It’s the wonderful time for a healing vibe…because it is especially a time of year when many people hurt.
The holidays can bring out the best in us. Opportunities to be generous abound! Honoring traditions and watching Clarissa bat her long eyelashes and sing “There’s Always Tomorrow” to Rudolph always warms my heart.
Alternately, there’s the snowbird going 10 mph in the passing lane that evokes a middle finger as you race to an appointment.
Where did all that anger come from?
When I’m honest, it’s the un-dealt with anger; the rolled eyes and swallowed retorts from a series of days in a row that explode at the first opportunity. Usually in the car, because it is “alone” time and the outburst is between me and me.
In the car we can find ourselves crying at the most inopportune times. Like at a red light when an old Christmas song brings back a memory, and the driver parallel to you stares at the display of tears.
This time of year, I say “let them flow, let them flow, let them flow.”
Tears can be a healing flow. And we must honor our feelings and feel them to ultimately get to clarity.
And then, sometimes, out of nowhere, your faith in humanity is restored…and you didn’t even know it was depleted.
It happened to me at the post office this past week, as I loaded up the car like the Beverly Hillbillies with eighteen boxes of raisin bread.
I parked and, three boxes in hand, made my way to the already long line of Christmas present-sending patrons. I asked the person at the back if my three boxes could hold my place while I made five more trips.
The outpouring of Christmas spirit was palpable. All of a sudden, I had elves coming out of the woodwork to help me unload the car. And move them all forward as the line progressed!
I felt badly for the unlucky postal worker who drew my number. Eighteen boxes would surely be a time drain for her.
Instead, her good humor and interest in my mom-mom’s raisin bread tradition made the time fly. She invited me back on the Saturday before Christmas, when they have a violin player working the lobby with holiday songs.
The healing vibe at this USPS outpost almost made me WANT to go back!
It is the Sunday before Christmas and so many people are harried, broke, lonely, tired, or otherwise verklempt.
Let’s bring a healing vibe wherever we go – even the post office – and sprinkle some holiday magic along the way.
If you’re in the middle of what seems to be a breakdown, hang on – your breakthrough is coming. If you seek it, you’ll find it.
That’s the beauty of wisdom. It’s there, sometimes hidden behind a bunch of hurts and painful memories. Perhaps it is shrouded by a busy life. So busy you can’t see the forest for the trees.
Wisdom is waiting for you, and with it is the clarity that comes from a breakthrough.
If you’re in need of a breakthrough and have used all the tools in your toolbox (talking to good friends, meditation, listening to You Tube videos on the topic, yada yada yada) maybe it’s time to bring in reinforcements.
Funny sidebar: I often get private messages from Facebook friends asking for advice on our Word of the Week messages. I always preface any answer with, “Please keep in mind I am not a licensed therapist…”
While I’ve learned a bunch from the school of hard knocks and good books, I’m not qualified to give counsel to anyone.
I have great regard for those whose love for people and genuine desire to impact lives for good resulted in their pursuit of professional counseling as their life’s work. One of my most favorite people in the world is Anna Coker, who has one of the biggest hearts known to man and uses her sensitivity, kindness, skill, and insight to help people heal.
From my past experience, finding a good therapist is often like going on a series of bad dates until you meet “the one.”
There was the guy whose first instinct was to write me a prescription for Zoloft, which may be helpful for some, but simply numbed me to what was REALLY needing attention. And the woman who was so rigidly religious in her world view she couldn’t hear anything outside of it. Not to mention the toxic horror stories from my past church/cult life, where my deepest hurts were manipulated to control my life and rob me of my individuality.
And yes, some unqualified victims like myself were “made” counselors. I’ve already done that apology tour.
Church/cult experience aside, the other detours into less than helpful therapy still had some value.
Kissing the frogs helps you identify the prince (or princess) when he or she comes along.
Just like finding the best restaurant in town and wanting everyone to taste that particular, pillowy gnocchi, so too, when you find a great therapist, you (I) want people to know about them.
Sanna Carapellotti came to me miraculously through my writing coach, who recognized I had hit a creative wall. And he was sensitive enough to realize it had nothing to do with the book I was writing.
I followed this link to arrange a free, fifteen-minute consultation to see if we both felt she could help me. I knew within one minute that this was a “no BS” yet non-traditional therapist who could guide me to the answers. Her philosophy? You have everything you need inside of you. The answers lie within you. Sometimes you just need a little help to reveal them.
I went into the session thinking I knew exactly what the problem was. Which was, of course, someone else. THEY were the problem.
The tricky think about problems involving other people? You can’t change THEM. You can only change YOU and how you respond to life (and them).
Through a combination of skillful questions, interrupted by breathing exercises, guided meditation, tapping – you name it – we got there.
Oh boy, we GOT there.
My revelation came and it was truly like a light-bulb going off.
Just as profound as my Costa Rica Iboga journey, during which I saw myself shut down after my father’s death – unable to express or even be in touch with my feelings – this time I went further back.
To the incubator.
Born one month premature, I went immediately to isolation, hooked up on tubes and fighting for my life. Isolation separated me from human touch and the nurturing comfort a baby craves when entering this world.
I cried in…isolation.
Long after I finally made weight and could finally join my family, this deep-seated fight for survival stayed with me.
A pit-bull like fear ready to pounce on perceived threats and consuming endless energy has been my companion for these 56 years. This pit bull served me well, mind you. I appreciate its fighting spirit at the start and also at various junctures of my life when I truly fought for survival.
It’s such a relief to realize I don’t need to fight for something I already have.
My life is mine. I made it. I am fine.
No longer do I seek something I didn’t get those first few weeks of life from people or organizations or even my profession.
Unpacking childhood trauma makes the baggage of life much lighter.
And that’s the Reader’s Digest version.
Dear readers, I feel so free! So unplugged from negative energy!
It’s such a release to have clarity about why I have felt certain things and responded so extremely to perceived threats all of my life.
Remarkably, I’m not so touchy anymore!
Those same people who bugged the #$%@ out of me? I now feel empathy for them; even love.
Everyone’s story is different. This happens to be mine. What I can say is that help is available. And I hope you, too, love yourself enough to head off your breakdown and head toward your own breakthrough.
Interestingly, I recorded this week’s message BEFORE my session with Sanna. I think you will see a different, more relaxed face in upcoming video messages. How prophetic the new Word of the Week turned out to be!
I’ve written about letting go before. A common thread in most of my awakenings this past year has been the discovery that there’s no “arriving” while we’re breathing.
Life is a constant journey, revealing layers upon layers as we choose to be honest – and inviting us to let go of the old with each new reveal.
When I went to Costa Rica two Septembers ago (my how time flies!) I was on a mission. This was an urgent journey to get to the root of Brenda and find out why she kept falling into certain traps that ham-stringed her happiness.
I got what I went for, and experienced a joyous release for many months.
As life goes, new challenges (even wonderful ones, like, geeze! I have a boyfriend!) raised old, un-dealt with issues and while I now had valuable tools to cope and resolve, sometimes you still need a little help.
If you know me at all, you know I NEVER thought I’d darken the doors of a church ever again, after experiencing cruelty, abuse, and toxicity at what had been known as Philadelphia’s Church of Our Saviour. NOTE: I also met some of the most wonderful people EVER, who remain my dear friends today; proof that good can come out of bad.
But this sweet guy who won my heart, Mark, was a regular attendee and – sheesh! – board member at the Sarasota Center of Light. I told him flat out that I would likely never attend with him, and if that was a deal-breaker, so be it.
And go figure, when he told me there was an intention-setting ceremony on New Years Day, something tugged at my heart and said “Go.”
When we had the pastor and his wife over for dinner some months later, I boldly announced, “I’ll likely never join the church, but I am enjoying it.”
You know how THAT story ends. (Yes, I’m a member.)
So in this community of spiritually-minded people, there are ongoing classes available to all, whether you’re a member or not.
Which leads me to this week’s post on letting go.
My new friend, Joan Volpe, was hosting a “Despacho Ceremony.” This is a very basic description, but it’s a sacred ceremony to render gratitude, write down intentions and name things that you seek healing from (or requesting healing for others.)
I was surprised at some of the the things, after all these years, that I wrote down!
Being bullied by Justine Carano and Frank DeCesaro in high school.
Then wrongly accused by some beloved old acquaintances who blamed me for their pain.
And kicking MYSELF for some decisions. Yes, I needed to forgive myself.
Had I known better, I would have done better.
We all have anchors that try to bog our souls down and keep us STUCK. Calling them out and acknowledging their very existence is a good starting place (and in the Despacho, there is guidance to help you through the process.)
And they end, there is a package (literally) that you’ve created, tied up in a bow. And you can either burn it, plant it, or let it go in moving water.
That Friday night’s date night was a walk to the Sarasota Bay at high tide…and letting go.
The symbolic gesture in itself was a mark in my life – a line in the sand and a decision that “no more” will the past have the power to shackle my future.
And I gotta say, some breakthroughs of varying sorts have emerged into the physical since that time.
And one thing I know for sure:
There will be more.
‘Cause as long as I’m living and breathing, I’ll be learning…and letting go.
Love it – here’s to finding our strength these coming two weeks, and letting go of anything that tries to sap our energy.
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.
The carol goes, “Let your heart BE light…” but I’m flipping it to “Let your heart DE-light” in honor of our recent Word of the Week.
There’s nothing like treats in the mail (instead of bills) to delight your heart, and my cup ran over with jelly and jam joy with this package from my Aunt Joan upon my return to Sarasota:
Aunt Joan gets regular shout outs on this blog for her constant love and support. However, she will be scolded this week for totally blowing any semblance of my diet with her amazing “What are they called?” fruity, crumbly cookies.
I ate them all.
But the pièce de résistance of her over-the-top gift package was the silver cuff that sits atop the jams in the above photo, engraved with these words:
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
How true! I started 2017 with the intention that it would be an “annus mirabilis” or “year of miracles.” It was all that and a bag of chips, but the road was forged with grit and tears, hopes and fears marked by bold and brave moves that surprised even myself.
When the dust settled, I marveled at the complete and utter paradigm shift that had occurred.
My life had been completely upended, purposefully.
It was HARD. Detoxing from Zoloft, settling into a single person’s life, finding a new rhythm and learning to love me, myself and I was a journey as jungle-like as my trek to Costa Rica.
My expectation was that I’d navigate this new way of life for a few years and then, maybe, someone might come along that I’d like enough to spend time with.
The universe had other plans, and now I find myself in love with a guy who wants to sit and map out our intentions together for 2018.
If I’m dreaming, please, nobody wake me up.
That’s not to say violins are playing and I have stardust in my eyes. Life is real and relationships are the best opportunity to put to work all the spiritual truths collected over the course of a lifetime.
Here’s the kicker: This is a man who laughs. Alot.
He laughs when I get all wonked out about imaginary fears. When I spill the soup all over the counter and miss the bowl, he chuckles. I trekked him through an entire parking garage at the airport until I realized we were in the WRONG garage.
At every turn, I’m braced for the blow; the harsh, eye-rolling, “Brenda!” tinged with exasperation.
Yet the blow never comes.
Every time I get all heavy, Mark Roach gets all LIGHT. And not in a diminishing or condescending way. He just thinks that life is too precious to get all riled up about insignificant stuff.
These kind responses are healing another layer of my heart so bruised from being so darned hard on myself for far too long.
If you ever struggle with giving yourself a break, my closing thoughts on delight will hopefully encourage your heart. Plus, we have a fantastic new Word of the Week (and Word of the YEAR!):
What do you want to be?
WHO do you want to be?
What do you want to become?
Where do you want to live?
What do you want to do?
These questions that I posed extemporaneously in this week’s video are the very ones I am asking myself as I head into 2018. I hope you will ask yourself the same and we can begin INTENTIONALLY our year of TRANSFORMATION.
I didn’t even know I was healed ’til that button got pushed again.
You know the button, right? (Everyone has one.)
It’s the reminder button; the deja vu scenario that is a shadow of former pain, betrayal, abuse or loss, disappointment and regret.
