Tag Archives: Inspiration

My Stage Name is Gypsy: A Lesson in Inspiration (& the New WOW)

When I recently hit an emotional sink hole, I decided to make a plan to get inspiration flowing again.

Sometimes all you need is something happy to anticipate to jump-start your joy.

Music activates something deep inside of me and, in the last decade or so, finding music I liked that was compatible with my partner’s limited my concert-going.  Silly, actually.  I could have made solo plans – but I was always hoping to cultivate “together moments.”

As a result, my love for old school R & B went on the back burner.

Getting back to making a happy plan, as fate would have it, an alert that the Isley Brothers would perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg – just an hour away – made my heart jump.

For as long as I have loved music, the Isley’s have spoken deeply to my soul. Ronald Isley’s voice goes right to the core of my heart. Even covers of other peoples’ songs, like Summer Breeze (Seals and Crofts) or Hello, It’s Me (Todd Rundgren) get transported to an entirely new level by his vocals.

Instead of mulling it over, I clicked and purchased tickets. (This is also part of my new way of life. #JustDoIt.) Since it was a Sunday night concert, I made plans to arrive in the city on Saturday, discover St. Pete and enjoy.

Yippee! Rather than moping and dwelling on the past (which is unproductive, because I am not going backward), I had a date on the calendar to inspire me.

So let me cut to the chase about Gypsy.  My excellent, third-row seats had me almost levitating with joy. I began chattering with my left and right seat neighbors, warning them that when “Who’s That Lady?” or “Fight the Power” was performed, I may begin annoyingly screaming and step on their toes from dancing.

I hate those type of people at concerts, but I knew I might be one of them for this one.

The lady to the right was dressed to the nines in a sparkly black jacket and rhinestones on her glasses. We discussed the Isley songbook and which were our favorites (hers, Summer Breeze; mine, Let Me Know.)

I said, “What’s your name?”

She said, “Gypsy.”

Hmmmmmm, I thought.  That’s cool.

After talking some more, I felt it wouldn’t be too intrusive to ask a follow-up question.

“Is Gypsy a nickname or your given name?”

“It’s my stage name.”

A stage name!  How exciting!  She’s a performer!

“Oh wonderful!” I exclaimed. “Are you a singer? Or an actress?”

“No.”

I looked at her quizzically.  She replied,

“My real name is Shirley, but I say Gypsy is my stage name because all the world is a stage.”

Preach, Gypsy!

I learned that when she is at work or church, she goes by “Shirley.”

But when she is out with her man for a romantic night – or whenever she wants to put on a sparkly hat and her alter-persona, she’s Gypsy.

She inspired me!

All the world IS a stage that should be embraced as an opportunity to show up and give it all you’ve got.

(I did tell Gypsy that I have recently given up performing at life because it was simply exhausting, but that I loved the idea of living as the world being MY stage.)

Gypsy may never perform on a literal stage or receive a standing ovation – but she sure is a star.

I’m so glad she shined on me.

All that and the band threw a rose to me!

As we close out INSPIRATION as our Word of the Week, never forget that the world is your stage. And make a happy plan to jump-start your joy!

Goosebumps!  What does AUTHENTICITY mean to YOU?

For me, it is continuing to strip away the layers I created to numb and protect myself from what I have feared.  Whether avoiding a confrontation or walking on eggshells to avoid angry outbursts from others – it’s time to drop the facade and just BE.

How about you?

oxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Clarity is Not for Sissies (and the New WOW)

This is NOT a manifesto against anti-depressants, but tells of MY journey to true clarity and the role that Zoloft (Sertraline) played in clouding matters.

You know that close to four years ago, I stopped drinking.  Haven’t had a glass of anything since November 11, 2013.  (Note:  It gives me goosebumps that I quit on 11:11, which is a power number. It seems the universe parted the waters that day, making a clear path for me to exit tipsy-land.)

Let me re-think the use of the word “tipsy.”  It is a euphemism, as is buzzed, to describe an altered state that numbs you from the pain of life.  

Such words make you feel better about being a drunk.

I quit alcohol because every bad decision or regretted remark or action in my life emanated from a booze-fueled state. Tired of being embarrassed, I no longer wanted to be voted “Most likely to break something” at every party. Some major falls led to a serious reckoning with how simply dangerous it was to navigate steps and life with a high blood alcohol content.

For me, clarity came when I heard in my spirit “If you keep this up, this is how you will die.”

Gulp.

So 2013 marked a new phase of clarity in my life.

