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Do you remember the television commercial, “Cotton… The fabric of our lives?” Sometimes I think the real thread running through our lives is stress. Just when we think we’ve mastered one stressful part of our lives, we slide seamlessly into another. In this chapter of my life I’m learning to be Alpha dog to two puppies and to surrender my need for a clean house. At the moment the courtyard and the outside of three sets of French doors look like Jackson Pollock paintings done in mud.

Perhaps I should tape canvas to the doors and see if I can get a gallery showing for the girls and their “work.”

Other than cleaning up after muddy puppies, my life has been pretty calm. Unlike many of you, I haven’t been getting ready for Hanukkah or a big Christmas, a stressful time to be sure. I have been thinking about my husband, James, who went for a walk six Christmas’s ago and never returned. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve been able to resume my life, especially since I lost the rest of my family the same day.

Some Christmases have been easier than others. Just when I thought this one would be a piece of cake, a week ago I found myself laying on the floor of a department store dressing room for an hour and a half with what may have been a panic attack.

The term “panic attack” is a misnomer. Consciously I wasn’t thinking about another Christmas without James, or even that is was mother’s birthday, or this was the second year without her. I wasn’t panicked about anything. I was returning a blouse and visiting with a friend. Hardly conditions that would cause an increased heart rate and feeling like I was going to pass out. Since then I’ve been meditating more; I wore a heart monitor for a few days and will have a stress test after the New Year just to be sure.

The holidays can be stressful and difficult for lots of people, especially if we’re reminded of the loss of a family member or perhaps someone we love is seriously ill or troubled. My online blogging friend, Tamera, calls them “EMOTIONAL MIND FIELDS.” The best thing we can do is to ask God for help—if you’re so inclined—and to search for a thread of hope. One thing I know for sure is negativity feeds on itself and before long, we’re mired in hopelessness instead of hopefulness.

Hope isn’t just a four-letter word. Hope is a real and powerful thing.

Hope puts ideas into motion, educates children and frees people from the shackles of illness and poverty. Hope enables us to visualize new things and miracles yet to be created. What would we be without hope? Every time we surrender our hope, we stop living and believing in life, and as soon as we stop believing, we lose more than our hope. We lose a part of who we can become.

Hope is intangible, but at the same time, you can almost reach out and touch it! I pray you wrap yourselves in blankets of hope this holiday season.

Here’s a toast to hope and survivorship: Grab life with both hands and don’t let go! Do it intentionally and thoughtfully for it will never come this way again.

Love, Brenda


  • Laureen Satabe December 23, 2017 at 5:16 am

    You’ve come through so much, being stronger than one can imagine, Brenda, and perhaps your mind and body needed to regroup. Hope you are ever so much better now and while you know you are surrounded by love literally and figuratively, please take care of yourself. You mean so much to so many.

    • 1010ParkPlace December 23, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you, sweet friend… old friend… You are treasured and appreciated Laureen. Love, Brenda

  • Doreen McGettigan December 23, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I wish I could have been in that store with you. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I don’t know what it is about stores but that’s when my panic attacks rear their ugly heads.
    I’m wishing you and your girls a peaceful, blessed Christmas and the brightest of New Years. I believe God has something fabulous in store for you in 2018.

    • 1010ParkPlace December 23, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      I hope God has something fabulous in store for all of us this new year. This afternoon I met up with Donna O’Klock and her significant other for a fun afternoon. We talked about panic attacks… I’m sorry to hear you’ve had them as well, but I know there are a lot of us who’ve had them and rarely under situations where we should be afraid or panicky. Such a strange name: panic attacks. BTW, I don’t have them when I’m home, and I’m not “bothered” by going out so it’s odd that’s when I have them. Their timing is strange indeed. Could this be part of what turns people into agora phobics? Merry Christmas, dear friend. I want great things for you as well. Love, Brenda

  • Vinetta December 23, 2017 at 7:50 am

    My dear friend, I hope you have a peaceful, joyful, holiday! And a very happy new year!

    • 1010ParkPlace December 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you, Vinetta. I wish the same for you, my friend. What would I do without you? Love, Brenda

  • Michaele Hall December 23, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Brenda, you bring such joy and inspiration to those of us who follow your blog. I am wishing you a peaceful and loved filled holiday this year with your wonderful friends, who are actually your real family. Much love to you and Happy Holidays. Michaele

    • 1010ParkPlace December 23, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      You’re so right about my friends being my family. They watch out for me, love me and have my best interest at heart and that’s more than I could ask for from anyone. Thank you for your support and for reading my blog. Your note means a lot to me… a note from a friend. I wish you lots of love and joy this season. Love, Brenda

  • Robin LaMonte December 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm


    I have not experienced the loss of a loved one so it’s hard to imagine what you are feelings must be during the holiday season.
    You have gone through a lot in your life and I can’t imagine what caused the lightheaded ness in the dressing room that day.
    If I had been in the store, I would have laid down next to you and held your hands until your heart slows down to normal.

    I enjoy following you and having you as a fierce sister.
    You are truly amazing and appreciated .
    Happy holidays!

    • 1010ParkPlace December 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Oh Robin! You touch my heart deeply. Thank you for your kind and loving nature. I couldn’t ask more of a sister or a friend. Happy Holidays to you as well, sweet lady. I really am touched by what you’ve written. Thank you. Brenda

  • jill Anthony December 25, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Brenda, this was such a beautiful post. Your blog followers are, in a sense, a family of lively, intelligent and hopeful women. How wonderful it is that you have created a space for us. Happy Holidays and may your days be filled with positive lovely people.
    Love, Jill

    • 1010ParkPlace December 28, 2017 at 9:00 am

      You’re right, Jill. I used to say 1010ParkPlace was a community of like-minded women, but we’re so much more than that. We are a family. A bright, caring family of choice, not of blood, who care about one another, exchange ideas and lift one another up. I’m grateful you and Hildie are part of our family. Love, Brenda

  • Beckye December 27, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Oh, Brenda! I’m so sorry to hear this, and I wish I’d seen it sooner. Praying for God’s peace to fill your heart and mind, and for His blessing on you in the coming year. Love you and hoping all is going much better. When I say, “Bless your heart!” I truly mean it! 😀 Cheers to a fabulous 2018!

    • 1010ParkPlace December 28, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Thank you, Beckye, for blessing my ❤️ I do know you mean it. That’s one of the many things I love about you. I appreciate your prayers and that you’re one of our 1010ParkPlace sisters. I send my best to you for a healthy new year filled with love and laughter and all of God’s blessings. Love, Brenda

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