Tag Archives: Heartbreak

Perspective and the Passage of Time

The passage of time offers clarity of perspective unimaginable when in the thick of distress.

This past week, I enjoyed a full circle experience and could savor with glee what once had been completely unsavory. More like gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

In fact, if you looked at my life as if it were a stock market chart, the particular juncture I revisited would have equaled my greatest crash.

Ah…but the passage of time offers the gift of perspective. 

It’s not the time itself that heals all wounds, but what you DO with the time.

In a whirlwind of excitement, I’d beat out thousands to win a slot as one of QVC’s original show hosts. I moved from New Jersey to West Chester, PA, signed a lease for a new apartment, and settled in to be the star I knew I was born to be. Heady stuff for a twentysomething who’d been making $75 a week as a reporter for a local cable TV news show.

Then, out of nowhere (and after three months of being put on a diet, having my hair shorn so tight it looked like a boy cut, and my wardrobe dissected) I was unceremoniously laid off.

A moment that so sucker punched me, I burst into tears and begged them to at least give me a position in the control room. I had bills to pay!

They declined.

Determined to not go home with my tail between my legs, I did the only thing I knew how to do to survive.

I waited tables.

It was the breakfast/lunch shift at the Penn’s Table Diner in West Chester. Bleary eyed and dejected, each morning I arrived at 5 AM to fresh-squeeze the orange juice and try to remain sunny-side up when my life was so scrambled.

At the end of each shift, covered in syrup stains, I converted my dollar tips and change into larger bills to ensure I could keep my apartment for one more month.

My ego had taken a huge hit. My perspective at that point in time? Brenda, you’re a failure. One week I hosted a show reaching ten million viewers. The next, burning my hands on hot plates and only noticed when late providing coffee refills.

Still, it served as a testament to my resilience; to my desire to survive independently. Those nearly eight months sustained me until, finally, a position in communications was once again secured.

And, after 30 years, life brought me full circle.

This week, in town for a work conference in…you guessed it, West Chester, PA, I revisited the Penn’s Table Diner. As I sat at the counter with 30 years of life experience since my last visit. I savored my new perspective, sipping a steaming cup of coffee and waiting for my omelet to arrive. Tears of appreciation welled up in my eyes.

The night prior, at our annual awards dinner, to my shock and surprise, a table covered in copies of The Public Servants’ Survival Guide awaited me.

Steve and Renee Kantor, the best owners a company could ever have (and the best friends you could ever hope for) read the book and felt everyone in the Company would benefit from the keys it contains to restore joy in work and life. I spent the end of the evening signing books – a dream come true – and my heart warmed by their genuine and generous display of support.

Sitting at the same counter I had once served, I thought about the dreams of 27 year old me. Dreams that seemed so elusive in the midst of rejection and humiliation.

Oh, if I could have whispered in her ear, “Just you wait. It’s going to get so much better. And you will be so much better for the experiences that await you.”

For writers, it’s all material!

Some subplots we never would have chosen, but these experiences chipped away and sculpted the people we are today.

Of course, I left a lavish tip.

And wondered what dreams my waitress harbored.

If you are in a squeezing the OJ at 5 AM juncture in your life, I encourage you to hang in there. Keep believing, and whisper in your own ear, “Hang in there. The good part is coming.”

https://youtu.be/ak__tchFV94

To celebrating in advance! And whispering to our own hearts, “Your dreams have all come true.”

Love,

Brenda

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A Stranger, Yet a Sister – and the New WOW

I met a stranger this week who turned out to be a sister.

It had been a particularly difficult day, with a myriad of work and personal matters mounting as they sometimes do.

My method of blowing off steam is to head to my evening Zumba class and jump around like a maniac to pounding music.  Shaking up a storm and sweating always helps to re-set my frame of mind.

This particular class started late – at 7 PM – so it was close to 8:30 PM by the time I pulled into my parking garage at the apartment complex.

Frustrating!  A space was (oddly) not available on my floor, so I had to go up another level.  This had never happened before.

As I got out of the car, I saw a young woman heading to the car parked next to me.

It is always my practice to say hi to strangers, and as I did she said, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I just found out my boyfriend is cheating on me.”

Then she fell into a puddle of tears, and I gathered her into my arms.

It didn’t matter that we were strangers.  In an instant, we were sisters. 

When her sobs subsided a bit, I asked where she was going.  Fortunately, her mom lived close by – but I wasn’t confident that she was in a frame of mind to drive safely.  So she handed over her keys and I got her to her mom’s (knowing Uber could easily get me home.)

During the drive she shared her heartbreaking story.  Her intuition had told her something was off; he protested…then she discovered a series of salacious texts that confirmed her fears.

He held the financial power, so her only choice was to leave.  I held her hand.  I told her to feel her feelings (which is the lesson I have been learning.)  “There’s no better place to be than with your mom, where you can have a good cry.”

The wound was too fresh to offer more than that…but I did sneak in my sister’s favorite line of comfort: “In a few weeks you’ll look back on today and feel completely differently.”  Time has a way of healing wounds, or at least making them less pronounced.

We can sometimes even see that we dodged a bullet by not getting the thing that we wanted.

I held her hand, got her safely home – and marveled at the privilege of being there for her.  It was a Divine hand that had provoked me to go to that late Zumba class and that had filled up all of the normal parking spaces, causing me to be at exactly the right place at the right time to meet a need.

I told her,  “God really loves you.  And just the way he took care of you tonight is how He will always provide.”

And in meeting her need, He met mine.  How quickly the pesky matters of the day faded away when I saw a gentle soul hurting.

Really, isn’t this what life is all about? To love our fellow man…and woman.  To act as a sister or a  brother, even to a stranger?

More on Sister/Brotherhood and the new WOW:

TRUSTING that this week brings you peace, and smiles, and confirmations that “it’s all going to be okay.”

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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