Tag Archives: flexibility

Memorial Days and Emotional Landmarks

Dates on the calendar can be such emotional triggers, can’t they?

Now that I FEEL my feelings rather than stuffing them into a dark crevice of my soul to be more easily ignored,  I “get gotten” regularly.

Instead of skipping along in merry oblivion, life and its memories stop me dead in my tracks and instead of plowing through, I stop.  And I feel those feelings, as messy and soppy as they may be.

A “memorial day” of sorts just passed; it would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.  I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but for an entire week I felt like I was walking through emotional quicksand.

Another is right around the corner: The one year anniversary of when I left.

Every memory can be weighed on a scale, balancing all of the reasons why and, alternately, why not.

Ask ten other people to view the same set of circumstances and their judgments rendered will run the gamut.  They bring their own biases and projections as they view the evidence, which is why I am not a fan of judging.

To one observer, we are heroines of our own stories.

In other versions, we are the villains.

Some days, I see myself as both.

Why?

Because I am well aware of my imperfections.  And I refuse to try to pretend that I am without fault  (though I became QUITE adept at pretending happiness and have since given that up for good.)

Someone recently chastised me  – not intending cruelty – but these words plucked at my heart:  “You could have done it differently.” (This was in reference to how I left my marriage.)

My reply?  Yes, perhaps I could.  But at the time, I couldn’t see any other way.

And maybe it WAS the only way.

None of us will ever know because it went down as it did and it can’t be undone.

Which leads me to another “memorial day.”

September 9th marks the day I finally let go of all of the trappings of pretension; looked my soul square in my heart and said, “I love you.”

Yep, I am aware of all of my stuff – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I love you.

I forgive you.

Now let’s get on with this thing called life and start feeling again, start living again, and let love start winning.

Our word these past two weeks has been flexibility, and sometimes it is painful to dislodge from our fixed position of how we see things.  Or to entertain someone else’s view of the choices made.

I can see your point of view. Perhaps it could have been done differently.

These close encounters of the heart are all part of the bumps and bruises of life.  From my current vantage point, I believe a life unmarred by such wounds reflects a life not fully lived.

I could have died, long before my physical death, by not rocking the boat.  And I could have existed the rest of my days without really living, only to get to the end of it all and find I missed the point.

May I always be flexible enough to admit when I’m wrong.  To leave – anything – when it is time to move on.  To own up and apologize, but most of all and always, to forgive. Everyone.  And especially, me.

After all, I’m the ONE person I’m definitely stuck with for the rest of my life.  So I might as well make it a love affair!

And I hope you will, too.

On a lighter note, some less profound matters can easily make us anguished, irritable, emotional, and altogether flummoxed.  I talk about them in these closing thoughts on FLEXIBILITY (and ushering in a new WOW):

Ah, finding joy in the right here, right now.

Wishing you all boatloads of contentment these coming two weeks!

(And Happy Memorial Day Weekend.)

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Faith of Our Mothers (and the New WOW)

It’s the faith that can move mountains, because the love is so fierce.

It is faith shockingly unafraid to walk through the valley of death if the trek can make certain their son or daughter stays alive.

Mothers go without to ensure that their children never do.

And while they know better than anyone else how to go for the jugular, over their dead body will they ever let someone ELSE cut you to the quick.

No, there is NOTHING so powerful as a mother’s love.

It is Mothers Day and I think of all the moms who are both mom AND dad (like my mom had to be.)  I wonder what it must have been like for my mom to realize her daughter had a dream to go to college (no one in our family ever had) and to muster up the faith to say yes.

My heart pains for those mothers who have lost babies…or any child of any age.

And I think of those of us who never had the privilege of being a mom.

Funny, I never really gave it a thought in my twenties and thirties or even my forties. But now that that ship has TRULY sailed, I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had been someone’s mom.

What a privilege!

And what potential heartache.

There’s just no guarantee how it is all going to turn out, is there?  Which is yet another example of the faith involved with this most holy calling.

When I lost my Toastmaster’s speech competition a few weeks ago, I was honored to watch my friend, Bryan Courtenay, win. He delivered his personal redemption story, which began in a dirty bathroom. The main character was slumped over the toilet bowl after securing his fix.  In the next scene, he paints the picture of his mother banging on the window of a car, trying to revive that young man who had overdosed.  It ends in prison, and the photo of a dead-eyed man’s mug shot.

As he unveiled the mug shot, to the gasps of the audience (who didn’t realize he was speaking about himself the whole time), my eyes were on his mother. She wept through the entire presentation.

Even as I type this, my eyes well with tears for the pain she endured…

…but I bet she’d endure every second of that pain again for the beautiful outcome she now enjoys.

The faith of our mothers, or those who have been like mothers to us, has likely sustained each of us in ways we’d be overwhelmed to see. 

Perhaps in heaven a video reel will play showing the number of times their prayers, and tears, tipped the balances, empowered angels on our behalf, and forestalled tragedy.

Moms who taxied us to rehearsals or sporting events.  Who dug deep and shelled out for those designer jeans or sneakers we HAD to have.

They made us eat our vegetables, say our prayers, clean our rooms and write thank you notes.

They cried with us, then cried some more on their own when our hearts were breaking.

For the nurture that comforted us and for all the maddening times as teenagers when we screamed “I hate you!”  For the treasure of another Mothers Day spent in your presence…thank you for the gift of YOU.

And for the faith, which so beautifully worked by love, to bring us to this very day.

Happy Mothers Day to all!  Here are my non-Mothers Day closing thoughts on FAITH, and a wonderful new WOW:

 

Ah!  So yes, keep the faith – but don’t be stuck on HOW it is going to manifest.

Have a beautiful, flexible week –

xoxoxox

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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Relax and Enjoy the Journey (and the New WOW)

It seems like everywhere I turn I see inspirational signs that say the same thing: Relax and ENJOY the journey.

As I took Shasta on what was supposed to be a short walk through the neighborhood on Saturday, this phrase jogged my memory…because I got lost.

Intended as a half-hour stroll with some garage sale browsing, the walk turned into a two-hour trek with no sign of home as the sun beat down and our energy wilted.

Ha! I can relax and enjoy the journey IF it goes according to plan.

My internal GPS is usually spot-on, but this time it took me to neighborhoods I never knew existed.  So surely headed in the right direction, I didn’t bother to ask for help (because I didn’t think I NEEDED it) until several miles out of my way.

When I realized just how far from home I had traveled, I wanted to scream a little.  ‘Cause there was no way to get home without walking.  My thighs were burning; I dreaded taking another step.

Life itself is quite a trip, but we often are tripped up by the speedbumps, roadblocks, detours, snowbird drivers and traffic that make the journey imperfect.

To ENJOY the journey, the trick is to embrace instead of despixing those bends in the road.

What keeps us from relaxing and enjoying the journey?

JUDGMENT.

We perceive we should have gone further, arrived, accomplished, or achieved far more by now.  Our progress pales in comparison to those around us and we find ourselves lacking. We judge ourselves for taking a wrong turn that led us astray from our view of where we should be.

I could vote with aggravation or instead to relax and enjoy my long, long, long walk with Shasta.

Aggravation almost won, especially since my little girl decided to sniff EVERY bush and tinkle her mark on almost every homeowner’s patch of lawn.

I know, it’s hard to stay aggravated at a face like that.

Then I felt a cool breeze.  Waved to a friendly lady with a golden retriever. Realized that I was burning almost as many calories as I would have if I had woken up in time for Zumba.

Silver linings are there if you look for them.

May I suggest that each detour; each speed bump; each traffic jam might be the very respite we need to slow our pace; smell the roses; miss an accident five minutes down the road or make or new friend?

Imagine that we’re taking a road trip from my former home state of Pennsylvania to sunny Sarasota.  On the way we’d pass Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina –  you get the picture.  Would it be foolish to quit in South Carolina – after having traveled so far –  and judge the journey as a failure?

We may not be in Sarasota yet…but we’re on our way!  Maybe we need to relax and taste the peaches in Georgia, or see a race in Daytona, but if we keep going…we’re going to get there.

Let’s stop JUDGING our journey and instead ENJOY the journey.

Each of us are headed somewhere.  We may not be there yet…

But we’re on our way.

Here are parting thoughts on RELAXATION and a brand, spanking new Word of the Week:

Ah…they do go together so nicely, don’t they?

This week, may we be flexible when those bends in the road try to mess with us!

Enjoy the journey, my friends.

xoxoxox

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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Jumping, Writing, Fighting Malaise and Two WOWs

When my spirits are low, I can’t jump at Zumba.

I’m just made that way.

I remember distinctly when I got into a screaming, knockdown fight with one of my best friends (now several years ago but still fresh in my mind.)

Such conflicts, especially with my friends, aren’t the norm and totally rendered me off-kilter. So much so that even when I went to Zumba class, I couldn’t wiggle or shimmy, let alone jump. A weight of unseen gravity was like a ball and chain around my heart.

This went on for a couple of weeks until we had a true kiss and make-up reconnection.

And then I could jump again.

Actually, not only could I jump, I felt like Tigger.

Oh the freedom that comes from conflict resolution!  And the joy of reconciliation?  It’s better than winning the lottery.

I say THAT to say this:

The events of recent weeks – and it began in Orlando with the shootings at Pulse Nightclub – heightened racial tensions, the disheartening political landscape, police officers murdered in Dallas…and just this past week, Nice, France – well, I felt a sadness; a hopelessness that perhaps some of you have felt.

This crab (my astrological sign is Cancer) tends to retreat when her heart is heavy.  And just like my inability to jump, I couldn’t type a blog post last week.

First one I’ve ever missed since I started.

I was going to blame it on technical difficulties, but since we’re all about being honest with each other, I couldn’t pass it off that way.

There are no pithy quotes or simple solutions to these perilous times in which we live.

On the theme of WILLINGNESS and last week’s FLEXIBILITY, I have been working at not judging and hearing all sides of an argument.

And depending on who I’m listening to, I can be persuaded.

Is anyone else out there like this?

For my mental and spiritual health, I can’t keep on focusing on what I can’t change.  All I can do is what I can do.  And though there’s still a good part of me that wants to hole up in my shell and ask you all to wake me up when things are better…

…that’s not gonna help anyone.  Least of all, myself.

So I will plow ahead (and so will you) and know that these were recorded when a little bit of sun shone through the clouds (because not only can’t I write when I’m sad, I’m also pretty silent).  And don’t want to wear makeup.

To catch you up, here’s last week’s WORD:

And here’s THIS week’s, which is remarkable:

We’ve been at this quite a while, and to get three consecutive words that say pretty much the same thing?

I know there is a message here that is taking its sweet time to penetrate my heart.

I suppose I should be OPEN to it taking as long as needed.

But one thing I’m going to work on this week is being open to receive.  (Since I feel a bit unable to give, it’s not a stretch to make that my focus.)

I’m open to receiving all sorts of love this week.  Feel free to send some my way!

I know, I know.  The best time to GIVE is when you feel like ya got nuttin’.

So I’ll try some of that, too.

What are you hearing in these words WILLINGNESS, FLEXIBILITY, OPENNESS?

Because maybe you have an insight we ALL could use.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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