Tag Archives: Purpose

A Wonderfully Ordinary, Purpose-Filled Life

Have you considered that your life is purpose-filled?

I’m not talking about the endless “to-do” lists that await you on any given day.

Your purpose isn’t what you DO, it’s wrapped up in who you ARE.

I spoke with an amazingly brilliant young woman who was turning thirty (30!) with sadness. Rather than being purpose-filled, she faced the new decade with disappointment and self-criticism.

When I look at her, I see inner and outer beauty, humor, intelligence and gifting I only WISH I had at her age.  With almost a quarter of a century on her in years, to ME she was the picture of youth and vibrancy.

To her? She judged herself as behind the bell curve; certainly not where she had hoped to be and a failure because many of the “to do’s” on her life list remained unchecked.

I remember those years, when my friend Nancy (who lived in California at the time) shared her new salary and it was DOUBLE what I was making at the team.  When my circle was all marrying off and I hadn’t had a good date in YEARS.

Loser. Failure. Slacker. Oh the torment of such self-talk.

We lose joy in living when life is reduced to a competition against the sand slipping through the hourglass.

How hard we are on ourselves when it does NO GOOD!

Must my accomplishments be grand, outrageous and applauded to be meaningful? Or is this simply the cry of a fragile ego seeking comfort?

I considered many of these things as I recorded this week’s message:

First of all, did I hear a collective “YIPPEE” about the new Word of the Week, RELAXATION?

Or was that just my  own voice echoing through my office?

To me, this juncture of purpose and relaxation is an important one.  Can you (and me) just give ourselves a break this week from the performance trap and just relax into who we are?

Can we just love on ourselves a little – no, A LOT, and embrace that WE ARE ENOUGH?

That is my hope for all of us this week.

Take time to breathe.

Throw away the “should’s” and “to-do’s” and as for the Jones’s, it’s far too exhausting to try and keep up with them.

Oh, and for the 30, 40, 50 and 60-something’s out there who are judging their accomplishments harshly, here’s a parting shot:

Take THAT, sands in the hourglass.

We may not be spring chickens, but we’ve only just begun.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Hey! Who Are You Calling a Liar?

A compulsive liar doesn’t get a pass today.  My point is that no one is perfect, and perfection shouldn’t be the criteria for integrity.

I’ve lied.  So have you!  (If you say you’ve never lied, ahem, you’re lying.)

The trick is, do you STAY there?

I’m a horrible liar. It feels like Pinocchio’s nose is growing on me as I speak and my words flounder like a fish out of water.

When people are counting on me, it breaks my heart to let them down.  But I have.

And so have you.

That doesn’t mean you lack integrity.  It means you’re human.

It’s what you DO with your lapses in judgement that makes you a woman or a man of integrity.  True, sometimes you can’t “make it right” but you CAN choose to never make that mistake again.

Don’t judge me on who I was in 1998, because that lady doesn’t exist anymore. 

In fact, don’t judge me (or anyone) at all.  There are enough planks in our own eyes to keep us busy for a while.

Coming clean isn’t fun, but it’s like taking a hot shower when you’ve been playing in the mud.

What’s interesting to me is how often we EXPECT that people are lying to us!  We’re actually surprised when what they do matches up with what they say.

This happened to me recently.  A friend who knows me VERY well, looked at me skeptically and said, “So really…do you pick those words in advance and prepare what you’re going to say before you start recording?”

PhotoCredit: Le Choix

Nope.  Not a chance.  When I know I have a particularly busy schedule or am traveling, I may RECORD a little earlier than normal, but I NEVER ever ever ever pick the word and pretend to pray and pick and speak extemporaneously.

It’s part of my spiritual practice to choose the WOW and invite it to challenge me (and you, if you are inclined).  Faking it would mark me a liar. It would break my spirit. Having had more than my share of experience with spiritual fakers, it’s the LAST lapse of integrity I would ever hope to have.

So, be comforted, my friends. These presentations each week are not rehearsed, practiced, and certainly NOT perfect.  But they ARE shared with integrity, which leads me to this week’s WOW:

It’s powerful to choose not to “wing it” in life.  Those who seem to effortlessly say and do the right thing aren’t specially-born that way.

They’ve made a practice of speaking and living with purpose.

The more you do something, the more easily it flows out of you.

I coach my communications clients to always consider the end game of a media interview. What is their hoped-for outcome?  What message is necessary to convey?  Considering AND practicing these in advance is part of wise preparation.  The message needs to be SO “in you” that a glitch or speed bump won’t knock you off of your game.

