Tag Archives: Gratitude

Celebrate BAD Times, C’mon! (and the New WOW)

I should have anticipated that, upon picking the word Celebrate that the next two weeks would provide opportunities to grumble, complain, moan and groan.

It’s always that way with the WOW; it challenges me (and some of you, too) to embrace a positive in the midst of the speedbumps of life.

Enter edition 5.0 of Adventures in Airports.

Each quarter, I fly to Philly and participate in work meetings. Whenever possible, I try to fly out of Sarasota, because the local airport is literally five minutes from my home.  There are never direct flights (yet, I’m praying that will change) to PHL from SRQ, but the hour drive time to and from Tampa usually makes up the difference.

So SRQ it was, and a mid-afternoon flight stopping in Atlanta. Let me begin by telling you everything that went wrong.

Once settled at the gate, the thunderbolts came, and with them, the first of 3 delays.

At the first announced delay, some fellow passengers began grumbling.  One woman started to freak out a bit.  A seasoned traveler, I thought to myself, “Chill lady. You’ll get there…eventually.”

You know that scripture, “Judge not, lest you be judged?”  By the third announced delay I WAS that hyperventilating woman, and it was clear that no Sarasota flight would get me to Philly by the next morning.

A quick search revealed a Tampa flight leaving in two hours.  Scurrying to retrieve my bag (carry-on size, but holding a huge hairspray, therefore checked), I hailed a cab and said, “Get me to Tampa ASAP.”

There would be just enough time to arrive, check in, get through security and make the flight.

Except after 20 minutes of smooth sailing, traffic halted to a standstill.

As the minutes ticked off, I began Googling OTHER flights.  My only other options were revealed to be connections to Newark rather than Philly, and an earliest arrival time of around 11 AM.  Two and a half hours AFTER the start of the meeting.

Yes, it occurred to me during this tense standstill that CELEBRATE was the just-revealed Word of the Weeks.  Which I found utterly annoying.

Then my phone battery died.  I had no USB charger, only one that would fit an electrical outlet.  And my taxi driver’s phone was a Samsung, not an Apple.

Did I mention that the thunderstorms followed me during the entire route?

When, just a little over a half an hour before the flight was to board, I arrived at the American Airlines terminal, the check-in screen informed me that it was too late to check my bag.

Goodbye $15 can of hair spray.

Trudging through security, I beelined it for the gate.  As I found myself starting to relax and even celebrate making the flight, the monitors announced that those of us attempting to get to Philly would be delayed.  First an hour.  Then almost two.

I’d get to my destination around 1 AM.

Did I mention that to fill the void and the sheer boredom of waiting in airports for a total of 5 hours I ingested every unhealthy, carb and sugar laden  option available to me?

By the time I arrived, I was exhausted, bloated, grumpy and…grateful.

Because here is everything that went RIGHT:

I never pack a carry-on sized bag.  NEVER.  I love having several shoe and clothing options, my makeup case is almost the size of a carry-on itself, and I HATE hoisting a carry-on and flailing to shove it in the overhead.

But for some odd reason, I DID pack my smaller luggage.  Had I not, when I finally checked in at Tampa, I could have gotten on the flight – but with  no luggage.  Which would have been my particular idea of hell on earth.

Did I mention when I booked that last minute flight from Tampa that first-class one way was actually CHEAPER than the main cabin?

When I went to board, the flight attendant looked at my maximum sized carry-on and quite large computer case and said, “Ma’am, you can’t board with both of those items…”

You should have seen the look on my face.

Until she said, “Unless you are in first-class.”

A cause to celebrate. I nodded, numbly, thanking my lucky stars that by some sheer twist of fate, I was indeed in first class.

Which enabled me to plug in my phone.

So I could find out that my wonderful brother/friend, Steve, would personally pick me up from the airport in the wee hours of the morning.

And take me to his home where the most comforting person on earth, Renee, would have my pillows fluffed and soft music playing when I arrived.

So many things went wrong, yes.  But so many things went RIGHT.

It’s all how you look at a thing.  (Which was ultimately the correct conclusion I came to, after kvetching and moaning and grumbling.)

The scriptures say that complaining overwhelms your spirit.  I would add that celebrating buoys your spirit.

Our days are full of plot twists. We can’t control what happens to us, but we sure can choose how we RESPOND to what happens to us.  So why not celebrate?

And sometimes, that’s what makes all the difference.

It seems like the universe is continuing with this theme of positivity.  I blapped out a word during my closing thoughts on CELEBRATION…and wouldn’t you know, it was a precursor to the new WOW.  Here we go!

Oh yes!  Let’s raise our respective vibrations and expect more good stuff.

By the way, for my SW Florida area friends, I am conducting my first open-to-the-public workshop on August 11th at 11 AM at Davis Hall (Sarasota Center of Light).  It’s all about how to raise your vibration when you’re “Running on Empty.”

The workshop leads participants through a 7 step self-assessment. It’s enlightening! The Hall is located at 852 S. Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota. BYOC! (Bring Your Own Coffee)

We’ll laugh ALOT and learn, too…and the point is to spend time on YOU so you can course correct and get that happy tank full again.  Click on the above photo or here to link to the event and buy a ticket.  (Best $25 you’ll ever spend.) Please share with a friend (and I hope to see you there!)

Love,

Brenda

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Understanding and Knowledge (& the New WOW)

This past couple of weeks I’ve been studying a subject about which I truly need knowledge.

I liken to process to pulling a thread from a sweater and watching it unravel. Just when I complete one webinar on the topic, it ends up raising ten other questions  needing answers.  Which results in signing up for another five webinars, all of which end in a sales pitch with the goal to get my credit card out and sign up for their advanced courses.

I’m gaining knowledge, yes.

But I want to make the leap to UNDERSTANDING. Until that bridge is crossed, information is simply overwhelming.

When facts and knowledge overload my mind, I stop feeling the joy and excitement of the original idea.  It doesn’t feel good.

My original idea (brilliant, but requiring knowledge to execute) literally descended on me as I was walking on the pretty Ringling Bridge on Memorial Day morning.  It dropped into my mind like a gift.  Without angst! Without even trying! Inspiration filled my heart and ideas flowed. Doors opened; resources came to me like a moth to a flame.

You know that feeling when you know you’re on to something?  At that beautiful stage when you haven’t tried to figure out HOW it’ll get done – you just have a clear vision of its awesomeness upon completion?

Maintaining that initial vibe while filling in the gaps of knowledge has been the challenge.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE to learn.  But even more, I love to ACT.  And until understanding comes, I don’t have a green light in my heart to take action.

Understanding is the green light in your heart that says, “Aha!  You’ve got it.  Go for it.”

Understanding is also the red light in your heart that whispers, “Don’t you dare get out that credit card.”

This past year has all been about allowing myself to feel my feelings and learning to NEVER underestimate them.  Our feelings are guideposts, indicating our connection (or lack of) connection to SOURCE (God, Spirit, The Force – however you wish to refer to the Divine.)

Or as they said in the 60’s, “If it feels good, do it.”

The completed vision?  Feels amazing.

It’s the ruminating on the gaps between start and finish that try to trip us up.

Many of us dream dreams, but we focus on how far from manifesting they seem.

We seek relationships or financial freedom or weight loss, and we mull over how elusive these desires appear to be. 

All of which only focuses on the LACK.  And what you focus on is what you (and I) ATTRACT.

In other words, keep complaining about it, and you’ll keep having it (or not having it.)

So what do we do because we DO need to fill in those gaps?

What’s working for me is to stay on the path of least resistance.

When it stops flowing, I stop going. 

When I hit a brick wall in progress, I distract myself with something entirely different – something that reignites my joy level.  It could be an episode of Shark Tank (I’m obsessed) or watching Amy Sedaris’ Instagram videos (also obsessed).  America’s Got Talent never fails to bring a heartfelt tear to my eyes.  And a good mani/pedi is another great distraction.

The dream WILL be accomplished; the gaps filled in.  But I refuse to worry about the HOW. 

Why? Because my overriding UNDERSTANDING is this:  God does not put a dream in our heart for it to be frustrated.  It is a seed that we must tend to with love.  And for it to spring forth and bear fruit, we must nurture OURSELVES.

If you feel overwhelmed or sad or just a little off about your particular dream, wish, or want, distract yourself with something lovely.  Conjure up in your imagination the feelings of how wonderful that elusive thing will be while counting your blessings about the right here right now.

Stay in a happy place.

Doing so will keep you in a receptive mode for more serendipitous encounters with creativity, people and other miracles.

More thoughts on UNDERSTANDING, provoked by the recent and tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain…and the new WOW, comin’ right up!

OMG – that just confirms it.  Keep that vibe high!  Celebrate like it’s already happened.  Don’t apologize for your joyful exuberance!

I’m excited for all of us to delight in this wonderful word that invites us to fan the flame of every happy feeling.

Love to you all!

xoxoxoxox

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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My Messes Are My Message (and the New WOW)

To live in harmony, I’ve had to make peace with the messes in my life.  Yes, I’ve looked at them through the lens of bitterness and victim-hood, which did not serve my hope for a happy future.

Instead, I have chosen to see messes through the lens of gratitude and a believe that a Divine thread has woven them into the blessings that sculpted the person I am today.

So, as I shared with my fellow Toastmasters in my first speech this past week: There are three primary MESSES in my life that have made me who I am.

No one wants to ride the seesaw with a 100 pound kindergartner.  Yes, you heard correctly.

