4th-grade play (and instead, cast as the Lion) to watching my younger friends marry during my single 20’s and 30’s, life dumped some #$%^@ on some of my dreams.

“…but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12

Beating out thousands to land a job as one of the original QVC Show Hosts! Finally walking down the aisle to a packed church cheering the end of my single days!

Some of you quizzically read those last two lines, knowing that I was unceremoniously dumped by the shopping network and cut bait on an unfulfilling marriage after 14 years.

Hey, weren’t those dreams fulfilled supposed to be trees of life?

Well, they were. For a season.

My tears dried after losing the part of Dorothy. Life went on. Life marches on! What mattered SO much once is just (as my friend Roseann likes to say) a pimple on an elephant’s ass.

Gotta love my spicy Roseann-isms.

Thoughts of dreams stirred my soul this week when immersed in a Sex and the City marathon. The show begins in their twenties with invincibility fueled by cosmopolitans and a fabulous foursome of friends. Over the course of a decade we watch breakups, losses, cancer, babies and so much more that Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte could never have imagined.

Had they a crystal ball, they might have avoided most of their adventures to avoid pain.

And so might have I, as I pondered this photo from my past:

This photo captures the moment in time when I prepared to graduate from college. Already working in my chosen field, there was no doubt in my mind I would be the next Diane Sawyer.

It was my dream to write and speak words. To use them skillfully to inspire and inform.

Also, to be fabulously wealthy and famous. (Look, I’ve never claimed to be Mother Theresa.)

Oh, had I a crystal ball I would have definitely bypassed that QVC audition, kept driving past the church (that ended up being a cult)…

…but in the choices made to avoid pain, I would have lost some of my best stories. And my best friends.

I may not be Diane Sawyer, but I’m really glad to be Brenda Viola.

Yes, Viola. I loved my ex, still hold affection for him, and love that last name. It fits!

Just as I have changed over the years (my taste for pitch black, sky-high hair replaced by golden highlights), my dreams also evolved. Some have come true! (Published author, anyone?) Some remain to be fulfilled.

But that’s the beauty of life.

I believe the dreams of our hearts are Divinely planted. And they must grow! They will materialize in perfect form when the gestation period has ended.

But aren’t we supposed to learn lessons from disappointments?

Sure!

And once learned, we move forward. To think that life is meant to be a constant string of lessons learned from heartbreaks runs counter to the idea that God (Source, the Divine, All That Is) is good and life should be happy.

I believe life should be happy.

Perhaps my message today is if you are pregnant with a dream, don’t abort it.

Turning your back on your dream is to turn away from your very self.

Your dreams are intertwined with your gifts and answer the question, “Who am I?”

They light you up. You feel most alive when expressing from that deep, holy part within you where the dream lives.

This is what you were made for!

John Russo croons a standard from the Rat Pack. My sister, Shirlee, acts on a moment of inspiration and whips up a calligraphy masterpiece. Artists are brave souls!

I have friends who claim they don’t have dreams. Oh, but when they express their gifts, they so beautifully live their purpose.

Maybe that’s a better word…purpose.

But I’ll stick with dreams. And I hope you stick with them, too.

On this topic of how what we want evolves over time and how when WE change, everything changes, here’s this week’s video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7S8BZ-CNsc&feature=youtu.be

If your dreams are feeling choked, your hope has been deferred, and you feel a bit adrift – take heart. We all weather such storms. These, too, shall pass.

Ask for the grace to help in time of need (and don’t be afraid to ask for help.)

Much love –

Brenda

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An Adventure of the Soul

When the Word of the Week is adventure, it conjures up places to go, things to do and people to see. But when the world is on pause and the only adventures to be had are within the walls of your home, it forces a different kind of adventure.

See, you can’t escape yourself.

There you are. All the time.

If you’re fortunate enough to live with a saint like Mark, you don’t mind being hunkered down together.

But perhaps you, like me, are going a lil’ bit stir crazy?

My personal quarantine story is amplified by a thrilling new twist: weaning myself off of hormone replacement therapy.

Some people are going grey during COVID-19.

I may grow a beard!

Okay, that’s a poor attempt at humor (but I hope you laughed.)

My goal for 2020 was to be completely pharmaceutical-free. This journey began in 2017 when I quit Zoloft. The only drugs remaining in my system were low doses of estrogen and progesterone. And I fully intended to say goodbye to them, too…

…then COVID-19 hit.

When the pills ran out, I called my doctor and fully expected the refill to go through without a visit to her office. After all, the world is social distancing and if the situation isn’t dire, who should leave home to sit amongst sick people, right?