This is good advice for all of life.

No, a script doesn’t arrive each morning via courier with all of the plot twists outlined for the day.

But entering our day with PURPOSE can keep us on course regardless of what surprises await us.

What PURPOSE are you bringing in to the new week?

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

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WOW! Word of the Week for 8.16.15

From support to healing to…what does this week hold for us?

Well, the pieces of the puzzle are building on each other very nicely.  In fact, almost as a foreshadowing, I used this very word (about to be revealed) in one of this week’s posts on healing:

As we meditate on this word, surrender – here’s a disclaimer:

Don’t confuse giving up with letting go.

I’m not in favor of anyone giving up on their dreams.  But I do know from experience that sometimes you need to let go of your “ideal.”

Blessings sometimes come to us in different packaging than we expected, and when we are so STUCK on how we think it should play out, we might take a pass on the very thing that would make our heart sing.

I’ve also learned holding on with white knuckled resolve is downright exhausting.  Let it go, she sang in Frozen.  Let it go!

Oh, shall we have a lyrical reminder?  (Did I just hear all of the parents out their groan because they’ve heard this song a little TOO much?)  Moms and Dads, feel free to skip to the bottom:

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!

What I love is the FREEDOM that comes after you surrender.  Say goodbye to the past (and that perfect girl or guy, too.)

Just be wonderful you.

And when the storms rage this week, let’s go surfing on some amazing waves.

What are you looking forward to letting go of this week?

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The Journey to Healing (and a Return to Purpose)

A long time ago (it feels more like a lifetime ago), I truly believed I was fulfilling my purpose in life.

So unshakeable was this conviction that anything that dared to interfere with it provoked my outrage.  So self-assured was I that my path was correct, I missed my sister’s baby shower and several other key family events.  They conflicted with my church obligations and church (notice I said church, not God) was numero uno.

This in itself should have been a red flag, but when you’ve invested a good deal of time and money into something, you are most resistant to hearing that, ahem, you might be wrong.

Yes, this former life of mine was wrapped around church life; I’ve detailed it previously but as my life continues to unfold, I see new layers and shades that tainted my life and my perspective…and, in keeping with our word of the week, I see where HEALING has taken place.

I’ll back up again for a very heartfelt disclaimer: My experiences are in no way an advertisement against church attendance or membership. Everyone’s got their own journey and there are certainly some wonderful houses of worship that serve as places of refuge and community that meet deep needs for so many people. Oh, and there are SO many wonderful men and women who sincerely want to help people and do so in the context of their local church.

But when my church broke my heart, the last thing I needed to do was jump back into the fray. I tried, by the way – after all, it’s pretty much all I knew in my adult life.  But when I would visit a new place, I’d find myself sobbing hysterically during the music or walking out in a huff during the sermon. I no longer “fit.” And for me, in retrospect, that ended up being a good thing.

However, before it was a good thing, it was a tormenting thing.  Here’s why:  I was no longer “putting out” for God.  That sounds crass, but hey, I’d been a productive little soldier for 15 years; spent every waking moment either ministering to, counseling someone or otherwise trying to lasso someone onto my religious team.  All of a sudden, I wasn’t even going to church?  My self worth was at an all time low.  Something on the inside was broken and I felt like it could never be fixed.

Had I plugged right back in and gotten back to doing what I had always done for the previous 15 years, I might never have had the breathing space to question, deconstruct, assess, observe, reject and embrace what the REAL me believed. Not the me that I created to fit others’ expectations, but the real Brenda.  The college girl with purple hair and a penchant for the Clash; the 100-pound kindergartener who developed a sparkling  personality to withstand the taunts of her classmates; the high- school sophomore who escaped into writing and dreamed of leaving Buena, New Jersey one day…and so many other versions of me that I let die on the vine in order to become what and who supposedly spiritual people wanted me to be.

I took my leave from all things that even reminded me of my former church life.  I avoided many sweet people, because I felt like I had nothing to offer them anymore.

I was certain that not only did I lack answers for them, I had nothing to say at all.  About anything.

Pouring myself into my career to make up for the lost years (and finances) was a form of healing for me.  To enter into discourse with intelligent people; to rediscover my creativity; to make friends with new people untainted by a memory of who I used to be…yes, like a deflated balloon slowly filling with air, I was coming back to life.

And for several years, that was more than enough.

Except for the yearning.  Where was my PURPOSE?  Why was I HERE?

Would I ever know the joy of feeling like I was doing what I was born to do again?

