Rescue Ralph

Wreck it Ralph movie poster
No, not THIS Ralph…

No, no – I’m not talking about “Wreck It Ralph’ – the 2012 animated comedy.  I’ve got my other favorite Ralph on my mind – the one I affectionately refer to as “Rescue Ralph” – better known to you, perhaps, as Ralph Waldo Emerson.  😊

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yes – THIS Ralph…

His catalogue of brilliance is numbing.  How could that much ‘smart’ reside in one human?  Of all the thought-provoking quotes and encouraging nuggets attributed to Mr. Emerson, there’s one that stands out to me:

Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Blunders, absurdities, old nonsense? Oh my!  Just the morning kick-in-the-butt I need (most days, at least) to rescue me from my swirling, circuitous thinking. I love it…and yet…

I wonder, what if I add the typical Vicki accentuations to his work – a little bold here and there, maybe an emoji or exclamation point…or two.  I’m not reserved, like my guy Ralph.  I’m me and I overly enthuse when spot-on wisdom speaks directly to me. 

My edits, should I be so bold (wink!) might look like this:

Finish each day and be done with it!  You have done what you could. 😉 Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; FORGET THEM as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day! 😊😊😊 You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Crossing a line?  Too much creative liberty?  Yes – but it’s all in fun.

Thank you, Ralph (although I understand you preferred to use your middle name).  In that case, Waldo, you’re the best. 

-Vicki 😉

Not Much of a Navigator

friends on a VW bus roof
You Drive!

There are days…when I long for a do-over, a ‘take two’.  Why?  I tend to labor over bits of conversations and snippets of experiences…replaying them in my head and critiquing myself.  Did I say the right thing – the right way?  Too much, too little?  Did I do all I could to convey what I was thinking/feeling? 

What’s the problem, you ask?  There are people in my life who place too much confidence in me, assume I’m chock-full of solutions – something for everyone in my hip pocket.  Not true…not even close.

I can be a pretty good listener, but I’ve learned to avoid full-on problem-solving for others, for a variety of reasons (mainly that my high empathy tempts me to take on every issue in my orbit).  In my efforts to empower and encourage a friend recently, I disappointed her instead.  She didn’t use words – it was all over her face.

My friend wanted an ‘easy button’ and I didn’t want to ‘Vicki-splain’ to her (no one needs that) 😉 and tell her why my solutions to HER problems really wouldn’t help her. Instead, I tried to convey that she should mull and reflect; certain that the right step would become obvious, apparent. 

Maybe my delivery was bad?  She took my reluctance to ‘solve the problem’ as disregard for her, which gave me heartache in the form of another sleepless night.  Sigh.

My friend is the driver. When she knows which road and destination are right for her, I’ll be right there – ready to rally with her as her co-pilot and compadre.  Not the navigator.

Thanks for reading and ‘riding along’. 😉

-Vicki ❤

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

Morning Stripe

morning sunrise
Good morning!

It’s the first day of fall around here and the auburn-bordering-on-coral daybreak stripe seems to proclaim the change – with delight!

However, not everyone is welcoming the 48 degree temps this morning. There are two grumbly bears (hubby and pooch) who are mock shivering and fussing. Seriously? Cream puffs, I say, cream puffs. 😉

Me? I know I’ve said this before, but comfy apparel-wise, nothing beats a well-worn sweatshirt and jean shorts…ahh…on a day like this one.

It’ll warm to the 70’s later which means today’s weather bridges the best of summer (not too hot, definitely not humid) with the first taste of brisk breezes to follow (minus the snow that will come…sigh).

Wherever you are today and whatever the weather, from me to you, take care!

-Vicki ❤

Hollyhocks and Resilience

Showstopper – in more than one way

My mom was a walking conundrum.  I learned to work around her moods, but one wacky episode popped to mind this morning – prompted by an unassuming and lovely bloom.  A singularly determined late summer stunner nestled behind our garage. This vibrant hollyhock – pictured above.

Its brethren have long since pooped out but this guy?  He’s still got stage presence, demanding attention.  So, I give it.  And as I’m looking him over, wondering why I’ve assigned male pronouns to a flower 😊 I realize why I dislike hollyhocks.  In one unsettling wave, I remember.

I don’t recall the year, but sister (Lisa) and I were old enough to walk to the Rite Aid drugstore to do a little shopping for Mother’s Day. We bought a bouquet of mixed flowers and a fresh box of chocolate covered cherries.  (Lisa and I sometimes wondered what “fresh” candy was – nothing was dated in those days and we guessed it just meant it was better than the stash mom not-so-secretly-hid in her nightstand.)

We felt triumphant as we woke mom with her gifts, along with a cup of black coffee and her cigarettes.  Yeah for us!  Almost. Funny how you can block a slice of unpleasantry for decades, isn’t it?  I shelved this story in the way, way back – at least until the show-stopper hollyhock said hello earlier today. 

Mom’s reaction to her Mother’s Day gifts?  She looked at the bouquet of flowers, prominently showcasing both hollyhocks and gladiolas (I didn’t know their names then, but I learned…) and tossed them on the floor with an angry, “FUNERAL flowers?  FUNERAL flowers? It’s Mother’s Day!  I hate them” followed by a testy grab of the candy and a more softly muttered… ‘But these are okay”.

Lisa, given her sweetness and emotional vulnerability was a puddle in an instant. I tended to her first – trying to smooth over and re-contextualize the hurt.  Usually this:  Mom didn’t mean it or Mom’s just tired followed by It’s not your fault.  Distracting Lisa by nudging her along to another activity also helped.  That day we made pancakes.  Food as the solution – again.  Sigh.

Just the same, like other nasty bits, for my own sanity, I shut the door to the memory – quick as I could.  Years later, I’m amazed that these scenes are still powerful enough to swim into everyday life.  Life with mom wasn’t always a train wreck…but when it was, it was.

My take-away?  NOW I know why I’ve never liked the hollyhocks 😉 that hubby’s been nursing back to health in our yard.  I’ve been indifferent to them – never cutting them and plopping them in a vase.  I’m still not sure about mom’s crazy claim that hollyhocks (and gladiolas) are ‘funeral flowers’.  Anyone who’s more in the know can fill me in on that.

Oh – and why the sharing?  No, no — not because it’s sad. Quite the contrary. For me, it’s a proof-positive example that remembering, while unpleasant, can breed resilience, if you dare to let it.

