nO Regrets Living – Part 3 – A RecOvery Of sOrts
On January 26, 2012, my husband and I left our Minnesota home for the last time and permanently moved to Fountain Hills, Arizona. This was our dream. Some 20 years prior, the Sonoran desert had stolen our hearts, and now we were stepping into the life we had envisioned for ourselves!
“If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.”
On February 10th of the same year, I came down with Valley Fever. Yup. Eight years ago. Beginning the year I was strong and healthy, golfing, hiking, socializing, and going to Jazzercise 5 mornings a week. Life was full and busy! By mid-February, I was confined to my bed with severe fatigue, headaches, nausea and body aches, and struggled for most of the next 4-5 years to have any sort of a normal life.
In this 3rd and final part of nO Regrets Living, I’m taking a stroll back through the last 8 years to revisit some of the more important lessons I’ve learned, and to pan for any gold nuggets I might have missed along the way. I’m grateful for every lesson, each challenge, and all the ups and downs there have been. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Somewhere in the last 6 months I can honestly say I’ve reached my new normal. I no longer think of myself as “sick”. I will no longer use my experience with Valley Fever as a way to mark time. I will consider myself recovered. The dictionary defines recovery as “a return to a normal state of health, mind, strength” and/or “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost”. I also looked up the definition of transformation, which means “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.”
There are definitely parts of myself that have recovered, but I would say, as a whole, my entire being has been transformed. I may look the same on the outside, but my insides seem to have been totally rearranged. It was time. Actually, it was over due. During the last 8 years I have said many times that if I had gotten “well” in less time, I would have gone right back to all my old patterns and coping mechanisms. And that is the last thing I wanted. Change takes time. Transformation takes time. And, I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my life.
I’m grateful beyond words for the role ART has played in my recovery. It is the safe place I’ve returned to again and again, to play, and begin once again to hear that still, small (very wise) voice inside me. Growing up in an alcoholic and overly religious home, feeling “the crazies” comes pretty natural to me. Words and feelings of doubt, being less than, shame and unworthiness abound in this mind of mine. And like my friend, Karla, says, “Our minds are dangerous neighborhoods to travel in by ourselves.” Luckily, my artist self has become my traveling partner, and it has made all the difference. It makes this whole process worth every step. Truly.
As odd as this might sound, taking risks in my art, my writing, and my life were easier when I was sick. Life was simpler, more basic, and safer. As I’ve gotten better, the judgements and expectations I have of myself, and others have of me, have crept in and shut me down quite often. I had to dig deep when I was ill, and now, as I’ve become well, I’m having to dig deep in a completely different way. I’ve been digging deep my whole life, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting I’d have to now. Yes, Sweetie, grab the shovel again. There are more things to be cleared out, and there is more freedom to be had!!
Chronic and long-term illness changes a person, in a lot of positive ways if you let it, but also in some very challenging ways, too. Our brains change and create new pathways to help manage our lack of energy and pain. Those of us who are lucky enough to “get well”, and reach a new normal, can find those coping pathways actually hinder our healing. Again, not what I expected. I’ve recently become conscious of how I immediately begin checking myself (body, energy, mental and spiritual state) every time I consider saying yes to anything. Do I have the energy? Will it take too much out of me? Do I need a nap? These aren’t bad questions, but I no longer need to keep traveling this pathway in the same way. I am well enough. I am strong enough. I’m transformed enough to move forward.
In my new life, I’ve had to admit it’s not good for my health and well-being to handle and have answers for everything in my life, and everyone else’s, too. It may seem obvious how unattainable that is, but for this self-prescribed savior, it is a huge step to let all that go! Staying healthy, grounded, happy and lit up has now become my focus. I have realized that some things (quite a few things, actually) are not worth my energy. For this recovering co-dependent and alcoholic, admitting that is another huge step. Staying focused on nO Regrets Living, meditation, creating art, experiencing Nature, down-time, intimate connections and conversations, good movies, and adventures that expand and enlighten me, get first priority now. There. I said it. In black & white. And, no, “saving the world” didn’t make the list. I may be a slow learner, but sooner or later, I do get the lesson!
Through these last 8 years, I have slowly learned to let myself be loved and seen in new and deeper ways. I’m also learning how to love in truer, less encumbered, less co-dependent ways. I’m so grateful. It’s been a long time coming. Being vulnerable and gut-wrenchingly honest is scary, but the rewards are great. Miracle level great. Learning to trust myself has finally given me a foundation to begin trusting others. Thank you to the many angels who have shown up, in person and in spirit, to hold my hand and show me the way. Thank you for not giving up on me. We are not meant to do this journey on our own (I tried damn hard, though) and I would not have made it without you.
I started this nO Regrets Living 3-Part Series by writing about the loss of my dear friend, Eric Lunde and his family (read nO regrets living-Part 1-a tribute HERE. In it, I wrote:
”Since Eric’s death, I keep hearing: Don’t wait to wake up. Don’t wait to love. Don’t wait to swim in the ocean. Don’t wait to take that trip. Don’t wait to be with your favorite people. Don’t wait to celebrate. Don’t wait to live your life the way you want to. Don’t wait.”
Only now do I realize how impactful writing those words have been. Without knowing it, they have become a living, breathing energy and power operating in my life – helping me to make choices that fill me with light & love, and truly with nO Regrets. Yup, miracle level changes.
Thank you and goodbye, dear Valley Fever. You have been a mighty teacher, and one I will never forget. I will travel lighter, more consciously, and more honestly than before, creating as much beauty and joy as I can. Thank you for giving me a new set of wings. I will cherish them and use them wisely.
One other radical shift that I’ve become aware of recently, that I finally feel in my bones, is that I am responsible for my own happiness. Me. Only me. Not my husband. Not my friends. Not my family. Not the checkout girl. Not my doctor. Not even my therapist. Me. Only me. (My husband is sighing in relief that he is finally, finally off the hook.) Believing that other people were responsible for my life and state of being, even subconsciously, is one of the core beliefs that has kept me acting out of co-dependency, instead of love. It is a hard way to live. And nobody ever ends up getting what they need and want. In my new life, I get to fly free, and so does everyone else. I promise.
So, here’s to freedom, happiness, fulfillment, peace, pleasure and love. It really is possible to create a future, not from the past, but from your beautiful, vibrant, luscious, light-filled dreams. Thank you, thank you, for listening and supporting my journey to wholeness. Listen to the callings of your own soul, and choose things that light you up. You will never, ever, regret it❤️
My last blog post was back in August of last year. 7 months ago. It was titled nO Regrets Living – Part 2 – A Birthday, and I’ve been trying to post nO Regrets Living – Part 3 – A Recovery, since then. Many stops and starts later, and I’m no closer to completing it.
When I started writing about my journey with Valley Fever back in 2013, my intention was for this blog to be heartfelt, gut-wrenchingly honest, inspiring and visually beautiful. The truth is, those things light me up, and it helped me to feel connected to the outside world.
Luckily, my health has been steadily improving for the last 2 years, and I really feel like I’ve found my “new normal”. (afternoon naps and all). Yay!! Except for one thing: even though my brave painting ‘voice’ is alive and well, my brave writing voice has gone underground. I have this strange belief that people wanted to hear from my sick and recovering self, but may not want to hear from my ‘well’ self. Did I really just say this out loud? (Just breathe.)
Enter BRAVE BLOGGING by Andrea Scher. Andrea is someone I have followed for several years because of her honest and creative voice, and when I saw she was offering a Brave Blogging online class, my heart said YES! So this is day one, and her magic has already begun to have it’s effect. I’m actually creating this blog post and I promise I’ll hit publish when it’s done❤️
Those of us in the class will be receiving Daily Prompts for 30 days to help us awaken our brave voices. This is the prompt that got me started today:
25 Random Things About Me
Not sure what will come out, but here goes (and I only get 15 minutes to do this).
- I competively twirled baton for 9 years growing up.
- Tulips are one of my favorite flowers.
- I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t see the sky and the moon.
- I still have dreams about our Minnesota home.
- It was worth getting Valley Fever because I found my artist self.
- My husband makes me laugh more than anyone I know.
- I’m loving being 60+ years old.
- Someday we might move to Dingle, Ireland.
- I love watching my husband cook.
- I love elephants and will definitely see the movie Dumbo.
- One of my favorite sounds is birds in Spring.
- My least favorite sounds are leaf blowers.
- Playing golf lights me up and continues to teach me everything I need to know about life.
- In January I binge watched all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones and really believe Jon Snow and Arya can save the world. Can’t wait until April 14th!!
- I play the Native American Flute.
- Being one of the artists in the Fountain Hills Gallery has brought me a sense of community that I’ve never felt before.
- My two favorite purchases in the last 6 months is a macro lens for my iPhone and an electric cart that allows me to walk the golf course.
- I love journals and keep buying them even though I have 30 or more in the cabinet.
- Mother Nature is one of my best friends.
- I never turn down an opportunity to eat ice cream.
- Yoga and Jazzercise help me feel alive, grounded & strong.
- I wasn’t sure I would ever be strong enough to be out in the world again.
- Even though I’m writing about nO Regrets, I have huge regrets.
- Even after many years of sobriety, being a recovering alcoholic in a high use culture is at times still lonely, sad and frustrating.
- I’m grateful beyond words for the people who have loved me into existence.
Whew! Ok, it took me more than 15 minutes to complete this list, but loved the flow of what appeared. Thank you Andrea Scher for your brave voice in the world and for reminding me how much this lights me up!
“We lose touch with our wingspan when we hunch.”
– Dr. Martin Shaw
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
Pay attention to your heart strings, dear friends. They will never lead you astray. Promise.
take the risk.
let yOurself be mOved.
it’s wOrth it!
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?”.
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.
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.
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.
Stay true to who you really are.
“Do everything with so much lOve in your heart that you would never want to do it any other way.”
– Yogi Amrit Desai
I continue to be overly obsessed with buds and blooms this Spring. They are all so beautiful and miraculous, and continue to give me hOpe that I have the same ability inside me. The same ability to withstand all sorts of storms, and heat, and howling winds, and still have the innate ability to blOom like crazy when it is time. The key phrase being – “when it is time”. Still working on that one : )
Not every cactus blooms every year. Last year, almost every saguaro I saw had hundreds of blooms. Their multiple arms were a brilliant show of white flowers that fed the bees, birds and bats. This year, there are far fewer buds and blooms on the magnificent Sonoran desert saguaros. The question is – Do I lOve them any less? Not a chance!
This got me thinking about how much pressure our culture, and in turn ourselves, place on us to always be in the “blooming brilliantly” season. Crazy unrealistic, no?!
Doesn’t it make sense that we, just like the saguaros, need restorative and growth periods, too? Do you think the miraculous cacti feel shameful when they aren’t blooming like mad? I don’t think so! I imagine they are patiently and lovingly giving themselves time to regenerate so they can keep living long and happy lives. And, isn’t that what we all want, too?
I will continue to be impressed and obsessed by the gorgeous blooms Mother Nature is celebrating with this year, but I’m also honoring and appreciating the “quieter” cacti who are just going about their business of internal growth and preparedness for more blooms to come. Just like me, I guess.
As we move into Summer, my husband and I will be hitting the open road, and heading back to Minnesota for a family wedding. We will also be gathering with friends to celebrate the life our dear friend, Sharon Lunde. I continue to stumble through the darkness of grief, being grateful for everything she taught me, gave me, and saw in me. Mostly, I’m grateful for all the time we had together. I’m a way better person because of it.
All of us who knew and loved Sharon continue to miss her terribly, trying to adjust to life on this planet without her. I get loss and grief like never before, and am humbled by those on the planet who experience loss after loss, and choose to keep loving in spite of it. Just like Sharon did. May there be healing, recovery, and in time, more beautiful blooms for all of us.
No matter what, dear friends, keep choosing lOve. For yourself. For the people who are important to you. For those that are suffering. For those fighting for peace, equality, justice and freedom.
Keep choosing lOve.
Always and forever.
Keep choosing lOve.
Keep breaking Open.
Keep blOssOming. It is all sO wOrth it.
And, when it is yOur time…
the energy Of things
Three and a half weeks ago I completed my first 3-day juried art fair. It was truly a dream come true, and one in which I experienced the kiss of grace, love and friendship over and over again.
I thought I’d be able to describe and share my experiences from the weekend by now, but the truth is, I’m still in major “integration phase” over here. I’ve worked my whole life to arrive at this magical and deep place, and I don’t want to rush through the process of discovering all the gifts that lay within. It feels like very sacred ground to me, and I want to take the time to honor it all.
With that being said, I don’t want to miss this opportunity to say thank you to all you beautiful people out there. It feels important to acknowledge the love and support I have received from my friends, family, and customers this past year. Without you all, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and that would be a very sad state of affairs, indeed.
You have touched my life in ways you may never know, and I will cherish each and every special moment for the rest of my life. Just know – kindness really does change the world.
I have more peace, more confidence, and more comfort in my body and soul than at any other time in my life. Every experience, lesson, and hour of therapy over the past 50+ years has brought me here, and I am grateful for it all.
Yes, I’m even grateful for Valley Fever. Not for the disease per se, but for what I have learned, gained, let go of, and embraced. I know jOy like never before. And even though I’m not always happy being careful and thoughtful with my energy, this slower paced life suits me quite well.
So, I will leave you with thoughts of lOve, and grace, and blessings of all kinds. Celebrate your friends and families, sunshine, rain and snow, and the miracles of this year-end season. Most of all, celebrate yourselves. Embrace your beauty, your uniqueness, and the power of your amazing heart.
P.S. You can find me on Thursdays at the Fountain Hills Farmer’s Market and Art On The Avenue.
Come support our local growers and artists‼️
We are on the Avenue of the Fountains from
11am to 5pm every Thursday from now until May.
my crazy gOOd life
My husband and I have just returned to our newly remodeled condo after an amazing 25-day celebratory road trip.
My health has improved enough that we were able to travel 4,000 miles through 7 states and British Columbia, play 8 rounds of golf, check 2 Major League ballparks off our list, ride 2 ferries and 4 gondolas, hug giant Pacific Northwest trees, take my first hike in 33 months, experience magnificent mountains, visit some family and friends, eat delicious food, walk in the Pacific Ocean, and fall in lOve all over again.
I’ve been struggling with writing this post because I keep running out of words to describe what it really felt like, and what it really means to me to have shared this time together. Then I realized that being able to describe it is not the most important part – being present, being kind, feeling my feelings, being inspired, and letting lOve in is the most important part for me.
So, in lieu of waiting for the ability to describe amazing travel experiences like my gifted writer friend, Lisa Malecha (check her out at Nomadic Narrator), I’ve decided to stick with the words I uttered at least 100 times on the trip – this is crazy gOOd!
For several months now I have been painting hearts. Big hearts, little hearts, hearts with wings, and hearts in all colors of the rainbow. All the while my internal critic has been chattering away telling me I should be painting landscapes, realistic images, and be more of a fine art artist. And, she says, “real artists don’t put words on their paintings!” She is always so bossy and confident that, on many days, I have believed her.
The problem is, I don’t want to paint those things – it’s not fun or inspiring for me, and it sure doesn’t light me up. And if I learned anything on this trip, it’s to do more of what lights me up (these words will probably end up on a painting, too!)
I lOve being outside – in the woods, in the mountains, on the golf course, at the ocean, climbing rocks, and visiting the saguaros. I need to hug trees, dangle my feet in mountain lakes, hike rocky streams, and feel the sun on my face. My heart and soul need these things to be ok, to be healthy, and to feel alive. It has been terribly scary over the last few years without them. As I stood sobbing on the beach in Tofino, BC, I realized that nature puts me in touch with a part of myself and the world that I am unwilling to live without.
My photographs don’t do Mother Nature justice, but they sure help put me back in touch with the jOy I felt enjoying her magical beauty. And it’s that jOy that I will take with me into my studio, and my friendships, and my ongoing healing life.
mOre crazy gOOd life – For the first time ever, I will have a booth at the Fountain Hills Festival of Arts and Crafts in November‼️ It kind of takes my breath away to write that! Over the years I have been to many, many art fairs as a customer, and have always walked away feeling inspired and “lit up” by all the talent and heart offered there. My hope is now to be part of the jOyful and inspiring energy that everyone comes to art fairs for. Here’s to dreams coming true!
One mOre crazy gOOd thing… In 1995, my sister, Julie (Kuebelbeck) Interrante, and I wrote a book titled “Caregiver Therapy” for Abbey Press. The book has since been published in 8 languages, and just last month was published in Italian! How cool is that?! crazy gOOd, I tell yOu, crazy gOOd❤️‼️
So, this very grateful girl will continue to lean into life, take my naps when I need to, and treasure every precious moment there is. Let’s all give our critic the day off, and do more of what lights us up. (Words for my next heart painting for sure : )
Be gentle. Be brave. Be true.
All art and photos copyright ©vickiO art.
❤️ dear mOm
As my 88-year-old mother tries to recover from from two major surgeries, two extended stays in rehab, and many confusing hours trying to understand what is happening to her, I am doing my own version of soul searching and recovery.
Life is short. And sometimes healing is long. Today, I experienced a miracle. Grace knocked today, and I chose to let “her” in. This letter to my Mother has been years in the making. And today it arrived.
Trust the process. Trust the healing. Believe in your own beautiful heart.
With these words in my head, I am choosing to trust my voice, and pray that this healing swiftly arrives at my Mother’s door, too.
Thank yOu for giving me life. Without yOu, I would not be living and loving my beautiful, amazing and miracle-filled life.
Thank yOu for receiving me into your body and giving me the cells needed for me to come into being. Thank yOu for giving me time and room to grow. You gave me everything I needed.
My body and mind grew because of yOu. I got nourishment because of yOu. I was taken care of because of yOu.
I learned to feed myself, clothe myself, tie my shoes and read because of yOu. My brain developed with a zest for learning because of yOu. I have an artist’s view of the world because of yOu. Thank yOu for helping me become who I am.
As much as I have strived for it, I have finally learned that there is no such thing as perfect. The truth is, being authentically human is so much better than being perfect. Who knew?
Thank yOu, Mom, for being brave enough to bring me into this world. Thank yOu for being brave enough to love me, hope for me and carry me. Thank yOu for your patience with me. And thank yOu for setting me free.
Please, also know, that yOu have done enough.
You have worked enough.
You have strived enough.
You have given enough.
But most importantly, I want yOu to know that yOu’re enough. Without a doubt, I know now, that yOu ARE enough – and yOu have always been enough. I’m sorry it has taken me this long to realize that.
I wish for yOu peace, and healing and comfort.
You can relax and smile, Sweet Mother.
You are enough.
Your loving, growing, sometimes stubborn, always learning daughter, Vicki