Tag Archives: Transformation

Tony the Transformer (and the New WOW)

Some people are transformers by their very nature. My brother-in-law, Tony, whose “birfday” is today is just that kinda guy.

Tony joined the Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico, where he and Shirlee lived for their first years of marriage.

They say that inspired peoples’ energy changes the atmosphere. From the time this wide-eyed 12-year old girl met this hurricane of a man, Tony has made an impact on every room he enters.

Full disclosure: He was my sister’s boyfriend, but I had a HUGE crush on him.

Who wouldn’t?

These were the days of Saturday Night Fever, and man could this Italian heartthrob DANCE.  He didn’t have practiced, official moves.  But he tore it up with his own Northeast Philly disco swagger.

I loved when HE offered to pick me up after the middle-school dance.  He’d strut up to the cafeteria, cigarette in hand, John Travolta-like hair – and collect ME.  Yep, I was the luckiest girl at Cleary Junior High.

What’s that sound? Just the tears of heartbroken women throughout the Delaware Valley when they learned Tony DiBacco was “off the market.”

Oh, and he can SING, too.  No, he never really knows the words, but they’re always on key.  He does a MEAN Elvis and, had the course of his life gone a different way, I have no doubt he would be some kind of an entertainer.

Tony DiBacco is surely a star in my universe.

With my father’s death just a couple of years before Tony entered the picture, we three Costello girls were kind of somber.  Mom had to try and simply maintain the inner and outer workings of running a household, while valiantly serving as mom AND dad to her 15-year-old, Shirlee, and 10-year-old me.

There was no Christmas tree for us the year after Daddy died.

Then Tony swept Shirlee off of her feet and we then experienced SUPER-SIZED Christmases. So many presents!  So much fun opening them!  He would shake every box elaborately and try to guess what was inside.

Tony, to this day, brings electricity to any party.  He constantly cracks one-liners, is unfailingly generous, as handsome as ever…and today, when thinking about our Word of the Week, Transformation, it felt right to devote the column to him.

Tony, I love you.  Thanks for being a wonderful brother and husband to my sissy.  Thanks for always being full of life and fun.  You are a treasure!

I pondered how to transform my own life in 2018, and hope you will understand and support a big decision I reveal in this week’s video:

Looking forward to wearing my forgiving clothes with you over the next two weeks!

And feel free to wish Tony a Happy Birfday (he never pronounces the “th”) in the comments!

xoxoxoxo

Love,

Brenda

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Let Your Heart De-Light (and the New WOW)

The carol goes, “Let your heart BE light…” but I’m flipping it to “Let your heart DE-light” in honor of our recent Word of the Week.

There’s nothing like treats in the mail (instead of bills) to delight your heart, and my cup ran over with jelly and jam joy with this package from my Aunt Joan upon my return to Sarasota:

Aunt Joan gets regular shout outs on this blog for her constant love and support.  However, she will be scolded this week for totally blowing any semblance of my diet with her amazing “What are they called?” fruity, crumbly cookies.

I ate them all.

Myself.

But the pièce de résistance of her over-the-top gift package was the silver cuff that sits atop the jams in the above photo, engraved with these words:

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

How true!  I started 2017 with the intention that it would be an “annus mirabilis” or “year of miracles.”  It was all that and a bag of chips, but the road was forged with grit and tears, hopes and fears marked by bold and brave moves that surprised even myself.

When the dust settled, I marveled at the complete and utter paradigm shift that had occurred.

My life had been completely upended, purposefully.

It was HARD.  Detoxing from Zoloft, settling into a single person’s life, finding a new rhythm and learning to love me, myself and I was a journey as jungle-like as my trek to Costa Rica.

My expectation was that I’d navigate this new way of life for a few years and then, maybe, someone might come along that I’d like enough to spend time with.

The universe had other plans, and now I find myself in love with a guy who wants to sit and map out our intentions together for 2018.

If I’m dreaming, please, nobody wake me up.

That’s not to say violins are playing and I have stardust in my eyes.  Life is real and relationships are the best opportunity to put to work all the spiritual truths collected over the course of a lifetime.

Here’s the kicker:  This is a man who laughs.  Alot.

He laughs when I get all wonked out about imaginary fears.  When I spill the soup all over the counter and miss the bowl, he chuckles.  I trekked him through an entire parking garage at the airport until I realized we were in the WRONG garage.

At every turn, I’m braced for the blow; the harsh, eye-rolling, “Brenda!” tinged with exasperation.

Yet the blow never comes.

Every time I get all heavy, Mark Roach gets all LIGHT.  And not in a diminishing or condescending way.  He just thinks that life is too precious to get all riled up about insignificant stuff.

These kind responses are healing another layer of my heart so bruised from being so darned hard on myself for far too long.

If you ever struggle with giving yourself a break, my closing thoughts on delight will hopefully encourage your heart.  Plus, we have a fantastic new Word of the Week (and Word of the YEAR!):

What do you want to be?

WHO do you want to be?

What do you want to become?

Where do you want to live?

What do you want to do?

These questions that I posed extemporaneously in this week’s video are the very ones I am asking myself as I head into 2018.  I hope you will ask yourself the same and we can begin INTENTIONALLY our year of TRANSFORMATION.

Much love to you all –

Brenda

xoxoxox

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Decorating Our Lives with Truth

Decorating my apartment was NOT on my “to-do” list this year.

After all, I wouldn’t even be home from the 18th through Christmas due to work meetings followed by spending time with family.

It was just me, myself and I , so why did I need to haul out the decorations only to store them away again in a couple of weeks?

The first part of December had all but wiped me out with a nasty, lingering cold that made my raisin-bread baking tradition feel like trying to run through quicksand.

Oh, and I didn’t even have a tree!

I purchased this girly-corset faux tree at the Tuesday Morning store and thought it would suffice:

Love it, right?  Except the “branches” are so soft, it can’t hold ornaments.

And I have VATS of ornaments.  Last year I went crazy decorating with my peacock colors (Pier One’s stock went up as a result).

No tree.  Not an ornament to be found. No Christmas spirit.

You can’t even play carols effectively when the ambiance has nary a glimmer of Christmas.

So this happened:

I’m a “go big or go home” kind of person.  Thank you Amazon, for accommodating my last minute shift from Scrooge to Santa.

I reflected on how the tree transformed with each ornament I placed on it (because without the ribbons and balls, it’s kind of a Charlie Brown scrawny tree.)

And it occurred to me that each truth I embraced this year decorated my life, making what was barren and empty downright beautiful.

Yes, my halls are decked.  And so is my life.

Truth transforms you when you let it in. Just KNOWING the truth isn’t enough.  That’s like having vats of ornaments and not decorating with them.

Truth works its magic first when you embrace it and then when you have opportunities to live it out in relationship with life and people.

Which leads me to this week’s video message about the truths that changed me in 2017:

What a beautiful time of year to extend ourselves in support of others…and to link arms with others in love to ensure this is a lovely, not a lonely time of year.

Sending you much love!
xoxxoxo

Brenda

 

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Exiting Our Cages (and the New WOW)

The famous film producer, George Lucas, said, “We are all living in cages with the door wide open.”

I have pondered of late the sheer waste of living in a cage. To have the potential for a big, expansive, limitless life  yet choosing to stay constrained in a prison of my own making.

My sweet little Sheltie, Shasta, taught me a lesson years ago. If you are unfamiliar with Shelties, they are miniature Lassies.  A little bundle of joy full of white and brown fluff, our vet advised us to crate train her as a puppy, because dogs never mess where they sleep.

One day as I led her to her crate, she simply refused to go in. She dug in her paws and made it clear, “Enough!”

She never went back – and always whimpered to let us know when she needed to go, like a well-trained puppy should.

It would have been cruel to force her into that confined area.  It was a tool that had served its purpose, but when the purpose was fulfilled, it was time to put the crate away.

If only it were so clear cut in our own lives!  We begin a routine of morning coffee, work, going to the gym, cooking dinner, watching TV and doing it all over again.

This routine becomes what we call “normal life.”

But aren’t we the architects of our own normal?

So what keeps us in the cages of our own making?

I’ve looked at my own life, and came up with three answers; each tied up with bows of fear:

  1. Fear of what people will think
  2. Fear of loss
  3. Fear of the unknown

Life can be an Oscar-worthy performance with little to do with reality if you judge it only by Facebook or Instagram posts. What you see there are the happy, shiny, delicious, romantic highlights of a life – and none of the underbelly.

To a certain extent – that’s appropriate.  You don’t want your dirty laundry or every spat played out for the world to see.  You’ve invested in this Potemkin Village of a life that looks perfect on the outside but if you dare to take a closer look, it’s infested with termites and the foundation crumbling.

One of my favorite writers, Genevieve Georget posted this on Facebook this week, and it truly resonated with me:

Fear of what other people will think suppresses raw candor because it seems easier to keep up appearances. But do you want to perform at life, or live it?

And at the end of this life, will it matter if everyone else was pleased with you, but you, in fact, were miserable?

Riding shotgun with the fear of what people will think is its bosom buddy, fear of loss. If you disrupt the status quo, you could lose the respect and admiration of your family, friends and peers. If you leave that termite-infested house (in that great neighborhood with the amazing swimming pool), you might end up living in a studio apartment. Cutting ties with the old means your old stomping grounds, your old comfort zones, may no longer welcome you.

Leaving a beautiful home infested with termites of anger and fear and negativity? Difficult, but not a profound loss in light of what my soul yearned to gain.

Ah, the fear of the unknown.  This is best addressed by squarely facing what you DO know. Might, just like little Shasta, the crate of life not suit you anymore?

Certainly, there are no promises of what life will be when you exit the cage, but there is one certainty – on the other side of all of those fears is FREEDOM.

I have dreamed of a limitless life; the kind of life where yes is the first response, not no and where dreams are nurtured instead of dashed by negativity. I long for love to freely radiate from me, fueled by hope and effervescent belief.

At first I called it a lovely cage. I decorated it. It offered safety and familiarity. But in my moments of brutal honesty, I knew that the true me became smaller and smaller while my soul and spirit tried to thrive in toxic soil.

When you choose to exit your cages, you will upset people.  You will experience loss. You will face the unknown.

But my friends, you will be free, which is a gift more valuable than gold.

We are all living in cages with the door wide open.

I choose to walk out, by faith.

What lies on the other side for you?

Transformation was our Word of the Week and I can only imagine that the caterpillar has its moments of doubt that a butterfly will emerge. Caterpillars, please don’t judge your transformation midstream.

The key? Stay the course.  More on this and the new WOW here:

What a powerful, powerful directive.

Please let’s stop beating ourselves up for simply being human.  We are all flawed children of God.  It’s what we DO with what we’ve been given (or what we’ve done) that brings us closer to the light or draws us to darkness.

May forgiveness, of ourselves and others, let the light shine in on the dark places this week.

Love to you all  – and many thanks again for your kindness and care.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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