Look Forward

My best friend Linda has plenty of hard-won wisdom. 

My favorite “Linda gem”?  She has universally-applicable magic words, useful especially for anyone who feels low, in need of motivation or a pick me up – related to everyday sluggishness or the deeper, more entrenched challenges that life throws at us; the dilemmas that prompt us to say we surrender.  Wave the white flag.  I’m too tired, too cranky, too…everything.

Linda’s wisdom:

Look Up.  Look Forward.

No matter what you’re facing that you think you can’t get through, put it aside and focus on something to look forward to…even the smallest thing.

Linda’s advice to peek at the horizon, expand our view to pull us out of the muck of the moment is brilliant.  It’s her way of encouraging others to see beyond present circumstances and gaze toward possibilities.  Light, love and fun.  The places where joy resides.

Most of all, Linda’s advice requires contemplation and reflection.  When times are tough, I lose my sensibilities about joyfulness and her ‘look up – look forward works.  It just does.

But that’s only one of Linda’s trademark talents.  I often think of Linda as a ‘counterbalance’ in my life, ready to help me recalibrate when life is out of whack.  My Heart of the Matter post this morning provides a few examples and I’d love it if you’d pop over to read.  Not for me.  For Linda! 😉

Vicki 💓

Friendship…is Everything

Yesterday I posted a silly story…a little bittersweet, for sure, about a childhood episode of hair cutting…first tinkering with a few unsuspecting dolls and then my cousin Laurie’s lovely locks. It’s funny how odd reminiscences strike notes of recognition in readers, friends. This was true about the “bangs” bit that I shared.

A dear friend from my past, who occasionally follows my blog, saw the post and reached out with a text…recalling a fun quip that she picked up on Pinterest, which I snipped (LOL) in here. 😉

How special it is to have shared history with friends…you know the ones…the treasured humans who, every now and again, pop up to remind us they’re still near, even if not in everyday interactions.

My silly dear one knows me better than I know myself. She read yesterday’s post and realized I might need a pick-me-up in the form of a giggle…followed by a long phone conversation where we caught up and swapped stories about our favorite missteps, mistakes and current life dramas.

Some of our sisterly bonding IS about bad haircuts…bangs and all…but there’s so much more. This morning I’m grateful for friendship and the grace and love nestled within.

Vicki ❤

Three Peas in a PODcast

What happens when Wynne, Brian and Vicki sit down for a gab fest about our favorite topic?  You know the one…our love of writing…expressing…creating…noodling.  Whatever you call the act of pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard, are you like us? Driven by unseen muses to emote, lament, giggle, ponder…or, speaking for myself…. wander in my own head. 😉 I’m grateful to my Heart of the Matter colleagues for their thoughtful storytelling, their “composition camaraderie” – and their patience with me!

It’s Friday – hooray!  In celebration, please join us as we share our thoughts on expression…on writing.  You’ll find us on your favorite platform, or you can follow this link: Episode 8: Expressive Writing to listen on Anchor.

Thanks to Wynne, HoTM podcasts are also on Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Pocket Casts. Just search for Sharing the Heart of the Matter. We drop new episodes every Friday morning and if you subscribe, we’ll be forever grateful! And… after you listen to today’s chat, please pop back here to leave a comment…feedback…input. Your ideas about future podcast topics are also welcome!

Wherever your Friday takes you, I’m sending smiles and hugs. 🥰


Link to Podcast: Episode 8: Expressive Writing

Brian’s personal blog can be found at https://writingfromtheheartwithbrian.com/

Wynne’s personal blog can be found at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com

Fearlessly in Love

Photo by Oscar Gloria on Pexels.com

I know February is drawing to a close and I don’t know if it’s the month and all the forced Valentine’s Day lovey-dovey hooey but it’s been a rough ride for a few people I care about.  Is it a ‘thing’ to become more introspective in the winter about relationships?  Is it the hibernation that some of us endure in the gray haze of February? 

A friend asked me recently if I had secrets to share.  I thought she was prompting me for cooking tips, you know, because I make a fairly fab pumpkin bread (even without the heinously decadent cream cheese frosting).  When she continued and said “No, stupid – not your baking skills.  I wanna know how you’ve managed to be with the same guy for 40 plus…YEARS.  I can’t manage 40 days and nights.”  Whoa there, Noah!

Maybe I was influenced by the pumpkin pancakes in front of me, intent on enjoying a visit with an old friend without serious talk.  I frowned at her.  Then I chewed and swallowed, followed by a swig of too-sweet-and-too-creamy coffee, and said, “It’s an unspoken thing.  He knows my sh*t and I know his…we balance each other out.  That’s it.”

Our server, Janet, was standing by refilling water glasses and laughed, adding, “If you’re talking about how to stay married, I’d say that’s it.  Thirty-two years for me and some days I hate my husband so much…but I’ve learned to breathe and move on.” 

At this point I’m thinking three things:

  1. Maybe Janet – our server — should sit down and join us?  She’s got better advice than I do and she’s not talking with her mouth full.
  2. Just because I like referring to people by name, when they have a name tag on, doesn’t mean I’m a fast friend… JANET!  But still…I smile and nod. She means well and I brought my happy face to breakfast.  My fault.
  3. My damn pancakes were getting cold and I wished Janet had brought more syrup, less advice. 

Chewing and nodding, I used my fork as a pointer and mumbled to my friend, “See, even Janet knows.  You’ve gotta put up with stuff.”

Thank God my friend has loved me for-ev-er and doesn’t expect me to be “Dr. Vicki” when we hang out.  No, no.  Never with my friends.  I’m just me.  But still…I know her and in her wildest, 20-something dreams, she had a particular type of guy in mind.  A Mr. Perfect and despite my periodic cautions about her rigid expectations (only when she’s asked for my input) no one’s measured up to her wild list of qualifications.  She’s got a well-worn and established pattern…a chronic ‘fall in love…realize he’s flawed – duh – aren’t we all – and fall out of love’ sequence. 

Which got me thinking.  As she sighed and changed the subject, talking about the new boots she just bought, I realized I love her for her quirks and I know she’ll find her way, eventually.  We’ll enjoy breakfast now and then banter/fight like sisters and bid adieu for a few weeks.  Why? She always knows she’s just an inch away from provoking me, taunting me enough to summon my favorite Joseph Campbell quote.  She’s heard it a million times and somehow, she knows just when to pull back before I hit ‘play’.

Curious about which Joseph Campbell quote?  I’m being sneaky…you’ll need to saunter over to Heart of the Matter, to check out another love story.   Different friend…situation…but lovelorn nonetheless…and yet…ever, ever hopeful.  And worthy of some quintessential Campbell wisdom.

Is it March yet?

Vicki 😊

See the Good

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

I have a dear colleague whose professional life is a stressful whirlwind, sweeping her off her feet daily.  It came with the territory – she’s a first-responder and knew what she was in for.  She has little capacity to direct the flow of her days but still, she summons the energy and finesse to serve others, dutifully, soulfully, even when she has nothing, nada in reserve.  Fumes.  Just fumes.

As our friendship grew, I learned from her and adopted one of her healthiest self-care rituals.  So simple, yet restorative in that it helps me close out one day and settle in for rest, setting the stage for slumber, which is essential for me, one of the chronically sleep-deprived.

What is the wizardry, you wonder, the magic that I commandeered?  Well, it starts with this:  Create a bedtime routine and treat it as sacred, first and foremost.  And then, take the time to consider the day that was — the good, bad, and otherwise.  Especially the bad and the otherwise. I know what you’re thinking!  Whaaaa??? Focus on the negative?  Yes, yes…here’s why!  Lest you give those needling bits their due before you sleep, their end trails may plague you, creating restlessness thanks to the heaviness of unfinished business. 

Those heavy bits? You might see them in your ‘replay reels’, the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘if onlys’ as we consider how we might’ve done better.  Don’t dwell and linger, just acknowledge the pesky vermin by deploying a little imagery…Roses and Thorns.  Those negative nuggets?  Yep. They’re the thorns.

After addressing the thorn-y bits, dismiss them.  In…and out. Maybe your thorns included interactions with insensitive, unkind people.  Maybe you returned fire.  Maybe you wish you hadn’t.  Maybe you overlooked an important task, let someone down.  Maybe you snapped when you shouldn’t have and forgot to apologize.  Whatever the thorn-y array includes, remember that a new day is on the other side of sleep along with fresh and abundant opportunities to improve.  Then you can get to the good stuff…the roses.

For my friend, the ‘roses’ are the wondrous moments, the glimmers of good that punctuate every day.  Even our lousy days.  They’re there – we just need to keep our peepers open.  As a bedtime ritual, I find myself whirring through my highlight reel.  The more I mull over my day, the more I can summon those glistening moments.  And the recall relaxes me, makes me smile.  And, truthfully, some days ARE stinkers and my ‘rose’ recall might be sparse, but I don’t mind.  I don’t need a bouquet.

Which brings me to this.  The quote from Marcel Proust.  “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  Oh, indeed.  The past several years have taught me that some of the most powerful and positive “gardeners” in my life are dear friends who lift me up, receive me as I am, join me in the pursuit of better days.  

I can’t think of a better way to sum up the intention of my latest passion project with Wynne Leon and our amazing team at Heart of the Matter.  If you haven’t yet checked out the hub, the community we’re creating, please do.  I can’t wait to see you there as we listen, learn, and lift one another up, heart and soul.

Vicki 😊

Photo by Oscar Gloria on Pexels.com

Big News…

Big news, dear readers!  Wynne Leon of Surprised by Joy and I have created a shared blog space along with a team of incredibly talented contributors and thinkers. It’s called The Heart of the Matter and it’s a blog about what matters most, celebrating connections and the power of community.  

Thank you for the support you’ve shown Victoria Ponders.  When I reviewed the stats from 2022, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the kindness I’ve felt from readers who give of themselves – time, energy, wisdom and heart — to read and respond with comments that demonstrate the magnitude and power of staying connected, sharing, commiserating, and celebrating all that life entails.  It is that propulsion, the power of kindness and caring that drives this new, collaborative venture.

We have a tremendous team of wholehearted contributors and we’re launching right now — at the start of 2023 — with all the goodness we can muster, in the most inspirational, empowering way possible. Coming soon? Podcasts…and a full resource library…nuggets of goodness, curated from all of us, just for you.

My first post for The Heart of the Matter is Depth Matters and I’d love it if you’d mosey over to take a peek and follow our team in our new forum.

Victoria Ponders isn’t going away – you’ll still see me here, posting regularly about home, family, relationships and more. What’s new is this fun Vicki two-fer 😉. Victoria Ponders, where I’ll keep mulling and pondering, and The Heart of the Matter where our hearty band of blogging buds are linking arms to welcome you. Yes, you. ❤

Smiles and hugs,

Vicki 😊

Holiday Hugs

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice.  Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” -Ernest Hemingway

There’s so much symbolism at this time of year, no matter what holidays you celebrate, if any.  The end-of-year rituals of ‘taking stock’ might provide inspiration for the year ahead but could also trigger heartache in the form of endless rewinds about the ‘year that was’.

I think this is particularly true for those of us who veer toward the melancholy, prompting an irresistible urge to look over one’s shoulder, contemplating months of missed opportunities or losses. The new year beckons…but the vulnerable, those who need extra love, encouragement and support may not reach out for it in ways you’ll recognize.

When in Doubt? 

Be the one to extend your hand and heart first – with a quick text, a phone call or a smile.  Although no family is perfect and holiday time brings out both the best and worst in some of our clans, those who are alone, but perhaps not by choice, might fall prey to romanticizing the ‘home and hearth’ of others. 

Be the one, to share a silly story about holiday madness, or better yet, invite the person you care about – who might be flying solo – to join you, either physically or virtually in a short FaceTime or Zoom call. 

Holiday hugs, from me to you, and all those you care about.

Vicki ❤

Blogging Buddies

I’m a returning blogger…back in the saddle for a few months only…with years and years in between and even then, my previous efforts were professional posts, with just a soupcon of Vicki tossed in for fun. 

When I decided to give WordPress a whirl over the summer, I had low expectations.  No – scratch that.  I had no expectations.  I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I hoped the daily practice of writing – spitting out words, ideally in a cogent manner…ideally helpful…sometimes funny…oh – and endearing…I hoped for endearing…might help tone and tighten my writing skills. 

I also know myself. I’ve adapted to academic writing when I needed to (dissertation and all) and writing textbooks…but letting my essence, good bad (and often) otherwise, free flow from fingers to keyboard is nirvana. Heaven…for me…but I know I may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea. What rolls out may not be of interest to all but still…it’s ME…and any errors, omissions, bad syntax, or grammar? Not intended to harm the hearts, eyes, souls of readers who are better writers. Promise. After a few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised when sweet fellow bloggers received me, encouraged me, inspired me. More than I’d hoped for.

Blogging for enjoyment was the goal. I left my day job behind and launched headlong, about two years ago, into my consulting business, which I Iove…because my clients are terrific and whether I’m working with individuals or groups, it’s a rare experience when I don’t benefit as much or more than those who pay me.  How’s that?  Well…forgiveness for the repetition, but connection in life is everything to me.  Allowing ourselves to be known, “seen” and when combined with opportunities to serve and lift up a fellow human?  Best.Stuff.Ever.  The feedback from clients, specifically about blogging was unexpected and affirming with nudges…Vicki…keep writing…blog more, please.  So, I pivoted to WordPress and here we are.

As I’ve balanced blogging with other projects – helping others and getting a book ready for my publisher – I’ve seen a shift in how I use my time and it’s because of you.  Yep, you – the person on the other side of the screen reading this. I’ve fallen into a comfortable cadence of WordPress writing, mostly in the morning, interspersed with other duties. I enjoy reading and commenting on the posts of fellow bloggers.  Fellow bloggers who are smart, wicked-smart, and funny.  Fellow bloggers who are insightful and knowledgeable on a range of topics…teaching me about music, art, literature, philosophy, and technology while expanding my worldview of cultures and history.  I love the person-first stories, the photography, the poetry, the tips, and tricks. I’m in awe.

While out with a dear friend for breakfast last week, I forgot to turn notifications off on my phone.  She knew I was dabbling with blogging again and asked, as I apologized and silenced the WordPress app, my two email accounts, text messages and IG, “How’s the blogging community?”  She’s seen the lively comments and caring tone in exchanges with fellow bloggers and was curious.

She’s right about the caring tone.  So many lovely acquaintances…dare I call you friends? The blogging relationships are unique in my life but no less endearing, just because they’re virtual.  I laughed at my friend’s question, “How’s the blogging community” and replied, “It’s richer and more rewarding on an interpersonal level than a lot of conventional, you know ‘brick and mortar’ friendships.”

It’s a bad habit to laugh at my own silliness, but the ‘brick and mortar’ phrase tickled me.  “Oh” my friend said, “That’s how it is…I’m brick and mortar, eh… so what do you call the blogging friends?”  I didn’t have a witty answer for her…I dunno, I thought.  They’re magical, insightful, thoughtful…and ‘real’ in the most important sense and the fact that they’re slightly intangible, physically, doesn’t diminish the depth or positive regard.

I shared that explanation with her, while shoving pumpkin pancakes in my mouth and she nodded, following my train of thought, and said, “That’s so cool. It’s that thing you always talk about…meeting people where they are or in this case…wherever they are.”

Yep.  She’s got me…this tried-and-true, ‘brick and mortar’ friend.  Sharing, caring, demonstrating to each other that we matter is the stuff of a life well-lived.  If you’re a new friend reading for the first time…or you’ve popped into my blog here and there, know that I look forward to getting to know you, too. And for those who’ve supported me in the blogging world thus far, I’m grateful for your kindness, your good humor and your big hearts. Blessed to call you ‘friend’.

Vicki ❤

P.S. The puppy pic is not mine…I don’t know who deserves credit… but how cute, right?

Better Ideas

decorative pillow
“Ideas come from everything.”
-Alfred Hitchcock

My best friend gifted me with a pillowTHIS decorative pillow – at least 25 years ago. It’s the evidence – the proof – that age DOES bring wisdom, in the form of a slightly tattered poof of a pillow. Across the years I’ve come to realize how unique and golden it was to be besties with my closest work colleague, the one who became a life-long confidante, the one who understood me…the good, the bad and the ever-in-between. 😊

Our work lives were about as chaotic as our home lives and although we had, relatively speaking, youth on our side, there were high hurdles to clear and plenty of them.  Having her by my side when I stumbled, ready to pick me up, kick my butt and cheer me on?  You know…priceless.

Why? I’m the easily wounded one.  Creative at my innermost core and compelled to share and do the ‘C’mon, gang, don’t you love it too?’ routine, I would dissolve if my latest brainstorm was laughed at or pooh-poohed instead of lauded. 

Thanks to my friend’s insight and coaching, my skin grew thicker, and I learned to improve my pitch – to inspire and rally others to see things my way.  Persuasive?  Yes.  Calculated?  Yep.  Manipulative?  Geez, I tried not to be, but I suppose that happened, too, all for the greater good (or so says the bossy one!).

We were a good team.  I hope I did as much for her as she did for me.  What I know for sure?  The pillow became a treasure – on display in every office I’ve occupied since.  Right now?  I’m looking at it – in my WFH office.  Anytime I need a goose to keep moving, be creative, explore and don’t stop, the pillow speaks to me. 

My best friend knew my passion could be construed as ‘bossy’ and her pillow-talk wisdom – to charge ahead anyway and have faith in my ‘better ideas’ is a message that sustains me.

Which reminds me of something comedian Amy Poehler said:

“It’s very hard to have ideas.  It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators.  They are the magic people of the world.” 

Cheers to best friends who see our flaws but love us anyway. They’re magic, too.

-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 Coffee

Black and white photo of iced coffee.
Irene’s Best Ever Iced Coffee

Irene’s a best friend and a sweet soul sister. She’s been in my life for over thirty years and always makes the best iced coffee. Irene’s coffee.

I never tried to duplicate it – I figured it was her magic touch. And that was good enough. Until recently when I paused to watch her when she said, “Hey, are you ready for a coffee this morning?” Who says no to that, especially given the aforementioned tastiness of her brew?

This time, I watched as she retrieved macadamia milk, a coffee pod and ice. Standard fare. But as she fired up the Nespresso I saw her reach for the bottle of Kahlua and laughed as she ceremonially swirled it into the freshly brewed coffee. No wonder “Irene’s Coffee” is always better than mine!

Coffee mystery solved!