YOU WERE MEANT TO STAND IN THE LIGHT - 1010 Park Place
— Life —

YOU WERE MEANT TO STAND IN THE LIGHT

Rene Lalique, Firebird Luminaire, @1922
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I was never one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Even now I’m not sure how to answer the question, “And what do you do?” If resumes were based on how we spend our time, mine would probably read, “Doggie Doorman.” Part of me wants to add “versatile, resilient and I plan for worst-case” and be done with it. You fill in the blanks. I do know life shouldn’t be about what we do for a living, or the label we give ourselves or the labels we drive and wear or where we went to school. 

Life is about how we raise our children and treat one another and how we cope with change, especially when it’s unexpected, and it all starts with how we feel about ourselves.

My younger self would be shocked to hear me say I learned these things from my mother, especially since she wore her narcissist’s badge as though it were a blinking neon sign. But now I realize mother’s “poor me” mentality did me a favor. It’s precisely because she took everything in the worst possible way that made me want to be the opposite of her. In a backward twisted way, she was my role model. 

In addition to loving and being loved, life is shaped by the wounds we receive—physical, mental and emotional—and unlike mother, how we heal, move forward and grow stronger.

Lots of women leave comments on my blog or email and tell me they appreciate my ability to take life as it comes. Many are afraid to embrace life so they stand in the shadows for fear of being noticed. Like mother, they lack self-confidence so they don’t make friends easily, and they’re apprehensive about making decisions. I want to scoop them up and hug them and tell them the woman they are today doesn’t have to be the woman they’ll be in a month or a year. 

I want to take their hand and turn up the volume and dance with them in the middle of the room. And just when I see a faint glint in their eyes, a recognition of the woman they can become, I’ll step away and let them dance in their own light. And in that unsure moment, when they want to retreat again to the shadows, I’ll lead them back into the light and tell them to trust themselves.

Rene Lalique, “Suzanne” Luminaire, @1925

When you get to the edge between the darkness and the light, trust that you’re meant to stand in the light.

Like plants and animals and most of God’s creatures, we thrive in the light. Loneliness, depression and unfulfilled dreams grow in the dark. To live in the shadows is to sentence ourselves to a life full of Cliff Notes: a life that’s missing the content; the highs and lows, the very experiences that make life rich and rewarding. 

Inhale the light. Let its brilliance empower you. Be committed to the woman you’re becoming and do it with intention.

Love, Brenda

48 Comments

  • Reply Donna O'Klock August 3, 2019 at 7:22 am

    I am grateful that this is the first thing I’ve read this morning. What an affirmation! What a reminder! If we don’t do it now… then when?
    Thank you, Brenda.
    XO

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Thank you, Donna! You’re right. If WE don’t do it NOW… Who will? Let’s not just mark time until we die. Let’s make this life and the time we have count. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Patricia Douville August 3, 2019 at 8:37 am

    that was beautiful. thank you

    • Reply 1010PaarkPlace August 3, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Patricia, I appreciate that you took the time to read my post and leave me this sweet comment. Thank you! Brenda

  • Reply Debbie Housh August 3, 2019 at 9:57 am

    I’ve struggle with depression for many years and was raised by a mean woman
    Now in my mid 60’s, I am scared and wonder what I should do with the next chapter of my life.
    I question everything I do now wondering if I a good person or if she was right

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 11:08 am

      Debbie, I’m sorry to hear how you were raised and how its affected you all of your life. My personal opinion is you need to erase all those old tapes that keep playing in your head and consider the source. I also know that’s easier said than done. People who are mean and belittling to others may have been raised the same way, or have been abused, and by treating others the same way, it allows them to feel like there’s someone “worse” than they are. You are not who she said you were. She took a beautiful, bright little girl and made you feel “less than” so she could feel better about herself. Perhaps you might look for a therapist who can help you look at yourself without hearing the words of the woman who raised you.

      It’s sometimes difficult to imagine we can feel differently about ourselves and create a new life for ourselves, but we can! We deserve to love ourselves and respect our bodies and how we spend our time. I just spoke to a friend, who’s also in her mid-60’s, and wondering where she goes from here? All of us who are a certain age are right there with you. You’re not alone. There’s nothing like doing something… on a regular basis… for others that allows us to step outside ourselves. By helping them, we help ourselves and see ourselves in a different light. It doesn’t have to be people, it could be animals. I know of a number of women who volunteer/or work for animal organizations whether it’s at veterinary office, PetSmart, an animal shelter or they foster puppies and dogs until they find a permanent home.

      The woman who raised you was wrong, but YOU are the only one who can take the steps to change how you feel about yourself. You have a lot of years left to enjoy life and love and be loved. I say this a lot… because it’s true… “What are you waiting for?” Step into the light and seize life and find the wonderful woman who’s hiding inside of you. I PROMISE… SHE’S THERE! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply LA CONTESSA August 3, 2019 at 10:43 am

    THIS WAS A GREAT READ………….SO POSITIVE AND UPLIFTING!
    YOU NAILED IT ONCE AGAIN!
    XX

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Thank you, Elizabeth! I appreciate that. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Joanna August 3, 2019 at 11:23 am

    If what you do for a living defines you, then who are you once you retire? We have to remember it was just a job. We are much more than that.
    I’m not outgoing. I’m an introvert. But, does that stop me from getting out there? No! I put my big girl panties on and step out. I’m enjoying this last chapter of my life.
    I still find speaking in front of others terribly difficult. I recently got up at a council meeting to speak up for my beliefs, when others wouldn’t. I know
    I wasn’t eloquent but I stood up in front of a room full of people because what I had to say was important. Did that help me get over my reticent to public speak? No! Not at all. But for those brief moments, I stood.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      Joanna, I think most of us can identify with your feeling about speaking in public, much less “speaking up.” That’s a gutsy thing to do. Referring to this post, a friend emailed me a little while ago and said that now when people ask her what she “does,” she says, “Whatever I please.” Other than the empty nest syndrome, which we read so much about, I don’t believe most of us thought this would be an awkward time of our lives, but it is. My friend also said she’s enjoying the beauty around her, museums and not feeling the pressure to achieve. If you think about it, we’re in an enviable position. We’re smart, experienced and we’re the wealthiest demographic in the history of the world, and yet it’s difficult to imagine what we will do in this chapter of our lives. I say keep standing! Keep speaking out and keep finding ways to make each day count. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Beckye August 3, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Way to go, Joanna! Awesome!!
    And thank you, Brenda! Lovely and beautiful post. It has helped me know what to tell my mom this weekend. Her life is not over, and she is still who God made her to be and invaluable. Love you and grateful for who God designed you to be, as well! Hugs!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Beckye, I feel the same way about Joanna! Way to go! It’s not easy to speak in public, much less “speak out.” I hope you can inspire your mother to find things she enjoys and that challenge her in some way. My mother just marked time until she died, and it made me so sad. Her dementia could have been part of it. At the time I remember she hadn’t been diagnosed yet. Thank you, sweet friend. I love and appreciate you as well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Anissa August 3, 2019 at 11:46 am

    “How we cope with change and especially when it’s unexpected”….. these words made my heart race. I lost my son 5 years ago in a blink of an eye. My life and myself were gone in that instant. As I look back over the last 5 years, that tragedy and my approach to it have put me back together as a completely different woman. Oh how I miss my son, but today I have chosen life. And I have to say, I had to choose life. I still have to choose it today. I chose to get up and get a shower, I chose to seek out therapy, I chose to not be the victim. It would have been so much easier to just give up, but I do know that life is to be lived, it is a gift and that in a blink it all can all be gone. I am proud of the woman I am and I can only hope that my survival is an inspiration for my daughter and those around me. I have more courage inside me than I could have ever imagined, I love deeper than I thought was possible and I see my future not with fear, but with power. I tell my friends that whatever they are going through, just look at me and know that you can survive and thrive.

