Tag Archives: Florida

Niceville Opened My Heart

Niceville lived up to its name.

When the Okaloosa County Public Library System asked me to present the keynote address at their staff education day, I looked the area up on the map and said, “There’s no way I’m driving to this one!” A good 5+ hours away, the Niceville Community Center was sort of in the middle of nowhere, between Destin and Ft. Walton. In no way would I turn this into a mini-vacation; it would be a quick “in and out” flight.

Still, I wasn’t willing to risk being late for the engagement, so I took a later afternoon flight out of Sarasota and booked a room at the Niceville Holiday Inn Express. All I needed was wifi and a place to rest my head before hitting the ground running in the AM.

No expectations. Certainly no great expectations. This was, pure and simple, a quick gig for which I was grateful.

But Niceville opened my heart with their…well, niceness.

Who shows up to a hotel greeted by a desk agent saying, “Well hello, Miss Brenda! We’ve been expecting you!”?

Victoria seemed genuinely delighted to welcome me, and in the process, charmed me. As we went through the normal ritual of checking in, she smiled and said, “Now have I got a TREAT for you!”

Her glee in delivering the news was drum roll worthy! This woman was so excited to tell me that she was upgrading me to a suite, she actually paused before the big reveal.

All I needed; all I wanted was a bed and wifi. Instead, I got a TREAT. And the treat wasn’t’ actually the suite. It was Victoria’s enthusiasm to be, well…nice.

I smiled as I unpacked my overnight bag, finished some work, and caught up on e-mails. My stomach growled. Wow, it HAD been a long day, and I was hungry — but my options didn’t seem promising.

There was only one option within walking distance – a Ruby Tuesday. I haven’t been to Ruby Tuesday in years! I had vague memories of a good salad bar, but in the recent decade I’ve become a chain restaurant snob. Give me a little, independent, family-owned joint. I eschewed franchises, but hunger prevailed.

As I entered the door, I waited for perhaps 30 seconds for someone to greet me. She did as if seeing a long lost family member returned to the roost. “Oh honey I am SOOOOO sorry you had to wait! Let me get you a nice seat…”

Of course it was a nice seat. I was in Niceville, and it seems EVERYTHING in NIceville is…well, nice.

Food snob – ha! That was the yummiest salad bar, sirloin and sweetest sweet potato I’ve devoured had in AGES. Was it the food? Or was it that everything was so surprisingly…NICE?

The walls came down. This was not going to be a “get in and get out” experience. From the waitress who I observed hugging her regular customers to the bartender who treated the gang assembled as family, Ruby Tuesdays was THE place to be. Because everyone embodied NICE. And Niceville warmed my cold traveler’s heart.

Which was the perfect lead-in to a rousing keynote speech, delivered with heartfelt appreciation for the NICEness of the people of Niceville.

I was nicer because of them.

Reluctant to leave after my second session, Dealing with Difficult People, (are there any difficult people in Niceville?) I waited for my Uber. While the librarians enjoyed the sunshine and dined alfresco on boxed lunches, we told each other our stories of how we ended up in the Sunshine State. I waved goodbye to my new friends, convinced that my driver would also be…NICE.

Yep, an array of candies and toiletries (!) awaited me in his white Dodge Caravan. Doug told me his life story on the way to the airport; a story of leaving his high-paying corporate job to tend to his elderly mom’s health. A decision, he said, he’d never regret.

I agreed. And considered just how big a tip I would give him.

The nice-ness I experienced in my Niceville experience opened my heart. Nice will do that far more than any fancy restaurant or big city shindig.

Real time update: Writing gloriously interrupted by the sound of cheers as the entire airport stops what they are doing to applaud soldiers just returned home from Afghanistan.

Sheesh! My heart swells!

Fun side note: In the middle of my first presentation, it felt like a jet soared right outside of the Community Center and the sound almost made the building quiver. I asked the audience, “What was that?”

“Oh, that’s just the sound of freedom flying.”

The Kauffman EOD Training Complex and EOD Memorial are close by, in Walton County, Florida at the Eglin Air Force Base.

Let freedom ring! And may nice-ness prevail, not just in Niceville, but everywhere.

My closing thoughts on openness:

https://youtu.be/yDSKcsOjiUY

A visit to Niceville will make even a toughened heart tender.

Have a beautiful couple of weeks!

Love,
Brenda

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Simply Choosing Light (and the New WOW)

There are often simple solutions to daily conundrums.

The trick is to take action instead of allowing said conundrum to consume, overwhelm and otherwise wet blanket your joy.

Those little, trifling matters, like a wildly disorganized desk can be rectified by a good purging.

Then there are other events that stop you in your tracks.

I believe it is important to feel a thing; to be real about life and allow emotion to run its course.

However, I believe it is equally important to guard my heart from being immersed in the darkness of a thing.

I can only take so much. How about you?

The horrors of the massacre in Orlando this past week…the thought that innocent people enjoying a night out could have their dance so viciously interrupted just wrecked me.

To grieve for the lives lost and the pain caused to their loved ones is good and right.

Then I began thinking about the perpetrator…and the unknown others out there intent on spilling their hatred in unexpected places.

Like the obsessed fan who ended singer Christina Grimmie’s life.

And then, a child playing in shallow water, fatally attacked by an alligator.  Imagining the scene and how traumatized the family must be…

I can only take so much.  How about you?

Yes, it was a worst-ever week for Florida. If I meditate on it too much, it conjures up a forecast of more storm clouds and tragic thunderbolts that come out of nowhere to ensure our misery.

Not to turn off empathy or deny myself a good cry – but there comes a point where I have to take the simple solution.

My heart can’t take too much of the darkness.  I need to focus on the light.

Light in the form of good people, like the man who built 49 crosses to memorialize the lives cut down at Pulse nightclub.

And on a day like today – Father’s Day – that can often squeeze my heart with the pain of loss, I choose to think of the joy of a beautiful, smiling man who exemplified love in the ten short years I knew him.

 I can focus on what I lost…or on the joy of what I had.

It’s simple.  As the guardian of my own heart, it is what I must do to face tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow it may rain.  But there’s also a good chance the sun will shine or a rainbow will appear.

Life is good and bad and horrible and joyful.  Yet I choose to live it because I believe in tomorrow.  And I believe that love ultimately wins.  And I’ll fight with all that is in for me fear NOT to win.

Which leads into my recap of SIMPLICITY and the unveiling of the new WOW…

Here’s my introductory thought on our new WOW, and for all of us who are going through a difficult time…let’s KEEP going.

a-contented-heart-is-a-calm-sea-in-the-midst-of-all-storms-quote-1

May our hearts find and embrace contentment this week.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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