Let it out




Inspired again by Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening) whose reading for today was about how we were born to sing – to give voice to our feelings, and about how letting things out, like cries of fear or pain, lets new things come in.

He confirms for me that when I write poetry my heart singing. Singing all kinds of songs, not just of joy and peace and light but also of pain and fear and the lost way. Like a little miracle, sometimes the soothing inflow would come immediately upon the releasing outflow – almost like a single expression (e.g., Strong and The Me I’ve Always Been).

I recall the day I got the call confirming a cancer diagnosis and sobbing out loud in fear and anger. I didn’t realize that was a song. Indeed that act let out so many feelings and created space for new things to flow in, like hope and love and grace. Some of my poems reflect a deep hard-to-understand agony (e.g., Into the Vortex), and even though the salve doesn’t come immediately, it always comes (e.g., Invited came in the same day as Into the Vortex).

So today I am reminded to look inside, sing what I find, and sit in grace for the open space to fill.


* image courtesy of http://www.my-wall-decal.com/

Sun shining truth


San Agustinillo dogs

The sun shining its light

through the stormy dark shelf of clouds

speaks the truth.

The light and dark mingle today. Mixed energies, from the people I’m connecting with to the way my computer is behaving. On this gray day, the ray of sunshine that wrote on the ground as I looked out the window hinted of spring. In that moment, I recognized the light as the truth and the dark an illusion that burns away.

what i pass is again seeable, touchable, feel-able



“The truth is that blurring by something is not the same as experiencing it.” 

~Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo consistently inspires me!

Earlier this week in his writing about “At the Pace of What is Real”, he spoke to me about our capacity to feel what is before us. The most important thing that my journey with cancer did for me was further awaken me to the breadth of my emotional being. Through fear and uncertainty, emotions because larger than life – and then I was able to see them. Before it was easy to just move past them, like blurred landscape while moving on a train.

“So, no matter how many wonderful opportunities come my way, no matter the importance placed on these things by others who have my best interests at heart, I must somehow find a way to slow down the train until what I pass by is again seeable, touchable, feel-able.” 

~Mark Nepo


As long as we sing



“As long as we sing, the pain of the world cannot claim our lives.” ~Mark Nepo

This quote brought to mind some of the anger, disappointment, frustration, just plain ugliness that has flowed into and out of my life. I realize how important it is for me to put their essence on the page – so I can see them, no longer deny or resist or judge them, and display and honor their place in the experience of my life. {A couple of my poems that reflect my pain inlcude Into the Vortex and The Struggle.}

Giving voice, speaking my truth, singing my special song into the world – this requires that I have the words for the song, that I hear my own voice, that I listen to it, open to what it might be telling me, without judging it as good or bad, rather accepting it as an expression of creative energy that moves through me. {This poem reflects the song that came to me shortly after writing Into the Vortex: Invited.}

* The link to this photo provided by google images is broken. Originally, it was on picssr.com



Cure Forward


cure forward.JPG

I just discovered this blog sitting in my draft folder that I had intended to share months ago when I received an email  from a  three-time cancer survivor and ambassador for Cure Forward, a new platform that is helping cancer patients understand and access precision medicine. As a cancer survivor, I was asked to write an open letter on my blog to someone recently diagnosed with cancer providing any advice or support I’d want to share with them.

So, this post is to Beth, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of September and is currently recovering from a mastectomy and undergoing chemotherapy. Her experience, as with many others I’ve encountered since my diagnosis, took me back to my own surgeries and recovery.

My advice is 1) take the time you need to heal, 2) welcome all the feelings that show up, explore them, write about them, paint them out, whatever form of creative expression works for you, and 3) ask for and open to the help of others – give them the gift of giving.

With love, Vicki

Yoga Dancers


My last yoga practice on the Winter Soltice with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Holden Cancer Center Gentle Yoga Group, led by Lisa DeShano, was full of flow and grace. Lisa encouraged us to listen to our bodies and move in ways that felt right to us. As we gently moved in the glow of a room lit by candlelight, we were like flowers dancing in the moonlight, each of us inspired by the gentle breeze of our hearts.

I thought I would repost this poem I wrote earlier this year, as it seems fitting:


By Vicki L. Flaherty


The flowerbud


a slow


filled with 


in possibility

its joyful dance


and believes

flowerbud opening2

Like human fish


courtesy of wallpaperscraft.com

Today’s post in The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo spoke to me today; it left me feeling at peace and open to swimming with life today:

“…the world in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon, only experienced…life in all its complexity and wonder is complete as it is – everchanging and vital, but never perfectible…accepting that the world can do quite fine without us allows us to put down the burden of being corrective heroes and simple concentrate on absorbing the journey of being alive…like human fish we are asked to experience meaning in the life that moves through the gill that is our heart. Ultimately, we are small living things awakened in the stream, not gods who carve our rivers. We cannot eliminate hunger, but we can feed each other. We cannot eliminate loneliness, but we can hold each other. We cannot eliminate pain, but we can live a life of compassion…”

He offers a meditation:

  • Sit quietly and simply let your heart breathe without focus.
  • Try not to think and also try not to not think.
  • Exhale your pressures and arrive where you are.
  • Breathe deeply, and accept the jewel and grit of this moment.