Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What the Hell is Happening?

What the Hell is Happening?

 (End of August blog with a strong build-up need to express!)

How does one take it all in? Oh how I yearn to be a Pollyanna by nature. But that day will never come because I've always been keenly aware of what goes on around me, especially when mother nature, mother nature's wildlife, and the human race is crying out. My emotions, sensitivity, and intuition gets the best of me. What do I do -- What do we do?

There are severe fires all over the world, including right here in CA with the devastating, Caldor fire, Dixie Fire, McFarland Fire, and multiple others that rage on. Even Siberia has a big fire. Imagine that. The world is heating up and mother nature is screaming for help! I'm screaming along with her from a place of deep concern and compassion. And as an environmentalist for as long as I can remember, I can't help but feel exasperation over the decades of scientific facts not listened to and how greed seems to always be the winner. It's not just severe fires, but severe hurricanes and blizzards. Climate deniers are blind to the reality going on all around them and continue with their lives as if nothing is amiss.

Speaking of science, there's the ongoing pandemic worldwide. With too many episodes as it is, how many seasons will the pandemic run? While I may be one who has practiced a natural and organic, healthy lifestyle for decades, cured myself of cervical cancer in my 20's holistically, and has never even had a flu shot, there comes a time when logic must be used by listening to the medical experts. As if 2020 wasn't taxing enough, the multiple variants are wreaking havoc and guess what, the uptick in the variant spread is from the unvaccinated. Dammit, it's messing things up for the rest of us. Scream.

This is not to be a Debbie Downer, but c'mon, how does one wrestle all of this along with the personal scrambling in life? My hopeful and planned trip to Italy has escaped my grasp primarily because I'm immune compromised and have been advised by my Immunologist not to travel. I am dismayed. I was asked to facilitate again (an honor) for for breast cancer survivor 🎀retreats in Rome and Tuscany. I was meant to depart September 1st. It was that bright glimmer of hope ahead of me that acts as the golden carrot in the midst of isolation and other challenges. Tears. Scream.

No matter how spiritual we are or how much we meditate and focus on peace and well-intentioned progressive ideas and policies put forth, we can't control the difficulty, wish or pray it away. And the smart, logical progressive policies that are ignored or excused because an agenda of greed and fear-based conservatism blocks them as if on continued auto pilot. Scream.

Afghanistan: A thousands year old culture of deep religious beliefs and extreme militant Islamism by force of Taliban rising up in the 90's is going to bend to our ways or a democracy? Trump  brought home 25,000 troops from Afghanistan and so proud of himself for doing so (he has no leg to stand on blaming Biden for bringing home troops and eruption) and Biden has wanted to end this war since Obama era with trillions of dollars spent and too many American lives lost. No matter when we would have pulled out, violent mayhem would commence. It's horrible and a disgrace. 

Don't get me started on the Governor recall in CA and the right-wing agenda behind it. It's such severe stupidity and a big waste of time and money when CA needs both to address fires. Voted no and mailed it in. The line-up of those running is an embarrassment. 

So, what do we do?

I'm an activist as much as I can be and get behind things (petitions/policies/progressive candidates) I believe in, and stand up for what I feel is right. But I also must find ways to find balance and hope. We all do!

We all need something to look forward to and for me, Italy was to be just that. Instead, the monies raised for sponsoring me as a facilitator will go toward the December 2021 retreat in the Dominican Republic. Whatever monies may be left, will go toward Italy next year where my soul resides. The gods willing.

Surviving a long haul with breast cancer, my writing was a saving grace. 90% of my book Caution: Mermaid Crossing, Voyages of a Motherless Daughter was written in between 9 surgeries and recoveries. When SMOV invited me to a breast cancer retreat in August 2018, it was titled as a Mermaid retreat in Mexico, which was ironic since 'mermaid' is in the title of my book. After meeting the director of the nonprofit and hitting it off immediately, she read many of my essays and became so supportive of my work. I created the workshop, Healing and Living Through Color out of my own background in fashion and design, as well as using my writing skill. 

Being an author and facilitator is my purpose in this new chapter in life! And the workshop idea came to me when I was in the middle of my ordeal and had moved for the 8th time (finally secure) and the place was painted in an industrial white semi-gloss that reminded me of the sterile medical world. I said out loud, "My God, I need color to create a sanctuary." I called my painters and chose pleasing and balanced beauty by color. I spent hours hunting for the perfect fabrics to tie everything in. I was inspired by the colors on my favorite hummingbird. Nature inspires me in a way like no other. My kitchen is painted in the most beautiful orange that is not only on the throat of my favorite hummingbird, but everywhere in the villages of Italy.

When I feel like screaming from all the worries, I go out in nature and ground myself in color. I walk by the sea and stare at the pacific blue and discover ways that bring me wonder. I watch my gorgeous hummingbirds fly toward the feeder at my screen door and take the nectar, and I nurture all the plants on my patio providing abundant blossoms up-close.

