Tag Archives: fear

Faith Works by Love (and the New Wow)

What I had faith for was that I should go to sleep and wake up when this birthday was over.

To look at the circumstances (which is never a great idea when it comes to faith), my life was in flux, my marriage over and the future uncertain.

Uncertainty, by the way, is the #1 culprit of fear…and since faith works by love, well you know where this story is heading…

…except I was love-bombed.

With each gesture of love, like a flat tire being inflated, so were my spirits.

First, a pre-birthday card from my mom, with a $10 bill to “go buy ice cream.” Thursday was like Christmas – every hour I got a call from the lobby desk saying, “We have a package for you, Ms. Viola…”

There are so many flowers in my apartment right now, I feel like Miss America, not Ms. Viola!  (Thank you Renee and Steve and Roseann and Mike).

Cynthia is NOT a card person.  But she knows that I am and she sent three awesome cards – two laugh out loud funny ones, and another tender one that prompted liquid to spill out of my eyes.

OK, I need to share this one with you:

Then Linda sent me a card that touched me so deeply I have to share the words with you:

THE OAK TREE

A might wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away

Shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.


I am writing this on Thursday night because another present is arriving.  My friend Anita hopped on a plane today and she will be here with me all weekend.  Vats of coffee, endless conversations, laughter and some tears comprise the agenda. And some Face-time with the rest of the Fab Four throughout our time together.

I am blessed.  I am rich.  I am not alone.  I have faith for tomorrow.

Love wove a miracle, stitched my broken heart together and has given me the best birthday of my life.

Who’d have thunk it?

Prior to being love-bombed, I faced another form of faith that attempted to suck the wind out of my sails.  Here’s more on that and the new WOW:

Never, ever, ever have I picked the word BEAUTY.

What a lovely word to begin a brand new year of my life.

Thank you for sharing it with me.

I love you –

Brenda

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Exiting Our Cages (and the New WOW)

The famous film producer, George Lucas, said, “We are all living in cages with the door wide open.”

I have pondered of late the sheer waste of living in a cage. To have the potential for a big, expansive, limitless life  yet choosing to stay constrained in a prison of my own making.

My sweet little Sheltie, Shasta, taught me a lesson years ago. If you are unfamiliar with Shelties, they are miniature Lassies.  A little bundle of joy full of white and brown fluff, our vet advised us to crate train her as a puppy, because dogs never mess where they sleep.

One day as I led her to her crate, she simply refused to go in. She dug in her paws and made it clear, “Enough!”

She never went back – and always whimpered to let us know when she needed to go, like a well-trained puppy should.

It would have been cruel to force her into that confined area.  It was a tool that had served its purpose, but when the purpose was fulfilled, it was time to put the crate away.

If only it were so clear cut in our own lives!  We begin a routine of morning coffee, work, going to the gym, cooking dinner, watching TV and doing it all over again.

This routine becomes what we call “normal life.”

But aren’t we the architects of our own normal?

So what keeps us in the cages of our own making?

I’ve looked at my own life, and came up with three answers; each tied up with bows of fear:

  1. Fear of what people will think
  2. Fear of loss
  3. Fear of the unknown

Life can be an Oscar-worthy performance with little to do with reality if you judge it only by Facebook or Instagram posts. What you see there are the happy, shiny, delicious, romantic highlights of a life – and none of the underbelly.

To a certain extent – that’s appropriate.  You don’t want your dirty laundry or every spat played out for the world to see.  You’ve invested in this Potemkin Village of a life that looks perfect on the outside but if you dare to take a closer look, it’s infested with termites and the foundation crumbling.

One of my favorite writers, Genevieve Georget posted this on Facebook this week, and it truly resonated with me:

Fear of what other people will think suppresses raw candor because it seems easier to keep up appearances. But do you want to perform at life, or live it?

And at the end of this life, will it matter if everyone else was pleased with you, but you, in fact, were miserable?