Clarity is not for sissies.  You begin to observe things that didn’t bother you before; overlooked slights now hurt.  Suddenly, there’s fight in you, because you start to believe that you are worth better.

Sobriety and self-respect go hand in hand. As my self-worth grows, my capacity to tolerate disrespect shrinks.

Wait, Brenda – I thought you were going to talk about anti-depressants?

I am.

Sobriety fueled my recent life decisions.  What may have seemed to outsiders as a crazy, “Where did THAT come from?” action when I left my marriage, those who know me know I’ve never been more in my right mind.

But that action was just a beginning.

I’ve been on a quest for HONESTY.

As I continued to ask myself the questions necessary to peel away layers of dishonesty, I kept returning to a nagging question mark: My 10-year affair with Zoloft.

In the beginning years of my marriage, we went to Christian counseling.  The only thing I got out of it was a prescription.

Truly, that first 50 mg pill seemed like a magic bullet.  Perhaps psychosomatic, nevertheless, I felt instantly happier, more able to cope, less irritable and more tolerant.

When entering menopause, the script increased to 75 mg. When we moved to Florida, my new doctor upped it to 100 mg.

Patients should obey their doctors, right?

I visited my sister last year and one of my little blue pills fell on the bathroom floor.  She found it and, with trepidation, asked me what I was on.

I thought nothing of telling her – after all, my healthcare provider prescribed the drug!

The counselor had drawn a little cartoon that showed how serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) would build a little bridge to my brain, helping the happy feelings get back where they belonged.

Shirlee, unimpressed by the analogy but without judgment, encouraged me to read about the impacts of these drugs and to consider weaning off of Zoloft.  It took many months, but for me, the evidence was clear.  If I didn’t get off, I’d be on this drug for the rest of my life.

Thus began Brenda Clear Phase 2.0.

My doctor, knowing of my pending divorce said, “Do you really think this is the best time to detox?”

Taking control of my own body and decisions that affect it, I said, “Yes. This is the very best time.”

Since early June I have been on a steadily-decreasing prescription of Zoloft and last week, went to zero.

Clarity is not for sissies.

My body revolted angrily against the disappearing drug. Irritation has returned, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, sleeplessness, headaches, cramping – yep, it’s been a real joy ride. But here’s the flipside: I FEEL again.

Yes, the difficult feelings were numbed, but so were the GOOD ones.  I now laugh more, cry more, and am more deeply touched by music and words and people.

I am alive.

Eventually, the physical symptoms will disappear.  It’s worth it to plow through them to get to the REAL ME.

I’ve missed Brenda.  It’s wonderful to get to know her again.

Here are my parting thoughts on CLARITY and the new WOW:

Hot diggity! (Wow, there’s a first-time use of THAT phrase.)

Let’s be INSPIRED this week.

Oh, and if my anti-depressant story has tugged at your heart, let me add that you should never cold turkey SSRIs.  There’s a careful way of weaning that your doctor can guide you through.  If INSPIRED to make a similar decision, I’m rooting for you.

And if you are not, please do not feel judged.  Everyone is on a different journey.  Some people have experienced great relief in temporary use of these drugs to get over a rough patch.  However, in my case, I found myself ten years later using the drug as an emotional crutch.

After finally ditching the crutches, I am learning to walk – and I hope to eventually fly.

xooxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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New Joys (and the New WOW)

What I love about life is that there is always something new right around the corner (if you are open to it) that can bring you an unexpected jolt of joy.

It has always been important to me to stay up-to-date on what the cool kids are doing.

That’s why I subscribe to my Entertainment Weekly magazine.  Even if I don’t read all of those recommended books, download the top songs or Netflix and chill with the latest TV, I at least don’t have a befuddled look of someone out of touch with the present day.

Now that I no longer share a TV (silver lining of living alone!), a whole world of pop culture has opened up to me. No, I’m still a Game of Thrones virgin, but I am completely caught up on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, fell in love with The Good Place and out of the blue, a dear friend sent me a CD that had me sobbing juicy, snotty tears.

I love a good cry, don’t you?

Believe me, I’ve had plenty of BAD ones.  Good cries bring the same kind of release that a sweaty Zumba class offers.  The last two pop culture cries that really “did it” for me were The Notebook (zero makeup left by the end of the film) and The Art of Racing in the Rain. (Best. Book. EVER.)

My friend, knowing that I was facing a challenging time, sent me Moana.  Are you familiar with this Disney animated film?  Well, you should be.  Not having given birth, Disney is not usually in my wheelhouse, but my beloved friends Anna Coker hit the ball out of the park with this gift.

Moana is a lovely little island girl with huge almond eyes and is destined to be the next island leader.  Her father, the Chief, guides her in the ways of the land – but warns her not to ever venture beyond the reef.  He paints the picture of danger and destruction and how she has everything she will ever need right there on the beautiful island. Why leave?

But the ocean calls her.  From the time she was a baby, she was drawn to be a wayfarer – to go to distant lands.

She doesn’t want to be a bad daughter, but she also wants to follow her heart.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to something MORE, but hesitated because you didn’t want to disappoint the people you love, you will LOVE Moana. 

I won’t tell you any more because you need to see it for yourself.  And have a good cry.

And when you do, this clip will make more sense.  It is now on repeat on my iTunes playlist:

If you have seen the film (it came out in 2016; where have I been?!), please let me know your thoughts.  Also, have you found something NEW that brings you joy?  Please share! My pop-culture “to do” list is growing by leaps and bounds, but it makes me happy.

Closing thoughts on JOY and the new WOW, coming right up!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are worth getting answers!

xoxoxox

Love,

Brenda

 

 

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Stuffy Noses and a Happy Surprise

During our Question Mark WOW (Word of the Week) last week I asked the universe for happy surprises – and boy did I get one when I least expected it (which is the true definition of a surprise, isn’t it?)

The un-happy surprise was the stuffy nose that led me to the doctor, that led me to the CVS to pick up antibiotics – the ONLY reason I would have left the house this past week.

Since I was out, I remembered dry cleaning needed to be picked up, so on my way home, I headed to my favorite local dry cleaner.  Bob in Gulf Gate has inspirational signs all over the place and is so kind he makes me feel like I’m doing something far more interesting than errands.

As I headed back to the car, I looked across the street and saw this sign: “These Quiet Sounds”…

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Totally intriguing.

I felt like @#$%^ but couldn’t resist.  (Sometimes that little tug on the inside needs to be followed!)

Inside, such great clothes!  And a handsome young man, who turns out to be a designer of some of the very cool prints and T-shirts carried in the store:

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Fabian Manzano was just so nice, creative, warm…and now here comes the surprise:

HE’S A YOU TUBE SENSATION.

His band, Boyce Avenue, has over 8-MILLION (yes, million) You Tube subscribers and they play sold out concerts around the WORLD.

What rock have I been hiding under?

They started out (it’s three brothers), recording covers of popular songs, which went viral – and that opened the door for their original music to be heard.

And the music is SOOOOOOOOOOO good.  I hope to do a full fledged interview with Fabian in the near future, but in the meantime, I encourage all of my Sarasota friends to visit his very cool store in Gulf Gate.  (And next visit I hope to meet his wife, who is pregnant with their first child!  Doesn’t it give you all the feels?  It did me.)

And my happy surprise would NEVER have happened if not for my un-happy one.  Go figure!

Here are my final thoughts (stuffy nose and all) on last week’s WOW as well as the new one!

So in the spirit of HARMONY, I leave you with one of my favorite original songs by Boyce Avenue (Fabian in playing guitar in the background).  You will love it – it’s well worth the click (and will give you goosies):

Have a beautiful, harmonious week, everyone!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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A Post-Vacation Week WOW

As I mention in the video this week, I pre-recorded this week’s WOW so I could completely unplug and be inspired on vacation.

I hope as you are reading this that you are surrounding yourself with inspiring things and people.  I read somewhere that whatever you have in your home that doesn’t bring you joy should GO.

Imagine de-cluttering our lives of anything that doesn’t make us happy?

That’s not totally realistic since on a bad day, I feel like kicking some good things (and people) to the curb.  And those less-than-inspiring parts of our lives are marvelous tools for growth, aren’t they?

But filling our lives with more that inspires us is a very good thing.  Sunsets, John Russo’s singing, a good chat with my sister or one of my besties and that strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning?  I’m smiling just thinking about them.

So getting back to life after vacation is always a bit jolting – and so is the new Word of the Week!:

Now, I’m not suggesting that we become those who look sideways at everyone and everything. (I’ve got my husband to do that for me!)

Maybe it’s simply a matter of a second opinion.

DISCERNMENT is a team sport.

May we call on reinforcements where necessary this week and make wise decisions; not ignoring our respective guts, but getting all the facts and insights at our disposal before taking a leap.

Have a beautiful week, friends!

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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WOW – Word of the Week for 8.23.15

Oh boy did surrender play out in a special way this week!

I’ve written before about my dear friends, Steve and Renee Kantor.  Steve wanted to surprise his bride for a landmark birthday this year, and decided to fly me up to make a special guest appearance at a dinner on Thursday evening.  What a treat for ME, right?

I departed Sarasota for a quick layover in Charlotte.  Flight was delayed; no biggie.  I love sitting in airports, having random conversations with people, making babies smile, drinking Starbucks and reading magazines that have NOTHING to do with personal or professional development.

As boarding time approached, all of a sudden I heard a whoosh of murmuring – and not happy murmuring.  I look up and see in red letters on the screen, “FLIGHT CANCELLED.”  A throng rushed the US Airways counter for help and we all simultaneously called the 800 number to try and snag the next flight to Philly.

Turns out one was readying to leave in a half hour about 10 gates down.  Glad I was wearing flip flops, I sprinted like OJ in the old Hertz commercials to said gate.  Only to be told “not a chance.”

But wait!  There was a 5:55 PM departure another ten gates down.  I could get on stand-by and maybe even make dessert!  I comically ran, tripping over my carry on to secure my stand-by status, then settled down with my magazine, maintaining the hopeful stance that all was going to work out great.

I kept in constant contact with my benefactor, whose best laid plans to surprise his wife were disintegrating with every passing moment.  It would be a while before I’d know if I was actually going to BE on this flight.  My blood pressure was spiking.

And then I remembered the WOW – the Word of the Week:  SURRENDER.

This was all going to work out the way it was meant to.  If that meant I’d get to PA in time for dinner with my friend, so be it.

As the stand-by flight screen suddenly flashed “FLIGHT CANCELLED” it was evident the universe had other plans.

Which included an unexpected overnight stay in Charlotte, North Carolina and a wake-up call for 3 AM so I could get on the next flight to Philly.

Renee had a fantastic dinner with her closest friends (except me) – and she didn’t even know to be disappointed, because she had no clue I was en route.  I even called her from the hotel, acted like Duane was in the background shouting “Happy Birthday” and kept the ruse going.

Hey, a surprise is a surprise…even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

As she readied her morning coffee and was sending me e-mails to tell me about her birthday dinner, I was pulling into her driveway.  Steve said to her, “Honey, one of your gifts was supposed to be delivered yesterday but it just arrived.  Can you come to the kitchen?”

Thinking it was flowers, she entered the room, looked around – and there I was.  Her response?  Priceless.  Happy tears all around, and a beautiful day spent together in celebration of a life and a friendship that means the world to me.

You know what they say; for a writer, everything is “material.”  And though it wasn’t how I planned my Thursday to go, it made for a good story and an example of the choices we face daily to surrender (or scream.)

Since I seem to be living out these WOWs in spectacular fashion, I am SUPER excited to live out THIS week’s word.  Here it is!

So, I want to LOL, guffaw, giggle, smile and chuckle this week.  Tickle my toes (and my funny bone!) Tell me a wacky story!  I’ll tell you some of mine.

Bottom line?  It’s a week to LIGHTEN UP and find the humor in every circumstance.

Even if it involves cancelled flights, missed parties and unexpected overnights in an unplanned city!

What’s the latest funny thing that’s happened to YOU?

 

 

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Inspiration for Your Week: The WOW for 7.12.15

Isn’t it interesting how life never quite goes the way you planned?

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it turns out even better than you imagined; I prefer those turns of events, don’t you?

Then there are those times you pin so many hopes on, and they fizzle like a bad set of fireworks.  Plop.  What a dud!

That’s why last week’s word, “PRESENCE” was so pertinent to me. I realized just how much time I spent looking forward to stuff or planning stuff to look forward to that I was continually missing the inspiration of present moments.

I don’t want to be a “tomorrow” junkie (or any kind for that matter.)

As for today – and this week – the angels have taken out a neon yellow highlighter and underscored a really important word for us all:

That last couple of lines just flowed out and it feels right to say again:

IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME.

You know that line where I quote that line, “Love is patient…”

I recalled why I know this so well.  Every day of my life, I see this:

This plaque was a treasured gift from one of my besties, Roseann McGrath, and it always hold a prominent place on our bedroom wall wherever we move.  A lovely reminder about LOVE (when spatting with the spouse.)
This plaque was a treasured gift from one of my besties, Roseann McGrath, and it always hold a prominent place on our bedroom wall wherever we move. A lovely reminder about LOVE (when spatting with the spouse.)

On this Sunday morning, where we are inspired to turn our hearts once again to love, I feel compelled to revisit that entire passage from I Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

 But the greatest of these is love.

What requires a healthy dose of patience in your life this week? 

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