Tagged: healing

let yOurself be mOved

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

-Deena Metzger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"the light bearer"

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

Be Brave.

 Be Happy.

Be True.

lOve, vickiO


say yes.

take the risk.

let yOurself be mOved.

it’s wOrth it!

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.


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.

"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.





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.


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!)


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.


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.


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!


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.

lOve, vickiO


All art and photos copyright ©vickiO art. 

sugar, sugar, dOes nOt a sweet life make – Or – it’s nOt abOut the latte


imageI alone am responsible for the sweetness in my life.”

– Louise Hay,  You Can Heal Your Life

Early on in this valley fever journey, I heard from several sources that it was important to either cut back or remove sugar from my diet. You see, the fungus, among other things, feeds on sugar. As if this disease wasn’t bad enough, it was now going to take one of my favorite “foods” away from me, too! As I continued to search for ways to get better, a very dear friend of mine pulled the above Louise Hay book off her shelf and read a few affirmations. The one above really caught my eye – how could I not pay attention to the possibility that I, not others, control the sweetness in my life?


Sugar has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, it came in many forms, and was given as reward, and withdrawn as punishment. We celebrated with it, soothed ourselves with it, coveted it, yearned for it, and ate it every chance we got.


My Dad reveled in sugar as much as us kids. Every night before bed, he would dish himself a bowl of vanilla ice cream, cover it in Hershey’s chocolate, and eat it with a handful of saltine crackers. Let me tell you, I learned from the best!

It wasn’t until 1975, when my Dad read the book, Sugar Blues by William Dufty, that his, and my, relationship with sugar changed forever. I could no longer indulge my desires blindly. Now my cravings and late night ice cream and M&M binges came with guilt and remorse. My childlike wonder and belief that a sweet and happy life could be bought and consumed, was shattered. image

But if I’m being totally honest, I questioned the value of those empty calories pretty early on, and wondered why they left me feeling so desperate and alone. The wonderful sugar high was (and still is) so damn temporary. No matter what form, it never really fills me up – not with the right things anyway. Over the 56-years that I have been on the planet, I have tried many times to remove sugar from my diet – more accurately, from my life. It feels like it is part of the very fabric of my being, and that without it I will die.

Welcome Valley Fever as my teacher once again!


It took me a while, but I finally accepted the challenge of exploring my relationship with food and sugar as a way to create my new healthy life. As with all important choices, it was not something I took on lightly, or without help. Thank you to:

  • my kind and gifted acupuncturist, Mary Papa,
  • my very wise therapist, Carolyn Settle
  • my inspiring online health coach, Lacy Young, and
  • the dedicated and life-changing Geneen Roth, author of several books, including, When Food Is Love, and Women, Food and God.

Each one of these loving and brilliant women have taught me about loving my body, embracing my nature, and what it really means to have and be enough. I am still hugely in process with all of this, and will continue to be dedicated to a life filled with love, honesty and beauty.


Geneen Roth’s Eating Guidelines – simple, but not easy, powerful and centering, exciting and scary, loving and true.

By beginning to pay attention to what feeds me, I am learning what really makes my life sweet –

  • laughter and smiles,
  • kisses and hugs,
  • big, white puffy clouds against a brilliant blue sky,
  • making art,
  • dancing,
  • quiet dinners,
  • hearing thunder,
  • playing golf, and
  • being kind, brave, gentle and true.

This is just the beginning of My Sweet Life list. It contains the people and things that truly feed me and could never be replaced with ice cream, cookies or even mint M&M’s! Notice, I didn’t say decaf vanilla lattes💟‼️

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the baristas and staff at my local Starbucks, have been a part of my healing team. They send me loving messages and drawings on my coffee cups, and are genuinely concerned about my well-being. And, to me it seems, all that love and joy and sweetness gets poured into my latte, and warms and heals me as I drink it. That is just how good it tastes to me.


This image is part of the latest piece of art I made for my friends at Starbucks. Nolan, who has now moved to Flagstaff, is the Snoopy artist. Makes you smile, right?!❤️

For now, I’m still enjoying my latte every couple of days, and will continue to explore what really brings me sweetness and joy. As I write this, I am seeing all the beautiful faces of the people in my life who love me, who have helped me heal and grow, and who, without them, I would not be here. Is it really possible that it isn’t about the lattes after all?


One more thing I want to add to My Sweet Life list, is our home remodeling project. I have enjoyed sharing ideas with my husband, and have learned that all out trusting him with decisions brings me great joy and makes me smile. My appreciation and admiration for him just keeps growing❤️. I have loved saying what is really important to me, being heard, and then trusting enough to let go of the outcome.


Walls have been painted and the beautiful cabinets are going in. So very exciting to create something together❤️‼️

Here’s wishing you a beautiful and sweet summer. And, remember…


lOve, vickiO


thank yOu and gOOdbye 2013


I lOve taking the time to look back at the year that is ending and claim all the lessons learned, the wisdom gained, and honor all the lOve that came my way.  It helps to see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown, and how I might do things differently in the coming year. And last but not least, this process helps me to look for the gifts in the ups and downs, and be grateful for it all.

SO, let’s get started!


thank yOu, 2013

Is it possible that Valley Fever is one of the best things to happen to me? I know this is a very radical thought, but the list of gifts it has brought me just keeps growing and growing.

It is actually scary to write them all down, but here goes. Dealing with Valley Fever has brought me:

  • Increased self-acceptance (kicking and screaming all the way : )
  • Greater capacity for compassion
  • A stronger and closer connection with my husband, John (lOve, lOve, lOve this man!)


  • An opening to my creative, loving and funny artist self
  • An awareness and experience of how loved I am (priceless)
  • Greater love and appreciation of my amazing friends and family (I am truly one lucky girl!)
  • Greater appreciation for my physical body
  • Lessons in how to say yes when help is offered (ok, I’m still working on this one ; )
  • Lessons in how to say no when I need to
  • Continued learning of the real meaning and value of self-care
  • Healthier boundaries (who doesn’t need this?)
  • A new and improved golf swing (visualization really does work!)
  • Awareness and appreciation of my Brave Girl self
  • Patience, patience and more patience
  • A slower paced life – slOw dOwn, be happy : )
  • Time to heal some old wounds

How can I not be grateful for Valley Fever?


the mOre and less Of 2013:

  • More greens, less sugar (my body says thank you)
  • More organic, less pesticides (the earth and my body say thank you)
  • More water, less soda (my cells say thank you)
Organic vegetables frOm my friend Karla's garden in MinnesOta

beautiful Organic vegetables frOm my friend Karla’s MinnesOta garden

  • More love, less criticism
  • More art, less TV (I still have my favorite shows that I don’t miss!)

Scandal – fOr thOse few whO aren’t watching it!

  • More boundaries, less co-dependency
  • More acceptance, less judgement
  • More acupuncture, less drugs
  • More feeling, less numbing
  • More listening, less talking
  • More ease, less pushing
  • More walking, less fatigue (yay!)
  • More laughter, less despair
  • More play, less perfection
 “Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”
– Julia Cameron

A few things that made me laugh in 2013:

“You’re thinking I’m one of those wise-ass California vegetarians who is going to tell you that eating a few strips of bacon is bad for your health. I’m not. I say its a free country and you should be able to kill yourself at any rate you choose, as long as your cold dead body is not blocking my driveway.”
– Scott Adams

Tempe Art Fair artist


And, my favorite prayer of the year:


thanks tO my sister Julie fOr this!

Thank yOu, 2013, fOr all the lessOns, lOve, tears and laughter. I am a better persOn fOr having experienced all of it. SO I bid yOu farewell, trusting I will take with me whatever I may need fOr the cOming year.


My next blog post will be welcoming the new year by choosing my “word of the year”. It is a great practice of looking forward and setting a positive intention for the coming year. What will your word be?

Until then,

Be Gentle, Be Brave, Be True

lOve, vickiO


my hOney and me

life’s dance lessOns

Fortunately, I love to dance – with my husband, with my friends, and even by myself. It makes me feel happy and alive, and healthy and free. Maybe the Universe is just trying to teach me a new dance step!


I am needing every optimistic bone in my body to learn the Valley Fever Cha-Cha. My question is, “Is it still the cha-cha when it’s two steps forward and three steps back?”

Over the past 6 weeks I have had a booth at Art on the Avenue in Fountain Hills, played a few rounds of golf (hello 85 and 38 : ) and attended three gatherings.  All of this happened with a lot of help, encouragement and understanding from my husband and friends – thank you, thank you!  And, oh how fun it has been! Yeah for two steps forward!


At the same time, half of the days have been filled with severe fatigue, headaches and sickness. Those three steps back are getting harder and harder to manage.

But what was it that they said about Ginger Rogers?


Yeah for Brave Girls in high heels and cowboy boots!


So, on this day, I have chosen to put my brave girl boots on and begin again.


What I know works for me:

  • A nice walk in the morning – even if it’s for 5 minutes,
  • followed by stretching and a few yoga poses,
  • followed by a short relaxing meditation,
  • and finally writing my Morning Pages (The Artist’s Way).
  • Breakfast comes in the form of a smoothie made with almond milk, dates, berries, baby spinach leaves, maca powder, cacao nib, chia seeds, and raw protein powder (all organic : ) I do love our Vitamix Blender!
  • T H E N, let go of any expectations for the rest of the day. Enjoy what I can, rest when I need to, and choose to be kind to myself no matter what. (I’m still working on this last part.)


Healing and learning looks so different from one person to another. But, for all of us, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to continue to trust where life leads us. Many times over the past 2 years I believed this “dance lesson” was over, only to hear the music begin again as the teacher called me back into the studio. So this time, after many tears, anger and grief, I am returning to the “studio” with more willingness and love in my heart. I keep hearing:

Be. Kinder. Be. Gentler. Be. You.

So, I am choosing to leave my reluctance at the door, smile when I hear the music begin again, and willingly take to the dance floor to learn more steps of the VF Cha-Cha.

 Thank you for listening, and holding my highest good

in your heart. I am doing the same for you.


On the VickiO art frOnt – If I make it back out to the Fountain Hills “Art on the Avenue” on Thursday, I will post it on Facebook. (LIKE my Facebook page here! ) I have a few new art pieces and wonderful new items to share. They would make great holiday gifts! Tote bags, calendars and iPhone 5 cases, Oh My!



And for those amazing party hosts – handcrafted wine bottle tags! Enjoy all the wonderful and loving people you have in your life. For me, they are the true gifts of the holidays!

Until then,

be gentle

be brave

be true

lOve, vickiO

dOesn’t travel well

As I slowly improved over the summer months, my husband and I set our sights on a 2 1/2 week driving trip to Minnesota in September. We even had a few “practice” trips to make sure I could handle the car ride, and still be able to function when we arrived at our destination. Our generous friends offered up their cabins in Northern Arizona to us, so with three short trips under our belts, we were ready. Or so we thought…


On September 1st, we packed up the car, which included John’s golf clubs, 4 of my clubs and a pair of golf shoes (ever the optimist), a cooler, some magazines, canvases, art supplies and many cute outfits for all the fun things we were going to do when we got there. Oh, I also had a Tempurpedic pillow and a full-size body pillow because my naps are still a must. It was like having a third person in the car, but it sure helped me get comfy enough to sleep. John would just shake his head every time I lugged the body pillow from the back seat to the front, but he knew a rested wife, was a happy wife.


