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❤️❌⭕️!!
Is it possible to live a life with no regrets? I’m not sure, but I am setting out to find out!
Oxford Dictionary defines Regret as, “Feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that one has done or failed to do.”
Over the past 6-7 months I’ve had three experiences of which I’ve had no control that have brought me face to face with the issue of regret. The next three posts will cover each experience individually, and hopefully gently uncover some keys to living a life with no regrets.
“Grief and gratitude are kindred souls, each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.
-Patricia Campbell Carson
On November 8th, 2017, one of my favorite people on the planet was killed in a tragic car accident. I have wanted to write about it for many months, but it has taken this long to be able to gather myself, my thoughts, and enough courage to actually do it.
Eric Lunde turned 47 years old in September of 2017, and 2 months later he was gone. This is so hard to write about. Partly because I want to do him justice, partly because it is so damn painful, and partly because I have no idea where this will take me. But isn’t it the truth that we really don’t know where anything will take us?
I keep thinking I’ve come to terms with it in my brain, and then a memory of him floats by, and my heart breaks all over again. Eric was a free spirit, a nO regrets adventurer, a lover of food, drink, and all things outdoors. I’d hiked with him in Sedona and Lake Tahoe, golfed with him in Minnesota, Arizona and California, traded stories of grand Hawaii adventures, and was there to support him when each of his immediate family members left the planet before him.
I thought I had more time with him. Isn’t that the catch – we always think we have more time. After having his dad, Dave, (my husband’s best friend) killed in a car accident in 1993, his sister, Lisa, dying of a freak brain bleed in 2006, and his mother (my dearest friend Sharon) dying of cancer in 2015, don’t you think Eric would get to die of old age on a beach in Hawaii 40 years from now? It just doesn’t seem right. Or fair. Or real.
I just wasn’t ready. It’s such a dumb thing to say, but I really wasn’t ready. I had plans for us. Deep talks, sharing nature hikes, golf and camping trips, fabulous dinners, and more sharing of wisdom and experiences. I regret not acting on every impulse I had to call him, invite him, and share with him. I feel so robbed. And I can’t quite shake how robbed their entire family was.
I remember sitting in intensive care with Sharon after Dave’s accident, when she looked at me and said, “I have no regrets.” I was floored. Really, No Regrets?? At that point in my life I had made some really bad decisions and couldn’t imagine having a marriage with no regrets. I never forgot her words, and have been slowly (I must be related to snails) gaining enough consciousness and courage to achieve what Sharon and Dave so beautifully created together.
Life is so precious, and so shockingly fleeting. I am forever changed by Eric’s life, and by his death. I plan to do Eric proud by choosing again and again to live with my heart wide open, no matter what life throws my way. Will this be “no regrets” living? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to try it and find out.
Eric and his family meant the world to me, and now that they’re all gone, I once again am left with so many unanswerable questions. I’ve returned again and again to my memories of them, and all the love we shared, in this lifetime, and in what feels like many other lifetimes, too. I keep remembering what my doctor said to me just weeks after the accident – “they are all once again together, galloping across the galaxies”. Whether or not it’s true, it sure helps me to picture it.
Since Eric’s death, I keep hearing: Don’t wait to wake up. Don’t wait to love. Don’t wait to swim in the ocean. Don’t wait to take that trip. Don’t wait to be with your favorite people. Don’t wait to celebrate. Don’t wait to live your life the way you want to. Don’t wait. I for one am heeding this advice, because this might just be the essence of nO regrets living.
This summer, my husband and I will carry the ashes of our most treasured Lunde family back to Minnesota with us. There we will give them a final resting place, so they can be “Together Forever”. The remains of their bodies will rest, while their amazing spirits will continue to spread their special brand of love and magic through the Universe.
Thank you for all the love, lessons, wisdom and adventures. Travel well dear ones. I will meet you among the stars.
“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
– Wendell Berry
I have tried writing this post every couple of days for the past 2 months, and haven’t gotten any farther than the first few sentences each time. Today will be different. It just has to be. The question is – “How does one go about writing about the process of grief when there is no roadmap, no “This Way” sign, and no solid ground to be found?”
The truth is I want to be writing about something else. Something that is inspiring, and uplifting, and pretty. I want to be sharing what I’m doing to feel better (meditating, spending time in Nature, reminding myself that I’m a part of the universe). But, my soul keeps tugging on my sleeve and whispering, “tend to your heart, dear one”.
For a good part of my life I protected my heart behind a wall of perfectionism and the belief that “it doesn’t matter”. I told myself over and over again that it doesn’t matter if I get hurt, if I get left, or if there isn’t any help. It was an effective coping mechanism back then, but over the past 25 years I’ve been committed to being a more vulnerable, authentic and wholehearted person.
And that means staying connected to myself, and choosing to listen for those things that really do matter to me. It also means taking responsibility for what I need, and not leaving it up to others to figure it out for me. As my coach Andy says, “Your wellbeing is in your hands.”
For me, grief triggers shame and thoughts of weakness and failure. Unfortunately, from the place of shame I begin asking some really unhelpful questions: “What is wrong with me that losing one of my dearest soul sisters and my Mom in a span of 6 months has dropped me to my knees? What is wrong with me that I can’t think or focus for any length of time? What is wrong with me that I’m struggling to stay in contact with the dear friends and sisters who are still in my life? Why am I not strong enough to “handle” this and just move on?”
I’d rather not feel vulnerable. Ever. But life really isn’t like that. I’m learning through this process that it’s worth the effort to summon my courage and risk being vulnerable. That by being vulnerable with those who love me, the loss and pain really does begin to shift. By being vulnerable with those who “get me”, I’m finding that their love, understanding and wisdom really does reach my heart, and some of the raw edges are begining to soften. Where I thought there was only loss and shame, there begins to grow true connection.
“Courage originally meant
‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.'”
Shame and anger tell me I don’t have what it takes to move through this. But my amazing heart tells me I’m strong enough to feel this deep loss and come through to the other side. It keeps telling me that this work is very important and that it is essential to honor my process, my path, my wisdom. My heart says, “Listen more, and judge and react less.” And my heart and dear friends promise that if I stay with my vulnerable self, the pain will shift and transform, and bring renewed light and joy in due time.
As I stay committed to my wellbeing, I will continue my play dates with the sunrise, build cairns of peace and remembrance, strengthen my body, meditate, keep seeing beauty, and ask for courage, joy and ease for myself and all others.
Thank you for listening, caring, believing. May you trust the wisdom of your own heart, and begin to soften some of those jagged edges in your own life. You are worth it.
“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”
For most of January and early February I was terribly scared, concerned, and frantically spinning with fatigue and fear. During those days, I was asking a lot of questions in my head (a dangerous neighborhood to go by oneself, as my dear friend Karla says). Questions like, “How come I’m this sick again?” and “What is wrong with me?”, and sadly, “How can I expect John to stick around if I can’t do anything?” Oh, how quickly I turn on myself.
In retrospect, I realized the biggest error in my ways was in asking all the “wrong” questions. “Wrong” being those things that are out of my control. Focusing on those things will cause you to go crazy, you know.
In response to my turmoil, amidst many tears and much worrying, I have chosen to let go and begin again. And again. Here is what I am choosing to focus on instead:
- My husbands’ love for me, and his ability to keep me smiling and laughing, and his belief that I am getting better and better. I SO believe in us, and so does he!
- An affirmation from Louise Hay (I’m not always big on affirmations, but this one feels good to me right now) – “I am enthusiastic about life and filled with energy.”
- Making really positive morning decisions – meditation, art journaling, drinking water.
- How much stronger I am than I used to be, and what is most helpful physically to me right now.
- How cool it is to be learning so much from the incredible artists/teachers in Life Book 2015. You can still sign up HERE!
- AND, stay really clear about what I value, what brings me joy, and what is most important in my life.
shOw and tell (one of my favorite things as a kid : )
Last June, in my post titled lOve, trust and demOlitiOn, I shared pictures of our condo remodel in progress. During one of my daily visits to Starbucks a few weeks ago, I ran into our contractor Tony, and he reminded me that I never posted the “after” pictures of our project. Now that everything has been completed, including my brand new vickiO art studiO, it’s time for the big reveal!
If you need a great contractor, and live in the Phoenix area, contact Tony Timonte at Accurate Interiors, HERE!
The pictures really don’t do the space justice, but trust me – the colors are bright and comforting and bring us much jOy. We plan to be here for a long time❤️
And now to my studio! For the artists out there, most of what you see was purchased at IKEA for a very reasonable price. A huge thank you to my talented friend, Lisa Shore, who designed the room and took me to the IKEA store in Tempe Arizona to select, pick (literally pick the products off of the warehouse shelves, load them onto a large cart, and wheel them up to the checkout lane) and purchase each piece. We laughed, lugged, and lunched our way around the place, and the result is priceless!
