Tag Archives: Truth

Recipe for Resilience (and the New WOW)

This recipe has been through A LOT…yet the stains and markings comfort me.

In a year that has been tumultuous (to say the least), Mom-Mom’s Raisin Bread recipe, (which I wrote down when I was a teenager) is proof of resilience, endurance,                  bounce-backability and most of all, the prevailing power of LOVE.

This recipe has traveled with me to at least ten different homes and each year when I get to baking I think about how Mom-Mom packed love into every loaf.

I already burned out one Kitchen Aid mixer in 2014, because this dough is NO JOKE.  It’s thick and sticky and clings to EVERYTHING.  (This includes my walls, my bowls and me.)

Each year the list of people I send the bread to grows.  It’s my one claim to fame; a tradition that honors my Mom-Mom and lets the people I love know they RATE when the package arrives.

So this was what my first UPS trip looked like:

I needed elves to bake, wrap, address, package, tape and ship.

All I had was me, myself, and I.

But I had the recipe for resilience!  L-O-V-E.

Every moment that I felt like waving the white dish towel, I conjured up thoughts of the dear people on the receiving end of these packages.  When a friend saw my war zone of a kitchen covered with flour, he kindly observed, “These are loaves of love.”

Yes, they are.

I talk more about how love fuels resilience in this week’s video, but before we go there, let’s make your mouths water:

Yep, they are crunchy sweet golden brown outsides with soft, cake-y, raisin-filled insides.  This treat is best served toasted and SLATHERED with butter.

Sorry to tempt you so.  But you are resilient!  And here’s more on that topic:

Loving and embracing the TRUTH with you this week!

And loving YOU.  It means so much that you are out there.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Your Masterpiece is YOU (and the New WOW)

For our entire lives, we’ve been working on a masterpiece.

We may not call ourselves creative and a paintbrush may never have graced our hands – still, we are artists.

On my 4+ hour drive to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my friend Anita and her family, I had good company.  Joining me on the open road was the audio book of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Voice of Knowledge.”  A new friend had shared with me that Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” deeply affected his life for good. He highly recommended the trilogy of Toltec Wisdom Books.

The word “Toltec” means “artist of the spirit.” In the Toltec tradition, every human is an artist, and the supreme art is the expression of the beauty of our spirit. To consider that we are artists (rather than mere humans), makes us creators – just like the One Who created us.

From page 47 of The Voice of Knowledge:

How do we live our life? This is our art; the art of living.

There are two kinds of artists.  Those who create their story without awareness, and those recover awareness and create their story with truth and with love.

To think that I – that WE – hold the paintbrush to our lives is an awesome realization.  Is there something that doesn’t fit into our vision of truth and love?  Paint over it.  Create something new.  We have the power to do this.

We were BORN to write our own story and have everything we need to make it a work of art.  Yes, people will come along who will try to impose on us what THEY think our lives should look like.

When I handed over the paintbrush to other people, I became something other than the authentic Brenda.

It has taken many years to get her back.  As the song goes, “Reunited and It feels SO good!

This passage from page 68 excited my spirit so much I wanted to share it with you:

You are the only one who can change your story, and you do this by changing your relationship with yourself.

Every time you change the main character in your story, just like magic the whole story starts to change in order to adapt to the new main character.

I think of one of my favorite movies of all time, Frequency, in which the main character is able to connect to his long-deceased Father through a miraculous ham radio.  At one point he mentions that “cigarettes will kill, you Dad…” as an off-handed comment.

Long story short, that suggestion led to a decision by his Father that resulted in him changing the course of his life…and his death.  The script was rewritten.

I consider my decision four years ago to stop drinking.  After years of wrestling with, “Do I have a problem?” I heard clearly in my spirit that if I kept it up, I would die prematurely.  When tempted to sip a Cosmopolitan, I have reminded myself of that revelation to keep me from turning back.

The clarity of sobriety has graced me with so many gifts; most importantly, a clearness about what I want my life to be and who I want Brenda to be.  It has afforded me a newfound ability to call a lie a lie and step away from pretense and performance.  Being clear gave me the courage to walk away from those things that no longer “fit” the true me…and the health in mind, body and spirit to enjoy a new way of living.

It was the first domino in a series that led to removing Zoloft from my life, journeying to Costa Rica to get back in touch with my wounded soul and begin this journey to wholeness.

What a ripple effect!

I’m sure there will yet be many more changes to the main character of my story, but my point in writing is to encourage YOU to take that paintbrush and adjust your masterpiece accordingly.

Paint your beautiful life with broad strokes of love and truth, my friends.

And what a great word to follow up these thoughts on CREATIVITY:

What a wonderful assignment for all of us!  It is NEVER too late to be who you “might have been.”

I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday to be celebrated year-round…and my heart is overflowing with gratitude for this life I get to live (and create!).  I’m so blessed to share it with you.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Willing to Handle the Truth? (And the New WOW)

If you conjured up the scene from A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson’s character screams, “You can’t HANDLE the truth,” that is exactly what I was thinking of when considered being WILLING and this week’s post.

For me, the focus on our word “WILLINGNESS” wasn’t so much about being open to trying new things (God knows EVERYTHING in my life is new these days.)

It wasn’t about stubbornly holding on to stuff, because the last few months have been all about letting go.

For me, it was about being willing to dig beneath the surface to uncover TRUTH about how I really feel, what I truly want, where I want to be, and why I did (or didn’t do) certain things in my life.

This awakening revealed that I had mastered performing the politically or socially correct script. I knew what “played well” with different audiences and rolled with THAT instead of considering what Brenda, at her core, honestly felt.

It’s shocking to realize how well we can become at adapting or chameleon-izing our behaviors to avoid conflict, rocking the boat or setting off another person’s explosions.

I’m tired of carefully tip-toeing through this world.

If bombs go off in my wake, so be it.

I’d rather have real than fake.  And I’d rather be fully me that a watered down version of me to make everyone else happy.

But it takes a WILLINGNESS to be honest.

That’s off-putting at first, but ultimately, so freeing.

And here’s the upside: When you are really YOU, the people you attract to yourself are keepers.  They’re not being swept up in a performance; they’re connecting with the REAL YOU.  Good, bad or ugly – it’s REAL.

I will always enjoy fake eyelashes, the transforming power of makeup and the invaluable support of Spanx.

But for the stuff that matters in life, I want REAL.

And I’m willing to be honest enough to get it.

More on that and the new WOW coming up!:

Yippee!

The word JOY always reminds me of my friend Krissie Vincent, who can sing like Janis Joplin but uses her gifts to sing in church, too.  She used to sing this song: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy…” and she milked it perfectly until it exploded into a jumping, rousing “Down in my heart!  Down in my heart! Down in my heart!”

You really had to experience it to know what I’m trying to say.

Joy is a jumping kind of emotion.

It’s when happiness spills over from the inside and activates your outsides.

Give me huge doses, please.

May we all jump for JOY this week!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Keeping it Kind in the Mind (and the New WOW)

My mind can be either a landfill of thoughts or simply a breezeway for them to enter and exit.

Thoughts are like beloved company or dreaded solicitors, and we should treat them similarly.

A welcome visitor should be encouraged to stay (perhaps forever). You fluff their pillows and linger over coffee at the kitchen table. You ENGAGE and cultivate experiences that build to more of them.

With solicitors, who never fail to call just when you are sitting down to dinner or ring the doorbell at the WORST possible time (actually, any time the doorbell rings without a pre-planned visit is usually inopportune), you cut to the chase and close out the contact as quickly as possible.

I suggest we do the same with the thoughts that come to call, hoping to lodge in our minds.

Why do we entertain liars, bullies, Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers?  If we wouldn’t invite them to sleep in our guest room, why let them linger in our minds?

Perhaps because we fear they speak the truth.

I protest!

It is the TRUTH that sets us FREE; lies put us in bondage, render us losers and talk us out of our dreams.

As those of you who follow this blog know, I had my own crisis of faith in recent weeks that almost talked me in to quitting my practice of the Word of the Week.

It toyed with my soul, nagged and chipped away at my joy and was building power…

…until I gave it a voice. Speaking it out loud and sharing it with people whose opinions I respect took it out of the shadows and into the light.

When the light shines, you see the fuzz balls and the dust for what it is – and you can clean house.

Which is what I did.  And why I am here today, talking to you wonderful friends.

Let’s take the flipside for a moment:  If Jimmy Fallon showed up at your door (or George Clooney or Oprah or maybe your favorite character from This is Us or someone else delightful and/or hunky), wouldn’t you roll out the red carpet?

So when someone compliments you or you think kindly about yourself, why do we so easily dismiss or deflect?  Is it a false humility?

Does it matter what it is if it doesn’t serve our best selves?

I had some close encounters this week with wonderful people setting up housekeeping with MEAN thoughts.  Here’s what I had to say about that (and of course, the new WOW):

Ah, HARMONY.

A call to be at peace, within and without. Embracing differences so they blend rather than tear us apart.

This goes along beautifully with the exhortation to be kind, to yourself and to others.

When the nasty thoughts come, toward yourself or to another person, show them the door.

And usher in HARMONY.

xoxoxoxo
Brenda

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Voting with the Truth (not the Lies) and the New WOW

I wrote a card to a friend this week, because I was struck by just how gifted he is in drawing good people together.  I found “my people” in Sarasota because of him, and I wanted to him to hear that TRUTH (in true Word of the Week style.)

I tried to say it – and believe me folks, I have no problem saying anything to anyone (God gave me that gene instead of the one that can balance checkbooks or cook meals) – but every time I tried to go there, he cracked a joke.

The truth wants to set us free, but can only do so when we LET it.

I only bring up that example because sometimes I see that same deflection in myself. A compliment poo-poohed, an expression of appreciation responded to with “oh, that'[s nothing…”  I thought about why we all sometimes fall into that trap that sticks an umbrella up when blessings start to fall down and have considered that it’s often because we are more comfortable with the LIES that bind us than the TRUTH that sets us free.

Have you ever heard in your head:  “You’re a loser.”  “You’ll never change.”  “Why bother?” “It’s too late for you!” (You can fill in the blank with your own variety of playful thoughts.)

And we entertain them!  Sit right down and tell me more!  Oooooh…that reminds me of ten other regrets/failure/fears…and down the rabbit hole we go.

Ah, but “You’re beautiful.”  “You’re talented.” “You inspire me.” “You make a difference.” “You should go for it!”

These lovely truths to often die on the vine because we sometimes (falsely) believe that embracing such good stuff about ourselves is conceited or arrogant or haughty.

Which is another LIE!

 

Lies

Let’s continue to vote with the TRUTH this week (and every week).

Imagine the energy and strength and power you’ll bring into your situations and challenges!  

And you’ll have an abundance of good feelings so you can give the excess away to others.

More on TRUTH…and the new (first ever) WOW!:

Boy does this play off of the whole empathetic approach to life that was part of the TRUTH I heard last week!

As always, when we apply the Word of the Week and seek to extend UNDERSTANDING to others, don’t forget to offer yourself some healthy doses of it, too.

xoxoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Honoring Your Truth – and the New WOW

Honoring your truth is being true to you because you know you’re worth it.  It’s when I’ve played games to keep the peace that I’ve dishonored my self and settled for shams in my relationships.

As my friend Roseann always says, “Your feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just the way you feel.”

For too many years, I thought my feelings WERE wrong. “I shouldn’t feel that way…”

But that didn’t change that I DID feel that way.

