Tag Archives: honesty

Willing to Handle the Truth? (And the New WOW)

If you conjured up the scene from A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson’s character screams, “You can’t HANDLE the truth,” that is exactly what I was thinking of when considered being WILLING and this week’s post.

For me, the focus on our word “WILLINGNESS” wasn’t so much about being open to trying new things (God knows EVERYTHING in my life is new these days.)

It wasn’t about stubbornly holding on to stuff, because the last few months have been all about letting go.

For me, it was about being willing to dig beneath the surface to uncover TRUTH about how I really feel, what I truly want, where I want to be, and why I did (or didn’t do) certain things in my life.

This awakening revealed that I had mastered performing the politically or socially correct script. I knew what “played well” with different audiences and rolled with THAT instead of considering what Brenda, at her core, honestly felt.

It’s shocking to realize how well we can become at adapting or chameleon-izing our behaviors to avoid conflict, rocking the boat or setting off another person’s explosions.

I’m tired of carefully tip-toeing through this world.

If bombs go off in my wake, so be it.

I’d rather have real than fake.  And I’d rather be fully me that a watered down version of me to make everyone else happy.

But it takes a WILLINGNESS to be honest.

That’s off-putting at first, but ultimately, so freeing.

And here’s the upside: When you are really YOU, the people you attract to yourself are keepers.  They’re not being swept up in a performance; they’re connecting with the REAL YOU.  Good, bad or ugly – it’s REAL.

I will always enjoy fake eyelashes, the transforming power of makeup and the invaluable support of Spanx.

But for the stuff that matters in life, I want REAL.

And I’m willing to be honest enough to get it.

More on that and the new WOW coming up!:

Yippee!

The word JOY always reminds me of my friend Krissie Vincent, who can sing like Janis Joplin but uses her gifts to sing in church, too.  She used to sing this song: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy…” and she milked it perfectly until it exploded into a jumping, rousing “Down in my heart!  Down in my heart! Down in my heart!”

You really had to experience it to know what I’m trying to say.

Joy is a jumping kind of emotion.

It’s when happiness spills over from the inside and activates your outsides.

Give me huge doses, please.

May we all jump for JOY this week!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Exiting Our Cages (and the New WOW)

The famous film producer, George Lucas, said, “We are all living in cages with the door wide open.”

I have pondered of late the sheer waste of living in a cage. To have the potential for a big, expansive, limitless life  yet choosing to stay constrained in a prison of my own making.

My sweet little Sheltie, Shasta, taught me a lesson years ago. If you are unfamiliar with Shelties, they are miniature Lassies.  A little bundle of joy full of white and brown fluff, our vet advised us to crate train her as a puppy, because dogs never mess where they sleep.

One day as I led her to her crate, she simply refused to go in. She dug in her paws and made it clear, “Enough!”

She never went back – and always whimpered to let us know when she needed to go, like a well-trained puppy should.

It would have been cruel to force her into that confined area.  It was a tool that had served its purpose, but when the purpose was fulfilled, it was time to put the crate away.

If only it were so clear cut in our own lives!  We begin a routine of morning coffee, work, going to the gym, cooking dinner, watching TV and doing it all over again.

This routine becomes what we call “normal life.”

But aren’t we the architects of our own normal?

So what keeps us in the cages of our own making?

I’ve looked at my own life, and came up with three answers; each tied up with bows of fear:

  1. Fear of what people will think
  2. Fear of loss
  3. Fear of the unknown

Life can be an Oscar-worthy performance with little to do with reality if you judge it only by Facebook or Instagram posts. What you see there are the happy, shiny, delicious, romantic highlights of a life – and none of the underbelly.

To a certain extent – that’s appropriate.  You don’t want your dirty laundry or every spat played out for the world to see.  You’ve invested in this Potemkin Village of a life that looks perfect on the outside but if you dare to take a closer look, it’s infested with termites and the foundation crumbling.

One of my favorite writers, Genevieve Georget posted this on Facebook this week, and it truly resonated with me:

Fear of what other people will think suppresses raw candor because it seems easier to keep up appearances. But do you want to perform at life, or live it?

And at the end of this life, will it matter if everyone else was pleased with you, but you, in fact, were miserable?

Riding shotgun with the fear of what people will think is its bosom buddy, fear of loss. If you disrupt the status quo, you could lose the respect and admiration of your family, friends and peers. If you leave that termite-infested house (in that great neighborhood with the amazing swimming pool), you might end up living in a studio apartment. Cutting ties with the old means your old stomping grounds, your old comfort zones, may no longer welcome you.

Leaving a beautiful home infested with termites of anger and fear and negativity? Difficult, but not a profound loss in light of what my soul yearned to gain.

Ah, the fear of the unknown.  This is best addressed by squarely facing what you DO know. Might, just like little Shasta, the crate of life not suit you anymore?

Certainly, there are no promises of what life will be when you exit the cage, but there is one certainty – on the other side of all of those fears is FREEDOM.

I have dreamed of a limitless life; the kind of life where yes is the first response, not no and where dreams are nurtured instead of dashed by negativity. I long for love to freely radiate from me, fueled by hope and effervescent belief.

At first I called it a lovely cage. I decorated it. It offered safety and familiarity. But in my moments of brutal honesty, I knew that the true me became smaller and smaller while my soul and spirit tried to thrive in toxic soil.

When you choose to exit your cages, you will upset people.  You will experience loss. You will face the unknown.

But my friends, you will be free, which is a gift more valuable than gold.

We are all living in cages with the door wide open.

I choose to walk out, by faith.

What lies on the other side for you?

Transformation was our Word of the Week and I can only imagine that the caterpillar has its moments of doubt that a butterfly will emerge. Caterpillars, please don’t judge your transformation midstream.

The key? Stay the course.  More on this and the new WOW here:

What a powerful, powerful directive.

Please let’s stop beating ourselves up for simply being human.  We are all flawed children of God.  It’s what we DO with what we’ve been given (or what we’ve done) that brings us closer to the light or draws us to darkness.

May forgiveness, of ourselves and others, let the light shine in on the dark places this week.

Love to you all  – and many thanks again for your kindness and care.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Jumping, Writing, Fighting Malaise and Two WOWs

When my spirits are low, I can’t jump at Zumba.

I’m just made that way.

I remember distinctly when I got into a screaming, knockdown fight with one of my best friends (now several years ago but still fresh in my mind.)

Such conflicts, especially with my friends, aren’t the norm and totally rendered me off-kilter. So much so that even when I went to Zumba class, I couldn’t wiggle or shimmy, let alone jump. A weight of unseen gravity was like a ball and chain around my heart.

This went on for a couple of weeks until we had a true kiss and make-up reconnection.

And then I could jump again.

Actually, not only could I jump, I felt like Tigger.

Oh the freedom that comes from conflict resolution!  And the joy of reconciliation?  It’s better than winning the lottery.

I say THAT to say this:

The events of recent weeks – and it began in Orlando with the shootings at Pulse Nightclub – heightened racial tensions, the disheartening political landscape, police officers murdered in Dallas…and just this past week, Nice, France – well, I felt a sadness; a hopelessness that perhaps some of you have felt.

This crab (my astrological sign is Cancer) tends to retreat when her heart is heavy.  And just like my inability to jump, I couldn’t type a blog post last week.

First one I’ve ever missed since I started.

I was going to blame it on technical difficulties, but since we’re all about being honest with each other, I couldn’t pass it off that way.

There are no pithy quotes or simple solutions to these perilous times in which we live.

On the theme of WILLINGNESS and last week’s FLEXIBILITY, I have been working at not judging and hearing all sides of an argument.

And depending on who I’m listening to, I can be persuaded.

Is anyone else out there like this?

For my mental and spiritual health, I can’t keep on focusing on what I can’t change.  All I can do is what I can do.  And though there’s still a good part of me that wants to hole up in my shell and ask you all to wake me up when things are better…

…that’s not gonna help anyone.  Least of all, myself.

So I will plow ahead (and so will you) and know that these were recorded when a little bit of sun shone through the clouds (because not only can’t I write when I’m sad, I’m also pretty silent).  And don’t want to wear makeup.

To catch you up, here’s last week’s WORD:

And here’s THIS week’s, which is remarkable:

We’ve been at this quite a while, and to get three consecutive words that say pretty much the same thing?

I know there is a message here that is taking its sweet time to penetrate my heart.

I suppose I should be OPEN to it taking as long as needed.

But one thing I’m going to work on this week is being open to receive.  (Since I feel a bit unable to give, it’s not a stretch to make that my focus.)

I’m open to receiving all sorts of love this week.  Feel free to send some my way!

I know, I know.  The best time to GIVE is when you feel like ya got nuttin’.

So I’ll try some of that, too.

What are you hearing in these words WILLINGNESS, FLEXIBILITY, OPENNESS?

Because maybe you have an insight we ALL could use.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Honoring Your Truth – and the New WOW

Honoring your truth is being true to you because you know you’re worth it.  It’s when I’ve played games to keep the peace that I’ve dishonored my self and settled for shams in my relationships.

As my friend Roseann always says, “Your feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just the way you feel.”

For too many years, I thought my feelings WERE wrong. “I shouldn’t feel that way…”

But that didn’t change that I DID feel that way.

Sure, maybe it was an ugly feeling, but denying it or sugar-coating it didn’t make it stink any less.

HONESTY is like Febreze for your soul. Only it’s better. It doesn’t just masque the stench, it opens the windows and doors and lets the fresh breeze in and clears the air.

The challenge is that when you open up those doors, it’s an invitation into the deeper chambers of your heart.

Like Jack Nicholson’s character screaming to Tom Cruises’ in A Few Good Men “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” – there is always the potential that the person on the receiving end…well…can’t handle the truth.

Or choose to love you, warts and all.

But even if they don’t like it, do they care enough to hear you out? This was a key part of my meditations and musings on honesty to close out the week:

Oh boy.  Can you believe after all of this time we have NEVER gotten this word before?

Methinks I’ve never needed it more.

How about you?

Special doses of LOVE to you, today and all week long –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Choosing to See the Light (and the New WOW)

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Can I wallpaper my office with this saying?  LIGHT has been our Word of the Week, and when I read this it jolted me.

Oh, the people I love most are those who treat me as if all I am is good. They’re not stupid; I’m sure they see my flaws – but they choose instead to focus on the best of me.

Which makes me want to BE that best version of Brenda.

What a challenge it is to, instead of judging, to view every person we encounter through the lens of love…and then to treat them accordingly. That is my lifelong prayer.

Do you know someone like that?  Thank them today for being the friend who whisks away our ugly parts with “the breath of kindness…”

And now, parting thoughts on LIGHT and our new WOW!

It’s sometimes so nice to JUST SAY IT.  Not to dance around a thing but to be clear and candid…

The challenge, however, is for our honesty to be filtered through kindness.  Dumping our truth on someone can sometimes make matters worse.

That’s why I always fall back on this one scripture:  Pray for a DOOR to speak the truth in love.

(That’s a mashup of Colossians 4:3 and Ephesians 4:15 if it wasn’t ringing any of your bells.)

A door is an opening.  Pray for an opening.  (And I usually add, “And make it CLEAR, Lord!)

A brick wall is not an opening and requires a jackhammer to penetrate.  And a hard hat (or head), if the work shoe fits.

When I ABSOLUTELY MUST SAY IT is exactly when I just need to swallow it and let it marinate in love a bit more.

Whether our Word of the Week plays out in being honest with ourselves or with others, let’s honesty our policy this week.

May it be a great one!

xoxoox

Brenda

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WOW (Word of the Week) – 11.29.15

I hope you got your hopes up this past week!  EXPECTANCY is full of fizzy bubbles and the pop of the champagne bottle; it’s a way of living that says “Something marvelous could happen today!”

It’s the exact opposite of a Murphy’s law approach to life.

But we don’t go from one thrilling moment to the next in this life, do we?

There are a good amount of bends in the road; valleys to survive and mountains to climb.  Which is why this week’s new WOW is right on the money.  Here’s my wrap-up of the past week and the big reveal for the one just begun:

Sometimes we don’t know our own STRENGTH.  But boy, are we intimately aware of our weaknesses!

As I whipped up what felt like a million loaves of raisin bread this past week, I was interrupted by a phone call.  When I returned to the mixing bowl, I couldn’t remember if I had added the baking powder or not.  Or the salt. The flour didn’t taste tainted, so I added in those ingredients, hoping I hadn’t doubled up and that the batch would turn out.

It was clear as I peered through the oven door that something was amiss.  It was evident when, after cooling, I turned the loaf pan over and instead of the normal, smooth and somewhat bouncy exit, this bread wouldn’t budge.  I chiseled around the edges.  Still nothing.  More chiseling, then pounding on its loaf back until finally it emerged.

In five warm, slightly soft pieces.

Certainly, this was no loaf appropriate to send to friends and family.

For a fleeting moment, I held the delusion that I could coexist with these nutmeg-y, dough-y bread parts and enjoy them over the course of the next week or so with Duane and my morning coffee.