After some years had passed, my beloved friend, Cindy O’Krepki, created an amazing blog, “Simple Pleasures Everyday Love.” Cindy and I had ministered side by side, even calling each other “the bookends.”  I was so happy to see her unique and lovely voice; her beautiful take on world burst forth once again. Good for her!

When she later invited me to guest blog, I was nervous, excited, fearful and hopeful – all mixed together.  She knew…

In the fragments of my broken self, there were yet  stories to be told – and in the telling would come healing.

I vividly recall her saying to me, “When you have your own blog…” and thinking, “WHAT?”

It was too huge a leap for me to conceive that a one or two spot guest blogging exercise could ever lead to something more.

What it did, however, was stir a yearning in me to do what I have always loved most:  encourage people.  Turns out, I did have something to say – though the message was far different from those long-ago days.  And that message – of LOVE, love, love – was birthed from a heart that actually NEEDED to be broken so it could be re-set properly.

Would I have ever chosen my particular wound?  Not a chance.  Am I glad it made me who I am today?  You bet.

You know what they say; your mess becomes your message.  There’s no testimony without a test.  Such phrases may sound  cliché, but  I can’t deny that within them lies truth.

So for this outpost to stir up my gift and use it again, I am grateful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It has been a long road to get here, but I am so glad to have found you.

And that hard and painful road you may be walking, even right now?  I promise you, if you continue to choose love, choose love, choose LOVE over fear, you will get to the other side and be a better version of you, with a story that can heal others (as it heals you, too.)

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Detours and Destiny: Adventures in Purpose (and QVC)

The FLUFFI Word of the Week, PURPOSE, caused me to reflect on my own pursuit (and boy, has it been a pursuit !) to seek and, ultimately, fulfill my reason for living.

I know, quite a humdinger of a topic!  I have sometimes said to myself, “Self, why can’t you just be satisfied with the basics:  Eating, drinking, being occasionally merry, having good family and friend relationships, taking Shasta for walks and holding down a job?” Don’t get me wrong; sometimes these aforementioned items present monumental challenges in their own right!  However, since childhood, this FLUFFI longed to grasp – and fulfill – the “reason for Brenda.”

Actually, it goes far beyond me. I’m a firm believer that every person is on this earth for a reason.  Whether you call it a calling or your purpose, it (to me) is that spark of the Divine that is nestled in each person’s spirit.

That spark is your unique gift; a gift that when nurtured and allowed to flame lights up everything around you (and you, too). It is what “gets you going” and makes you feel more alive than anything else.

I have had glimpses of this ultimate purpose in my life, followed, preceded and interrupted by epic fails, detours, potholes, roadblocks and corn husk mazes along the way. In no way a straight line, the trajectory looks more like one of those Family Circle cartoons where the little boy creates 32 steps between “A” and “B.”

The guy I thought was “the one” who smashed my heart; the bad judgment used that landed me in trouble; the “big break” that broke me…can anyone out there relate?

More than the series of events themselves, I have found that my takeaways from these disappointments held the key to my forward progress.  We often hear about amazing people who would never have found their life’s calling unless tripped up by a health crisis, humiliation, tragic loss or otherwise unfortunate series of events.

They went through hell…and found the inner strength to keep going.

But I am talking about the subtle takeaways that cause you to shrink back, hesitate, adjust your dream and settle for second best – because you learned a faulty lesson about YOU.  And yes, I have a story to illustrate.

It was 1987, and I was three years into a low-paying but valuable for experience job at the local cable TV station, Channel 13 in Turnersville, NJ.  My Communications degree attained, I was full of dreams and spunky determination that I’d undoubtedly be the next Sally Jessy Raphael (Oprah had just arrived on the national scene.)  My internship led to hosting and producing a daily, live talk show (for $25 a WEEK), then winning the nightly news anchor position (for not much more.)  I was willing to pay the price, waiting on tables each weekend to pay the bills.  Not a problem; I was young and on my way.  Watch out, Diane Sawyer!  I was coming for you!

On-camera jobs in TV were impossible to come by in the Philadelphia market for a novice like me.  Philly is where you landed after years of honing your craft in small markets like Lima, Ohio and later, El Paso, Texas.  Back then, our “demo tapes” were our ticket up and out – bulky, expensive 3/4″ U-matic tapes that I’d mail out with high hopes each week…and a sense of resignation that moving away from family and friends was inevitable.

One Sunday afternoon, my mom called me with the news that there was a huge ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer – an open call audition for a brand new home shopping network based in West Chester, PA.  QVC was preparing to launch, and though selling items on TV was never my dream, having an audience was – so I packed up my demo tape and drove to PA for the cattle call.

Because I didn’t necessarily want the gig, I performed with abandon; without pressure or fear.  Of the many hundreds that auditioned, just a dozen or so were called back for a second round.  This time I was tasked with selling a #2 pencil for ten minutes.  Again, I went for it with flair, exclaiming the virtues of the stylish yellow color and painted visions of a mistake-free life thanks to the handy, attached eraser.

By the third callback, I was ready to tell them “You know, I don’t think this is really the best career move for the next Barbara Walters…” when I was ushered to a room with suited executives who made an offer few 24-year-olds could easily refuse.

A wardrobe allowance?  Weekly manicures?  A 20-hour work week for triple my current salary?

My visions of journalistic grandeur exited the room; I began studying adjectives to describe gold jewelry, capodimonte and ionic flea and tick collars. 

I signed a lease at New Kent Apartments and reported for work.  As a newer host, my on-air shift was between 2 and 6 a.m.  The only coaching I received was to “just present the products; don’t sell.”  Back then, QVC had a co-host format and I was fortunate that Mike Gargiulo (now an anchor in the Big Apple) was my witty and talented sidekick.

After a couple of weeks, we both received a memo that we were having a little too much fun; this presenting of products was serious business.

When I was assigned to present Craftsman Tools, about which I knew nothing, it should have raised some red flags. (I remember frantically asking Steve Coluntuno, another host, what the difference between a wrench and a plier was just minutes before beginning my on-air shift.)

Then they brought in a consultant, who proceeded to cut my hair almost as short as Sinead O’Connor’s 80’s style and who, of course, put me on a diet.

Three months into this “big break” I was called into the office of my boss, John Eastman, who informed me that QVC was changing from a co-host to a single-host format.  As a result, half of the hosts were being let go…and I, of course, was one of them.

I was stunned!  This is NOT the way my story was supposed to play out.  Shamelessly, I cried big wet (snotty) tears and begged for another chance.  Which was not happening.

With my lease ironclad and enough pride to resist running home, I searched for work in my field.  After several weeks, it was clear that I needed a job – ANY job.  So the once rising star of QVC devolved from acrylic nails and 10 million viewers to pouring coffee at West Chester’s Penn’s Table diner.

I was shattered.  For years I couldn’t drive by the QVC complex without burning with anger tinged with the pain of rejection.  God FORBID I ever tormented myself by watching the channel, and I had little tolerance for people who purchased from the source of my pain.

Years passed and I moved on, finding a comfortable spot behind the cameras at another local cable station.  Decades passed and the wound seemed to heal.  After all, I didn’t really want to live out my life as a home shopping host, and because it was such a comfortable, ego-stroking gig, I could have easily succumbed to its charms indefinitely.  So it was a good thing, right?

Yes, God had other plans for me.

But it was only THIS year that I realized the QVC experience had burned a lie onto my soul that yet remained.  This lie had systematically suppressed the vibrant dreams of my youth.

Look, I know there are far worse things you can experience in life.  Believe me I know – I’ll surely write about them in the coming weeks!  But this painful and disappointing turn of events at age 24 didn’t just hurt me; I had allowed it to brand me.

The brand tattooed on my psyche was three simple words:  Not.  Good.  Enough.    

Somehow it had taken me 27 years to realize I had confused “not meant to be” with “not good enough.”

Let me preach to you, FLUFFIs, as I did to myself upon this revelation: The one that “got away” was not a reflection of your inadequacy!  There was simply something better in store for you; something more suited to your higher purpose in life; a different door whereby your gifts and talents could take wings and fly!  The big break that broke your heart was meant to redirect you to a better path to use your gifts and fulfill your potential.  In essence:

Redirection is not rejection.

That truth set me free.  I hope it helps shift what may be a faulty perspective about your own detours on the road to your destiny.

But knowing the truth wasn’t enough; I needed to act in a new way, call upon the pre-QVC me and invite her to re-join the world again.  And that is why, FLUFFIs, I have (gulp) made the leap to visit you via video on occasion.

Because my purpose was never about selling gold chains or being famous or having a huge audience…but it IS to encourage people through words, whether written or spoken.  And step by step, day by day, I am seeking opportunities to do just that.  I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time:

It is never too late...

Can you recall a detour that, at the time was soul-crushing but ended up being a door to the life you were meant to live? 

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