Riding shotgun with the fear of what people will think is its bosom buddy, fear of loss. If you disrupt the status quo, you could lose the respect and admiration of your family, friends and peers. If you leave that termite-infested house (in that great neighborhood with the amazing swimming pool), you might end up living in a studio apartment. Cutting ties with the old means your old stomping grounds, your old comfort zones, may no longer welcome you.

Leaving a beautiful home infested with termites of anger and fear and negativity? Difficult, but not a profound loss in light of what my soul yearned to gain.

Ah, the fear of the unknown.  This is best addressed by squarely facing what you DO know. Might, just like little Shasta, the crate of life not suit you anymore?

Certainly, there are no promises of what life will be when you exit the cage, but there is one certainty – on the other side of all of those fears is FREEDOM.

I have dreamed of a limitless life; the kind of life where yes is the first response, not no and where dreams are nurtured instead of dashed by negativity. I long for love to freely radiate from me, fueled by hope and effervescent belief.

At first I called it a lovely cage. I decorated it. It offered safety and familiarity. But in my moments of brutal honesty, I knew that the true me became smaller and smaller while my soul and spirit tried to thrive in toxic soil.

When you choose to exit your cages, you will upset people.  You will experience loss. You will face the unknown.

But my friends, you will be free, which is a gift more valuable than gold.

We are all living in cages with the door wide open.

I choose to walk out, by faith.

What lies on the other side for you?

Transformation was our Word of the Week and I can only imagine that the caterpillar has its moments of doubt that a butterfly will emerge. Caterpillars, please don’t judge your transformation midstream.

The key? Stay the course.  More on this and the new WOW here:

What a powerful, powerful directive.

Please let’s stop beating ourselves up for simply being human.  We are all flawed children of God.  It’s what we DO with what we’ve been given (or what we’ve done) that brings us closer to the light or draws us to darkness.

May forgiveness, of ourselves and others, let the light shine in on the dark places this week.

Love to you all  – and many thanks again for your kindness and care.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Joy-Sucking Trauma and the New WOW

Have you ever just zipped through life for a period of weeks with no major setbacks or heart-gripping faux pas to sap your joy?

I like those weeks.

This was not one of them!

Like a bad dream, an e-mail showed up in my inbox signaling potential professional doom.

A wildly successful project of mine was now the target of a HUGE company’s cease and desist order.

Yes, I always wanted to be discovered by the movies. THIS was not what I had in mind. Let’s just say I wasn’t ready for this kind of closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Quicker than Duane’s lime green Challenger can do zero to sixty, I went from joy to white-knuckled terror.

That sinking feeling of dread? A product of the mere SUGGESTION of bad things to come, not facts.

When faced with these tugging suggestions, we can travel one of two routes:

  1. Vote with fear and enter the deep, dark abyss of related paranoias and dreads
  2. Resist the negative possibilities and reinforce yourself with truth, comforting thoughts and the influence of good people

Which do you think I chose?

Ha!  For several hours, #1 was the victor. My face, drained of color, featured a perpetual deer in the headlights look and I headed into the abyss with a technicolor 10-point outline of how badly things were going to go down.

Taking a big gulp and a huge slice of humble pie, I made the dreaded call to my employer, alerting him to this dark turn of events.  My insides felt like a cauldron of doom and my voice, shaking, conveyed the scary turn of events.

He laughed.

What?  Ummm…surely I didn’t explain this properly.

Let me try again.

He chuckled.

Huh?

Could it be that my awful turn of events was something not quite so horrible?

THIS turned out to be how the word JOY played out for me this week.  Realizing my fears were unfounded ushered in utter RELIEF, and subsequently, joy.  REAL, giddy joy prone to bursting into a happy dance because the feared thing turned out to be just a mirage.

Oh, life, you wild roller-coaster ride you.  

You use the valleys to make the peaks more thrilling; allow the lean times for abundance to be better savored. Life, you are quite the entertainer!

Are you finding yourself on the down side of life right now?  Take courage!  Valleys are temporary and serve as a supreme set up for amplified delight when the road swings upward.

For more on JOY, the reveal of the new WOW and with fair warning that I am LONG-WINDED because there are Iceland stories to share, here we go:

Good stuff!  Integrity is a great word for us to hang our respective hats on this week.

May we all possess the strength of mind to know the right thing and, further, the chutzpah to DO IT this week.

Lots of love,

Brenda

 

 

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Soft Yet Strong: A Powerful Duo (and the new WOW)

There’s something so soft about the word tenderness, isn’t there?

Nothing makes me melt like a kind word or a gentle touch does. They are far more magnetic than a flirtatious comment or an over-the-top gesture.

Tenderness stops me in my tracks.

How powerful is THAT?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” (Eric Hoffer)

When we get afraid – particularly of being taken advantage of – we tend to get louder, more emphatic, less flexible and, well, anything BUT tenderhearted.

I scream when I am afraid of not being heard.

Yet it is the soft answer, according to the scriptures, that turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1) I don’t know about you, but I want to turn away wrath every chance I can get.

The word TENDERNESS, for me, was a call – a beckoning – to stay soft. To not let life harden me; to embrace the sweetness of a tender response and extend the gift of sublime softness in areas of my life where I have instead been strident and screeching.

More on that and the new WOW here:

When I went back to look at the recording I was taken aback by my use of the word “DELIGHTFUL” before I chose the word DELIGHT.

It also strikes me that the theme of softness was resonating with me, while the meaning of “DELIGHT” in the scripture I quoted actually means to “be pliable…”

Goosebumps!

This week I am not going to try and be braced for anything and everything.  I want to let life flow and I want to flow with it in a calm and peaceful repose.

This is NOT my normal MO.  I am a complete Type A personality with ten concurrent lists going at any given time. I want to do and be more all the time and I sometimes don’t stop working because I want so badly to do well.

But I wonder if a softer approach; a less frantic/performance driven way of pursuing life might not actually be more effective?

Since a life-changing trip with my best friends a few months ago, I have been conscious of how the need to “perform” has added so much pressure – unneeded pressure – to my life for the entirety of my life!

As I walk away from the old in this new year, I am getting the messages of tenderness and softness loud and clear.

The thought of living that kind of life DOES bring delight to my heart.

What about you?

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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A Resolve to be Happy (and the New WOW)

Some people hate the whole resolution ritual. To me, it’s a tradition that sort of forces me to establish my priorities for the year and resolve to take steps in support of them.

Hmmmm…that sounded a bit too much like a corporate memo.

Take two:  I think about the stuff I want to happen and dream about what I can do to make them burst forth into reality!

I really wish I had learned this earlier in life.

My approach through my teens, twenties, thirties and most of my forties was to “wish, want, hope, pine, yearn” with feeble faith that I could impact any outcomes.

Something clicked in recent years. I was acting like a tennis ball, being directed by forces beyond my control instead of being the tennis racket and directing my life in the way I wanted it to go.

This does not preclude my dependence on God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. But I do feel that the heavenly host has been sitting in the bleachers all these years saying, “Will you finally take a swing? We can’t do it ALL for you!!!”

Well, when you put it THAT way, Jesus…

We’ve got the equipment. We were BORN with it.  Our gifts, our talents, our special sauce – it’s all there, waiting to be whipped up into a unique and remarkable treat for the world -and us – to enjoy.  But too often we spend time focusing on what we DON’T have when it’s actually irrelevant.

If we don’t have it, we don’t need it to fulfill our calling.  We are completely equipped for our purpose in life.  And if you read this and start to protest, ask yourself, “Why am I fighting?”

So you’re flawed.  Join the crowd.  So you think your flaws or ailments disqualify you from certain joys in life?  Only your faith in that faulty line of thinking keeps you there.

My resolve every year is to be happy.  And I am.  Annoyingly so!  (Except to those who also are fans of happiness.)

Some people are as devoted to being miserable as I am to being happy.

