One year ago I found myself writing about hitting bottom in my hello bOttOm post. Bottoms are rich with lessons, insights, inspiration and motivation if you choose to keep looking, breathing, and then screaming and crying when you need to. It is not the easiest choice, but, in my opinion, the worthiest.
“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.”
Today I find myself in a much different place (yippee!) and I’m suprised at how uncomfortable I feel. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that, but it’s really the truth. Don’t get me wrong. I’m crazy happy and excited that this is the best I have felt in five years, but it’s also quite challenging to embrace the joy of it all. I’m not 100% yet, but feeling this new level of vitality in my body is amazing, and frightening at the same time.
Amazing because I now feel capable of taking what I’ve learned these last five years to build a life that offers the world the best of me, and really makes me happy. Frightening because I know what it’s like to not have the strength to get out of bed, and the memory of it is still quite haunting. But maybe that makes it even more important to happily and boldly claim where I am now.
“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.“
– Brene Brown
Maybe this moving on and embracing joy time is as sacred as the dark, rich, fighting for your life time. Oh, I sure do hope so. I wouldn’t want anyone else to miss this part of their journey, so why am I giving myself such a hard time about it? I actually think I’m feeling guilty. Oh, man, I didn’t see that one coming!
Feeling guilty for getting well when other people are still suffering with their dis-eases. That part of this makes me really sad. If I could give everybody good health and vitality I would. I really, really would.
“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
– Anne Lamott
So, I guess I have a choice to make. To keep shining my light in the best way I know how, or to let the shame and guilt win. Well, I will tell you right now – they are NOT going to win. I’ve worked too damn hard and long for that to happen!
Even though it feels terribly risky, I’m making a promise to myself, right nOw, to revel in this new energy. To keep claiming every bit of joy and light I can, and to keep making choices that light me up. It’s really my wish for everyone on the planet, so why wouldn’t I choose it for myself, too?
To that end, I will share with you that I have been accepted into the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery!!! How crazy unbelievable is that?!? Truth be told, I am over the moon about it. As far back as I can remember I’ve dreamed of being an artist. I’ve always loved creating things, fixing things, and finding ways to put things back together again in new ways. And here I am sharing it with the world!! Some dreams really do come true!
For many of my working years I imagined my 80-year old self as a budding artist. I’m so happy I didn’t wait that long. I’m actually 20 1/2 years ahead of time! All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. To the Universe, my creativity, my perseverance, and to all of you. I truly wouldn’t have made it without you.
None of us know what is around the next corner, which makes every day a special opportunity to respond to life in a way that is in line with who you really are. Your unique brand of love, creativity, humor and kindness is invaluable to the world. Don’t ever forget that. I promise I won’t either.
P.S. My artwork will be in the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery beginning June 6, 2017. I’m so happy to be a part of this new community, and to be supporting the arts right here in my beautiful little town. I’ll be sharing more about it in the coming months, and invite you to check out my Artist Bio on their website.
Keep dreaming and becoming!
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
– Maya Angelou
I’m happy to report that over the last 6 months my health has improved considerably. I’ve enjoyed more dinner dates and adventures with my husband, strengthened my core muscles, attended weddings of family and friends, golfed, kayaked, walked in the ocean, hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains to a waterfall, continued painting, heard mountain climbers, deep sea divers and Olympic athletes tell of their adventures, and spent some time with friends. Crazy good!
It’s been wonderful, scary, challenging, surreal, and at times downright strange. There are times when I feel like I’ve taken a deep, 4-year transforming sleep, and upon awakening find the world looks very different from the one I knew before. I wonder if butterflies ever have the same feelings. They “go to sleep” a caterpillar, and wake up a butterfly. Can you even image what it takes to accomplish that? Or how amazingly unsettling it could be?
For both the butterfly and me,
the world really didn’t change that much.
I feel as different on the inside, as the caterpillar turned butterfly looks on the outside. I wish my transformation had given me actual wings (because how cool would that be), but the truth is I got inside wings instead. It’s taking some time to get used to them. Some days I feel like I know how to use them, and on other days I’m flopping around on the floor, or helplessly caught in some invisible net.
I didn’t think that this “getting better” phase would look like this. I expected I would slide right back into my life as it was, going at the pace I was used to. It turns out, things don’t really work that way. And it’s actually a really good thing. I’ve worked long and hard for this new internal me, and it would be criminal to kick her to the curb, or keep her locked in a cage, crumpling her wings and spirit.
My new internal wings symbolize some very real and external qualities and gifts for me. They’ve given me several new guideposts along my path. Actually, there are only four. Which makes each one of them very important.
- Stay connected to yourself first. Yes. First.
- Keep meditating. Yes. Everyday. This will help you immensely with steps 1 and 3. Oh, and with step 4, as well.
- Own it. Own your wants, needs, likes, dislikes, feelings, emotions and reactions. Own what is important to you. Even if you are the only one who finds it important. Own your spirit, and your life, too. This step is very important and very empowering. Don’t skip it.
- Make your choice. Yes. Your choice. For you. Not for anyone else. And then own that, too.
This whole “getting well” transition will continue for a while I’m sure. It’s exciting and scary, but it’s essential to me to value every insight, lesson, challenge, and gift my illness has brought me. I do believe this unplanned “cocoon time” was exactly what my life needed. I promise I will not waste it. My health and happiness depend on it.
Honor and listen to the transitions, transformations, and the calling of your life, dear friends. I have found life gets pretty insistent if you don’t.
Thank you Honey for hanging in there with me!!
“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.