Tag Archives: peace

Risk and the Flow of Life (and the New WOW)

This week I pondered the flow of life.

Sometimes it is a gentle canoe ride on a placid lake.

Other times it seems you’re attempting to surf a tsunami.

This video cracks me up, perfectly characterizing my life these last couple of weeks:

Leaked footage of me going with the flow

Just gotta roll with it

Posted by Viral Thread on Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life is replete with rather dull moments; the comfortable hum-drum of morning coffee, work, gym, food –  rinse and repeat.

Suddenly, epic moments arise when a portal opens in the universe. You can either muster up the courage to walk through or stand by, indecisively…and watch the window of opportunity close.

These moments are not so gentle, yet are still a part of the flow of life.

So how do you know if you should go with the flow and take the risk?

There’s an uncanny peace to the flow of life.

You’re not trying to make it happen; you aren’t freaked out or driven by it; yes, there are butterflies associated with the risk, but they are not born of desperation.

There is a quiet knowing within you that urges you forward.

Someday soon I will share what is happening in my own life; it’s still too fresh and raw to comment on because it doesn’t just involve me and I respect the privacy of those who are also involved.

But I liken it to the parting of the Red Sea.

It has been said that the waters didn’t part for Moses and the children of Israel to walk through until Moses took that first step of faith into the water.

The flow of life and the promise of his God was that he would lead the children of Israel into the promised land. He didn’t know how they would cross that sea, but he knew deep inside that the One who had promised would make a way.

So, risky as it was, he took that first step.

Swoosh! (Have you ever seen the movie that shows how the sea divided into water walls on the left and right?  Powerful stuff.)

I wonder if some of the crew marveled at this wonder but said, “No way.  I’m not walking through that!”

And who could blame them?

On the other hand, Pharaoh was checking out Moses and those who fled with a huge, “How DARE they!”

They dared, because they knew a better life awaited them – and the risk to remain was more painful than the risk to go.

Going with the flow of life is an act of obedience.  It’s a decision to stop trying to shove a square peg in a round hole.

And it is entirely personal.

What is unconscionable to you may be someone else’s passport to freedom.

Judge not, lest you be judged.

If you can imagine your life happy WITHOUT going for it, don’t.

If you can only imagine yourself tormented by “What ifs” if you don’t take that step, please, take the path of peace and that first step.  Watch the waters miraculously part.

Here’s my pre-recorded recollection of a professional risk that landed me in the emergency room and the new Word of the Week:

I sent this card recently to some key people:

There’s nothing like the people who rise up and support you when you need it most.  Let love in this week – and if tempted to judge, consider that supporting a friend doesn’t have to mean you agree with them.

Love is the constant.

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Amazing Grace (and the New WOW)

I didn’t have a clue just how much GRACE I would need this past week.

It was perhaps the most profound week of my life; so profound I can’t talk about it with you yet.

But here’s what I know – and I will be brief:

Grace IS amazing.

It is the remarkable calm when, for all intents and purposes, you should be freaking out.

It’s moving in skills and having wisdom beyond yourself because you NEED to – and there it is, like manna from heaven.

Grace supersizes life; it takes what YOU can do and multiplies it.

Grace swoops around you just when you are feeling faint and provides reinforcements.

It provides the peace that passes understanding.

For those of you who may know what is going on in my life right now, thank you for not using this forum to comment on it.

It’s too fresh, too private and the dust has not settled.

I considered discontinuing my posts for a while during this time of personal disruption, but it didn’t feel right to do so.

So this video was recorded before the volcano of my life erupted, but the words are eerily prophetic…again, a sign of grace.

And this of course comes to mind:

And that’s how you know you must take that risk.

Make sure there is water in the pool before you leap.  But if you take the step, and walk with God, you will be amazed to see how the waters part.

Much love to you all (and still and always, extra doses of grace.)

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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My Messes Are My Message (and the New WOW)

To live in harmony, I’ve had to make peace with the messes in my life.  Yes, I’ve looked at them through the lens of bitterness and victim-hood, which did not serve my hope for a happy future.

Instead, I have chosen to see messes through the lens of gratitude and a believe that a Divine thread has woven them into the blessings that sculpted the person I am today.

So, as I shared with my fellow Toastmasters in my first speech this past week: There are three primary MESSES in my life that have made me who I am.

No one wants to ride the seesaw with a 100 pound kindergartner.  Yes, you heard correctly.

Born a month too soon in 1963, Sal and Bette Costello weren’t sure I was going to make it!  Hooked to tubes in an isolated area, four-pound me needed to reach five pounds to finally go home with mom and dad.  When finally released, the need to feed was never a problem again.  Getting me to STOP was.

…and there I was in kindergarten, 100 pounds.  Twice the size of most of my classmates, I had to have special clothes and shoes made for me; I couldn’t run (without peeing my self) – but my mess became my message.  I learned that what I could create between my two ears and come out of my mouth could build the bridges that my lack of looks couldn’t.

This mess birthed in me an empathy for the underdog; a sensitivity to those whose feelings might be hurt. It’s a mess that made me.

For mess #2, we must fast forward to age ten. My mother had long ago put me on a diet, so my weight was no longer an issue.  I was in 5th grade, just starting to discover boys…and I was particularly excited for the annual roller skating party where I knew that Aldo Falasca would be and who I hoped would invite me to a couples’ skate.

We whirled around the rink, girls giggling and boys showing off…and I heard my name called over the loudspeaker.  Had I won a door prize?  I excitedly skated to the office and saw Mr. Coccaro, a friend of the family, with a somber look on his face.

I knew something very bad had happened.

Before a word was said, I blurted, “Was it Mommy?” He shook his head. “Daddy?””

He nodded.

At the very age I am today, one fatal heart attack stole him from our little family and with it, robbed me of so much security.

But eventually, my mess became my message.  We all suffer loss in life – mine just occurred earlier than most.  And what it taught me is to never take someone you love for granted, because their tomorrows – and yours – are not promised.  Oh, I’d give anything to have that stolen time with my dad back, but what a valuable lesson to learn:

That love and gratitude reside in your heart to be expressed…and that if you live a life of love, you live a life with no regrets.

My third mess was the heartbreak of being single when everyone else was married.

My sister was married at age 20, and I had lived through ALL of my twenties and most of my 30’s with NO Mr. Right (and truthfully, very few dates.) I had, however, been in almost ten weddings (to my chagrin) and well-meaning friends encouraged me that, “When you least expect it…”

Ha!  I went to every outing – including the grocery store or hopeful visits to Home Depot expecting…and expecting…and expecting.  Nothing materialized.

Fortunately, I had a full life filled with friends and family and challenging work.  In fact, in 2001 I was writing an annual report for the local government.

Printing companies from around the region competed in a bidding process to win the job and, once awarded, the vendor called to arrange a meeting.

“Oh, it’s not even ready yet.  When it is, I’ll call YOU.”

The printing rep called again in a few weeks and by this time, under pressure to meet my deadline I responded with more agitation:  “I will call YOU when it’s ready; please don’t call me again.”

You know how you create a mental image of a person you talk to on the phone?  This guy was to me Danny Devito from Taxi.  Short, gruff, tubby and probably with a cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth.  I was not impressed.

Then the day came for the file to be picked up.  And this was NOT Danny DeVito.

No, this was more like Tom Selleck from Magnum PI.

I couldn’t find my powers of speech.  I fumbled to act professionally, while searching that left hand to see if it was adorned with a ring.

When I least expected it…

…three months later we were engaged.

Fourteen  years later, I am still in love with that printing salesman.

My mess is my message: If it is in your heart, it is your destiny.  Don’t waste time being sad because what you desire WILL eventually come to you, because I believe with all of my heart that desires are planted there to be fulfilled.

It’s the waiting, though, that makes you grateful when the dream is finally fulfilled.

In closing, is there something that might be a mess in your life today.  Hold on, my friends. It could actually end up being your message.

And that’s how I ended my speech!  Thanks for letting me share it with you, and I do believe that making peace with your past and seeing through the lens of gratitude makes for a much more HARMONIOUS life.

Drum roll please for the new Word of the Week!:

Ah, WISDOM!

The scriptures say if we ask for it, we will receive it liberally.  Here’s to huge doses of it for all of us this week!

xoxoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Rest In Peace is Not Just for Dead People (& the New WOW)

Do you find yourself walking on eggshells to keep the peace?

Or maybe you’re more inclined to smash someone over the head with a frying pan?

We all have our own unique ways of dealing with internal and external turmoil. My methods change depending on the time of the month, the moon and tides, and whether I’m hungry or tired.

Should the target or source of the turmoil choose to foolishly point OUT that perhaps my demeanor is related to said time of the month, the tension rises exponentially.

Moving on from the “time of the month” to this time of the year…

In these highly charged political times, half of the country has promised to leave if one candidate wins.

The other half will leave if the OTHER wins.

My bet is that no one will really leave.  But the acrimony and the vitriol will likely continue because there will always be some people who think if they talk more and louder, they’ll change someone else’s mind.

I’ve observed that people rarely change their mind when they’re being yelled at.

When I was a teenager, being told I was wrong only made me dig my Candie pumps in deeper just to prove them wrong.

*sigh*

No one knows who I am voting for, and I plan on keeping it that way.  Not because I’m afraid of a good, spirited discourse – but because I love harmony.

I totally respect your opinion!  What I don’t like (or respect) is that so often opinions are offered in crass or insulting manners. On both sides!

As we end our week focusing on harmony, I loved finding this:

Rest in peace

Thus the offbeat subject line for today’s e-mail.  How sad to wait until we’re dead to rest in peace!

I know, sometimes life really is upsetting.  But maybe this week’s WOW will help:

Yes, construction zones are MESSY. But keeping the vision of the end goal in sight can fuel your engine.

Trusting that you’ll get there will help you get through.

My face will stop flaking, too.

oxoxoxox

Brenda

 

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A Wise Friend and the WOW for 3.6.16

When we planned their visit over a year ago, we had no idea how wise the timing would be for our friends Judy and Jim Neubauer to come to town.

It had been over a year since I had enjoyed quality time with my friend and, for the guys, well – they’re great at being goofy together. I vividly recall one New Year’s Eve when they tried their hand at hip-hop dancing as the clock struck twelve.

Thankfully, they both decided to keep their day jobs.

The levity Jim brought with him is exactly what Duane needed after traveling home from his mother’s funeral services. A true pal, he even watched Johnny Carson reruns with us.

Jim and Judy are the kind of friends whose kids call us “Aunt Brenda and Uncle Duane.” Can I tell you how much I love that?

Not having a daughter of my own, I got to go prom dress shopping several years back with Judy and her daughter Laura (who is now practically a pharmacist).  Doug was Shasta’s favorite baby-sitter.  He’s now a Marine. I’ve watched Amanda grow from a “Little Cindy-Lou Who” lookalike to a stunning young teenager…and Daniel?  He was the only Neubauer offspring I’ve known since the womb.
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An entire essay could be written about Daniel, whose twinkle and star-shine wrapped into an irrepressible personality are likely to be famous one day.  (I called it, folks.)

Yep, I love those Neubauers.  But getting back on topic:

DISCERNMENT was this past week’s WOW and while I have enjoyed making my new Sarasota friends, there’s nothing like a long-time friend whose counsel you trust to boost your mental health.

And in this case, it wasn’ t just my mental and spiritual health – it was physical, too.  See, Judy is a Nurse Practitioner.  If you’ve got a belly ache, a pang in your side, a funky looking mark or…well, you name it, she’s got just the advice to put your mind at ease.

So while the trip here was supposed to be HER birthday present, I’m the one that really got the gift.

Sometimes you just need someone you can say anything to who won’t judge but will lend a listening ear and some sage wisdom.

And who will go shopping with you.

Thank you, Judy, for being such a friend.  For encouraging me to take those probiotics and for helping me with this week’s WOW!:

How freeing it was for me to discover that not everyone had to love me – or even LIKE me – for me to be at peace.

How relieved were my friends and family when I stopped trying to get them all converted to my point of view!

Trying to change anyone other than ourselves is an exercise in futility.  And who made us the other guy’s savior?

Yes, when I focused more on the moat in my own eye and embraced the concept that we can all agree to disagree, HARMONY began to blossom in my life.

And my life began to blossom.

May our week be filled with good music and inner peace – regardless of what may be going on around us.