Every ache or pain or bend in the road is a license to complain or make excuses or blame someone for their station in life.

Seriously, how’s that working for you?

No, I do not live a perfect life. I’ve had my share of broken hearts, physical challenges, disappointments and paralizing fears.  I choose, however, at this later stage in my game – with time fleeting and tomorrows not promised – to see the disappointments as a detour because something better is coming my way.  I acknowledge my fears and then do the work to get back to love because I don’t to waste one moment of this beautiful life living like a deer in the headlights.  I have a weird bump on my leg that needs to be biopsied next week and I am positive that it is either nothing, or if it is something, I’m going to beat it.

Can you tell I’m fired up this week?

I put some of that energy into this week’s message:

Isn’t that sweet?  What a lovely way to start 2017!

Be gentle with yourself first, my friends. It makes it a heckuva lot easier to then be gentle with others.

Hello, 2017.  I welcome you with open arms, an open heart, and a full expectation that you will be my best year ever.

And I wish that for all of you, too.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Compassion is FEARLESS (and the New WOW)

I had an “AHA” this week when I considered the connection between being fearless and being compassionate.

This was the springboard:

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So where does intolerance and judgment come from?

Yep. Fear.

So the next time you are faced with an ugly attack of intolerance and judgment, take a step back.  (This is what I am doing.)  Find within yourself the compassion that can ask (probably not verbally) “What are they afraid of?”

Too often, in my own life, when feeling the attack of the self-righteous or intolerant, I become defensive and argumentative.  

Oh, I also get insulted and appalled and equally self-righteous.

Why?

Because I’m afraid, too.

Aren’t we all?

That we are sometimes is a fact.  But what we vote with is our choice.

I go on a little bit of a rant about this, but I hope you find it encouraging as we head into a new Word of the Week:

Well hallelujah sisters and brothers!  I LOVE the word ENTHUSIASM.

(In fact, I’d rather you be flaming hot MAD at me than lukewarm.  Blech!)

What makes you feel enthusiastic?  Do some more of THAT.  Please tell me in the comments what trips your joy level into overdrive (because I think enthusiasm and joy are kissing cousins.)

Let’s have ALL the fearless feels this week – and my hope is that we enthusiastically count our blessings heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.

Be safe and enjoy!

xoxooxoox

Brenda

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In the Dark about Light – and the New WOW!

For all my exhortations about being light (lightening up, letting your heart be light, etc., etc., etc.) I found myself in a bit of a funk this week.

I may be coming to a “come to Jesus” moment about my level of busy-ness in life.  When 12 hours go by and you realize you haven’t stopped to go to the bathroom, it’s too much.

This, by the way, is no one’s fault but my own.

Trying to keep all the balls in the air when juggling can be an amazing skill, but the downside is you never get to enjoy crossing one project off of your to-do list, because you’ve got to quickly move to the next one before it comes crashing to the ground.

That’s not living.  It’s a hamster wheel that never stops. And I’m not a hamster.  (Though I’ve been acting like one.)

Oh, I have been trying to squeeze fun in here and there, but my phone remains tethered to my arm and I have been less than present in my human interactions.

Add to the mix some health challenges (like eyes that are still blurry – and much of what I do all day is read, write and proof things!) The internet is and endless pit of diagnoses, non of which make my heart LIGHT.

As I write this I am on another airplane, this time headed to a girlfriends weekend in Charlotte, NC.  While my friends have excitedly texted each other about what they are packing and what we’re going to do while together, I’ve been AWOL, sucked into the vortex of too many irons in the fire.

My plan of action?  To seek their wisdom this weekend.  This Fab Four (me and Renee, Anita and Cynthia) are some of the best sounding boards a person could have.  They are kind, honest, loving, funny and want the best for me.  I am going to sink into the comfort that they provide and believe for some clarity this weekend (in between or during shopping excursions and karaoke.)

Perhaps that is part of the reason why, when recording this week’s WOW I had the word WISDOM on my mind instead of LIGHT.   (And yes, I did also enjoy a rousing ‘put your foot in your mouth’ episode that also prompted this week’s parting message.)

