Tag Archives: The Art of Racing in the Rain

New Joys (and the New WOW)

What I love about life is that there is always something new right around the corner (if you are open to it) that can bring you an unexpected jolt of joy.

It has always been important to me to stay up-to-date on what the cool kids are doing.

That’s why I subscribe to my Entertainment Weekly magazine.  Even if I don’t read all of those recommended books, download the top songs or Netflix and chill with the latest TV, I at least don’t have a befuddled look of someone out of touch with the present day.

Now that I no longer share a TV (silver lining of living alone!), a whole world of pop culture has opened up to me. No, I’m still a Game of Thrones virgin, but I am completely caught up on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, fell in love with The Good Place and out of the blue, a dear friend sent me a CD that had me sobbing juicy, snotty tears.

I love a good cry, don’t you?

Believe me, I’ve had plenty of BAD ones.  Good cries bring the same kind of release that a sweaty Zumba class offers.  The last two pop culture cries that really “did it” for me were The Notebook (zero makeup left by the end of the film) and The Art of Racing in the Rain. (Best. Book. EVER.)

My friend, knowing that I was facing a challenging time, sent me Moana.  Are you familiar with this Disney animated film?  Well, you should be.  Not having given birth, Disney is not usually in my wheelhouse, but my beloved friends Anna Coker hit the ball out of the park with this gift.

Moana is a lovely little island girl with huge almond eyes and is destined to be the next island leader.  Her father, the Chief, guides her in the ways of the land – but warns her not to ever venture beyond the reef.  He paints the picture of danger and destruction and how she has everything she will ever need right there on the beautiful island. Why leave?

But the ocean calls her.  From the time she was a baby, she was drawn to be a wayfarer – to go to distant lands.

She doesn’t want to be a bad daughter, but she also wants to follow her heart.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to something MORE, but hesitated because you didn’t want to disappoint the people you love, you will LOVE Moana. 

I won’t tell you any more because you need to see it for yourself.  And have a good cry.

And when you do, this clip will make more sense.  It is now on repeat on my iTunes playlist:

If you have seen the film (it came out in 2016; where have I been?!), please let me know your thoughts.  Also, have you found something NEW that brings you joy?  Please share! My pop-culture “to do” list is growing by leaps and bounds, but it makes me happy.

Closing thoughts on JOY and the new WOW, coming right up!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are worth getting answers!

xoxoxox

Love,

Brenda

 

 

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No Crying on the Devil’s Shoulder (and the New WOW)

Many years ago, a friend suggested to me that complaining and feeling sorry for myself was like “crying on the devil’s shoulder.”

This analogy struck me with a visual that always caused me think twice about letting my feelings run a muck.

When I reflect on my teens, 20’s and much of my 30’s, I wasted a bunch of time crying over things that wouldn’t change by crying.

The tears didn’t serve me, they only fueled the pain.

To be clear, I LOVE a good, cleansing cry.  The kind that makes you want to call everyone you know and tell them you love them; the kind that relieves stress like air leaving a balloon – and a good snotty howl from a heartrending movie or book (yes, I’m talking about YOU, The Notebook and The Art of Racing in the Rain.)

Those pity party, “Oh woe is me!” cries?  As Janet Jackson would sing, “What have you done for me lately?”

When I peel back the curtain on those quicksand feels, I see they predominantly began with negative thoughts that, left unchecked, grew exponentially.  I played with those thoughts in the shallow waters and next thing I knew, the undertow whipped in and I was drowning in the deep end.

Which brings me to RESILIENCE, our most recent word of the week.  Resilience, to me, is like a tank that fuels our get up and go. Every complaint, every negative thought entertained, every pity party or surrender to fear depletes the tank.

When your get up and go has got up and went, check your resilience tank.

For me, encouraging someone fills my resilience tank.  Checking off an item from my to-do list; surprising a friend with a gift and yes, self-maintenance in the form of a mani, pedi, massage or blow dry fits the bill.

A walk on the beach at sunset.

Or simply deep breathing.

What fills YOUR resilience tank?

As we end this week, I hope the only parties you had were on Memorial Day (and certainly not pity parties!)

Onward to a brand, spanking new WOW:

Unmerited favor, ushered in through humility.

Yes, please – heavy doses needed!

May our cups run over with GRACE this week.

xxoxoxoxo

Love,

Brenda

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For the Love of a Good Book

A review of my Favorite FLUFFI Things could not be complete without acknowledging my passion for reading.  As a child, I lacked coordination and the inclination to play sports; hated bugs and dirt so avoided the outdoors; but I found “my thing” as soon as I learned to read.

Fortunately, my older sister led the way, and just as I adored her hand-me-down clothes, her gently used books filled shelves and shelves in our basement retreat.  Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder were my close companions; I grew up on Judy Blume, tore through the life story of Helen Keller and loved imagining what the pig trough contained for lunch in Charlotte’s Web.

I dreamed of being an author, and to this day am in love with people brave and talented enough to write a book.

While I have a fully loaded Kindle, these books are on display in my office because they have special significance.
While I have a fully loaded Kindle, these books are on display in my office because they have special significance.

One of my dearest friends,  Cindy O’Krepki, is an author.  I remember marveling at her chutzpah when she up and decided to write about her grandfather, who was a legendary golf caddie.  She had NEVER written before, but Lifelong Looper (the first book on the left in the above photo) ended up a delightful read, a heartwarming tribute to a great man (who lived to see it published) and the beginning of an amazing career as a writer and teacher of writers!  (Really, if you know a golfer and don’t know what to get them for their birthday or Father’s Day, Looper is perfect.  Here’s the link to find out more…or to enjoy her always-inspiring blog, Simple Pleasures Everyday Love.)

Moving to the right of Lifelong Looper on the shelf is, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, which she signed for me at a New Jersey Borders’ (remember them?) event.

It had everything – spirituality, food, drama, food, comedy, food…romance!  And food!  I stalk her Facebook page and hope one day she will “like” FLUFFI.

Next, Marley and Me – a perfect puppy dog book.  This copy is special because it, too, is signed.  A suburb of Philadelphia had selected Marley and Me for its “One Book” event and held a writing contest, inviting the entire community to share a dog tale.  My entry, The Dog Who Hated Me, won this signed Marley and Me as a prize, with an exhortation from the very kind author, John Grogan, who said, “Write on!”  And so I do…

The Thinker’s Thesaurus is a word nerd book for people who get giddy about new words and expanding their vocabularies.  It took Pete Meltzer, who I had a blast interviewing on local cable TV, 10 years to compile and instead of just listing synonyms, he incorporates passages of the alternate words as other authors have used them.  Just the other day I cracked it open to see if there was another way to say FLUFFY:

So this exercise was a bit of a fail, because I am NOT going to use the term flocculent to describe FLUFFI.  It's too close to flatulent, don't you think?
So this exercise was a bit of a fail, because I am NOT going to use the term flocculent to describe FLUFFI. It’s too close to flatulent, don’t you think?

My signed copy of Muzzled by Michael Smerconish was received for making him laugh.  I said something witty like, “The three rules for success are to be the first born, the second wife and the third real estate agent.”  (This is not wisdom anyone should hang their hat on, but it made for good radio.)

And that’s only HALFWAY through this little cluster o’ books!  I just finished Girl on a Train and found my self begging her NOT to have another gin and tonic throughout the entire, gripping (and entertaining) read.  Prior to that, while walking through the Sarasota Farmer’s Market, there was a personality-packed woman in a cowgirl hat signing books.  I liked HER so I figured I’d like her book, Chianti Souls:  An Italian Love Story. Be warned, Luca Rusconi is swoon-worthy, as are the descriptions of my beloved Italy.

My new friend, Karen Ross, author of Chianti Souls!
My new friend, Karen Ross, author of Chianti Souls!

My favorite book of all time?  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Told from the perspective of a loyal dog, Enzo, you will cry snotty, sobbing, from-your-toes tears.  And it’s a happy ending.

Ever since that book, I have been in search of something that could move me as much, and part of the fun is the search.  So, dear FLUFFIs, what should I be reading that I haven’t?

And what is the best book YOU’VE ever read? 

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