Tag Archives: Love

Expecting a Beautiful Life is My Birthright

Just to put you all on notice, I’m expecting an amazing year.

For years, I’ve said, “Watch out.  When I turn 55 my world is going to explode (in a good way.)”

And today, I turn 55.

For years I’ve been setting myself up for a rip-roaring year and I believe that outrageously wonderful things are ahead for me!

No, I’m not “psyching” myself up.

I’m just AM up.

There’s a real reason why I can so boldly say that 55 is going to be one for the record books.

I believe that my world is surrounded by well-being, underpinned by love, and fueled by a Divine love that is FOR me.

And you are too, by the way (but we’re talking about me right now.  ‘Cause it’s my birthday.)

I believe that any and everything I ever wanted shows up like a series of birthday presents, because God/Source is not stingy. There’s plenty of blessings to go around for everyone, and when you are loved unconditionally, you get rescued when you fall.

God breaks the fall every time.  I count on it.

Further, like a magnet, everything good is coming my way and even if things appear to be “off” they ultimately work out for my good.

I love how bold this is!  It’s invigorating to bask in a good feeling and to choose to live EVERY day expecting great stuff.

Now, you might be reading this and feel truly annoyed.

What about all the BAD stuff, Brenda?

Annoyed people, my head is not in the sand. 

But really, when did focusing on the bad ever help anyone?

C’mon!  You know my story!  We could mention all the low-lights here, but when I look over my shoulder, they all led me RIGHT HERE.  To this amazing point of happiness in my life.

And I’m not turning back.

Nor am I looking back, ’cause that’s not where I’m headed.

And I wrote and felt all of this BEFORE I picked the new WOW, which I also selected intending it to be my word of the YEAR. And even though all of the words that preceded this video were about my approach to life, I so hope the same for you.

That would be the best birthday present of all.  For all of you lovely people to fall madly in love with yourselves, to boldly believe that you deserve good, and by expecting it, to attract so much good stuff that you feel like you’re living in heaven on earth.

That’s what I’m going to wish for when I blow out the candles later today.

In the meantime:

Oh yes – now THAT’s a word I can sink my heart into this year.

Have a beautiful week, everyone.

You make my heart happy.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

 

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Memorial Days and Emotional Landmarks

Dates on the calendar can be such emotional triggers, can’t they?

Now that I FEEL my feelings rather than stuffing them into a dark crevice of my soul to be more easily ignored,  I “get gotten” regularly.

Instead of skipping along in merry oblivion, life and its memories stop me dead in my tracks and instead of plowing through, I stop.  And I feel those feelings, as messy and soppy as they may be.

A “memorial day” of sorts just passed; it would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.  I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but for an entire week I felt like I was walking through emotional quicksand.

Another is right around the corner: The one year anniversary of when I left.

Every memory can be weighed on a scale, balancing all of the reasons why and, alternately, why not.

Ask ten other people to view the same set of circumstances and their judgments rendered will run the gamut.  They bring their own biases and projections as they view the evidence, which is why I am not a fan of judging.

To one observer, we are heroines of our own stories.

In other versions, we are the villains.

Some days, I see myself as both.

Why?

Because I am well aware of my imperfections.  And I refuse to try to pretend that I am without fault  (though I became QUITE adept at pretending happiness and have since given that up for good.)

Someone recently chastised me  – not intending cruelty – but these words plucked at my heart:  “You could have done it differently.” (This was in reference to how I left my marriage.)

My reply?  Yes, perhaps I could.  But at the time, I couldn’t see any other way.

And maybe it WAS the only way.

None of us will ever know because it went down as it did and it can’t be undone.

Which leads me to another “memorial day.”

September 9th marks the day I finally let go of all of the trappings of pretension; looked my soul square in my heart and said, “I love you.”

Yep, I am aware of all of my stuff – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I love you.

I forgive you.

Now let’s get on with this thing called life and start feeling again, start living again, and let love start winning.

Our word these past two weeks has been flexibility, and sometimes it is painful to dislodge from our fixed position of how we see things.  Or to entertain someone else’s view of the choices made.

I can see your point of view. Perhaps it could have been done differently.

These close encounters of the heart are all part of the bumps and bruises of life.  From my current vantage point, I believe a life unmarred by such wounds reflects a life not fully lived.

I could have died, long before my physical death, by not rocking the boat.  And I could have existed the rest of my days without really living, only to get to the end of it all and find I missed the point.

May I always be flexible enough to admit when I’m wrong.  To leave – anything – when it is time to move on.  To own up and apologize, but most of all and always, to forgive. Everyone.  And especially, me.

After all, I’m the ONE person I’m definitely stuck with for the rest of my life.  So I might as well make it a love affair!

And I hope you will, too.

On a lighter note, some less profound matters can easily make us anguished, irritable, emotional, and altogether flummoxed.  I talk about them in these closing thoughts on FLEXIBILITY (and ushering in a new WOW):

Ah, finding joy in the right here, right now.

Wishing you all boatloads of contentment these coming two weeks!

(And Happy Memorial Day Weekend.)

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Faith of Our Mothers (and the New WOW)

It’s the faith that can move mountains, because the love is so fierce.

It is faith shockingly unafraid to walk through the valley of death if the trek can make certain their son or daughter stays alive.

Mothers go without to ensure that their children never do.

And while they know better than anyone else how to go for the jugular, over their dead body will they ever let someone ELSE cut you to the quick.

No, there is NOTHING so powerful as a mother’s love.

It is Mothers Day and I think of all the moms who are both mom AND dad (like my mom had to be.)  I wonder what it must have been like for my mom to realize her daughter had a dream to go to college (no one in our family ever had) and to muster up the faith to say yes.

My heart pains for those mothers who have lost babies…or any child of any age.

And I think of those of us who never had the privilege of being a mom.

Funny, I never really gave it a thought in my twenties and thirties or even my forties. But now that that ship has TRULY sailed, I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had been someone’s mom.

What a privilege!

And what potential heartache.

There’s just no guarantee how it is all going to turn out, is there?  Which is yet another example of the faith involved with this most holy calling.

When I lost my Toastmaster’s speech competition a few weeks ago, I was honored to watch my friend, Bryan Courtenay, win. He delivered his personal redemption story, which began in a dirty bathroom. The main character was slumped over the toilet bowl after securing his fix.  In the next scene, he paints the picture of his mother banging on the window of a car, trying to revive that young man who had overdosed.  It ends in prison, and the photo of a dead-eyed man’s mug shot.

As he unveiled the mug shot, to the gasps of the audience (who didn’t realize he was speaking about himself the whole time), my eyes were on his mother. She wept through the entire presentation.

Even as I type this, my eyes well with tears for the pain she endured…

…but I bet she’d endure every second of that pain again for the beautiful outcome she now enjoys.

The faith of our mothers, or those who have been like mothers to us, has likely sustained each of us in ways we’d be overwhelmed to see. 

Perhaps in heaven a video reel will play showing the number of times their prayers, and tears, tipped the balances, empowered angels on our behalf, and forestalled tragedy.

Moms who taxied us to rehearsals or sporting events.  Who dug deep and shelled out for those designer jeans or sneakers we HAD to have.

They made us eat our vegetables, say our prayers, clean our rooms and write thank you notes.

They cried with us, then cried some more on their own when our hearts were breaking.

For the nurture that comforted us and for all the maddening times as teenagers when we screamed “I hate you!”  For the treasure of another Mothers Day spent in your presence…thank you for the gift of YOU.

And for the faith, which so beautifully worked by love, to bring us to this very day.

Happy Mothers Day to all!  Here are my non-Mothers Day closing thoughts on FAITH, and a wonderful new WOW:

 

Ah!  So yes, keep the faith – but don’t be stuck on HOW it is going to manifest.

Have a beautiful, flexible week –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Knocked Down (But Willing to Get Up!)

There are a few songs that bring out the fight in me when I’m feeling down.

The theme from Rocky always does it for me. Bill Conti’s horns always make we want to jump up and down on the couch with my arms raised in the victory pose.

