My personality is more like the Energizer Bunny, so signs to stop working, moving and shaking, and cease and desist from busy-ness are often ignored.
These past few weeks, we’ve been focusing on balance, and release. These words from on high have nudged my soul. But not enough to cause me to stop the insane merry-go-round of activity that is my current life.
So, in the infinite wisdom that is greater than my own ill-advised but seemingly good intentions, I was sucker punched by the universe.
No “to-do” list is more powerful than a knockout bout with an upper respiratory infection.
It started on Sunday, when waking up felt like emerging from quicksand. But I had a plane to catch! I stared at the check-in screen, as I have many times before, and couldn’t for the life of me find my record locator. Like a child in kindergarten, I gazed at the American Airlines representative, handed over my license and said, “Please help.”
She did, thankfully. Probably wondering if I’d had a few drinks to pre-game my flight.
I still didn’t catch on that I was sick, though.
I don’t have time to be sick! I have BIG meetings over the next two days, a calendar project that is on deadline, a mom in assisted living who depends on me, and godknowswhatelse.
When I arrived at Kamp Kantor (how I refer to the the lovely home away from home when in town for work meetings), my benefactors Renee and Steve took one look at me and said, “Go to bed.”
Too feeble to argue, I did.
And awoke, feeling as if hit by a dump truck of sick.
Since the soundtrack that usually plays in my head when faced with obstacles is Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” I proceeded. Armed with a bag of Ricola cough drops and a boatload of resolve, I plowed through day one of meetings.
And promptly returned to Kamp Kantor to collapse.
The benevolent couple changed my flight to ensure that after Tuesday’s meetings, I’d go directly home.
The joy of working from home is that working sick means you won’t infect anyone else.
The challenge of working from home is that, when you should take a sick day, you still work.
Until you simply can’t anymore.
By Friday, I couldn’t ignore this nasty bug any longer. There I sat in the doctor’s waiting room for almost TWO HOURS for them to spend five minutes to prescribe me the antibiotic I needed.
I’ve written about letting go before. A common thread in most of my awakenings this past year has been the discovery that there’s no “arriving” while we’re breathing.
Life is a constant journey, revealing layers upon layers as we choose to be honest – and inviting us to let go of the old with each new reveal.
When I went to Costa Rica two Septembers ago (my how time flies!) I was on a mission. This was an urgent journey to get to the root of Brenda and find out why she kept falling into certain traps that ham-stringed her happiness.
I got what I went for, and experienced a joyous release for many months.
As life goes, new challenges (even wonderful ones, like, geeze! I have a boyfriend!) raised old, un-dealt with issues and while I now had valuable tools to cope and resolve, sometimes you still need a little help.
If you know me at all, you know I NEVER thought I’d darken the doors of a church ever again, after experiencing cruelty, abuse, and toxicity at what had been known as Philadelphia’s Church of Our Saviour. NOTE: I also met some of the most wonderful people EVER, who remain my dear friends today; proof that good can come out of bad.
But this sweet guy who won my heart, Mark, was a regular attendee and – sheesh! – board member at the Sarasota Center of Light. I told him flat out that I would likely never attend with him, and if that was a deal-breaker, so be it.
And go figure, when he told me there was an intention-setting ceremony on New Years Day, something tugged at my heart and said “Go.”
When we had the pastor and his wife over for dinner some months later, I boldly announced, “I’ll likely never join the church, but I am enjoying it.”
You know how THAT story ends. (Yes, I’m a member.)
So in this community of spiritually-minded people, there are ongoing classes available to all, whether you’re a member or not.
Which leads me to this week’s post on letting go.
My new friend, Joan Volpe, was hosting a “Despacho Ceremony.” This is a very basic description, but it’s a sacred ceremony to render gratitude, write down intentions and name things that you seek healing from (or requesting healing for others.)
I was surprised at some of the the things, after all these years, that I wrote down!
Being bullied by Justine Carano and Frank DeCesaro in high school.
Then wrongly accused by some beloved old acquaintances who blamed me for their pain.
And kicking MYSELF for some decisions. Yes, I needed to forgive myself.
Had I known better, I would have done better.
