Toasting and Coasting Down Memory Lane

Did you ever eat, taste, smell, see, hear something that brought back memories or at least reminded you of someone? This morning, tired of exactly the same old, same old for my breaking fast, I decided on a couple pieces of healthy bread (there’s a difference between gooey, gummy white stuff and whole grain bread.) Next, I used some substitute butter, low in fat and sodium on this bread. (Don’t tell my guy about this.) Then I put some delicious honey on top of that. Don’t tell him about that one either. Yes, it has “sugar” but it is a natural sweetener, nature made. (Like, oh for Pete’s sake.) Anyway, when I bit into the toast, I remembered clearly my visits to my paternal grandmother. We would play Chinese checkers and eat honey and bread.

I was fortunate enough to live close to both sets of grandparents so I visited this particular grandmother as often as possible. I knew she was the adult and in charge but she never made me feel that way. We shared things like we were a couple of friends. I’m sure she must have let me win at Chinese checkers but I don’t remember that part because winning was not the objective. Bing with her was. She made me feel so welcome, so loved, so appreciated. I craved that as a child. My parents seemed to have too many worries and upsets to really give me the attention I often wanted or maybe needed. Grandparents can be excellent gap closers for their grandchildren. They can fill in the blanks and holes that a child might feel is lacking a bit in their lives. If nothing else, they can enhance a child’s experience of growing up.

I haven’t been that kind of grandparent really. That’s pretty sad when I think about it. I guess being a young grandmother those years going to college, working, and not being the type to perpetuate the hausfrau role I had done since I was 17 sent me spinning off in another direction. I think they fared as well as any child in their particular and separate lives without me. But who knows what a difference I could have made?

Life was different in my grandparent’s day. Still, I ask myself what my grandchildren remember about me. They may not have any great memories of some fantastic time we had together. That is a bit sad to me but one cannot undo what one has done.  It is/was what it is/was.

Toasting and coasting down memory lane this fine morning.  Not a bad way to start the day.


It was dark and the hour late
Lights out and soundless whispers
Rolling into snores and sighs in dark homes
While the gentle rain continued to fall

A stillness fell for an eternal moment
In the heart of she who stood breathing
Alive and yet not; absorbing and reflecting
The sacredness of just Being so alive

She stepped inside and closed the door
Bringing with her the everlasting delight
Of the still, rainy, moment of bliss
And she pondered upon wonder of it all

AUTHOR: Brenda Andradzki Elliott 4/28/2015


forest path

forest path


So much going on around me
Caught up in whirlwind
I reach for balance with invisible hand
While pitching to and fro in mist

Unseen guidance places the path
Where it just appears step by step
Knowing not what the next step will be
Or when it will appear

Cradled in the arms of destiny
I can only wait for what comes next
Or how to answer the unanswered
Revelations come late but not too soon.

Brenda Andradzki Elliott Msw October 7, 2015.


I need to she said as she sat in her chair

I need to she said as she patted her hair
I need to she thought echoing in her head
I need to she urged with feet made of lead

I should she vowed and forced a smile
I should she nudged for a long while
I should she scolded with fiery flame
I should she screamed I hate this game

I must she pledged with a whisper so low
I must she moaned but moved not a toe
I must she whined like a child so small
I must she groaned but meant not at all

I wonder she began with questioning eye
I wonder she said with a lighter sigh
I wonder she repeated and looked deeper
I wonder is it mine, is this one a keeper

I love she said to make things alright
I love she pondered is this my plight
I love she thought but is this truly mine
I love she thought but perhaps it is thine.



So many people get so upset about our melting pot society and how things are changing. All things change like it or not.

One of the things that people get the most upset about is thinking that your faith/religion is being taken from you. Believe it or not, this county was not just put together by men of the Christian faith. If you are pretty solid in your faith why are you worried that it is being taken away from you? I don’t know about you but my faith is in pretty good shape, after all, it is mine, is it not?  If your faith and belief, whatever it may, be is still in there solid when the winds of change blow, then it is not gone. It may be tested but it can’t be taken away from you. Only if and when YOU want to “update” how you believe or what you believe does it, in fact, change. You are free to go to a church or temple or sit under a tree and meditate if you want to.

