Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Not Everyone Has a Place to Be on Christmas


Not Everyone Had a Place to Be on Christmas


The holidays are an intimate occasion, which can bring joy and connection to most, but at times, laced with stress and/or loneliness. Norman Rockwell is known for painting ideal pictures of the family and from those images the famous phrase, “my family is no Rockwell painting” was generated. There are some of us who grew up in less than ideal environments, don’t have a partner or family in present time so it can be a bittersweet time of year. As someone who has a severe case of sentimentality and sensitivity, I don’t always find the holidays an easy time and have fantasized the Norman Rockwell version ever since I was a small girl…as naively idealistic as that may be. We create holiday spirit where we can or as our own personal vision sees it to be, which might be far from Rockwell’s portrayal.

My mother passed away when I was a toddler, and my dad died at Thanksgiving on the morning of his birthday when he turned 57. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted a family of my own — irresistible husband, kids, animals…a flock. I have forever been a person with so much love to give and a yearning to have a child where I would give love my mother never had the chance to give me because she left us so young. I had the intuition that it would complete a circle where a break in that circle could be filled. I didn’t have children but that’s a whole other story. Life brings us alternate paths and endless stories to tell.

As a creator, creativity keeps me engaged in life — Giving birth to some form of art is as necessary as breathing. And as a seeker of beauty, I notice the miraculous all around me on a daily basis. It’s a savior. Growing up on an island, I discovered my mermaid essence and you’d find me in the ocean warm enough on Christmas day lifting my holiday spirit. I find this time of year to be romantic, and as a hopeless romantic, the season inspires not only sentimentality, but passion and sensual beauty as shown in this photo of a deep red Christmas Amaryllis that looks as though it’s made of velvet.

This year I attended some lovely Christmas gatherings, which included a legendary annual Christmas party in the hills of Santa Barbara on the 23rd of December and I decided this occasion was to be my Christmas. The Mediterranean house was beautifully decorated, a banquet table held scrumptious food, talented entertainment performed, and we all joined a carol sing-along. There were nearly 200 people and a house full of so many can be overwhelming for an outsider. I do love to sing and all the voices (including mine in full volume) brought us closer together.

I’m so grateful for the close friends (mostly out-of-state) I have that were all in contact with me. There was only one person I didn’t hear from and it hurt. I had to take pause, and acknowledge that it was Christmas day and therefor, hurt impact was stronger. I spent the early morning on calls or in Christmas blessing texts before I decided I just had to get out of the house. I escaped into the movie theater where I spent the afternoon viewing “Little Women” and then, “Bombshell”. Like going to the ballet or being by the ocean, a good movie is a wonderful escape and I’m a firm believer in healthy and life-affirming escapes.

I’m also a believer in being authentic and to be true to oneself. We feel what we feel and we ought to be free to express whatever that may be. May I suggest that if you know people who are possibly without a partner and/or family on the holidays, contact them and let him or her know that they are in your thoughts. Trust me, expressing love and sincere care for someone can brighten a lonely day more than you can imagine. It’ll paint a unique and individualized Rockwell memory.
May your New Year shine like the stars and this upcoming decade be magical, full of love and dreams unfolding into manifestation.🌟

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Bells of Italy Continue to Ring


The Bells of Italy Continue to Ring

It is the bells of Italy that stays with me as if absorbed in my body since returning home the end of October from my month-long adventure. It was in the town Cortona perched in the Tuscan hills, Florence, many village squares, and fishing villages that carried the echo of bells. There were times when bells of churches and clock towers in squares blended together. When I would stand in a square or sit on the charming B&B terrace in Trebiano and the bells would ring, I'd close my eyes and take pause. I'd remain still to simply listen allowing the echo to wash over me.

I miss Italy. I miss walking the streets and stopping for an espresso. I miss the friends I made that took me on adventures I wouldn't have otherwise known about. The walled villages where everyone walks and stops at cafes, sits on the steps of a church to feel the sun and people watch, the bold vibrant color of buildings in fishing villages, and the bells that ring echoing through the narrow streets are all strong images that I carry with me.

