Tag Archives: Real

Ode to a Natural Woman (and the New WOW)

The ultimate natural woman, Aretha Franklin, passed this week.

She was no record-company manufactured pop star.

She was the REAL deal.

So as we close out a couple of weeks where were focused on the word AUTHENTIC, it’s fitting to give the Queen of Soul her proper R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I remember her restaurant scene in the Blues Brothers and how she stole the show.

And how a King was moved to tears when the Queen sang Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors:

Here is the beauty of authenticity; it FLOWS like a river out of you.  Aretha’s singing was effortlessly, perfectly delivered from the depth of her soul.

She wasn’t trying to be anyone else. And inherently, she knew she didn’t need to be.  She had the goods! And she walked in her worth.

A Queen, indeed.

May we each Embrace Our Flawsomeness™ and authentically walk in our own worth. 

Let’s not focus on all the things we are NOT. For we ARE so many more.

Here are my closing thoughts on this life-word for me and a different spin on what makes us AUTHENTIC:

May you have all the WISDOM you need (and then then wisdom to walk in it!) this week.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

Share This:

Will the True Brenda Please Stand Up? (and the New WOW)

In my recent Toastmasters speech, “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” I referred to the 80’s as my heyday of dance while acknowledging that my persona wasn’t a true reflection of Brenda.

The decade, for me, was all about image. Sky-high hair that defied gravity (thank you, Aqua Net) and four-inch Candies’ spike heels made me feel invincible when I entered the club. Combined with three layers of makeup and pronounced charcoal black-smudged raccoon eyes, I perfected my Philly tough-girl persona.

I wanted to look tough.

The victim of vicious bullying throughout my high school years, my reinvention intended to keep away those who would dare tread on my heart.

A dark haired Madonna, I looked like the Material Girl.

In truth, I was Like a Virgin.

The disconnect between that sassy chick on the dance floor, and the word-nerd, old-fashioned girl at my core led to a multitude of brief and failed romances.

The guys at the club dug the unattainable disco queen, but when the lights came on, they soon realized she was the kind of girl you take home to Mom. And skedaddled to the next conquest.

All those years of wishing and hoping someone would fall in love with the true ME, it never occurred to me to…well, BE me.

An exhausting and destructive pattern had been established.  I went from the club girl Madonna to the church girl (aka Joyce Meyers or fill in your favorite Tammy Faye-ish) preacher.

DISCLAIMER: This is not to say I wasn’t sincere in my ministry, because I was. But the church became yet another stage on which to perform.  Because of its toxic nature, on the rare occasions that I dared to allow my true self to emerge, the leaders brutally punished/counseled/scolded me.

Oh, and then I got married.

I think back to my wedding day and am so grateful that it happened.  I always wanted the handsome man at the end of the aisle; a church full of people applauding my dream come true; the dance party scripted to my specifications.

I loved my wedding day.

Because of the toxic and backwards nature of the church, though, I rarely had alone time with my husband prior to the wedding.  He often joked that our first “date” was the night we got engaged.  And it wasn’t a joke.

We were two strangers who were crazy about each other and thought that would be enough to make it work.

And, to do so, I did what I do (or did) best.  I performed the hell out of it.

A life-changing trip with my girlfriends in 2016 (and a mini-breakdown from emotional exhaustion – performing sucks the life out of you!) revealed that I was burning myself out while trying to be who everyone wanted me to be.

In the process, I had lost ME.

Mind you, if my performance-based approach to life had been working for me, I would have kept it up.  It took 50+ years for me to realize that no matter how beautifully I performed, it didn’t make anyone else truly happy.  

Least of all, me.

What follows is a bit vulgar and not language I normally use in my writings. To those who might be offended, I apologize in advance.

Concurrently, I’m not apologizing for using this photo. Because this is part of the TRUE me! I find this to be funny!:

I remember seeing this card and laughing out loud.

It’s true.  Not so much the “F word” part, but the things I say and do today are far different from Brenda 1.0.

Discovering the true me – and the true you – is the quest of a lifetime. It takes honesty, bravery, and huge doses of unconditional self-love. 

But this is my one shot to be Brenda Viola. For the first time since my early 20’s I finally have given myself permission to be her.

I hope you like her, but if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Sometimes I don’t like her!

But I always love her.  And I hope you love the true YOU, too.

Parting thoughts on AUTHENTICITY and the new WOW, coming up!:

What a beautiful word to embrace this week!

Be KIND to you and others.

