Tag Archives: forgiveness

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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Forgiveness and Gratitude (and a New WOW!)

It’s been a deep dive into the topic of forgiveness these past two weeks, which has spurred reflection on some of the low-lights of my life story.

Remarkably, when I look over my shoulder, where there used to be painful stings, there are instead wellsprings of gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been WRONGED.

Yes, used and abused. Baited and switched!  Misled and taken advantage of, too.

There could be a host of sad country songs written about the girl who was 100 pounds in kindergarten, whose dad died when she was 10, who gave her all to a church cult, married a man she hardly knew, became alcohol dependent, and then left him 14 years later to enter uncharted territory.

Can you cue the wailing?

Except, all there is, for me, is gratitude.

That 100-pound little girl learned to develop more than a pretty face to survive.

My dad’s death gave me the gift of appreciating the fragility of life and the importance of saying “I love you” as if it could be the last time you see a loved one’s face or hear their voice.

The cult, while trying its darnedest to warp my faith in Spirit and destroy my trust in people, still gave me some of the best friends a girl could ever have.  They will be with me forever, as the sad and angry memories fade into nothingness.

My marriage?  We made it to Sarasota – together!  I think we are both grateful for the journey that got us here. Plus, there’s no doubt Duane Viola will be my friend for life.  He loved me and jumped through a million hoops set up by the church to help me escape.  I’ll be forever grateful for the years we were partners in life.

Finally escaping the dullness of an alcohol-soaked life and the strength it took to become truly sober led me to today’s clear-eyed focus, and a desire to live-life fully.  (I am eternally grateful that the many falls and near misses didn’t “off” me prematurely – and I am grateful for the forgiveness offered to me by many who I offended with my slurry behavior.)

And then making a break to chart a new course as a single woman at age-54?

Well, that story is being written as I type these words today.  But I think Rascal Flatts said it best:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through

I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms

This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes it did

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it’s true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yeah

And now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
Ooh, ooh
That led me straight to you

Yes, wounded.  But, yes, healed.  And I wouldn’t trade a thing that led me to this lovely, holy space in this life.  

Friends, I hope you can say the same.

Here’s an exhortation to take us from the word FORGIVENESS to a new word to end the month of January 2018:

May we each know with CLARITY our next step forward!

Sending you bunches of love and gratitude for the connection we share.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Tony the Transformer (and the New WOW)

Some people are transformers by their very nature. My brother-in-law, Tony, whose “birfday” is today is just that kinda guy.

Tony joined the Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico, where he and Shirlee lived for their first years of marriage.

They say that inspired peoples’ energy changes the atmosphere. From the time this wide-eyed 12-year old girl met this hurricane of a man, Tony has made an impact on every room he enters.

Full disclosure: He was my sister’s boyfriend, but I had a HUGE crush on him.

Who wouldn’t?

These were the days of Saturday Night Fever, and man could this Italian heartthrob DANCE.  He didn’t have practiced, official moves.  But he tore it up with his own Northeast Philly disco swagger.

I loved when HE offered to pick me up after the middle-school dance.  He’d strut up to the cafeteria, cigarette in hand, John Travolta-like hair – and collect ME.  Yep, I was the luckiest girl at Cleary Junior High.

What’s that sound? Just the tears of heartbroken women throughout the Delaware Valley when they learned Tony DiBacco was “off the market.”

Oh, and he can SING, too.  No, he never really knows the words, but they’re always on key.  He does a MEAN Elvis and, had the course of his life gone a different way, I have no doubt he would be some kind of an entertainer.

Tony DiBacco is surely a star in my universe.

With my father’s death just a couple of years before Tony entered the picture, we three Costello girls were kind of somber.  Mom had to try and simply maintain the inner and outer workings of running a household, while valiantly serving as mom AND dad to her 15-year-old, Shirlee, and 10-year-old me.

There was no Christmas tree for us the year after Daddy died.

Then Tony swept Shirlee off of her feet and we then experienced SUPER-SIZED Christmases. So many presents!  So much fun opening them!  He would shake every box elaborately and try to guess what was inside.

Tony, to this day, brings electricity to any party.  He constantly cracks one-liners, is unfailingly generous, as handsome as ever…and today, when thinking about our Word of the Week, Transformation, it felt right to devote the column to him.

Tony, I love you.  Thanks for being a wonderful brother and husband to my sissy.  Thanks for always being full of life and fun.  You are a treasure!

I pondered how to transform my own life in 2018, and hope you will understand and support a big decision I reveal in this week’s video:

Looking forward to wearing my forgiving clothes with you over the next two weeks!

And feel free to wish Tony a Happy Birfday (he never pronounces the “th”) in the comments!

xoxoxoxo

Love,

Brenda

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Free to Be Me: A Lesson in Forgiveness

When age 50 arrived, so did a swift quick to my soul that if my desire was to be free, only I had the key.

I admire (with a tinge of jealousy) those light-hearted youths in their 20’s and 30’s who figured this out without wasting decades running on a hamster wheel, hoping for someone else to show up on a white horse to save the day.

When it occurs to you that (a) No one is showing up to save the day and (b) Life doesn’t owe you anything and (c) You’d better get crackin’ if you want to start living the life of your dreams…

…it can be depressing.  Especially if you dive down the black hole of “What about all that wasted time I’ll never get back?????!!!!!”

But is it wasted time if lessons were learned along the way?

Is it wasted time if, on the journey, you were able to love and be loved?

My life has been a series of Family Circle cartoon paths, rarely a straight line going from glory to glory.  My trajectory features dark valleys and nonsensical detours along with entire decades I mistakenly thought I was moving forward, but instead completed a circle. Over and over again.

And today I find myself tempted with the anguished thought, “You’re starting all over again…at age 54???”

Who says it’s supposed to be a straight trek to the mountaintop? And how can we judge our journeys by their seeming dead ends? If I hold myself hostage to every perceived failure, I will never be free.

One of my favorite quotes from this past week will encourage your heart if you’ve ever fallen into the trap of beating yourself up:

Therein, for me, lied the secret to my freedom: forgiving myself for what I didn’t (and couldn’t) know at the time.

And, as Maya Angelou said so perfectly:  “When you know better, you do better.”

Each day offers a new opportunity to know, and do, better.

Let’s give ourselves a break – and buckle up for the new Word of the Week (with some parting thoughts on FORGIVENESS):

What are you needing FAITH for?

Remember, it works by LOVE (not fear).

With much love,

Brenda

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Making Your Vision REAL (and the New WOW)

If your vision for your life is something you just can’t shake, there’s one thing I know: You’ve got what it takes to bring it to fruition.

Let me temper that statement with a little special sauce.

I’ll keep it personal, but if the stiletto fits…

Some of my grand visions for me were planted in some rich soil called EGO.  This manure effectively fertilized the seed for these visions:  INSECURITY.

 I needed to be a successful, amazing, superior WHATEVER because on the inside I felt like a worthless, meaningless, nothing.

Sheesh! What a roller coaster ride of inflated-sense-o-self and inferiority!

Thank you very much, I no longer ride those waves of insecurity.  They sometimes beckon me with a free ticket to ride, but I’ve learned to say “been there, done that, gave it up for Lent.”

When you check your ego at the door and begin to love on yourself, your TRUE vision for you can emerge…and it is never unattainable, because LOVE never fails.

You were born for this.

Every gift, talent, resource, connection – you’ve got it.  And if it hasn’t manifested yet, it’s going to show up just when you need it.

What’s this “I don’t know what my gift is…” business?  Ha!

Your gift is the thing that lights you up and lights up everyone it touches.

And when it comes to VISION, yours is wrapped up in a bow made of your gifts.

For some practical VISION advice and the new WOW – here you go!:

We call this the WOW – the Word of the Week, but the feeling I got when I pulled that card was truly “WOW…”

I began talking about the sense of inferiority and how it can abort our visions for a happy and a good life.  To follow that up with the word HEALING and a sense that so many of you are holding yourselves hostage to the past…well, WOW.

Please forgive yourself.

Treat yourself as kindly as you do others.

Let those deep places heal so you can get about the business of living and loving and using your gifts.  The more you do, the more healed you’ll feel.

Love to you as you consider these things today – and thank you for giving me a place to use my own gifts.

In gratitude,

Brenda

xoxoxoxo

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Big Can Be Scary (But Do it Anyway)

Here’s the funny thing about talking a BIG game (or dreaming a big dream):

When the opportunity comes to DO something about it, it can scare the bejeezus out of you.

Oh, there are those serendipitous times when you have so LIVED that thing in your mind, you’re quite prepared when it shows up.  You welcome it like a long lost friend.

Sometimes we’re so used to slugging a thing out and waiting and waiting that we’re shocked when it shows up, seemingly prematurely.  (Like when the doorbell rings and it’s unexpected company.)

These “surprise” answers to prayer often reveal the level of our unbelief.

But hey, just like when unexpected company shows up, you can pull it together!  Fire up the coffee pop, defrost that coffee cake, do a quick Febreze and you’re ready to go! (Maybe not your Class A, gold standard ready to go, but at least you answered the door!)

Have you ever had those times when company shows up and you LOVE them but you decide to act like you’re not home?  I know, YOU would never do that (!) but some people have been known to.  Like my favorite comedian, Sebastian Maniscalco in this bit:

Getting back to my thoughts on EXPANSIVENESS – our fear to “answer the door” is often related to the unknown of the BIG opportunity facing you.

Or the security/comfort presented by the KNOWN “not so big” situation in which you currently find yourself.

One thing I’ve learned in life though is “if it’s meant to be yours, it WILL come to you when you are ready.”

In my professional life, I started out talking a big game and beat out thousands to win a slot as one of the original QVC show hosts.  But my talk didn’t really reside in my heart…and within months the opportunity disintegrated.  I was devastated.  Heartbroken.

It took a long time to even begin to dream again, let alone to think big.

And life is a progression, isn’t it?

What was BIG to me in 1980 seems like small potatoes now!

Every time I start to feel comfy cozy in my station in life, I get a little nudge in my heart that says, “Don’t stop.”

For those of you who feel today like you missed the boat in life (or that a particular ship has sailed) – shake that off.

If it is a desire you can’t shake, it is meant to be yours.  Prepare yourself on the inside to RECEIVE it…and then to be able to SUSTAIN it. 

If the internal script is a negative one (I’ll never…No one ever…It won’t…) CHANGE it.  No one else can do that for you.

Interestingly, MY lesson learned this week had very little to do with thinking and dreaming big.  It was about being a BIG person on the inside…and it humbled me.  True confessions and the new WOW, coming right up:

May we all summon the STRENGTH inside of us and face this week with courage – with BIG, forgiving hearts that let love win.

x0x0x0x0x

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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