The journey that led me to Italy was a long and trying one. In my book, "Caution: Mermaid Crossing"--Voyages of a Motherless Daughter, I wrote about dreams of traveling to Italy again, to feel a purpose on the other side of breast cancer, to break out of my shell after hibernating with a long health crisis and challenging life confusion where, lo and behold...opportunities found me. The remarkable occurrence of literally manifesting what I was writing continues to amaze me.

I have to acknowledge all those that lovingly supported me in my healing and writing. Writing (writing well) is the hardest work I've ever done. There are times when I still struggle with believing in myself...my abilities, strength and talent. It's been a very long road and when challenged in spirit and heart, I take pause, listen for the echoing of bells to restore faith in my plight and trust that I'm evolving to a place of vibrant health, blessed by getting my book published and continuing my journey of traveling and sharing both my writing and workshop, "Living and Healing Through Color', which I was fortunate enough to share in Italy via a sponsorship from sendmeonvacation.org.

The tides can shift and change can happen as swift as the movement of the big hand on a clock bell tower. I'm grateful for the fresh opportunities and adventures I've worked toward and been blessed with. And as life moves forward and the new decade of 2020 meets us all, I send wishes for dreams manifesting and abundant hopes realized.

Happy Holidays and may the sound of beautiful bells ring in the New Year for you.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Cancer Turmoil to the Sublime Gift of Italy

From Cancer Turmoil to the Sublime Gift of Italy




As breast cancer awareness month began to wind down as I just returned home from Italy, I felt compelled to write something. This last several years has been tumultuous, exhilarating, grueling and beauty-filled. 

Surviving cervical cancer in my late 20's (curing myself holistically) and following a healthy path since, genetic breast cancer still caught up with me decades later. It made me think of my mother dying so young of breast cancer (I was age three) during a time when there was little support. It must have been so lonely for her. When I was diagnosed with a tumor in each breast, (5% category) my ordeal was launched. No one could've imagined (least of all me) that following a radical double mastectomy, I'd end up with a staph infection in the breast (due to genetic autoimmune) and more surgeries ensued with a 2nd staph infection that could've sent me to the other side. 

Through all of it, and at times, wondering if I would survive, I sought moments of magic and beauty, kept writing (surprise acceptance & scholarship to Prague Summer Writing Program); continued surgeries and recoveries, relied on my indomitable spirit and a few close friends (indomitable spirits themselves) for counsel, love and support; continued to focus on time for writing/blogging even when I was foggy brained or not, and found myself with a book and (after four-years) on the other side of breast cancer. 

I received a surprise gift when I was awarded a beautiful mermaid (ironic since 'mermaid' is within title of my book) healing retreat by sendmeonvacation.org I wrote a blog about my experience in Mexico with this important and special nonprofit organization, which was posted on SMOV's website and developed a special connection with the founder/director, Cathy Backus. Several months later, found myself invited to be an alumnus to attend the retreat in Cortona, Italy (Tuscany) as both mentor and facilitator where I'd share my workshop, "Healing and Living in Color". 

While my breast cancer journey was brutal (as it is for most women going through this), creating beauty and purpose became a drive to keep inspired and engaged in life. If my raw words of truth and the ways I found grace throughout, resonates or makes anyone feel less alone in their own challenging journey, then I have achieved what I'd hoped to. A first step in launching into this, was the honor and privilege of sharing time, as well as my workshop with the remarkable, engaging, and fun women at our SMOV retreat in Cortona where we stayed at the beautiful Resort and Spa.

When I received that fateful call that my round trip ticket was sponsored by a kind supporter of SMOV who donated miles, I knew that I was literally manifesting dreams from my writing in real time. One of my greatest visions was to be back in Italy once again after an extended stay in Europe as a 19 year old on a fashion/design study trip. I'd spent six weeks in Italy and felt so at home that I held the lofty dream of returning regularly. Life took many turns but the opportunity finally came into my life decades later. From Cortona, my adventures took me to Florence (where I spent my birthday), Lucca, Barga, Pietrasanta and then two-weeks in the glorious Liguria region on the coast where I stayed in Trebiano and ventured to many old villages and squares, Cinque Terre, and colorful fishing villages.

Sublime memories create powerful visions to hold close and recall whenever I choose to--A perfect way to 'live and heal through color'. Thank you, SMOV, Universe, as well as gratitude for my own strength, faith, and drive for truth and creative beauty.

