Tag Archives: Tender

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

Billy Joel famously sang “Leave a Tender Moment” alone back in the 80’s and I thought about that phrase this week as I tried to push feelings away.

Hey! I’m busy! I don’t have time to get all misty right now…

Ah, but I am alive. And so are you.

We are not machines, though it can feel like it sometimes. Especially when you realize hours have passed by and your to-do list isn’t any shorter than when your day started.

We zero in on “get it done” mode and pay no attention to those pesky feelings behind the curtain.

Despite trying to ignore the interruption, sometimes a feeling visits you. One that is tender and swathed in lovingkindness. It nudges your soul, penetrating your stonehearted busyness so inconveniently.

So easy to push it away.

My Google mini takes one song suggestion and regales me with a day’s worth of music; some are songs I haven’t heard or thought about in years.

I plug away at my computer making work happen, largely ignoring the background noise.

Then, involuntarily, I felt my heart squeeze. A tender moment interrupted “machine-mode.”

It was this song by Stevie Wonder:

It’s a tender song, evoking all the feelings of the love we have for family and friends. And since Aunt Mary’s transition, the need to say these three words while we can is top of mind.

When you stop and let a tender moment breathe, your heart swells. Tears can spill. But oh, how alive you feel!

And then you make the phone calls. Or texts. The “these three words” messages that let someone know they starred in your tender moment.

I’m with Billy Joel.

Leave a tender moment alone.

Thank you, Mark (and so many of you) who “hold up the light.”

And if you’re experiencing a setback, don’t forget to consider the comeback!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Niceville Opened My Heart

Niceville lived up to its name.

When the Okaloosa County Public Library System asked me to present the keynote address at their staff education day, I looked the area up on the map and said, “There’s no way I’m driving to this one!” A good 5+ hours away, the Niceville Community Center was sort of in the middle of nowhere, between Destin and Ft. Walton. In no way would I turn this into a mini-vacation; it would be a quick “in and out” flight.

Still, I wasn’t willing to risk being late for the engagement, so I took a later afternoon flight out of Sarasota and booked a room at the Niceville Holiday Inn Express. All I needed was wifi and a place to rest my head before hitting the ground running in the AM.

No expectations. Certainly no great expectations. This was, pure and simple, a quick gig for which I was grateful.

But Niceville opened my heart with their…well, niceness.

Who shows up to a hotel greeted by a desk agent saying, “Well hello, Miss Brenda! We’ve been expecting you!”?

Victoria seemed genuinely delighted to welcome me, and in the process, charmed me. As we went through the normal ritual of checking in, she smiled and said, “Now have I got a TREAT for you!”

Her glee in delivering the news was drum roll worthy! This woman was so excited to tell me that she was upgrading me to a suite, she actually paused before the big reveal.

All I needed; all I wanted was a bed and wifi. Instead, I got a TREAT. And the treat wasn’t’ actually the suite. It was Victoria’s enthusiasm to be, well…nice.

I smiled as I unpacked my overnight bag, finished some work, and caught up on e-mails. My stomach growled. Wow, it HAD been a long day, and I was hungry — but my options didn’t seem promising.

There was only one option within walking distance – a Ruby Tuesday. I haven’t been to Ruby Tuesday in years! I had vague memories of a good salad bar, but in the recent decade I’ve become a chain restaurant snob. Give me a little, independent, family-owned joint. I eschewed franchises, but hunger prevailed.

As I entered the door, I waited for perhaps 30 seconds for someone to greet me. She did as if seeing a long lost family member returned to the roost. “Oh honey I am SOOOOO sorry you had to wait! Let me get you a nice seat…”

Of course it was a nice seat. I was in Niceville, and it seems EVERYTHING in NIceville is…well, nice.

Food snob – ha! That was the yummiest salad bar, sirloin and sweetest sweet potato I’ve devoured had in AGES. Was it the food? Or was it that everything was so surprisingly…NICE?

The walls came down. This was not going to be a “get in and get out” experience. From the waitress who I observed hugging her regular customers to the bartender who treated the gang assembled as family, Ruby Tuesdays was THE place to be. Because everyone embodied NICE. And Niceville warmed my cold traveler’s heart.

Which was the perfect lead-in to a rousing keynote speech, delivered with heartfelt appreciation for the NICEness of the people of Niceville.

I was nicer because of them.

Reluctant to leave after my second session, Dealing with Difficult People, (are there any difficult people in Niceville?) I waited for my Uber. While the librarians enjoyed the sunshine and dined alfresco on boxed lunches, we told each other our stories of how we ended up in the Sunshine State. I waved goodbye to my new friends, convinced that my driver would also be…NICE.

Yep, an array of candies and toiletries (!) awaited me in his white Dodge Caravan. Doug told me his life story on the way to the airport; a story of leaving his high-paying corporate job to tend to his elderly mom’s health. A decision, he said, he’d never regret.

I agreed. And considered just how big a tip I would give him.

The nice-ness I experienced in my Niceville experience opened my heart. Nice will do that far more than any fancy restaurant or big city shindig.

Real time update: Writing gloriously interrupted by the sound of cheers as the entire airport stops what they are doing to applaud soldiers just returned home from Afghanistan.

Sheesh! My heart swells!

Fun side note: In the middle of my first presentation, it felt like a jet soared right outside of the Community Center and the sound almost made the building quiver. I asked the audience, “What was that?”

“Oh, that’s just the sound of freedom flying.”

The Kauffman EOD Training Complex and EOD Memorial are close by, in Walton County, Florida at the Eglin Air Force Base.

Let freedom ring! And may nice-ness prevail, not just in Niceville, but everywhere.

My closing thoughts on openness:

https://youtu.be/yDSKcsOjiUY

A visit to Niceville will make even a toughened heart tender.

Have a beautiful couple of weeks!

Love,
Brenda

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Leaky Eyes, Acceptance (and the New WOW)

Lately my eyes have been tearing up over the simplest things.

Like the photo of my cousin’s daughter, Veronica, who was just inducted into the Junior National Honor Society.  She is so young, and lovely, and smart – with a future full of promise ahead of her.

Hand me the Kleenex.

On the plane ride to California, I finished the book A Man Called Ove to heaving sobs, snot and the quizzical looks of surrounding seatmates.

On the flight home, once again Mark handed me tissues as I whimpered and cried off my makeup through the movie Wonder.

What is going on with me?

As I pondered the word ACCEPTANCE these past two weeks, the common denominator in all of my recent tenderness relates to accepting the fragility; the fleeting and temporal nature of life.

Does this happen to everyone when they hit a certain age?

The creases around my eyes and sagging jowl belie the years gone by.  However, my spirits perk up when a new friend, in her 40’s, says, “I thought we were the same age.”

Still, time IS marching on.

We all have an expiration date unknown to us, but its reality beckons us to make the most of right now.

That closing scene of the Thornton Wilder play Our Town always slays me. Here, let me just play it for you:

By the way, the film Wonder features this scene, making it a double-whammy emotional gut punch.

Could my tenderness relate to the landmarks of time?  This very week would have marked my 15th anniversary.  Instead, in another month I will mark one year since my marriage ended.

I accept the passage of time and that creating a new version of happily-ever-after is up to me.

As I embrace this tender truth, I find myself looking at people directly in their eyes to make a true connection.  Calling people and having long-overdue, hour-long conversations.  Buying Hallmark cards in bulk to let the people I love know that I deeply love them.

For in the final analysis, what will matter?

My answer: How much did I learn, and how much did I love.

At church, we recite the Aramaic “Prayer of Our Father” that touches me deeply, especially:

“…detach the fetters of faults that bind us, like we let go the guilt of others.

Let us not be lost in superficial things, but let us be freed from that which keeps us off our true purpose. 

From You comes all working will; the lively strength to act; the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age. Amen.” 

“Let us not be lost in superficial things” massages my heart.

I gulped down the disappointment when losing what I imagined would be my trek to the International Public Speaking Championship. Just a week later, my heart swelled at this comment from one of the attendees at my Fear Factor workshop in Berkeley last week:

“Brenda was such a wonderful and genuine presenter.  I was moved and will grow and grow as I process her message.  One of the best professional development sessions I’ve ever attended.  Thank you!”

Uncanny!  In the same week, the gift that makes me feel alive to use, both rejected and applauded.  A contest? Superficial.  Impacting a person’s life for good? Deep.

It first hurt, then helped to realize that perhaps my dream of a championship remained rooted in the last vestiges of low self-esteem and ego.

Accepting that my real dream is to encourage hearts and open eyes offers a new level of freedom and fun that I am just beginning to enjoy.

Time marches on.

Though shockingly middle-aged, I feel like a kid just starting out.

I see life through new eyes; accepting the past and ready to embrace an unknown future, but with a daily intent to love the bejeezus out of everything and everyone I encounter.

More on ACCEPTANCE and the new WOW here:

Ah, and of course, after I recorded I was reminded of the scripture:  Faith works by LOVE.  Not by striving, obsessing, hard work or good intentions.

May we each FLOW in FAITH as we grow in love this week.

And are any of you feeling the passage of time and tenderness attached to it as I am these days?  I’d love to hear from you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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