I trust you find ways to ground yourself in nature and discover ways to create color you love in your own home sanctuary and outdoor space if you have one. It's also wonderful to have color in your wardrobe that not only makes you feel great but is flattering. Color is a magnet to good. Nature is a magnet to good. Being kind to nature is crucial--I conserve power and water, as well as recycle and live simply with a minimum of collecting stuff to benefit mother earth.

I also trust we will find a way to heal, protect one another, do right by our fragile mother earth and precious wildlife struggling to survive. My relationship to hummingbirds taught me a deeper lesson to survival and resilience. I long for all of us to take a lesson from nature that is so amazingly divinely designed by an infinite Universe. 

Be well and safe. And, if you need to scream, scream your heart out. 
Breathe and repeat when necessary. I do and at times, it's with the crashing waves.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie Anne


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Sorry, No Longer Accepting Breadcrumbs

 Sorry, No Longer Accepting Breadcrumbs

It took such a long time to realize that I deserve a lot more in life than breadcrumbs... an embarrassingly long time. It was in therapy not so long ago when I said, "I'm so tired of receiving breadcrumbs."

Although there were feelings of knowing I deserved better whether in family, career, love relationships, and friendships, the acceptance of breadcrumbs was natural and certainly coming from a subconscious place because why would anyone want this to be a factor in their lives? And why does it take so long to put two and two together? I think that depends on when it began. 

A child doesn't know better. Any child that loses their mother as a toddler (as I did) and has a father who doesn't have the tools to be a present parent freely giving unconditional love and support to his daughter but is capable of showing love through breadcrumbs that is all this child knows. And when a seedling of a child idolizes her dad, the only parent she has, basking in breadcrumbs of love is a ray of sunshine to her. The rest of the time she (I) was in a perpetual tap dance for those breadcrumbs of love, approval, and to be seen. The subconscious is a powerful thing.

The real trick is the decades long unraveling of that subconscious in order to get to a place of knowing that one soul (just a speck in the Universe) deserves the whole slice of bread... of life. More than half my life is behind me and the many twists, turns, and roadblocks preventing me from fully living because I was in full survival mode whether it was a cancer battle, keeping  a roof over my head, and in a constant state of spinning plates, doesn't always grant the time to reflect and dig deep to break apart the breadcrumbs I've been gratefully accepting throughout my life.

It wasn't until I was deep into writing my book Caution: Mermaid Crossing, Voyages of a Motherless Daughter that certain incidents came to light. And much to my editor's credit who pushed me to dig deeper to expose all the truth, which was the the smart thing to do. It was exhausting but it led me to linking my essays and expose myself is vulnerable and even humiliating ways.

As one example: When my dad and stepmother bought a condo on Key Biscayne (where we lived on a temporary basis and would be moving there permanently), I was 15 and just started high school in the only neighborhood I knew and where my birth mother lived so briefly before she died. My first view of the 2-bedroom condo was in its raw form with concrete floors. My second view was when we moved in and where I moved into the guest room. I say guest room because my stepmother decorated it not as a room I could put my teenage stamp on, but the guest room she saw it to be--without me in it. I still had 2 1/2 years of high school and at the age when teenagers want to express themselves. It came with a sofa bed that I had to pull out every night to sleep on--to sleep on a thin mattress with springs in my back. There was nothing of me permitted in that room. When I got up, I had to push the damn thing back in to create a sofa again. Everything was just so. Everything pointed to the desire to get me out of the house. I was never my stepmother's cup of tea even though I was only five when she came into our lives. That guest room with the ugly big black urn holding bright yellow sunflowers told me every day that I was not a part of a home. But it was not a conscious awareness until decades later.

My dad should've put his foot down for his daughter but he didn't and I suspect he had long ago wanted to be free of parent responsibilities. At the time I thought nothing of it because I didn't know better so I accepted the breadcrumbs. My dad died young too at the age of 57. I never had a chance to discuss any of these things with him. I wish I had.

As I unravel my part in accepting breadcrumbs, I will no longer scoop them up with gratitude. I am grateful that the significance of being expected to be independent and a survivor beginning as a toddler has provided enormous strength and perseverance--it's probably kept me alive. But as I've recovered from long journeys of challenge, I'm open and ready to receive a softer life where I live the life I desire and deserve--where I receive whole slices of love and acceptance. 

I love wholly and deeply and put my heart in all that I do. As flawed a human as I am, I know that I am someone to be trusted as a friend and lover/partner. And while there's probably been some twisted part of my subconscious that didn't believe I deserved success even though I've persevered and been tenacious my whole life whether it was getting into Hollywood jobs by smarts and the seat of my pants, or creating a business out of thin air, and putting my all into every reinvention, I am now in a place of well-deserved self-acknowledgement, success, and accomplishment. 

Although I've loved stories since I was a teenager and been a story editor supporting other writers, I came to a place of letting go of my intimidation around writing (writing well) and have become an author/blogger/workshop leader as my new chapter and new beginning post-cancer and post-breadcrumb acceptance. It's never too late.

May you always receive the big slices of bread and bunches of real sunflowers in your life.

Keep on swimming through life,

Valerie Anne