Thanks for reading.  The boisterous and bold Mr. Hollyhock says hello.

xo,

Vicki ❤

“Begin Again”

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo
“Begin Again” – an all-time favorite film

I love the film “Begin Again”.  Yes, it’s a little salty and true to its “R” rating…but still.  I just love it. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden and Adam Levine? Sigh.  Maybe I love it because it’s already a little vintage-y…the story from 2014 about musicians…knowing their worth and protecting it…and the impact on self, relationships.  Maybe I love it because the title is endearing. Yes, always, to ‘beginning again‘. Ahh…

Beyond the title 😊 there are three parts of the film that speak to me intensely – prompting joyful tears about the magic of creativity and the power of music:

The first?  Near the beginning when Mark Ruffalo’s character envisions – sees, hears, conducts – an imaginary arrangement of instruments to enhance Keira Knightley’s subdued vocals.  In real time.  It’s a fantastic out of body experience (alcohol-induced, but I’m disregarding that) and I can only imagine this level of musical genius.  It’s one of the best depictions I’ve seen; a cinematic attempt to showcase the continuum that is music and madness. (Sadly, it’s a family storyline, too. The burden of brilliance for the musically gifted…personal sharing to come, perhaps another day.)

The second?  I adore an endearing dad and daughter storyline.  In a rooftop recording session (near the 1:20 mark or so) Ruffalo’s character realizes his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) is a gifted, yet tentative musician.  Dad’s got skills, too, but is reluctant to pick up a guitar himself.  When he does, his act of bravery encourages and ignites confidence in his dear daughter.  Right there on screen.  Magic.

The third?  James Corden is a goofball in the film (maybe that’s his natural state?) and there’s a scene, following the rooftop recording, where he DEFIES partygoers to NOT dance to a beat that’s hypnotic and powerful. Who can resist?  I love how this was captured on film.  It felt authentic, silly and it aligned with one of my core beliefs:  good music makes you move.  Maybe just a little – toe tapping or finger thumping – or whole-body ‘cutting loose’.  You can’t stop it.

And so…this past Friday night was movie rewind time in our house.  “Begin Again” offered food for the soul, alongside a monster bowl of popcorn. Whether it was the popcorn or the movie, a satisfying and fulfilling sense of happy still lingers.

-Vicki ❤

Turn Down the LOUD

woman with hands over ears
Too Loud!

“Sensitivity to sound can be both a symptom and a cause of anxiety.” 

calmclinic.com

Hypersensitivity to sounds when in an anxious state?  Oh yes – nailed it!  That’s me.  Whether it’s the metal-on-metal scraping sound that makes me tense up whilst unloading silverware from the dishwasher (not kidding) or the screeching, high pitched sounds of car collisions in movies, tv shows – I am an HSP (highly sensitive person).  

Violent noises aside, being sensitive is a yin/yang kind of thing.  I don’t mind that my HSP-self can be thunderstruck by beauty and kindness – prompting intense emotion and mountains of empathy.  Feeling deeply?  That’s me.

Anxiety disorders are common in the DNA gumbo that defines my family. Result? I’m forever keeping an eye out for resources that mesh nicely with my chief coping tools:  exercise, meditation, and mindfulness. 

I’m grateful to have been both a recipient of care and then professionally, a source of support for others.  The Calm Clinic article caught my eye because of the straightforward attention it pays to sounds as anxiety triggers.  Not all inclusive – but these four buckets seem like apt categories to me, summarizing the challenge:

  1. Noise Triggers
  2. Quick Startle Reflex
  3. Irritation
  4. Stress-related Tension

Hypersensitivity is fluid and ever-changing, but it IS possible to manage it. My greatest nemesis lately? 

TV VOLUME…TV VOLUME…TV VOLUME

On my tombstone the words “Thanks for turning down the volume” should appear.  (But to be fully forthcoming, it should probably say “Turn the *%X#!@* sound down!” because that’s the true-to-life delivery of my, um, request.)  However, cussing on a tombstone is probably a no, no. Hubby will need to noodle on that once I’m gone.

Mellow Vicki – who appears, on occasion 😉 – might not mind the cacophony so much…but it will depend on my mood, state of mind and being.  If I’m relaxed and not solving the world’s problems in my errant, wayward thoughts, sure – turn the volume up.  No prob.  But it DEPENDS. (See #1, 2, 3 and 4 above – my bugaboos.)

Am I alone?  Chime in (see me smiling?) with your thoughts, support, heckling. I can take it.  Just don’t shout.

Xo,

Vicki 😊

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Time-Tested Advice

woman lacing up running shoes
I’m a work in progress…

Once upon a time, I sparkled with newness as a fresh-out-of-grad school professional, working alongside many seasoned and smart colleagues in higher ed.  To a person, I’d say, we adored our counseling and therapeutic roles, even the stalwart veterans who could’ve been cranky and inflexible but were savvy and nimble instead.

As a team, we did it all – psychotherapy, career counseling, personal and mental health – and the satisfaction that came from being a part of a high functioning team WAS priceless.  Ah, the lessons I learned.  As the youngest, I felt I’d been gifted with newfound family – older brothers and sisters – bonded by the dedication and drive to help others.

We were boisterous, bold, creative, and unrelenting in our advocacy for students.  Looking back, I understand NOW how blessed I was to work in a culture that promoted student success while tending to team cohesion and individual excellence.

When was this?  Oh…the very distant 80’s my dear readers.  I had the spikey punk hairdo (periodically dyed burgundy red) to prove it. 😉 Now that I’ve said adios to my career in that venue (and that brand of bad hair) my rear-view mirror provides a spectacular wonder wheel of moments that matter.  Many scenes from those days have magnified in importance over the years – giving a second wind to sage advice.  SO good that it only gets better with time.

One such pearl came from a veteran counselor named Lena.  Lena and her husband had grown children and as they considered retirement options, they focused on relocation ideas to maximize their hiking and outdoor lifestyles.  Lena and her hubby traveled every weekend, it seemed, to scope out possibilities and size up trails and atmosphere.

No one would’ve guessed Lena was in her 50’s.  She wore Reeboks when no one knew what they were and would lace up at lunch and take a lap or two around campus.  Returning to the office, she’d retrieve her salad and mixed nuts and fill her water bottle, often joining the other younger professional, Carly, and myself in the break room. 

What did Carly and I eat for lunch?  We were the babies in the department and thought nothing of eating pizza every day while we watched one of the daytime soaps.  (Carly had a fondness for “All My Children”, broadcast in the pre-cable and DVR days at noon sharp.) 

Lena was the healthiest eater, but other colleagues would join in with their tuna salad, PB & J on whole wheat or tofu – which was just becoming a thing.  For a semester or so, Lena and the “elders” never commented directly on the Pizza Hut and Dr. Pepper noshing that Carly and I dug into. Daily. We were just ‘the pizza girls’. 

Why did Lena eventually comment on our choices?  Hard to say. Not wanting to offend, I’m sure she had unexpressed thoughts about our awful, repetitive lunches.  We always offered leftovers and extra slices to anyone who wanted them, knowing the fridge would receive the pizza instead.

Once, instead of just saying ‘no thanks, girls’ Lena added, “You know, I would LOVE to eat like you do.  It smells so good but I know my body.  One day, yours might talk back to you, too.  Enjoy your pizza parade now – it won’t last.”  And then, “You’ll learn”.

Carly and I made faces at Lena and laughedA day will come when we won’t want pizza every day?  We heard her, but it didn’t register.  It bounced – and yet – the message was sticky enough to boomerang back – decades later.

How has Lena’s guidance helped me?  I remember how sincere she was – not wanting to be preachy, hoping, I’m sure, that her plain-spoken observation about nutrition might take hold – eventually.  It did…I  just needed my aging metabolism to see it, but I got there.

Along the way, I recalled another one of Lena’s daily health habits.  She carried a notebook and logged her food.  Not in an obsessive way; just for accountability.  Two years ago, I picked up my phone and started a daily food diary, along with walking and Pilates every day.  Loving advice from Lena, across the decades. “Know my body”. It finally stuck!

Xo,

Vicki ❤

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Smallest Act of Caring

people hugging
Turning life around…with kindness

I can’t think of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that I DON’T like.  One, in particular, popped to mind recently when I was (yes, again) at Costco:

“Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn life around.” – MLK Jr.

Let me set the stage.  Costco was jammed and it struck me that it was the first time I’d seen that many people shopping in close proximity – without masks (mostly) in ages. 

Toward the front, near the checkouts, there were loads of fresh plants – perennials and mums on six-foot tall, massive rolling carts.  It looked like a makeshift greenhouse – one that created a Tetris-like maze for shoppers to navigate.  Get the picture?

Despite the tight quarters, folks were navigating pretty well with their laden carts, except for one sweet mom.  She was attempting to push a flatbed with a wonky wheel with one hand, while holding onto a toddler with the other.  On her hip was a round-faced, wide-eyed baby enjoying his pacifier while looking me over.

Mom’s flatbed load was substantial.  Diapers and towels, cases of juice and jugs of milk.  I suspect she settled for the flatbed because carts were scarce – all in use on a busy day.

As she tried to turn a corner,  the front edge of the flatbed made contact with a display of nuts and then ricocheted forward into a cart with plants.  Wowza.  I was behind her and I could slow-mo see what was happening but couldn’t stop it.  Stuff was flying – but no one got hurt. 

Mom held on tight to the baby and the toddler knew to duck behind her – which is where I was.  Good thing my hands were free because her little dude jumped in my arms to avoid the cascade of cashews.

Oddly, I wasn’t surprised.  It was a mutual move – he jumped up and I scooped at the same time, synchronized-like.  After the clatter and confusion, mom turned around and began apologizing to me, to everyone around her and then stopped – realizing a strange woman (me!) was holding her oldest. 

She was colossally embarrassed and stressed.  Creating a scene in a public place does that to some of us.  Been there; done that – but it’s been a while since I was in her shoes.  Wanting to hide but needing to tough it out, because, you know.  You’re the mom

The Costco folks reset the cashew display and removed the plants and dirt that landed on mom’s flatbed, mixed in with the diapers and stuff.  They were so sweet – ushering her to a closed checkout lane to speed things up, get her on her way.  

As I walked behind her, still carrying her big boy, he announced, “You’re a nice lady and you smell good.”  Mom heard this and laughed – apologizing to me one more time.  “No problem”, I said.  “Right place at the right time.  Moms stick together, you know?”  

I doubt I’ll ever see them again, but it was a sweet reminder of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote.  Cheers to simple stuff, like the smallest act of caring when the opportunity arises, at Costco.  Or anywhere. Right up my alley – and yours, too. I just know it.

-Vicki ❤

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

When You Crack Yourself Up

Groucho Marx mask
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

If you’re reading this and thinking – Gah! You already posted something today – what’s this!? Keep reading. Please. 😁

So…. this happened.  Yesterday, I posted a comment on a terrific blog – I don’t know the blogger in any way, and this was a first-ever bit of chiming in on his thoughtful post. 

Seriously…I need to slow down and proofread what I’m doing…or WordPress needs to come through with comment ‘edit’ capability – maybe just for me?  No – this was not the first time I’ve served up a typo or sent a comment with words missing….and typically, I’ll reply to MY OWN goofed-up message just to acknowledge the typo or the whoops.

Yesterday?  I couldn’t bear to do it.  Enthralled by my own stupidity, my mistake prompted deep belly laughs (with a snort or two mixed in) as I wondered what the sweet blogger thought of my, umm…odd comment. 

What did I do?  In trying to offer an insightful thought (first mistake, Vicki?) I had the imagery of a playground teeter-totter in mind – you know, related to the push/pull and polarity of our crazy lives. 

What did I type?  Teeter-TOOTER.  Yes, friends.  When I caught what I’d done – of course after I hit ‘submit’ – I succumbed to a tidal wave of giggles.  Childlike recollections of fart jokes and epic bathroom humor.  TOOTER???  

Then came the stern, self-talk momentVictoria – WHAT did you just do???  TOOTER?  You just typed TOOTER to this man who’s disclosing, sharing, inspiring.  Shame on you!  And then – fix it, fix it, fix it. 

As I regained my composure, more or less, I noticed he responded with a simple ‘like’.  More self-talk:  Maybe he didn’t see the goof?  But what about the broader audience?  Others who will see – and hopefully laugh, too? Maybe not?

It required restraint but you know what I did?  Absolutely nothing.  Well, other than continuing to guffaw at my own expense.  Oh – and I guess write about it now.

That’s my Sunday silly – from me to you!

Toot! Toot!

Vicki 😉

Desert Island Food: Pepperoni Pizza!

pizza sign
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

You know that desert island question?  The one where you mull over which food item you’d enjoy if you’re permitted one edible delight ONLY  – and that’s it for the rest of your natural born days?

What’s your answer? Me?  Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Although I worry – if I ask for pizza and that wish is granted, will my lifetime supply come along with proper refrigeration and an oven?  Just thinking ahead about food safety.  If I’m stranded on an island I don’t need food poisoning on top of everything else. Can you tell I’m not the outdoorsy, camping type?  😊

If I CAN have anything I want, let me be more specific.  Ordering! Pepperoni pizza, please, which presents a number of issues.  I know it’s not good for me and don’t bother trying to sell me on turkey pepperoni swaps.  Don’t mean to offend anyone, but ick.  Just ick.

My love of pepperoni pizza is ancestral, genetic.  My dad knew I hated eggs so he’d sneak a little side dish of pepperoni my way so I could mix it into the scramble.  You know, to zhuzh up those bland (invariably runny) huevos.  Even so, I know my favorite cured meat is a guilty pleasure – despite the conjuring of pleasant ‘pepperoni with pops’ memories.

My discovery?  My lifelong love of pepperoni is really about the spice and seasonings and I can recreate that yummy taste without the nasty health implications (nitrites, fat, salt, preservatives) and the whole “how the sausage is made” imagery that I struggle with. 

This pic from my kitchen this morning shows simple veggies – almost a fridge clean out – of yellow onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spinach.  Mixed in – a little salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and olive oil. 

 

frying pan with colorful veggies
Pepperoni swap!

Et Voila!  I bring you pepperoni flavoring in a veggie sauté that makes a delicioso pizza topping.  Or bruschetta topping…or flatbread topping…or a pasta mix-in. Heck, I ate it on some leftover crackers just a bit ago.  Don’t judge.

This blend has become my new favorite utility player in the kitchen because it’s the best-ever fresh topping to a boring frozen cheese pizza.  It’ll take whatever you’ve got —  a few mushrooms if you have those on hand.  Peppers?  Sure.  I’ve even done this with finely shredded carrots and while I know that sounds ridiculous, you don’t notice them from a taste point of view but they do add a little crunch and color.  What’s wrong with that?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I still want pizza as my desert island food, but if that’s not possible (with or without pepperoni) I’ll run through my other favorite foods in the “P” category:  potatoes, peanut butter, pineapple.  What about you?

xo,

Vicki 😉

Don’t Say It…Don’t Say It

Mark Twain
Mark Twain on the Brain…with Paul McCartney

Yes, in the title of this post, I’m borrowing from Paul McCartney and Wings, but I’m inspired by Mark Twain. Quite a combo, right?  😉

The Paul McCartney & Wings 1979 hit,Goodnight, Tonight” includes a catchy chorus of “Don’t Say It…Don’t Say It” and I confess, it’s the musical score that bounces in my brain when I’m biting my tongue, resisting the urge to respond – typically with a jab.  Good to get the last word in, right?  

Earlier this week I spent a meditative moment mulling over creative compulsion – my need to express myself, use my words. 

Today?  I’m noodling on the importance of knowing when to shut up, Mark Twain style:

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Yes! A short and sweet lesson that I need to remember – especially related to interpersonal communication.  (Or for that matter,  INTRApersonal – the maddening inner dialogue that runs continuously between my ears.)    

Interpreting Twain’s quote, I feel this:  Don’t respond, take the bait.  Let it roll…it’s okay. Pauses ARE good.  Time to reflect, consider our words.  Yep. 

But I also think it’s okay to do more than pause.  Not engaging at all is the best course of action, at times.  A lesson I’m still learning, punctuated with an ear-worm of a soundtrack, courtesy of Paul McCartney. Sing along with me, “Don’t Say It, Don’t Say It”…

Smiles!

-Vicki 😊

Creativity and Professor Plum

Professor Plum, CLUE game character
Greetings from Professor Plum

I’m not an artist or musician.  I’m an okay cook and baker (attempting Snickerdoodles at five was a mistake, but hey, they looked good in the Betty Crocker cookbook with the glossy photos).  I’ve improved since then – at least creating edible cookies w/very few burnt batches.  😉

And so, I’ve devoted a bit of introspective time over the years to the ‘why’ behind my need to create.  The thread that’s continuous back to my childhood is the need to express myself.  Using words because that’s where my individuality resides. It’s never mattered whether it was in written form or interpersonal expression. It never mattered whether it was vocational or avocational, paid, or unpaid. Expression related to home décor and design sit equally alongside the work-related satisfaction I’ve found as a helping professional.   I’ve loved it all.  The visual and verbal just go together. 

The blogging experience so far has been a revelation.  If left unattended, I could endlessly obsess about the quality of my posts, especially because I’m able (now, anyhow) to write every day without feeling pressured.  My too-busy brain is continually cataloging a topic, based on a discovery, a conversation, or a memory.  These snippets are just THERE – bouncing around needlessly – so I might as well use them as blogging fodder.

In grad school I met a lightning rod in the form of a beloved professor.  Decades later, his wisdom is still a touchpoint for me, even though we lost track of each other long ago. 

Why?  Professor Plum 😉 (not his real name) vaguely resembled the beloved Clue character, minus the purplish fuchsia sweater. Other than that, spitting image, I say, spectacles and all.  I often wanted to greet him with a candlestick and ask if he’d been in the drawing room but I knew better.  Keep it to yourself, Vicki.  Besides, given my bad hair days – then and now – he likely regarded me as a blend of Marge Simpson and/or Cruella.

But back to Professor Plum and creativity.  His overstuffed office carried the stink of woe begotten ideas with a whiff of something spiritual, magical.  Soothing, almost.  I realize now it was an atmospheric mix of hope and the joy of creativity.  The odorous intrigue also included a pungent tobacco punch. He smoked – something –  in his cave/office and more than once I imagined the potential fire tragedy.  If only he’d open his window…he had one…but it was jammed to the top with stacks upon tipsy stacks, eclipsing all light and the potential for fresh air.

He offered mumbled, stooped-over apologies every time a student entered.  “Sorry, sorry” he’d say – scraping away a layer on the lone side chair in his office.  “Here, sit here.”  He’d stand for a minute or two to ‘reconnoiter’ his back with his legs.  “Too long, I sit.  Good to stand” he’d say.

I’m still embarrassed about my non-verbals the first time I visited. I know my face conveyed shock and despite my unkind visage, he did his best to welcome me. In explaining the mess, he surveyed the piles with outstretched arms, sighed and said:  “Some of us are compelled to create.  This is me.  Everyday — thinking ‘write or die’ and it’s all here.  It’s me.”

Ah.  Comfortable with self.  His declarative ‘It’s me’ was liberating to hear.  Excessive worrying about the quality of a creation – whatever it is – gets in the way, muddles the magic.  He knew that and managed to share, in little slices and interludes, how he made peace with it – and forged ahead, just the same.

Summoning his perspective helps – especially when I’m feeling critical of myself.  What else? I appreciate this piece about the ‘science of creativity’.  More than once, it’s helped to normalize and quiet the inner critic, enough to let the creative juices flow freely:

Despite the widely held belief that some people just aren’t endowed with the creativity gene, there’s not really any evidence that one person is inherently more creative than another… creativity is something that anyone can cultivate.

How do you get to your creative place – that spot of ingenuity that’s uniquely you?  Sometimes just by doing.  And then “doing” some more and shushing the gallery.  Kudos to Professor Plum – write or die, indeed!

-Vicki ❤

Brownie Batter Insights 😊

Carl Jung
Carl Jung

My all-time favorite quote about introspection comes from Carl Jung:

“Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living.  Talking is often a torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.”

This is how I feel as an extroverted introvert – otherwise known as an ‘ambivert’ the personality type that rides the middle lane.

I think my personality is a by-product of moving ten times in twelve years as I grew up.  Forever the ‘new girl’ I needed to survey the social nuances – quickly – in order to make friends and connect.  That’s a tall order at any point in life, but when you’re an unsure, lanky, awkward young dork?  Tricky – so I built the skill of fast-friend making.  How?  Ask questions and be prepared to pivot, as needed.  Morph, baby.  And listen, listen, listen.