WOW!  And boy do I need me some power.  How about you?

Power. Love.  A Sound Mind.

Sign me up!

May we all be empowered to make the decisions we need to in order to have the life we want to live.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Discord, the Full Moon and the New Word of the Week!

I really think I have issues with the moon.

The full moon, that is.

I can be having a great ‘ole week, and next thing you know, I’m grumpy, overly sensitive, fearful, insecure, can’t sleep and want to throw all of my good intentions for 2016 out the window. Sounds like PMS, doesn’t’ it?

This syndrome is also accompanied by stark realizations that everyone else is thinner, more talented, has their act together, walks their dogs and never screams at their significant others.

It’s not good.  I should be able to stay in bed with the sheets up over my head until it’s over, shouldn’t I?

You’re not buying it either, are you?

So while I was trying to avoid the emotional puddles of external dramas (as mentioned in this week’s video), I was also trying to navigate the discord in my own soul.

I’m reminded of the scripture, “Anxiety in the heart causes depression (and the consumption of McDonald’s french fries), but a good word makes it glad.”

(I added the french fries part.)

But the good word came from my friend, Renee, who was patiently listening to my rant via e-mail.  It saved me from thinking I was (as she has taught me to say in Yiddish), “meshuganah” (strange, eccentric, irresponsible, crazy).

“Could it be the full moon?” she asked sweetly.

The moon!  An answer!  A reason for my moodiness.  Something to hang my hat on that doesn’t make me MORE crazy!

And that’s how a good word turned a bad day around.

Sometimes you may not be able to change the circumstances, but if you can at least understand what they ARE, it aids your sanity.  (It did for me, anyway.)

More musings on harmony and the new WOW!:

So INSPIRATION it is!

What inspires YOU?

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WOW (Word of the Week) – 11.22.15

With all that I had to learn this past week, you might think that our WOW was still EDUCATION.  Still,  it dovetailed nicely into EXPANSIVENESS; after all, every time you learn, you grow.

Getting back to my story about the series of fires I had to put out last week, aAside from the skill sets I had to acquire (YESTERDAY!), I had to keep stopping to breathe…

…and believe.

I needed to become bigger on the inside to handle all that was going on the outside.

Growth is a process that doesn’t have a fast forward button (unless the circumstances of life propel you to new heights out of necessity.) I felt like a little kid stopping her feet and whining, “Are we THERE yet?”

No amount of whining or worrying will get you (or me) where we need to be.

How I was responding was defining me. Am I a person of faith – or a person of fear?

I was a person gripped with fear MANY times this past week, but self-talked myself off the ledge and back to peace about 327 times.

I wish I could say as I write this that everything has been crossed off my to-do list and successfully completed.  However,  I AM believing that somehow between now and the finish line I will continue to expand, enabling me to rise to the challenge.

Despite the stress, each new thing I learn makes me feel like an Olympian, breaking the tape at the finish line. I have to keep my eye on that prize, hear the imaginary crowd roaring and see my head bowed to receive the medal.

I mean, what’s the alternative? Believing the ship will sink and that I’ll go down with it?

Gee, how comforting.

Instead, I’ve been singing the theme song from Laverne and Shirley to keep me stoked. (We’re gonna make our dre-eems come true.  And we’ll do it our way, yes our way, making our dreams come true…)

Better our dreams than our nightmares.

Which plays well into this week’s WOW…

EXPECTANCY, as I am living it out after having recorded the message, is a two edged sword.

You can dwell on all the negative possibilities and expect Murphy’s law to be in effect.

Or you can have the audacity to get your hopes up and believe for the best.

I discovered the most awesome new word this week: PRONOIA. Definition: Believing the universe is always working on your behalf in every situation. Opposite, of course, of paranoia.

It’s  my new favorite word as we brace for BLESSING this week.

I’m expecting to hear wonderful things from all of you!

HUGS –

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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