In Our Vulnerability

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In Our Vulnerability

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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A few days ago I went to see the new Disney Pixar film titled; Inside Out. The take away for me was that nothing got better until the main character (a little girl) could honestly deal with her emotions. When she could finally communicate her sadness over moving away from her hometown and leaving behind her school and her friends and her hockey team and express it and cry over it in an honest way, everything seemed to get better for her. Nothing worked when she expressed anger and her frustrations. Her parents couldn’t understand why she was disrespectful and why she was running away. In her vulnerability and in her honest communications the darkness dissipated and the light returned and then she was happy again.

I think we have all had those moments when self-preservation takes hold, our ego is engaged and we respond in dishonest ways and cover ups that only prolong the inevitable. Often our openness and our truth and our vulnerability is what is most needed and yet so challenging for us to accomplish.

“Vulnerability may be understood as the capacity to be open, to be attracted, touched, or moved by the draw of God’s love as this is experienced in one’s own life or in the lives of others. It is vulnerability that enables one to enter into relationships of interpersonal communication and communion with others who recognize their own weakness and need. Vulnerability requires the integrity and the strength — indeed the power — to risk enormous pain, to bear the burdens of the darkest hour without avoidance, denial and deception. It demands the stamina to be open in order to be touched in one’s fragility. Vulnerability implies a willingness to lose oneself, to be knocked off center by the claim of the others upon one in the hope of finding one’s true self. It demands readiness to die to one’s self so that one might truly live.” Robert S. Rivers, CSP from Maintenance to Mission  

It is amazing that how when we are honest and when we are heartfelt and when we are open how we attract healing and all the rights things into our lives. For many people honesty and vulnerability are covered up by lies and by self-preservation and these things only serve to take us further away from our authentic selves and from what we need to heal and to become whole and happy.

What touches our hearts? What moves us? What makes us feel emotions from a deep place within? It isn’t bravado but rather an absence of false pride and a willingness to open our hearts up in real and meaningful ways. I don’t know of anything that gets better when we deliberately choose to deny our hearts.

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” Brene Brown  

Love … belonging … trust … joy … creativity … they all seem to start with our openness and our willingness to become vulnerable …

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Happiness is An Inside Job

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Happiness is An Inside Job

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It has taken a long time for me to understand that happiness is an inside job. It was my husband who taught me this. Overall he is very content and can take or leave most things. Brian has an inner peace and strength about himself. He is always so supportive of me. For more than 15 years, when I was running huge social fundraisers he never missed a single event. He never hung onto me for his good time either. He would circulate and was okay with being in a crowd and with people or by himself.

Through the years people have told me, “you two look good together” but what they could never have known was our back story, our family history. We are very much alike and have a deep understanding on what it is like to move past the limitations of your first family. We also had the same track record in love. Brian and I both had a spouse who died and left us with children and another significant relationship end when they cheated on us and left us for someone else. We know what it is like to be hurt by love.

My husband Brian is one of 6 children, I am one of 5. Neither one of us is close to our siblings. He is the only one who moved away. He grew up in the inner city of Baltimore, in the “hood” the projects. They were really poor as kids. None of his siblings left there, not one of them owns a house or an automobile.  He pushed past his initial life circumstances. Brian got an education and continues to educate himself as he is still moving up the corporate ladder.

He is the most responsible of all his siblings. When his mother passed his father had him take over.  He isn’t the oldest but was appointed the guardian for his father’s care. Brian learned how to live without his siblings. In childhood family photos most often Brian is on one side of the picture alone in contrast to the other 5 who are grouped together. It appears to have started when he was just a toddler.

I am one of 5 girls and like my husband I have no relationship with my siblings. We weren’t exactly well off as kids either. They have not been in my life for almost 25 years now. And just like my husband they appear when they want to try and bring me down. They presume to know me but have not been in my life for decades. I don’t allow myself to get caught up in their cauldron of hatred.

