Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns


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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,

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 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

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,