Tag Archives: Willingness

Hard or Soft? The Choice is Ours

When TRUST has been broken, how do we avoid becoming hard and bitter?

I came face to face with this question this week as I suffered a disappointment regarding a new friendship.

Full disclosure, my friend was equally disappointed in me.

Two sides, neither willing to yield.

My stubbornness? Born of a newfound desire to not abdicate what I deem precious to make others’ comfortable.  To value my soul enough to give it voice and not dismiss my feelings is THE point of my current journey.

Perhaps as I find the balance and rhythm of my new life, I will be more willing to yield, but for now, it is critical that I not.

Here’s why: Because I know that in yielding that first important thing  can come a slippery slope of acquiescence; the path to losing myself again.

I refuse to.

And in my friend’s unwillingness to give my refusal space, there came a parting of the ways.

Here’s the kicker:  I have written about my carefulness to engage in new friendships.  When you have quality, beautiful people already in your life and you’re not needy, you have the luxury of being more discriminating about those whom you choose to spend time.

This person had checked off all the boxes that were important to me:  Depth, kindness, spirituality, humor, self-awareness…and I let them in.

Then, the great impasse.  The argument with no resolve.  The parting of the ways.

One side of me says, “Why even bother?  Who NEEDS this?!”

The other side knows that in each encounter are lessons to be learned.

That in the decision to “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'” comes the promise of disappointment,  hope, pain, joy – the entire kaleidoscope of feelings.

I’d rather live and feel…even if the feelings are sad for a season.

So back to the question, “How do you avoid becoming HARD?”

The freshness of the disappointment was wrapped in a sense of innocence lost.  Could I ever be so willing and open with someone new?  Had I lost my capacity to try again? Would I become hard – or stay soft?

The answer sank into my heart and was a soothing balm to my soul:

“You stay soft when you put your trust in God, not in people.”

If I put my trust in people, I will always be disappointed.  Because they are human!  They are as flawed as I am.  But to accept that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it ought; that some relationships are just for a season and that there are rich lessons to be gleaned from each one?  That comforts  me enough to put myself out there again.  And again.

Then I hear the words to Kesha’s song “Rainbow”: “What’s left of my heart’s still made of gold…”

But in the dark, I realized this life is short
And deep down, I’m still a child
Playful eyes, wide and wild
I can’t lose hope, what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold

You’ll find a rainbow, rainbow, baby
Trust me, I know life is scary
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and play along with me tonight
You gotta learn to let go, put the past behind you
Trust me, I know, the ghosts will try to find you
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and paint the world with me tonight.

You can hear it here:

The rainbow was God’s promise that he would never send another flood that would destroy the world.  Yes, there are floods…but they will not destroy you.

Keep living, my friends.  Take the hits – and stay soft.  What’s left of your heart’s still made of gold.

And now, my video take on the word TRUST and a new Word of the Week:

https://youtu.be/JrN1kMJoUns

Hmmmm….Sister/Brotherhood was a call to stop being lone rangers in life.  And now SUPPORT?

When we feel overwhelmed this week, let’s continue to reach out and get the support we need.  (Or, when we see a need, let’s jump in and be a support!)

Have a beautiful week –

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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Don’t Trust a Gossip (but Trust the New WOW)

I read a great quote about TRUST this week and, considering my entirely new life and a whole new set of people in my world, it struck a chord:

I really don’t want to be anyone’s topic of conversation, so I am careful to not enter into conversations about OPB (Other Peoples’ Business).

When someone casually slips in a slight dig about a mutual acquaintance, it’s a red warning light for me.

Good people are too busy living their own lives to passively aggressively slander a third party who is not there to defend themselves.

And seriously, can we just focus on the motes in our OWN eyes?

Here’s a great place to be: I’m not needy.

I’ve got awesome, deep, loyal friends that would take a bullet for me.  I am rich with relationships and don’t crave any new ones.

Yes, I am open to making new friends.

But I don’t need them.

Doesn’t that sound a bit cold?

I think it sounds smart.

I do love my new community, don’t get me wrong. It’s a vibrant place with incredibly interesting, accomplished, funny and outgoing people.  Some may actually end up taking up space in my heart…one day.

But for now, my heart remains guarded – and that is a good thing.

When I was a silly, insecure girl, I wanted everyone to like me. In desperately seeking acceptance, I let down my guard and made excuses for bad behavior.  The bad behavior I observed ended up biting me on the #$@.  Not right away, but eventually.

Now – and this is SO liberating – I don’t care if you like me.

Because I like me.

And I like me enough to protect myself like I would any person of value.

Trust is earned. Friendship is sacred. And I’m not setting sail on this new life to anchor myself to negative people.

Do you remember the song, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden and Whitehead?  If you have any connection to the Philadelphia area, it was THE song in the 70’s.