Stay tuned: More on my many Italian adventures in the next blog.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie







Saturday, September 21, 2019

Written Word Manifesting in Real Time

Written Word Manifesting in Real Time

Photo of me in Florence at age 19

Writing essay after essay without ever thinking it would become a book has finally brought me to a final draft... as much as one can ever really reach a final draft. Years ago, when I was in a writing group, two of my co-writers generously gifted me the book, "Bird By Bird" knowing it would give me hope. I just couldn't cope with the idea of managing an entire manuscript. Thinking of writing in terms of frame-by-frame felt doable.

After my acceptance and scholarship to the Prague Summer Writing Program in July 2016, I gained the confidence to believe I had a book, albeit raw and in need of many reincarnations. What I learned from the instructors who were all published writers, English professors and artists-in-residence is immeasurable. One of the instructors (famous author) described an essay I work shopped as a piece about a woman day-dreaming and night-dreaming through life. Indeed.

I wrote through 8 surgeries, 8 recoveries and 8 moves while going through 4-years of breast cancer and complications. The writing gave me purpose. Devoted writing proved to be exhilarating, exacerbating, cathartic, maddening and rewarding... sometimes all at once. 

Throughout the book, I demonstrate that while I've been swimming through harrowing waters as far back as a toddler, I am, and continue to be a seeker of beauty. There is longing for passion and romance; to live life as if it were a movie. I speak about my experience of being in Europe for a 2 1/2 month fashion study trip at the age of 19. When I was in Rome and Florence, it was the first time I felt at home. It was also the first time I had a cappuccino and a ritual I've cherished ever since. I realized that I'd never felt 'at home' in my own family home but in Italy, I flourished. Back then, in a dreamy youthful state, I thought I'd live a fabulous creative life in Manhattan and travel to Europe every year. Life has a life of its own leading us down paths we did not anticipate

Decades later, with a final draft just sent back to my editor that will be put into a Pdf so that I am ready to take the next step toward the daunting world of publishing, I'm off on an adventure to Italy. It's dawned on me that I'm literally manifesting desires I write about in my book. 

I head to Milan today and make my way to Cortona as a mentor and facilitator for a breast cancer survivor retreat. I will be sharing a workshop that I created titled, "Living and Healing Through Color" developed from my background in fashion/design, writing and my own experience with a health ordeal. I'd been awarded a retreat with sendmeonvacation,org to the Caribbean of Mexico August, 2018 and it was so lovely and transformative. 

Since then, I became friends with the founder/director, Cathy and wrote a blog for them describing my experience, which they posted on their site. Several months later the idea of being an alumnus was presented to me and everything just magically fell into place, including a supporter of the organization donating miles for my round trip ticket. I'm staying a month and will spend my birthday in Florence. It's an amazing gift.

I intend for this adventure to be the beginning of my 2nd book. Although I brought my laptop to my friend's place where I'm staying overnight, I'm leaving it behind. I will be schlepping on planes and trains and realized it's too damn heavy and cumbersome. Instead, I'll journal, take notes. But mostly, I'm going to immerse myself in the ambience and culture and let go of sitting in front of the screen.

On another note, I also write about being a hopeless romantic who longs for passion but rarely finds that ever-illusive connection, Sparks. Self conscious after breast cancer and many surgeries, aging rapidly, and isolated about a month ago and out-of-nowhere the stars lined up in a very particular way for a very particular man to land in my orbit. Younger, worldly, passionate, intelligent and confident he catapulted me out of my traumatized stupor. While it's unlikely this will be a true partnership and relationship for many reasons, it's a gift from the heavens and an awakening of my true self.

I return to California on October 21st and once settled, I will take a look at the journaling and note taking I'll do in Italy so I can launch into a 2nd book of creative non-fiction. 

I feel so blessed that I am manifesting dreams I write about in my book where it's jumped from my imagination into real time. I am also grateful that I stuck with the writing even though I wanted to give up at times since writing (writing well) is the hardest work I've ever done. What I've envisioned for this new chapter in my life (on the other side of a life-threatening ordeal) is not just getting published but to be launched into public speaking and sharing my work shop. My only wish is that my raw honest words resonate with those who've gone through their own choppy waters so that they might feel less lonely and deeply supported. 