Your “religion” or faith is who you are and what you are. It is the blueprint (or should be) for guiding your choices and behaviours. Can that really be taken from you? Whatever happens outside in the society may not be to your liken or hard to get used to but it is within you, not outside in society. Hang out with people who believe as you do but you can hang out with people who do not share your beliefs as long as being a loving human being is the goal. If the goal is to argue about who is right and wrong and what you should or should not believe, then, it is impossible.

What if you knew someone and religion was never brought up and you found that person to be the kind of person you want to be around. Perhaps you have some things in common and enjoy one anothers company and companionship. Then one day one of you mentions what you believe about God. Has that person become the enemy of your believe system? Will that person corrupt you or take away what you believe? If that person tries to, then you either have to suggest that you not go into that with one another or you may have to give up the friendship if they are pushy about it or they tell you how wrong you are. If you both realize that beliefs are not meant to be swords with which to divide but an opportunity to be mutually respected, then what is the problem? Nothing.

So during this time of year when people practice their various ways of celebrating or choosing not to acknowledge the reason for the season, how about putting those swords away or at least think about it? More than anything it is the season of Love that should be carried out all year long. Be thankful  you are still able to practice your faith whatever it may be. They can’t take that away from you. Be thankful that this country allows you to believe what you want even during times of change.


I was just thinking that when Thanksgiving rolls around we make a special effort to remember what we have to be thankful for. This is great but have you ever stopped to be thankful for you, for your very existence? Have you ever thought of the things that you can thank your self for? Maybe today you can thank yourself for all the hurdles you have overcome or at least faced and somehow got through. You could thank yourself for being who your are. You could thank yourself for dancing in the thunder clouds of life. You could thank yourself for doing the very best you could and can even if it falls short of your personal standard or mark of excellence. You could thank yourself for being open to new or advanced ideas and for letting yourself out of the box that someone else constructed for you. You could thank yourself for the times when you loved in a difficult situation. You could thank yourself for the things you may have sacrificed for others. You could be thankful for having given up some addiction or person that was sucking the life out of you and them.


You can thank yourself for being willing to step up and heal yourself and the world you live in. Because while you may have help from angels, God, a higher power, others in your life, or whatever power you call upon, you were willing to do what it took and what it still takes.   So this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for myself and for you and what we all bring to the table of life. 

Cinderella Girl

Feet dangling in the adult-sized chair, head bent downward slightly, eyes fixed on a spot in the flooring where an invisible stain nailed her, the demure female child felt small, insignificant, powerless, unacceptable, unworthy, unloved, but worse of all, unwanted and in the way. Her intuition was now tuned into sending feelers out into her environment to see if she could guess the next move and where it might come from. Gut ears reaching out to detect the other shoe dropping. Perhaps she could keep that shoe from dropping. Yes, she could hold onto that hope. The questions above all questions she might ask were the thoughts that never where spoken like What can I do to avoid that tongue lashing or leather belt that bites my flesh? Can I get through the day without breaking some unknown and sacred rule that would invite an unwanted response from the parent? Why did they bring me into this world if they are so displeased with me, especially the mother? Yes, these were the bothersome questions that consciously and unconsciously played in the back of her mind no matter how the day was going. These questions colored her world and made life more difficult than it should be all through her life. Right now, she did not know how much energy that took or how it would influence every thought, every decision, every choice she made for years to come.

Looking upon that child now in my mind’s eye, my heart goes out to her and I want to gather her in my arms, to tell her that she is a diamond in the rough, and that one day she will see herself as I see her now, a pure sparkling jewel that has a tough journey ahead and that it will all make sense one day. I

want her to know, as I look upon her unhappy little face, that it will all be worth it in the end. But, I know I couldn’t change things in that time long ago as it unfolded then and in the growing years to come. I only know that I can finally look upon the face of triumph and be so proud of what she has and is still accomplishing in this future time.

We think that we live in a space in time that spreads out in linear fashion with every step we take along our journey. Of course that is how it seems to us, because when we turn back time in our minds we can almost see the footsteps along a path from our first cry to where we might be now in human years. Yet doesn’t it seem like yesterday when we started our first day of school or had our first kiss or became a parent? There have been moments of my life that seem to have dragged by agonizingly slowly; other times moments went by in a blink. Time, it appears, is what our mind perceives it to be but one thing we can agree upon is that it is ever-moving energy captured in events of shadow and light. Our minds take a photo of these events, these moments, and place in the file called “My Life” along with all the emotion and meaning that we experienced then and placed upon them. This, I call baggage.

The god or goddess of Fate seems to descend upon every little girl and boy from birth doling out perks and punishments without thought or care. It reminds me of the ancient gods of myth who seemed to pick on mortals flaunting their powers and choosing to bless or curse at whim while leaving mortals believing they are powerless in Fate’s quake. For a very few die hard souls, however, with the desire to overcome and break the chains that would bind them, there is a freedom waiting for them that others may never experience before they die.

Rumi the poet wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” In terms of Cinderella she not only gets to go to the ball henceforth known as that pure field but she eventually transforms from that abused little girl to that soul who becomes the princess she always was. The fairy godmother did not save her but supported that girl while she reached for and created the freedom and love that she desired. Prince Charming wasn’t a savior either but rather represents to this Cinderella, me, the love that was in her, outside of her, all around and through her. This was and is her dance partner.

I am evolving constantly as layer upon layer of lies I have told myself drop into ashes from which a new Phoenix is born. Rumi’s field is within reach now. I hear the music at the ball and I want to dance.

I had searched in others for the mother I wanted. I was hoping for direction, support, understanding, guidance, and love. I thought that these had been lacking and withheld from me. The fickle finger of fate had denied me and I knew not why. Now I know that the direction, support, understanding, guidance and love are within me. In a manner of speaking I am my own mother not that I don’t find and enjoy knowing that it is there in others as well. I enjoy sharing the wiser woman I have become and I know that the path that I had taken was not fate but rather mapped out by a higher power than myself to give me the opportunity to bring my bruised little Cinderella self through to self-actualization which is not the same as a damaged ego.

Abraham Maslow a psychologist in 1943 came up with his theory of the Hierarchy of Need . It’s been a hard climb to even get closer to the top of the pyramid where self-actualization abides. Maslow’s pyramid starts at the bottom with a person’s need for physiological necessities like food, clothing and shelter as the first order of need. Once that is met then one may be able to concerns him or herself with safety. From there, the next need is for belonging and from there moving onto the next, is esteem which can begin to catapult a person upwards towards self actualization. But it is not actually an upward movement where you leave one step to go to the next. It is more of spiral of movement where at times you may experience any of these needs to a more then lesser degree as you become more your real self. You are still wanting and needing connection with others but there is a giving and taking inspired by Love Itself. It still takes a village of many people and events in order to climb that pyramid.

Carl Rogers, a humanist psychologist, had a theory much like Maslow’s. He expanded upon self-actualization. He believed that self-actualization was more apt to be achieved if a child experienced unconditional positive regard from parents and significant others. This means that the parents and significant others loved and accepted the child for who and what they were at any given time. This child felt taken care of, supported, and loved no matter what and therefore could feel free to explore life and make mistakes without feeling like love was being withheld or based upon conditions. Rogers believed that a child deprived of positive self regard, particularly in childhood, would be less likely to reach self actualization. I believe it is possible for anyone to move beyond their deprivation of unconditional love if they realize, first of all, that there is anything to move beyond. Secondly they must be willing to do the work. It is hard work and requires an unimaginable desire to shed the shackles of self doubt and unbelievable need to be approved of in order to reach the individual ideal goal. It is the road less taken and there is no map.

So now, I take that little brave and determined little girl that I was into my embrace and no matter what she has thought or done ever that made her feel wrong, at fault , guilty, unworthy or unlovable and let her know that was all a lie. I want to tell her how brave she has been. I want her to know that I honor her efforts to break the chains of abuse. I want her to learn, if she hasn’t already, that she need not seek others approval in order to achieve positive self regard. I give her positive self regard. I love her no matter what and no matter what anyone else may think. I want her to be certain that she was always being the child she had to be in order to survive. Now she is free to be the soul, the person, she was destined to be and that she has and is doing a service to her fellow human beings by doing her part. I think my inner child now know that the adult she and I have become have been teaming up to heal abuse received and given no matter the form in which it came. The chain has been broken. Now is the time for healing..

I love you Brenda. You are a precious human being and I am delighted that you can see and feel the suffering of others even when they do not. Come away from the ashes, go to the ball and dance like everyone is watching but you don’t care.

Cinderella Girl by Brenda Andradzki Elliott, MSW November 16, 2014


GrandBitty, that’s what we grandchildren called her, except for Granddad who simply called her Bitty. My father and his siblings called her Mama. To me she was grand no matter what she was called.

Grand indeed was my maternal grandmother. She was like a mother hen over her seven boys and one girl. Later on, those under her wings included her grandchildren and those whom her children married. This became quite a number as the family grew. I didn’t know if this was how the nickname of Bitty began to take hold. It could also have been because she was a tiny woman. The wedding picture of my grandfather and grandmother on their wedding day shows her as very small in stature with a waist size that must have been the envy of every young woman of her era.

I was the first born grandchild and a girl at that but only on my father’s side of the family. I can only imagine everyone on my paternal side of the family was thrilled to see another female added to the family fold. Daddy had only one female sibling. I was almost an oddity until the other granddaughters arrived on the scene. Still, no grandchild born after me could hold title of being the first. I loved that. Oh yes I did.

My paternal Grandmother had a special warmth about her that was irresistible. It seemed to me that sweetness and love poured freely from every pore and I wanted to scoop up as much of that as I possibly could when I was around her. I remember the many comments of friends and neighbors after her death. They described her as loving, kind, caring, sweet woman with a pleasant nature. She was my saving grace, my angel, who gave me what I need most in life, unconditional love. I wanted to be just like her.

How blessed was I, I thought. I lived in the same neighborhood as both sets of grandparents so I could visit them when I got old enough to walk to their homes. My maternal grandmother was more of a no-nonsense kind of woman with a good heart but in my child’s eyes, I had to look harder for the love in her while GrandBitty exuded love, tenderness, and warmth without reservation or effort. The latter’s hugs just enfolded me in a protective, I’m-glad-to-see-you cocoon. Like a breath of fresh air I gulped it in greedily like a loved starved orphan.

At home I often felt love was something that was rarely expressed but if things were pleasant, if I wasn’t yelled at or I wasn’t hit with a belt, that was close enough. If my brother or I was able to make my mother laugh, keep her from being depressed or angry, then it almost felt like love. If Mama ever said, “I love you”, I don’t remember it. Daddy didn’t say he loved me either but somehow he was able to covey his love through other ways. For example, I must have been eight or nine and I can remember Daddy kissed me on the top of my head as he left for work. Did he get angry sometimes and yell? Oh yes he did but I never recall his spanking me or hitting me. Was it because I was a girl or was it that he wasn’t with us all the time like Mama was? Perhaps it was because his own father would beat his children with fists or belts that he vowed not to give in to hitting us. I recall his spanking my brother once with his hand

I’m not sure how but somewhere along the line, I got the impression, true or not, that I came through my childhood feeling that I was a burden or unwanted to some degree. I carried with me all the time (then and henceforth) that I was not good enough to be loved. I also carried with me a feeling that whatever happened that was not right or was unpleasant was my fault. For example once I can recall when I had been beaten with a belt because I had done something unacceptable though I cannot remember what it was. I was probably seven or eight. I do remember that time and many other similar times being beaten with a belt when I really had no idea that I had done anything wrong. This particular time, though, had a different twist. I was sent to bed crying. By the time I crawled into my bed I was whimpering. I just couldn’t cry anymore. After a few minutes my mother came to my bed. What was she going to do? I wondered. She sat down on the bed and in a softer voice she began to speak to me. “Why do you make me do these things to you?” she began. So now instead of finding comfort in my mother’s softer tone, the blame for what had happened was now fully mine. Now I knew for certain that anytime I was punished it was my fault and that I was a bad child. Looking back I think my mother was not really okay with beating us but she could not understand it nor change it even if she vowed to herself that she would; so, the only way it made sense to her was to blame me or my brother for what she did. At the time my child’s mind could not grasp that. All I knew was that I was responsible for the punishment because I couldn’t get it right – whatever “it” was. That was a heavy burden for a young child to carry for the rest of her life. My brother and I coped by trying to make Mama laugh so that she would be less angry or depressed. Sometimes it worked.

Is it any wonder then that I lapped up, soaked up and craved all the attention I could get from GrandBitty? She praised me for my efforts at playing the piano though my father also encouraged me but in a different way. GrandBitty would play Chinese checkers with me, share toast and honey with me, show me all the new things she had crocheted, knitted, sewed or other future projects she might be thinking about. And lemon drops! Oh, I remember she loved lemon drops and what a treat that was to receive them from her hands to mine. Her hugs were like a soothing balm to my confused and bruised idea of self. I got nothing but praise, love, and welcoming from her. Perhaps I gave her much of what she also needed in her life because what she gave me I gave back and it seem to work for both of us.

In my relationship with GrandBitty, I never lost sight of the fact that she was an older, wiser adult and I was the child yet many times she treated me as somewhat of an equal. Maybe you could say we connected soul to soul. One day we were sitting in rockers on her front porch having an adult-like conversation. I think it was evening and the sky was beginning to turn down the lights and to display the planets and stars on the stage for our entertainment. She looked up at the sky and asked me if I thought there was life on other planets. No one had ever posed such questions to me and I think I recalled the wonder of her even asking me what I thought. No one ever asked me what I thought. I was always told what to think, what to believe, what to do and not do. But she asked me my opinion. This amazing woman thought about things that were deep and if anyone else had such thoughts, no one but my beautiful grandmother ever shared them with me. She and I were very open souls exploring the infinite possibilities ever searching for something beyond, something more, something to help us understand our purpose for even being alive. I don’t know if you could call it spiritual but from this vantage point now upon which I stand and reminisce, I would say it was.

My grandmother was inquisitive when it came to God. The only time she got to go to any church was when they needed a pianist for their services. They would send someone for her and I imagine paid her a little something for her time so Granddad did not seem, to my knowledge, to object. I don’t know how many different churches she might have been exposed to during those years or if it was just one church but for some reason, I have the impression it was more than one. I think she had more questions than answers where her spiritual path was concerned but she did believe in God or a higher power. I was a lot like her in that respect and more. But, that’s another story.

Her husband, my grandfather, known as Oz, believed in God but to my knowledge never went to church. Even if he might have wanted to go, they never owned a car. Before he retired he rode his bicycle for quite a distance to work. Early in life, alcohol was the altar upon which he most worshiped, trying I imagine, to cope with his own pain and demons.  He managed to hold down a job and plant a garden every year. He was always good to me but later in life I was told that he had a mighty temper which he felt free to leash upon his children when they were young. I think my grandmother was the light of his life but it was evident that he ruled the roost in that household.

My maternal grandmother, better known to me as Granny, was a devout Baptist. She never missed a Sunday without good reason and wanted all of her children and grandchildren, daughter’s and son’s-in-law to become Baptist if they were not already. Unlike GrandBitty, she knew exactly what spiritual road to take and maintain and what her family should do. I thought she might have a stroke when this Baptist girl married a Catholic but if it upset her, I never knew it. Unlike GrandBitty who died at 64, Granny lived to be 99 and I was privileged to know her much better in my adult years. The years had softened her it seemed to me and she was always very happy to see me and my children when we visited her. It was a different but also positive relationship that I had with Granny.