From Fountain Hills to Albuquerque, and on to Colorado Springs and Lincoln, NE, we drove. Well, John drove, and I rested. We chatted, took in the beautiful landscape, listened to great music and late in the afternoon would look for the next Hampton Inn to rest our heads. One of the highlights was coming across the incredible Russell’s Travel Center  in the middle of Northern New Mexico. Our gas tank was on empty and they had everything one might need on a trip across America. Seriously!


We arrived in Woodbury, MN on September 4th, and moved into our dear friend Sharon’s beautiful and comfortable lower level. I was feeling tired, but after one of John’s delicious homemade dinners and a great nights sleep, I was ready to enjoy our friends and family on some beautiful Fall days in Minnesota.


The next morning, Sharon and I headed out for our long awaited walk. It was longer and hotter than either of us had planned, but we are tough, right?! After a quick hello from my dear friend Karla, and a nice lunch, I headed down for a nap. Upon rising, my energy had fallen and my body, for WHATEVER reason, decided it needed 11 more days of rest! Day after day, I would awaken optimistic, and day after day, found myself with almost no energy.

ARGH! No gatherings, no lunches, no nice dinners out. No trips to the golf course, no Project Runway with Karla and the kids, no dinners with friends and family, and no more long walks. And all my cute outfits that had travelled 1,700 miles were left sadly hanging in the closet.

I became so shocked and numb that the whole time feels quite surreal. How embarrassing to be able to drive all the way from Arizona to Minnesota and not have enough energy to drive 30 minutes to Minneapolis or Hastings. How and why did this happen?

It has taken me this long to publish this post because I was really hoping to find the answers to the how and why. Not that I didn’t try, but those are the ever unanswerable questions when it comes to recovering from Valley Fever. And those are the questions that truly drive me crazy.


So, once again, I am forced to practice letting go. (Can you say slow learner?)

And, once again, I am forced to listen to my body ever so carefully.

And, once again, I am forced to slow down and look inward.

And, once again, I am encouraged to look for what is right in my life. And there is SO much right!

And, once again, I am strongly encouraged to listen to that still, small, wise voice within.

And it all helps me to, once again, gently settle into and accept how life is. (Let gO Or be dragged, Sweetie!)

So on day 11, John packed up the car and we headed back to Arizona. No stop in the Colorado mountains,  the Utah canyon lands, or Kansas City. Just the quickest way home – Wichita to Albuquerque to Fountain Hills.


> Moving back to the Midwest will not cure my Valley Fever (sorry Mom).

> Planning ahead is for the birds (just so you know, the Canadian geese have safely arrived in Arizona for the winter).

> And, as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t travel well.


Upon arriving home, we cancelled our trip to Oregon for John’s nieces wedding (so sad), enjoyed being greeted by the first ever bloom on our San Pedro cactus, and settled back into our beautiful Arizona home. I’m once again slowly rebuilding my physical body, resetting my expectations and learning new ways to care for myself. I even committed to a 10-day Sugar Detox with Lacy Young which began October 1st. The experience so far has been enlightening, empowering and freeing.


I will continue to embrace life the best way I know how, and trust myself to make the healthiest and most fulfilling choices for myself. I am worth it, and so are yOu!


enjOy this wOnderful change Of seasOn, treat yOurself kindly, and celebrate all the lOve in yOur life!

thank yOu sO much fOr listening : )

much lOve,


fOllOw yOur art, yOur heart, and yOur therapist’s advice

If your doctor ever offers you Physical Therapy, say YES, YES, YES! And if you are recovering from Valley Fever, ask your doctor for a prescription for PT!  I’m not saying it will absolutely help, but there is a whole lot more being offered than just a few suggested exercises. Over the past 6 weeks, my wonderful physical therapist, Barbara, has supported not only my physical being, but my emotional and mental being as well. I had no idea how skilled, creative, funny, caring and wise she would be. I hope she never doubts the difference she is making in the world!

thank yOu, Barbara!

thank yOu, Barbara!

She has even inspired some new artwork…


nO wiser wOrds have ever been spOken

Ever so slowly, I am improving. It has taken 6 weeks (and 15 months!), but I am now able to drive myself to my PT appointments, take a short trip Up North (Arizona), and even attend a Diamondback baseball game with my husband. He had the hotdog and beer, and I ate all three chicken tacos!


DBacks wOn with a walk-Off hOmer in the bOttOm of the ninth!


beautiful pOnderOsa pines in shOw lOw, az

My 2-hour afternoon naps are still very important, as is staying hydrated and eating good food. Just this morning I walked into the kitchen and found four drinking glasses lined up on the counter. I knew they had not been there when I had gone to bed, so I asked my husband if he knew what was going on. He said, “I have a new plan for you!” I smiled, and asked what it was. He said that was the number of glasses of water I needed to drink each day. Bless his heart! Funny thing – my acupuncturist told me today that I needed to drink 76 ounces of water each day. Okay, Universe, I hear you!

Another milestone for me is being able to walk all the way around Fountain Lake – 1.25 miles! Unfortunately, because of the heat, I have to do it at 5am! It is amazing how many friendly people are out at that hour. Here are a few things that made me smile this morning:

image image

Taking my walk not only helps my physical heart, but my emotional heart as well. So does painting, and smiling at my husband, and saying the truth, and only saying yes when I really mean it. My heart will lead me to my best pOssible life. I just have to remember to listen : )


and yOur heart!


Following my (he)art, on many days, is a lot easier said than done. I continue to learn (many days kicking and screaming) that the only person I can save is myself. It is a very hard lesson for this “very good co-dependent”. But everyday I commit to myself to be as healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually as possible.  And just like my art, it is prettier on some days than others.

I will leave you with a few more images that inspired me today – one from Arizona, and one from Minnesota, via my friend Frank Bell.

guardian Of the desert

guardian Of the desert

mama lOOn and her chicks

mama lOOn and her chicks

And one more important reminder from Barbara:


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.

Learn as if you were to live forever”

Mahatma Gandhi

chOOse healing thOughts, embrace your feelings, tell the truth

lOve, vickiO

hOpe-mOre Or hOpe-less

hOpe visits

This sounds quite harsh, but I always believed hOpe to be a weak person’s pie-in-the-sky false dream. Something that I wasn’t interested in because of my pride, and my belief that I didn’t need any help, from anyone or anything.

a hOpe butterfly frOm my sister

a hOpe butterfly frOm my sister

I am a survivor of an alcoholic / co-dependent family, religious abuse, depression, cervical cancer and alcohol addiction. Who would have thought it would be valley fever  to bring me to my knees? Talk about feeling hOpe-less.

For most of my 55-years on the planet, I have relied on my sharp mind, strong will and my ability to persevere. I’ve never shied away from hard work or looking within to find answers and relief.

Luckily, I’ve worked with several really good therapists over the years, who helped me walk through many traumatic experiences and limiting beliefs. Without those gifted people, I would not have made it this far, and I definitely wouldn’t be finding my way through the challenges of valley fever.

nOte: Valley Fever cases continue to increase, and thankfully National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a story about it. Check it out here. Also, the Denver Post published an article about thousands of people being effected by Valley Fever. (Thank you, Jill, for the heads up on both of these items!)

When I realized I couldn’t outwit or outplay valley fever, I set out to learn some things about hOpe. Yes, the “Queen of Nothing Is Too Much For Me”, admitted that I need something more. Working hard and persevering isn’t cutting it, so hOpe it is.


My Google search brought me two very important things – a very cool definition of hOpe, and one amazing poem.

Definition by Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson:

“[h]ope literally opens us up…[and] removes the blinders of fear and despair and allows us to see the big picture [, thus allowing us to] become creative and have [b]elief in [a] better future”. Pretty beautiful, don’t you think!?


custOm created fOr a friend befOre finding the definitiOn Of hOpe

Now, on to the amazing Emily Dickinson poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

And sweetest in the gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson


Needless to say, I have slowly fallen in love with hOpe. I’ve also fallen in love with little birdies, and wispy clouds and the belief that I am slowly getting better. And Mother Nature keeps showing me how to hOpe-mOre. I’ve watched this cactus grow over the last month. Isn’t it amazing? I really can’t look at it without smiling.

mOther nature's prOOf Of hOpe

mOther nature’s prOOf Of hOpe

So I will keep painting, and eating well and doing my physical therapy, and trust that hOpe will light my way. And I will gladly be hanging onto hOpe’s hand.


The Hopeful Spirit bracelet is one of Kelly Rae Roberts creations. Thank you Kelly Rae!

Over the years, I’m afraid I have left hOpe standing out in the rain all by herself many times. No more! Here is a reminder for those of us who think we need to do it all on our own:

hOpe knOcks

I have fought for a long time to find a way to shine and fly in my life, and as hard as this part of the journey has been, with hOpe’s help, I have found my wings.


With all the tragedies in the world today, those of us who can, need to get up each morning with some wind beneath our wings. hOpe is that gentle breeze that brings fresh air, and lightness, and the possibility of healing and recovery. May everyone who needs to hOpe-mOre, feel the light kiss of hOpe today.

lOts Of lOve, vickiO


patience, patients & impatiens


Life has been a lot less stressful since I was officially diagnosed with Valley Fever. My mind is no longer using energy to spin in circles trying to “figure this whole thing out”. I’ve been evaluated for physical therapy, and my insurance company has approved 8 visits. Barb will be my PT expert, and John, my husband, will drive me across town tomorrow morning for my first official visit.

"hOpe", ink &acrylic on 5x7 canvas board

“hOpe”, ink &acrylic on 5×7 canvas board

I’ve even had some energy to paint these last couple of weeks. I was able to finally finish the second Starbucks “thank you” art piece, complete the latest commissioned wine labels, and reorganize my art space.


All of this is such good news, and yet I’m finding myself feeling hopeless about actually getting “well”. I’m seeing a bit of improvement, but after all my ups and downs, I just don’t trust it. And today has been a very tired day. My doctor says “have patience”, my acupuncturist says, “have patience”, and now my physical therapist is saying “have patience”. I am SO tired of being patient I could scream!

"did sOmeOne say patience?"

“did sOmeOne say be patient?”

The truth is, I’m a very patient person. I pride myself on being patient. But, honestly, this has tested the limits of my patience like never before. And being a patient patient seems just about impossible today. Maybe that is why these two words look and sound the same – it requires one to be the other. I came across the following quote on Pinterest, and it really helped me get clear about the facts and where my focus needs to be. It kind of says it all…


Fact #1: I am doing everything in my power to get well.

Fact #2: This Valley Fever “down-time” has provided me some much needed soul-searching and artist exploration time (that I have used very well, by the way : )

And Fact #3: I really do have a great life.

So, I will gather myself once again, and boldly continue on this path of healing and growth and finding the magical silver linings.


This past week I planted flowers for the first time since coming to Arizona. I swore I would never do it, because “they just don’t belong here in the desert”. Well, my Midwest heart needed some potted flowers! But, did I really need to pick impatiens?!

"my desert impatiens"

“my desert impatiens”

I guess I did!


Impatiens (or impatient) in the desert sun…


Thank you for having patience with me as I heal. I know everyone is pulling for me and every kind card, thought, word, stuffed animal, phone call, email, Facebook “Like”, and prayer is gratefully cherished and accepted. To my healing team (yes, you!), “I respectfully, humbly, and gratefully accept the help you are offering.” Thank you for everything!


May all your dreams come true! Happy May Day, lOvelies!

lOve, vickiO