Tag Archives: Strength

The Ongoing Art of Letting Go

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.

It wasn’t.

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.

Love,
Brenda

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Forgiveness and Gratitude (and a New WOW!)

It’s been a deep dive into the topic of forgiveness these past two weeks, which has spurred reflection on some of the low-lights of my life story.

Remarkably, when I look over my shoulder, where there used to be painful stings, there are instead wellsprings of gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been WRONGED.

Yes, used and abused. Baited and switched!  Misled and taken advantage of, too.

There could be a host of sad country songs written about the girl who was 100 pounds in kindergarten, whose dad died when she was 10, who gave her all to a church cult, married a man she hardly knew, became alcohol dependent, and then left him 14 years later to enter uncharted territory.

Can you cue the wailing?

Except, all there is, for me, is gratitude.

That 100-pound little girl learned to develop more than a pretty face to survive.

My dad’s death gave me the gift of appreciating the fragility of life and the importance of saying “I love you” as if it could be the last time you see a loved one’s face or hear their voice.

The cult, while trying its darnedest to warp my faith in Spirit and destroy my trust in people, still gave me some of the best friends a girl could ever have.  They will be with me forever, as the sad and angry memories fade into nothingness.

My marriage?  We made it to Sarasota – together!  I think we are both grateful for the journey that got us here. Plus, there’s no doubt Duane Viola will be my friend for life.  He loved me and jumped through a million hoops set up by the church to help me escape.  I’ll be forever grateful for the years we were partners in life.

Finally escaping the dullness of an alcohol-soaked life and the strength it took to become truly sober led me to today’s clear-eyed focus, and a desire to live-life fully.  (I am eternally grateful that the many falls and near misses didn’t “off” me prematurely – and I am grateful for the forgiveness offered to me by many who I offended with my slurry behavior.)

And then making a break to chart a new course as a single woman at age-54?

Well, that story is being written as I type these words today.  But I think Rascal Flatts said it best:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through

I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms

This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes it did

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it’s true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yeah

And now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
Ooh, ooh
That led me straight to you

Yes, wounded.  But, yes, healed.  And I wouldn’t trade a thing that led me to this lovely, holy space in this life.  

Friends, I hope you can say the same.

Here’s an exhortation to take us from the word FORGIVENESS to a new word to end the month of January 2018:

May we each know with CLARITY our next step forward!

Sending you bunches of love and gratitude for the connection we share.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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A Close Encounter with Compassion (and the New WOW)

Isn’t it true that compassion is best appreciated when you need it most?

Like when you screw up.

I’m a cross your t’s and dot your i’s kind of person, so discovering that my best laid travel plans  were utterly flawed this week left me flummoxed.

I was already operating on a deficit of sleep. A late dinner with my dear friends Roseann and Mike to celebrate our last night in Montreal resulted in just four hours of sleep before I had to hop in a taxi for the airport.

Just one agent manned the desk at 5:30 AM, and I observed him patiently handling the travelers in line ahead of me.

When  finally my turn, I observed his name tag and said, “Good morning, Joe!  I hope you can help. I need my connecting flight to now be my final destination.”

In my mind, it was a simple matter.  Already booked from Montreal to Charlotte; no new flight was required. I just needed my bag to deplane, too (and not travel to Sarasota.)

Joe looked at me and said, “You realize we need to completely re-ticket your flight?”

No, I didn’t realize.

And it would be costly.

I looked up at tall, handsome, kind, smiling Joe with my bleary red eyes from a scant four hours of sleep and said,  “Oh my.”

And my intended destination wasn’t even Charlotte; it was Chicago.

You’re thinking exactly as I was; perhaps we could get me on a flight from Montreal to Chicago!  Problem solved!

Absolutely…for $700+ dollars.

Thoughts of renting a car and driving the 13 hours to Chicago flashed through my mind.  I imagined getting to Chicago on my originally booked flight – without my bag and the need to shop for the essentials to help me survive the next two days.

My crestfallen face and deer in the headlights paralysis tripped a compassion switch in Joe.

Click, click, click click click.  More clicking.  A brief consultation with his manager.

What was Joe up to?

A boarding pass, non-stop to Chicago from Montreal spit through the printer.

No, it wasn’t free, but it surely wasn’t $700 dollars.  It was less than $200 – and that was a pill I could swallow without too much bitterness.

In an era when poor airline service goes viral and it seems that most carriers need a crash course in customer service, my encounter with Joe affirmed the goodness of people who stick their necks out to help a stranger in need.  Joe would have been perfectly within the confines of the employee manual to require strict adherence to a complete re-booking.

Ah, but Instead, he followed his heart and had compassion on me.

Here’s to you, Joe!  You not only gave me a great story about compassion, but your actions put a smile on my face as I wait these five hours for my new flight to Chicago.

Let’s move onward to new adventures and the new Word of the Week (but first some closing thoughts on Compassion)!:

It’s not over.  Nope.

Yes, you may fall, but you can keep getting back up.

They call it failing forward; every bump in the road teaches you something to prepare you for the next step.

You are STRONG.  You are RESILIENT.

Just look at how many times in your life you seemed down for the count, only to bounce back and rise higher as a result.

Be encouraged, my friends.

Let resilience win this week!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Soft Yet Strong: A Powerful Duo (and the new WOW)

There’s something so soft about the word tenderness, isn’t there?

Nothing makes me melt like a kind word or a gentle touch does. They are far more magnetic than a flirtatious comment or an over-the-top gesture.

Tenderness stops me in my tracks.

How powerful is THAT?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” (Eric Hoffer)

When we get afraid – particularly of being taken advantage of – we tend to get louder, more emphatic, less flexible and, well, anything BUT tenderhearted.

I scream when I am afraid of not being heard.

Yet it is the soft answer, according to the scriptures, that turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1) I don’t know about you, but I want to turn away wrath every chance I can get.

The word TENDERNESS, for me, was a call – a beckoning – to stay soft. To not let life harden me; to embrace the sweetness of a tender response and extend the gift of sublime softness in areas of my life where I have instead been strident and screeching.

More on that and the new WOW here:

When I went back to look at the recording I was taken aback by my use of the word “DELIGHTFUL” before I chose the word DELIGHT.

It also strikes me that the theme of softness was resonating with me, while the meaning of “DELIGHT” in the scripture I quoted actually means to “be pliable…”

Goosebumps!

This week I am not going to try and be braced for anything and everything.  I want to let life flow and I want to flow with it in a calm and peaceful repose.

This is NOT my normal MO.  I am a complete Type A personality with ten concurrent lists going at any given time. I want to do and be more all the time and I sometimes don’t stop working because I want so badly to do well.

But I wonder if a softer approach; a less frantic/performance driven way of pursuing life might not actually be more effective?

Since a life-changing trip with my best friends a few months ago, I have been conscious of how the need to “perform” has added so much pressure – unneeded pressure – to my life for the entirety of my life!

As I walk away from the old in this new year, I am getting the messages of tenderness and softness loud and clear.

The thought of living that kind of life DOES bring delight to my heart.

What about you?

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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Strength in Weakness (and the New WOW)

My week could have been spelled WEAK – and how ironic when the WOW was STRENGTH!

Here’s the backstory:  Three weeks ago I started to have seriously bloodshot, irritated eyes that were increasingly painful to blink, impossible to place contacts in, and most upsetting to my propensity for vanity, painful to apply makeup to.

If you review LAST week’s WOW taping, you can see watery eyes (in part ’cause I was a wee bit emotional, bur primarily due to my eye affliction.)

When you don’t have to show up to an office every day, the need to look good is diminished, but an impending Viola family wedding finally gave me the urgent push to go to the eye doctor.

Dr. Sinclair said, “How have you been functioning like this?”

He had no immediate answers but got me an ASAP appointment with a specialist and charged me with this assignment: “Between now and tomorrow, try and figure out what you’ve done differently that could have affected your eyes.”

I wracked my brain. No new makeup; no new creams or potions. No new food (except for my new ‘clean eating’ and geeez, what could THAT do that would be bad?)

I was getting really upset about this unknown malady, and feeling weaker by the moment.

Then, as I was getting ready for bed and took my evening low-dose aspirin, it hit me:  Three weeks ago my regular doctor switched one of my medications.

I was so busy thinking about a topical cause I never considered an internal one.

(Hmmmm.  That’s an interesting thought for another time!)

Thanks to Google, within minutes the rare side affects of said medication jumped out on my iPad: “Can cause severe eye distress in rare cases. If you experience blurriness, redness, and irritation – what the heck are you waiting for? Get to a doctor!” (OK, I added that last part.)

What relief to finally KNOW.  And suddenly, even though my pain and circumstance had not changed, the removal of the mystery gave me STRENGTH.

Now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can beat it.

Some of you are facing physical challenges and have been for much longer than three weeks.  My brief experience with a chronic, seemingly unsolvable pain was physically, mentally and spiritually distressing – so my heart truly goes out to you.

Don’t give up.

If you’ve been trying to slug it out by yourself, seek help.  And if that help doesn’t help, seek some more.  Seek wisdom and insight.  Pray for the answer and I am believing with you that it will come.

learning-is-a-gift

I would prefer that joy, delight, blessings and abundance are my teachers. But when pain  – whether physical or emotional – comes, for goodness sake, I want to get SOMETHING good out of it. And I expect to – because I don’t believe God, the Universe, the Source is playing cruel games with my life.

And believing that is also a source of strength.

So how do we follow this up?  Settle in for the new WOW:

There is a connection between STRENGTH and SURRENDER, isn’t there?

I know I get worn out and WEAK when I try too hard to make stuff happen or freak out about what is beyond my control.

The beauty of trust is that it allows you to let go…and let God.

And therein lies great strength.  “In quietness and confidence will be your strength” says Isaiah 30:15.

Love to you all!
xoxoxox

Brenda

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WOW (Word of the Week) – 11.29.15

I hope you got your hopes up this past week!  EXPECTANCY is full of fizzy bubbles and the pop of the champagne bottle; it’s a way of living that says “Something marvelous could happen today!”

It’s the exact opposite of a Murphy’s law approach to life.

But we don’t go from one thrilling moment to the next in this life, do we?

There are a good amount of bends in the road; valleys to survive and mountains to climb.  Which is why this week’s new WOW is right on the money.  Here’s my wrap-up of the past week and the big reveal for the one just begun:

Sometimes we don’t know our own STRENGTH.  But boy, are we intimately aware of our weaknesses!

As I whipped up what felt like a million loaves of raisin bread this past week, I was interrupted by a phone call.  When I returned to the mixing bowl, I couldn’t remember if I had added the baking powder or not.  Or the salt. The flour didn’t taste tainted, so I added in those ingredients, hoping I hadn’t doubled up and that the batch would turn out.

It was clear as I peered through the oven door that something was amiss.  It was evident when, after cooling, I turned the loaf pan over and instead of the normal, smooth and somewhat bouncy exit, this bread wouldn’t budge.  I chiseled around the edges.  Still nothing.  More chiseling, then pounding on its loaf back until finally it emerged.

In five warm, slightly soft pieces.

Certainly, this was no loaf appropriate to send to friends and family.

For a fleeting moment, I held the delusion that I could coexist with these nutmeg-y, dough-y bread parts and enjoy them over the course of the next week or so with Duane and my morning coffee.

Until I began shoving them in my mouth.

It started out innocently enough; breaking a teeny, pillow-y piece to see if tasted OK.

It did.

It really did.

The next time I looked at this broken, misfit loaf, it was half gone.  (Cue film title:  Gone in 60 Seconds.)

This would likely NEVER have happened if Duane was home.  Binging is a solitary act and this was a rare occasion of being home alone with freshly baked bread.

It was a perfect storm of temptation.

When I came to and saw the half-eaten loaf, I said to myself, “Self, you’re not strong enough for this.”

And I threw the scrumptious remainder in the trash.

Knowing that wouldn’t suffice, I covered it in more trash (and not just paper)  so that a forthcoming weak moment wouldn’t find me digging for one more bite.

Being honest about our weaknesses helps us to be strong. 

When I marvel at my almost 1 month of not smoking or over two years of not drinking, it’s not about my strength so much as it is a daily devotion to truth.

The good news is that at any moment you can choose the truth. When you let it smack you between the eyes, the strength to  change course is its companion.

It’s like the bonus bag at the Clinique counter – spend $25 and get this FREE gift of goodies (valued at $75). These are offers I can rarely resist.

Yes, I have discovered that strength is the bonus gift that accompanies honesty.

Don’t beat yourself up over the half-eaten bread.  Celebrate that the other half is in the trash!  And let your love affair with the truth strengthen you this week.

xoxoxo

Brenda

 

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