Sure, maybe it was an ugly feeling, but denying it or sugar-coating it didn’t make it stink any less.

HONESTY is like Febreze for your soul. Only it’s better. It doesn’t just masque the stench, it opens the windows and doors and lets the fresh breeze in and clears the air.

The challenge is that when you open up those doors, it’s an invitation into the deeper chambers of your heart.

Like Jack Nicholson’s character screaming to Tom Cruises’ in A Few Good Men “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” – there is always the potential that the person on the receiving end…well…can’t handle the truth.

Or choose to love you, warts and all.

But even if they don’t like it, do they care enough to hear you out? This was a key part of my meditations and musings on honesty to close out the week:

Oh boy.  Can you believe after all of this time we have NEVER gotten this word before?

Methinks I’ve never needed it more.

How about you?

Special doses of LOVE to you, today and all week long –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Ode to a Fabulous Woman – and a Comforting WOW

The preamble to this week’s WOW is a tribute to my dear mother-in-law, Jeanne Viola, who went to be with God on Valentine’s Day.

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Though I spoke about her on the video, there are a few more things to say.

She was a devoted Mother. (By the way, you NEVER called her Mom.  I slipped a few times and you could feel the sharp intake of breath around the table at the error!)

My husband, Duane, always sums it up this way, “She was always there for me.”

She held the family together like glue. Christmas Eve was a sacred family event for her.  She expected everyone to be in attendance, to be on time (she’d tell you if you weren’t) and to eat their fill of her world-famous stuffed calamari.

Duane would ask her to hide some of it just for him.  I bet the others did the same!

Even in her late 80’s, she purchased and wrapped presents for each of her children, their spouses, grand-kids and great-grandchildren.

She was one of the first aerobics instructors in the area, a belly-dancer, a truth speaker and the epitome of strength…but at the same time, child-like in her love for porcelain dolls, presents and parties.

Here’s more about my beloved Mother-in-law, and the new WOW:

Let’s all take comfort in the Presence of the Divine this week.

You may call it Energy, or the Universe…I respect whatever you may call it.  I’ve learned that my God is big enough and not at all touchy about these things.

May you be wrapped up in a soft and warm sweater of love this week.  And for those of you with broken hearts, may the Presence of love take you a step closer to healing this week.

Love,

Brenda

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Truth, Lies and the New WOW (Word of the Week)

Our WOW was TRUTH and never have I received such a response to a simple post that emanated from a REALLY tough weekend.

Another example of how your MESS becomes your MESSAGE.

Those of you who aren’t into Facebook make have missed out, so I am putting it here because what I was grappling with bears repeating:

So in the midst of our WOW (which is TRUTH) I have had a few revelations about LIES.

They don’t always come from sleazy salespeople or sweet talking guys you meet at a bar.

The most dangerous lies lodge in your mind.

They jump on a perceived slight and try to settle in with a whole story to support the negative jolt of feelings. They prey on a fear – usually your worst fear – and try to set up housekeeping to erode your joy.

After an attack of particularly hurtful messages in my head this weekend, I realized that instead of playing with them, entertaining them and helping them stay lodged between my ears (which ultimately sinks down into my heart), I needed to DISCARD them.

Why give credit to every message that pops up in your head?

And how do you KNOW its a lie? Well, if the TRUTH sets you free (it may upset you at first, but ultimately it brings freedom), a LIE puts you in bondage. LIES have a posse that includes anxieties, insecurities, torments and overall soul-sucking properties.

Lies

Let’s kick the lies to the curb this week. And when you hear one, instead of wasting your energy fighting it, put your energy into reinforcing the TRUTH.

You are loved.
You are accepted.
You matter.
You’re beautiful.

And the list goes on.

I also was pretty fired up about truth leading into this week’s WOW.  Here it is!

Ah…

A week filled with things that are easy to understand or do!  (Or sifting through the complexities to GET to the simple things.)

What an interesting word!  I’m looking forward to how SIMPLICITY plays out and what new understanding I will have of it at the end of this week.

What does it mean to YOU?

xoxoxoxo

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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WOW (Word of the Week) for 9.6.15

Happy Labor Day weekend!

I set a new world’s record for napping this week, which is one of my favorite things to do, along with reading good books and meeting new people. It was a wonderful vacation, though not at all what I expected when we booked this cruise to Alaska. (You’ll find out why when you hear my preamble to this week’s video reveal…)

Last week’s word was TRUTH and I realized the importance of stepping away from the daily routine and unplugging my electronic devices to come to terms with what was really going on INSIDE of me.

We can blame our frustrations on other people and their behaviors, but this course leads to no resolve. Instead, taking the time to reflect and ask questions like, “WHY does this person annoy me so much?” or “Why do my buttons always get pushed in this particular scenario?” resulted in valuable answers.

My TRUTH revealed this week is that I have been trying to be superwoman to prove my worth in my professional and personal life. Anything that seems to shine a light on imperfection or a failure flares up a turmoil that results in responses that are LESS than my best me.

And really, is my worth wrapped around how quickly I respond to e-mails? Sounds silly when written out…

I was UNPLUGGED this week and the world didn’t end.

This inflated sense of self is really the other side of the coin of low self esteem.

I have decided that henceforth I can only do my best. Anything more or anything less is just me trying to compensate for fears…

…and signals that I’m not voting with LOVE, which is my highest aim.

I’ve felt a low-level anxiety leave this week, and it’s not invited back. I do not want to be driven to produce. I want life and projects and friendships to FLOW as spillover of my love tank being full.

Note to self:  If you’re love tank is empty, FILL IT.  Stop looking to other people to do it for me!

So THIS week’s WOW is a great opportunity to put all that I learned into play. Here we go!

What’s that?  I think I actually heard some of you thinking, “Well, I’m just not a creative person…”

HOGWASH!

Every time you’ve thought “outside of the box” or dreamed a dream for your life, you’ve been creative.  Every imagination that led to an action was YOU, creating your life.

This week, I’m going back to the best book I ever read about creativity, The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.  My sister recommended it highly; my niece, Deena created the cards we pull each week after reading it, and my friend Renee surprised me with the book, workbook and a daily meditation based on the book one Christmas.  So rich with insight, I’ve picked it up and put it down again a multitude of times in recent years, and I discover something new each time.

So from the chapter “Spiritual Electricity:  The Basic Principles” is a great foundation from which to begin our week:

How do you know if you are creatively blocked?  Jealousy is an excellent clue.  Are there artists whom you resent?  Do you tell yourself, “I could do that, if only…”  Do you tell yourself that if only you took your creative potential seriously you might:

  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s too late.”
  • Stop waiting until you make enough money to do something you’d really love.
  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s just my ego” whenever you yearn for a more creative life.
  • Stop telling yourself that dreams don’t matter, that they are only dreams and that you should be more sensible.
  • Stop fearing that your family and friends would think you crazy.
  • Stop telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and you should be grateful for what you’ve got.

Brenda speaking here:  Have you heard those voices in your head?

Me too.

I shout through the computer:  IT’S NOT TOO LATE!  YOUR DREAMS MATTER!

And yes, let’s be grateful for what we have, but never diminish the part of you yearning for more.

Let’s nurture our creativity this week; make some messy stabs at building something new; applaud our missteps as they lead us closer to our dreams…

The biggest concept around our WOW is that WE are the creators of our own life story.  Our free will, our imaginations, our choices; the respect given to our dreams and heart’s desires…they all combine to write the novel that can be our happy ending.

Yes, I believe in the grace of God (oh boy, do I!) and Divine intervention.  But too often we hide behind these truths and never get about the business of doing OUR part.

So let’s do our part this week, and write an exciting chapter in our lives.

How do you see creativity playing out in your life this week?

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