I suspect those skills framed my future career nicely – both in higher education as a professor and Dean and as a counselor/therapist in my own practice.  I could be extraordinarily extraverted, when needed.  No problem.  Got it.  BUT – I learned quickly that a recovery period after a long day of leading, listening, supporting – even when I loved doing it – was essential.

What else did I learn in the process?  Despite rampant and easily-applied labels, understanding personality types is complicated.  Nuanced.  Personality is not binary. We’re fluid, malleable and flexible and can present aspects of our true selves across the continuum of ‘extraversion vs. introversion’.

How did I manage as a card-carrying introvert in a mostly extraverted work world?  Just fine.  My only issue was remembering to tune into the need to refuel.  I often joked (then and now) that I need to ‘reload my words’ when I’m tapped out.  Give me five or ten, family, friends and I’ll be right back with you.  Right now, I’m fresh out of words.

There are a gazillion different tests – some shady, some reliable – if you want to delve into whether you’re more extraverted or introverted.  I think it’s helpful info, but it probably won’t tell you much that you don’t already know.  Is one type better than another?  No, of course not, despite this cheeky article lauding the merits of introversion. 

I still see myself as an ambivert because of my people-pleasing tendencies and high empathy. Consistently, my thought process is this:  What do YOU need me to be?  Let’s go with that.  And that’s how I live my life, unapologetically, but with awareness of the self-imposed fatigue.

Nasty fatigue.  It’s my nemesis more than anything else.  This past weekend provided a pointed reminder.  Sweet sister Lisa tested me during her visit over the weekend (check out this post from a few weeks back for more detail about my lovable, disabled sister).

Lisa lives in a terrific, well-staffed group home with lady friends with similar disabilities.  Whenever possible, we love having Lisa with us over a weekend, especially if family festivities like a barbeque are on deck.  Such was the case over Labor Day.

In addition to packing too much for a short stay (a genetic problem in the family) Lisa delights in bringing juicy tidbits and gossipy fun facts about her housemates, along with whispered shade about staff, programs, services.  She’s disabled but she’s more emotionally intelligent and verbal than most folks of normal IQ.  😉 AND she loves recounting all of it to me. 

See where I’m going?  I love Lisa but after non-stop listening – and not the half-listening that involves just a nod of recognition – she’s looking to chat – I begin to lose steam.  Not wanting to be short tempered with her, I find things for us to do and that works for a while as a distraction. 

This past weekend as I was teetering toward snapping at her, I remembered how funny she can be if lighten up and play along.  She wasn’t the problem, I realized – it was me.  I had too much **other** on my mind and Lisa sensed it, thinking I was upset with her.  My introverted self needed refueling for the heavy (but fun) impending BBQ socialization and that, coupled with my preoccupation with cooking and prepping, ramped up Lisa’s non-stop storytelling. I made her nervous.

Oh golly.  It just took a few minutes of slowing down over a bowl of brownie batter (with two spoons) to prompt silly reminiscing about childhood cooking disasters.  There were plenty, typically swirled together with outrageous things our mom did.  The laugh track that was our childhood. 

As I ruminated about Lisa last night, my summation thought yielded just this:  Extraversion, introversion, ambivert – whatever.  I needed to send out a search party to find my funny and laughter brought the pieces back together.  It usually does. 

Thanks for reading.  Thanks for letting me share.

Xo,

Vicki ❤

Brats for Blooms!

roses
Beautiful blooms

Labor Day Weekend is the big, splashy end-of-summer hurrah where we live.  The farmer’s markets are slowing down, pools are closing and, if last night’s temps were any indicator, the heralding that fall IS here was unmistakable.  I don’t mind.  My favorite September outfit is a pair of well-worn jean shorts with a comfy hoodie.  Nothing’s better.

So – yesterday we hosted a bbq and it was great fun.  It’s mostly about the company we keep, right?  Food-wise, though, a barbeque is a little tricky for me because I rely on the substantial sides – baked beans, corn bread (yes, all the carbs) because I’m an almost vegetarian. 😉

I know for some that’s against the rules; you’re either in or your out but I confess that an occasional well-done burger or piece (or two) of bacon still tastes good.  If I can shut down my brain.  Yesterday was not one of those days. I could not self-talk my way through eating a bratwurst.  No amount of ‘eat, enjoy and do better next time’ was going to work.

Everyone else in our family/friend group?  Meat eaters – all of them.  Fine, I say.  Just know that I won’t be enjoying those overstuffed, homemade brats from the local German meat market.  Hard pass.

And you know what?  Yesterday I was reminded that delight comes in other forms.  Yes, I enjoyed other items on the menu, but it wasn’t my best eating day (aforementioned carbs followed by double chocolate brownies).   

The non-edible delight?  A friend arrived with the most spectacular bundle of lettuce-edged roses – pink at the curly outer edges – and it made my day.  Given the option, I’d trade brats for blooms any day!

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it’s restorative and peaceful – however you get there.  Me?  I’ll be admiring the roses.  Grateful for friendship, home and hearth.

Xo,

-Vicki ❤

Love, Magic, Wonder

Love with heart
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

This morning I peeked at pieces I’ve written recently (and some that are still ‘in the pipeline’) and remarked (yes, talking to myself) that three words seem pervasive:  LOVE, MAGIC, WONDER.

No, I didn’t do an official search and count…I’m not going for precision here.  But still, I spent a meditative moment (followed by some necessary self-talk) ruminating about being repetitive and boring. 

Yep – there’s the self-evaluator in me surfacing.  I hollered back, ‘So what? What’s true, is true!’  And then I remembered this from Persian poet Hafiz:

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”

Taking a little liberty and swapping out ‘speak’ for ‘think’ or ‘write’ offers the guidance I needed.  It’s okay.  Go forward, Vicki, and use “love, magic, wonder” endlessly, boldly, authentically. 

And so…I send those three things to you today.  Love, magic and wonder – in abundance!

-Vicki ❤

Nature Speaks

summer flowers
Late Summer in Bloom

I love the pageantry of late summer blooms.  They seem prouder, taller and more stalwart…and I swear they speak.  Whispering to me this morning:

Good day! A reminder – we won’t be around again for many months

Oh, how we appreciate your gaze; your smile when your eyes rest on us

Even when you’re in a rush

Our purpose was always to encourage the pause

We’ve been here for you all along

Nature speaks. This morning, in a whisper.  A reminder to me. Slow down on this beautiful day.

Xo,

Vicki ❤

Monday MEOW

cat upside down in bed

Hey there – you!  Yeah – YOU! I’ve got a newsflash for you.  No, I’m not the first person to make this observation but I believe in the philosophy. Even when it’s one of those mornings and you’re dragging yourself into the day, there IS something magical about taking the two or three minutes needed to make your bed.

It might involve a simple fluffing of the comforter or propping up the pillows. Simple stuff. Or, you might have a more elaborate set-up with pillow shams, decorative pillows – maybe even an extra blanket at the foot of the bed. Maybe, for those of us who are like that (yep, that’s me) the total time investment in bed-making is still less than five minutes. So what, you might say?