I even held my first one-on-one art class here with a woman from Chicago who saw my work at the November art fair! Loving being vickiO!
And with just a few changes, here it is as a guest room!
It really helps to use carts and shelves with wheels on them for art supplies. While our guests are here, I just move the necessary pieces into our bedroom, and continue to create and paint there.
February 24, 2015
My life changed drastically and shockingly today. My dearest friend, Sharon Lunde, passed away suddenly. She was my mentor, my teacher, my mother, and my Soul Sister for 32 years. We were the true definition of The Mutual Admiration Society.
Silly me, I thought I could prepare myself for this day. At least a little, anyway. Not even remotely possible. Mind-numbing, heart-breaking loss. Unknown territory. Beginning again.
Here are a few things I said in her eulogy:
“Surprisingly, Sharon didn’t think she was an artist, and yet, if you were lucky enough to be one of her students, colleagues or friends, she could take the scattered bits and pieces of your broken heart, and fiercely and lovingly weave it back together again, and make you whole.
And she was willing to do that over and over and over again.
The truth is, I loved everything about her – and luckily, she loved everything about me. There was no way to walk away from our time together and not feel important, or seen, or heard. I don’t know what life will be like without her. Only time will tell. All I know for sure is that her love challenged me, transformed me, and saved me, and I will be forever grateful.”
Sharon would have loved the Celebration of Her Life that took place last Monday. It was touching and real, funny and sad, moving and inspiring, and standing room only. It was all about her – just as it should be, and just as she would have wanted it to be.
Seek comfort for your beautiful heart. Hug those you love. Appreciate the goodness in your world.
A few weeks ago, my sister Julie put one of her clients (I’ll call her Robin) in touch with me. Robin had seen a piece of my art work hanging in Julie’s studio, and wanted to commission me to do a similar piece for her.
After having a wonderful conversation with Robin to hear her preference of color and feel, I set off to my studio (currently our dining room table) to uncover some magic.
Blank, stark white canvases don’t scare me. I love the feeling of possibility, and it seems easy to trust my intuition.
The middle is where I tend to get scared. It is there where doubt, judgement and big old mean critics creep in. Actually, they usually come storming in, weapons drawn and firing. Sometimes I’m able to head them off at the pass, but when I don’t, my playful, bright and creative artist self shuts down the second she hears those demons at the door.
Somewhere in this “middle waste zone” I quiet myself long enough to hear the gentle whispers of wisdom…
There are so many wise people in the world, and thankfully they have posted their wisdom on Pinterest!
This little bit of self-lOve usually brings me back to center. I remember that my primary goal is to have fun and allow myself to explore possibilities. What’s funny is that once I embrace myself and know that I won’t abandon myself, most of the time the “middle danger zone” clears and I am able to arrive at a most wonderful result.
So the day Robin’s brave heart was complete, I lovingly boxed it up and sent it to her.
I love this part, too!
And upon receiving her Brave Heart, Robin wrote, “I love my Brave Heart art work. It is perfect! Thank you!” I am always amazed at the results when I am able to let go of the outcome. I sure don’t come by it naturally, but I’m learning it is a much gentler and peaceful way to go.
So thank you, Julie, for putting your client in touch with me! I love celebrating our Brave Hearts! And please click here tO see what amazing and very cOOl things my sister, Julie Interrante, is dOing in SacramentO!
During this time of exploring what it means to be brave hearted, we in Arizona experienced a terrible tragedy. The Yarnell wildfire claimed 19 hotshot firefighters’ lives. The loss of so many brave young men reverberated through every city and left no heart untouched by sorrow.
I have cried and questioned and wondered why. I’ve felt angry at such a cruel turn of events. It is such a helpless place to be, and I can’t imagine the depth of distress in the hearts of the families and friends of these amazing men. So, we donate money, and buy raffle tickets, and hope they can feel our love from a distance.
The flags in Arizona are still flying at half mast, as they are in our hearts.
So today I honor all our Brave Hearts. It takes a Brave Heart to walk with fire, to feel loss, to get up in the morning, to take care of the kids, to protect ourselves, to protect others, to deal with illness, to face our fears, and to love.