My husband had and has an easier time accepted that his siblings are not a part of his life. I always wanted my situation to be different; I mourn for how I would have wanted it to be not for how it truly is and was with them. Like my husband’s family they don’t add anything positive to my life.

It took a long time for me to learn that my happiness was my responsibility. Mine alone. I have so many friends and even more acquaintances. Every job I ever held was in a highly social setting. Many people have lifted me up. And I have been called “inspirational” by more than a few people.

No matter how many people enhance our lives, we come into this world alone and we leave it alone.  Today I am probably more content and happier than I have ever been. It isn’t based on other people or on things but truly comes from self-love and self-acceptance. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses.  I know who I am and I know my truth. I have an easier time discarding those relationships that are unhealthy and non- supportive.

Accepting that my happiness is my responsibility has allowed me to create an inner peace of love supported by my own strength. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand that everything I ever needed was already there inside of me. Better late than never … I suppose …

What I would say to anyone who is unhappy is you need to fix that. You alone have all the tools to be happy. It is there and it is inside of you.  People may try and bring you down and may try to hurt you but that is their unhappiness and not yours.

We are all responsible for the life choices we make and the way we live our life. If it isn’t right for you, then it just isn’t right. Change it. No one can make you happy, no one, but you.

Happiness is an inside job!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

All books by Bernadette A. Moyer are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Families That Vacation Together – A Day at Rehoboth Beach

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Families That Vacation Together – A Day at Rehoboth Beach

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It has been said that “writers are observers of life” and this writer certainly believes that to be true! During a recent trip to the beach I enjoyed doing what I enjoy most; people watching. There were several families near us as we sat on the sand and took in the sun and the sights.

The family that most caught my attention sat directly in front of us. It was a multi-generational family with grandparents and their adult children along with their children. They all seemed to get along and to enjoy each other’s company. I enjoyed watching them interact.

What struck me was the respect and the love that was communicated to the elder “mom” and “dad’ and just how loving they were toward one another. A grown son with his girlfriend (no visible wedding rings) asking “Mom do you need another towel? Here take mine.” He then walked toward her and helped to make her more comfortable.

Then there were the adult children with their young kids and the cousins were all playing and building sand castles. The unmarried aunts and uncles were playing with them and running into the surf together. Again more love more support and all about getting along, surely memories were being made.

I witnessed a young mother discreetly breast feeding her baby and with dad watching over them. Later a little girl that came out of the water and had some difficulty finding her parents in the large crowded beach. A woman immediately reacted and offered to help her, soon she was reunited with her family.

There is a lot that goes on at the beach. I am tuned in and take it all in including my husband who zones out listening to his iPod, eyes closed and in another world up until the heat gets to him and he has to cool off in the water.

When I sit there and look around at all the people, I wonder where they are from and what they do for a living, I read their t-shirts the ones that read “Penn State” and “Key West” along with so many other messages.

I remember when our kids were little and all that sunscreen and the hats that we wanted them to wear to avoid a sunburn. We have so many memories of all the kids and their beach adventures. One of my favorite memories was when the twins were just toddlers and wore matching boy and girl bathing suits that were from Disney and 1001 Dalmatians themed. They were just so cute with the puppy spots and in black and white with red. They loved the water and we loved sharing it with them.

The beach is like camping without the tents, watching people settle into their little piece of real estate for the day and eating food that they brought or that they purchased from the boardwalk.  It’s just fun to watch.

It is so easy to pass the day away at the beach and I always feel like, “my soul knows no calm like the sounds of the surf slapping up against the sand”  I am renewed by my time spent there.

I hope all families get to have that experience of sharing recreational time together enjoying mom, dad, grandpa and grandma, cousins and aunts and uncles all enjoying life and one another and creating memories. It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

I Named Her

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I Named Her

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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I named her, I choose her first name and her middle name, and her name came from an old Johnny Mathis song and also from a little girl that I babysat when I was just a teen. My second choice was Caitlyn Marie and Christopher Michael if we had a boy. It was my choice at just three weeks of age that she would be christened in the Catholic Church. I was there and she was there too.

After taking La Leche league classes I chose to breast feed for the first year of her life. I was there for every single doctor’s visit and every single first day of school and every last day too. It was me who taught her to ride a bicycle and I was there when she passed her driver’s license exam. As an infant I changed diapers and as a young woman I helped support her style. I was there and she was there too.

As a toddler our outings often included the public library and she was enrolled in every single summer reading program. She loved books and was a wiz with her ability to communicate. She was an avid reader. We read together and she always seemed to have her face in a book. I was there and she was there too.

It was me who would decide she should attend Catholic schools and it was me who decided she should be Confirmed. I was there for love and I was there for support. She achieved much as an academic, she was smart, social and attractive. I was there and she was there too.

I was there for all the Christmas programs, for piano lessons and recitals; I was there for carpool every single school day. I was there and she was there too.

I was there when she fell and when she failed, I was there to cheer her on and her biggest fan when she accomplished her goals. I was there and she was there. When her father died and she was just two years old, my love and my desire to protect her from any other harm was heightened. I was there for first dates and for proms I was there for first jobs.  I was there and she was there.

I was there for birthday parties and for “sweet 16” I was there for summer pool parties with her classmates. I was there and she was there too. She always smiled when she saw me and her voice always heightened when I called her. I was there and she was there.

Summer vacations always included the beach, we both loved the water. I was there and she was there too. When she graduated with honors, I was there. When we purchased her first car I was there. I was there and she was there too.

I named her. I choose her first name and her middle name. I carried her into this world and I gave her life. I was there and she was there too. She called me “mom” for the longest time, she was the only one. Then one day it was “Bernadette” and we were done. I was there and she was there and that was all …

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

If Perception is Reality, Does the Truth Matter?

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If Perception is Reality, Does the Truth Matter?

By Bernadette A. Moyer

If perception is reality, does the truth even matter? You can take two people who witness the very same things and yet report on it in completely different ways. How does this happen? Do we believe what we see and what we know? Or do we believe what we want to believe?

If you were unaware of the recent riots in Baltimore City I could take you to several neighborhoods in Baltimore city where you would walk away with a high opinion of Baltimore. I could take you to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a baseball game and you could take in a state of the art professional baseball park that is loaded with all kinds of amenities. You would see that Baltimore has a lot to offer or to Harbor East with beautiful water views and numerous boats on the water. We could share a wonderful meal in Little Italy or many of the other famed restaurants in Baltimore. I could show you inside John Hopkins hospital that is truly a caring and innovated hospital and respected worldwide or tout the many accomplishments of Loyola, Notre Dame and John Hopkins Universities. The Baltimore Basilica is stunningly beautiful too. All are located in Baltimore City.

But if the only thing you witnessed about Baltimore was where the recent riots occurred and the knowledge that Baltimore City just had one month with more than 40 homicides, would you ever believe that this was a good place to visit or to live or to eat?

The same can be said for our relationships where we see the best in others of the very worst in them. Do we see people for who they are or do we see them for who we want them to be? Do we judge them on one view or a total picture? I work with many parents who are bewildered by the things their adult child have said about them, their truth doesn’t match up with what the parents say and believe to be the truth. Does the truth matter? If we say something long enough does it become our truth rather than what actually transpired? If we perceive it to be true, does that make it so?

It’s been said that in a court of law often the side that wins has the better debater and the truth takes a back seat. There is a term called “convenient truth” where what is expressed is just that “convenient.”

I’ve worked in public relations for many years, always highlighting the accomplishments while downplaying the weaknesses. In these situations you could do the reverse and have a very different outcome and yet both presentations would/could be based in truth.

Our own perceptions can be our own truths. The prism that we view life from is based on our reality and our own unique life experiences. “Black lives matter” is a slogan that has popped up in Baltimore and I personally would never have isolated “black” my perception and my reality would be more aligned with “all lives matter.” Because in my reality I never experienced being “black.” We think we know and yet one of the wisest statements I ever heard was “you don’t know just how much you don’t know.”

Does the truth matter? If we perceive it does that make it true? If perception is reality, does the truth matter?

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Living in Love

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Living in Love

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Living in love is a choice just like living with hatred and anger and any other emotion. We get to decide how we will live and how we will respond to life. Since making the choice to live in love I have been happier and healthier than ever before. I decided that if I couldn’t respond with love, I would not respond at all. This single declaration has truly simplified my life. It feels great. We have the choice to live the way that works best for us.

Living in love isn’t the same as being in love or being married or being in a relationship. It is about keeping our own heart in check. Does my attitude and does my heart and do my choices and responses line up with love? Am I coming from a place of love and a place where God would want me to respond and live from? When I can answer in the affirmative that I am truly living in love then my heart is always in a happy and healthy place.

It isn’t always easy but for me it is always the best way to go. Life will challenge us, people will challenge us, the greatest challenge often comes from those that are not living in love and where we cannot change them, and we certainly can change how we respond to them. Not all relationships are meant to last forever, some come and some go. When we can embrace and release with the same degree of love we are living our most love filled life.

Learning to side-step those that bring chaos and drama, the ones that are suffering and instead of learning only wish to harm others, we can try and help them but unless or until they wish to help themselves our efforts will be futile. We learn. If a person presents themselves to you 99 times and each time that they do they smack you in the face, if you go around them for the 100th time and they smack you in the face is it their fault or yours? After a while we learn not to go there. Letting that person go and releasing them in love is what living in love is about.

Love begets more love, when our love grows and when it responds most often we find that we have created even more love. The happiest people are not the ones involved in wars and in hatred; they are the ones who have mastered the art of loving. For most of us, our lives won’t be measured by all the material possessions that we attained and own in our lifetime, but rather by the love that we gave away and the love that we received in return.

I don’t have to understand. There are many things that I may not understand. Often it is about how other people choose to live but that is their choice and their life. Take Bruce Jenner who has decided to make a major life altering decision in transitioning from male to female. That isn’t my reality. It isn’t what I am tasked with. His choices are simply that, his.

It is so easy to judge and to spew out all of our dissent if that is what we decide to do. It truly is just as easy to respond with love, if that is what we choose to do. It’s not about forgiveness or any other act it is merely about leading with our hearts, wanting love to reign and for peace to rule. And living in love allows for infinite love and a life that is centered in God’s peace.

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

A Very Happy Mother’s Day

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A Very Happy Mother’s Day

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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This past Mother’s Day was a very happy day for me. Yesterday I finally put my Mother’s Day card away that my son gave to me. It was so touching because he talked about being an adult and his adult view of my mothering. Our tradition each year is that he takes me out to lunch or brunch and we see a movie. He takes off of work to celebrate with me. It means a lot to him. And it means so much to me too.

But this year I was blown away by the gifts of effort from both my son and from my husband. My son created a personal video that he shot for me by taking many photos off my Facebook page and adding music and his own text.  It literally made me cry. And the one word that he used to describe me just made me so happy, the word was “wise” and who wouldn’t want to be known for their wisdom? He said he was up late the night before creating it and for me it was a complete and unexpected surprise but so truly wonderful.

I am a huge fan of gifts of effort. My husband surprised me by adding two new rose bushes to the garden. He not only purchased them but spent well over an hour weeding the area where they were to be planted and then put them in the ground surrounded by new mulch. Every day when I pass that side of our home I am reminded of his labor of love. I appreciate it so much and love the outcome.

Last year I remember a special exchange when two of the interns that I engaged showed up unexpectedly in my office with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a very large Mother’s Day card too. I never saw it coming but was completely delighted. They both have mothers of their own that they hold in high regard and yet they thought of me too.  A year later I still remember their thoughtfulness.

Mother’s Day this year was a very happy day for me and almost a month later I am still basking in the love and the appreciation that I received and for the most part it was because the gifts were rooted in genuine efforts and heartfelt actions.

I still feel the love and I feel so blessed …

Bernadette on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer