dreams cOme true

One year ago I found myself writing about hitting bottom in my hello bOttOm post. Bottoms are rich with lessons, insights, inspiration and motivation if you choose to keep looking, breathing, and then screaming and crying when you need to. It is not the easiest choice, but, in my opinion, the worthiest.

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.”
– Hafiz

Today I find myself in a much different place (yippee!) and I’m suprised at how uncomfortable I feel. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that, but it’s really the truth. Don’t get me wrong. I’m crazy happy and excited that this is the best I have felt in five years, but it’s also quite challenging to embrace the joy of it all. I’m not 100% yet, but feeling this new level of vitality in my body is amazing, and frightening at the same time.

Amazing because I now feel capable of taking what I’ve learned these last five years to build a life that offers the world the best of me, and really makes me happy. Frightening because I know what it’s like to not have the strength to get out of bed, and the memory of it is still quite haunting. But maybe that makes it even more important to happily and boldly claim where I am now.

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.

– Brene Brown

Maybe this moving on and embracing joy time is as sacred as the dark, rich, fighting for your life time. Oh, I sure do hope so. I wouldn’t want anyone else to miss this part of their journey, so why am I giving myself such a hard time about it? I actually think I’m feeling guilty. Oh, man, I didn’t see that one coming!

Feeling guilty for getting well when other people are still suffering with their dis-eases. That part of this makes me really sad. If I could give everybody good health and vitality I would. I really, really would.

 “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
– Anne Lamott

So, I guess I have a choice to make. To keep shining my light in the best way I know how, or to let the shame and guilt win. Well, I will tell you right now – they are NOT going to win. I’ve worked too damn hard and long for that to happen!

Even though it feels terribly risky, I’m making a promise to myself, right nOw, to revel in this new energy. To keep claiming every bit of joy and light I can, and to keep making choices that light me up. It’s really my wish for everyone on the planet, so why wouldn’t I choose it for myself, too?

To that end, I will share with you that I have been accepted into the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery!!! How crazy unbelievable is that?!? Truth be told, I am over the moon about it. As far back as I can remember I’ve dreamed of being an artist. I’ve always loved creating things, fixing things, and finding ways to put things back together again in new ways. And here I am sharing it with the world!! Some dreams really do come true!

For many of my working years I imagined my 80-year old self as a budding artist. I’m so happy I didn’t wait that long. I’m actually 20 1/2 years ahead of time! All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. To the Universe, my creativity, my perseverance, and to all of you. I truly wouldn’t have made it without you.

None of us know what is around the next corner, which makes every day a special opportunity to respond to life in a way that is in line with who you really are. Your unique brand of love, creativity, humor and kindness is invaluable to the world. Don’t ever forget that. I promise I won’t either.

Be Brave.

Be Kind.

Be True.

lOve, vickiO

P.S. My artwork will be in the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery beginning June 6, 2017. I’m so happy to be a part of this new community, and to be supporting the arts right here in my beautiful little town. I’ll be sharing more about it in the coming months, and invite you to check out my Artist Bio on their website.

Keep dreaming and becoming!

nOw is nOt the time tO quit

“Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.
                                                             -Simone Weil
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Today it is 5 years since my journey with Valley Fever began. I can still hear the first Pulmonary Doctor say to me that it might be three months or more before I begin to feel better. At the time those three months sounded like forever. Who would have ever thought it would be 5 years?!?!!

I have been an instant results kind of girl for most of my life. It worked for me for a while, but I’m learning that it also took it’s toll on my body and soul.  I don’t recommend it, and I’m still surprised how often I catch myself setting impossible standards for myself, and, unfortunately, others. I’ve learned it is not sustainable, or even really all that fun. Needing and requiring instant results feeds perfectionism, judgement, and harshness. Yeah, REALLY not fun!

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This journey has forced me to grow in ways I didn’t even know were possible. It has been humbling, incredibly challenging, enlightening, surprising, freeing and downright joy-filled many times. I have felt more loved, creative, grateful and empowered than ever before. Yes, this sacred illness has changed my life for the better.

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By early November I was feeling the best I have felt since I got sick. Oh jOy!! I even felt up to playing 18 holes of golf on Ladies’ Day, which includes golf, lunch, socializing, and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Being on a golf course is truly one of my happy places, and I have missed it dearly. So, again, Oh jOy!!

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My game was rusty, and I was a bit anxious, but I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, it was all just a bit much for me. It took 3 days to recover, but the following week I was back out there. My inner dialogue went something like this – “You can do this. It is time to be out there. People are expecting you to finally show up and be a part of things again. And remember, you love golf!”  Yes, my inner critic and her high expectations are really hard to shake. By the end of the month my energy had bottomed out and I finally, and sadly, had to admit that I wasn’t up to the whole thing. Again?! Really!?

One day I wandered into my art studio, rearranged a few paintings and came upon this sign. Sometimes the “signs” from the Universe are actually signs!!

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I chuckled, and smiled, and was flooded by memories of two of the most amazing women I have known. This sign first hung in Sharon K.’s house and was the mantra she lived by everyday. Even as she battled multiple myeloma for several years, I never once saw her give up. Even during her final days, there was no throwing in the towel for her. This sign was then passed to her life long friend, Sharon L., and was a beacon for her as she open-heartedly walked through her own battle with cancer. So many reasons to give up, and no “I can’t” was heard. And now that neither one of them are on the planet, it has been passed to me.

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To be honest, the first time I saw this sign I really thought it was a bit harsh. I mean, some days, don’t we all just get to throw in the towel and cry uncle? As I watched both my dear friends courageously battle cancer and intense loss, I began to see more clearly the depth of their spirits. There was no “give up” there. No “I’m done” there. No “I can’t” there. It humbles me and still brings me to tears to have experienced their unbeatable, beautiful, brilliant spirits.

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As I lay on my yoga mat this morning, I finally realized what I had witnessed in my two amazing Sharon’s. This sign doesn’t mean to keep pushing and gutting my way through life. It doesn’t mean to just suck it up.  It doesn’t mean to see how much I can suffer through. What it DOES mean is to:

Never, Never, Never give up On yOurself.

As I lay sobbing on my yoga mat, I was flooded with feelings of relief and gratitude. I get it now. They were showing me their light, so I could see mine. It felt like for the first time I could feel the true and real energy and light of my spirit.  My spirit really is there. Always has been. She has my back and I have hers. And so do my two Sharon’s.

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So dear friends, I am encouraging you to not quit on yOurself. To not quit on the spirit of who you really are. You have no idea what wonderful things might happen. I sure didn’t!

shine On dear Ones!

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Be Gentle.

Be Brave.

Be True.

lOve, vickiO

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let yOurself be mOved

“A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way.”

-Deena Metzger

In early January of this year, I got a notice that the amazing artist and teacher Jeanne Bessette (http://www.bessetteart.com) would be teaching a 5-day art class in Sedona, Arizona in September. I remember laying in  bed, which was where I was still spending about half of my time, thinking what a great opportunity this was. Jeanne lives in North Carolina, and as far as I knew, had never come to AZ.

As I continued to read the details about this “Soul of the Artist” class , I felt this rush of excitement, and an absolute and resounding “yes!” in every cell of my body. You know. One of those times when all logic goes out the window, only pure heart energy takes over, and there’s nothing to do but hang on for the ride. It’s quite exhilarating, and at the same time, scary as hell!

Before I really knew what was happening, I electronically plunked down my $250 non-refundable deposit and somehow trusted that in 8 months I would be well enough to attend and participate in the class. You’d think there wouldn’t be any doubt that it would be enough time, but after 4 years of this chronic illness, I’d become leary of banking on any kind of steady improvement.

As the months clicked by, I moved between “how awesome is this” and “what the hell was I thinking” many, many times. I even emailed Jeanne to make sure it would be workable if I still needed to take my daily 2-hour afternoon nap. She kindly reassured me that she would make sure I didn’t miss anything big. Luckily, to my amazement, my energy steadily improved, and on September 18th I happily and nervously drove myself to the magical land of Sedona.

Funny things happen when you say “YES” to your own heart strings.  Like:

  • you get a partial view of the gorgeous Sedona red rocks from your “basic” hotel room.
  • you find a comfy couch, perfect for napping, in the room next to the art studio.
  • you put your well being first and find out that really cool people still value you.
  • you begin feeling surges of energy you haven’t felt in years.
  • you begin embracing a part of yourself that has needed attention for as long as you can remember.
  • you begin to feel a strong connection to something greater, something grander, something magical, and can’t believe how happy it makes you.
  • upon returning home, you are greeted with many kisses and a giant bouquet of sunflowers.

I always doubted the reality of Sedona being a place of energy vortexes, strong spiritual energies, and healing. It just sounded too good to be true, and more a creation of good marketing than actual facts. Oh, how wrong I was.

It’s not that I’d never experienced the natural beauty of “Red Rock Land”, but for the first time, with support and love from the wise and transformational Jeanne Bessette, I was encouraged to be “in relationship” with it. And it changed everything.

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I’m still in process with the whole experience, and it hasn’t been all flowers and puppy dog tails to say the least. But not many things in this life are. I’m still working on being okay with that. In the mean time I will keep loving myself, fighting off shame when it sneaks in while I’m not looking, harvesting priceless energy that has been locked inside unprocessed and unloved anger, and painting like my life depends on it. Because I’m pretty sure it does.

"the light bearer"

Pay attention to your heart strings, dear friends. They will never lead you astray. Promise.

Be Brave.

 Be Happy.

Be True.

lOve, vickiO

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say yes.

take the risk.

let yOurself be mOved.

it’s wOrth it!

Own it

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

 – Maya Angelou

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I’m happy to report that over the last 6 months my health has improved considerably. I’ve enjoyed more dinner dates and adventures with my husband, strengthened my core muscles, attended weddings of family and friends, golfed, kayaked, walked in the ocean, hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains to a waterfall, continued painting, heard mountain climbers, deep sea divers and Olympic athletes tell of their adventures, and spent some time with friends. Crazy good!

It’s been wonderful, scary, challenging, surreal, and at times downright strange. There are times when I feel like I’ve taken a deep, 4-year transforming sleep, and upon awakening find the world looks very different from the one I knew before. I wonder if butterflies ever have the same feelings. They “go to sleep” a caterpillar, and wake up a butterfly. Can you even image what it takes to accomplish that? Or how amazingly unsettling it could be?

For both the butterfly and me,

the world really didn’t change that much.

We did.

I feel as different on the inside, as the caterpillar turned butterfly looks on the outside. I wish my transformation had given me actual wings (because how cool would that be), but the truth is I got inside wings instead. It’s taking some time to get used to them. Some days I feel like I know how to use them, and on other days I’m flopping around on the floor, or helplessly caught in some invisible net.

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I didn’t think that this “getting better” phase would look like this. I expected I would slide right back into my life as it was, going at the pace I was used to. It turns out, things don’t really work that way. And it’s actually a really good thing. I’ve worked long and hard for this new internal me, and it would be criminal to kick her to the curb, or keep her locked in a cage, crumpling her wings and spirit.

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My new internal wings symbolize some very real and external qualities and gifts for me. They’ve given me several new guideposts along my path. Actually, there are only four. Which makes each one of them very important.

  1. Stay connected to yourself first. Yes. First.
  2. Keep meditating. Yes. Everyday. This will help you immensely with steps 1 and 3. Oh, and with step 4, as well.
  3. Own it. Own your wants, needs, likes, dislikes, feelings, emotions and reactions. Own what is important to you. Even if you are the only one who finds it important. Own your spirit, and your life, too. This step is very important and very empowering. Don’t skip it.
  4. Make your choice. Yes. Your choice. For you. Not for anyone else. And then own that, too.

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This whole “getting well” transition will continue for a while I’m sure. It’s exciting and scary, but it’s essential to me to value every insight, lesson, challenge, and gift my illness has brought me. I do believe this unplanned “cocoon time” was exactly what my life needed. I promise I will not waste it. My health and happiness depend on it.

Honor and listen to the transitions, transformations, and the calling of your life, dear friends. I have found life gets pretty insistent if you don’t.

Thank you Honey for hanging in there with me!!

Be Brave.

Be Happy.

Be True.

lOve, vickiO

hellO bOttOm

The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.”

-Chinese Proberb

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Twelve years ago, over a romantic dinner with my husband, feeling more confident and happier than I had in years, I found myself saying, “I think I’ll have a glass of wine”. I had been sober for 18 years.

I had, over the years, made a mess of my life more than once, almost destroyed our marriage several times, and made some really (really) bad decisions. But I still didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. I was just someone who was better off not drinking.

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In a span of six months, I found out that this is one of the most dangerous things an alcoholic can think. I also learned that, yes, in fact, I am an alcoholic, and I can no longer, under any circumstances, play with fire. As gut-wrenching and “sobering” as it was to permanently close the drug and alcohol “escape hatch”, I chose to say goodbye to unconsciousness, self-deceit, and death, and said hellO to hitting bOttOm, again.

Bottoms bring us face-to-face with the things we are hiding from, the impact we are having on those we love, and who we are in this moment. Sometimes it’s a pretty painful and ugly picture. But the best thing to do at this point, no matter how scary, is to just keep looking.

In the looking, and all the hard work that comes with it, bottoms also have the potential to change the trajectory of our lives. They help us hear the wisdom of our hearts, support us to make choices that are life-sustaining, and put us in touch with the yearnings of our soul. In truth, hitting bottom is where real magic can happen.

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During the last 4+ years of navigating this chronic illness, I have found myself on my knees many times. It is only recently that I’ve been able to relish the richness of these ‘hitting bottom’ places. I have fought like hell to keep my head above water, but I’m realizing that sometimes being in the murk and mire is the best place to be. Really.

The bottom is not comfortable, pleasant or fun, but there is real wisdom to be found there. We don’t choose to hit bottom. In it’s wisdom, it chooses us. And I’m finding myself more and more grateful for each one. How else would I have begun to find my artist self, my natural pace, my deep desires, or the things that really light me up?

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The truth is I feel happier, more alive, more authentic, and stronger than ever before. It’s the kind of strength I’ve wanted my whole life. Strength that comes from the inside out. I never would have guessed it would take being at my weakest, to find true strength.

My dear friend Sharon taught me that life happens in moments. I’m really just beginning to learn what she really meant.

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Keep listening, dear friends, to the wisdom of your beautiful hearts. And if you happen to find yourself hitting bottom, in whatever form it may come, know it is a place of rich possibility and great love. Dive in if you dare, and find what is waiting for you there.

Be brave.

Be kind.

Be true.

l❤️Ve, vickiO 

P.S. I’ve recently completed 2 orders of my Bottle Bling art. Yes, ironically, I make art for wine bottles. Making them always brings me much jOy, and puts me in touch with what is good and right and true. (Insert eye roll here.)

I’ve realized that is what I have wanted from alcohol all this time. To feel good and right and true (and calm, smart, comfortable, strong.) And this morning, along came these words:

It’s not what’s in the bottle,

it’s what’s in your heart.

Yup, that works for me.

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make peace, lOve, and change

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray.

– Jalaluddin Rumi

In May of 2012, just three months into this illness, I decided I would let my hair grow until I was well. I was so sick at the time that getting myself to the salon wasn’t even an option, but making that declaration gave me a little sense of control, which I badly needed at the time.

While I was writing last month’s nO push zOne blog post, I made another declaration. I consciously made an intention that “I will do whatever it takes for me to get well”. Now, you’re likely thinking, “Weren’t you already doing that? And if you weren’t, why the hell not?!”

You see, I know that setting intentions work. Big time. They alert the universe that you are really ready for a change, and it responds by setting in motion things and events to create the opportunity for that change. Amazing, right!? Well, the scary part is, the universe needs us to work in partnership with it, and there is no way to know exactly what will be required of us once the ball gets rolling.

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For example, in October of 2000, I stood in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Kauai feeling so moved and transformed by the beauty, that I found myself declaring to the universe that I was ready to be “opened up” and healed. Three months later I found myself in emergency surgery in Miami for the first of three surgeries for cervical cancer. Believe me, this was NOT the “opened up” scenario I had in mind. In the end though, it saved not only my physical health, but my marriage, sanity and happiness as well. So, yes, miss wise, powerful and creative universe, I got just what I wanted, but it’s all those steps in between that sometimes scare the hell out of me.

So last month, after four years on this particular journey, feeling really ready to be done with it all, I once again summoned my courage and jumped off the so-called perverbial cliff, and screamed “uncle” into the wind.

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To make sure the universe knew I was serious about doing whatever it takes to get well, I followed through on the plan to cut my hair. It was scary, empowering and really quite freeing. Since then, almost every day, my meditations have been deeper, my decisions more important, and my body stronger. I’m ever so grateful to the Great Change Agent who has responded to my screams into the wind. I know there are more opportunities for change to come. And I will keep saying yes.

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So, my dear friends, I’m encouraging you to live the life that lights you up. It requires tough decisions, finding a way to not care about what other people think of you (yup, this might be a tough one), saying no even when it scares you, and increasing your capacity to tolerate, feel, and transform your emotions (yes, even anger and grief) into the most amazing energy ever. And you might just discover a whole new level of happy, too.

"happy, happy, happy"

“happy, happy, happy”

We are all “lit up” by different things. Take the time to find out what your unique combination might be, and:

Claim your truth.

Follow your intuition.

Don’t judge yourself, or others.

And live the life you were meant to live.

Be brave. Be happy. Be true.

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lOve,

vickiO

 

the nO push zOne

Just when I thought I’d learned as much as I could from the gift called Valley Fever, it knocked me on my bum, did a little happy dance, and not so gently reminded me that my old outdated ways of being just aren’t going to work anymore.

My dear friend Karla came to town for a conference in early January, and since I was feeling pretty darn good, and we hadn’t been together for 7 months, I decided to join her for a couple of nights at her hotel in Scottsdale. Only in retrospect can I say,

“What was I thinking?”.

We talked, laughed, cried, and ate delicious healthy meals – ok, and some bacon – to keep us going. I made sure to get in my daily 1-2 hour nap thinking this would be enough. Unfortunately, I also began ignoring the subtle messages from my body that were informing me that I was “pushing it” beyond it’s currently tiny energy reserve.

In less than 36 hours, I found myself back in my bed unable to do much of anything. No more adventures, walks or long talks for Karla and I. It was maddening, heart-breaking, and a bit embarrassing. It was a perfect time to ask,

“What am I missing?”.

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Over the past 6 weeks as I tried to see the opportunity in this lastest setback, I began to realize that my first reaction to just about anything, is to push. The truth is, I’ve been pushing myself most of my life. On the outside I’ve looked cool, calm and collected, but make no mistake, on the inside, I’m pushing like mad. Pushing to fit in. Pushing to perform. Pushing to be perfect, nice and smart. Pushing to always be available, proper, and of service. Pushing to belong. Pushing to be more. And at times, pushing just to survive. I can honestly say I had no idea how exhausting and taxing it all has been.

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These words are from one of my very first pieces of artwork. Needless to say, I’m still in the process of rewiring my whole system to a gentler, stronger and more sustainable way of being.

Don’t get me wrong. Being able to push myself has, at times, served me very well. It is a skill I will keep on the shelf for when I need it, but I don’t want it to be my everyday way of being. (My body, brain and energy system is sighing in relief.) Without a doubt, my health depends on me getting this!

It’s not the stress of life that is the issue, it is my response to it. Meditation is helping. Being honest about it is helping. Listening to and trusting my intuition is helping. And, as you know, being grateful helps everything.

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to make some really hard decisions in order to keep my committment to myself to stay in the no push zOne. It has been downright scary at times, and is requiring me to dig deep for courage, truth and resiliency. It is all worth it, though, because I really believe that I am in the process of uncovering a type of energy that is grounded, connected, steady, strong, relaxed, sparkly, reliable and resilient, The type of energy I’ve only dreamed of.

Keep dreaming, dear friends, because dreams really do come true.

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 Be brave.

Be grateful.

Stay true to who you really are.

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lOve, vickiO

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2015 sOlstice, 2016 calendars

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Here in the desert Southwest, December brings cooler weather, usually some rain, and spectacular sunsets. My husband and I head out onto the deck each evening to catch Mother Nature doing her thing. Obviously, not every sunset looks like the one above, but knowing it is possible keeps us coming back for more.

In a couple of days, here in the northern hemisphere, we will experience the Winter Solstice. There is something very grounding about the day. To me it is a celebration of not only the returning light, but an honoring of the dark. The kind of dark that comforts and nourishes, and is the vessel for life’s creative processes.

Seeing the Solstice in this way helps me be kinder to myself and others. We are all so quick to judge when we find ourselves and others “in the dark”. What we miss by doing this is the rich and fertile ground of possibility. So much of this life is mystery, and when I can accept that, and even revel in it, I find more compassion and kindness. Not only for myself, but others, too. And I really think the world needs more of that right now.

Each November, I compile my latest artwork into a calendar for the coming year. It is a way to honor what I have created, and send wishes of jOy and well-being out into the world. The resulting calendar can help you set a monthly intention, and schedule events that make you happy!

If you’d like to purchase a limited edition vickiO 2016 CalendarClick Here❣ Free shipping, too!

As Christmas approaches, even though this past year challenged me in ways I could have never dreamed, I’m feeling drunk with gratitude. It feels kind of strange to say this after some very big losses this past year, but I feel more supported in my life than ever before. I’m not sure how this  is possible, but for the first time in my life I really don’t feel all alone. What if it’s true that I actually do belong here, and that the universe is conspiring with me? You mean I don’t need to do it all on my own? Wow! Really?!?

I encourage all of you to entertain the idea of being open, versus being closed- in your thoughts, judgements, ideas, and conclusions- when it comes to yourself, and others. There is true magic in it, and I would have missed it all if I’d clung any longer to my “closed”, always right, way of being. And I’ve always thought I was SO right. Kind of scary.

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Honor the dark, celebrate the light, hug each other, see the good, and may all your wishes come true.

And thank yOu for being yOu!

Be kind.

Be brave.

Be yOu.

lOve, vickiO

radical happiness

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

-Dali Lama

I can still remember the day my very gifted therapist suggested I make it a daily practice to ask myself, “What would make me happy today?” I thought she was crazy. Or least delusional. You see, where I come from, only selfish “sinners” concern themselves with their own happiness. And since I had worked very hard not to be one of them, I filed her suggestion under For Emergencies Only, and quickly forgot about her scary and seemingly impossible task.

Seven years, a chronic illness, many losses and a lot of digging deep later, I’m finally beginning to see what my therapist was offering me. She wanted me to see the possibility of a type of happiness that builds and supports ongoing confidence, resiliency, and possibilities. A type of happiness that feeds itself and isn’t dependent on outside influences. A type of happiness that can’t be bought, only experienced and shared.

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I always believed that the pursuit of happiness was shallow and frivolous. “Be happy” always sounded rather flippant and condescending, and just not serious enough. It also seemed impossible and out of reach.