Yes, Bitty died much too young. I remember the day the phone call came. I had been going about my day taking care of my children and doing what all young mothers and wives did. It seemed to be a normal day like any other day. I lifted the ringing phone and said hello totally unaware of what I was about to hear. My mother was on the other end of the line and as calmly as she could, told me that my beloved grandmother was dead. I almost dropped the phone but my whirring mind collected itself enough to ask how and when had this unbelievable thing happen.. When Mama told me that she had been taken to the hospital the night before and died this terrible, unbelievable morning, shock and grief rolled over me before the anger burst through. It was then that I demanded to know why I had not been called when she went into the hospital. I could have gone there and I could have seen her one last time. I had been cheated of one last time with my grandmother. Mama explained that she had been taken to the hospital and that while it was about her heart, everyone expected that things were under control in the hospital and that she would be alive the next day so there was no need to call me. I think at that point I was crying and yelling at the same time and none of it made sense to me. For me to display anger about anything was taboo. Anger towards my mother was unacceptable but this time I didn’t care. I felt that my parents had denied me the gift of seeing my grandmother one more time. Nothing could contain neither that fury nor my grief. Later I realized that I had something that no one could take from me and that was the gift that my grandmother had been to me.

My Bitty made me feel loved and wanted and in her presence I was able to get a glimpse that strengthened me during my tender years. She used to tell me that I would probably grow up to be a singer like the ones we saw on television. My mother scoffed at that as though my grandmother was filling my head with impossible dreams and ideas. But I held onto every positive thing my grandmother said to me. I learned to be open and inquisitive about many things and to entertain ideas that did not match what society in general and my family to some extent, was telling me. She had a hard life but she was a dreamer and without knowing it she gave me exactly what I needed to help me cope better for the rest of my life than perhaps I would have otherwise. She gave me the love and acceptance that I so desperately needed. She was my guardian angel and so much more. In fact, I think she probably still is.


I tell you, I would rather have a calendar and a to-do file than to not have anything happening in my life, but once in a while, it is nice to not have so much going on. There are the things I want to do that are so fulfilling like having lunch with family or friends, making changes to my house decor. Then there’s the necessary stuff like regular checkups and paying bills. But there are other things that I just groan about having to do that are necessary. Then I think to myself that at least I have the money to pay the bills. I have the brain power to think and plan and carry those things out. I am mobile. I can take walks. I can go places on my own. I have loads of fun stuff to place in between those not so fun things. I have three wonderful daughters, wonderful cousins, wonderful other relatives. I have a great little dog although at times his eating habits and stomach issues worry me. I have internet. I have phone. I belong to groups. I could go on and on and on. One day some of the things I do today I will not be able to do in the future. Who knows? I feel deep gratitude for the ability to do even the smallest thing or have the ability to get the help i need when there is something I cannot do. Giving thanks today with a grateful heart.


Have you ever bitten your tongue or cut you nose off to spite your face? One is a metaphor for keeping your mouth shut when you want to say something and the other is a metaphor for doing something that doesn’t help your situation but makes it worse.

Sometimes you need to keep your mouth shut. You should know those times but there are times when you need to speak up and you should know those times as well. How many times do we get that backwards? Sometimes you need to shut your mouth and jump out of the emotion long enough to use your guts, your head, and your common sense before opening your mouth and speaking up. It’s always a good idea to cool down, find love or understand somewhere inside of you and lead with that. It’s not always our words but how we use and deliver them that determines the outcome.

What about the times when you poison yourself, so to speak, when you keep making choices that bite you in your rear because these choices were made in the heat of sexual or violet or angry passion? What about the times when you don’t want to face your own responsibility for doing exactly what you know is going to give you nothing but grief in the long run? That being said, if some people didn’t open their mouths when they knew they would be in danger or ridiculed or in prison some social changes would not have taken place. Some laws would not have been changed or revised. Progress would not have been made.

So we come to the word discretion and the word discernment. Use your powers of discretion and discernment when making choices. The only other choice is to let your passions and your ignorance run your life. In those cases you usually take others down with you and you don’t get what you thought you wanted in the end. Some nooses are not quite so hard to slip out of or to tolerate while you rectify, as best you can, the choice that you made, while others will surely suck the life out of you. Try not to be the snake that bit his own tongue and poisoned himself.