Let others’ dramatics play on.  We don’t have to enter the fray.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Compassion, Bathroom Trauma and the New Word of the Week

How’s THAT for a title?

A lovely series of pitfalls and roadblocks, professionally and personally, tried to hi-jack my week.  How about you?

But around every corner, I was looking for and expecting (and offering to myself) compassion, rather than the judgment that so often tries instead to win the day.

I mention this in the video, but THIS was the most “responded to” post on my Facebook page this week:

Sympathy-quotes-compasion-quotes-kindness-quotes-remember-that..

That harsh retort?  That grumpy receptionist? The driver who cut you off and provided a one finger salute?

Who knows what they are going through?

Taking a step back to entertain the possibilities in your mind opens the door to empathy and then, compassion.  

And the desire to strike back or lash out dissipates.

Which plays in nicely to the big reveal about our NEW Word of the Week…but first, a recap of COMPASSION (and in some cases, a little TOO MUCH information…):

Ahhh…so you see where I’m going?

If we seek harmony and it seems elusive, we can take a step back and remember COMPASSION.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Or give yourself a break for seemingly falling short.

Don’t judge.

Have empathy.

Extend the olive branch.

Isn’t life too short to live in disharmony?

Can you think of a time when you chose to be the bigger person, and it built a bridge leading to harmony?

There may have been a HUGE gulp first, like the teeter-tottering of a child getting ready to take a leap off of the high dive for the first time.

But you jumped.

OK, maybe violins didn’t play and perhaps you didn’t ride off into the sunset singing kum-ba-yah.

But you went to sleep knowing you TRIED.  You followed the Holy Spirit’s gentle prodding and did it.

Their response is not your responsibility.  Just be true to your best self, and let harmony fill all the inside places of discord.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9 

According to Wikipedia (so blame them if this is inaccurate) the word peacemakers does not imply pacifism.  It does not refer to those who do not fight, but rather to  those who actively bring conflict to an end.

Wow.  I like that!

Here’s to a week of bringing conflicts to an end, both externally and internally (or at least trying) and increasing the harmony level in our lives and the lives of those we love.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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WOW (Word of the Week) – 11.22.15

With all that I had to learn this past week, you might think that our WOW was still EDUCATION.  Still,  it dovetailed nicely into EXPANSIVENESS; after all, every time you learn, you grow.

Getting back to my story about the series of fires I had to put out last week, aAside from the skill sets I had to acquire (YESTERDAY!), I had to keep stopping to breathe…

…and believe.

I needed to become bigger on the inside to handle all that was going on the outside.

Growth is a process that doesn’t have a fast forward button (unless the circumstances of life propel you to new heights out of necessity.) I felt like a little kid stopping her feet and whining, “Are we THERE yet?”

No amount of whining or worrying will get you (or me) where we need to be.

How I was responding was defining me. Am I a person of faith – or a person of fear?

I was a person gripped with fear MANY times this past week, but self-talked myself off the ledge and back to peace about 327 times.

I wish I could say as I write this that everything has been crossed off my to-do list and successfully completed.  However,  I AM believing that somehow between now and the finish line I will continue to expand, enabling me to rise to the challenge.

Despite the stress, each new thing I learn makes me feel like an Olympian, breaking the tape at the finish line. I have to keep my eye on that prize, hear the imaginary crowd roaring and see my head bowed to receive the medal.

I mean, what’s the alternative? Believing the ship will sink and that I’ll go down with it?

Gee, how comforting.

Instead, I’ve been singing the theme song from Laverne and Shirley to keep me stoked. (We’re gonna make our dre-eems come true.  And we’ll do it our way, yes our way, making our dreams come true…)

Better our dreams than our nightmares.

Which plays well into this week’s WOW…

EXPECTANCY, as I am living it out after having recorded the message, is a two edged sword.

You can dwell on all the negative possibilities and expect Murphy’s law to be in effect.

Or you can have the audacity to get your hopes up and believe for the best.

I discovered the most awesome new word this week: PRONOIA. Definition: Believing the universe is always working on your behalf in every situation. Opposite, of course, of paranoia.

It’s  my new favorite word as we brace for BLESSING this week.

I’m expecting to hear wonderful things from all of you!

HUGS –

Brenda

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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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