Tag Archives: Joy

Enthusiasm is Childlike (and the New WOW)

With my enthusiasm level running on empty this week, and since I’m learning to take cues from my feelings, I encouraged myself to disengage from my regularly scheduled life.

My office looks out over the apartment pool, and I love seeing the palm trees sway and hearing the soothing drip of the water spray.

The office view – but on a cloudy day, the chairs are empty!

I look, but I never venture OUT there during the week.

I’m something of a machine when I’m in work mode, and I don’t take kindly to interruptions when the highlight for me is crossing off items from my “to-do” list.

It was lunch time, though, and I was weary. Nothing on that “to-do” list beckoned me.

So I broke from tradition, put on a swimsuit, grabbed a towel and sunglasses, and gave myself a half-hour to refresh.

Within five minutes, I was sound asleep.

Those of you who know me understand that I am a world-class napper, and can zonk out in even an upright position.

After what was about 15 minutes, I felt a tickle on my foot.

It was as gentle as a feather, and I didn’t awake with a start. No, it was more like a sleepy eye-opening that revealed the culprit.

The most adorable three year old boy in the history of forever.

I actually thought HE was a SHE at first, because his hair was halfway down his back, all black and curly. He was trying to get from his mom’s chaise lounge to his dad in the pool, and I was in the way.

So he held on to my foot to find his own footing.

When I looked at him, he just grinned.

I was in love.

I then observed him splashing with abandon, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Next, a family with four little blonde babies came strolling in.  Three were little girls with bows in their hair to match their swimsuits…and Jack.

Jack was ALL boy.

Once he was fully entrenched in his safety gear, he proceed to jump.  Up and down.  And up and down again.  Then into the pool, squealing with joy.

There was no second-guessing or self-conscious “Who’s looking at me and do I look/jump/sound okay?”

This was pure, childlike enthusiasm.

Jack flirted with me as he splashed around the pool, knowing he had me at hello with the mischievous glint in his eyes.

But he didn’t know how he affected my heart.

Oh, to return to that place of childlike glee!

Did I ever even have it?

I remember being so self-aware of my 100-pound self as a child, I don’t think I ever HAD a moment that I wasn’t self-conscious.

But my word of the weeks  – and my word for the entire YEAR is ENTHUSIASM.

And by George…or, by Jack – I want to be like a child in my approach to life.

Children were my teachers this week, as you can see and hear from this week’s video:

In the spirit of authenticity and NOT being self-conscious, I am less than a week away from my first-ever open-to-the-public event in Sarasota.  I have 80 seats to fill and think that three tickets have been sold.

GULP.

But whether there are three or three HUNDRED, I’m going to give it my all, with childlike enthusiasm.  If you are in the neighborhood on August 11th, please come!  Even better, make my day and secure your seat by visiting:  https://www.sarasotacenteroflight.com/event/running-on-empty-raise-your-vibration

Most of all, if you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!

xoxoooox

Brenda

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Tony the Transformer (and the New WOW)

Some people are transformers by their very nature. My brother-in-law, Tony, whose “birfday” is today is just that kinda guy.

Tony joined the Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico, where he and Shirlee lived for their first years of marriage.

They say that inspired peoples’ energy changes the atmosphere. From the time this wide-eyed 12-year old girl met this hurricane of a man, Tony has made an impact on every room he enters.

Full disclosure: He was my sister’s boyfriend, but I had a HUGE crush on him.

Who wouldn’t?

These were the days of Saturday Night Fever, and man could this Italian heartthrob DANCE.  He didn’t have practiced, official moves.  But he tore it up with his own Northeast Philly disco swagger.

I loved when HE offered to pick me up after the middle-school dance.  He’d strut up to the cafeteria, cigarette in hand, John Travolta-like hair – and collect ME.  Yep, I was the luckiest girl at Cleary Junior High.

What’s that sound? Just the tears of heartbroken women throughout the Delaware Valley when they learned Tony DiBacco was “off the market.”

Oh, and he can SING, too.  No, he never really knows the words, but they’re always on key.  He does a MEAN Elvis and, had the course of his life gone a different way, I have no doubt he would be some kind of an entertainer.

Tony DiBacco is surely a star in my universe.

With my father’s death just a couple of years before Tony entered the picture, we three Costello girls were kind of somber.  Mom had to try and simply maintain the inner and outer workings of running a household, while valiantly serving as mom AND dad to her 15-year-old, Shirlee, and 10-year-old me.

There was no Christmas tree for us the year after Daddy died.

Then Tony swept Shirlee off of her feet and we then experienced SUPER-SIZED Christmases. So many presents!  So much fun opening them!  He would shake every box elaborately and try to guess what was inside.

Tony, to this day, brings electricity to any party.  He constantly cracks one-liners, is unfailingly generous, as handsome as ever…and today, when thinking about our Word of the Week, Transformation, it felt right to devote the column to him.

Tony, I love you.  Thanks for being a wonderful brother and husband to my sissy.  Thanks for always being full of life and fun.  You are a treasure!

I pondered how to transform my own life in 2018, and hope you will understand and support a big decision I reveal in this week’s video:

Looking forward to wearing my forgiving clothes with you over the next two weeks!

And feel free to wish Tony a Happy Birfday (he never pronounces the “th”) in the comments!

xoxoxoxo

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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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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I Vant to Be Alone! (and the New WOW)

Did you ever want to run away and just be alone?

It’s no one’s fault (although I sometimes try to place blame), but every now and again I have this urge to pack a bag, disappear, and not be heard from for about a month.

In my fantasies, my place of escape is a little apartment over top of a restaurant or other storefront above the cobbled streets of Sorrento, Italy.  No one would know me and I could do my favorite thing – wander – with no expectations or obligations to fulfill.  Deadlines, be gone! Projects, phooey!

Imagine the thrill of no guilt for falling short, running late; no need to procrastinate and no one clamoring for my attention.  

(Yes, Shasta – I’m talking about YOU.  And your Daddy.)

Aaaaahhh, the beautiful respite of PEACE (our Word of the Week) and quiet.

I do like my own company. And I don’t usually annoy myself.

There’s a reason why those old “Calgon, take me away…” commercials resonated with an entire generation of women.

Still, I know in my heart of hearts that true peace is not circumstantial – and you don’t have to sequester yourself to enjoy it.

The culprits of my unease this past week could all be tied to ruminating…obsessing…overthinking – and trying to control things (and people) beyond my control.

As the captain of my ship, only I could “right” it.

It didn’t happen instantaneously.  It started with soul-sucking depression.

Then I remembered:  Anxiety in the heart causes depression.  I did a little digging and found this, “Aha!”:

Yes, that is my familiar flaw – falling into the performance trap.  Wanting everyone to love me and approve of me.

Can you relate?

It was like having a spiritual cold.  All I wanted to do was stay in bed and eat carbohydrates.  And on a week where PEACE should win!

The good news is, I am no longer comfortable sustaining soul-ish lows.  Formerly my comfort zone, I kicked that way of life to the curb many years ago.

I simply refuse to waste this life being anything other than full of enthusiasm and expectancy.

So I made a decision, which didn’t miraculously change the way I felt.

I followed up on that decision with actions and simply kept doing what I knew to do to jump start my heart and get me back to peace and joy: Exercise. Evicting negative thoughts. Talking to wise and spiritual people. Eating healthy food. Forcing myself to smile. Counting my blessings.

Until I felt like me again.

No, peace shouldn’t be circumstantial, but unless we can run away to Sorrento and script other peoples’ responses to us, the circumstances sometimes do rob us of that peaceful, easy feeling.

That’s normal.

But thank God, my new normal isn’t STAYING there.

As my heart’s love tank slowly begins to re-fill, I’m looking forward to the new Word of the Week, too!:

Well there we go!

Permission to get our hopes up!

Have a beautiful week, everyone – full of EXPECTING good things.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Joy-Sucking Trauma and the New WOW

Have you ever just zipped through life for a period of weeks with no major setbacks or heart-gripping faux pas to sap your joy?

I like those weeks.

This was not one of them!

Like a bad dream, an e-mail showed up in my inbox signaling potential professional doom.

A wildly successful project of mine was now the target of a HUGE company’s cease and desist order.

Yes, I always wanted to be discovered by the movies. THIS was not what I had in mind. Let’s just say I wasn’t ready for this kind of closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Quicker than Duane’s lime green Challenger can do zero to sixty, I went from joy to white-knuckled terror.

That sinking feeling of dread? A product of the mere SUGGESTION of bad things to come, not facts.

When faced with these tugging suggestions, we can travel one of two routes:

  1. Vote with fear and enter the deep, dark abyss of related paranoias and dreads
  2. Resist the negative possibilities and reinforce yourself with truth, comforting thoughts and the influence of good people

Which do you think I chose?

Ha!  For several hours, #1 was the victor. My face, drained of color, featured a perpetual deer in the headlights look and I headed into the abyss with a technicolor 10-point outline of how badly things were going to go down.

Taking a big gulp and a huge slice of humble pie, I made the dreaded call to my employer, alerting him to this dark turn of events.  My insides felt like a cauldron of doom and my voice, shaking, conveyed the scary turn of events.

He laughed.

What?  Ummm…surely I didn’t explain this properly.

Let me try again.

He chuckled.

Huh?

Could it be that my awful turn of events was something not quite so horrible?

THIS turned out to be how the word JOY played out for me this week.  Realizing my fears were unfounded ushered in utter RELIEF, and subsequently, joy.  REAL, giddy joy prone to bursting into a happy dance because the feared thing turned out to be just a mirage.

Oh, life, you wild roller-coaster ride you.  

You use the valleys to make the peaks more thrilling; allow the lean times for abundance to be better savored. Life, you are quite the entertainer!

Are you finding yourself on the down side of life right now?  Take courage!  Valleys are temporary and serve as a supreme set up for amplified delight when the road swings upward.

For more on JOY, the reveal of the new WOW and with fair warning that I am LONG-WINDED because there are Iceland stories to share, here we go:

Good stuff!  Integrity is a great word for us to hang our respective hats on this week.

May we all possess the strength of mind to know the right thing and, further, the chutzpah to DO IT this week.

Lots of love,

Brenda

 

 

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Healed ‘Cause It No Longer Hurts (and the New WOW)

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.

Love,
Brenda

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Getting Your Hopes Up (and the New WOW)

Are your hopes UP?  Or are they DOWN?

The nice thing about hope is that it is elastic enough to spring UP when it has been in a deflated state.

If you are like one of those inflatable Christmas ornaments that sits in a puddle on the front lawn during daylight hours…it’s comforting to know they don’t stay there.

 

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Here’s a little funny:  I didn’t realize that those puffy Santa’s and snowmen intentionally deflate during the day.  For years I decried the horrible Grinches that slashed them, ruining peoples’ decorations and rendering them flat.

Then I discovered it was just how those decorations roll.

So it is with life.  You might feel like a puddle on the ground, but mark my words, you’ll only stay there if you commit to the fallen state.

A good word, a card in the mail, a compliment from a stranger…next thing you know, your vibe is high again.  Or, for the savvy CEO of their own love tank, you talk nice to yourself. You give a stranger a compliment.  You bake a loaf of bread and welcome your new neighbor to town.

Voila!  Your love/hope/faith tank is full again.  You’re doing the Snoopy happy dance again.

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What is the quality of your hope?  Is it an “oh me oh my” Eeyore kind?  Or is it a Tigger-ish “yippee it’s on the way!” kind? 

Both are in a waiting mode.  One is just much happier waiting.

All of my single years (two whole #$%@in’ decades) were spent in Eeyore mode.  Instead of enjoying the freedom of being un-beholden, I focused on “What was WRONG with me????” Too many woe is me holidays were spent feeling “less than” because I was unattached.  I didn’t enjoy the love of those that WERE around me because the love I WANTED hadn’t yet arrived.

The older you get, though, you realize that life is too short to waste on sad yearnings.  

You get busy loving the ones you’re with…and that gratitude spills over and next thing you know promises keep popping up fulfilled without a single tear shed!

For the hope-filled (who are the faith-filled), life is a profusion of blooms.

That’s why I say, “Get your hopes UP!” Expect something wonderful to happen.

Here’s a bit more on that topic, and a new WOW that is the peanut butter to FAITH’s jelly:

 

Let’s all be rubber bands this week, shall we?

If you are traveling, be safe.  Sing carols at the top of your lungs instead of screaming at the traffic.

Enjoy the journey.

You may not be there YET —- but you ARE on your way.

xoxoxoxoxo

Love,
Brenda

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Enthusiasm is to be Taken Seriously (& the New WOW)

Enthusiasm is NOT to be taken lightly.

It’s not for the fainthearted (or boring, for that matter.)

Knowing this has helped me stand up a bit straighter this week and walk in a little more power than usual.

I have ALWAYS lived an enthusiastic life and my zest for even little things like greeting cards and puppy dogs is sometimes met with a head shake.  Really?  C’mon Brenda, it’s not THAT exciting, is it?

I once interviewed an elected official in my previous job as a Public Information Officer, and I found one of her answers to be so interesting I responded, “WOW!”

She literally (on camera) said, “Wow?  What’s there to wow about?”

Fast forward 15 years and I’m still “WOW-ing” with my Word of the Week.

Only on a few occasions have I considered ramping down my approach to life a bit – particularly when it is met with an eye roll – but this is the way God made me and I’m sticking with it.  

And, if I need further reinforcement, here are a few good ones:

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none-are-so-old-as-those-who-have-outlived-enthusiasm-quote-1

And one final kicker:

opportunities

Why do we curb our enthusiasm?  It’s the old “Don’t get your hopes up and you won’t be disappointed” scenario.

In my early teen years I lived that way and it didn’t work for me.  Since then, I’ve always got my hopes up.

Each week, I literally EXPECT to win the lottery.  (I haven’t.  YET.)  When I check the numbers I say to myself, “Oh…not this week.” (With full enthusiasm that it MIGHT be next week…)

I could list a million things that make me enthusiastic…but one of the tricks in life is to summon enthusiasm for what OTHER people find thrilling.  Instead of accompanying them under duress, it doubles their joy if you get into it, too.  So while at first, the band YES was a no for me, I am now completely taken in by Jon Anderson’s voice and wouldn’t miss a chance to see him in concert.  (YES is definitely a Duane thing.)

No, I don’t like to eat blue claw crabs.  But I am enthusiastic about the picnic tables at Peace River Seafood where you sit with strangers for hours.  Duane gleefully tries to beat his world record and I make friends.

I will never be enthusiastic about the Dallas Cowboys, but I’ll gladly go to a game (enthusiastically wearing my throwback Randall Cunningham jersey.)

Some of my greatest experiences in life have been those where I swallowed my LACK of enthusiasm and just joined in (parasailing, zip lining and snorkeling come to mind.)

Interestingly, all of the above involved my friend Anita.

You may not be enthusiastic about WHAT you’re doing, but if you are stoked about who you are doing it with, it can still fan your happy flame.

So no matter what this new WOW will be, let’s keep the fires of enthusiasm stoked (and stay stoked about life.)  It just may be the fountain of youth!

Here’s the reveal of the new #WOW:

With all of your sweet comments about Duane’s special guest appearance last week, THIS week is a bit more subdued.  (Hopefully we can get him to come back in the future and jazz things up.)

For now, may it ALL COME TOGETHER – for all us this week.

Love,

Brenda

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Joy, Silliness. Enthusiasm (and the New WOW)

We went off the rails a bit in this week’s recording of the WOW.  A special guest appearance by Snoopy and my HUSBAND escalated into silliness  – but we went for it enthusiastically.

Silliness is underrated, don’t you think?  

There’s a lightness and freedom to being goofy that my husband has mastered.

I haven’t always appreciated it.

Sometimes, I find it downright maddening.

But when I take a step back and see that deep crevice of a dimple in his cheek and how it lightens up the world around him when he makes stuffed animals talk or contorts his face like Jim Carrey or jumps into quoting lines from Young Frankenstein, I know he is the exact yin to my yang; the peanut butter to my jelly…and the much needed cream in my coffee.

One time during the holiday season we were at the Christmas Tree Store and a particularly rousing carol came on.  He started a flamboyant, broadway-worthy dance in the aisle.

I first observed this with caution : “Was anyone watching?”

My second impulse was to join in…and next thing you know, Fred and Ginger were having at it with the abandon of slightly crazy people.

If you’re going to go for it, do it ENTHUSIASTICALLY, whatever it is!

Here’s what I love best about the word enthusiasm:  It’s wrapped up in bows of joy and freedom (and if you’re lucky, silliness.)

I’m ALL for giving and receiving gifts like THAT this holiday season, how about you?

So, without further ado, my regularly scheduled Word of the Week with a surprise guest (or two):

My mother BEGS Duane not to make silly faces in photos, but it appears that he was fairly well-behaved in this recording.

Unlike this:

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Or, when dressed in our best for a recent wedding:

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No, life is never boring with Mr. Viola.

And I look forward to another ENTHUSIASTIC week.  How about you?

Love!
Brenda

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