Then there’s that “I get knocked down, but I get up again” song by Chumbawamba.  Its actual title is Tubthumping, but I never understood that (or most of the other words.) However, that fighter’s chorus just gets my blood thumping. (Or rather, “tubthumping?)

Our Word of the Week was WILLINGNESS and the truth is, sometimes I get knocked down and I DO NOT WANT to get up again.

I want to slink into the bedroom with a vat of pistachio gelato, curl under the covers and hibernate for at least a few days.  No phone calls; no texts:  I “vant to be alone” in full-on Greta Garbo mode.

That’s how I felt when I lost the final round of my Toastmaster’s Humorous Speech competition last fall.  I had won the club, area, and district competitions and gave what I felt was my best-ever performance at the BIG finale.

And I didn’t even place.

I smiled through the excruciatingly long awards ceremony, wanting to appear to be the good sport that I hoped I would be.

But I was mad.  And I felt robbed.

I swore I would never grace another Toastmasters’ speech competition with my presence and even considered quitting the organization altogether.

No, I am not 9 years old, but I was acting as if.

When the dust settled, I remembered why I got involved with Toastmasters in the first place.  I wanted to compete and perfect my craft; I wanted feedback and a track to run on to pursue my dreams.

When you feel like quitting, friends, go back to your “Why?”  

Your why is the fuel that will take your legs up to the top of the Art Museum.

Your why makes you willing to try again.

As I write this, I am preparing for a Saturday competition in which I will deliver “How To Fertilize Your Life” – the speech I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Yes, I want to win.  But more than that – I want to inspire the crowd assembling at the Gulf Gate Library on a Saturday afternoon.  I want to give them something to take with them that will encourage them to kiss their spouses, say thank you to a co-worker or compliment a stranger.

Oh, and yes, I want to win.

My dream is HUGE.  I want to be the Toastmasters International Public Speaking Champion.  Which means, if I am fortunate enough to win at Gulf Gate this Saturday, I’ve got several layers of the candy cane forest to travel through to get to my destination.

One step at a time, right?

Here’s the thing: We all get hurt.  Some wounds are minor bumps and bruises, like losing a speech competition.

Some are more profound, like finding out a church was really a cult and saying, “I’ll never darken the door of another church again.”

My nevers, however, are usually wrapped up in fear. Today I find myself attending a sweet little Center of Light with Mark every Sunday morning and finding joy in the ritual of a spiritual community.

Willingness is not only a trademark of resilience but also of saying YES to life itself.

Let’s not let our failed marriages keep us from being open to love.

Let us try yet again when we fall flat on our faces…

…and not let the past dictate our futures.

We so often wall ourselves up to protect from future disappointments, but then I remember that with every disappointment has come loving comfort by friends who have wooed me back to health. And whattya know, I’m up again and back in the fight.

More on willingness here…and I’ll keep you posted on Facebook about the competition!

Hefty doses of self-acceptance to all of us (no matter HOW the judges rule.)

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Thoughts About Thoughts (and the New WOW)

Not all thoughts deserve to be vocalized.

There are some ideas that burn in your brain and demand to be voiced.  In my experience, I’ve found that those are usually the ones better left unsaid.

A passionate pounding attached to a thought is an indicator that I need to sit on it for a while, until it is less energized by the heat of the moment.

Sometimes, those thoughts eventually diminish in power and disappear all together.

Others STEW to a simmer, and you can’t shake them like sticky tape.

One of the best ways to dislodge nagging thoughts is to expose them.  

Sometimes, I talk to myself and that helps.

Other times, I expose those murky thoughts to a trusted friend and in simply speaking them out, their power is reduced to a manageable status.

Then there are times when the thoughts just won’t exit, and a conversation must be had with someone about whom you are HAVING those thoughts.

Yuck.

I love encouraging people, talking up the good, speaking life into situations, coaching to dislodge negativity.

But I HATE sticky conversations that could result in:

  • Anger
  • Rejection
  • Defensiveness
  • And raiding the refrigerator to assuage the angst of the confrontation.

Since this past week’s word has been COMMUNICATION, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve had to have some tough conversations.

I went through my process, first talking to myself.  Then talking to not one, not two, but three trusted friends.  During this time, I backed off from the person about whom I was having the thoughts to “clear my mind.”  But the backing off in itself was also communicating.

Actions really do speak louder than words, and silence can be deafening.

What could have been “nipped in bud” three days sooner with a candid (but loving) conversation, was made needlessly bigger by my ghosting of the person.

Yep, the four-letter monster of FEAR crept in, I allowed it to shut me down, and in doing so,  my thoughts became further jumbled.  When they finally came out (not in graceful, flowing words), it was like verbal diarrhea.

The good news is that COMMUNICATION (in this instance) was two-way.  And the recipient was full of love, not fear.

That meant I was responded to with patience, kindness, thinking no evil and taking no account of a suffered wrong.  Thank God for a person who lives by the four agreements!  (They don’t take things personally.)

It’s not your perfect communication that is effective in life, though sometimes it’s a catalyst for great good.  No, sometimes it is your jumbled up blapping, met with love, that reveals what is most important in life.

Which always turns out to be…LOVE.

My closing thoughts on COMMUNICATION and a quite appropriate new WOW to take us through the next two weeks:

Hang in there!  We’re ALL waiting for something.  May we have extra doses of patience to wait with JOY and not angst.

Much love (and as my friend Denny always used to say):  Love much.

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Recipe for Resilience (and the New WOW)

This recipe has been through A LOT…yet the stains and markings comfort me.

In a year that has been tumultuous (to say the least), Mom-Mom’s Raisin Bread recipe, (which I wrote down when I was a teenager) is proof of resilience, endurance,                  bounce-backability and most of all, the prevailing power of LOVE.

This recipe has traveled with me to at least ten different homes and each year when I get to baking I think about how Mom-Mom packed love into every loaf.

I already burned out one Kitchen Aid mixer in 2014, because this dough is NO JOKE.  It’s thick and sticky and clings to EVERYTHING.  (This includes my walls, my bowls and me.)

Each year the list of people I send the bread to grows.  It’s my one claim to fame; a tradition that honors my Mom-Mom and lets the people I love know they RATE when the package arrives.

So this was what my first UPS trip looked like:

I needed elves to bake, wrap, address, package, tape and ship.

All I had was me, myself, and I.

But I had the recipe for resilience!  L-O-V-E.

Every moment that I felt like waving the white dish towel, I conjured up thoughts of the dear people on the receiving end of these packages.  When a friend saw my war zone of a kitchen covered with flour, he kindly observed, “These are loaves of love.”

Yes, they are.

I talk more about how love fuels resilience in this week’s video, but before we go there, let’s make your mouths water:

Yep, they are crunchy sweet golden brown outsides with soft, cake-y, raisin-filled insides.  This treat is best served toasted and SLATHERED with butter.

Sorry to tempt you so.  But you are resilient!  And here’s more on that topic:

Loving and embracing the TRUTH with you this week!

And loving YOU.  It means so much that you are out there.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Your Masterpiece is YOU (and the New WOW)

For our entire lives, we’ve been working on a masterpiece.

We may not call ourselves creative and a paintbrush may never have graced our hands – still, we are artists.

On my 4+ hour drive to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my friend Anita and her family, I had good company.  Joining me on the open road was the audio book of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Voice of Knowledge.”  A new friend had shared with me that Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” deeply affected his life for good. He highly recommended the trilogy of Toltec Wisdom Books.

The word “Toltec” means “artist of the spirit.” In the Toltec tradition, every human is an artist, and the supreme art is the expression of the beauty of our spirit. To consider that we are artists (rather than mere humans), makes us creators – just like the One Who created us.

From page 47 of The Voice of Knowledge:

How do we live our life? This is our art; the art of living.

There are two kinds of artists.  Those who create their story without awareness, and those recover awareness and create their story with truth and with love.

To think that I – that WE – hold the paintbrush to our lives is an awesome realization.  Is there something that doesn’t fit into our vision of truth and love?  Paint over it.  Create something new.  We have the power to do this.

We were BORN to write our own story and have everything we need to make it a work of art.  Yes, people will come along who will try to impose on us what THEY think our lives should look like.

When I handed over the paintbrush to other people, I became something other than the authentic Brenda.

It has taken many years to get her back.  As the song goes, “Reunited and It feels SO good!

This passage from page 68 excited my spirit so much I wanted to share it with you:

You are the only one who can change your story, and you do this by changing your relationship with yourself.

Every time you change the main character in your story, just like magic the whole story starts to change in order to adapt to the new main character.

I think of one of my favorite movies of all time, Frequency, in which the main character is able to connect to his long-deceased Father through a miraculous ham radio.  At one point he mentions that “cigarettes will kill, you Dad…” as an off-handed comment.

Long story short, that suggestion led to a decision by his Father that resulted in him changing the course of his life…and his death.  The script was rewritten.

I consider my decision four years ago to stop drinking.  After years of wrestling with, “Do I have a problem?” I heard clearly in my spirit that if I kept it up, I would die prematurely.  When tempted to sip a Cosmopolitan, I have reminded myself of that revelation to keep me from turning back.

The clarity of sobriety has graced me with so many gifts; most importantly, a clearness about what I want my life to be and who I want Brenda to be.  It has afforded me a newfound ability to call a lie a lie and step away from pretense and performance.  Being clear gave me the courage to walk away from those things that no longer “fit” the true me…and the health in mind, body and spirit to enjoy a new way of living.

It was the first domino in a series that led to removing Zoloft from my life, journeying to Costa Rica to get back in touch with my wounded soul and begin this journey to wholeness.

What a ripple effect!

I’m sure there will yet be many more changes to the main character of my story, but my point in writing is to encourage YOU to take that paintbrush and adjust your masterpiece accordingly.

Paint your beautiful life with broad strokes of love and truth, my friends.

And what a great word to follow up these thoughts on CREATIVITY:

What a wonderful assignment for all of us!  It is NEVER too late to be who you “might have been.”

I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday to be celebrated year-round…and my heart is overflowing with gratitude for this life I get to live (and create!).  I’m so blessed to share it with you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Letting Love IN (and the New WOW)

Can you imagine a table loaded up with love and yet you remain starving?

I’ve considered this on a week where HARMONY was our Word of the Week, and all of the messages I kept reading referred back to LOVE as the secret sauce for harmony.

When I am out of sorts with myself, I’m learning to check my love levels.  Since Costa Rica, my first step is to check out how well I’m loving ME (or not).  Because I’ve learned that I will only attract what I emanate.

Harmony is when there’s unity of thought and feeling – and fear is always the great divider.

Fear’s leading line is, “What if…” and leads down the rabbit trail of negative possibilities.

That’s when I need to go and sit in Mom-Mom’s chair, and talk to myself.

Taking that five minute (or more) time-out is just what I need to get back to unity between my soul and spirit, and it always ends with a little love note to myself.

“I love you Brenda.”

When was the last time you said those words out loud to yourself?

Picture yourself, through all of the many stages of your life:  The chubby toddler, the acne-stained teen; the insecure but tough-looking college student or the polished (but anxious as hell) professional.

With each mental image, let love well up inside of you.  You’ll find floods of empathy and compassion, tenderness and grace rise up.

Then let those loving feelings wash over you.

Some tears may spill out of your eyes.  That’s okay.  It’s your angels washing your heart from the wounds accrued over time.

After that good, cleansing cry, you may find that where there was discord, harmony now resides in your heart.  And you’re ready to face life again, because YOU’VE got your own back.

The table of love is a feast that is always set before us.  May we all choose to partake!

I talk a bit more on this (and just wish I had put some better lipstick on), but you’ll forgive the momentary lapse of aesthetics in the new Word of the Week reveal:

Looking at life with fresh eyes is how I’m going to approach creativity this week.

After all, if I keep doing the SAME thing, I’ll get the same results.

I want new stuff!  How about you?

Oh, and let’s GIVE THANKS for all the wonderful stuff we already have.  I hope you and yours enjoy a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday, seated at a table where the feast is LOVE.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Faith Works by Love (and the New Wow)

What I had faith for was that I should go to sleep and wake up when this birthday was over.

To look at the circumstances (which is never a great idea when it comes to faith), my life was in flux, my marriage over and the future uncertain.

Uncertainty, by the way, is the #1 culprit of fear…and since faith works by love, well you know where this story is heading…

…except I was love-bombed.

With each gesture of love, like a flat tire being inflated, so were my spirits.

First, a pre-birthday card from my mom, with a $10 bill to “go buy ice cream.” Thursday was like Christmas – every hour I got a call from the lobby desk saying, “We have a package for you, Ms. Viola…”

There are so many flowers in my apartment right now, I feel like Miss America, not Ms. Viola!  (Thank you Renee and Steve and Roseann and Mike).

Cynthia is NOT a card person.  But she knows that I am and she sent three awesome cards – two laugh out loud funny ones, and another tender one that prompted liquid to spill out of my eyes.

OK, I need to share this one with you:

Then Linda sent me a card that touched me so deeply I have to share the words with you:

THE OAK TREE

A might wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away

Shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.


I am writing this on Thursday night because another present is arriving.  My friend Anita hopped on a plane today and she will be here with me all weekend.  Vats of coffee, endless conversations, laughter and some tears comprise the agenda. And some Face-time with the rest of the Fab Four throughout our time together.

I am blessed.  I am rich.  I am not alone.  I have faith for tomorrow.

Love wove a miracle, stitched my broken heart together and has given me the best birthday of my life.

Who’d have thunk it?

Prior to being love-bombed, I faced another form of faith that attempted to suck the wind out of my sails.  Here’s more on that and the new WOW:

Never, ever, ever have I picked the word BEAUTY.

What a lovely word to begin a brand new year of my life.

Thank you for sharing it with me.

I love you –

Brenda

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Adventures in Simplicity (and the New WOW)

When a business trip takes you to the other coast and it’s a place you’ve never been before, it merits tacking on a couple of play days to make space for adventure. Yes, I had adventures – but most profound were simple acts of love.

The weeks preceding my trip to San Diego involved pre-bedtime Googling the best restaurants, must- see landmarks, the hip neighborhoods and nature’s hot spots. In keeping with our Word of the Week, simplicity, I opted to establish just one must-do goal and let the rest play out in serendipity.

The sea lions were a must.

The Cove at La Jolla smells like sea lion and seal poop, but the majesty of the Pacific and the doe-eyes of those howling, napping critters was well worth the pungent aroma.

Well-timed suggestions fueled my adventure, like that of the proprietor of the inn where I lodged recommending a drive to Coronado on my first full day.  (Side note: No matter WHERE I wanted to go, the pat response was, “Oh, it’s only fifteen minutes away!”  Lo and behold, it was true – most everywhere I wanted to go WAS just 15 minutes away.)

Overcast skies and a too-cool wind tried to dampen my spirits to no avail.  There were sandcastles and crashing waves…and in the distance, the behemoth that is the Hotel Coronado, a famous historic landmark with an equally legendary breakfast buffet.

Of course, I did!

Yes, breakfast was amazing, but what I observed was far more thrilling: A simple act of love.

I noticed her the minute she walked in; an elegant woman dressed impeccably in a pink tweed suit, her gray hair folding in a smooth, longer pageboy. More than the clothes she wore, her smile lit the room, removing years from her face and intriguing me.

Unfortunately, it is a rare woman in her advanced years who so readily smiles, and yet it is a trait I aspire to.

I watched what appeared to be her daughter – likely my own age – and granddaughter, setting a celebratory tone.  Was it her birthday?

I tried not to be rude, but I couldn’t stop glancing their way.

Then, in walked a tall, handsome man with what appeared to be a bouquet of 50 roses.

And I watched the lovely lady hold back tears.

I bowed my head; this was a sacred moment.

He attempted a photo and I leaped to offer my services.  It gave me a chance to tell the woman I found her to be beautiful.

Later, at the buffet, the man – her son – told me the back story.  Fifty years ago, on that day, she got married at the Hotel Coronado.  Though her husband was no longer alive, it had always been his practice to send her red roses, each representing a year of their marriage. On this landmark 50th, her children wanted to honor the tradition.

What love! What a testament to a life well-lived; so well done that her children were overflowing with gratitude and honor.

Elaine’s wedding photo also had a place of honor at the breakfast table.

I wanted to capture some shots of this glorious encounter, but didn’t want to be intrusive of their family moment.

The spirit of her beloved was surely smiling down on them all; I FELT it.

Emotionally sated, my adventures continued. I drove to the “Om Dome” in Encinitas for a spiritual concert with my newfound airplane friend, Myrna, who had a “Gypsy Soul” necklace made exactly like my go-to “Salt Life” silver flattened spoon choker.

I scheduled a table for one at the Marine Room, where the waves lapped against the window in front of my table (and the lobster bisque was swoon-worthy.)

The next simply wonderful highlight was to spend quality time with my cousin, Debbie, who gathered her two amazing daughters – Carolyn and Colleen – her granddaughter, Charlotte, her husband (who I had NEVER met, Craig) and Carolyn’s firefighter husband, John, for a night at an authentic Mexican restaurant in Old Town.

The conversation flowed as only it can when great love is at the table.

The reunion reminded me off what cemented my love for Debbie, despite decades of not seeing each other.

Her father, Joseph, is my father’s younger brother. When I was ten, as you all know, my father died suddenly from a heart attack. Joe and his family immediately traveled from their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia to attend the services.

We were all devastated, and I vividly recall sitting around my grandmother’s apartment picking at catered food and trying to find comfort in each other’s presence.

No longer able to hold it together, I remember erupting into sobs and fleeing to the back bedroom.

One person came to me.

My cousin Debbie.

Just a teenager herself, she wrapped me in her arms and just hugged me and hugged me. I will never forget that moment.

And throughout our magical evening in San Diego, I enjoyed her hugs once again. They felt familiar and oh-so-comforting. Her daughters are also world-class huggers! I loved them so much I wanted to say, “Where have you been all of my life?”

Of course, they were there all along.  I just never took the time to know them.  But that, of course, all changed in one love-filled evening.

A bouquet of 50 roses.

A simple hug, perfectly timed.

And then, in line at security on the way home, I marveled at a husband/wife team, so adeptly keeping their two toddlers entertained. The little boy kicked off his shoes as daddy patiently put them back on. His tears turned to giggles as mommy blew fart-sounds onto his belly. Finally, he was hung upside down by his daddy (to his glee), and mommy, weighed down with diaper bags and luggage and minding strollers reached down to lift the older girl.

The husband looked at her quizzically as if to say, “Why are you doing that? You’ve got so much to carry.”

She covered her daughter’s face with gentle kisses and said, “Because she wants to be held, too, and I love her.”

I bowed my head again.  It was such a tender moment, so very sweet and lovely. 

What a good mom.

I told her, too, on the way to take my seat home.  She looked at me with eyes that revealed she is far too often hard on herself and feels a bit overwhelmed by this most noble of professions. She couldn’t imagine that I had observed something that so impressed a stranger enough for them to comment on her parenting skills.

Chocolate stained faces and poopy diapers be damned.

She was an amazing mom.

She simply loved.

Sigh.

I hope that you, too, relished in the adventures of simplicity this past week.

Onward to the new Word of the Week:

You mean there IS a tomorrow?  And I don’t have to do everything right now?

Sigh.

For me, there will always be a balance between resting in patience and letting it do its perfect work – and cramming 27 hours of activity into a 24 hour day.

When you see me careening off of the edge – pull me back!

I will nuzzle into PATIENCE this week and see what fruit it bears.

And for those of you waiting for something (or someone) – I am standing in faith WITH you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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