It’s the memory of the place you survived and promised yourself, “Never again.”
You all know my QVC experience by now. The big break that ended up being the first professional heartbreak of my adult life so wounded me that, though I lived practically across the street from the studio, I couldn’t drive by the campus. For years. And SHOP there? Fuggetaboutit.
You’d think a year or two of that would be sufficient, but we’re talking DECADES. To this day, I choose not to fund the place that hired me away only to drop me three months later, leaving me with a lease, a pixie haircut, and a severe crisis of confidence.
But from the experience itself? Totally healed. It is always the blip on my resume people want to discuss and a great source of stories to entertain others at parties.
Does time heal all wounds?
Perhaps. If you let it.
My take on this is that if you learn a LESSON from the pain, it’s a silver lining that can help you avoid making the same mistake twice.
Fast forward to my toxic church experience (which came soon after the QVC debacle.) You know this one, too, where my desire for purpose and to fulfill my calling in life was manipulated and abused by narcissistic “spiritual leaders.”
Well meaning people sometimes say, “How could you ever get sucked in to something like that?” Hey, it’s not like it started OUT like the hell it ended up to be.
It puzzles me that people could be so smug to think they couldn’t possibly be lassoed in to something they later regretted…whether a business deal, a relationship, or any type of investment.
This just happened to be an investment of my very life.
The years that have unfolded AFTER have taught me so many lessons. Primarily, that questioning is healthy; trust should be earned (not granted just because of position) and that when my gut screams, “No!” I should listen to it.
Most of the following years have been free of anything that even remotely smacks of the potential for control. But I recently found myself in a gathering (I thought it was a professional, business networking group!) and it soon became apparent that there was a religious undercurrent that reminded me of the seductive beginnings of my long ago church life.
Instead of causing me anxiety or torment, the experience was necessary because it showed me just how healed I was.
Sometimes things come around again just so you can celebrate such a victory.
I was fired up when I recorded this…
Going back to my church story, that good has come out of such bad brings me JOY.
And really, SO much good came out of a bad place.
Some of my dearest friends in my life were met at that toxic church. Because THEY were real, they remain today. People who have had an amazingly positive impact on my professional and personal life? Yep. Met them there. All those scriptures that pop up just when I need them the most? Also from that time…only now pure and not used to manipulate me or anyone else. Which reminds me of a scripture (!):
Are you weeping right now or filled with sorrow?
Whatever has caused you pain can turn into the greatest life lesson; a tool to make you more empathetic and less judgmental. It can give you wisdom that can save someone else from pain. Remarkably, it can even end up being a source of joy.
‘Cause you’re not that person anymore.
May you find the joy in every little thing this week, my friends.
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.
The preamble to this week’s WOW is a tribute to my dear mother-in-law, Jeanne Viola, who went to be with God on Valentine’s Day.
Though I spoke about her on the video, there are a few more things to say.
She was a devoted Mother. (By the way, you NEVER called her Mom. I slipped a few times and you could feel the sharp intake of breath around the table at the error!)
My husband, Duane, always sums it up this way, “She was always there for me.”
She held the family together like glue. Christmas Eve was a sacred family event for her. She expected everyone to be in attendance, to be on time (she’d tell you if you weren’t) and to eat their fill of her world-famous stuffed calamari.
Duane would ask her to hide some of it just for him. I bet the others did the same!
Even in her late 80’s, she purchased and wrapped presents for each of her children, their spouses, grand-kids and great-grandchildren.
She was one of the first aerobics instructors in the area, a belly-dancer, a truth speaker and the epitome of strength…but at the same time, child-like in her love for porcelain dolls, presents and parties.
Here’s more about my beloved Mother-in-law, and the new WOW:
Let’s all take comfort in the Presence of the Divine this week.
You may call it Energy, or the Universe…I respect whatever you may call it. I’ve learned that my God is big enough and not at all touchy about these things.
May you be wrapped up in a soft and warm sweater of love this week. And for those of you with broken hearts, may the Presence of love take you a step closer to healing this week.
It was a week of lessens learned from broken things and mess ups.
