All posts by Brenda the Brave

I was born and raised in New England, with 4 brothers. I developed, during my life journey, the need to protect others. I would always protect or defend my little brother, as I got older this extended to anyone that would not stand up for themselves. My mother gave me the nickname, Brenda the Avenger. I took it as a compliment and wore it as a badge of honor for most of my life.

This blog is a journey from being the victim of various abuses to viking (Brenda the Avenger), protecting others in a way I was never protected, to a peaceful soul. I have a peaceful soul more often than not these days, but God tends to bring my attention to things I need to face, when he feels the time is right.

I will explain in a general way, what I was like, what happened and what I am like now. As new struggles come up I will share them all in a solution oriented way.

Because I Matter!

 

Too young to understand,

with feelings too strong to command

Fear so strong you try to hide,

but you can’t get away from what’s inside.

Watching My family

never feeling

Always pretending

always shielding.

No one can be trusted

not even family.

How do I survive this?

I’m so lonely.

Older now and angry as hell.

I’m told to hide it so no one can tell.

So a smile it is, for all to see

No one knows this isn’t me.

Faking my life is so natural now.

To be myself I don’t even know how.

I open my mouth to share my hurt.

Two parents are told, but no one has heard.

Nothing is done.

Nothing is said.

He’s family you know,

just go to bed.

Trying to heal the years of pain

I forgive, I change,

but what have I gained?

Knowledge, understanding

perspective is here.

None of that has repaired this deep felt fear.

So hard to trust and open up.

To open my heart, I WILL NOT.

God tells me it is time to heal.

I know that it is, but I am afraid to feel.

A big heavy door locked up so tight.

No one in, no one out

Especially at night.

This walk is one I must take.

So much anger.  So much hate.

Admitting that is only a step.

It’s time to start until I have wept.

To forgive for pain I have caused myself,

Unintentional at times, but others I dealt.

All those feelings locked up inside.

So powerful and healing,

God’s wish I must abide.

It is time to heal this

trust that was shattered

& this heart that was broken

BECAUSE  I MATTER!!

 

The Power of Words

Hi everyone,

I am writing today with a heavy weight on my heart.  It seems that with texting, email, social media…that people have lost the sense of how powerful words are.  People feel free to say whatever they want without any consequences.  Many people don’t see or feel the impact of what they say, because of that harsh words are spoken easily.

I am reminded of a statement I read somewhere, “Hurt people, hurt people.”  Meaning that when we are hurt or afraid we do one of two things hide or attack.  It’s human nature…fight or flight.  Bullies learn to hurt others, because they live in an environment where they are being hurt or they are taught to hurt others.  Verbal abuse can be just as, if not more, harmful than physical abuse.  your body heals, but words get in your head and are stored there.

For me, a negative comment can stick with me longer than a positive one.  Those words feel heavier.  They take a greater toll on me.  I am so practiced at self-criticism that anything negative goes straight in to the armory.    However, I have also felt the power of a kind word or a compliment.  It can turn my entire day around.  The fulfillment I get from being kind to others fills my soul like nothing else can.

Why do I bring this up?  I had the misfortune of watching the impact of a vicious verbal attack on a number of women.  No one deserves such an attack and the scars the words leave.  One woman, who is an amazing, sassy and wonderful person has been deeply hurt by this attack.  The people involved show no remorse for their actions.  They are actually proud of what they have done.  My opinion of two of these people is permanently damaged.  The disappointment is so deep nothing can turn it around.   As for the other, the viking inside me wants to destroy him!!  I have to remember that only a person who is seriously damaged could inflict such pain without remorse.

I know there is nothing I can say or do to fix what has been done.  I will say that karma is a bitch!  I have watched her work and there is some slow painful payback in this man’s future.  I don’t need to see it.  I know that karma’s payback is always far worse than anything I could come up with on my own.

As powerful as words are silence is even more powerful.

Peace out!

