Tag Archives: flexibility

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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