Born a month too soon in 1963, Sal and Bette Costello weren’t sure I was going to make it!  Hooked to tubes in an isolated area, four-pound me needed to reach five pounds to finally go home with mom and dad.  When finally released, the need to feed was never a problem again.  Getting me to STOP was.

…and there I was in kindergarten, 100 pounds.  Twice the size of most of my classmates, I had to have special clothes and shoes made for me; I couldn’t run (without peeing my self) – but my mess became my message.  I learned that what I could create between my two ears and come out of my mouth could build the bridges that my lack of looks couldn’t.

This mess birthed in me an empathy for the underdog; a sensitivity to those whose feelings might be hurt. It’s a mess that made me.

For mess #2, we must fast forward to age ten. My mother had long ago put me on a diet, so my weight was no longer an issue.  I was in 5th grade, just starting to discover boys…and I was particularly excited for the annual roller skating party where I knew that Aldo Falasca would be and who I hoped would invite me to a couples’ skate.

We whirled around the rink, girls giggling and boys showing off…and I heard my name called over the loudspeaker.  Had I won a door prize?  I excitedly skated to the office and saw Mr. Coccaro, a friend of the family, with a somber look on his face.

I knew something very bad had happened.

Before a word was said, I blurted, “Was it Mommy?” He shook his head. “Daddy?””

He nodded.

At the very age I am today, one fatal heart attack stole him from our little family and with it, robbed me of so much security.

But eventually, my mess became my message.  We all suffer loss in life – mine just occurred earlier than most.  And what it taught me is to never take someone you love for granted, because their tomorrows – and yours – are not promised.  Oh, I’d give anything to have that stolen time with my dad back, but what a valuable lesson to learn:

That love and gratitude reside in your heart to be expressed…and that if you live a life of love, you live a life with no regrets.

My third mess was the heartbreak of being single when everyone else was married.

My sister was married at age 20, and I had lived through ALL of my twenties and most of my 30’s with NO Mr. Right (and truthfully, very few dates.) I had, however, been in almost ten weddings (to my chagrin) and well-meaning friends encouraged me that, “When you least expect it…”

Ha!  I went to every outing – including the grocery store or hopeful visits to Home Depot expecting…and expecting…and expecting.  Nothing materialized.

Fortunately, I had a full life filled with friends and family and challenging work.  In fact, in 2001 I was writing an annual report for the local government.

Printing companies from around the region competed in a bidding process to win the job and, once awarded, the vendor called to arrange a meeting.

“Oh, it’s not even ready yet.  When it is, I’ll call YOU.”

The printing rep called again in a few weeks and by this time, under pressure to meet my deadline I responded with more agitation:  “I will call YOU when it’s ready; please don’t call me again.”

You know how you create a mental image of a person you talk to on the phone?  This guy was to me Danny Devito from Taxi.  Short, gruff, tubby and probably with a cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth.  I was not impressed.

Then the day came for the file to be picked up.  And this was NOT Danny DeVito.

No, this was more like Tom Selleck from Magnum PI.

I couldn’t find my powers of speech.  I fumbled to act professionally, while searching that left hand to see if it was adorned with a ring.

When I least expected it…

…three months later we were engaged.

Fourteen  years later, I am still in love with that printing salesman.

My mess is my message: If it is in your heart, it is your destiny.  Don’t waste time being sad because what you desire WILL eventually come to you, because I believe with all of my heart that desires are planted there to be fulfilled.

It’s the waiting, though, that makes you grateful when the dream is finally fulfilled.

In closing, is there something that might be a mess in your life today.  Hold on, my friends. It could actually end up being your message.

And that’s how I ended my speech!  Thanks for letting me share it with you, and I do believe that making peace with your past and seeing through the lens of gratitude makes for a much more HARMONIOUS life.

Drum roll please for the new Word of the Week!:

Ah, WISDOM!

The scriptures say if we ask for it, we will receive it liberally.  Here’s to huge doses of it for all of us this week!

xoxoxoxoxo

Brenda

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A Merry WOW to End the Year!

Merry Christmas!  (Or whatever you celebrate, I hope it is super merry!)

It occurs to me that we don’t use the work merry enough in regular life.  It tends to pop up only around Christmas.  But I think I want it to be MY word year-round.

Yes!  Extra doses of MERRY all year – for ALL of us!!!

Since I was headed to PA for a work trip, I knew I would have the pleasure of staying at what I affectionately call “Kamp Kantor.”

I’ve written about my dear friends, the Kantors, many times before.  Back in 1994 we became next door neighbors.  As 2017 approaches, we are not just the best of friends, but are family to each other.

It was a week of sleeping around! I was also able to spend one night at my sister’s home in Ventnor, NJ.

Both the Kantors and the DiBaccos have beautiful homes, but what makes them both my favorite places on earth (aside from my own home) are how filled they are with LOVE.

I found myself thinking throughout my whirlwind trip, “What did I ever do to deserve this kind of love?” 

And the answer is even better: Nothing.  Because this is the kind of love that is truly without conditions.

If I’m at my best or at my worst; through thick (or thin – literally), these people LOVE me.

And isn’t that the best present of all?

It was in my heart to ask my camera-shy friend Renee to assist me with the new Word of the Week to end 2016.  After all, she is the one that introduced me to her Angel Cards many years ago – and I was thrilled that she agreed.

The video is a little dark and the audio a little light, but turn your speakers up because the word my dear friend picked COULDN’T BE MORE PERFECT to end a year and start another:

My wish for all of you is that you snuggled up somewhere with someone you love (even if it is a furry, four-legged friend) and that you are so busy counting your blessings that you can’t even remember the things that didn’t go your way this year.

(I mean, counting your sorrows?  What good did THAT ever do anyone?)

Someone once suggested that to start a new year, make a practice of keeping a blessings jar.  Every time you have a blessing, write it down…and at the end of the year, go through them all.

I didn’t do that this year.  But my heart is full.

My cup runneth over.

I have a VISION for 2017, and it is lavish, abundant, joyous, FREE and happy.

What’s yours?

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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A Season for Gratitude (and the New WOW)

I’m grateful.  And gratitude is my (and our superpower.)

In a week when so many people were up in arms (on both sides of the political fence) I was reminded of my puppy dog…my husband…my family…my friends…my job…my health…my home…the sun…the bright moon…the taste of strong coffee…the pleasures of a good book…my three years of sobriety…and oh, the list goes on.

This is not to deny anyone’s right to be angry or upset.  It’s just that in this brief experience called life, I want to drink in and exhale joy.

There have been many times in my life when I have felt real despair. But the sun has eventually shined once again and when I look over my shoulder, I realize with gratitude that what didn’t kill me made me stronger.  And more empathetic.  And kinder.

And that’s what I want.  To be better, not bitter.

Which is why I was so delighted to receive this week’s new WOW:

com·pas·sion
kəmˈpaSHən/
noun
noun: compassion; plural noun: compassions
  1. sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
    synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth,love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity

    “have you no compassion for a fellow human being?”
    antonyms: indifference, cruelty

    This week, try a little tenderness.  With others…and with yourself.

    And count your blessings.  It will comfort your heart.

    xoxoxoxo

    Brenda

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A Fabulous Man: The Contented Markeith Price

My grumbles of discontent were stopped in their tracks this week as I encountered a very contented man who simultaneously maintains a champion’s internal fire to win.

My discontent was simply a product of VERY long days spent on my feet and a week away from my husband and puppy dog. Don’t get me wrong – my week at a work-related trade show was a thrilling success, but my body is used to being comfortably ensconced at my desk for hours on end.

I LOVED the ability to connect with our clients and make new connections (but even the ugliest shoes built for comfort were no match for a hard convention floor.)

Then I met Markeith Price.

Mind you, I had talked to him previously; he is one of the athletes who uses our product. His story is even more compelling because he participates in the Paralympics as a visually impaired track and field athlete, who just happens to own four US records and will be headed to Rio to represent our country in August.

Somehow a few e-mails and phone conversations didn’t convey fully who I was about to encounter.

When I received the call that he had arrived at the registration desk, I trudged the LONG length of the convention floor and up two flights to meet him.

I could tell who he was right away, wearing a US Team track suit and the presence of a champion. After I shook his hand and welcomed him, he said, “Lead the way…” and at that point he whipped out his cane to ensure the walk would be stumble free.

Because he carried himself with such confidence and had such physical beauty, it was almost a disconnect to see him walking with a cane. Or when seated at the autograph table, for him to put his cell phone one inch from his face so he could tweet and invite people to come and see him at Booth #2087.

Markeith at table

I had the chance to interview him later in the day, and he is one grateful guy. (Yes, gratitude is the bridge back to contentment, isn’t it?) Instead of grumbling about the condition that progressively stole his eyesight, he found his passion, his calling, his joy and has never looked back from pursuing his dreams.

I asked him, “How do you do it?”

Simply put, “I hear the gun and I GO.”

Boy does he go.  He flies!  It’s a ballet of speed and grace; a thing of beauty to watch.

He has made peace with the physical challenge he must live with but never has let it stop him from running toward his dreams.

I see a gold medal in Rio in his future.  He sees it too, though not with his eyes.

Markeith in color and ring

And I?  Found the spring in my step again, thanks to Markeith.

Here are my parting thoughts on CONTENTMENT and the unveiling of another word that embodies Markeith…

May we find our second wind this week and draw from the well of resources that are unseen (just like those extra miles available even when your tank is on E.)

Take the time to refresh your body so that it can catch up to the infinite wellspring contained in your spirit.

Have a beautiful week, everyone –

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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