Tag Archives: Stories

In Praise of Predictability

In 2020, predictability went AWOL.

2020’s trademark? Wild unpredictability. Trips canceled, work pivoting to remote (or shutting down), kids homeschooling, mask-wearing, social distancing, and zooming instead of in-person interaction…all upending our idea of normal.

Which is why the Hallmark Channel calls to me every day of this yummy week off from work.

Most of my “vacation” days really aren’t that at all. Taken to accomodate a doctor’s visit with mom (or myself) or to deliver a virtual speaking event, I’ve failed at separating work from everyday life.

And then, all of a sudden – NOVEMBER.

What?

How can it be that 2020 is in the home stretch? It feels like just yesterday the rug was pulled out from under us all (and remains pulled). This Groundhog’s Day of staying put and isolated forced me – finally – to say, “Enough!”

If you’re going to be off, be OFF.

So this week I slept in. Meditated and listened to spa music. Baked the first batches of mom-mom’s raisin bread. And actually activated (for the first time in 2020) my out-of-office e-mail message.

So THIS is what people do on a day off!

“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”

– ANNE LAMOTT

While covering my kitchen with a thin layer of flour and practically burning the motor on my Kitchen Aid mixer with the sticky paste of raisin bread dough, Mark suggested I enjoy some holiday shows during the baking festivities.

Sucked in like a dust bunny to a vacuum, I was instantly hypnotized.

After three days of shows, all with either Christmas or Angel in the title, I realized the allure of these formulatic mini-movies.

They are predictable.

And in a year when NOTHING has been predictable, the comfort and joy of knowing what’s going to happen (and that the ending will be happy) warmed my heart.

For the uninformed, here are the five things you can always expect from a Hallmark movie:

  1. City woman/man consumed by work goes to small town where the Christmas spirit is alive and well.
  2. Main character falls for man/woman who embodies the Christmas spirit.
  3. Two or three near kisses are interrupted by snowballs, children*, or elderly characters (who may or may not be Santa and Mrs. Claus).
  4. A misunderstanding ensues, causing both parties to retreat from love.
  5. A Christmas miracle brings everyone together at the end for a guaranteed happy ending.

Why the asterisk after children?

In the Roach/Viola household, we’ve uncovered a common subtext in each Hallmark (or Lifetime) Christmas movie.

Mark coined the phrase, rendering me doubled over with giggles.

It’s the “Little Shitter” factor.

Please excuse the salty description, but I have to be true to the moment.

He walked in during my third or fourth consecutive show and said enthusiastically, “Hey! There’s the Little Shitter!”

What?

“Yeah. There’s alway a Little Shitter that shows up.”

What’s a Little Shitter, you ask?

It’s any child under the age of 10 deployed to evoke feelings of tenderness and manipulate the story so you root for the two main characters to finally kiss.

If you’d like to play along, next time you watch, look for the Little Shitter (LS). The winner is the first to shout “There’s the Little Shitter!” And if you’re so inclined, take a sip of hot cocoa (or cider, or mulled wine – three other minor props that unfailingly play a role in these Christmas movies) when you see the LS.

In a year when holiday gatherings lack the festive trappings of days gone by, a little escapism into predictability can warm the cockles of your heart.

And my wish for you – and your own Little Shitters – is that gratitude fills your hearts and spills over into a 2021 that is (hopefully) WAY more fun.

While this post is all about praise for predictability, my recent video was about the inevitability of change:

https://youtu.be/YCn-_bJ7KvM

Let your heart’s delight!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

Share This:

Why I Love Airports (and Mark Roach)

Airports mean I’m going somewhere.

Even if the destination isn’t exciting, and sometimes that’s the case for work or a speaking engagement, I’m still going SOMEWHERE.

Oh the people watching! It’s one of my favorite parts.

This was always something I loved. But five years ago when I started working from home (and I’ve had four different homes since then!) getting AWAY from my desk is a joy to me.

Since “EXPLORATION” has been our word these last two weeks. I take time in this week’s video (and the most recent post) to talk about exploring and unpacking the baggage from our past.

But today, as I sit enjoying tuna poke and looking out over a feast of people, I’m relishing airports and the anticipation of exploration.

The crunchy wontons disappeared quickly. More, please!

This particular flight is out of Tampa, because through the Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) airport is growing in stature, sometimes it just makes sense to Uber for an hour to fly out of Tampa.

It’s a quick trip – two cities in two days, so no checked baggage is needed.

For the next 1.5 hours until my flight boards, I am not required to do anything… but wait.

Oh, I eat. And yes, I people watch! When the flight is delayed (or a layover is long), I get a neck/back massage. Or shop.

This may surprise you, but I am rarely chatty. I dig being alone! Only those magical, serendipitous, “Wow, the universe set this up!” encounters compel me to engage.

Oh, airports are ME time.

And writing time.

There’s nothing I love more than hearing the drone of public address system announcements behind me and the chatter of passersby while I type type type type type on my laptop.

Sometimes I look up and wonder about the stories around me.

I say a prayer for the haggard mom handling three kids while rolling three carry-ons. And marvel at the makeup-less beauty of youth in sweat pants as she waits, completely unaware of the stares that follow her. Ear pods block out her attention to the world she attracts.

Airports are both a beginning and an ending (depending on if you’re coming or going.)

Before we leave, we anticipate. When we prepare for our return, we reminisce.

Mark knows I like to explore airports, so he’s fine with relaxing while I wander around and grab those last-minute souvenirs. He is unfailingly interested in my conquests and observations, which makes me love him more.

And the times when I am not with him, I make sure to leave little post-it notes of love around the house. He knows I love taking off – with or without him. (Though with him is better.) But I never want him to think that life is better without him.

Oh, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This was supposed to be a post about airports.

But instead, I am in love. With a sweet man who cares about my every need. Who will not let me carry the groceries from the car to the house.

My me time in the airport has caused my heart to swell with appreciation for a man who loves me.

I am loved.

And for the first time in 56 years, I am settled into this feeling of bliss.

Which makes leaving, and coming home again, so wonderful.

I love having a life I don’t need to escape. Yet a life that gives me all the freedom in the world to explore.

So yes, I love airports. But I love Mark Roach more.

https://youtu.be/D1D1O49md1M

This is such an appropriate new Word of the Weeks for me. Can’t wait to talk to you more about it! Until then,

Boatloads of love

xoxoxox

Brenda

Share This:

Toastmasters Wisdom (and the New WOW)

Who knew that joining Toastmasters would usher into my life a wealth of wisdom?

Yes, they count your “ums” and correct your grammar; offer feedback on your body language and throw-away words – all thrilling to spoken word nerds like me.

But it’s the STORIES that grab me each week.

The agenda (run like a Fortune 500 Board Meeting, which I LOVE) includes three speeches. Participants are at various stages in the Toastmasters experience.  I am like a new-born baby, making my way through the first round of ten speeches to achieve certification. Others have completed several rounds of ten, have competed (and won) and are in the advanced tier.  Yes, their technique is refined…but again, it’s the STORIES that tug at my heart.

This past week, Ret, our Club President, told a tale for the specific purpose of evoking an emotional response.

Ret is six-foot-something; has a Dr. Phil-like presence, is a Texas-like “guys-guy” and possesses an authoritative and commanding delivery.

To judge a book by its cover, Ret’s was an unlikely package to deliver a heart-wrenching story, but oh, he had us all in tears.

Ret told the story of his boyhood best friend Mikey, tragically killed while riding his bike in the prime of his getting muddy, mischief-producing, baseball-throwing youth.  To this day, Ret visits his grave and leaves a baseball with a written message on it to his friend.

Mikey lived again this past Wednesday in the re-telling of this story by his beloved buddy, Ret.

The pearl of wisdom Ret left us with? “Treasure the people you love, for you never know how long you will have the gift of their presence.”

Oh, Ret.  I’ll never look at you the same way after hearing this story.

No one cared much about an errant word or an um for it is not perfection that moves us, is it?

What moves us are the stories of our lives that weave a bond with others.  In fact, this past week alone I observed the nodding head of a woman who also lost her dad at age 10; the laughter over a shared obsession with Starbucks, and a surprising discovery about the healing properties of tea (for all of us coffee drinkers.)

We each have a story, don’t we?  We have so many!  Wrapped up in these stories is a world of wisdom that could be just the gem someone else needs to hear.

If you have never considered Toastmasters because you’re “not a speaker” – please don’t let that stop you.  It is the imperfect but sincere and heartfelt stories that are massaging my heart and filling up my love tank week after week.  If you are seeking connection, it may have the same effect on you…

Here are parting thoughts on WISDOM and a new Word of the Week to inspire us all!

Our road to the life of our dreams? Let’s pave it with good and powerful INTENTIONS.

May we go forth with purpose and experience the joy of doors swinging open to our respective destinies.

xoxoxoxo
Brenda

Share This: