Tag Archives: Simplicity

Sweet Release, True Riches (and the New WOW)

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.

How come?

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.

Keeping it real, I’ll refer to last week’s message about surrendering STUFF.

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.

How about you?

xoxoxoxoxox

Brenda

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Adventures in Simplicity (and the New WOW)

When a business trip takes you to the other coast and it’s a place you’ve never been before, it merits tacking on a couple of play days to make space for adventure. Yes, I had adventures – but most profound were simple acts of love.

The weeks preceding my trip to San Diego involved pre-bedtime Googling the best restaurants, must- see landmarks, the hip neighborhoods and nature’s hot spots. In keeping with our Word of the Week, simplicity, I opted to establish just one must-do goal and let the rest play out in serendipity.

The sea lions were a must.

The Cove at La Jolla smells like sea lion and seal poop, but the majesty of the Pacific and the doe-eyes of those howling, napping critters was well worth the pungent aroma.

Well-timed suggestions fueled my adventure, like that of the proprietor of the inn where I lodged recommending a drive to Coronado on my first full day.  (Side note: No matter WHERE I wanted to go, the pat response was, “Oh, it’s only fifteen minutes away!”  Lo and behold, it was true – most everywhere I wanted to go WAS just 15 minutes away.)

Overcast skies and a too-cool wind tried to dampen my spirits to no avail.  There were sandcastles and crashing waves…and in the distance, the behemoth that is the Hotel Coronado, a famous historic landmark with an equally legendary breakfast buffet.

Of course, I did!

Yes, breakfast was amazing, but what I observed was far more thrilling: A simple act of love.

I noticed her the minute she walked in; an elegant woman dressed impeccably in a pink tweed suit, her gray hair folding in a smooth, longer pageboy. More than the clothes she wore, her smile lit the room, removing years from her face and intriguing me.

Unfortunately, it is a rare woman in her advanced years who so readily smiles, and yet it is a trait I aspire to.

I watched what appeared to be her daughter – likely my own age – and granddaughter, setting a celebratory tone.  Was it her birthday?

I tried not to be rude, but I couldn’t stop glancing their way.

Then, in walked a tall, handsome man with what appeared to be a bouquet of 50 roses.

And I watched the lovely lady hold back tears.

I bowed my head; this was a sacred moment.

He attempted a photo and I leaped to offer my services.  It gave me a chance to tell the woman I found her to be beautiful.

Later, at the buffet, the man – her son – told me the back story.  Fifty years ago, on that day, she got married at the Hotel Coronado.  Though her husband was no longer alive, it had always been his practice to send her red roses, each representing a year of their marriage. On this landmark 50th, her children wanted to honor the tradition.

What love! What a testament to a life well-lived; so well done that her children were overflowing with gratitude and honor.

Elaine’s wedding photo also had a place of honor at the breakfast table.

I wanted to capture some shots of this glorious encounter, but didn’t want to be intrusive of their family moment.

The spirit of her beloved was surely smiling down on them all; I FELT it.

Emotionally sated, my adventures continued. I drove to the “Om Dome” in Encinitas for a spiritual concert with my newfound airplane friend, Myrna, who had a “Gypsy Soul” necklace made exactly like my go-to “Salt Life” silver flattened spoon choker.

I scheduled a table for one at the Marine Room, where the waves lapped against the window in front of my table (and the lobster bisque was swoon-worthy.)

The next simply wonderful highlight was to spend quality time with my cousin, Debbie, who gathered her two amazing daughters – Carolyn and Colleen – her granddaughter, Charlotte, her husband (who I had NEVER met, Craig) and Carolyn’s firefighter husband, John, for a night at an authentic Mexican restaurant in Old Town.

The conversation flowed as only it can when great love is at the table.

The reunion reminded me off what cemented my love for Debbie, despite decades of not seeing each other.

Her father, Joseph, is my father’s younger brother. When I was ten, as you all know, my father died suddenly from a heart attack. Joe and his family immediately traveled from their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia to attend the services.

We were all devastated, and I vividly recall sitting around my grandmother’s apartment picking at catered food and trying to find comfort in each other’s presence.

No longer able to hold it together, I remember erupting into sobs and fleeing to the back bedroom.

One person came to me.

My cousin Debbie.

Just a teenager herself, she wrapped me in her arms and just hugged me and hugged me. I will never forget that moment.

And throughout our magical evening in San Diego, I enjoyed her hugs once again. They felt familiar and oh-so-comforting. Her daughters are also world-class huggers! I loved them so much I wanted to say, “Where have you been all of my life?”

Of course, they were there all along.  I just never took the time to know them.  But that, of course, all changed in one love-filled evening.

A bouquet of 50 roses.

A simple hug, perfectly timed.

And then, in line at security on the way home, I marveled at a husband/wife team, so adeptly keeping their two toddlers entertained. The little boy kicked off his shoes as daddy patiently put them back on. His tears turned to giggles as mommy blew fart-sounds onto his belly. Finally, he was hung upside down by his daddy (to his glee), and mommy, weighed down with diaper bags and luggage and minding strollers reached down to lift the older girl.

The husband looked at her quizzically as if to say, “Why are you doing that? You’ve got so much to carry.”

She covered her daughter’s face with gentle kisses and said, “Because she wants to be held, too, and I love her.”

I bowed my head again.  It was such a tender moment, so very sweet and lovely. 

What a good mom.

I told her, too, on the way to take my seat home.  She looked at me with eyes that revealed she is far too often hard on herself and feels a bit overwhelmed by this most noble of professions. She couldn’t imagine that I had observed something that so impressed a stranger enough for them to comment on her parenting skills.

Chocolate stained faces and poopy diapers be damned.

She was an amazing mom.

She simply loved.

Sigh.

I hope that you, too, relished in the adventures of simplicity this past week.

Onward to the new Word of the Week:

You mean there IS a tomorrow?  And I don’t have to do everything right now?

Sigh.

For me, there will always be a balance between resting in patience and letting it do its perfect work – and cramming 27 hours of activity into a 24 hour day.

When you see me careening off of the edge – pull me back!

I will nuzzle into PATIENCE this week and see what fruit it bears.

And for those of you waiting for something (or someone) – I am standing in faith WITH you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Simply Choosing Light (and the New WOW)

There are often simple solutions to daily conundrums.

The trick is to take action instead of allowing said conundrum to consume, overwhelm and otherwise wet blanket your joy.

Those little, trifling matters, like a wildly disorganized desk can be rectified by a good purging.

Then there are other events that stop you in your tracks.

I believe it is important to feel a thing; to be real about life and allow emotion to run its course.

However, I believe it is equally important to guard my heart from being immersed in the darkness of a thing.

I can only take so much. How about you?

The horrors of the massacre in Orlando this past week…the thought that innocent people enjoying a night out could have their dance so viciously interrupted just wrecked me.

To grieve for the lives lost and the pain caused to their loved ones is good and right.

Then I began thinking about the perpetrator…and the unknown others out there intent on spilling their hatred in unexpected places.

Like the obsessed fan who ended singer Christina Grimmie’s life.

And then, a child playing in shallow water, fatally attacked by an alligator.  Imagining the scene and how traumatized the family must be…

I can only take so much.  How about you?

Yes, it was a worst-ever week for Florida. If I meditate on it too much, it conjures up a forecast of more storm clouds and tragic thunderbolts that come out of nowhere to ensure our misery.

Not to turn off empathy or deny myself a good cry – but there comes a point where I have to take the simple solution.

My heart can’t take too much of the darkness.  I need to focus on the light.

Light in the form of good people, like the man who built 49 crosses to memorialize the lives cut down at Pulse nightclub.

And on a day like today – Father’s Day – that can often squeeze my heart with the pain of loss, I choose to think of the joy of a beautiful, smiling man who exemplified love in the ten short years I knew him.

 I can focus on what I lost…or on the joy of what I had.

It’s simple.  As the guardian of my own heart, it is what I must do to face tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow it may rain.  But there’s also a good chance the sun will shine or a rainbow will appear.

Life is good and bad and horrible and joyful.  Yet I choose to live it because I believe in tomorrow.  And I believe that love ultimately wins.  And I’ll fight with all that is in for me fear NOT to win.

Which leads into my recap of SIMPLICITY and the unveiling of the new WOW…

Here’s my introductory thought on our new WOW, and for all of us who are going through a difficult time…let’s KEEP going.

a-contented-heart-is-a-calm-sea-in-the-midst-of-all-storms-quote-1

May our hearts find and embrace contentment this week.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends (and the New WOW)

It was one of those whirlwind weeks involving a quick trip back to PA, squeezing in a host of meetings as well as a charity event (more about that in this week’s video) and an oh-too-early flight back to FLA in less than 48 hours.

Why do I do it?

This trip was no mandate from corporate; I’m totally committed to The Main Line Chamber Foundation and it’s effort to raise money for volunteer firefighters. I fly back every year on my own dime for the opportunity to award over $40,000 in scholarships to these hometown heroes.

Overall, these past few years I’ve spent more time in airports and airplanes that in the previous decade combined.  I actually enjoy it (though my husband would prefer that it occur less often) and here’s why:

I get by with a little help from my friends.  (Yes, I’m singing it as I write it!)

I’m about to blow the cover off of a little known secret, but there’s no risk that the best little bed and breakfast in the world will be inundated with reservations.

Because you can’t stay there.

When I fly back to PA, I stay at a place called Kamp Kantor.  It’s better than any five star suite at the Four Seasons.

I arrive to the warmest hugs imaginable.  The kind that instantly comfort you and say, “You are so loved and welcomed here.”  The hostess looks me dead in the eyes and can assess in an instant if I’m up for conversation or need to be ordered directly to bed.  Even if it’s 8 PM.

I look around, and my always too heavy suitcase has magically disappeared, already hoisted (seemingly effortlessly) up the spiral staircase (really) to my deluxe bedroom.

When I enter the room, soft, spa music is playing.  This time, there was a gift on my pillow (knowing how I love turtles, the proprietor had a silver turtle anklet waiting for me.)

And the bed? Something transcends the normal challenges of menopause and I sink into a dreamless, restful sleep that refreshes me for the onslaught of activities that await.

NOTE TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Many times you may see that I am scheduled to be in the Delaware Valley and wonder why I’m not visiting you!  Believe me, I don’t usually have time to go to the bathroom let alone visit.  I’ll try to rectify that in the future, but for now, thanks for understanding.

When I descend from my morning shower/hair/makeup ritual to face the day, somehow the PERFECT cup of coffee is waiting for me.  Just the right amount of cream and sugar and with an octane level like jet fuel, it’s served in a “Friendship” mug that warms my heart while jump-starting my day.

The best mornings are when there’s time for a good 15 minute chat. The proprietors of Kamp Kantor and I can TALK.  Topics range from pop culture to sports to politics to religion (nothing is off limits because there’s such love and respect among us) and before leaving, there a WOD (Word of the Day) to pick.

Mrs. Kantor is the one that started me on the choosing of what she calls “angel cards” and, well, you know how THAT ended up.  For over a year it has become my signature WOW ritual every Sunday on Facebook (and all because of my friends, the Kantors, whom I have written about previously.)

Oh, and did I mention that Mrs. Kantor lets me borrow her car so I don’t have to rent one?

Yes, this is an ode to Kamp Kantor, written with love and appreciation for the friends who make it a home away from home, Renee and Steve.  In a week where Sisterhood/Brotherhood was our WOW, boy did I benefit from their place in my life.

My sister and brother friends are like a diverse bouquet; they each add a unique perspective that is so crucial to navigate the sometimes rocky waters of life.  

Here are my parting thoughts on this WOW and the unveiling of the new one:

Ah, SIMPLICITY!

No more trains, planes or automobile adventures this week for me.

Let’s strip down our lives to the acoustic version this week.

It’s a simple song of love that I hope we all dance to…

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Maddeningly Simple Stuff – and the New WOW

I say maddeningly because on several occasions this week a simple solution caused me to groan, “How could I have MISSED that?”

But the point (always) is not to kick yourself for having missed it, but to rejoice that you finally GOT it.

I was also struck by the needless complications of life – self-imposed ones that add burdens and suck time and energy from our day.

Like my hair.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, my daily ritual was to get up early enough to do full hair and makeup and dress for success so that I’d be ready for whatever the day might bring.  It has always been part of my DNA to look sharp on the outside – it’s like a hobby of mine.  Some people scrapbook; I go to Ulta and Steinmart.

The move to Florida changed everything.  I was now working from a home office and some days, the only people to see me are Duane and Shasta.

They’ve seen me at my worst (and still love me), and I soon realized that wearing mascara added nothing to my ability to get the job done.

If a tree falls in the wilderness and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If there is a press release to write and the writer is in her jammies, does it matter?

Son of a gun, the answer is “NO!”

However, my links to the outside world in my professional life are twice-weekly video conferences. Yay!  I’m going to see people!  And they’re going to see ME!

On those days, I actually wear clothes and perform the whole beauty exercise.  Should a surprise or impromptu meeting arise, I choose the “audio only” function to spare my colleagues from my foundation-less face.

Along the lines of simplicity (there IS a point to this story), I had such a meeting this week and, due to a time crunch, something had to be sacrificed: hair OR makeup.  Since makeup ALWAYS wins, it was with trepidation that I pushed my hair into a clip-pie and let the Florida humidity have its way with my fine, frizzy locks.

This was a wild and carefree Brenda – not one I was completely comfortable with, but hey, I wasn’t hired for my hair, right?

The crazy thing was, the minute my video popped up, everyone exclaimed how GREAT I looked!

MADDENING!

All those mornings when I layered product, painstakingly blow dried, back-combed and sprayed Sebastian Shaper everywhere, NOT A WORD.

But when I kept it SIMPLE?  Suddenly, my look had everyone abuzz.

Methinks there is a lesson in this about not needing to try so hard and that the real beauty is being comfortable with who I am (and if the stiletto fits, who you are.) 

And that wasn’t the only MADDENING lesson I learned about simplicity this week:

What a beautiful word to meditate on this week.

Sending tons of love and light to all of you – and Happy, happy Mother’s Day!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Truth, Lies and the New WOW (Word of the Week)

Our WOW was TRUTH and never have I received such a response to a simple post that emanated from a REALLY tough weekend.

Another example of how your MESS becomes your MESSAGE.

Those of you who aren’t into Facebook make have missed out, so I am putting it here because what I was grappling with bears repeating:

So in the midst of our WOW (which is TRUTH) I have had a few revelations about LIES.

They don’t always come from sleazy salespeople or sweet talking guys you meet at a bar.

The most dangerous lies lodge in your mind.

They jump on a perceived slight and try to settle in with a whole story to support the negative jolt of feelings. They prey on a fear – usually your worst fear – and try to set up housekeeping to erode your joy.

After an attack of particularly hurtful messages in my head this weekend, I realized that instead of playing with them, entertaining them and helping them stay lodged between my ears (which ultimately sinks down into my heart), I needed to DISCARD them.

Why give credit to every message that pops up in your head?

And how do you KNOW its a lie? Well, if the TRUTH sets you free (it may upset you at first, but ultimately it brings freedom), a LIE puts you in bondage. LIES have a posse that includes anxieties, insecurities, torments and overall soul-sucking properties.

Lies

Let’s kick the lies to the curb this week. And when you hear one, instead of wasting your energy fighting it, put your energy into reinforcing the TRUTH.

You are loved.
You are accepted.
You matter.
You’re beautiful.

And the list goes on.

I also was pretty fired up about truth leading into this week’s WOW.  Here it is!

Ah…

A week filled with things that are easy to understand or do!  (Or sifting through the complexities to GET to the simple things.)

What an interesting word!  I’m looking forward to how SIMPLICITY plays out and what new understanding I will have of it at the end of this week.

What does it mean to YOU?

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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