- Special Guest -
I'm pleased to introduce and interview an inspiring lady from the USA.
Welcome, Vicki ...
1. Tell us about you and what you do.
I’m a writer living in the Pacific Northwest portion of the United States, with my husband and 200(ish) books. I love taking photos (and scattering them throughout our home), painting, and drawing. When I’m not writing, or getting injured while exercising, I can be found in the kitchen creating (usually) edible concoctions. But none of that really matters. What matters is this-I am a survivor.
Nearly seven years ago I received a brain injury in an auto accident, the very thing I thought would kill me, and the very thing that saved me life.
2. What was the happiest moment of your life?
When my children were born. I never knew such a love existed.
3. What was the saddest moment?
When my father passed away. It was then I realized I never knew him, and never would.
4. What surprised you most?
The fact that I missed my dad.
5. What was your greatest disappointment?
Overall, I’m fairly resilient, and don’t let disappointment rule my life.
However, if I had to choose something, I’d say I wish I had taken the time to get to know my dad better. He didn’t know how to talk to me, but as an adult, I could have taken the initiative and talked to him.
6. Who did you misjudge? Why?
My husband. He was my rock after the auto accident. I never knew how strong he was, but I never needed to - we’d never dealt with anything this challenging before.
7. What or who was your biggest challenge?
Overcoming aphasia caused by my brain injury. It was humbling not being able to fill out a doctor’s form because I couldn’t read or comprehend, or not to be able to follow a simple conversation.
I took writing classes within a few years after my injury (though I couldn’t tell you exactly when I began), and honestly don’t know how I got through. I had to print every little comment made by a peer or the instructor, and keep track of each assignment with check lists. Every day was new to me. I couldn’t remember what I had done the day before, or what was due that day. But I was determined, and in the end, I not only received my certificate, but accomplished it with straight A’s.
8. What has been your biggest regret?
How does the song go? “Regrets. I’ve had a few.” My biggest regret is not pursuing my writing dream when I was younger. Oh, wait, maybe it’s the fact I spent too many years working a job I didn’t like, and not enough time with the family I loved. Or maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t know my dad very well.
Wait, never mind, I know my biggest regret-not seeing my grandma before she died. I was barely in my twenties, into my job, myself, and my relationship with a new boy. I’d bought my grandma’s favorite crackers, placed them on the kitchen counter, intending to visit her. But I never did. Weeks later, she was gone. I think that’s my biggest regret of all.
A word about regrets. If we live our lives with regrets, what will we accomplish? Maybe regrets are just mistakes, lessons for us to learn.
9. What would be your dying comment? Why?
Life arrives in stages: The beginning, when we receive our first breath; The middle, with moments that nearly take our breath away; The end, when life leaves, and we are quietly reminded of all we have done, and all we were given. Each stage is a gift-I’m learning that now.
10.Who or what stunned you the most?
I am amazed by everything, and nothing at all. I am amazed at the earth, the sheer expanse of it, the hundreds of thousands of creatures that climb it every day. I am amazed by life, and how fragile it is, and yet, how resilient we can be. And yet, I am stunned by nothing.
People jump large terrains, swim across the sea, hike crazy-high mountains. Nothing surprises me. Why? Because we are amazing, capable of more than we give ourselves credit for.
11.What would you like written on your tombstone? Why?
She lived a happy life. Because I did.
12.Who would you rather have not met? Why?
I didn’t meet this man, rather I saw him when I attended a golf tournament. He was a former baseball player accused of abusing his wife. The day I saw him, he was sitting on a golf cart. Our eyes locked. All I could think about were the rumors I had heard, and I was so sad. I was sad for the hero he had been, and the person he would be remembered as. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes that day-such sadness, so much regret. Those dark eyes will haunt me forever.
13.Who were you most envious of? Why?
I don’t feel envy, not in the classic, “I want to be her,” or “I want what that person has.” If my dad taught me anything, it was that (in his words), “People are just people.” Some have more, some have less, but in the end, we are all the same.
If I ever felt envy, it was when someone else had so much confidence when I had none. Then again, I often remind myself that they may not be as confident as they appear.
14.Who did you forgive – for doing something you never thought you’d forgive?
I can’t directly answer this. Let’s just say I’ve forgiven family and friends for doing horrible things. And I’ve forgiven the man who drove too fast and rammed his car into ours, causing my brain injury. The thing about forgiveness is this, if you don’t forgive, you are the one who goes on hurting.
15.What was your greatest moment in your life?
Holding my premature babies in my arms.
16.What is your greatest achievement?
Obtaining a writing certificate after a brain injury.
17.What personal traits would you like to have in your next life?
More carefree, not so uptight.; Not obsessed with possessions, or comparing myself with others.; I’d laugh and cry more, not be so stoic; I’d live life straight-forward and head-on, like every day was my last; I’d stop worrying about the next moment, and enjoy where I’m at.
18.What advice would you give to world leaders?
19.What advice would you give to parents today?
Your children don’t need as much as you think they do. All they need is you. Let go of the excess-extra hours at work to acquire more things, extra toys, extra clothes, extras that bog you down. Let go of extra cleaning and too much volunteer work. Enjoy life as it is, in all its pure simplicity.
20.Who would you choose to be stuck on a desert island with?
My husband. He is my best friend, my rock, the one who knows all my crazy quirks, who (though he doesn’t always understand) listens to my drama-ridden emotions, and is always there for me. He is the one I quickly fight with, and the one I quickly make-up with. We share every laugh and tear, every dream and sorrow. And I know, without a doubt, he would fight to save me.