    Thank you Brenda for your voice and reminder that we all have power, light and courage. Five years ago, I asked why we are all here, why must we endure such pain? I now believe we are here to encourage one another through this journey of life and Brenda you are one great encourager!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Anissa, As I sit here , reading your story and your sweet words, and they’ve made me cry…. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child. I do know what it’s like to lose a stepson… I loved dearly… and his father, unexpectedly. James died on Christmas Day while taking a walk and his son…. It’s best I don’t go into that, but my heart will never heal about him. Like you, I chose life. The options scared me. What if I didn’t brush my teeth or take a shower? What if I didn’t get back into the world? Any way I filled in those blanks would have exacerbated the grief I felt and what I was going through. I chose to get therapy and get on with my life, and no… It was not easy. Even in our grief and how we cope with it we offer power and courage to those who know us, and when we survive and find new ways to live, they see what it’s like to stand in the light, and they take notice. Thank you, Anissa, for sharing your powerful story. I know there are a lots of us who can identify, and you’ve planted the seeds of survivorship and encouragement. Love, Brenda

  • Reply Lauren August 3, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    I get this. My mother is a narcissist too. She’s also very negative so I too use her as a role model of what NOT to do , I do the complete opposite. I want women to feel empowered and not hover in a corner in middle age! I love this!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Dear Lauren, It makes me sad that so many of us have narcissistic mothers. I know if we tried to explain the ways they’ve made life all about them, they would defend their positions as though those instances were the most natural things in the world. I am happy, however, so many of us decided to become polar opposites. The real question is how many women do you suppose were unable to do that? Now that’s really sad! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Barbara Torris August 3, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    You are so spot on. In fact I think that most people that stand in the shadows really want to be in the light but just don’t think they have anything to offer. Those of us that hog the light need to be inclusive and supportive. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      Barbara, While I agree many people who stand “in the shadows” wish they had more self confidence and could be stronger and perhaps stand up for themselves, I don’t think the rest of us “hog the light.” We’re not taking their space away from them nor are we unfeeling or unconcerned about their difficulties. Some of those who stand in the shadows may be very comfortable where they are, but some of them may also need more support than we can give them.

  • Reply Colleen Fuller August 3, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    On a lighter note (no pun intended) I love Lalique’s Suzanne glass figurine. The Art Deco style is so timeless from the Chrysler Building to Chanel costume jewelry and everything in between.

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 3, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Colleen, Are you familiar with “Suzanne?” In my 20’s I was a fine art, European Art Deco dealer. “Suzanne” was one of the pieces I kept. This year I sold her at auction in NYC. I’d enjoyed her for almost 40 years but no longer had the right place for her. She’s especially beautiful when lit from beneath. Exquisite! Brenda

  • Reply Sheila-Merle Johnson August 3, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    What wonderful words of wisdom! And your response to Anissa was especially beautiful and supportive. I love your writing. I lived for many years with loud-volume negative self-talk. It didn’t cripple me but made for an uncomfortable inner life. Then last year, at age 73, it disappeared, lost it’s charge. After a process of re-examining my values and adding activities to match them, I am on a roll of new life experiences. I believe we can reinvent ourselves at any point in life. I have been plagued by depression for many years, but medications have helped a lot, and I have to do a lot of various physical activities to combat scoliosis and leg tremors, but life can be good even with all that.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 4, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Sheila, What a wonderful role model you are for conquering adversities and reinventing ourselves! Just the fact that you were able to let go of your negative inner voice is impressive! I’m excited for you and this next phase of your life! Brava dear lady! You made my day! Thanks for sharing. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply holly August 4, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Thank you – I actually do feel better!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 4, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      That’s wonderful, Holly! I’m so very happy… and grateful you told me! I hope you have a wonderful week! Stand in the light, inhale, and find your way to those things that are meaningful and that lift you up! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Diane August 4, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Absolutely brilliant, Brenda! And so needed.
    I’m looking out on one of the few sunny mornings we’ve had this summer. The trees and grass are green. The flowers are blooming.
    Everything is welcoming this short respite from gloom and clouds and wet.
    And I feel like dashing out to dance in the light!
    I think I will . . .

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 4, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Dearest Diane, What an awesome comment to leave me! You’ve given me a great big smile! I hope your day has continued to be filled with light and love. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Sally Leonard August 4, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Brenda, I read your post and then all the comments following them.
    Not for the first time, I marvel at your generosity of spirit, how kind you are and how wise.
    I hope YOU are proud of how many people you help and the comfort and joy you spread.
    The world is a better place having you here.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 4, 2019 at 4:05 pm

      Oh, Sally! Thank you! I hope I make a difference, but unless someone tells me they were moved by something I wrote, I don’t know, so thank you! YOU are the generous, kind one here. I think we have a mutual admiration society going, don’t you? Love, Brenda

  • Reply Wilma August 4, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Brenda, thank you for another inspirational post. I am always eager for your posts. Brazilian kisses and hugs (beijos e abraços).

    • Reply 1010parkplace.com August 4, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you, Wilma, for telling me. I’m grateful and happy some of my posts are received so well and are seen as inspirational. I love communicating with you and hope I can offer something positive to think about. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Taste of France August 5, 2019 at 4:10 am

    I also did exactly the opposite of my mother. She wasn’t narcissistic, though. Just scared. She would rather buy something in the wrong size than to ask a clerk for a different size or to admit it didn’t fit. On the one hand, she told me I could be anything I wanted, but on the other she warned me that boys wouldn’t like a girl who got better grades than they, or that I should rein in my aspirations. I rebelled but in the best way possible–getting a scholarship to college, being a volunteer in Africa, getting a good job. If she said, “how do you know that will work out?” I would just make sure it did. Considering the era and place where I grew up, if I had had a more laid-back mom, I might not have gotten anywhere.
    I love your essays. You’re a dynamic writer, both in style and in the substance of your message. I look forward to reading your memoir.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 5, 2019 at 11:59 am

      TOF, Wow! That’s a powerful story! I’m so impressed with your determination and your get out there and do it spirit! So many women, especially of her and earlier generations, were taught to be seen and not heard, but that’s not the woman most of their daughters became. My mother was jealous of me in almost every way possible, and it alienated me from her for a long time until my second husband said to me, “She’ll never be the mother you want, but you can be the daughter she needs.” Thank you for the kind compliment about my writing. I appreciate it very much. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Victoria August 5, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Brenda this is a great read. Now that I am a widow I find my self in the shadows a lot. A new role is always hard but over time I am sure I will come into the light. I also used my mother as a pattern as to how not to be. My mother was very spoiled as an only child and probably should never have had children. All five of us did well though by not following her example.

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 5, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Victoria, Thank you! I know how you feel about being a new widow. This Christmas it will be nine years since my husband died. Being single at this age is different from when I was widowed the first time, at 37. I’m not eager to find a mate, but if a great man drops in my lap, I won’t ignore him. Part of me is still in the shadows, and that’s because I don’t have a spouse, but I continue to travel where I want, go to concerts and to the movies by myself, and I have a great time. It’s a mindset, a decision I’ve made. I send you love and strength as you navigate the grief process. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply D.A. Wolf August 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Such important words. Just lovely.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you, DA… I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski August 6, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Such an inspiring thing to read especially at a time like this.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 6, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      Rebecca, These are insane times we’re living in, and I’m betting they will get worse. I’m glad you found this inspiring. Thanks for letting me know. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Rena August 6, 2019 at 8:46 am

    It’s so funny that I read this today because at a family reunion this weekend we talked about this same subject. I’m a background kind of girl, but I embrace it. I love to propel other women into the spotlight and by helping them I feel success for myself. Because of my mother (and wanting to be the exact opposite), I feel as if I don’t have to be the center of attention to feel important. I don’t fill the need to fill my days with the drama of competing with everyone else. I’m me and even though I’m a work in project on my very best day I still feel as if I’ve successfully managed to be the mom that I always wanted to have. One that understood that how I treated my child would be a direct result of how she’d grow up to see herself. My mother was the queen of back-handed compliments that did nothing more than tear down my self-esteem to make herself feel better. I feel that I did a better job of lifting my girl up instead of tearing her down. I see it in the mom she is today and that is what makes me proud.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 6, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      Oh, Rena! That’s a powerful statement to conscious, deliberate parenting and lifting other people up so they can shine! You’ve stated one of the best things that can come from helping others: We help ourselves as well. You’re especially rewarded because you know your daughter will raise her children like you’ve raised her, and so on. The harmful cycle is broken. It stopped with you, and because of you, a good cycle has been created. Like you, I don’t want the drama that comes with having to fight your way to the top. It can tear down our self-esteem, and it can be brutal. I love hearing from you because you always have things of value to contribute to the conversation. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art August 6, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Beautifully said and so inspirational. This piece should be read every morning. We’re all so lucky to have you.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you, Sandy! Maybe we should stitch that last red pull quote on a pillow. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Cat August 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for your great post. My issue is that my son was taken from me, but it was by chronic illness that left him debilitated and I’m his primary care giver and I don’t have much support. So it’s hard to embrace the rest of my life that is not involved in his care, especially since there’s lots of road blocks along the way. As a side note, it seems “roads blocks” are more common at our ages. That would be a great topic for another post, Brenda; how to get around road blocks or at least how to learn to not let them slow us down or sideline us or get us down.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 8, 2019 at 8:44 am

      My Dear Cat… What happened to your son is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine how difficult… at times nearly impossible… it must be for both of you. A friend of mine’s son just turned 21 and he’s severely challenged mentally, can’t communicate much and is confined to a chair or his bed. I don’t know how she’s done it… alone… but she does have the help of some good caregivers. She knows all the ins and outs of the care system and has found ways to find help. Her name is Tammy Bogdany Carrington. You might look her up on Facebook. She’s very open about her son and their struggle, so I know she wouldn’t mind me giving you her name. You might find some comfort in connecting with her. She’s a woman of faith, is usually in a bright cheery mood, and after a long time of being single, a sweet man has come into her life who loves her and her son. I hope he is as good for them as he seems and if so, that he remains, because I know she needs someone like him in her life. You have serious road blocks that have removed you from a normal life. Unless you don’t have a support system of some kind, I don’t know how you’re managing. Sending both of you my love and prayers for strength, guidance and help. Brenda

  • Reply Lindan August 9, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Wow, Brenda! I hardly know where to start. I had some responses to this seriously important message, but I’ve forgotten most of them while reading responses followed by your comments to the women who responded. I do remember one- I’ve watched some, walked along side you with others, and shared some of the ups and downs these past years as life’s events tried to knock you down. When you struggled, we struggled in heart with you. It’s been such joy to watch you release some shackles and emerge into the light walking your own path with new steps in the ‘new’ you! I find I am changing daily and emerging each year a bit better than the person I was before. My wish for ‘better’ and ‘walking in the light’ involves growing closer to my Maker and the One I want to become like the most. Thank you for the message of this blog and for continually stretching my mind to think about something I haven’t spent enough gray matter on before you write it! XOXO LN

    • Reply Brenda Coffee August 9, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Dear Linda, Thank you for being my cheerleader and rooting me on because you’re right… In many ways I’ve reinvented myself after death and heartbreak and I’ve stepped into new circles of light. Until you pointed it out, I didn’t realize I was in the shadows for a while. So unlike me! LOL! Can’t wait to share with all of you where I am right now… In many ways this evening will be a full circle moment for me and 20-something Brenda. So fun! And on my way here I was able to give some insight about stepping into the light with a young woman I sat next to on the plane. It was a blessing for both of us. Thank you, God, and thank you Linda. Love, Brenda

  • Reply Carolyn August 12, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Thank you for your inspiration. I’m in the “over 70” crowd. Have one health issue that puts me down a few days a month and till recently has held me back in the shadows till I could only see a dark existence. But recently I have realized that when “I’m good” I can do/be whatever and GO FOR IT! You have inspired my thinking.
    Thank you

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Carolyn! I’m happy to hear this post has inspired you! Dealing with, and living around, physical issues can be isolating and difficult. Yes! Take advantage of those days you feel well and get out and enjoy yourself! Blessings. xoxox, Brenda

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