We all have anchors that try to bog our souls down and keep us STUCK. Calling them out and acknowledging their very existence is a good starting place (and in the Despacho, there is guidance to help you through the process.)
And they end, there is a package (literally) that you’ve created, tied up in a bow. And you can either burn it, plant it, or let it go in moving water.
That Friday night’s date night was a walk to the Sarasota Bay at high tide…and letting go.
The symbolic gesture in itself was a mark in my life – a line in the sand and a decision that “no more” will the past have the power to shackle my future.
And I gotta say, some breakthroughs of varying sorts have emerged into the physical since that time.
And one thing I know for sure:
There will be more.
‘Cause as long as I’m living and breathing, I’ll be learning…and letting go.
Love it – here’s to finding our strength these coming two weeks, and letting go of anything that tries to sap our energy.
It’s risky to put yourself out there and decide to truly live. The idea that we can live fearlessly is a misnomer. The trick is how we respond to fear.
Fear can keep you on the edge of the diving board, never taking the leap. It can paralyze you in a moment of opportunity that slips away while you deliberate.
I’ve been on that end of fear and that’s where most of my regrets reside.
Lately I’ve been viewing fear from the aspect of “feeling excited and ready.”
That nervous bubble in the pit of my stomach is simply a reminder that I’m alive.
That’s a good thing.
A few Saturday nights ago, Mark and I were invited to a going away party for a mutual friend. She was taking off to start a new life in Sweden with a new love she met on vacation a year ago. At the party, she was surrounded by the love of friends and family. People offered toasts and well wishes, and there was an unspoken acknowledgement among us that this was indeed a risky move.
A new country.
A new relationship.
No guarantees that this would be her happily ever after.
The flip side?
Not taking the leap could haunt her forever with the question, “What if?”
At the end of the night, the guest of honor took the floor to thank those of us in attendance, and she said something really beautiful.
“I know this is a risk. But I know I am safe to take it because of all of you.”
See, there are no guarantees that risky business will pay off. But when it doesn’t, knowing you have people who love you; you will offer you their spare bedroom or let you call them at 2 AM is the comfort that softens the potential blow.
Did any of you watch America’s Got Talent? There was this amazing acrobatic couple, Duo Transcend. They specialized in risky, jaw-dropping moves that were downright dangerous. Her life was in his hands. His life was in hers. The love energy between the two of them was palpable, making their feats even more thrilling.
On their last performance before the final, she dropped him.
Then realized, this was part of the act.
Out of the sight line of the cameras was a soft landing place for him to fall.
We all have that same safety net beneath us.
Rarely are the risks we take matters of life and death. Mostly, they’re a leap from where we are to where we want to be. And if we end up being wrong about our desired destination, we can always course correct.
Don’t be afraid to try for fear of failing. Failure isn’t fatal; it’s simply a detour; a building block to success.
We can all look over our shoulder and recall things that didn’t go according to plan, but life still went on and ended up exactly as it ought.
Lessons learned. Conflicts created clarity of purpose. Contrast revealed what we really want and don’t want.
Our happily ever after isn’t an ending place; rather, it’s a continual unfolding as we create the life we dare to live.
And there it is: Dare to live.
Go for it. Be afraid and act anyway. Feel the pounding in your chest and take the leap.
There is an underpinning of love and well-being that surrounds you, not only in those who love you here on earth but also in the unseen spiritual forces commissioned to keep you safe and sound.
If you knew that you couldn’t fail, would you do it?
More thoughts on RISK, including how this very blog was birthed, and the new WOW, coming right up:
Is there something you’re holding on to that you need to release?
Just as you are safe to take a risk, you are also safe to LET GO.
Have you ever noticed how tension precedes release?
That’s probably why we shouldn’t freak out so much over stressful situations. They never last forever (though yes, it can FEEL like forever.)
Alternately, those moments in time where we sense liberty and benevolence from the universe? These, too, are fleeting little buggers.
In this week’s video, I talk about how completely sure I was that after my experience in Costa Rica, I would never feel tethered to the base feelings of life again. I was soaring! Floating!
And I was wrong.
Well, LIFE happens.
We don’t have the luxury (nor would we really want it) to escape to an island where other peoples’ drama can’t affect us; where the news reports can ‘t jolt us; where a bad tamale can’t give us indigestion.
Angst, upset, nausea and all the other feels are just part of the package of the human existence.
The key for me is what to DO with all those feels so they don’t bring me down for too long and I can get back to sweet release.
For me, the process involves sitting in my grandmother’s chair. I call it my thinking chair. Just the act of planting myself in that seat says, ‘It’s get real time, Brenda. Talk it out with yourself.”
And I do. And yes, I talk back.
I’ve learned that having regular conversations with my soul is not only not crazy, it helps keep the crazy at bay.
In these self-chats, I peel back the layers of falsehood that inevitably try to masquerade what’s REALLY going on.
Turns out, the Holy Spirit wasn’t just talking about my house.
My friend Anita joked with me that I’d come back from Costa Rica renouncing fine dining and eschewing my propensity for the Ritz Carlton, fake eyelashes and my tendencies for glamorous creature comforts. I emphatically countered that I was quite happy to savor the finer things in life and planned on continuing to do so. It’s how God made me. And, by the way, harrumph!
I protested too much.
Turns out, this week I was faced with an awareness that I had, indeed, become too focused on getting; that my psyche had been led down a path in which being “flush” equaled success. I bought the lie that I needed to “make up for lost time” and fill my coffers to ensure…that I was valid.
My circle only included people who could easily pick up the tab; who looked and sounded like me.
Then I met a man who has nothing. And I discovered that he is the richest person I know.
You’d never figure we’d make good friends. He is completely out of the mainstream and doesn’t even make small talk. He lives in senior affordable housing and has limited calling on his government-provided cell phone. We met in the airport on the way home from my Costa Rica trip, and I was struck by his jewelry, his colorful gypsy clothing, his self-possessed persona and aura of joy and peace.
Within moments of engaging in conversation, I discovered that he was a practicing Buddhist, and we engaged in a lovely conversation filled with the richness of spirit. I gave him my card, and he was kind enough to check that I made it home safely.
Over the course of just two weeks of texts and phone calls (limited, due to his limited minutes!) Roger Mayberry became an important person to me.
Then I got the call that he was in the hospital.
I visited my new friend and observed that within minutes of being admitted, he had charmed every person on his floor. Doctors, nurses, technicians, random passersby – they all couldn’t help but smile at his pure, childlike joy.
He says it himself, “I’m the richest poor man you’ll ever meet.”
When he first said that, I said, “Roger – stop defining yourself as a poor man!”
Yes, there is some truth to avoiding the sticky tape of speaking out words, for they have power.
However, it never occurred to me that being poor could ever be a good thing.
Stay with me on this, friends.
Roger is so not connected to the drumbeat of performance. He is not tethered to this life. He is an otherworldly creature; a student of the spirit who can talk and listen for hours…and you WANT to hear what he says. Further, when you speak, you feel HEARD.
Spending time with him has caused me to ask this question:
What ARE the true riches of life?
No, I’m not saying I’m taking a vow of poverty. However, I am conscious of a shift from the oh-so-seductive material world to the priceless beckoning of the Spirit.
These recent months have been, for me, devoted to not only self-discovery but also a quest for truth. Stripping away the veneer fear has built over the years has surprised me.
What a thing to realize that, at some point, I began to equate the car I drive and the bag I carry with my own self-worth.
Me! A self-professed spiritual person!
It broke my heart (in a good way) this week to see that I am being called to a new humility. Instead of the constant drumbeat to scale up and have more and better, I find myself drawn to a simpler life.
When I finally called it by name and acknowledged what was going on inside of me, I cried tears of release. Repentant is a turning from one thing to another. True repentance isn’t about beating yourself up; it’s simply an “Aha! I was wrong and now I can be right!”
This awakening to how I had veered on to a shallow path brought sweet release, because I know now I will not waste more time accumulating stuff.
The one with the most toys is NOT who wins.
People like Roger win. His bank account is overflowing where it matters most.
More on RELEASE and a beautiful new Word of the Week, coming right up:
By the way, the good news is Roger’s out of the hospital and on the mend.
Hooray! I intend to continue to plague him with questions and pick his brain and heart…all the while thanking him for shifting my view of life by his very existence.
This week, I want to ACCEPT people beyond face value. I want to ACCEPT what is and relax in the knowledge that the universe is unfolding exactly as it ought.
I ACCEPT that who I always thought I was may not be who I really am, and choose to release those old constructs born of fear and insecurity.
For many years I struggled with the concept of success and “getting what’s mine.”
For much of my 20’s and 30’s, I enviously observed other people achieving results, living exciting lives full of travel and material wealth and I longed for the same.
It seemed that there was a glass partition that I just couldn’t break through, keeping me from accessing life from the driver’s seat of the limo. This wasn’t a question in the back of my mind – it was in the FOREFRONT: “Why can’t I connect the dots? What am I missing?”
For as long as I’ve been me, I’ve wanted to live life to the fullest. Along the way, I got sidetracked and convinced myself that I could settle into mediocrity and still be happy.
Here’s the thing: the definition of mediocre is different for everyone. My idea of living high might be settling for you (and vice versa).
At our core, though, we know what we are capable of and what will make us fulfilled. If we fall short, the question “Why?” is a worthy one.
One day I had my breakthrough. The time I actually got an ANSWER to the question was on an ordinary day as I was driving home from work.
In my spirit, I heard, “You don’t really believe that there’s plenty to go around. You believe in the idea of abundance, but not as a reality for YOU. Do you truly believe that there is unlimited success, wealth, potential, blessing, resources available to you? Then start acting like it.”
My prayer life changed. I started THANKING God for provision. I started EXPECTING favor.
And my life took a major shift from scarcity to abundance – not just materially, but mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Louis Vuitton handbags showed up in the mail (thank you, Shirlee.) I became an occasional guest at the Ritz-Carlton (thanks to my fairy godmother and father – you know who you are).
Yes, kindness and generosity flowed to me from amazing people.
And I even started to manifest some of my own miracles. Speaking engagements and freelance gigs flowed to me, including travel to places I’d always dreamed of going.
But the shining example of my new way of living life abundantly was my beautiful home in Sarasota. I’ve told you the story before, but it always held up as a high-water mark of proof that God loved me and wanted to give me the desires of my heart.
I wanted to live there forever. I would proclaim to anyone, “This is my dream house. I’ll spend the rest of my life here.”
Until faced with the decision to surrender it.
There was a critical point where I had to choose: Should I stay in the house of my dreams…or start living the LIFE of my dreams?
At my core I know that no matter how beautiful the home or breathtaking the pool and jacuzzi, I had no peace.
I once read a quote (paraphrased), “Your net worth will never be greater than your self-worth.” – Robin Sharma
Here’s a good one, too:
Once I “got” the lesson about abundance, the second round of revelation was wrapped around the question, “Would my STUFF define me?”
What we have can have US; it can lock us up in a prison (a very comfortable one, mind you), but it can suppress what should be an irrepressible spirit.
This is not to say that I have since renounced abundance. Hell no! Remember, I’m the girl who wore her false eyelashes to a spartan retreat in Costa Rica and who goes to the lobby of the RItz Carlton just to sniff it. (Really, it smells divine.)
But Brenda 2.0 is not beholden to any of the trappings of this life. Yes, they can be fun and the icing on the cake…but the cake is the peace in my heart, the love I have for myself and the respect I now give my tender soul.
I speak more about this in my closing thoughts on SURRENDER:
Here is what is so amazing and cool and miraculous about our new, never before received WOW, release: When I stood in those rushing waters in Costa Rica, I asked for a RELEASE of creativity. I asked for my laughter to be unleashed. (And a few other private things that also go along with this wonderful word.)
My friends, perhaps the universe is saying that on the other side of our surrender; if we’re willing to let go of what has held us captive; if we relinquish your fears and let the white flag wave on the life we THOUGHT was our dream come true – what awaits us all is RELEASE.
Woo-hoo! I’m doing a happy dance for all of us.
So now that I’ve told you mine, please tell me about your surrenders and releases. It makes this journey together all the more wonderful to share them.