I wish for all of us to be manifesting our hearts desires in real time.

Cortona, Italy where SMOV retreat will be held

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie



Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Valium and A Cookie

A Valium and A Cookie


The photo above depicts my sentiments most pointedly after discovering that three weeks of writing work was lost. I received the red edit final from my editor mid-July so I had the task to accomplish a line-by-line review toward my final draft. More than two weeks later, I was half way through, which involved a steady writing morning ritual where words and sentences were cut and/or replaced, as well as a couple chapters completely re-written--re-written in a much improved and, dare I say, near brilliant fashion. I can't possibly recall all I've done in this umpteenth edit up to 130 pages of a 275 page book.

A week has passed and I'm still spinning from hours of my own ineffectual attempts and three hours on the phone with Windows tech support in India to recover my work. During that three hours, you'd have heard me say, "what" far too many times due to a cultural language barrier, not to mention a technological language barrier.

I compulsively save and like any other night, one last save before closing down my manuscript word document last Friday, August 2nd. The current manuscript incarnation is always on my desktop to get back at it the next day. As I powered down, there was an update and restart. It involved several restarts. The next morning, I powered up my laptop and the first hint that something was amiss was seeing that my manuscript document was missing from the desktop. I found it in a search and to my horror, discovered that it reverted back to the original red-edit document from my editor. All the hours and hours of work I'd done the last few weeks was lost. How does this happen? To add to the stress, I had a goal to complete my final review before I leave for Italy in September and send it back to the editor where she'd put it into a permanent pdf in preparation for publishing.

A writer's worst fear is losing work. I have to say, my heart dropped to my feet and a current of anxiety rose from my feet to my solar plexus. Normally, I email updated drafts to Gmail account but I was on a roll and remiss. Ugh. After two hours in a fruitless search for where my work might have landed and hours talking to India where two different representatives came into my laptop remotely, no luck. No luck even when a 'restore and recover' took over my screen.

Writing lost and two days lost in a document recovery vortex. Once I hung up with Windows India in the late Saturday afternoon glow, I got up off the couch stressed out of my mind, took a Valium (reserved for needle phobia from too many surgeries during breast cancer) drove a few blocks to Lazy Acres (natural grocery store) and bought a giant chocolate chip walnut cookie kept in a warmer right out of the oven. They seem to constantly be right out of the oven because customers can't stop buying them. It's rare for me to do so; also rare since I work so hard at holistic health regime, which includes staying away from sugar and all naughty things.That was not the case on this day. I didn't care.

All this occurred on Fiesta weekend. I have a feeling that shouting, "Oh My God!" after becoming aware that my writing work had magically disappeared, which then grew to heightened panic where a few favorite curse words escaped and no doubt, heard over the Fiesta music.

After a Valium and a big, messy warm cookie dripping chocolate on my fingers, I fell on the couch and watched "Under the Tuscan Sun" (nonfiction story by Frances Mayes) for the 5th time. I'm preparing for Cortona, Italy where the film was shot and where I'll be sharing my workshop, (at a retreat for breast cancer survivors) "Healing and Living Through Color"--a workshop created from my fashion/design background as well as my writing. It organically developed beginning with my own use of visual imagery vibrant with color when I would lay on a gurney in prep for one of the many surgeries I endured. I'm delighted for the opportunity to share tools and tips on creating blissful visual imagery as well as desired color into one's wardrobe and home. Cortona will be presenting a village bursting with color and a tangerine glow at magic hour--unique Tuscan light I distinctly remember when in Florence decades ago. There will be many memories to cherish in a journal.

The film and thoughts of Italy distracted me for the time being. Another distraction (also unusual) was two glasses of sparkling rose at the enchanting El Encanto with a close friend the day after India tech support, and then out on a 'date' a few days later at Intermezzo where I had two shots of a high-end (smooth) Tequila. Both shots (one is my limit) ordered by the worldly gentleman I was with. I indulged. However, I'm quite sure this was an anomaly and I will not be treading down the tragic path of alcoholism like too many talented and tortured writers before me.

Several days have passed since this unfortunate oddity entered my life and ignoring the task of beginning the final review all over again. There was one last ditch effort at Geek Squad yesterday where some explanation was given but the millennial techie expert could not be my superhero as I'd hoped, and present my work hidden in some unknown depth of my laptop. I visualized my work magically reappearing as it magically disappeared. Crestfallen, I walked out of Best Buy realizing I'd have to start from square one. I couldn't face it--still not quite able to face page 1, once again. I'd already hit the wall on this project with its conception several years ago, stream of consciousness writing essay after essay to a massive revision last year and the many passes of tweaking and refining since.

Instead of getting back to page 1 and begin the laborious task of a line-by-line review and seeing the red edits and notes again that I'd just successfully erased, I'm writing this blog. Well, at least I'm at the keyboard.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Encouraged and Discouraged

Discouraged and Encouraged
Dualities of Life


Ah, the dualities of life: Encouraged/Discouraged, Sad/Happy, Peaceful/Anxious, Healthy/Unwell, Prosperous/Unprosperous, Elated/Heartbroken and so on. In spiritual realms, the duality of life is spoken of often. The inevitable part of living on our spinning planet is facing duality, even several times in one day.

I've been experiencing duality quite a bit lately in both my professional and personal life. It was highlighted when I attended the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I was given the gift of sponsorship, for which I am so grateful. I was hesitant to workshop essays from my book because I'm in the polish of a final draft and well aware that everyone has an opinion. Panic rose as I work-shopped the opening of my book. In the end, relief swept over me after receiving positive feedback on the three essays I work-shopped with a variety of instructors, including the crucial opening. Generally speaking, writers are isolated and it's a form of art kept close until shared publicly where we risk our fragile confidence. In my case, reading from memoir exposes me in an especially raw way. The adrenalin surges in front of the listeners and nerves calm with constructive comments--Duality again.

The discouragement centered around the business of getting published. There were panels focused on all aspects of agents and paths to publishing. It was like opening pandora's box where the little devils rise up to tell you just how difficult it is to be successfully published; that there's no way to avoid putting a good deal of money up whether self publishing or with a hybrid publisher. And, the negative aspects of how much the publishing world has changed proved daunting. This would include how many of the publishing houses in NYC have shut their doors and chances for a non-celebrity or non-established writer has 0% chance. Having a grand platform is the secret. Then there's the elusive, but wholly necessary perfect query letter for an agent or publisher... the one that sparks unique and captivating interest. 

While attending the conference, I heard the word, "platform" daily; everywhere. This was also stated in the 10 minutes I sat with an agent for a fee. Although she thought my pitch sounded compelling (encouraging) she was intent on communicating that I would need a strong platform (discouraging) before anything else... that would be an audience in the thousands I'd have to lure into my book orbit. I ran into a friend at the conference and we had a chat. I said, "If I hear the word 'platform' one more time, I'm going to jump off a f___ing cliff." A woman standing nearby chuckled. We're all in it together.

It is overwhelming to navigate the business of publishing. Writers work so hard to finish a book often taking years to complete as is the case with me. You think this is the hardest part, but as one of the workshop leaders (teaching "Hooking Your Readers") stated, "Getting published is just as hard work as it is writing your book." Yikes. Dear God, and I was convinced that it's the writing (writing well) that's the hardest endeavor. It's also the most gratifying work I've ever done.

I've said all along that I have to look at this in tiny frames--bird by bird. One step at a time. Get the final draft and go from there otherwise it's too distracting and prodigious. The pros would say that you should be building your platform all along. Whoops.


The duality that hits harder is more personal. I'm a trusting person and, as it happens, too trusting and I'm paying the price. I've been fortunate in my business as an Image and Design Consultant (makeover specialist for wardrobe and home) for fifteen years, to have great clients. They're thrilled with my work and happily pay... until recently. I met a woman in a class and she was interested in my wardrobe services. After a phone call and several texts, a verbal agreement of my hourly fee and an offer of a great discount, we set up our appointment. My experience and expertise guides a client in "what not to wear" and then creates a makeover from there.

To make a long story short, she's not paying her balance. I should've taken the hint when in the first hour of my services (where I discovered that there were three full closets to assess taking 7.5 hours in two session to complete), she tried to offer a stag horn plant as part payment. Later, when I mailed the invoice for the balance, she responded with an attempt of used clothes, a salad and our acquaintance to render us "even". Nope. Since then, it's been one long chase, lies, excuses and a big nightmare. It's become the principle of the matter.  

The duality that applies here is: one of satisfaction for accomplishment of good work/dread at prospect of chasing a client for money. In the end, I'm grateful that this is the first time in fifteen years of clients where I've been pushed to the brink and going to small claims court. The very last thing anyone wants to do. Who needs extra stress?

This brings us back to the dualities in life. As we face challenge there's always ebb and flow. While I struggle to be back on my feet in life, health, and business after challenged with a long road of breast cancer and ongoing management of a taxing nuisance known as an immune disorder (spiked pain/less pain), I simply want ease and flow... a little more yang than yin... do you catch my drift?

How do you feel about yin and yang (ongoing duality) in your own life?

Yin and Yang - noun (used with a singular or plural verb)
(in Chinese philosophy and religion) two principles, one negative, dark, and feminine(yin)and one positive, bright, and masculine (yang)whose interaction influences the destinies of creatures and things.


Keep on swimming through life
Valerie

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Blooming Surprises

Blooming Surprises



So far March has brought a breath of fresh air to my door twice--Blooming gifts to thank me for gestures that come, for the most part, naturally. A flowering delivery at my doorstep is nothing short of a miraculous departure from the never-ending coupon circulars adding to environmental waste since it's impossible to opt-out.

Every day we're inundated with snail mail, phone and email solicitations, scammers, internet challenges where getting someone on the phone drives you to madness overseas, as well as financial obligations and finagling to keep things running. At least, that's how I feel. My heart skipped a beat to arrive home to such abundant beauty in the form of two dozen long-stem pink roses and two days later, a gorgeous orchid plant.

One of my life's truths is debt, debt that's followed me since divorce twenty years ago. It's a humbling admission. I've been paying it down and then a variety of hurdles would occur like breast cancer where a 4-year journey felt endless. The thing is, when a person is going through a life threatening ordeal and can't work, the bills don't graciously stop. I had to charge essentials like groceries and rent so my debt increased and I ended up back where I started all those years ago. I didn't make the decision to file bankruptcy so I keep making payments into what feels like a black hole to maintain good credit. Maybe it's ridiculous to not file bankruptcy but it doesn't feel right. I play the 0% interest game for balance transfers.

It's all about spinning plates and there are times when those plates can get quite heavy.

On a recent balance transfer, I had a conversation with a Capitol One representative. It's always a relief to not only reach a competent person, but a nice one. Anxious for electronic transfer to go through, she agreed to call me back with an update in a couple days and Tammy actually did just that. Tammy from Tampa called a third time to get all the issues resolved. I thanked her and commended her for her rare dependability in these virtual times when speaking to a real person takes some doing.

Somehow, Tammy (from a corporate bank company) and I found our way to speak on a personal level to discover that we are both breast cancer survivors. I listened to her. Although Tammy had a caring and supportive husband to help her, it's still a lonely journey. I expressed compassion for what she had to go through and suggested she take a look at my blog where she might find relatable stories and inspiration. 

A few days past our connection, I spotted a tall box on my patio with FLOWERS in bold black on the side of the box. Who could've sent me flowers? It wasn't my birthday. Inside were two dozen gorgeous long stem pink roses from Tammy to thank me for being an inspiration, bringing a smile to her face and brightening her day. She wanted to put a smile on my face, which she most brilliantly did.

When I decided to write a memoir and blog to support the book, I made a promise to myself that if I was to commit, I'd only write raw and authentic words along with the moments of grace that propel us forward. If I have a positive effect on just a few, I'd fulfill a purpose. Tammy would find my raw and honest blogs encouraging where truth resonates. Thank you, Tammy--you are a sweetheart.

The orchid arrived a couple days later. As an animal lover, I'd jump in front of a car to save one. My friend asked me to look after her senior cat again while she was away in Mexico with her boyfriend. The principessa was not doing so well and couldn't seem to keep her food down. The most common thing with senior cats is their kidneys begin to fail. I took her off the food from the Vet and put her on the regimen my senior cats were on. To make a long story short, I turned this little cat's life around. She's keeping her food down, happy and gaining weight. When my friend returned home she was so relieved and delighted to see her fur baby doing so much better. I came home to more blooms at my modest door seeing an exquisite orchid plant, along with a bottle of Pinot Noir, and organic dark chocolate. When spinning all those heavy life plates, elegant dark chocolate comes in handy.

Receiving flowering grace has deepened an important lesson, which is showing compassion whether it be a stranger, friend or animal. There are times when all that's needed is to allow someone to talk (vent) and not judge. The gifts are lovely but not at all necessary because I wouldn't have known how to be or behave any other way. For my door to be graced with blooming surprises instead of unwanted circulars and envelope solicitations is a wonderful thing and something naturally beautiful I can gaze upon in my home reminding me that love comes in many forms.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Mermaid's Revision

A Mermaid's Revision




After several months, and several distractions demanding attention, I've completed the revision of my book, "Caution: Mermaid Crossing". My editor told me to think of the undertaking as if it were a master class... one that will work my brain overtime. By far, it's the hardest work I've ever done and pushed to use a very different part of my brain. I'd liken it to pieces of a puzzle floating in the Universe that is within hand's reach but just how to grab the right piece and fit it all together so it becomes a captivating whole is the true challenge. 

Many thoughts and emotions swirled around both as powerful waves and calm ripples. I had to go deeper, deeper than I was comfortable doing. My editor encouraged me to dive into those canyons of painful valleys and poetic peaks. Knowing that I have the right editor, who I respect for her keen insight and understanding of my voice, is the very reason I don't want to disappoint with my hard won efforts. 

Diving deep into canyons is both exhausting and enlightening. I know that I'm changed--forever changed from critical challenges and experiences. I continue to work at not only fully grasping a path through cancer and an interesting variety of hard hurdles but healing from physical and emotional repercussions. I can't risk further judgment I've received out in the world while going through a health crisis until I feel more fierce, so it's easy to isolate and retreat. Solace is necessary for writing. Sans family, I'm very content with my close posse of sparkling angel friends (mostly far away) and our mutual support is a gift from the gods. I find that writing is for those who can be secure alone and even enjoy being in one's own company. 

Seeking a ritual to inspire my creative flow is how I made it to the end of a revision. It's a practice I've come to cherish. My revised ritual (one I continue as a writer and healthy New Year regime) for accomplishing the task of a successful and timely book revision instead of it taking an endless cycle of seasons goes as follows: getting to bed early, waking before the sun comes up, and getting my tea in the dark. When weather permits, I sit out on my patio in a chaise, sip tea, watch light paint the sky in different hues while the day peeks through as I listen to and feel my hummingbirds. The quiet envelops me and feel as if I'm holding a secret reverie being up before anyone else. When the sun continues its rise where light is greater than dark, I read. When an hour passes, I eat breakfast, pull out my lap desk and laptop, plop myself on the sofa with back support and began writing essay by essay from the beginning; one-by-one paper clipping each essay that's been re-written for the discovery of a desired end.

I think about the idea of paper clipping arduous and heartbreaking episodes in my life and handing them over to more capable hands to bless, analyze, solve, and then sent to a special place in the heavens for filing and safe keeping--Absolute healing and magic takes over and the cautionary brutalities of life push further and further into the vast Universe dissolving from blazing heat of a star.

Once I emailed the revision, I felt my body move into a foggy fatigue. Cathartic indeed. While I know the revision has brought the book to a closer final draft, I worry it's still not quite there. Will it ever be there and will the editing ever end? Will the revision on myself ever end? I believe the edit will eventually come to an end but self-revision is ongoing.

At some point, I'll have to announce that there's a final draft, but revising myself after enduring a marathon of trauma, and losing years to cancer that can't possibly be given back to me will be tricky. This is the moment in life (at an age I don't care to admit) to fully realize that I can only live in-the-moment because nothing is sure and plans I felt were critical to happily thrive in the world didn't find their way into manifestation. 

Revising old dreams, recreating new visions, reinventing where I am now, reinforce my activism for progressive action on critical issues and protection of a fragile planet and wildlife, share my truth; as well as renewing my mermaid spirit and tender heart is my intention for 2019. What's yours?

Happy New Year--May it bring you magic!



Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie