Tag Archives: friendship

A Wise Friend and the WOW for 3.6.16

When we planned their visit over a year ago, we had no idea how wise the timing would be for our friends Judy and Jim Neubauer to come to town.

It had been over a year since I had enjoyed quality time with my friend and, for the guys, well – they’re great at being goofy together. I vividly recall one New Year’s Eve when they tried their hand at hip-hop dancing as the clock struck twelve.

Thankfully, they both decided to keep their day jobs.

The levity Jim brought with him is exactly what Duane needed after traveling home from his mother’s funeral services. A true pal, he even watched Johnny Carson reruns with us.

Jim and Judy are the kind of friends whose kids call us “Aunt Brenda and Uncle Duane.” Can I tell you how much I love that?

Not having a daughter of my own, I got to go prom dress shopping several years back with Judy and her daughter Laura (who is now practically a pharmacist).  Doug was Shasta’s favorite baby-sitter.  He’s now a Marine. I’ve watched Amanda grow from a “Little Cindy-Lou Who” lookalike to a stunning young teenager…and Daniel?  He was the only Neubauer offspring I’ve known since the womb.

An entire essay could be written about Daniel, whose twinkle and star-shine wrapped into an irrepressible personality are likely to be famous one day.  (I called it, folks.)

Yep, I love those Neubauers.  But getting back on topic:

DISCERNMENT was this past week’s WOW and while I have enjoyed making my new Sarasota friends, there’s nothing like a long-time friend whose counsel you trust to boost your mental health.

And in this case, it wasn’ t just my mental and spiritual health – it was physical, too.  See, Judy is a Nurse Practitioner.  If you’ve got a belly ache, a pang in your side, a funky looking mark or…well, you name it, she’s got just the advice to put your mind at ease.

So while the trip here was supposed to be HER birthday present, I’m the one that really got the gift.

Sometimes you just need someone you can say anything to who won’t judge but will lend a listening ear and some sage wisdom.

And who will go shopping with you.

Thank you, Judy, for being such a friend.  For encouraging me to take those probiotics and for helping me with this week’s WOW!:

How freeing it was for me to discover that not everyone had to love me – or even LIKE me – for me to be at peace.

How relieved were my friends and family when I stopped trying to get them all converted to my point of view!

Trying to change anyone other than ourselves is an exercise in futility.  And who made us the other guy’s savior?

Yes, when I focused more on the moat in my own eye and embraced the concept that we can all agree to disagree, HARMONY began to blossom in my life.

And my life began to blossom.

May our week be filled with good music and inner peace – regardless of what may be going on around us.

Let others’ dramatics play on.  We don’t have to enter the fray.




Share This:

The Time I Starred in My Own Sitcom

I love making people laugh.

As I kid I remember singing passionately into a hairbrush and lip syncing to Donny Osmond for anyone who dared visit our home. At an early age, I discovered that being entertaining was a one-way ticket to garner attention, and attention was something I always LOVED.

I’ve stopped apologizing for this trait; it’s just the way I am. Some people don’t like a fuss, and others like marching bands, peacock feathers and disco balls.

Hey, it’s people like me that keep the glitter industry in business! It takes all kinds to make this juicy world so darned interesting.

So, back to me (of course). If there’s a lull in the conversation, I’ll break into one of my famous Cher impressions. Or do a goofy chair dance with wild, swinging hair.

But the time I most vividly recall being the star in my own sitcom was on a trip with the Fab Four (Renee, Cynthia and Anita) to beautiful St. Maarten.  Idyllic, aqua blue water, open air markets and powdery soft sand set the stage for a blissful, relaxing getaway.

But as you know from my previous tale, my friend Anita’s idea of fun is not sitting on a lounge chair and drinking pina coladas.

She wanted to go parasailing.

Cynthia and Renee gave her their best, “Not a chance” looks.  But, since I had yet to stop drinking and was feeling a bit wild and loose, I said, “I’ll go!”

I mean, how could this not go well?  Handsome, shirtless men on jet skis prepared to whisk us out to the launching boat (I am sure there are official words for all of this, but I do not know them.) I jumped on the back, held on tightly and readied for an adventure.

This jet ski ride was on STEROIDS.  Not a fun, bouncy little jaunt, the driver was full pedal to the metal and my inebriated self began screaming SLOW DOWN!  HELP!  WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

He sped up.

I then screamed something I can’t print here, because this is a G-rated website.  It involved taking drastic action (with salty language and a threat of bodily harm) to get him to slow down.  Said with the emphasis only terror can evoke, my wild-eyed, hair flying, blood curdling delivery only served to make my driver, his buddy driver, and my so-called friend Anita dissolve into giggles.

Finally, we get on board and they begin strapping us in to our parasailing apparatus.  Anita and I were going up together.  I wanted to be a friend and a support to her on this adventure.  Instead, I was her comic relief.

Somehow, as the sails lifted, I shifted.  Instead of securely perched among the straps, I fell like a hanging sausage in an Italian deli.  Due to several cocktails and a lack of stomach muscles, I was unable to pull myself up into position.

And this is what I love about my friend Renee.  From the comfort of her lounge chair, she looked up and noted, “Wow.  Look at Brenda.  She’s really good at this – look at how she’s spinning in the air!”

One is not supposed to spin in the air like a rotisserie chicken when parasailing.  As Anita daintily sat enjoying the view while our altitude grew, my lady parts grew increasingly numb, tortured with every minute of the hang.

I could have surrendered to the moment.  But that was LAST week’s Word of the Week.  And I just wanted OFF the ride.

The screaming of obscenities began afresh but no one can hear you that far up in the sky, plus,  Anita’s giggles were drowning out my cries for help.  I’m ashamed to say I spun in her direction and said, “Shut up, you skinny @#$%#!”

See, she was lithe and lightweight.  I was chunkier at this juncture in my life, and it was a true disadvantage in the exercise of parasailing.

Finally, it was time for the descent.  Others gracefully landed in the water, floating down in slow motion.  My hanging sausage routine was now enhanced by my legs trying to run in the air (Renee thought I was doing air ballet) accompanied by screams of “No, no, no, no, NOOOOOOOO!” as we approached touchdown.

Anita’s last memory is of me coming up for air after dunking down and saying, “Oh.  That wasn’t so bad.”

To this day, we cannot retell the story without collapsing into belly laughs.

I only wish there had been video evidence, but this photo will have to do.

FullSizeRender (00000002)

Can you tell which one is me?

I hope you laughed ALOT this week.  You certainly all make ME smile.  🙂

Share This:

The Journey to Healing (and a Return to Purpose)

A long time ago (it feels more like a lifetime ago), I truly believed I was fulfilling my purpose in life.

So unshakeable was this conviction that anything that dared to interfere with it provoked my outrage.  So self-assured was I that my path was correct, I missed my sister’s baby shower and several other key family events.  They conflicted with my church obligations and church (notice I said church, not God) was numero uno.

This in itself should have been a red flag, but when you’ve invested a good deal of time and money into something, you are most resistant to hearing that, ahem, you might be wrong.

Yes, this former life of mine was wrapped around church life; I’ve detailed it previously but as my life continues to unfold, I see new layers and shades that tainted my life and my perspective…and, in keeping with our word of the week, I see where HEALING has taken place.

I’ll back up again for a very heartfelt disclaimer: My experiences are in no way an advertisement against church attendance or membership. Everyone’s got their own journey and there are certainly some wonderful houses of worship that serve as places of refuge and community that meet deep needs for so many people. Oh, and there are SO many wonderful men and women who sincerely want to help people and do so in the context of their local church.

But when my church broke my heart, the last thing I needed to do was jump back into the fray. I tried, by the way – after all, it’s pretty much all I knew in my adult life.  But when I would visit a new place, I’d find myself sobbing hysterically during the music or walking out in a huff during the sermon. I no longer “fit.” And for me, in retrospect, that ended up being a good thing.

However, before it was a good thing, it was a tormenting thing.  Here’s why:  I was no longer “putting out” for God.  That sounds crass, but hey, I’d been a productive little soldier for 15 years; spent every waking moment either ministering to, counseling someone or otherwise trying to lasso someone onto my religious team.  All of a sudden, I wasn’t even going to church?  My self worth was at an all time low.  Something on the inside was broken and I felt like it could never be fixed.

Had I plugged right back in and gotten back to doing what I had always done for the previous 15 years, I might never have had the breathing space to question, deconstruct, assess, observe, reject and embrace what the REAL me believed. Not the me that I created to fit others’ expectations, but the real Brenda.  The college girl with purple hair and a penchant for the Clash; the 100-pound kindergartener who developed a sparkling  personality to withstand the taunts of her classmates; the high- school sophomore who escaped into writing and dreamed of leaving Buena, New Jersey one day…and so many other versions of me that I let die on the vine in order to become what and who supposedly spiritual people wanted me to be.

I took my leave from all things that even reminded me of my former church life.  I avoided many sweet people, because I felt like I had nothing to offer them anymore.

I was certain that not only did I lack answers for them, I had nothing to say at all.  About anything.

Pouring myself into my career to make up for the lost years (and finances) was a form of healing for me.  To enter into discourse with intelligent people; to rediscover my creativity; to make friends with new people untainted by a memory of who I used to be…yes, like a deflated balloon slowly filling with air, I was coming back to life.

And for several years, that was more than enough.

Except for the yearning.  Where was my PURPOSE?  Why was I HERE?

Would I ever know the joy of feeling like I was doing what I was born to do again?

After some years had passed, my beloved friend, Cindy O’Krepki, created an amazing blog, “Simple Pleasures Everyday Love.” Cindy and I had ministered side by side, even calling each other “the bookends.”  I was so happy to see her unique and lovely voice; her beautiful take on world burst forth once again. Good for her!

When she later invited me to guest blog, I was nervous, excited, fearful and hopeful – all mixed together.  She knew…

In the fragments of my broken self, there were yet  stories to be told – and in the telling would come healing.

I vividly recall her saying to me, “When you have your own blog…” and thinking, “WHAT?”

It was too huge a leap for me to conceive that a one or two spot guest blogging exercise could ever lead to something more.

What it did, however, was stir a yearning in me to do what I have always loved most:  encourage people.  Turns out, I did have something to say – though the message was far different from those long-ago days.  And that message – of LOVE, love, love – was birthed from a heart that actually NEEDED to be broken so it could be re-set properly.

Would I have ever chosen my particular wound?  Not a chance.  Am I glad it made me who I am today?  You bet.

You know what they say; your mess becomes your message.  There’s no testimony without a test.  Such phrases may sound  cliché, but  I can’t deny that within them lies truth.

So for this outpost to stir up my gift and use it again, I am grateful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It has been a long road to get here, but I am so glad to have found you.

And that hard and painful road you may be walking, even right now?  I promise you, if you continue to choose love, choose love, choose LOVE over fear, you will get to the other side and be a better version of you, with a story that can heal others (as it heals you, too.)




Share This: