Tag Archives: shopping

The Joy of Connection

My need for connection causes me to whine to Mark at least once a week.

Poor guy, he must be thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

He’s perfect. But he’s here with me all the time. Knows all my stories.

We are embedded in the daily rituals of life together, which are Groundhog’s Day-like in this era of COVID-19.

It’s tedious for me to kvetch to him because he can’t FIX it. (He loves fixing things.)

Joyful, impromptu connections used to fuel my spirits regularly.

Conversations across tables at restaurants, bonding over food envy (what DID they order?) Seatmates on airplanes telling fascinating tales of business and travel. Fashion shows in and out of dressing rooms with random patrons oohing at just the right moment, sealing the sale.

The dressing rooms are closed. You have to buy stuff and bring it home to try it on, which takes half of the fun out of it.

And you KNOW there’s no flying around happening anytime soon (for me, at least.)

Restaurants? On occasion, but have you noticed that people don’t make eye contact any more? It’s so hard to create connection behind a mask. I think I gained a few more eye wrinkles just trying to OVER express my hidden smile.

Which is why, THANKFULLY, this past week was my BIRTHDAY.

Anyone who knows me even a little knows I make a big freaking deal out of my birthday each year.

And not just because of presents, though anyone who knows me knows I LOVE PRETTY BOXES AND BOWS and surprises contained within them.

I love my birthday because people make a genuine effort to connect with me. Cards (rather than bills) in the mail! Bouquets (flowers AND fruit) were delivered to my door this year! Video messages and my brother-in-law Tony even performed an original song (written by my sister, Shirlee) sung as Elvis.

Dear ones connected through Zoom, Marco Polo, e-mail, text, phone, Vox, Hallmark, Facebook.

Other than smoke signals, every form of communication was employed.

I soaked it up like a dry old sponge.

Nix that.

Like a dry sponge.

Before we get into this week’s video, I gotta tell you a funny. Mark’s daughter, Tara, sweetly called me to wish me a happy birthday.

Not knowing me as well as most of YOU, she began, “I know when you get older birthdays aren’t a big deal…”

HA!

I gently protested, “Oh, I may be older, but birthdays are ALWAYS a big deal for me.”

Because birthdays mean connection.

And that’s the best gift of all.

(But the Ritz Carlton is a close second.)

More on connections, asking for what you want, and telling your story the way you WANT it to be here:

https://youtu.be/2DxVLFbhc9o

May our question marks turn into exclamation points of joy for all of us.

With love,

Brenda

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Cooking, Cleaning, and Cassia

Sheltering in place has spurred a tug toward cooking and cleaning.

Office closets, filled so haphazardly their contents would bonk me on the head when opening the door, are now pristine. A pile of unworn clothes is packed for donation to Goodwill. The whir of the vacuum and the smell of Fabuloso make more regular appearances on Lockwood Ridge Road.

Or should I say “Lockdown Ridge Road?”

Yes, I’m going stir crazy. I’d much rather be shopping, dining out, and otherwise frolicking than cooking and cleaning.

But the harsh reality? I should well appreciate the privilege of sheltering in place when others must work outside of the home. A million thank you’s to the healthcare workers and grocery store cashiers who carry on in the midst of a scary, insidious, invisible threat.

Nope, I’m not leaving the house. The one time I had to? It involved picking up a prescription for my mom (who I still can’t visit). I wore plastic gloves and a mask, and handed the meds (along with her favorite, People magazine) to an attendant who wouldn’t let me traverse the doorway.

PS – I am SO GRATEFUL Mom is at Atria Assisted Living. They bring her meals, deliver wine for happy hour, and protect her health like it’s Fort Knox.

So back to the domestic arts. When cleaning one of the aforementioned closets, out popped a recipe. This is not unusual. I’ve spent a lifetime collecting recipes for dishes I’ll never make.

Ah, but THIS was for Cassia’s flan.

More than the memory of the richest, creamiest, most delectible desert EVER, I remembered Cassia.

I met her back in the church days, and she was the light (and fire) of every room she entered. Gorgeously Brazilian, she was an elegant, refined lady who would surprise with her sassy comments. Everyone was darling – or rather, “dah-link” – but she did not suffer fools. Oh, but if she liked you? Or loved you?

Well, Cassia’s love was a force to be reckoned with.

She was ready to leave the church/cult when I was getting married but kept silent about her intentions because she didn’t want to put a damper on my party.

Soon after, she left. When I finally had MY awakening to leave, she was the first person I called.

“You were right! Cassia, you were right!”

She loved me enough to give me the space to come to my own conclusion. But was right there to comfort and love me back from the brink of despair when the place I had given my life to was revealed to be a sham.

Cassia loved passionately, and it always showed up at her dinner table. When she invited you to dinner, you dropped everything to be there for a veritable feast that would always end with her life-changing flan.

After almost 20 years of storing the recipe, I finally decided this week to make it.

Why did I wait so long?! It was PERFECTION. Just like Cassia.

But here’s where the story gives me goosies. The day that recipe reemerged from the dark corner of my closet was Cassia’s birthday.

I had forgotten the date! Only later that day when I scrolled through Facebook did I see her adoring widower, Luis, post a tribute to his beloved wife.

On her birthday, Cassia gave me a gift. A tap on the shoulder from beyond and a resurgence of happy memories.

I am probably the age of Cassia when we met. A woman could only hope to aspire to her unique beauty and the quality of her love.

And to the deliciousness of her flan. Of course, you want the recipe! Here you go (by the way, I doubled the ingredients to make the version you see above):

Warning: Put some non-stick spray or parchment paper as a barrier to the caramel. It had hardened to concrete and we ended up throwing away the pan. But the flan was worth it!

With patience our recent Word of the Week, it made sense that I’d try something out of my wheelhouse that required a little bit of the WOW. Here are my parting thoughts on patience, and a zippy new reveal!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJp9np1oPcQ

May all of your adventures these next two weeks be…delicious! And if you have a Cassia memory, please share…

xoxoxox

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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Flattery Will Get You Everywhere (and the New WOW)

Whenever we get a new Word of the Week (WOW), I keep it front and center in my mind when I’m out and about living life.

DISCERNMENT was pre-picked before I left for vacation, and truthfully, it was competing with a few other words I had planned.

RELAXING. SIGHT-SEEING. SHOPPING. DINING. (To name a few.)

While enjoying one of those four major vacation groups, I had a complete LAPSE of discernment, because of the F word.

FLATTERY.

Back in the day (think early 80’s) when my hair was sky high, my Guess jeans a single-digit size and Candies pumps adorned my feet, I was accustomed to cat-calls, head turns and overt compliments.  Oh, the good ‘ole days!

As the 40’s sailed by and the 50’s were ushered in, so did a kind of invisibility.

Do you know what I mean?

I bet you do.

Anyway, I was strolling through the idyllic village of Carmel (yes, where Clint Eastwood used to be the Mayor) and doing my part to support the local economy (HA! A euphemism for burning up my credit card.)  Side note: The place was really lovely; so nice that when I got a ticket for overstaying my parking welcome I wrote the city a thank you note with my payment.

As I was strolling, this stunning woman who looked like a cross between Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande stopped me to say how beautiful I was.

I looked around and yes, she was talking to ME.

Thus began the seduction of Brenda 53.0.

That one line led to a sample of the face cream she was shilling. A magical cream with a price tag of $700.

You almost spilled your coffee, didn’t you? For $700 you have to not only tell me I’m beautiful but also personally come and apply it to my face everyday for me to even THINK about spending that much.

Mama didn’t raise no fool.

Or did she?

Then Jennifer/Ariana broke out a serum that, when applied, gives the appearance of an eye-lift.  I felt it.  It really worked.

But I had to walk.  Compliments ensued.  (She was SO good.)

Now friends, I have have been down this road before.  The previous culprit was, ironically, three years ago – also in the great state of California.  Santa Barbara, to be exact. At that time an exotic, Marc Anthony-type stopped me and, really, acted like he wanted to whisk me away to Costa Rica for a clandestine getaway.

$300 of skin products later, I said to myself, “NEVER again.”  I was on the lookout for handsome, smooth-talking men with face cream in their hands.

What I didn’t account for was a beautiful woman having the same effect on me.

You would have been a little bit proud.  I did thank her for her time and prepare to walk out.  As I grabbed my handbag and headed toward the door, all of sudden, because I was SO beautiful and she was SO concerned about my drooping eyes, the serum the cream AND a body lotion would all just cost me $200 (but don’t tell anyone.  This was a special deal because I was so amazing.)

Yep.  I bought it.  Even KNOWING on the inside that I’d just been taken.

Beware of trips to California and attractive men OR women who will flatter all the discernment out of you.

But the real question is:  Do my eyes look better?

And so we begin a brand, spanking new WOW with a call to AUTHENTICITY.

It’s a good one.  And here’s to a great week!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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