Tag Archives: Marriage

Fertilize Your Life with Appreciation (& the New WOW)

Sometimes you can feel like you’re under a pile of doo-doo, but later you realize (with appreciation) that it’s just meant to fertilize your life.

The seed of your dream is in the ground, and it is sometimes a dark place, compounded by the compost of, well, poopy circumstances.

Can I use any more childlike words to describe #$it?

I know that those of you who read my posts are generally like-minded; we seek to GROW our lives, don’t we?

My recent attendance at an Abraham Hicks workshop gave me an AHA that turned into a recent Toastmasters speech that I plan to take to the International Competition. (Nothing like thinking big, right?)

Here it is in written form (which I need to pare down by about 500 words to make my time constraints!):

It was love at first sight.

I was 16 years old…and no, it wasn’t the captain of the football team.

It was a 1981 Chevy Camaro Berlinetta.

This story, however, is NOT about a car.

Still, let me paint a picture for you.

It was a second generation Camaro; the last with the rounded body style. Black leather bucket seats; a sun roof, silver pin-striping – I have no idea what engine type – but it didn’t matter…

…because it had air conditioning and an 8-track player…

It beckoned to me from the showroom floor.

Perhaps it was my mom’s way of honoring my dad’s memory – he was ALWAYS opposed to buying a used car.

Maybe it was the pleading look in my eye.

Whatever unseen miracle was at work, I drove that Berlinetta out of the showroom, certain it would

  • Solve all of my self-esteem issues,
  • Secure me a prom date and
  • Send my classmates into a jealous frenzy.

None of that happened, but what did happen was the minute I drove that car off of the lot, it depreciated by 11%. At the end of the first year, that percentage rose to 19%.

I learned the concept of DEPRECIATION.

Webster’s defines DEPRECIATE as to diminish in value over a period of time or to disparage or belittle. To DE-PRECIATE shrinks things.

Which got me thinking about APPRECIATION.

Could it be said that APPRECIATION grows things?

When I water and fertilize my flowers, they GROW. Saying “thank you” or complimenting a friend GROWS a relationship. When I make deposits into my savings, that account GROWS.

APPRECIATION is like a magical super-sizer.

Famed inspirational speaker and motivational coach Tony Robbins said it this way:

You’re enjoying the sunny Sarasota sunshine. (Or imagine that you are, dear Northerners!)

It brings a smile to your face.

You’re walking down main street and say to a passerby, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

They agree, smiling.

And your appreciation has made a beautiful day even better by the very act of appreciating it.

Appreciation GROWS things.

When I throw my Burger King wrapper in my garden bed, it chokes the roots.

If I don’t tend to the weeds or protect my plants from critters or pests, they fall prey.

My actions – or lack –  of appreciation can either SPEED or IMPEDE growth.

Appreciation is ACTIVE.

When I moved out on my own, my Camaro didn’t have the oil changed regularly.  (I hear you groaning.) It became a repository for fast food wrappers and dents and parking tickets from Glassboro State College. It eventually died on the highway.

Because of the way I DIDN’T take care of it, it had steadily diminished in value.

Had I appreciated it and cared for it, it might be a classic – the target of oohs and aahs at car shows.

And when it comes to matters of the heart and appreciation, I think of my marriage.

It started with roses and cards and praise…

…and ended in shouts and divisions of property and our very lives.

We stopped appreciating what we loved about each other and the marriage continued to shrink.

How do we DE-PRECIATE our lives? We:

  1. Nit pick
  2. Start complaining
  3. Focus on what’s wrong instead of what is right
  4. Let negative thoughts take up residence
  5. Poison our dreams by marinating on their impossibility

Has  anyone here been guilty of these?  Me too, so how do we FERTILIZE OUR LIVES? Through APPRECIATION.

  • Acknowledge what IS GOOD right now.
  • Praise progress – even baby steps.
  • Remember what obstacles you’ve surmounted.
  • Recall how far you’ve come.
  • And be good to YOU.

Yes, be nice to yourself.

Stop complaining about what you didn’t, should have or might have been or done.

The past is in your rear-view mirror. You’re not going there.

Regrets do NOT serve you or anyone else. Guilt is a non-productive emotion, and if you look ahead, the sun is shining – always, even behind the clouds.

I want my life to GROW.  I want MORE GOOD STUFF – and  I don’t want to take the blessings of life for granted until they de-preciate from view.

What do you love – who do you love, RIGHT NOW?

  • Fertilize
  • Compliment
  • Applaud
  • Praise
  • Even worship it (or them) with appreciation

AND WATCH YOUR LIFE GROW.

We had two less-than-sexy words this past two weeks, but I was inspired with a fun take on RESPONSIBILITY and TRUST.  Here it is, plus the new WOW:

It’s a mandate to go with the flow, my friends.

May that flow take you ever closer to the life you’ve imagined.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

 

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Expectations, Marriage (and the New WOW)

Duane and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week and it was a perfect time to consider expectations…or the lack thereof.

See, when I met this dimpled, Italian man, I didn’t know WHAT to expect.

One thing was undeniable:  My world was rocked.  He gave me heart palpitations and goosebumps.  I found myself singing Carpenters songs with gusto and living for the next phone call or e-mail.

Actually, at first, I truly expected him to be a flash in the pan; just another of the many guys who’d take my number and never call.  Friends, who had not seen a man have this effect on me in years also tried to reign in my expectations; after all, they didn’t want their friend to get hurt.

When you’re 38 and haven’t been on a real date in years, YOU don’t want to get hurt again. You resist getting  your hopes up, only to have them dashed again.  Yet the feelings were so intoxicating…I couldn’t protect myself from them.

Swept up in emotion, I made a decision to risk being hurt…because the thought of NOT loving him was more painful.

Duane exceeded my expectations. He was in it for the long haul (see my recent video on INTENTION) and no matter what I asked of him, he jumped through every hoop (and there were MANY of them) to seal the deal and put a ring on it.

The next chapter, however, is where the rubber met the road: Marriage.

Because of the whirlwind of our courtship, I never stopped to consider my expectations when it came to marriage.

I mean, wouldn’t it just be more of the same?  Romantic, long talks on the patio; flowers “just because” and handyman tasks miraculously handled by my own, personal Magnum PI…

Yep, cue the rude awakening.

Not to say there haven’t been some very sweet and romantic times…but, as my friends ALSO tried to tell me, it’s mostly about negotiating a pleasant balance between laundry, bills, professional obligations, social calendars, broken dishes (I’m a bit clutzy) AND reruns of Hogans Heroes (Duane’s favorite show.)

Some of our biggest fights have been because I imposed upon him my EXPECTATIONS of what he (i.e., the perfect husband) should be.  Meanwhile, I sometimes forget that I am in NO way the model of the traditional wife.

I do not cook.  And I’d rather pay other people to do tasks that bore me, including detail cleaning, mending and ironing.

Oh, plus I stink at all of the above.

Yet Duane has never complained about how I fall short in these areas (at least, to my face!) Perhaps his restraint in this regard has shown up in OTHER ways.  Exhibit #1:  Notice his hair color in this photo on our wedding day:

And after fourteen years of swallowing judgment:

85% gray.  (But he still looks happy, right?)

Getting back to expectations, no one wants to be required to live up to an unattainable standard and then be judged and found lacking.

It’s not a recipe for a happy marriage.

However, standards of mutual respect, honoring individual preferences, healthy amounts of compromise and good doses of unselfishness SHOULD be expected.

Lowering our expectations in these areas reduces our marriage to “less than.” It ensures that we don’t fulfill our potential as a couple. It says, “I give up” on believing the best for us.

Thus, we fight.  And this was NOT something I expected in marriage.  

I had lived with roommates for all of my adult life and can only remember one real argument!  Certainly we, as a loving, married couple, could rationally discuss matters and achieve mutual understanding?

HA!  When hormones and tempers are flared, we Viola’s can get LOUD.  This may not be the norm for 95% of couples out there, but it’s the case here on Ridge Road in Sarasota.

Admittedly, the intense arguments of our early married years are now much fewer and far between.  Why?  Because we understand each others’ expectations much more than we used to.  Now I KNOW what drives him crazy, and I try to avoid it at all costs.

He knows the same about me.

Sometimes there are unknown alligators in the water that crop up and make for less than smooth sailing.

But there’s one thing we both expect:  We’re staying in the boat.  Neither of us is jumping ship. Oh, there are times when we both WANT to, but we wait until that wave passes…which it always does…and set sail again for another year of equal parts marital angst and bliss.

If I had any gem of wisdom to offer to those of you embarking on this journey called marriage, it would be this: COMMUNICATE your expectations.

You can’t get mad at someone for something you never said mattered to you.

Meanwhile, we’re heading into a new week.  So here’s what our new word is!:

I’m going to emphasize NOT complicating things this week by over-thinking.

How will YOU simplify?

xoxoxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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Irreconcilable Differences and the New WOW

So as we sit in the Tampa Airport, he reading his sports page and me typing this blog post, I  I chuckle to consider the host of irreconcilable differences that have been survived to date.

It’s far more than his love of the Cowboys and mine of the Eagles.

It’s his propensity to watch the same movies (Caddyshack, the Godfather I, II and III, Diehard and Happy Gilmore, along with Young Frankenstein and Christmas Vacation – even in the summer) over and over and over (and over) again, while I clamor to stay apprised of pop culture and the latest films, TV shows and music.  He thinks if it was created after 1989, it’s irrelevant.

I think the only way to STAY relevant is to know what the cool kids are watching and singing!

It’s his belief that one pair of dress shoes, one casual, sneakers and sandals are the only four items of footwear ever needed in a lifetime. And his horror when MY shoes moved into his house.  Ten pairs of black alone – flats, pumps, sandals, wedges, stilettos, mules, patent leather…in multiples of each.

I wonder at the men who sit in lounge chairs at department stores, waiting as their wives try on outfits. Not all of them seem miserable.

I wouldn’t DREAM of asking Duane to do that, nor would I have fun knowing he was unhappy every moment wasted there instead of watching the game.

Before I got married, I had so many unrealistic expectations, despite well-meaning friends and family warning me that marriage was no fairy tale.

The good news is, it isn’t always a nightmare and more often it is a happy, uneventful companionship that features him watching Hogans  Heroes reruns while I couch dance to “The Get Down” on Netflix on my iPad.

And this is how we reconcile those differences.  I do my thing; he does his – sometimes we do them together and it’s all good.

Our pillowcases say it all.  Yes, the struggle is real – but so is the snuggle.

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He golfs on Saturday mornings, and I play around Sarasota – shopping, strolling, wandering…

I stopped being disappointed that we are so different in our tastes and ideas of what fun is and started to embrace the fact that, in our marriage, different works.

Because the one thing we love more than Happy Gilmore reruns and new shoes is each other.

And THIS has been the wisest discovery in marriage for me

Here are more parting thoughts on WISDOM, and the new WOW!

Ah…let your heart be “LIGHT” this week.

(Let means you need to give yourself permission to lighten up.)

Undo those heavy burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ – which is LOVE.

Find your giggle again.  Force yourself to smile.  You’ll feel better.

Be with people who encourage your heart.

Or encourage someone else.

Have a light-filled week, my friends!

xoxoxoox

Brenda

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