Until I began shoving them in my mouth.

It started out innocently enough; breaking a teeny, pillow-y piece to see if tasted OK.

It did.

It really did.

The next time I looked at this broken, misfit loaf, it was half gone.  (Cue film title:  Gone in 60 Seconds.)

This would likely NEVER have happened if Duane was home.  Binging is a solitary act and this was a rare occasion of being home alone with freshly baked bread.

It was a perfect storm of temptation.

When I came to and saw the half-eaten loaf, I said to myself, “Self, you’re not strong enough for this.”

And I threw the scrumptious remainder in the trash.

Knowing that wouldn’t suffice, I covered it in more trash (and not just paper)  so that a forthcoming weak moment wouldn’t find me digging for one more bite.

Being honest about our weaknesses helps us to be strong. 

When I marvel at my almost 1 month of not smoking or over two years of not drinking, it’s not about my strength so much as it is a daily devotion to truth.

The good news is that at any moment you can choose the truth. When you let it smack you between the eyes, the strength to  change course is its companion.

It’s like the bonus bag at the Clinique counter – spend $25 and get this FREE gift of goodies (valued at $75). These are offers I can rarely resist.

Yes, I have discovered that strength is the bonus gift that accompanies honesty.

Don’t beat yourself up over the half-eaten bread.  Celebrate that the other half is in the trash!  And let your love affair with the truth strengthen you this week.

xoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Thoughts on Troublemaker: Leah Remini’s Book on Scientology

There was a difference between Leah Remini’s  20/20 interview – full of sass, humor and sarcasm –  and her later appearance on Good Morning America.

She looked like she’d been crying.  And I get it.

Even a decade after leaving a cult, I still have nightmares, flashbacks, tears and torments about my time at the church.

Except for rubbing shoulders with celebrities, I could relate to every component of her book:  Friends “reporting” on my missteps or faults “for my own good”; having every injustice performed against me twisted to somehow become MY fault; being demoted and put out to pasture in ministry for daring to ask questions; being the target of smear campaigns against my character and “spirituality” for leaving…

Oh, and keeping the ugly truths from your closest confidants and your spouse – because you don’t want THEM to question their faith or lose devotion to the church.  And trying to make sense of it all, somehow, in your mind – because leaving is simply impossible to imagine.

She tried to effect change from within and found it to be a losing proposition.  I, too, was a similar troublemaker – and nearly lost my mind in the process.

My heart goes out to Leah; her break with Scientology is still fresh.  My heart swells with joy for her, too, and her new opportunity to live life unchained by the scrutiny of a toxic faith.  Upon leaving, she likely freed up (at least) an extra 15 hours in her week that she can now use to love on her daughter and husband, enjoy a vacation, or simply do NOTHING.

Least of all, work on herself.

Oh, she eventually will. But with a whole different, happy spin on growing as a human being.  It will be an exercise in love, not in fear.

We who leave got there in the first place because we wanted to fulfill our purpose in life; we wanted to be a part of the huge master plan and live a meaningful life.  The predators jumped all over that propensity and sucked the time, finances and joy of living from us.

That terrifying line to cross; to declare “This is over.  I’m done.  I’m leaving” was way harder than quitting drinking or smoking.  Because quitting the church was labeled as quitting God and your calling – and if you quit your very purpose in life, where do you go from there?

I was touched by Leah’s mantra:  Look at Nicole Kidman.  She left and she didn’t die.  She didn’t lose her career.  She’s okay.  I can relate to this kind of self-talk; it was necessary to fight the indoctrinations that predicted doom and destruction for all who exit the fold.

I was also touched by her disarming honesty about her own faults.  An admitted loudmouth, troublemaker, rude girl – she preempted the smear campaign with her own admissions of lack.

How does such a smart-ass like her (and like me) end up getting sucked into such a thing?

The Achilles heal is often the need to feel important or special.  To matter.  To belong.  These are not crazy afflictions; they are quite common.  For Leah, she was raised in Scientology; I respect her bravery and am so glad for her chutzpah.  Who knows how many other people will be emboldened by her public decision?

What are red flags?  The two biggest indicators (in retrospect) are the inability to question and the directive to avoid all negative press or people who have left.

If something is real, can’t it withstand scrutiny?

So yes, I devoured her book and boy did it bring back memories.  I wish I could thank her in person and give her a hug.  I am rooting for her to realize her dreams; for her to flourish in her career and personal life.

Leah, the best is yet to come.

 

 

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