Luckily, my wellbeing coach is a brave man, and one day pointed out to me how fixed and closed I can be about what I believe. In the middle of explaining to him it was because I was usually right, I realized in horror that he was right. In that flash of insight moment, everything changed. A big beautiful door flew open and I realized I don’t really want to be “right”, I want to be happy.

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Since then, the Universe has fed me new ideas, thoughts and experiences of what I’m calling radical happiness. I’m beginning to see the true value of being happy, and that it really is a gift to be the bearer of happiness, ease and light-heartedness.

Happiness, for me, is an inside job, and is born out of a very tender and sweet place. My happiness loves color, movement, sunrises, heartfelt chats, and gentle connection. What I once thought was unattainable, has become very present, very real, and very powerful.

Needless to say I am grateful beyond words.

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BE BRAVE.

BE HAPPY.

BE YOU.

lOve, vickiO

lOss, grief and beauty

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

  – Wendell Berry

I have tried writing this post every couple of days for the past 2 months, and haven’t gotten any farther than the first few sentences each time. Today will be different. It just has to be. The question is – “How does one go about writing about the process of grief when there is no roadmap, no “This Way” sign, and no solid ground to be found?”

The truth is I want to be writing about something else. Something that is inspiring, and uplifting, and pretty. I want to be sharing what I’m doing to feel better (meditating, spending time in Nature, reminding myself that I’m a part of the universe). But, my soul keeps tugging on my sleeve and whispering, “tend to your heart, dear one”.

For a good part of my life I protected my heart behind a wall of perfectionism and the belief that “it doesn’t matter”. I told myself over and over again that it doesn’t matter if I get hurt, if I get left, or if there isn’t any help. It was an effective coping mechanism back then, but over the past 25 years I’ve been committed to being a more vulnerable, authentic and wholehearted person.

And that means staying connected to myself, and choosing to listen for those things that really do matter to me. It also means taking responsibility for what I need, and not leaving it up to others to figure it out for me. As my coach Andy says, “Your wellbeing is in your hands.”

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thank yOu tO my sister Julie for sending this tO me❤️

For me, grief triggers shame and thoughts of weakness and failure. Unfortunately, from the place of shame I begin asking some really unhelpful questions: “What is wrong with me that losing one of my dearest soul sisters and my Mom in a span of 6 months has dropped me to my knees? What is wrong with me that I can’t think or focus for any length of time? What is wrong with me that I’m struggling to stay in contact with the dear friends and sisters who are still in my life? Why am I not strong enough to “handle” this and just move on?”

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I’d rather not feel vulnerable. Ever. But life really isn’t like that. I’m learning through this process that it’s worth the effort to summon my courage and risk being vulnerable. That by being vulnerable with those who love me, the loss and pain really does begin to shift. By being vulnerable with those who “get me”, I’m finding that their love, understanding and wisdom really does reach my heart, and some of the raw edges are begining to soften. Where I thought there was only loss and shame, there begins to grow true connection.

“Courage originally meant

‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.'”

-Brene Brown

Shame and anger tell me I don’t have what it takes to move through this. But my amazing heart tells me I’m strong enough to feel this deep loss and come through to the other side. It keeps telling me that this work is very important and that it is essential to honor my process, my path, my wisdom. My heart says, “Listen more, and judge and react less.” And my heart and dear friends promise that if I stay with my vulnerable self, the pain will shift and transform, and bring renewed light and joy in due time.

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As I stay committed to my wellbeing, I will continue my play dates with the sunrise, build cairns of peace and remembrance, strengthen my body, meditate, keep seeing beauty, and ask for courage, joy and ease for myself and all others.

Thank you for listening, caring, believing. May you trust the wisdom of your own heart, and begin to soften some of those jagged edges in your own life. You are worth it.

BE BRAVE.

BE GENTLE.

BE TRUE.

lOve, vickiO

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