Tag Archives: Harmony

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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Try a Little Tenderness (and the New WOW)

When I dipped into the bag and selected this week’s WOW, it warmed my heart.

I hope it does the same for you.  Some parting thoughts on HARMONY, first:

Everyday kindnesses often get overlooked, but they are the WD-40 that makes life’s challenges a bit less irritating and problems less, well, squeakier.

Kindness is a tenderizer.  Use lavishly!

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s day. Like when my neighbor saw me out letting Shasta do her business and she walked over and said, when I saw this, I thought of you.  (It was a little peacock magnet with the phrase “Always Dream Big.”)

She GETS me.

Don’t you just love when people GET you?

Maybe you’ve read those books about love languages, and so for me, generosity (and presents!) is a biggie for me.  That’s probably why I link kindness with generosity.  I tip big. I love orchestrating presents and surprises for people. I live for little clues about what the people I love might like and then seek them out with laser focus.

KINDNESS FEELS GOOD.

When you give it AND when you receive it.

When I’m having a bad day, I sometimes say “Take THAT!” to the negative energy and do something that pokes a hole in the universe.

Like paying for someone’s manicure or their cup of coffee.

Now YOUR thing may not be MY thing, and that’s great. My Aunt Joan bakes and cooks and makes peoples’ days.  My mom’s ricotta cookies are her random acts of kindness.  My sister will whip up a work of art from a quote you said you liked because art flows out of her like a waterfall.

Let’s spread our special sauce on the world this week (at least our little corner of it) and spread some KINDNESS.

Hugs!
Brenda

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Rest In Peace is Not Just for Dead People (& the New WOW)

Do you find yourself walking on eggshells to keep the peace?

Or maybe you’re more inclined to smash someone over the head with a frying pan?

We all have our own unique ways of dealing with internal and external turmoil. My methods change depending on the time of the month, the moon and tides, and whether I’m hungry or tired.

Should the target or source of the turmoil choose to foolishly point OUT that perhaps my demeanor is related to said time of the month, the tension rises exponentially.

Moving on from the “time of the month” to this time of the year…

In these highly charged political times, half of the country has promised to leave if one candidate wins.

The other half will leave if the OTHER wins.

My bet is that no one will really leave.  But the acrimony and the vitriol will likely continue because there will always be some people who think if they talk more and louder, they’ll change someone else’s mind.

I’ve observed that people rarely change their mind when they’re being yelled at.

When I was a teenager, being told I was wrong only made me dig my Candie pumps in deeper just to prove them wrong.

*sigh*

No one knows who I am voting for, and I plan on keeping it that way.  Not because I’m afraid of a good, spirited discourse – but because I love harmony.

I totally respect your opinion!  What I don’t like (or respect) is that so often opinions are offered in crass or insulting manners. On both sides!

As we end our week focusing on harmony, I loved finding this:

Rest in peace

Thus the offbeat subject line for today’s e-mail.  How sad to wait until we’re dead to rest in peace!

I know, sometimes life really is upsetting.  But maybe this week’s WOW will help:

Yes, construction zones are MESSY. But keeping the vision of the end goal in sight can fuel your engine.

Trusting that you’ll get there will help you get through.

My face will stop flaking, too.

oxoxoxox

Brenda

 

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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.
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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.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Discord, the Full Moon and the New Word of the Week!

I really think I have issues with the moon.

The full moon, that is.

I can be having a great ‘ole week, and next thing you know, I’m grumpy, overly sensitive, fearful, insecure, can’t sleep and want to throw all of my good intentions for 2016 out the window. Sounds like PMS, doesn’t’ it?

This syndrome is also accompanied by stark realizations that everyone else is thinner, more talented, has their act together, walks their dogs and never screams at their significant others.

It’s not good.  I should be able to stay in bed with the sheets up over my head until it’s over, shouldn’t I?

You’re not buying it either, are you?

So while I was trying to avoid the emotional puddles of external dramas (as mentioned in this week’s video), I was also trying to navigate the discord in my own soul.

I’m reminded of the scripture, “Anxiety in the heart causes depression (and the consumption of McDonald’s french fries), but a good word makes it glad.”

(I added the french fries part.)

But the good word came from my friend, Renee, who was patiently listening to my rant via e-mail.  It saved me from thinking I was (as she has taught me to say in Yiddish), “meshuganah” (strange, eccentric, irresponsible, crazy).

“Could it be the full moon?” she asked sweetly.

The moon!  An answer!  A reason for my moodiness.  Something to hang my hat on that doesn’t make me MORE crazy!

And that’s how a good word turned a bad day around.

Sometimes you may not be able to change the circumstances, but if you can at least understand what they ARE, it aids your sanity.  (It did for me, anyway.)

More musings on harmony and the new WOW!:

So INSPIRATION it is!

What inspires YOU?

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Compassion, Bathroom Trauma and the New Word of the Week

How’s THAT for a title?

A lovely series of pitfalls and roadblocks, professionally and personally, tried to hi-jack my week.  How about you?

But around every corner, I was looking for and expecting (and offering to myself) compassion, rather than the judgment that so often tries instead to win the day.

I mention this in the video, but THIS was the most “responded to” post on my Facebook page this week:

Sympathy-quotes-compasion-quotes-kindness-quotes-remember-that..

That harsh retort?  That grumpy receptionist? The driver who cut you off and provided a one finger salute?

Who knows what they are going through?

Taking a step back to entertain the possibilities in your mind opens the door to empathy and then, compassion.  

And the desire to strike back or lash out dissipates.

Which plays in nicely to the big reveal about our NEW Word of the Week…but first, a recap of COMPASSION (and in some cases, a little TOO MUCH information…):

Ahhh…so you see where I’m going?

If we seek harmony and it seems elusive, we can take a step back and remember COMPASSION.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Or give yourself a break for seemingly falling short.

Don’t judge.

Have empathy.

Extend the olive branch.

Isn’t life too short to live in disharmony?

Can you think of a time when you chose to be the bigger person, and it built a bridge leading to harmony?

There may have been a HUGE gulp first, like the teeter-tottering of a child getting ready to take a leap off of the high dive for the first time.

But you jumped.

OK, maybe violins didn’t play and perhaps you didn’t ride off into the sunset singing kum-ba-yah.

But you went to sleep knowing you TRIED.  You followed the Holy Spirit’s gentle prodding and did it.

Their response is not your responsibility.  Just be true to your best self, and let harmony fill all the inside places of discord.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9 

According to Wikipedia (so blame them if this is inaccurate) the word peacemakers does not imply pacifism.  It does not refer to those who do not fight, but rather to  those who actively bring conflict to an end.

Wow.  I like that!

Here’s to a week of bringing conflicts to an end, both externally and internally (or at least trying) and increasing the harmony level in our lives and the lives of those we love.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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