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
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!
“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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.