It came on the R & B station this week and I immediately began shimmying (as I drove; it was quite entertaining for the car next to me at the stop light.)  I always knew the chorus, but some of the verses struck me as just brilliant:

There’s been so many things that’s held us down
But now it looks like things are finally comin’ around
I know we’ve got, a long long way to go
And where we’ll end up, I don’t know

But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back
We’re putting our selves together
We’re polishing up our act!
If you felt we’ve been held down before

I know you’ll refuse to be held down anymore!
Don’t you let nothing, nothing
Stand in your way!
I want ya’ll to listen, listen

To every word I say, every word I say!
Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now!
We’re on the move!
Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now!

We’ve got the groove!
Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now!
We’re on the move!
Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now!

We’ve got the groove!
I know you know someone that has a negative vow
And if you’re trying to make it they only push you aside
They really don’t have, no where to go

Ask them where they’re going, they don’t know
But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back
We’re gonna put our selves together
We’re gonna polish up our act!

Are you singing?  If not, click here and make yourself declare it.

I refuse to be held down any more – and that involves exercising discretion about who I trust and let into my circle.

If you feel “held down” – maybe it’s time to make a break with bad vibe people.

And love yourself enough to surround yourself with quality people who have earned your trust.

More on that and the new WOW!

I think a great way to approach the word WILLINGNESS is to ask ourselves, what are we NOT willing to consider?

And why?

I’m learning not to stay stuck on what I’ve always thought just because it’s what I’ve always thought!

Because maybe (sharp intake of breath) – I was wrong!

Willing hearts open doors.  May many open for you this week!

Love,
Brenda

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Jumping, Writing, Fighting Malaise and Two WOWs

When my spirits are low, I can’t jump at Zumba.

I’m just made that way.

I remember distinctly when I got into a screaming, knockdown fight with one of my best friends (now several years ago but still fresh in my mind.)

Such conflicts, especially with my friends, aren’t the norm and totally rendered me off-kilter. So much so that even when I went to Zumba class, I couldn’t wiggle or shimmy, let alone jump. A weight of unseen gravity was like a ball and chain around my heart.

This went on for a couple of weeks until we had a true kiss and make-up reconnection.

And then I could jump again.

Actually, not only could I jump, I felt like Tigger.

Oh the freedom that comes from conflict resolution!  And the joy of reconciliation?  It’s better than winning the lottery.

I say THAT to say this:

The events of recent weeks – and it began in Orlando with the shootings at Pulse Nightclub – heightened racial tensions, the disheartening political landscape, police officers murdered in Dallas…and just this past week, Nice, France – well, I felt a sadness; a hopelessness that perhaps some of you have felt.

This crab (my astrological sign is Cancer) tends to retreat when her heart is heavy.  And just like my inability to jump, I couldn’t type a blog post last week.

First one I’ve ever missed since I started.

I was going to blame it on technical difficulties, but since we’re all about being honest with each other, I couldn’t pass it off that way.

There are no pithy quotes or simple solutions to these perilous times in which we live.

On the theme of WILLINGNESS and last week’s FLEXIBILITY, I have been working at not judging and hearing all sides of an argument.

And depending on who I’m listening to, I can be persuaded.

Is anyone else out there like this?

For my mental and spiritual health, I can’t keep on focusing on what I can’t change.  All I can do is what I can do.  And though there’s still a good part of me that wants to hole up in my shell and ask you all to wake me up when things are better…

…that’s not gonna help anyone.  Least of all, myself.

So I will plow ahead (and so will you) and know that these were recorded when a little bit of sun shone through the clouds (because not only can’t I write when I’m sad, I’m also pretty silent).  And don’t want to wear makeup.

To catch you up, here’s last week’s WORD:

And here’s THIS week’s, which is remarkable:

We’ve been at this quite a while, and to get three consecutive words that say pretty much the same thing?

I know there is a message here that is taking its sweet time to penetrate my heart.

I suppose I should be OPEN to it taking as long as needed.

But one thing I’m going to work on this week is being open to receive.  (Since I feel a bit unable to give, it’s not a stretch to make that my focus.)

I’m open to receiving all sorts of love this week.  Feel free to send some my way!

I know, I know.  The best time to GIVE is when you feel like ya got nuttin’.

So I’ll try some of that, too.

What are you hearing in these words WILLINGNESS, FLEXIBILITY, OPENNESS?

Because maybe you have an insight we ALL could use.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Keep Swimming (and the New WOW)

So with theaters packed with people seeing Finding Dory, I can’t wait to get my ticket. Dory exemplifies resilience, our recent Word of the Week, with her “Just keep swimming…” philosophy.

I reflected a bit this week on when my tank of resilience wanes and there’s a clear connection.

One of my favorite scriptures (Ps. 77:3) provides the insight:  Complaining overwhelms your spirit.

Your body and soul may give up, but your spirit has indomitable resources. The catch is NOT to overwhelm your spirit with complaining and to let that unsinkable cork inside of you WIN.

There’s a catch that sometimes snags me, though.  In the effort NOT to overwhelm my spirit, I sometimes choose to not “talk it out” (whatever IT is) with someone else, somewhat afraid that negative energy will be expended and sprinkle its evil pixie dust, making matters worse.

Then I realized that talking something through with the end goal to glean insights from an impartial party that might actually bring relief, resolve or at least COMFORT is a good thing.

If my intent is simply to whine, murmur, have a pity party and otherwise indulge the negative vibes that seek to swallow me into a quagmire of muck, then no – it’s best for me to shut my trap.

Perhaps Dory’s short term memory loss aids her ability to just KEEP SWIMMING.  

She can’t obsess over that thoughtless comment or perceived slight.  May all of our offenses have short-term memory!

Final thoughts on resilience and the new WOW coming right up…

There are SO many ways to look at this new WOW.

Aside from being WILLING personally, how do you view the world?

Here’s a nugget to chew on this week (I know I’m going to): What if you believed that at ever turn, things were actually working to benefit you; that God (the Universe; however you choose to define the Source) is WILLING to more than grant your desires.

One of the companies for which I work has a credo to “delight our customers and exceed their expectations.”

If a business can make that claim and fulfill it, how much more can the Author of life and the very Essence that is love make good on that brand promise?

Instead of expecting a fight (based on past experiences in the school of hard knocks) what if you made the shift to seeing every person and every circumstance as a willing participant in your happily-ever-after?

I’m willing to meditate on that this week.  How about you?

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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Bad Hair vs. Dancing in the Rain

These WOWs (Words of the Week) truly challenge me, because when I pray and ask I really BELIEVE that the answer is something I need to apply in order to grow as a person.

To provide context so you know where I’m coming from, my former life was bathed in a toxic cocktail of self-criticism and abuse masqueraded as personal growth. Higher levels of spirituality were dangled in front of me like a carrot by others (whose ideas about my shortcomings were used to torment and control me.)  So happy was I to eventually be free from the scrutiny, I took a  sabbatical for almost a decade and declared (to myself) – ENOUGH!

“If I never change another thing about me, I’m going to love myself and start enjoying life.”

And I did! And I do!

But something happened along the way and, I realized I still yearned to grow. Now it’s a gentle, self-motivated and healthy exercise that serves to make my life happier and more fulfilled. I say all this to affirm:

My hope is that none of you reading my exhortations beat yourself up with criticisms and judgments but are rather inspired to bloom, like when the sun kisses a budding flower.

Lots of preamble to get to my personal experience with WILLINGNESS this week.

My husband surprised me by being willing to go to an oudoor concert featuring my favorite funky dance tunes. He’s not a guy who likes to dance, but he knows I am happy to boogie in my beach chair and sing along. So we did!

Finding a spot on the grass with hundreds of other Sarasotians on the grounds of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, the sun began to set on our water view. The sounds of Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” had me shimmying in my seat.

And then the clouds descended. And the sprinkles of rain turned into a steady stream, causing me to pick up my chair and seek the nearest shelter.

To my surprise, Duane stayed put.  At any moment I expected him to say, “Let’s get out of here.” Instead, he turned to me and beckoned me back to our spot on the grass. “It’s just a little rain.”

I had a momentary pause. My cute little tie-dyed sundress would get soaked, and my hair? I could already feel it expanding into Roseanne Roseannadanna territory.

And I literally asked myself,  “Are you willing?”

Out into the rain I went, bouncing to Uptown Funk and boogie-ing with abandon as my look went south.

But my heart soared. Especially when they broke into Marvin Gaye and the man I said “I do” to stood up and wrapped me into a slow dance as we were pelted by raindrops.

I would have missed all of this if I wasn’t willing:  IMG_1185

It doesn’t have to be a huge, life-altering willingness to tip your life into the happy zone. Just a decision to replace the customary “No” with a “Why not?”

Like when I went to Zumba and realized, “Oh no. New teacher. She’s Ariana Grande’s twin and I will be hopelessly inept for the next hour.”  Normally, I’d use this as an excuse to skip class and head to Starbuck’s for an iced skinny café mocha grande.

Instead, I asked myself, “Are you willing?”

Fifteen minutes later, I was deep into Fireball (and Uptown Funk, again!) and smiling. None of us knew the steps. And it didn’t matter. We were working up a sweat (and working off last night’s ravioli.)

I wonder what other treasures WILLINGNESS has in store this week?

My wish for you is like the song.  If you have the chance to sit it out or dance…

I hope you dance.

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