My dear friend Cynthia had mentioned a quote that meant a great deal to her months ago, and I asked my sister, Shirlee, to create it in calligraphy. As is her practice, she went over the top and made a beautiful work of art with these words:
“She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.”
I searched for the perfect frame to send it to Cynthia; it wasn’t a Christmas present, just an “I love you gift” – but I was so excited to carefully package it, imagining how it would touch her heart.
It did. She sent me the loveliest thank you message.
But didn’t tell me until weeks later that it arrived smashed to smithereens.
She’s nice that way, knowing how excited I was to surprise her and knowing how disappointed I would have been that it didn’t show up in pristine shape.
But the rest of the story resonated with me as a lesson for the year’s end and new one to begin.
Cynthia went in search of a new frame to replace the broken one, and stumbled serendipitously upon a shadow-box with sparkly accents and room for the feather on the piece to truly show. When she sent me the photo I could see:
It was meant to be.
It wasn’t what I intended or envisioned, but it ended up exactly as it should have been.
So I filed that away in my “Hmmmmm….” drawer and ran smack into a professional dilemma.
I marketing brochure I had instructed the designer to set up a certain way went to press and was instead COMPLETELY different dimensions than I had instructed.
I kvetched, moaned, grumbled and had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing that the larger size meant a bigger price tag – one that was over the approved budget.
It was Christmas eve, but I had to talk to my boss and get it over with.
I think it was meant to be a bigger size.
Meant to be.
There were those words again.
I am a perfectionist in many ways, and hopefully not annoying ones. I am gleeful when it comes to nailing the details of work and creativity. I love to envision a task and carry it out as planned, making it come to life!
Sometimes, despite my best efforts, it ends up something entirely different.
And I think the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me (and it turned out to rhyme):
When I have done all that I can, there may be more that’s not my plan. Perhaps a fail is the only way to make entrance for the Divine’s part to play. In that truth I can rest and know not to fret at the unplanned turn in the road. Not every outcome is up to me…
Sometimes some things are meant to be.
There have been much harder fails and breaks in my life than a frame or a work project. But when I look back over my shoulder, they all worked out as they were meant to.
My friend Renee has taught me many things, including Yiddish words! And the one that describes the lesson learned this week is: Bashert. It means “meant to be” or “destiny.”
So while my take on the “Question Mark” word of last week was that “I am the CEO of my own life and the heroine of my own novel” (which I do believe is true), it was balanced by this life lesson that it’s not ALL on my shoulders.
There is a Power at work, greater than I, who can work all things together for good, fix my fails, improve upon my best laid plans and give me the peace of “bashert.”
Which is a perfect prelude to our new WOW to end 2015 and begin 2016:
When you think of your own healing, know that the broken things and mess ups can, in time, look like beautiful detours on the path to what is meant to be.
Much love to you, and thank you for taking these journeys with me in 2015…
From support to healing to…what does this week hold for us?
Well, the pieces of the puzzle are building on each other very nicely. In fact, almost as a foreshadowing, I used this very word (about to be revealed) in one of this week’s posts on healing:
As we meditate on this word, surrender – here’s a disclaimer:
Don’t confuse giving up with letting go.
I’m not in favor of anyone giving up on their dreams. But I do know from experience that sometimes you need to let go of your “ideal.”
Blessings sometimes come to us in different packaging than we expected, and when we are so STUCK on how we think it should play out, we might take a pass on the very thing that would make our heart sing.
I’ve also learned holding on with white knuckled resolve is downright exhausting. Let it go, she sang in Frozen. Let it go!
Oh, shall we have a lyrical reminder? (Did I just hear all of the parents out their groan because they’ve heard this song a little TOO much?) Moms and Dads, feel free to skip to the bottom:
My power flurries through the air into the ground My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast I’m never going back, the past is in the past
Let it go, let it go And I’ll rise like the break of dawn Let it go, let it go That perfect girl is gone Here I stand In the light of day Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!
What I love is the FREEDOM that comes after you surrender. Say goodbye to the past (and that perfect girl or guy, too.)
Just be wonderful you.
And when the storms rage this week, let’s go surfing on some amazing waves.
What are you looking forward to letting go of this week?