Tag Archives: Hard

Hard or Soft? The Choice is Ours

When TRUST has been broken, how do we avoid becoming hard and bitter?

I came face to face with this question this week as I suffered a disappointment regarding a new friendship.

Full disclosure, my friend was equally disappointed in me.

Two sides, neither willing to yield.

My stubbornness? Born of a newfound desire to not abdicate what I deem precious to make others’ comfortable.  To value my soul enough to give it voice and not dismiss my feelings is THE point of my current journey.

Perhaps as I find the balance and rhythm of my new life, I will be more willing to yield, but for now, it is critical that I not.

Here’s why: Because I know that in yielding that first important thing  can come a slippery slope of acquiescence; the path to losing myself again.

I refuse to.

And in my friend’s unwillingness to give my refusal space, there came a parting of the ways.

Here’s the kicker:  I have written about my carefulness to engage in new friendships.  When you have quality, beautiful people already in your life and you’re not needy, you have the luxury of being more discriminating about those whom you choose to spend time.

This person had checked off all the boxes that were important to me:  Depth, kindness, spirituality, humor, self-awareness…and I let them in.

Then, the great impasse.  The argument with no resolve.  The parting of the ways.

One side of me says, “Why even bother?  Who NEEDS this?!”

The other side knows that in each encounter are lessons to be learned.

That in the decision to “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'” comes the promise of disappointment,  hope, pain, joy – the entire kaleidoscope of feelings.

I’d rather live and feel…even if the feelings are sad for a season.

So back to the question, “How do you avoid becoming HARD?”

The freshness of the disappointment was wrapped in a sense of innocence lost.  Could I ever be so willing and open with someone new?  Had I lost my capacity to try again? Would I become hard – or stay soft?

The answer sank into my heart and was a soothing balm to my soul:

“You stay soft when you put your trust in God, not in people.”

If I put my trust in people, I will always be disappointed.  Because they are human!  They are as flawed as I am.  But to accept that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it ought; that some relationships are just for a season and that there are rich lessons to be gleaned from each one?  That comforts  me enough to put myself out there again.  And again.

Then I hear the words to Kesha’s song “Rainbow”: “What’s left of my heart’s still made of gold…”

But in the dark, I realized this life is short
And deep down, I’m still a child
Playful eyes, wide and wild
I can’t lose hope, what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold

You’ll find a rainbow, rainbow, baby
Trust me, I know life is scary
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and play along with me tonight
You gotta learn to let go, put the past behind you
Trust me, I know, the ghosts will try to find you
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and paint the world with me tonight.

You can hear it here:

The rainbow was God’s promise that he would never send another flood that would destroy the world.  Yes, there are floods…but they will not destroy you.

Keep living, my friends.  Take the hits – and stay soft.  What’s left of your heart’s still made of gold.

And now, my video take on the word TRUST and a new Word of the Week:

https://youtu.be/JrN1kMJoUns

Hmmmm….Sister/Brotherhood was a call to stop being lone rangers in life.  And now SUPPORT?

When we feel overwhelmed this week, let’s continue to reach out and get the support we need.  (Or, when we see a need, let’s jump in and be a support!)

Have a beautiful week –

Brenda

 

 

 

 

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The Hardest (Yet Kindest) Thing I’ve Ever Done (and the New WOW)

My trip to Costa Rica was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, it was purposefully planned to hit the pause button on my life and to shine a light on the deep places in my heart.

But I didn’t realize how difficult such honesty would be.

I thought leaving my church and leaving my marriage were the hardest things I’ve ever done.

But nothing prepared me for the stark reality of coming face to face with ME.

When I left my marriage, I knew that I had embarked on a new phase in my life – but by no means did I enter into a celebration of freedom.

It broke my heart to leave a man I loved – and for whom I will always have love.

Our story is not for public display; I will only share my journey in the hope that it may help you, too.

Though my life was in upheaval, my spirit was resolute: To embark on this new chapter of my life in a healthy way, a spiritual path – an awakening – was needed, and a key question cried out for an answer:

How did Brenda fall in to a toxic church relationship and jump from that into a marriage fraught with similar toxic patterns?

This answer, I believed, was needed to avoid jumping into any other alliances. And I sure didn’t want to waste any more time sleepwalking into relationships.

After many tears shed, I knew I needed help getting to the root.

Through this very blog (a reader contacted me), a path forward presented itself and was confirmed by my dear niece, Deena, and my sister, Shirlee.

There is a place in Costa Rica, the Iboga Wellness Center, that uses what Americans deem unorthodox methods to address deeply-rooted hurts.  The week-long, psycho-spiritual retreat has been purported to produce the effects of 10+ years of therapy.

People I love and respect affirmed that they were truly set free.

Freedom – and answers – were what I longed for.

I booked the trip in June and in the three months leading up to the retreat, was weaned off of Zoloft.  Iboga is an ancient medicinal root that originates in Africa, and it does not mix well with pharmaceuticals.

It fights and weeds out toxicity.  The first treatment focuses entirely on removing toxins from your body – and following that first dose I was flat on my back for an entire day.

It was hard.  This was no spa resort.  For much of the time it was me – and my bed – and a pail to catch vomit.

That first recovery day, I had severe panic attacks and considered fleeing.  There were no distractions; I was face to face with ME for yet another five days.

Midway through the journey, a river cleansing ceremony was held. Imagine Eva Gabor on Green Acres, trekking down a slippery 15 foot embankment in a pounding rain.

Just making it down to the river was a victory for my psyche. The ceremony itself was powerful – my hurts were named and seemed to wash off of me as the rain poured down. Next, my intentions and dreams were also voiced.  The river took them, too and I sensed that the current would take them to fruition.

I cried healing tears.

And was ready to go home.

My body didn’t want to face another Iboga ceremony.  I reasoned with myself: “There’s a hurricane coming; I need to get home to prepare.”  I questioned the process, “How much more can I look inward?  I’ve gotten some release – I want to get back to my soft bed.”

Yet I knew there was more, and I wasn’t about to let fear talk me out of what I traveled there for.

The second journey involves a guided meditation.

All I can say is that I came face to face with little Brenda; the child who so didn’t want to upset anyone that she kept all of her fears and hurts locked up.

I had a bird’s eye view of my soul, shrunken down and diminishing with every passing year.

I saw that because my true feelings were never expressed, they lied dormant, unfulfilled. To cope (and not upset the apple cart), I learned over the years to suppress feelings of anxiety, depression and insecurity because they were “bad.” I became adept at psyching myself up into a false optimism.

This worked for a while, and I even enjoyed some success – but the false front is not sustainable.  Eventually you crack.

The church had built on this faulty premise, teaching that feelings were bad and you couldn’t give them any credence.  It was a sin to be sad.

And my soul continued to die inside of me.

The performance that became my life – surviving the church, trying to present an image of the happy marriage – mostly, trying to present the image of a happy Brenda, nearly destroyed me.

All I wanted to do was make everyone else happy.

And I realized I couldn’t.

Happiness or not is a choice we all make individually.  No winning the lottery or taking exotic vacations can shift a person’s paradigm from dark to light.

Least of all, mine.

As the facilitator guided me back through my life, I SAW me…little me…crouched down and crying soundlessly.

I recognized her and my heart welled up with such love for her.  I held her in my arms and said over and over again, “I love you.  You matter.  I will never silence you again.”

My soul is now free to feel. Decades of feelings are now validated and by doing so, I no longer need to look to external sources for validation.

I am valid.

Am worthy.

Beautiful.

I am whole.

If saying those words out loud to yourself is uncomfortable, I pray for your own healing.

We are destined to have a great love affair in this life…and it is with ourselves.

How can we enjoy a healthy love with anyone else until our own souls are restored?

Yes, I took drastic measures to have a drastic change in my life.

And I got what I went to Costa Rica for.

I recorded this week’s video before my trip. I look forward to what comes out of me in the future, now that I have had a major life healing.

When I feel un-moored, I am so grateful to now have practical tools to get me back to ME.

My thoughts on Kindness and the new Word of the Week….

Ah, SURRENDER. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to let go, yet so freeing to open up to something beautiful and new.

By the way, if any of you have questions about my week at the Iboga Wellness Center, please ask.  What I’ve written here is a condensed version, but there are volumes more to tell.

I wish for each of you the freedom that comes from healing the little soul on the inside so she (or he) can grow up into maturity and strength and power.

You deserve that.

xoxoxo

Brenda

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Big Ain’t Easy (and the New WOW)

No one said that seeking to live a big life would be easy.

As I reflected on our Word of the Week, EXPANSIVENESS, so many of the memes that supported this theme spoke to the part of my heart that dreams of a limitless life.

A life where yes is the first response, not no.

A life where dreams are nurtured instead of dashed by negativity and where love can freely radiate from me, fueled by hope and effervescent belief.

This is who I am at my core.  If I try to be anything else, it constrains me like an ill-fitting jacket.

As life slips into the years where every moment counts because only God knows how many I have left, I have chosen to surround myself with people whose energy gives life instead of taking my own.

How can you live a BIG, expansive life with weights around your ankles?

Oh, you can try…and almost die trying.

This is not to say that choosing to live big is easy but that choosing to be someone that you are not is much harder.

At some point you have to look at those shackles and decide to settle for their tether or to bravely cut ties and allow yourself to fly.

I used to think that such talk was selfish. Now I realize that taking care of me is long overdue and living my life to suit other peoples’ expectations is just another performance.

I don’t want to perform at living.  I want to LIVE. 

Which brings me to this week’s post, and the answer to the question “What’s going on with Brenda?”

Let me add this disclaimer: My choices are my own; they are not a reflection or judgement against anyone else.  I refuse to stoke bitterness and judgement; I wish only love and happiness for everyone. Please know that my life decisions should not be viewed as a rejection or devaluing of another. Rather, they reflect me finally accepting and valuing MYSELF.

I am ready to be that butterfly.

Are you?

xoxoxoxoox

Brenda

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Pity Parties (and the New WOW)

Someone once said that having a pity party was like crying on the devil’s shoulder.

ICK.

That’s a visual image that always stopped me in my tracks.  However, pithy sayings aren’t enough when a full-blown expression of WOE IS ME wells up and wants to win my day.

How inconvenient that our Word of the Week was DELIGHT!  I received further insight into why that word in the Greek means “pliable.”

If you’re not flexible, you can’t find delight in ANYTHING.  

In both my professional and personal lives, I like to write out scripts.  For my wedding reception, I had every speech and song plugged into a spreadsheet timed to the minute. (Control freak much?) Never a fan of “winging it” I write out presentations word for word and practice them until they sound extemporaneous.

My mantra (said first by Ben Franklin): If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

But what about my best laid plans blow up all around me????  (Or you?)

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I had splurged for what I thought was going to be an amazing Christmas gift for my four most favorite people in the world.  Before hitting the purchase button, I checked with both parties to make sure the event date worked for them.  I had such a vision of an evening filled with friendship and laughter!  Nothing delights me more than a well-chosen present! Yippee!

Without going into the complete details, life had other plans.

For one of the couples it involved triple-bypass surgery. (!)  For the other, a nasty, ill-timed virus rendering her bedridden for a week.

Now I KNOW that everyone’s health is way more important than my planned outing.  I really know this.  I knew this so well that in the days leading up to said failed event, I didn’t even acknowledge that I was disappointed.

Until, out of the blue, I burst into tears. Full blown pity party ensued.

It was quite a juicy sob. And then, I felt remarkably better!

Just knowing how you SHOULD feel doesn’t mean you feel that way.  And, as my friend Roseann is famous for saying:  Your feelings aren’t right or wrong; they’re just the way you feel.

Suppressing my disappointment – and failing to acknowledge it – only made me irritable and cranky in all the other areas of my life.  When I finally admitted to myself that I was disappointed, I could LET GO and even be glad that those tickets were going to be enjoyed by other people.  My inability to shake MY idea of how things were going to happen kept me unable to just let life FLOW.

We’ve all got boiling water in our lives.  It’s how we RESPOND to it that makes or breaks us.

The lessen hear for me wasn’t to have the perfect response, but to allow myself to be HONEST about what I was feeling, ’cause until that happened I wasn’t getting ANY release.

Nothing changed.  But how I FELT about it changed.

Here are my closing thoughts on DELIGHT (and softness) – and the New WOW:

And thankfully, my sisters and brothers are all on the mend!

Here’s to holding close those who hold that special place in our heart this week.

xoxoxoxo

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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