Well…if you’re plagued with non-stop stream-of-consciousness thinking – when you should be sleeping – you might wake up feeling the weight of your ever-growing to-do list. You know – the unfinished business from the day before…often swimming with fresh-on-the-scene issues that must be tackled du jour.  😊 Taking the time to make the bed seems counter-intuitive when you’re stressed but in truth, it sets a bit of order amidst the chaos.

The straightening and smoothing involved in making a bed are restorative; symbolic of setting the stage for a new day.  I’m not alone:

The best-selling book by Admiral McRaven – based on his commencement address – says it best:

It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

I love that. Little things that matter.  Even if all you accomplish is making your bed, cheers to you…and meow. 

-Vicki 😊

At the Barbeque

people at a barbeque
Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on Pexels.com

It’s so easy to remember the critics in our lives – the reprimands and challenges and the heaviness that rides along.  One of my least appealing personality characteristics is a tendency toward judgement.  I don’t mean to but if left unattended, I might spend my entire day thinking about feedback I’d love to offer but don’t dare deliver.  There’s nothing worse than unsolicited input.  This I know to be true.

My sometimes judgey-attitude and needless filtering…the quickness to classify and label is a by-product of neanderthal needs for safety.  Adopt the group mindset.  Don’t stand out. Birds of a feather…flocking together…Except all of that group-think nonsense is counterproductive to being our best, unique selves and celebrating individuality.

What nurtures growth and promotes positivity?  An honest, heartfelt compliment which calls out what’s special about each of us.  With all the ‘likes’ and ‘following’ going on in the world, an old-fashioned I see you and you are fabulous…goes a long way toward soothing the bumps and bruises we all collect.  Just by living.

As I mulled this over today, I challenged myself to summon an impactful compliment – offered honestly, authentically, freely and it took me a minute.  Not gonna lie.  When my roundabout memory finally sifted out the clutter, I recalled a colleague who offered praise a few years ago.  As I think about what he shared, I can’t help but smile.   His exuberance – about me – lifted me up – at least three feet from the ground. I floated for a few hours after. 

Let me set the scene.  “Rob” (not his real name) and I volunteered at an employee barbeque.  You know the type; intended to promote team spirit and boost morale with a spread of ribs, chicken and burgers.  (Side note:  This was a terrible job for me.  I ‘over-portioned’ every single plate and was the messiest ‘guest chef’ ever, which created the unintended entertainment portion of the event:  Watching Vicki juggle plates overly laden with grub.) 

Rob was my ‘guest chef’ partner and we met just once or twice before.  He was the newbie and I was the long-tenured veteran…with the aforementioned sloppy serving skills.  After he repositioned my lopsided chef’s toque (fancy name for the big stove-pipe head gear, I learned) the good time vibes were rolling and they didn’t stop.

Why?  Rob could not believe I knew each person in line – by name.  Maybe we served 100 folks, give or take.  I served “the meats” and Rob did the sides and as colleagues moved through the line, I greeted each and introduced Rob (because most had yet to make his acquaintance).   It was easy.  It was fun. 

But part way through, Rob pulled me aside while the actual chefs were restocking the steam table and said, “Who are you?  Never in my life have I seen someone handle introductions the way you do.  You know everyone by name plus tidbits about their families, their jobs, where they work, what they do.  You’re like magic and I want to be you.”

We were pretty sweaty at this point. Did I mention it was an 85-degree day?  The combo of the hot food, the steamy weather?  I was already a wringable, soppy mess and Rob’s sweet and heartfelt comment triggered more moisture – tears.  As they rolled down my cheeks, I imagined (hoped) it looked like more sweat than emotion, but inside, I was flying.  The sincerity of his compliment shook me.  Not because it was necessarily true but because it WAS my intention to acknowledge and connect as many people as possible that day. And he saw me.

Here’s to being the light. Barbeque or wherever. 

Big smiles,

-Vicki 😎

Allergies, anyone?

Woman with allergy sniffles

I am so tired of itchy, watery, puffy eyes.  Where I live the pollen count is high – weed, grass, trees – and even though I know it’s super stupid to have every window in the house open, I can’t help myself.  Soon, the cooler days and closed-up feeling of winter will arrive and I’ll long for the sneezy, breezy fresh air.

Yep – I have my favorite and allergist approved over-the-counter meds and they DO help with the sniffling and such but my best-ever-morning-hack involves an ice cube.  One tiny sliver of icey-cold goodness, swathed over my puffed-up eyelids.  Once around my undereye area and swooping up to the eyebrows, too, for good measure.  Heaven.  Heaven, I tell you. 

Sure, I have one of those fancy-ish ice roller gadgets from Amazon.  It sits, unused – but ready – near the ice cube tray in the freezer. I can’t bring myself to use it because it looks more ridiculous (is that possible?) than the ice cube trick.  It reminds me of a teeny-tiny paint roller and the one or two times I used it, it was way too big for the job of soothing my allergy eyes.  But still, it sits in the freezer. 

Sometimes simple is best.  I’ll keep using a cube or two in the morning and I think I’ll ditch the plastic roller. 

All together now...achoo!

Vicki 😉

Passing Through

people looking at sunshine through clouds
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Who shows up for you?  Some people aren’t meant to linger in our lives.  They pass through, leaving a trail or an echo.  Sometimes without warning, they’re gone.  Chance encounter?  Short term, mutual benefits?  It happens. But…

I worry about the increasingly popular ‘work family’ conflation. This article is appealing on that topic. Truth? Work friends may never be more than that and investing ‘as if’ may be destructive in the long term – stage-setting for grief and loss when work relationships end. They do. It’s work.

Worse? The overuse of ‘family’ lingo can be a manipulation; playing on emotions to push productivity: Author Eleanor Tweddel: “The layering of ‘family’ creates an expectation of maybe going the extra mile, tolerating each other no matter what, in this together.”

Whether work-related or personal, opening yourself up to others is an unfolding, at best, and it takes time.  Especially for those of us who identify as introverts and relish the opportunities for depth as we explore relationships.  It’s okay to be pragmatic and enjoy the sharing, learning, laughing without worrying about labels, definitions or duration.

I love thinking about those who’ve moseyed through my work and personal life.  Not regretfully but with gratitude.  Life is wonderful in the randomness of it all.  And yet…I imagine every person on my path is/was there for a reason, even if it’s beyond my comprehension. 

Spending a few minutes considering who we let in…and who we can let go of…is time well-spent. Especially if you feel out of balance. Lots of giving…little in return? Hmm….time to ponder. I’ll be right there with you, doing the same. 

Take care!

-Vicki ❤

Confident – From the Inside Out

gold star

I suspect we’ve all been there.  Where?  In the self-defeating cycle of insecurity where we become dependent upon acknowledgement from others.  Might be a new-found friend in the blogging world 😊 or a spontaneous interaction with a stranger.  It’s true!  A positive nod or word of encouragement is a gift. 

Revel in it – whether it’s a compliment from someone near and dear or a person you may never see or hear from again – many of us are hungry to be seen, heard, recognized. Especially true for those who identify as achievers. 

But that’s okay, right?  Yes, I think so.  It’s truly what makes the world go ‘round.  People taking care of one another by offering praise and recognition nurtures love – for the greater good.  I’m a fan. 

Except…when you are incapable of acknowledging and celebrating your own successes (small or large) because the only praise that “counts” comes from the outside.  That might be a sign that your need for external validation is dragging you down. 

The fix is straightforward but requires a wee bit of practice.  Being mindful of your unique gifts and talents is a good first step.  Yes – you have them.  Make a list if you need to.

Be ready to celebrate and ‘high five’ yourself at every opportunity.  Be the first…not the last…to offer praise and give yourself the gold star.

Visual imagery can help.  Take a minute or two to connect with your breath.  The simple act of breathing in…and out…while allowing your head and heart to peruse the things that make YOU feel good about you is restorative.

Don’t go spelunking around for heroic acts of bravery here.  For some, getting out of bed is praise-worthy if the day dawns bleak and gray (whether actually, metaphorically or emotionally).  Hurray for YOU!  You’re up! 

If you make it a practice to celebrate the little wins, it will become less and less necessary for you to feel good only if praise comes from someone else. 

My wish for you?  Don’t let ‘external validation’ be your only (or main) source of ego strength.  You are fabulous.  You always were. 

-Vicki ❤

Fool the Eye – Sea or Sky?

blue sky landscape over water
Sea or Sky?

I love a photo that fools the eye.

This snap came from a visit to a gorgeous and lush botanic garden last week.  High atop a hill, the view of the horizon seemed to mimic the look of sea – not sky.  It reminded me of this Roald Dahl quote:

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Here’s to a magical Monday!

-Vicki

Fisherman Joe

Sometimes you ‘catch the big one’ (or two) and sometimes you come up short. 

Check out the grin on Joe’s face – my father-in-law and lucky fisherman:

Man holding two large fish at water's edge.
Fisherman Joe

Joe was a man of modesty. Low key and direct. He said he recalled the day vividly – he WAS happy (big grin as evidence) but his reaction was more shock and surprise. Stunned, even. 

Why?  He didn’t expect much of anything that day.  Joe figured it would be another fab fishing outing with friends – whether he caught anything or not.  That’s how Joe lived his life. 

Joe’s motto?  Be near friends and family as much as possible – ideally with loads of laughter – and allow yourself to be utterly delighted when life surprises you. 

Pretty good advice, I say.

-Vicki

Sadie & Bunny

Chihuahua with head resting on stuffed animal
Sadie & Bunny

Sweet Sadie says hello – and good morning!  She is one ultra-happy pup gazing into the backyard with her stuffed Easter bunny. 

Sadie is a very maternal 13-year-old who never had pups of her own but treats this raggedy rabbit (see pic above) as her most prized possession and best buddy.  She sleeps with bunny, grooms bunny (which is gross – bunny needs a good toss in the washer) and worries when bunny is out of sight.

This morning as I zoomed around the kitchen I tripped over Sadie several times.  Underfoot.  Too much!  Annoyed with her, I shooed her away only to realize I was at fault.  Sadie’s too old and arthritic to jump into her favorite chair WITH her bunny and I’d forgotten to scoop Bunny up to place her there. 

Am I the only one who apologizes to the pooch?  I felt terrible, awful, neglectful when I realized I skipped one of the essential early morning tasks involving bunny.  A few kisses and snuggles later and all was right with the world but I’m fairly certain Sadie was annoyed by the fuss.  I imagined her thinking ‘Knock it off already – I’m ready to sit with my bunny – don’t you have something to do?

And so – good morning to you – from sweet Sadie and her absent-minded human.  Moi.

-Vicki

Words Matter

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

I continue to be fascinated by language.  Especially brief bursts – words and phrases, strung together that can be interpreted in endless ways.  Knowing the source, considering the context IS essential because often, the words themselves are bare and lacking.  What’s the tone and intent?  The distinction between supportive and dismissive can be subtle.

In conversations, we can typically tease out the nuances.  Friendly or fierce?  Helpful or harried?  Short messages – whether they’re missiles that come via text or an email (or a blog post!) can be hastily written.  Tone, intent, context. They matter. 

“Do what you’ve got to do” is such a phrase.  This week, those six words in a text exchange started a relationship tussle for a couple I know and it took them several days to unpack the hurt. 

Why? Do what you’ve got to do” is tricky. Is it an endorsement?  Go forth – with my blessing?  Hard to say.  Offered with a nod and a smile, it might convey just that.  I’m supportive.  You’ve got this

Offered with a shrug and a prickly ‘I don’t care’ overtone, it’s dismissive.  A conversation closer for sure and that’s how the receiver took the message.  “I don’t matter” she thought.  Channeling past hurt because she was tired, she spiced up the intent and added tone to the text message that wasn’t intended.

How are they now?  All is well.  Just a blip for them – all smoothed over.  Me?  It gave me something else to ponder.  Words matter.  Communication clarity.  We’re all a work-in-progress, eh?

-Vicki

Quietly Quitting?

I’m not sure how I feel about this – the notion of Quietly Quitting – continuing to do your job while ‘sheltering’ and being protective, avoiding undue stress.

Frustrated-looking young man
Photo by Lamar Belina on Pexels.com

From a mental health point of view, I’m all-in. And yet…my hope is that everyone finds purpose and passion. Continuing to do the minimum, laying low in a less-than-fulfilling position might be pragmatic and practical in the short run BUT life is too short to hang in a vocational space (borrowing from Marie Kondo) that does little to ‘spark joy’.

Let me know what you think. Definitely on my pondering list.

-Vicki

My Kind of Swirl

A Decent Cup of Tea by Malachi McCormick, black and white photo

I love this book – A Decent Cup of Tea by Malachi McCormick.  Nothing’s better than a tiny volume which dispenses good advice (and a few tea-time recipes) tucked within engaging cover art.  It’s enchanting as it sits in the ‘top of the stack’ location – displayed prominently in my office because it feels like art.  A beloved book for many years and yet…I only recently deciphered why it appeals to me so. 

The swirls on the cover and the tendrils of steam from the teapot speak to me.  The natural movement.  Organic and calming.  As the author intended, I’m sure.  That must be why this book has held a showcase position on top of other volumes. 

Inspired to drink more tea, especially green tea for the health benefits, this book serves as a gentle nudge and a reminder to brew a pot. Every day.  Enjoy it later, over ice, or with a sweet treat, but make time for tea.

I also understand the broader, symbolic appeal of the natural swirls and steamy tendrils on the cover.  A friend recently confided that she’s struggling a bit.  Too many interlopers demanding her time and attention.  Inviting her into their swirls of stress and (sometimes) manufactured messes. 

The antidote?  Slow down to consider who and what is worthy of our time and attention. Many of us are wired to respond to calamities and crises but jumping into every swirl presented may be unwise. 

Cheers to self-care!

-Vicki

Unfinished

Now there’s a word I heartily dislike.  Unfinished.  Gives me shivers, even on a hot and steamy day. Why?  I do not like loose ends – dangling threads.  I know I’m not alone.

It’s a daily grind as I work to remain flexible, take life as it rolls my way.  I blame it on my love of punctuation.  😊 Joking – only a little. 

I like periods.  Exclamation points are good, too – in moderation – but commas and semi colons feel like indecisive pauses. 

Keep it moving, my brain says.  Get to the destination whether it’s a household project, a relationship conundrum or tussle with a colleague at work. 

Wrap it up, my heart says.  “You can always come back and adjust.  Apologize. Account for mistakes because you moved too fast.

But I also know that’s not true.  Taking time to be thoughtful IS important and quick resolutions aren’t better just because they’re speedy. 

Unfinished.  I’m learning to love the concept.  Wish me luck!

-Vicki

Ticking Tock

black and white vintage clock

I’m learning lessons about time.  It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve found my footing.  

I suppose each of us travels a path of discovery as we navigate our ‘wins and losses’ and consider how best to use our most valuable asset.  Time.  Just time.  How you use it, share it, hoard it, celebrate it, count it or consider it, time is an unrelenting force. 

Me? I’m giving into the instincts that lead me to light.  Toward positive people, efforts, influences.  Away from the tired and repetitive roads and the people who frequent them.  The people and perspectives that add nothing – just take away dignity, respect, kindness.  Demonstrating ignorance even while (or especially while) many valiant voices try to counter the gaps and lend a hand.

Tick Tock.  Being of service to others matters most but it’s okay to think twice about how you use your time and the worthiness of the recipients. 

-Vicki

Thinking Chairs

red upholstered chair

Everyone needs a ‘thinking chair’.  A place to plop and ponder. Not just the kiddos who embraced the popular children’s show “Blues Clues” where a comfy chair became a plot line – the landing spot to decipher clues and solve mysteries. 

Daily life is complex, no?  This morning I was struck by a wave of gratitude as I gravitated to my spot.  My ‘thinking chair’:

black and white tapestry and rattan chair

It’s unassuming.  A little worse-for-wear, like many things that I love, but it’s also comfy and familiar, especially welcome as I sort out questions – large and small – and craft the game plan for each day. 

I hope you have a spot, too.  It doesn’t need to be grand but it needs to be yours.  Lessons from the little ones.  Thinking chairs.

-Vicki

Perfectly Imperfect

Black and white framed photo of white flowers.

This frame is a favorite.  I love the sculptured lines, the vintage glass.

It was a gift from a dear friend – I don’t know – maybe twenty years ago?  While dusting the shelf it sits upon (not as often as I should) I remembered when I broke it. 

See the crack in the glass on the bottom, toward the right?  Moving too quickly as I dumped a stack of books next to it (on a too-small table) the fragile frame flew to the floor where it made an insanely loud cracking noise. 

At first I didn’t see the damage because the tiny fissure blends in so well.

When I realized it was cracked I was heartbroken.  At first.

But over the years, my love for the frame, the flowers and the friend who gifted it to me have only grown, in spite of (or because of) the fracture.

Perfectly imperfect.  

-Vicki

Life Moves Pretty Fast

Happy toddler girl smiling with sunglasses on.

I get it. Really, I do. Life seems like a pressure-packed existence with no room to exhale. Everyone I know is on the run – in a perpetual state of DOING. 

Learning to lighten up, ease up and let go of things that may have mattered…once…but are just weighty anchors now might be wise. 

But yeah, you’re right. I know what you’re thinking. That takes time, too. Time to process, mull and let your heart speak so it can guide your head. 

Summer is the best time to take stock. Do a little personal inventory of priorities and it’s easier than you think. Two steps: 

  • Grab your favorite cold beverage (I’m partial to iced tea, extra lemon) and stare at a few clouds; ruminating on how you use your time.  
  • Reconsider obligations or activities that aren’t productive — aren’t even a wee bit fulfilling.  Maybe it’s a recalibration of your expectations – for yourself or others?  

You have my permission – and encouragement 😊 – to shut down and listen to your always smart and savvy inner voice.  

I know I’m not telling you anything new.  Wisdom comes from the little ones, too.  The pic of daughter Delaney is evidence. At three she understood the objective – live large and laugh as much as possible!

I also love the wisdom from Ferris Bueller.  He said it best:  

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Be well! 

-Vicki

Baby Bird

I’m not a nature photographer.  Not much of a photographer, generally, but when something captures my attention, I feel compelled to snap a pic – even if just with my trusty i-Phone.

This morning?  A feathery ball of fluff caught my attention.  A tiny newbie – not bigger than the length of my thumb.  Clumsily, she landed on the back of a deck chair.

Baby bird sitting by plant.

Bird Mom was nearby as she frantically attempted to shoo and scoop the little one to a higher perch.  Maybe their nest in the nearby shrub? 

Mama swooped in, time and again, but baby just shook.  Scared and unsure.  How did she land there, she must’ve wondered. 

I figured I should keep watch.  And I did.  For over an hour.  Sometimes baby bird would look at me, not afraid (as I sat just two feet away) but curious.  I spoke to her.  Did my “it’s okay, she’ll be back” whispers mean anything?  Provide any comfort?  I imagined I looked ridiculous, but I kept it up. 

Bird Mom gave me an extra angry wing flap when she circled the babe.  I’d lean back – hoping she wouldn’t see me as a predator.  Just an early morning cheerleader and inquiring mind.  Will baby fly and leave the chair?  Can she fly?  Is she hurt?  How will the story end?  Hoping for a reunion, of course, I wanted to see it. 

But I was foolish.  Greedy, even.  I had a front row seat at a natural wonder.  That was enough.  Or that’s what I told myself. A quick trip to the microwave to warm my coffee resulted in some sort of resolution. When I returned, both Bird Mom and baby were gone.  And I smiled. Reunited, I’m sure.

-Vicki

Sadie Girl

Chihuahua sleeping in blanket

It’s hot outside and yet my sweet little Sadie still wants the comfort and security of her magic blanket.  The one she snuggles in – no matter the weather.  Today, those soulful eyes spoke to me:

Slow down, Vicki.  What’s the rush? 

She’s thirteen – which I guess equates to 91 in doggie years – so I figure she knows more than I do.  She’s certainly cornered the market on ways to relax and chill – even when the summer temps are rising. 

Wherever you are and whatever challenge awaits today, take a little bit of Sadie along for the ride and let her whisper wellness reminders to you, too.

-Vicki