If we are lucky, we have them. Those milestone birthdays that kind of take our breath away, and make us wonder what life is really all about. Part 2 of my exploration of nO Regrets Living involves one of those big birthdays.
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
On January 17, 2018 I turned 60 years old. My three sisters and I had started a tradition back when we were all turning 50, to begin getting together on each of our “big” birthdays. It was a big step for all of us. Coming out of a family structured on competition, addiction and co-dependency, we would all go through our triggers as we came together. Like my wise Yoga teacher says – “If you are feeling enlightened, go visit your family.”
I missed my two older sisters’ 60th birthday get togethers because I wasn’t well enough to travel. I feel like I not only missed out on the celebrations and adventures, but on some of the relationship healing as well. It’s a very strange feeling to be on the sidelines for so long.
This year my sisters kept asking me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 60th (yikes) birthday. We could have done anything. They would even have all traveled to Arizona if I had wanted them to, and even though I was well enough, I just couldn’t say yes. After losing Eric, and trying to process and grieve the loss of his whole family, and process and grieve turning 60, my system and brain felt like it had short-circuited. I just couldn’t muster the energy and focus it would take to be together and celebrate.
Ten years ago for my 50th, I had fallen into some pretty painful co-dependent behaviors, and put immense pressure on my husband to make my day “super special”. (Translation: Do something so grand that I would feel loved now and forever more.) Needless to say, with unrealistic expectations like that, it didn’t go well, and I sure didn’t want to repeat that! Talk about regrets. So as the date neared, I kept asking myself what did I want to do – if anything. I finally quieted myself long enough to hear my inner voice say, “I want to go to Sedona.”
It was a big step for me. I didn’t worry about my sisters or friends feeling left out, or whether they agreed with what I chose or not. I was in need of healing, and a trip to Sedona for an overnight with my husband sounded heavenly. And it really was. Rocks really do have power, and Mother Nature did her magic. My body felt quite strong, I wasn’t hanging onto any expectations of making it “extra special”, and I had a very healing, loving, expanding 60th birthday experience. Just what I needed. Kind of a miracle if you ask me.
In preparation for my 60th, based on a recommendation from one of my sisters, I downloaded the App, WeCroak. It notifies me 5 times a day with this message – “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.” As morbid as it might initially sound, there is something very freeing about the message. It is a great reminder to stay focused on what is really important, and on what lights me up. Because in a flash, it will all be over. And at 60, that feels closer than ever.
It takes courage, bravery and vulnerability to embrace nO Regrets Living. It takes getting quiet in order to hear yourself. It takes being willing to feel the feelings that come with being different, odd, or downright eccentric. Sign me up. I am ready.
The truth is, time marches on. And on. And on. Until it doesn’t. Time does not heal all wounds. Some things we never get over. But if we keep being open to experiencing moments that are in true alignment with who we are, I’m finding that they actually really do happen.
And, if you need to embrace your inner snail, do that, too!!
PS. Watch for Part 3 of nO Regrets Living later in August. And, thanks so much for supporting me, loving me, and being brave enough to keep looking inward❤️❌⭕️!!
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.
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.
“Evolutionarily, we’re always concerned with what’s not right. That’s what makes gratefulness delightfully subversive.”
– Dale Biron
I may have said a few times before that I am a reluctant student. Don’t get me wrong. I lOve learning. I just don’t like (sometimes hate) having to admit that I don’t know something – well, everything! You know, having to admit you don’t have it all figured out. Yea, kinda funny, right?!
Actually, it’s pretty painful. Painful enough that I’ve decided to accept some help, take a stand on my own behalf, and do it a different way. (My Wellbeing Coach is working hard to teach me that it really is possible to change my mind. Literally!)
What this really means is I’m saying no to shame and embarrassment for not knowing. It means saying no to fear and worry that I might look stupid. It means saying no to beliefs that keep me tight and closed. And, it means saying no to anger and perfectionism as a way to protect myself and my tender heart. Yikes!
Just as importantly, these are the things I’m saying yes to:
- Trust, and the
- Universal Creative Force.
Big stuff for this “know it all and proud of it” girl!
This kind of change requires daily practice. If I stop paying attention, I find myself down the rabbit hole staring into the face of that grinning Cheshire Cat. Not the sweet fuzzy kitten face, but the grin that says “I gotcha again”. Nope, not this time. This time, this “Alice”, is going to create her own Wonderland!
My healing team has expanded and now includes Dr. Bradley Williams, Dr. Stephen Fry, and the above mentioned Wellbeing Extraordinaire, Andrew Miller, PhD. The truth is, I feel better than I have since I got sick. And, as shocking as this is to say – I now see that I got sick to get well – “well” on a whole new level – “well” not only in body, but in mind and sOul, too.
On many days I feel lighter, happier, and freer than ever before. I am still a work in progress, and always will be. I just now know that life is kinder if I’m open, and not clinging so tightly to the thoughts and beliefs that undermine my happiness and wellbeing. Maybe this old dog can learn a few new things.
Here are a few new messages I am giving myself this Summer:
Keep looking for what is right and lovely in your world.
Let jOy in the front door of your sOul hOuse, and relax into the support of the Universe.
Be grateful for those who lOve you, and lOve them back even more.
Release your grip on how you think things should be, and relax into the freedom and beauty of how they really are.
“Grief and gratitude are kindred souls, each pointing to the beauty of what is transient, and given to us by grace.”
– Patricia Campbell Carlson
Spring has sprung here in the Southwest desert, and once again, Mother Nature has outdone herself. Several species of cacti are budding and blooming like crazy, beautiful wildflowers are shining in the sun, and the giant saguaros are preparing to show off their brilliant white crown to usher in summer in mid-May. Even our potted cactus on our deck is getting into the action by sprouting a few new “leaves”. Mother Nature sure knows how to throw a party!!
There is this saying that goes, “Adopt the pace of nature – her secret is patience.” Well, I must have inadvertently enrolled in the “Master Class of Cultivating Patience”, because my healing pace is that of a snail right now. Don’t get me wrong. I quite like snails. I just never thought I would be one.
As I continue to measure and manage the small amount of daily energy I have, with Mother Nature’s insistence, I can’t help but continue to believe that my health will return when it is truly ready.
“In due time, Sweetie, in due time.” – lOve, mOther nature
In my first two posts of this year ( let’s begin. again. and hellO 2015, hellO Possibilities), I mentioned my commitment to exploring meditation as a way to help myself gain some calm and steadiness in my daily life.
I’ve always liked the idea of meditation, but could never get myself to do it more than once or twice in a row. Seriously. The pressure of having a “spiritual experience” was just too much for me. And if I couldn’t levitate after the first couple of sessions, what was the point?!
That’s why I lOve the book, Real Meditation in Minutes a Day, by Joseph Arpaia and Lobsang Rapgay, with a Foreward by the Dalai Lama. There is nothing mysterious or vague, nothing mystical or other worldly. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but for me, the practical, step-by-step approach makes it so much more accessible. I’m only on Chapter 3, and I’m already feeling subtle but powerful benefits.
My acupuncturist, Mary Papa, says it best. “Oh, meditation is really just about being self aware.” This, from a brilliant woman who meditates at least 20 minutes every day, and has a centered peace about her that I just lOve. I’m beginning to get the connection for the first time in my life!
After my husband and I finished watching the final round of The Masters a few Sundays ago, I started absent-mindedly flipping through the channels. As the myriad of choices flew by, my eyes and heart settled on watching the last half of a movie I had never seen.
One of the subtle benefits of my new meditation practice is noticing when my intuition quietly whispers, “Oh, that might be good”. I’m slowly learning that when life hands me a jewel (many things don’t look like jewels, but in fact are) I best take it, and say “thank you very much.”
And, so, on that Sunday afternoon, I said “yes” to the movie, Despicable Me!
The gifts I received from this movie are nothing short of a miracle. First, it made me laugh, and cry, and feel my tender child-self heart that yearned for, but rarely got, a simple sweet kiss on the top of her head every night.
Second, it made me aware of how easily and often I turn on myself, and call myself names, like despicable, selfish, and grandiose.
And lastly, it inspired me to put into practice some serious self-care. See, in the movie, after Gru finally gives in and kisses the girls goodnight, he is met outside the bedroom door by all of his minions. Surprisingly, they all want kisses, too. When Gru shakes his head no, all of his hard-working, ever present minions are shocked and heartbroken. One actually breaks down crying, and so do I.
In that moment, I realized that those sweet, funny-looking minions were like all the cells in my body. They work tirelessly day after day, month after month, year after year, and never ask for anything in return. But they sure would appreciate a gentle kiss on the top of their heads, too.
So, as Gru softed and gave in to his minions, I felt myself soften and vow to kiss every one of my hardworking cell-minions goodnight as well. And, every time I catch myself being mean to myself, or can’t fall asleep, or just have a little bit of time, I visualize giving them all kisses. And, really. What’s so hard about that?
Celebrate Spring, my dear friends, and keep choosing patience and kindness. I’m finding it is what I really need to do the hard work of living and grieving.
A sense of humor is also important! Here are a few of things that have made me laugh recently. No surprise – there are a few swear words involved. Enjoy!
Now, don’t you feel just a little bit better : ) Need one more?
I’m smiling, and I hope you are, too!
I’m also smiling because I was invited to put some of my art in the Boutique at the TruFit Studios here in Fountain Hills! My vickiO Art Events Page will give you all the details! Because of all our travel plans this summer, I won’t be opening my online store until early Fall. Please contact me at vickiOart@cox.net if you see a piece of art posted here that your heart is calling out for ❤️ and I will be more than happy to make sure you get it!
Thank you for being one of the loving, understanding and brave souls on the planet. It truly would be unbearable without you!
be tender. be brave. be true.
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.