Tag Archives: Wisdom

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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Amazing Grace (and the New WOW)

I didn’t have a clue just how much GRACE I would need this past week.

It was perhaps the most profound week of my life; so profound I can’t talk about it with you yet.

But here’s what I know – and I will be brief:

Grace IS amazing.

It is the remarkable calm when, for all intents and purposes, you should be freaking out.

It’s moving in skills and having wisdom beyond yourself because you NEED to – and there it is, like manna from heaven.

Grace supersizes life; it takes what YOU can do and multiplies it.

Grace swoops around you just when you are feeling faint and provides reinforcements.

It provides the peace that passes understanding.

For those of you who may know what is going on in my life right now, thank you for not using this forum to comment on it.

It’s too fresh, too private and the dust has not settled.

I considered discontinuing my posts for a while during this time of personal disruption, but it didn’t feel right to do so.

So this video was recorded before the volcano of my life erupted, but the words are eerily prophetic…again, a sign of grace.

And this of course comes to mind:

And that’s how you know you must take that risk.

Make sure there is water in the pool before you leap.  But if you take the step, and walk with God, you will be amazed to see how the waters part.

Much love to you all (and still and always, extra doses of grace.)

xoxoxoxo
Brenda

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Toastmasters Wisdom (and the New WOW)

Who knew that joining Toastmasters would usher into my life a wealth of wisdom?

Yes, they count your “ums” and correct your grammar; offer feedback on your body language and throw-away words – all thrilling to spoken word nerds like me.

But it’s the STORIES that grab me each week.

The agenda (run like a Fortune 500 Board Meeting, which I LOVE) includes three speeches. Participants are at various stages in the Toastmasters experience.  I am like a new-born baby, making my way through the first round of ten speeches to achieve certification. Others have completed several rounds of ten, have competed (and won) and are in the advanced tier.  Yes, their technique is refined…but again, it’s the STORIES that tug at my heart.

This past week, Ret, our Club President, told a tale for the specific purpose of evoking an emotional response.

Ret is six-foot-something; has a Dr. Phil-like presence, is a Texas-like “guys-guy” and possesses an authoritative and commanding delivery.

To judge a book by its cover, Ret’s was an unlikely package to deliver a heart-wrenching story, but oh, he had us all in tears.

Ret told the story of his boyhood best friend Mikey, tragically killed while riding his bike in the prime of his getting muddy, mischief-producing, baseball-throwing youth.  To this day, Ret visits his grave and leaves a baseball with a written message on it to his friend.

Mikey lived again this past Wednesday in the re-telling of this story by his beloved buddy, Ret.

The pearl of wisdom Ret left us with? “Treasure the people you love, for you never know how long you will have the gift of their presence.”

Oh, Ret.  I’ll never look at you the same way after hearing this story.

No one cared much about an errant word or an um for it is not perfection that moves us, is it?

What moves us are the stories of our lives that weave a bond with others.  In fact, this past week alone I observed the nodding head of a woman who also lost her dad at age 10; the laughter over a shared obsession with Starbucks, and a surprising discovery about the healing properties of tea (for all of us coffee drinkers.)

We each have a story, don’t we?  We have so many!  Wrapped up in these stories is a world of wisdom that could be just the gem someone else needs to hear.

If you have never considered Toastmasters because you’re “not a speaker” – please don’t let that stop you.  It is the imperfect but sincere and heartfelt stories that are massaging my heart and filling up my love tank week after week.  If you are seeking connection, it may have the same effect on you…

Here are parting thoughts on WISDOM and a new Word of the Week to inspire us all!

Our road to the life of our dreams? Let’s pave it with good and powerful INTENTIONS.

May we go forth with purpose and experience the joy of doors swinging open to our respective destinies.

xoxoxoxo
Brenda

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My Messes Are My Message (and the New WOW)

To live in harmony, I’ve had to make peace with the messes in my life.  Yes, I’ve looked at them through the lens of bitterness and victim-hood, which did not serve my hope for a happy future.

Instead, I have chosen to see messes through the lens of gratitude and a believe that a Divine thread has woven them into the blessings that sculpted the person I am today.

So, as I shared with my fellow Toastmasters in my first speech this past week: There are three primary MESSES in my life that have made me who I am.

No one wants to ride the seesaw with a 100 pound kindergartner.  Yes, you heard correctly.

Born a month too soon in 1963, Sal and Bette Costello weren’t sure I was going to make it!  Hooked to tubes in an isolated area, four-pound me needed to reach five pounds to finally go home with mom and dad.  When finally released, the need to feed was never a problem again.  Getting me to STOP was.

…and there I was in kindergarten, 100 pounds.  Twice the size of most of my classmates, I had to have special clothes and shoes made for me; I couldn’t run (without peeing my self) – but my mess became my message.  I learned that what I could create between my two ears and come out of my mouth could build the bridges that my lack of looks couldn’t.

This mess birthed in me an empathy for the underdog; a sensitivity to those whose feelings might be hurt. It’s a mess that made me.

For mess #2, we must fast forward to age ten. My mother had long ago put me on a diet, so my weight was no longer an issue.  I was in 5th grade, just starting to discover boys…and I was particularly excited for the annual roller skating party where I knew that Aldo Falasca would be and who I hoped would invite me to a couples’ skate.

We whirled around the rink, girls giggling and boys showing off…and I heard my name called over the loudspeaker.  Had I won a door prize?  I excitedly skated to the office and saw Mr. Coccaro, a friend of the family, with a somber look on his face.

I knew something very bad had happened.

Before a word was said, I blurted, “Was it Mommy?” He shook his head. “Daddy?””

He nodded.

At the very age I am today, one fatal heart attack stole him from our little family and with it, robbed me of so much security.

But eventually, my mess became my message.  We all suffer loss in life – mine just occurred earlier than most.  And what it taught me is to never take someone you love for granted, because their tomorrows – and yours – are not promised.  Oh, I’d give anything to have that stolen time with my dad back, but what a valuable lesson to learn:

That love and gratitude reside in your heart to be expressed…and that if you live a life of love, you live a life with no regrets.

My third mess was the heartbreak of being single when everyone else was married.

My sister was married at age 20, and I had lived through ALL of my twenties and most of my 30’s with NO Mr. Right (and truthfully, very few dates.) I had, however, been in almost ten weddings (to my chagrin) and well-meaning friends encouraged me that, “When you least expect it…”

Ha!  I went to every outing – including the grocery store or hopeful visits to Home Depot expecting…and expecting…and expecting.  Nothing materialized.

Fortunately, I had a full life filled with friends and family and challenging work.  In fact, in 2001 I was writing an annual report for the local government.

Printing companies from around the region competed in a bidding process to win the job and, once awarded, the vendor called to arrange a meeting.

“Oh, it’s not even ready yet.  When it is, I’ll call YOU.”

The printing rep called again in a few weeks and by this time, under pressure to meet my deadline I responded with more agitation:  “I will call YOU when it’s ready; please don’t call me again.”

You know how you create a mental image of a person you talk to on the phone?  This guy was to me Danny Devito from Taxi.  Short, gruff, tubby and probably with a cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth.  I was not impressed.

Then the day came for the file to be picked up.  And this was NOT Danny DeVito.

No, this was more like Tom Selleck from Magnum PI.

I couldn’t find my powers of speech.  I fumbled to act professionally, while searching that left hand to see if it was adorned with a ring.

When I least expected it…

…three months later we were engaged.

Fourteen  years later, I am still in love with that printing salesman.

My mess is my message: If it is in your heart, it is your destiny.  Don’t waste time being sad because what you desire WILL eventually come to you, because I believe with all of my heart that desires are planted there to be fulfilled.

It’s the waiting, though, that makes you grateful when the dream is finally fulfilled.

In closing, is there something that might be a mess in your life today.  Hold on, my friends. It could actually end up being your message.

And that’s how I ended my speech!  Thanks for letting me share it with you, and I do believe that making peace with your past and seeing through the lens of gratitude makes for a much more HARMONIOUS life.

Drum roll please for the new Word of the Week!:

Ah, WISDOM!

The scriptures say if we ask for it, we will receive it liberally.  Here’s to huge doses of it for all of us this week!

xoxoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Healed ‘Cause It No Longer Hurts (and the New WOW)

I didn’t even know I was healed ’til that button got pushed again.

You know the button, right?  (Everyone has one.)

It’s the reminder button; the deja vu scenario that is a shadow of former pain, betrayal, abuse or loss, disappointment and regret.

It’s the memory of the place you survived and promised yourself, “Never again.”

You all know my QVC experience by now.  The big break that ended up being the first professional heartbreak of my adult life so wounded me that, though I lived practically across the street from the studio, I couldn’t drive by the campus.  For years.  And SHOP there?  Fuggetaboutit.

You’d think a year or two of that would be sufficient, but we’re talking DECADES.  To this day, I choose not to fund the place that hired me away only to drop me three months later, leaving me with a lease, a pixie haircut, and a severe crisis of confidence.

But from the experience itself?  Totally healed.  It is always the blip on my resume people want to discuss and a great source of stories to entertain others at parties.

Does time heal all wounds?

Perhaps.  If you let it.

My take on this is that if you learn a LESSON from the pain, it’s a silver lining that can help you avoid making the same mistake twice.

Fast forward to my toxic church experience (which came soon after the QVC debacle.)  You know this one, too, where my desire for purpose and to fulfill my calling in life was manipulated and abused by narcissistic “spiritual leaders.”

Well meaning people sometimes say, “How could you ever get sucked in to something like that?”  Hey, it’s not like it started OUT like the hell it ended up to be.

It puzzles me that people could be so smug to think they couldn’t possibly be lassoed in to something they later regretted…whether a business deal, a relationship, or any type of investment.

This just happened to be an investment of my very life.

The years that have unfolded AFTER have taught me so many lessons.  Primarily, that questioning is healthy; trust should be earned (not granted just because of position) and that when my gut screams, “No!” I should listen to it.

Most of the following years have been free of anything that even remotely smacks of the potential for control.  But I recently found myself in a gathering (I thought it was a professional, business networking group!) and it soon became apparent that there was a religious undercurrent that reminded me of the seductive beginnings of my long ago church life.

Instead of causing me anxiety or torment, the experience was necessary because it showed me just how healed I was.

Sometimes things come around again just so you can celebrate such a victory.  

I was fired up when I recorded this…

Going back to my church story, that good has come out of such bad brings me JOY.

And really, SO much good came out of a bad place.

Some of my dearest friends in my life were met at that toxic church.  Because THEY were real, they remain today.  People who have had an amazingly positive impact on my professional and personal life?  Yep.  Met them there.  All those scriptures that pop up just when I need them the most?  Also from that time…only now pure and not used to manipulate me or anyone else.  Which reminds me of a scripture (!):

Are you weeping right now or filled with sorrow?

Whatever has caused you pain can turn into the greatest life lesson; a tool to make you more empathetic and less judgmental.  It can give you wisdom that can save someone else from pain.  Remarkably, it can even end up being a source of joy.

‘Cause you’re not that person anymore.

May you find the joy in every little thing this week, my friends.

Love,
Brenda

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Irreconcilable Differences and the New WOW

So as we sit in the Tampa Airport, he reading his sports page and me typing this blog post, I  I chuckle to consider the host of irreconcilable differences that have been survived to date.

It’s far more than his love of the Cowboys and mine of the Eagles.

It’s his propensity to watch the same movies (Caddyshack, the Godfather I, II and III, Diehard and Happy Gilmore, along with Young Frankenstein and Christmas Vacation – even in the summer) over and over and over (and over) again, while I clamor to stay apprised of pop culture and the latest films, TV shows and music.  He thinks if it was created after 1989, it’s irrelevant.

I think the only way to STAY relevant is to know what the cool kids are watching and singing!

It’s his belief that one pair of dress shoes, one casual, sneakers and sandals are the only four items of footwear ever needed in a lifetime. And his horror when MY shoes moved into his house.  Ten pairs of black alone – flats, pumps, sandals, wedges, stilettos, mules, patent leather…in multiples of each.

I wonder at the men who sit in lounge chairs at department stores, waiting as their wives try on outfits. Not all of them seem miserable.

I wouldn’t DREAM of asking Duane to do that, nor would I have fun knowing he was unhappy every moment wasted there instead of watching the game.

Before I got married, I had so many unrealistic expectations, despite well-meaning friends and family warning me that marriage was no fairy tale.

The good news is, it isn’t always a nightmare and more often it is a happy, uneventful companionship that features him watching Hogans  Heroes reruns while I couch dance to “The Get Down” on Netflix on my iPad.

And this is how we reconcile those differences.  I do my thing; he does his – sometimes we do them together and it’s all good.

Our pillowcases say it all.  Yes, the struggle is real – but so is the snuggle.

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He golfs on Saturday mornings, and I play around Sarasota – shopping, strolling, wandering…

I stopped being disappointed that we are so different in our tastes and ideas of what fun is and started to embrace the fact that, in our marriage, different works.

Because the one thing we love more than Happy Gilmore reruns and new shoes is each other.

And THIS has been the wisest discovery in marriage for me

Here are more parting thoughts on WISDOM, and the new WOW!

Ah…let your heart be “LIGHT” this week.

(Let means you need to give yourself permission to lighten up.)

Undo those heavy burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ – which is LOVE.

Find your giggle again.  Force yourself to smile.  You’ll feel better.

Be with people who encourage your heart.

Or encourage someone else.

Have a light-filled week, my friends!

xoxoxoox

Brenda

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Strength in Weakness (and the New WOW)

My week could have been spelled WEAK – and how ironic when the WOW was STRENGTH!

Here’s the backstory:  Three weeks ago I started to have seriously bloodshot, irritated eyes that were increasingly painful to blink, impossible to place contacts in, and most upsetting to my propensity for vanity, painful to apply makeup to.

If you review LAST week’s WOW taping, you can see watery eyes (in part ’cause I was a wee bit emotional, bur primarily due to my eye affliction.)

When you don’t have to show up to an office every day, the need to look good is diminished, but an impending Viola family wedding finally gave me the urgent push to go to the eye doctor.

Dr. Sinclair said, “How have you been functioning like this?”

He had no immediate answers but got me an ASAP appointment with a specialist and charged me with this assignment: “Between now and tomorrow, try and figure out what you’ve done differently that could have affected your eyes.”

I wracked my brain. No new makeup; no new creams or potions. No new food (except for my new ‘clean eating’ and geeez, what could THAT do that would be bad?)

I was getting really upset about this unknown malady, and feeling weaker by the moment.

Then, as I was getting ready for bed and took my evening low-dose aspirin, it hit me:  Three weeks ago my regular doctor switched one of my medications.

I was so busy thinking about a topical cause I never considered an internal one.

(Hmmmm.  That’s an interesting thought for another time!)

Thanks to Google, within minutes the rare side affects of said medication jumped out on my iPad: “Can cause severe eye distress in rare cases. If you experience blurriness, redness, and irritation – what the heck are you waiting for? Get to a doctor!” (OK, I added that last part.)

What relief to finally KNOW.  And suddenly, even though my pain and circumstance had not changed, the removal of the mystery gave me STRENGTH.

Now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can beat it.

Some of you are facing physical challenges and have been for much longer than three weeks.  My brief experience with a chronic, seemingly unsolvable pain was physically, mentally and spiritually distressing – so my heart truly goes out to you.

Don’t give up.

If you’ve been trying to slug it out by yourself, seek help.  And if that help doesn’t help, seek some more.  Seek wisdom and insight.  Pray for the answer and I am believing with you that it will come.

learning-is-a-gift

I would prefer that joy, delight, blessings and abundance are my teachers. But when pain  – whether physical or emotional – comes, for goodness sake, I want to get SOMETHING good out of it. And I expect to – because I don’t believe God, the Universe, the Source is playing cruel games with my life.

And believing that is also a source of strength.

So how do we follow this up?  Settle in for the new WOW:

There is a connection between STRENGTH and SURRENDER, isn’t there?

I know I get worn out and WEAK when I try too hard to make stuff happen or freak out about what is beyond my control.

The beauty of trust is that it allows you to let go…and let God.

And therein lies great strength.  “In quietness and confidence will be your strength” says Isaiah 30:15.

Love to you all!
xoxoxox

Brenda

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A Post-Vacation Week WOW

As I mention in the video this week, I pre-recorded this week’s WOW so I could completely unplug and be inspired on vacation.

I hope as you are reading this that you are surrounding yourself with inspiring things and people.  I read somewhere that whatever you have in your home that doesn’t bring you joy should GO.

Imagine de-cluttering our lives of anything that doesn’t make us happy?

That’s not totally realistic since on a bad day, I feel like kicking some good things (and people) to the curb.  And those less-than-inspiring parts of our lives are marvelous tools for growth, aren’t they?

But filling our lives with more that inspires us is a very good thing.  Sunsets, John Russo’s singing, a good chat with my sister or one of my besties and that strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning?  I’m smiling just thinking about them.

So getting back to life after vacation is always a bit jolting – and so is the new Word of the Week!:

Now, I’m not suggesting that we become those who look sideways at everyone and everything. (I’ve got my husband to do that for me!)

Maybe it’s simply a matter of a second opinion.

DISCERNMENT is a team sport.

May we call on reinforcements where necessary this week and make wise decisions; not ignoring our respective guts, but getting all the facts and insights at our disposal before taking a leap.

Have a beautiful week, friends!

xoxoxox

Brenda

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A Wise Friend and the WOW for 3.6.16

When we planned their visit over a year ago, we had no idea how wise the timing would be for our friends Judy and Jim Neubauer to come to town.

It had been over a year since I had enjoyed quality time with my friend and, for the guys, well – they’re great at being goofy together. I vividly recall one New Year’s Eve when they tried their hand at hip-hop dancing as the clock struck twelve.

Thankfully, they both decided to keep their day jobs.

The levity Jim brought with him is exactly what Duane needed after traveling home from his mother’s funeral services. A true pal, he even watched Johnny Carson reruns with us.

Jim and Judy are the kind of friends whose kids call us “Aunt Brenda and Uncle Duane.” Can I tell you how much I love that?

Not having a daughter of my own, I got to go prom dress shopping several years back with Judy and her daughter Laura (who is now practically a pharmacist).  Doug was Shasta’s favorite baby-sitter.  He’s now a Marine. I’ve watched Amanda grow from a “Little Cindy-Lou Who” lookalike to a stunning young teenager…and Daniel?  He was the only Neubauer offspring I’ve known since the womb.
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An entire essay could be written about Daniel, whose twinkle and star-shine wrapped into an irrepressible personality are likely to be famous one day.  (I called it, folks.)

Yep, I love those Neubauers.  But getting back on topic:

DISCERNMENT was this past week’s WOW and while I have enjoyed making my new Sarasota friends, there’s nothing like a long-time friend whose counsel you trust to boost your mental health.

And in this case, it wasn’ t just my mental and spiritual health – it was physical, too.  See, Judy is a Nurse Practitioner.  If you’ve got a belly ache, a pang in your side, a funky looking mark or…well, you name it, she’s got just the advice to put your mind at ease.

So while the trip here was supposed to be HER birthday present, I’m the one that really got the gift.

Sometimes you just need someone you can say anything to who won’t judge but will lend a listening ear and some sage wisdom.

And who will go shopping with you.

Thank you, Judy, for being such a friend.  For encouraging me to take those probiotics and for helping me with this week’s WOW!:

How freeing it was for me to discover that not everyone had to love me – or even LIKE me – for me to be at peace.

How relieved were my friends and family when I stopped trying to get them all converted to my point of view!

Trying to change anyone other than ourselves is an exercise in futility.  And who made us the other guy’s savior?

Yes, when I focused more on the moat in my own eye and embraced the concept that we can all agree to disagree, HARMONY began to blossom in my life.

And my life began to blossom.

May our week be filled with good music and inner peace – regardless of what may be going on around us.

Let others’ dramatics play on.  We don’t have to enter the fray.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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