21.Have any heroes? Why? Who?
Every strong woman has always been my hero-from Amelia Earhart to Anne Frank to Katherine Hepburn. But my greatest hero was my grandma. She helped raise me, care for me, discipline me, protect me. She taught me the strength and beauty of being a lady. But the coolest thing about her was how she could pull herself across a floor, swim the length of a pool, and transfer herself from a wheelchair to a bed, all without the use of her legs.
She had polio from the time she was eleven, but that never stopped her, not from marrying, raising five children, or taking care of me. She was strength, resilience, and courage.
22.What are the greatest legacies you will leave behind?
I hope my greatest legacy is my story of survival. I hope my children, grandchildren, and beyond, read about a woman who lived many years before and conquered her own world. I hope my grandma’s legacy becomes mine, and mine becomes my family’s.
23.What’s lacking in the world today?
That’s a loaded question. We lack many things-not enough grace, understanding, love, forgiveness-towards one another. Families are split. Friends disown friends.
Communication is incomplete, at the best. We are apathetic, towards each other, and the little green planet on which we reside. But in all we lack, we hold so much. Our imperfections cause us to hope, to search for something more, something better, something bigger than all of us. We are each so imperfect, so beautifully flawed. Perhaps that’s what holds us together.
24.Any pearls of wisdom for the rest of us?
I am not wise, not even a tiny bit. I’m still learning. But someday, if my grandchildren come to me and ask for wisdom, I will tell them this: In all my life, I’ve never owned one piece of jewelry, car, a tiny possession that made me happy. If I could do it all over again, I’d live more for others, and less for myself.
25.What would be the last sentence you ever write?
The end is the beginning to a new life.
26.What inspired you most?
I am inspired by those who persevere through hard times-the one-legged man who runs a marathon, the abused woman, the little girl who is given away. I am amazed at the strength and resilience of people.
27.Who or what made you laugh the most?
Children make me laugh. Corny jokes, the dainty three-year-old girl giggling as she burps, the silly laughing over nothing. I love how they enjoy each simple moment.
28.What would be your top three chosen careers in your next life?
Writer. Photographer. Dancer. Preferably all at the same time.
29.What is your prime focus in life today?
Finishing my memoir. It has taken many rewrites, thousands of tears, tons of emotion, and a whole lot of pain. Portions of my life were missing before and after the accident, and even today, I struggle with finding those missing pieces. But the tears have mostly subsided, and the fear of sharing my story with the world is almost gone. I can’t wait for my story to be completed! (This is the year.)
30.Do you have any fear of doing something wrong?
All the time. But maybe it is those very ‘wrong’ things that have helped me grow.
31.If or when you reflect on your past, can you identify any world events that you believe had a significant impact on you?
I cried for a week after 9-11, and to this day, I still see images of crumbling towers. Then there was a tsunami in 2010 or 2011, I don’t know which, but I guess it was huge. I say ‘guess’ because I don’t remember the tsunami- it happened after my brain injury. My husband and I recently watched a documentary about it, and it scared me, not remembering, not being there when others were hurting, not praying, not giving money (at least not that I know of).
32.Do you think one can live a purposeful life without knowing the meaning of life?
Does anyone know the meaning of life? All I know is this, many people, whether they know it or not, live a purposeful life. The scientist who creates a cure, the teacher who pours hours and days into his students, the artist who inspires, the entertainer who entertains, the dad who works extra hours providing for his family, the mom who sits up all night with sick children. They all live a purposeful life. But do they know the meaning? I doubt it.
33. From your perspective - what is the way forward for the world?
Yikes. I’m going to make some people uncomfortable here. Our world is crumbling, species extinct, a sick planet, and even sicker people. Wars, crime, abuse, the list goes on. We can’t fix all our problems. But we can do this-whatever we can.
It’s easy to think we are one tiny person in a huge, huge world. And in a way, that’s true. When we look at the world’s problems, it’s overwhelming. But the fact of the matter is this - we, even as one person, can impact the world.
Lend a hand to the elderly, care for the sick, tend to a child, teach someone to read. One person can change the world. I think we forget that.
34.Imagine that you were given a chance to live again, what will you do first and what will you do differently?
I would start writing when I fell in love with words, and never stop.
I would travel and experience the world. I would leave my house emptier, give more time to family, and less to things.
35. Do you have a bucket list? Tell us more.
See every inch of my country, and the world beyond.
Volunteer to help save the planet, or start an organization of my own.
Learn French (better) and Italian.
Learn to dance the soft-shoe. (Corny, but I love it.)
Finish my memoir. Write a few more. Write a novel, or two, or three.
Take my family (all of them) on a long vacation.
Write children’s books, and donate them.
36.Any great claims to fame?
I don’t have one of those large ‘look-at-me-I’m-famous’ moments. I wrote a few small pieces that were published before my accident, and had my name placed in the Library of Congress.
I started a blog (The Simple Hippie), which was a big deal for me. Just getting beyond the insecurities that arise after an injury like mine was hard.
But as far as fame goes? Not really, but I’m okay with that. I’m not sure fame is about being well-known. I think it is the small, scattered moments, the insignificant details, that we will be remembered for.
37.Anything you’d like to add?
Only this-Never take life too seriously. And enjoy it while it’s here.
Be in the moment, never so distracted by life, that you forget who you are with.
And always, always laugh.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Vicki. I could spend hours chatting to you. Great answers. Keep going.