We can never have too much of that, can we?

xoxoxoxox

Brenda

Share This:

Willing to Handle the Truth? (And the New WOW)

If you conjured up the scene from A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson’s character screams, “You can’t HANDLE the truth,” that is exactly what I was thinking of when considered being WILLING and this week’s post.

For me, the focus on our word “WILLINGNESS” wasn’t so much about being open to trying new things (God knows EVERYTHING in my life is new these days.)

It wasn’t about stubbornly holding on to stuff, because the last few months have been all about letting go.

For me, it was about being willing to dig beneath the surface to uncover TRUTH about how I really feel, what I truly want, where I want to be, and why I did (or didn’t do) certain things in my life.

This awakening revealed that I had mastered performing the politically or socially correct script. I knew what “played well” with different audiences and rolled with THAT instead of considering what Brenda, at her core, honestly felt.

It’s shocking to realize how well we can become at adapting or chameleon-izing our behaviors to avoid conflict, rocking the boat or setting off another person’s explosions.

I’m tired of carefully tip-toeing through this world.

If bombs go off in my wake, so be it.

I’d rather have real than fake.  And I’d rather be fully me that a watered down version of me to make everyone else happy.

But it takes a WILLINGNESS to be honest.

That’s off-putting at first, but ultimately, so freeing.

And here’s the upside: When you are really YOU, the people you attract to yourself are keepers.  They’re not being swept up in a performance; they’re connecting with the REAL YOU.  Good, bad or ugly – it’s REAL.

I will always enjoy fake eyelashes, the transforming power of makeup and the invaluable support of Spanx.

But for the stuff that matters in life, I want REAL.

And I’m willing to be honest enough to get it.

More on that and the new WOW coming up!:

Yippee!

The word JOY always reminds me of my friend Krissie Vincent, who can sing like Janis Joplin but uses her gifts to sing in church, too.  She used to sing this song: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy…” and she milked it perfectly until it exploded into a jumping, rousing “Down in my heart!  Down in my heart! Down in my heart!”

You really had to experience it to know what I’m trying to say.

Joy is a jumping kind of emotion.

It’s when happiness spills over from the inside and activates your outsides.

Give me huge doses, please.

May we all jump for JOY this week!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

Share This:

Will the Real You Please Rise? (And the New WOW)

In several of my musings this week, I chuckled to think about the many times I reinvented myself. It wasn’t about being the “real me.” It was more like creating the best illusion for survival at the given moment.

Case in point was the summer after I graduated high school.

For me, high school was a year-long disappointment.  I spent most of it being bullied by a group of mean girls and, not having the best coping skills, hid in the nurse’s office, took detours to avoid certain clusters of said gang and basically, tried to be invisible.

In July of 1981, I decided that the Brenda that was going to college would be COMPLETELY different. No one was going to put baby in a corner any longer.

I would be tough! (After all, these people didn’t know me.)

I embraced the new wave/punk rock look – a cross between Pat Benatar and Joan Jett. My hair was spiked sky high, my eyes encased in black…and all I wore was black. Nobody was going to @#$%$ with this version of Brenda.

Oh, and I didn’t smile. I wore an impenetrable poker face and acted like I was cooler than everyone else.

HA!

What a lie!

But it did work for a while. I mean, nobody bullied me; I worked my punk rock niche and found a similar group to hang with…

…but it wasn’t me.

I was still the 18-year-old crying under the covers in my dorm room, just terrified of life.

It has been said that the universe will give you the same scenario (dressed up differently) throughout your life until you finally “get it.”

Fast forward about 15 years later, and once again, I reinvented me to “fit in” – this time in a church setting.  I zeroed in on the leading female, and within a few years, I was the dark-haired version who dressed, talked, thought and acted like her.  Because it was a toxic environment, the few times I dared to offer an original thought, it was twisted to either be further proof of my less than sharp intelligence (I was really told this) or hijacked to become the leader’s idea.  (Yes, warped, I know.)

When it all blew up (and I’ve written about that before) I emerged shattered, but determined to be ME.  Perhaps a me I never fully was before.

This me smiles. Is silly.  Struggles with her weight and her sense of security…but ultimately this is the ME I like.  Actually LOVE.  And I’m learning more about her every day.

Wherever you are on this journey, I hope the real you rises up and that you embrace your authentic, wonderful self.  Because no one else on earth can fill the role you were uniquely designed to live.

Parting thoughts on AUTHENTICITY and a new WOW!  Here we go:

Can’t wait to hear what YOU are wishing for during this QUESTION MARK of a week!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

Share This: