Tagged: gratitude

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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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

learning, lOving, grOwing – Or – “just say nO, just say yes”

“Evolutionarily, we’re always concerned with what’s not right. That’s what makes gratefulness delightfully subversive.”
– Dale Biron

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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:

  • Choice
  • Gratitude
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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BE BRAVE.

BE GENTLE.

BE TRUE.

lOve, vickiO

blOOming crazy

“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!

last year’s beauty

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?!

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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.

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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 healing.

Keep grOwing.

Keep blOssOming. It is all sO wOrth it.

lOve, vickiO

 And, when it is yOur time…

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snails, meditatiOn, and despicable me

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“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!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Second, it made me aware of how easily and often I turn on myself, and call myself names, like despicable, selfish, and grandiose.

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Gru

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?

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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.

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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!

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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!

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be tender. be brave. be true.

lOve, vickiO

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

BE GENTLE.

BE BRAVE.

BE TRUE.

AND…

lOve, vickiO

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.

Thank you‼️

my crazy gOOd life

imageMy 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.

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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!

crazy gOOd lOve in Tofino, BC

crazy gOOd lOve in Tofino, BC. is he cute, or what❤️‼️

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!)

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Whistler, BC

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.

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heaven On earth❤️‼️

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.

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mOrning cOffee at the river’s edge

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!

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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❤️‼️

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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.

lOve, vickiO

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All art and photos copyright ©vickiO art.