> Me

Lost health.

Lost friends.

Lost family.

Lost jobs.

Lost loves.

Lost trust.

Lost expectations.

Lost hope.

One thing I haven’t lost? Faith.

I don’t believe in me. I believe in a power and purpose greater than me. And this power isn’t one that protects me from feeling pain, fear, scarcity, lack and so on. It’s a power that uses the unfortunate things that happen to make me a better person.

If I listen, I’ll learn. Even if that means the bad thing that happened to me was of my own stupidity . . . and NOT the devil.

How am I here?

The hard way.

I’ve never been one to read a book or listen to sage advice and course correct. No . . . hell, no. I have to learn through skinned knees, a bruised chin and a bloody nose that if I hit my brakes and slide on the gravel the road wins. Road: 1, Bike/Brandy: 0.

So, through a series of painful, personal experiences, I’ve learned to lean on the Bible. Especially in times of trouble – aka: I thought I knew better and acted on my own, now I’m on my knees. Help me, please.

Some of my favorites?

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14

“God is greater than our hearts.” I John 3:20

And, then, there are the times when my doubt and insecurities start to scream. When the ghosts of boyfriends past start to chant, “What if he cheats?” And the ghosts of bosses past hit the hook, “What if your new boss acts inappropriately?” And friends past sing the refrain, “What if she stabs you in the back?”

I simply sing louder:

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Mathew 6:27

“The TRUTH will set you FREE.” John 8:32

“He will BE your peace.” Micah 5:5

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18

Greater Than crossDoes it always work? No. My mind is a vicious beast that’s slow to taming. But, it works more than it doesn’t. And, in those times, when I spin myself up, I know who to call to bring me back down.

Would I rather skip the pain to learn to trust in a power greater than me? Absolutely. But, life doesn’t always work that way. So, I’ve failed, messed up, got up, dusted off, prayed forgiveness, began again, rinsed and repeated – because, I’m human.

Pain and difficulties will come. They always do. And, in those moments, I try to remember to let my light shine in the storm. Sometimes, that feels like I’m being Pollyanna Prissypants – but I know that being positive in times of trouble feels a lot better than despair.

I know that God is a source of love and light greater than me, greater than my problems. He is NOT a force field that prevents bad things from happening to me.

So, yes, I will forget to fill my car with gas. I will release a string of swear words that’ll blister the ears of children in 5 counties and feel guilty about it. I will forget 87 things at home and have to go back 3 times before getting on the road.

But, most of all, I WILL rejoice – or attempt to rejoice – because “Jesus replied, you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday, you will.” John 13:7.

 

Jesus Take the Wheel

My brain misfires sometimes . . . often, in the form of old song lyrics, loud and off-key, while performing mundane tasks. Read: cleaning, taxes, trips to the grocery store. (Much to the chagrin of other shoppers.) During my latest outburst, I channeled some good ol’ Carrie Underwood, “Jesus take the wheeeeeeeel, take it from my hands, I can’t do this on my own.”

And it hit me – it doesn’t matter if Jesus takes the wheel if I don’t get my foot off the brake.

Sit with that for a minute, because I’ve been sitting with it for a couple of weeks now.

Now, I know that my friends don’t procrastinate. I mean, my friends are ON IT. But, me? Well, I’m a bit of a dawdler. Especially when it comes to my “real” work. (Which, I’ll admit, I’ve yet to absolutely define, but know it has nothing to do with a 9 to 5. That’s why I’m asking for guidance from above.)

I believe we all have the capacity to hear what the Bible calls the small, still voice. In I Kings, it says God isn’t in the fire or the earthquake, but in a gentle whisper. But, in my life, sometimes it’s a hurricane of whispers. Mostly because I have trouble listening the first time. (What child actually listens the first time?!?!? “If I have to tell you one more time, I’mma come over there and . . . )

So, what’s a girl to do when the whisper is with me?

Yogi Bhajan’s second Sutra for the Aquarian Age says, “When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.

So, I start. I lace up my sneakers, I sit down at the keyboard, I go to the grocery store to buy veggies. I start. And, I start. And, I start again . . . because, I stop.