Brenda the Brave

I Want to, But…

Hello All,

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I have been feeling STUCK.  I am a B personality with A tendencies.  I can’t stand to be bored in my job or in life in general.  That is why I have so many hobbies and creative things I do.  I rotate them so I don’t get bored.

I work with some great people and that is the biggest part of what makes a happy work environment.   I usually get bored with a position within a year of starting it.  My current position has kept me VERY busy and challenged for 6 years.  That is a record for me, but I am facing some realities at this point.  Due to the size and leadership structure, there is no place for me to advance, or transfer to in this company.  I am very good at what I do, but in many ways it doesn’t satisfy me.  I have always known this, but it pays the bills.

Should the choice be employed or happy?  No!!  If you aren’t happy doing what your are doing then figure out what would make you happy.   Yes, there are many people, including myself, who have financial restrictions of varying types.  When you choose to  make the leap and you really are willing to put in the work then you can make anything happen.  I have heard this from many people, “Success looks a lot like work.”  This is so true!

I am not saying quit your job, then figure it out.  This is where you do the preparations while you are working until it’s time to take the leap.

NOONE has the perfect life!  There is always a price that has to be paid at some point.   When I say nothing is free, I mean NOTHING!  You have to give something up to have something else.  YOU get to choose!  There is always a price, trade off and you decide if it is worth the price.

I spent many years trying to figure out what I thought would make me happy.  I know today what that is…wait for it.   Back to my conversation, my friend agreed that she was feeling the same way, but it’s too late to make a change in career now.   There was a time I would have agreed with her.   Today…not so much.

I know what I want to do!  My life up has been preparing me for this line of work since I was born.  For me the experiences I have had are the price I had to pay to be able to do my dream job.  Perspective is everything!

My passion is helping others through the transitions we have to make in life.  Finding that place where your soul and the world meet. In this place you know it will all work out the way it should.  I enjoy a hybrid of Eastern and Western medicine.  I lean East though.

I have been hesitant to put my idea or plan in writing on my blog, but seriously if someone wants to do this in their area then DO IT!  It is a fabulous plan, but a TON of work, training, and finding capital, doing a business plan and getting all the RIGHT people together.

All this to say, I am older than my boss and for me it’s not too late! For me…the time is EXACTLY RIGHT!

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO TRY!!

My next blog entry will be all able my vision…

The Shift – Being an Ombudsman

Hey!

I admit it…I have been, sort of, off the grid for a few months.  Philanthropy is a passion of mine and I found a niche that has changed my life.  I have been getting certified to be an Ombudsman for Long-Term Care in Tarrant County.

Federal law requires that each state have an ombudsman program to advocate for the residents of long-term care facilities.  These include licensed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and assisted living communities.  This program is designed to ensure that the residents rights are honored and they are treated with dignity and respect.

I had this image of what nursing homes were and what it would be like to serve the residents.  Anyone who has someone they love living in a nursing home due to some medical condition knows that this is something people in general don’t consider until they have no other option.

These communities have people of all ages.  An accident can happen to anyone at anytime.  Lives are changed in a second.  When it does happen it is very difficult to manage your feelings, that of the injured and the family, and sort through everything that is suddenly now on your plate.  Insurance, finances,  doctors, time….the list goes on and on.  As the resident or patient, you can feel like you have lost all control and all your rights as a person.  Overwhelmed is the only word I can come up with when I imagine how it would feel to be in their shoes.

During the process of training, and shadowing my supervising ombudsman there has been a shift in my mindset…my soul.  I have to stay objective, which is very hard since I am a nurturing person.  I have come to understand the importance of objectivity, while caring for each of these people.  It is a fine line I must walk, but it is so worth it.

When I am there and talking to these people, helping them or just chatting, they know that their lives matter.  Someone is watching and they are important.

All the day-to-day BS that was irritating me even a couple of weeks ago, now doesn’t phase me.  In the scheme of things it really is unimportant.  I was not excepting this kind of shift to happen.  There is a calmness that has taken over that allows me the objectivity to not only help others, but help myself.