Wrong.

Told that I needed blood work to get my refill, I did what any hormonally-challenged woman would do. I burst into slobbering tears. Heaving, gulping tears.

The sloppy wailing held no sway with my doctor’s gatekeeper.

And I had no peace about venturing out for blood work. This stalemate, I knew, was a sign from the universe to stick it out and cold turkey the detox.

Kind Mark looked at my tear-streaked face (the third in as many days) and said, “Are you sure?”

He’s no fool. He’s got to LIVE with this wrecking ball of inflamed human emotion, wrapped in a bow of irrational thoughts, suspicions, dread and overwhelm.

I fully understand why he thought getting me some drugs might be a good idea!

However, the FLIPSIDE of this adventure in detoxing is the depth of emotion I’m feeling.

It’s not all happy emotions; some are so empathetic I can hardly bear all the feels…

…but at least I am fully ALIVE.

And for that, I’m incredibly grateful. First of all, I consider all of the poor souls suffering in sickness right now. The many who have died a victim to this deadly virus and who have sadly made their transition in the solitude social distancing demands.

I may be a bit of a hot mess right now. But I am healthy and alive.

Second, stuff that normally gets a pass or rolls off my back now instigates a full-blown experience. This amplified state of emotions REQUIRES examination. There’s no ignoring the rage, depression, anxiety, or vitriol. It must be inspected because ain’t no way I want those ugly tenants hanging out in my psyche.

So, being at home with me and my hormones has been an adventure of epic proportions.

We’re two weeks in and the science says it’ll take six to eight to be free.

Please send Mark your prayers and well-wishes.

His path to sainthood is almost assured as he quietly and calmly observes this circus of a roommate as she mines the depths of despair. Only to be perfectly fine minutes later when distracted by a ludicrous episode of Tiger King.

More on adventures and an interesting new Word of the Weeks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf8EAgM3ti8

Love to each of you. Stay well!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Tunnel Times and Waiting for a New Season

It is the dark tunnel known as snowbird season in Sarasota. We snobby native transplants hate it. Traffic is tripled and it takes forever to get from point A to B (or to snag a table at your favorite restaurant.)

This is the price we pay for living in paradise, but the light at the end of the tunnel is knowing snowbird season doesn’t last forever.

So, too, with the tunnels of our lives. The dark seasons of our souls are just that – seasons.

Where I get off track (and maybe where you do, too) is when I take the tunnels all too seriously. Instead of distracting myself with a better-feeling thought, I build monuments to the dark ones and envision my future around their bleak paintings.

As if the tunnel times are the end-all story of my life.

When they’re just seasons.

These, too, shall pass.

Oh…but when you’re IN the midst of a tunnel time? Let’s belt out a rousing chorus of “Ain’t No Sunshine…”? Only Bill Withers’ soulful voice perfectly captures the depths of despair. Wailing is apropos.

Milk that darkness for a day or two and it can spin into weeks of not wanting to leave the bed and face the world.

Oh, you do. Because you HAVE to. The lottery tickets haven’t paid off yet and there are people, places, and things requiring our attention.

Have you ever felt like you were walking through quicksand?

Such has been my experience for about a month now. I tried to pin my mood on the new moon, which is supposed to influence the emotions of sensitive people.

But the new moon wasn’t so new anymore. So how to explain this malaise?

And in trying to figure it all out, it seemed I dug a deeper hole.

And then it dawned on me.

This is just a season.

When you’re in the frost of winter in your soul, it can feel like the buds will never sprout again.

Friends, don’t be so hard on yourself. (It never makes matters better.)

Faithful Mark, my loving partner, always wants to make things better. When he sees the dark storm clouds hovering over me, unlike some who would run for cover, he seeks ways to offer light. And I hope the story I am about to tell you sheds light on any darkness you might be feeling.

When I thought I couldn’t even remember how to feel happy again, he said, “Come outside for a minute.”

Still in my bathrobe, with Phyllis Diller hair sticking out and sleep in my eyes, I mustered enough oomph to shuffle out to the lanai.

And there was our avocado plant. Purchased as a housewarming gift nearly a year ago, it always looked healthy, but never offered hope that it would ever bear fruit.

Take a closer look…
It’s a baby avocado!

At first, I didn’t see it. But I looked again, and there was not just one, but a whole family of baby avocado buds.

Just like when the Grinch’s heart melted because of Cindy Lou Who, mine stirred with a lately-unfamiliar feeling.

Hope.

“…and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!”

Sometimes, it feels like NOTHING is happening. You’ve planted the seeds, watered, fertilized, and weeded them. And nada.

As if it’s Groundhog Day and it’s the same ‘ole same ‘ole and it’ll always be the same ‘ole same ‘ole.

You can feel like all of your effort is for naught. That all of your believing was just a pipe dream. That you should just settle for ordinary since CLEARLY this season of discontent is on an endless loop of auto-replay.

But take heart.

You may not see progress, but something’s getting ready to sprout.

I promise you, it’s getting ready to sprout.

Because there is an end to every season. Even a dark season of the soul.

The treasures you will mine in this fertilizer of darkness will richly serve you when the fruit arrives.

Keep looking for the sprout. It’s coming.

And celebrate the coming change. Because seasons always do.

Here’s our new WOW:

https://youtu.be/4Efzw2cs_Uo

Oooooooh…let’s all go and take a nap!

xoxoxo

Brenda

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Digging Out of a Self-Dug Hole

It was a deep, dark hole.

And I dug it. (And not in a good, 70’s “groovy” kind of way.)

Since we are the CEO’s of our own lives, we dig the holes we choose to dive into.

This week’s video talks about the particular hole I dug, so I’m not going to re-hash that, but let’s spend a minute going over how to emerge from those self-imposed ditches!

First things first, stop beating yourself up for having “done it again.” You were on a high-flying disc, you felt unstoppable, you were bathed in positivity – then BAM, you got sucker punched by a thought.

It was a nagging thought; it could have been swatted away like a mosquito, but instead, you played with it.

You entertained it.

In the workshops I teach, I use the example of a known criminal showing up at your door. Would you let them in? Further, would you brew a pot of coffee and open up the guest room?

NEVER!

We should treat negative thoughts; hurtful self-talk and shame-filled internal accusations with the same vehemence.

However, when we fail to kick them to the curb quickly, they do gain momentum. And their companion playmates then join in to sling some mud. Next thing you know, you have full-on anxiety, depression, the blahs and the blues.

The worst thing you can do is kick yourself when you’re down.

No! Be extra nice to yourself. Don’t dwell on the hole; think of a better-feeling thought – perhaps completely off-topic. Like that your favorite niece just got engaged – or that there’s a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer with your name on it. Count some blessings. You have a roof over your head, or friends that care about you. A job that pays the bills and a sunset you can catch if you look out the window.

If that doesn’t work, take a nap. Going to sleep will hit the re-set button on your mood.

Seeking those better- feeling thoughts and entertaining THEM will elevate you from the hole, and soon you’ll be back to your tuned in, tapped in, turned on self.

Yes, you are hearing my favorite Esther Hicks phrases in this post, and for good reason.

They work!

I bet you’ll laugh when you hear what nagging thought began MY personal hole since the last time we visited. How lovely to laugh at what had previously stung!

https://youtu.be/FOQmkjf-4As

Don’t you just LOVE our new Word of the Week?

xoxoxo

Love,
Brenda

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The Power to Choose a Happy New Path

In 2019, I want happy to be my default feeling.

And happy feelings are always preceded by happy thoughts.

Why – especially at this time of year – do we milk the drama that is so readily available from sad songs (Blue Christmas, anyone?) or the lack of Christmas cards or presents under the tree?

Sadness, loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear…I spent way too many holidays (and every other days) letting these negative emotions dig a groove in my soul. Filling in those grooves with a new pattern of happy thoughts, positive feelings, good memories and believing the best about people (including myself) has been my mission in 2018.

Paving over the potholes in our soul takes effort, but it makes the road ahead less bumpy.

We have the power to not let our pasts dictate our futures. Let’s stop expending energy on what went wrong before and instead start charting a new course, built on a foundation of loving ourselves MORE.

One of my favorite teachers, Esther Hicks, talks about when she first started using a GPS to navigate road trips. They were on their way and her husband, Jerry, said, “You know…we’re going in the wrong direction.”
Esther said, “That’s not possible! I know I put everything in the GPS perfectly. Let’s go back to where we started and figure out where it went wrong.”

Jerry listened and gently replied, “Or we could just start going the right way starting from where we are.”

Oh! That makes sense.

Don’t spend time as this year ends bemoaning where you got off track or how far away you may be from where you want to be.

Start, right here, right now on the new path.

The happy path.

The path you deserve.

It’s a choice, and the power is OURS.

Final thoughts on power and the new Word of the Weeks (which is actually a Word for the Year) are right here:

https://youtu.be/fMtfXZVsKqk

Happy and merry thoughts and lots of love are coming your way. Thanks for taking the journey with me this year!

Love,
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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