That’s why the hurricane of whispers and inklings and desires – because they’re all pushing me in the right direction. They’re all serving to steer me to the right path if I’ll stop, process and act on the divine guidance I receive.

You see, Jesus always HAD the wheel. He always steered me towards the right people, the right places and the right circumstances to get me where I need to go.

The trouble is that in the times I made the least progress, I’ve had my foot on the brake!!!

Today, I’m beginning again, and again, and again. I listen for the small, still voice and inch forward with tiny acts because I believe there are far better things before me than behind me.

If you want to go on this journey, hop in. Jesus has the wheel . . . and I promise I’ll try not to clothesline you with my arm if (when) I slam on the brakes again!

 

BOOBIES . . . and other bits

“An iced venti bold with room, please.”

I took my place in the pickup line behind four twitching, scratching souls longing for their afternoon fix. It’s hot in Florida . . . and heat makes people do crazy things. As does caffeine withdrawal. Silent prayer – please, Lord, let us hold it together a moment longer.

“Brandy,” YES!!! I enjoyed a silent celebration (and inner victory dance) as I grooved past the 6-pump, double-shot, extra hot, half-whip folks. Their eyes sliced me from the side.

I grabbed a napkin (or five, because I’m a little clumsy) and stirred in my half-and-half (don’t judge, almond milk isn’t friendly in coffee!) and THAT’S when I saw her. The girl to my right – coffee half-lifted, stir stick dangling over the trash between fixed fingers – head tilted, mouth open, eyes horrified, brow confused.

OHHHHHHHH DELIGHT!!! What horrors hide over my left shoulder?!?!?

I put the lid on my coffee and took a sip as I turned. Then, I promptly doubled over and shot coffee out of my nose. The man sitting behind me was slowly – and quite happily – scrolling through an email of various, errrrrrr, ladies . . . and their bits. Midday. In Starbucks. On free wifi.

I still roar with laughter thinking about the absurdity. I feel horribly for the families who stopped for a summer respite . . . only to end up in an unfortunate conversation with their children. And what about the ladies, themselves? Do they know about their debut? Do they care?

Walking down the sidewalk I considered, is it be better to be physically naked or emotionally exposed?

A few years ago, I took surfing lessons with some of my best girlfriends. The first couple of rides were surprisingly successful. Then, I bit it . . . in a GLORIOUS way.

Tumbled under surf, scraped by sand, wrapped in seaweed, pummeled by shells . . . tethered to a board by the ankle. (Why did this sound fun?) I slammed into the shallows happy to be alive. Nauseous and confused, I jumped up from the water with arms overhead to see the worried face of my friend Lara.

She yelled to me, but I couldn’t hear or process the words. She swam closer.

“BOOBIES!!!”

“WHAT???”

“BOOBIES!!!”

I looked behind me, completely confused, “WHAT??? WHERE?!?!?”

“YOURS!!!”

In that moment, feeling rushed back into my body. Under the churn, my rash guard and bathing suit fixed themselves around my neck. And, when I popped up . . . I stood naked in the water.

Dip. Dress.

Our stomachs ached from laughter. Tears streamed down our already salty faces. And, here’s what I can tell you – it was far easier for me to be exposed physically.

I think that’s why I put off writing for so long. To hit Publish is to disrobe my soul.

Then, I must ask, beyond writing, am I able to be emotionally exposed? You know, as I ‘do life’ with people.

Am I willing to be vulnerable and open in the relationships that matter?

Am I able to stand “naked” in front of someone and say, “These are my beautiful scars and, in them, I carry the stories of my hurt, my healing and my strengths?”

I have to admit that this is unbelievably hard for me. I don’t like to show my struggle. I want everything to appear perfectly packaged. I don’t want to show that I’m paddling furiously beneath the water’s surface to stay afloat.

I don’t want to. But, somehow, I can’t not.

I feel an incredible call to be real and perfectly imperfect. For me, to be real means to show up – with my scars and scabs – asking to be loved and accepted anyway. Because, who among us has a perfect life? Who hasn’t had bumps and bruises? Who isn’t enjoying the continuous beat of an intricately scarred heart?