It is a divine gift I have been given.

Mind Expanding Book List

Hey my friends!!

I thought I’d share the list of books I will be reading, or listening to, over the next month:

  1.  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson
  2.  Mating in Captivity, By Esther Perel
  3.  YOU ARE A BADASS, By Jen Singero
  4.  Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin
  5.  English Grammar Boot Camp, By The Great Courses

Number 5 is an audiobook on Audible, and it is actually well done.  I hope what I learn will be reflected in my blog.

Let me know if you have read any of these…

Brenda the Brave

Review of Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I chose to read this book when I saw Brene’ Brown had endorsed it.  I listen to books on Audible pretty often, so I can multi-task.  My favorites are the ones that are autobiographical narrated by the author.  I can feel the emotions as they talk and it makes it that much better.  Glennon narrated her memoir and it was so moving and raw.

I have had to face various types of numbing and addiction in my life so I can relate to all of her emotions behind the addictions.  She has an amazing way of conveying the insanity inside and how we don’t realize that it is insane when we are in it.

There are phrases that she used that touched me.

She commented on how a woman at a church was giving out grace like it was a free-for-all.  She realized a shift when the words resonated with her…”GRACE IS FREE FOR ALL!!”

I love the feeling of that, we all deserve grace.  No matter the path we have taken, God gives us his Grace without charge.  It’s FREE for ALL!

“Numbing keeps us from learning our lessons.”

One thing I learned in AA is that pain always comes before peace.  I was on a retreat earlier this year and one of the lessons was that we needed to accept pain.  We can’t avoid it.  Numbing only delays it.  It is waiting for us to acknowledge it.  The only way passed it is through it.

“Pain is a place brave people visit.”

That really hit home, because it does take courage to face the pain life deals us, real or imaginary.  I say that because we often times create our own pain inside our heads.  The pain is real, but the situation is our own perception of reality.  Once we know that, then we can change our perception and start the healing process.

“Grief is proof of love.”

Sometimes I question whether I am capable of love.  I have spent so much time numbing and afraid that I wonder what love actually feels like.  I have questioned if I ever loved.  Glennon talks about having these same questions and feelings.

I have grieved the loss of relationships, friendships, death and most recently the grieving the loss of family ties that I am not sure were ever there.  I don’t know, in some cases, if there was love from the other person, but I know I loved.

I guess maybe now it is learning how to be loved.  How to let people love me.

This is such a powerful book!  I highly recommend it!!

10 MUST READ BOOKS

10% Happier by Dan Harris
The Big Moo by Seth Godin
Thrive by Arianna Huffington
Fish by Ken Blanchard
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Seneca’s On The Shortness Of Life
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Read to Lead by Ron Smith

These are only ten of the books I have read this year. I don’t just recycle books as art, I read them too!

WARNING: Red Flags Ahead

Hi everyone,

I have not explained in my blog adequately the situation with my domestic abuse experience.  It has been weighing on my mind, as my ex-husband died 3 years ago yesterday.  I felt many things that day, but the strongest thing was relief.  It was finally over.  We had been apart for 11 years and divorced for 9 at the time, but the abuse continued until his dying day.

I think many people don’t really understand what abuse is.  So much abuse is almost deemed acceptable.  I know that being raised in a home that demonstrated many forms of abuse, those abuses were normal to me.  I was sexually abused by a family member at age 6, raped on my first date at age 17.  Neither of these events was addressed at the time.  In my family we don’t talk about feelings and problems are kept behind closed doors.  There were varying degrees of verbal, economic, and emotional abuse between my parents, which overflowed onto me and my little brother as we got older.

I tell you all of that to explain that growing up in this environment gave me a belief that this is normal.  Everyone lives like this…right?!  Sadly, this is more normal than it should be.  One thing I know is that no matter the degree of the abuse, the pain, feelings and reactions are the same.  You eliminate the details of each person’s experience and what’s left?

  • Self-hatred
  • Fear
  • Lack of trust
  • A strong desire to numb the pain
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

This is the short list. Some will find a way out and create a new normal – which I have done.  Some will know only this way of life. I have pulled information on domestic violence from Hopesdoorinc.org a great organization in Plano, Texas.  There are also links for other resources at the end of this post for my local area.

If you read this and see yourself in this information, please know you are not alone and there are people that can help you and your children get out of this deadly situation.

 

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, education, religion, disability status, or sexual orientation. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It can happen within any type of intimate partner or family relationship – married, cohabiting, or dating couples, child abuse, incest, etc.

Abuse can take many forms and often escalates over time.

 

Forms of abuse include:

  • Verbal (criticizing, name-calling, insulting your beliefs, race, religion, etc.)
  • Economic (controlling finances, refusing to work, keeps you from working, etc.)
  • Psychological (threats of violence, isolationfrom family and friends, accusations of infidelity, etc.)
  • Emotional (continuous degradation, intimidation, manipulation, insulting, threats, etc.)
  • Sexual (rape, using force or manipulation to make a person have sex, forced prostitution, etc.

 

Of the 24 red flags below I lived with 17 of them in my marriage.  They did escalate over time and the punishments got worse the longer it took me to stand up for myself.  I taught him how to treat me, so when I started to change the rules things escalated very quickly.

Signs of Abuse/Red Flags

Do you… 

  • Feel afraid of your partner?
  • Feel that you can’t do anything right?
  • Get embarrassed by your partner’s behavior toward you?
  • Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • Avoid topics or situations out of fear of angering your partner?

Does your partner…

  • Humiliate, criticize or yell at you?
  • Blame you for his/her behavior?
  • Threaten to hurt you?
  • Threaten to take your children away?
  • Threaten to harm your children or pets?
  • Force you to have sex?
  • Act jealous or possessive?
  • Keep you from seeing friends and family?
  • Limit your access to money or necessities?
  • Keep you from getting a job or going to school?
  • Constantly check up on you?
  • Threaten to kill or hurt him/herself if you leave?

Does your friend or loved one…

  • Have frequent injuries resulting from “accidents”?
  • Frequently or suddenly miss work, school or cancel plans?
  • Receive frequent calls/texts from their partner?
  • Fear their partner or defer to a partner’s rages or behavior?
  • Lack assertiveness or have submissive behavior?
  • Isolate from friends and family?
  • Have insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)?

 

 

How to Help

Most often, a survivor of domestic violence or dating violence will seek help from their support network, including friends, family or co-workers. The manner in which you respond can have a power affect on the survivor’s life and decision to seek further help. Remember, you cannot force someone to leave their abuser. While you can help someone leave a violent relationship, it is ultimately his/her choice to change his/her life and future. Please recognize that the decision to leave an abusive relationship is not easy and the survivor will need your love and support to do so.

If a survivor reaches out to you…

  • Try to remain supportive and non-judgmental
  • Let them know you believe them and want to hear about their experience
  • Allow them to tell their story
  • Let them know you care about and are concerned for their safety
  • Support their right to be angry
  • Don’t deny any of their feelings
  • Respect the cultural values and beliefs that affect their behavior
  • Help them assess their resources and support system
  • Maintain contact with them. Physical and psychological isolation are powerful control tactics used by batterers.
  • Avoid “you” statements, such as “you should”. Instead use “I” statements, such as “I’m concerned.”
  • Offer them phone numbers for local resources. Call Hope’s Door’s  24-hour hotline (972-422-7233) for information on our services and local resources.
  • Let them know that they are not alone, it is not their fault and that help is available.

 

Important Links

These are valuable links to websites that will give you more information about our cause.

Below are some resources regarding personal safety.

 

I left my ex twice.  The first time I didn’t have a support system set up and I felt guilty for leaving without warning.  I was afraid of him.  He managed to talk me into moving back home.  I stated a couple conditions, which he agreed to, but little did I know the storm that was coming.

He could only manage his temper for a short time, maybe 6 months, but he had started drinking again, and he was cheating on me, which I was ok with because I had no interest in him anymore.  All my attraction for him was gone, dead and buried.  His anger and desire to punish me was growing.  It went from verbal and emotional abuse to throwing things around the house, to throwing things at me, throwing furniture at me to ultimately standing over me telling me he was going to break my nose.

That was the moment…I knew that if I didn’t get out now I was not going to walk out that house one day.  I knew he had the capacity to kill me.  This was 6 months after 9/11 and I now had people I could depend on.  The switch was flipped and I got out while the getting was good.  I let him have everything he wanted to leave me alone.  Well, he got everything and still called and texted me, found my new phone number when I changed and continued to call and text until he passed.  He kept that underlying fear going for 11 years after I left.

The best thing I got out of that relationship was my step-son Shannon.  I love him more than he will ever know.

I am still single today, because when I see red flags I shut it down.  I am happy in my life as it is, but I still have hope that one day a great guy will come into my life.

Love,

Brenda the Brave

Productivity Tips I learned from Laura Stack

I took Laura Stack’s  on-line 8 week “Accelerate Your Productivity” course.  I have training goals for work and I like to revisit time management every 5 years.  Much of this seemed logical to me, but I needed to be reminded to do it.  Other things I always felt they were pie in the sky ideas.  I decided to apply as much of her course as possible and share tips with my boss.

This course is very affordable for the amount of information and tips you get from it.  You also are expected to apply it through the course so you can see how it works as you go.  Here is the link to her site so you can check out all her courses and blog posts.

Laura Stack Productivity Pro Offerings

She starts with determining what your capture style is.  Do you capture information, ideas, tasks, appointments electronically or on paper?  I am a hybrid.  Some things I prefer to write down because it helps me remember it, or helps me to focus on my task or in a meeting.

A good capture tool should always be available, you use it consistently,  easy and quick to use, suits your personality.

She refers to a great article on The 20 Best Online To Do List Apps.  This is a must read.

The key it to track all your the things you need to do in one place, personal and work to avoid conflicts.  I choose Outlook as my tool.  Make a list of everything you need to do then prioritize them by: things that eventually need to be done; things that have a due date, but are not due today; the things you must do today.

She discusses the use of tasks and your calendar to handle everything as it comes into your inbox.  The key is to prioritize or do something with each item so you only touch the email once before either do it, file it , delete it, or set a start date to do it.

My 3 favorite email best practices tips are:

  1. Use the signature option to insert standard responses to emails, or monthly, quarterly or annual emails that only require minor adjustments.
  2. Use the “Ignore” for irrelevant reply all strings
  3. Use the “Clean up conversation” to eliminate redundant messages.

Also, schedule everything!!

  • Workout
  • Quiet time
  • Interruptions – When someone comes in you schedule a time that is better for you so you can maintain focus
  • Do priority tasks during your prime time of day.  (when you are most productive.)

Something I have used for a while:

  • If I didn’t do this at all would anyone notice?
  • Is this providing ultimate value to my customer, or is it just an internal process with no value?

I used to plan my day in the morning, but that eats up a good portion of my most productive time.  Laura discusses why planning your next day before you leave work.  This has been a very helpful change in my behavior.  The benefits include:

  • Compartmentalize
  • Reduce Insomnia
  • Avoid Reacting
  • Enjoy Family time
  • Anticipate failure
  • Execute Efficiently
  • Lower Stress

This is just a small part of what she covers in her course.  Laura is an interesting and effective trainer and speaker.  I highly recommend visiting her site and trying her courses or subscribing to her blog.

The pie in the sky item is saying  “No” to meetings.  where I work now it is not acceptable.  However, my personal experience is that many meetings could have been an email or phone call.  I do recommend asking yourself before having a meeting “Is this a meeting or an email?”  I find most meetings are just big time suckers.

Brenda the Brave

 

Recent Photo Shoots

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