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.
My friend Roseann has said for years that it’s the little things, like sharing dinner at the table with her husband, Mike, that make her life rich.
This view of life never resonated with me. For 14 years, I ate by myself on the couch while we each “did our own thing.”
I became the queen of the grand gesture.
The trip to Normandy…the lavish birthday parties…the Tag Heuer watch.
To me, it was a “go big or go home” approach to life. Little? Ha! That’s for losers.
Now that I look through the lens of lessons learned, I see that my grand gestures were desperate attempts to bring meaning and satisfaction to a life lacking in what mattered most.
Tenderness. Connection. Laughter.
My grand (and expensive) strokes were also my stabs and finally doing the great, big thing that would make my life WORK.
Do you remember when old cars took some work to “turn over” on a cold winter morning? You’d turn the key and pump the gas; the car gasping for life…
…yes, that’s how I see many of the years in my rear view window.
This is not a post about regret, however! No, no, no! This is a post about finally seeing the light!
It’s about really and truly and finally understanding that no external thing could fix something wrong on the INSIDE.
That no grand or lavish gesture can evoke love that isn’t there already. And that nothing you do can make other people happy if they choose to be miserable.
And most of all, if you are not happy, no one else and nothing else can make your motor run.
Finding peace within my heart and falling in love with ME has changed everything.
I beat this drum with everyone now, and I’m sure it is a bit annoying.
But can you really say that you’ve settled into a full-blown love affair with yourself?
Can you boldly say, “I’m wonderful!”
When you think of yourself, is it with the tenderness that you would offer an innocent baby?
This seismic shift changed everything for me. It took a trek to Costa Rica and a visit with a shaman to get there, but man was it worth the journey.
Now friends, you don’t have to go to Costa Rica or take a psycho-spiritual journey to get there, but whatever it takes, please get there!
Oh please forgive yourself! Oh please stop regretting the past! Oh please…because life is too short to put a band-aid on and we were never meant to be the walking wounded.
How tragic to get to the end of our days (and gee, we don’t know if that will be TOMORROW!) and consider that we wasted it all being unhappy and that unhappiness served NO purpose.
And how tragic to numb ourselves or empty our bank accounts in the attempt to compensate for a broken heart we never forgave.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of picking up Shasta for a play date. Mark and I wandered around until we ran into an arts and crafts festival. We meandered hand in hand. I bought a cheap anklet, we sampled kettle corn and Shasta was loved on by every passerby.
And I said to myself, “What a wonderful world.”
Louie Armstrong, I get it! Roseann, I get it!
In a lifetime of talk about having an expansive life, I realize just how BIG little is.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE sniffing the air at any Ritz-Carlton. I plan to visit Greece and publish a few books. And birthdays? Puh-leeze! I love an excuse to party plan!
But those things will all be the icing on a cake that is sweet already. And I wish the same for you, too.
Here are my closing thoughts on EXPANSIVENESS and a brand-new, never before received Word of the Weeks!
It’s a week to speak up! (And to listen…)
May these last two weeks of February bring riches to your heart.
Can you imagine a table loaded up with love and yet you remain starving?
I’ve considered this on a week where HARMONY was our Word of the Week, and all of the messages I kept reading referred back to LOVE as the secret sauce for harmony.
When I am out of sorts with myself, I’m learning to check my love levels. Since Costa Rica, my first step is to check out how well I’m loving ME (or not). Because I’ve learned that I will only attract what I emanate.
Harmony is when there’s unity of thought and feeling – and fear is always the great divider.
Fear’s leading line is, “What if…” and leads down the rabbit trail of negative possibilities.
That’s when I need to go and sit in Mom-Mom’s chair, and talk to myself.
Taking that five minute (or more) time-out is just what I need to get back to unity between my soul and spirit, and it always ends with a little love note to myself.
“I love you Brenda.”
When was the last time you said those words out loud to yourself?
Picture yourself, through all of the many stages of your life: The chubby toddler, the acne-stained teen; the insecure but tough-looking college student or the polished (but anxious as hell) professional.
With each mental image, let love well up inside of you. You’ll find floods of empathy and compassion, tenderness and grace rise up.
Then let those loving feelings wash over you.
Some tears may spill out of your eyes. That’s okay. It’s your angels washing your heart from the wounds accrued over time.
After that good, cleansing cry, you may find that where there was discord, harmony now resides in your heart. And you’re ready to face life again, because YOU’VE got your own back.
The table of love is a feast that is always set before us. May we all choose to partake!
I talk a bit more on this (and just wish I had put some better lipstick on), but you’ll forgive the momentary lapse of aesthetics in the new Word of the Week reveal:
Looking at life with fresh eyes is how I’m going to approach creativity this week.
After all, if I keep doing the SAME thing, I’ll get the same results.
I want new stuff! How about you?
Oh, and let’s GIVE THANKS for all the wonderful stuff we already have. I hope you and yours enjoy a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday, seated at a table where the feast is LOVE.
Some people hate the whole resolution ritual. To me, it’s a tradition that sort of forces me to establish my priorities for the year and resolve to take steps in support of them.
Hmmmm…that sounded a bit too much like a corporate memo.
Take two: I think about the stuff I want to happen and dream about what I can do to make them burst forth into reality!
I really wish I had learned this earlier in life.
My approach through my teens, twenties, thirties and most of my forties was to “wish, want, hope, pine, yearn” with feeble faith that I could impact any outcomes.
Something clicked in recent years. I was acting like a tennis ball, being directed by forces beyond my control instead of being the tennis racket and directing my life in the way I wanted it to go.
This does not preclude my dependence on God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. But I do feel that the heavenly host has been sitting in the bleachers all these years saying, “Will you finally take a swing? We can’t do it ALL for you!!!”
Well, when you put it THAT way, Jesus…
We’ve got the equipment. We were BORN with it. Our gifts, our talents, our special sauce – it’s all there, waiting to be whipped up into a unique and remarkable treat for the world -and us – to enjoy. But too often we spend time focusing on what we DON’T have when it’s actually irrelevant.
If we don’t have it, we don’t need it to fulfill our calling. We are completely equipped for our purpose in life. And if you read this and start to protest, ask yourself, “Why am I fighting?”
So you’re flawed. Join the crowd. So you think your flaws or ailments disqualify you from certain joys in life? Only your faith in that faulty line of thinking keeps you there.
My resolve every year is to be happy. And I am. Annoyingly so! (Except to those who also are fans of happiness.)
Some people are as devoted to being miserable as I am to being happy.
Every ache or pain or bend in the road is a license to complain or make excuses or blame someone for their station in life.
Seriously, how’s that working for you?
No, I do not live a perfect life. I’ve had my share of broken hearts, physical challenges, disappointments and paralizing fears. I choose, however, at this later stage in my game – with time fleeting and tomorrows not promised – to see the disappointments as a detour because something better is coming my way. I acknowledge my fears and then do the work to get back to love because I don’t to waste one moment of this beautiful life living like a deer in the headlights. I have a weird bump on my leg that needs to be biopsied next week and I am positive that it is either nothing, or if it is something, I’m going to beat it.
Can you tell I’m fired up this week?
I put some of that energy into this week’s message:
Isn’t that sweet? What a lovely way to start 2017!
Be gentle with yourself first, my friends. It makes it a heckuva lot easier to then be gentle with others.
Hello, 2017. I welcome you with open arms, an open heart, and a full expectation that you will be my best year ever.
I’m grateful. And gratitude is my (and our superpower.)
In a week when so many people were up in arms (on both sides of the political fence) I was reminded of my puppy dog…my husband…my family…my friends…my job…my health…my home…the sun…the bright moon…the taste of strong coffee…the pleasures of a good book…my three years of sobriety…and oh, the list goes on.
This is not to deny anyone’s right to be angry or upset. It’s just that in this brief experience called life, I want to drink in and exhale joy.
There have been many times in my life when I have felt real despair. But the sun has eventually shined once again and when I look over my shoulder, I realize with gratitude that what didn’t kill me made me stronger. And more empathetic. And kinder.
And that’s what I want. To be better, not bitter.
Which is why I was so delighted to receive this week’s new WOW:
noun: compassion; plural noun: compassions
sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
When I dipped into the bag and selected this week’s WOW, it warmed my heart.
I hope it does the same for you. Some parting thoughts on HARMONY, first:
Everyday kindnesses often get overlooked, but they are the WD-40 that makes life’s challenges a bit less irritating and problems less, well, squeakier.
Kindness is a tenderizer. Use lavishly!
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s day. Like when my neighbor saw me out letting Shasta do her business and she walked over and said, when I saw this, I thought of you. (It was a little peacock magnet with the phrase “Always Dream Big.”)
She GETS me.
Don’t you just love when people GET you?
Maybe you’ve read those books about love languages, and so for me, generosity (and presents!) is a biggie for me. That’s probably why I link kindness with generosity. I tip big. I love orchestrating presents and surprises for people. I live for little clues about what the people I love might like and then seek them out with laser focus.
KINDNESS FEELS GOOD.
When you give it AND when you receive it.
When I’m having a bad day, I sometimes say “Take THAT!” to the negative energy and do something that pokes a hole in the universe.
Like paying for someone’s manicure or their cup of coffee.
Now YOUR thing may not be MY thing, and that’s great. My Aunt Joan bakes and cooks and makes peoples’ days. My mom’s ricotta cookies are her random acts of kindness. My sister will whip up a work of art from a quote you said you liked because art flows out of her like a waterfall.
Let’s spread our special sauce on the world this week (at least our little corner of it) and spread some KINDNESS.