So, as you go through your day, look around. Really notice the family, the friends and the strangers in your life.

Who is saying, “Here I am . . . all boogers and bruises . . . won’t you please like me anyway?”

Who stands bravely naked?

Who allows their truest selves to be seen?

Are you one of them?

(To the teacher who had to see my surfing lesson in someone’s “My Summer Vacation” report, I sincerely apologize. *facepalm*)

EgoTripping

As I celebrated the beginning of my 4th decade I found myself in a most unimaginable situation. Single, jobless, alone and adrift. I felt like the universe wrapped a midlife crisis up with a giant bow for my milestone birthday.

Sitting with my ‘gift’ as the day came to an end, I thought back to the beginning of my adventure. I started this journey with certainty, passion and a heightened sense of direction and purpose. Things weren’t firing for me in Charlotte and I “just knew” this opportunity would be just the kick start I needed.

Turns out, it was a kick in the teeth.

As my world unraveled – a sick aunt engaged in her last battle, energetic turmoil at work, and an unsettled environment – my friend and soul sister called to check in. She could “feel” how frazzled I had become. “How did you know?” I asked.  “You are a vortex,” she said.

Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t realize my vortex was pulling negativity in on me with the energy I expelled.

It was only after the ball of yarn completely unraveled and lay in a gnarled and knotted heap did I take a long, hard, painfully honest look at my situation: no man, no job, no home that I wanted to go home to.

I checked my pride, broke lease and embarked on the life of a wanderer.

“I’m not supposed to be here,” became my theme song – with a refrain that sang, “This isn’t how my life is supposed to be!!!”

And that’s when the larger Voice I call God said, “But this is the way it is.”

This is the way it is.

Sitting on a dock, beer in hand, my utter exhaustion gave way to absolute acceptance.

This. Is. The. Way. It. Is.

Let me not lie, it took two weeks of wandering before my brain started to work again. My first day as a gypsy, I literally sat at a red light and had the conversation with myself as it changed, “Green means go, right? Yes, green. Go.” (BLESS!)

One of the most interesting things happening as I explore rock bottom is a reinterpretation of self. A revised definition of who I am. Because, how easy is it to say, “I’m Brandy, XYZ with ABC company.” How often have I relied on my career, wins and successes to create my identity? How long have I hid behind my job rather than relying on my most authentic self?

So the question became, “Without a label, without a job title, who am I? What do I do? What are my goals? Where am I going?”

When my brain started to function again, ideas came flooding through. I started having lovely conversations about great opportunities. My energy level keyed up and I went on a great walk where I was having the internal dialogue with myself, “Omigosh . . . I could do this and this and this and I talked to so and so and so . . . and just WAIT until I tell LMNOP that DEF wants to work with me . . . he’s going to be so proud and . . . “ [screeeeeech] HOLD THE FUCK UP.

I stopped mid-stride. This is the ego I read about.

Yes, it’s great to have amazing partnerships and projects on the horizon, but these things do not define who I am.

And I damn sure shouldn’t be using them as a worth-bait for catching the interest, respect and admiration of other people. Let that sink in . . . worth-bait.

Stop.

Breathe.

Disengage the ego.

Ask, “Who am I without the labels?”

While I would love to wrap this story up with the tidy ending of a hallelujah choir, I can’t do that. The only answer I have is, quite simply, “I don’t know.”

I don’t know who I am, where I’m going or when. But, I’m learning. I’m observing. I’m growing through confronting the stories I’ve told myself for so long that they’ve become my truth.

I’m reconsidering. I’m re-imagining the story of me . . . and the rewrites are in pencil.

It’s scary as hell.

In religion, there is a period of darkness that precedes an awakening or rebirth . . . a dark night of the soul. So, is this my path to enlightenment? Perhaps.

Is rock bottom a kickass place to rebuild a strong, redefined foundation for a brand new life? Abso-fucking-lutely.

Now, it’s time to get on with it.

Has anyone seen the map for navigating around this ego trip?!?!?