All I Need Today

Today is a great day to make a personal declaration of independence. After all, I have one of a set of 2 new eyes, thanks to cataract surgery. Wouldn’t you know it, yesterday I ventured out for a walk without wearing the doctor-recommended sunglasses and a gnat flew into my operated eye. I stayed calm and came in the house and looked into the mirror. There it was, a black gnat. I got some artificial tears and put a few drops in and blinked. The gnat moved from left to right and then lower and finally I couldn’t see it anymore. Whew. No need for concern. I just need to put the sunglasses on when I go out.

Today I am asking myself what I need. The answers are quick and simple. I need to trust myself more and to show myself more mercy. I have read all the books and listened to all of the teachers. Whadyya know? The same wisdom from outside is also inside. The only problem is forgetfulness.

This is why I was fascinated by the teachings of Vernon Howard. He knew this; he lived it. And all he did for us was to yell at us to wake up! His teachings have taken deep root in my psyche. I no longer listen to his recordings or read his books. I simply don’t have to. I can now yell at myself to wake up.

Theo came into my life at the perfect time. He is a teacher with no teachings. For that I feel immense gratitude. Now I know I am also free of teachings. I am free to trust myself. I was always free to do it. I just didn’t accept my own perfect inner knowing.

If you are wondering what my own perfect inner knowing is, I would not venture to explain it to you. Why? Because nothing that can be explained is worth a sou.

Vicki Woodyard

Raining all the time now….

So it’s raining all the time now. I worked in two brief walks between showers, but now there is thunder. I need to collect my neighbor’s mail, but not until the next storm passes.

Leonard Cohen wrote about lamenting in the right way. I know what he meant. I have made lamenting in the right way my life’s work. I know it helps people get through various and sundry dark nights of the soul. I can’t tell you why; maybe you have some ideas to share about that.

I was listening to a Patch Adams talk on YouTube in which he rails against the nuclear family. I so agree! Bob told me there was no work for him at home and work was his priority. So I gave up extended family, and not happily. Since the loss of my child and my husband’s death, Rob and I are left very much alone here. Rob had to be my caregiver this week. I know how hard that is. Caregivers worry. I took him out for dinner last night.

We thought the restaurant was closed until dinner time, but a lone server poked her head out and offered to take care of us. When I told her I would like a fried chicken sandwich, she said, “I can make that happen.” I struck up a conversation with her and she was immediately involved. “I just had cataract surgery,” I told her.

“Oh, my dad and sister had that done,” she said. Her name is Elizabeth and she made us feel for a moment like we had family everywhere. I just keep forgetting that. Some of you are like family for me. After all, I have been dishing out my emotional life in essay form for many years. I will close with the quote from Leonard Cohen. He is speaking of song, but that is okay. My song just happens in paragraphs. I found this quote on

“If the song is authentically an expression of the person’s suffering, then the suffering is transcended and you don’t get the whine, you don’t get the complaint, even though it may be all about a whine and a complaint. It’s experienced as relief, as comfort, as pleasure.” ~ Leonard Cohen

Vicki Woodyard

I’ve Seen Too Much!

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve seen too much. Way too much. It happened like this. On Wednesday I got my first cataract removed and on Thursday I had to see the doctor in his office. As he told me before surgery, we see you a day, a week and a month after surgery. Sure enough.

So the technician spoke in broken English. She seemed to want me to confirm that I was there to get a contact lens taken out of my eye. “No,” I said, “I am here because I had cataract surgery yesterday.” She neither confirmed nor denied that, but began to explain the rather complicated procedure of “the putting in of the eye drops.” Instead of saying the names of the drops, they go by the colors of the tops on the wee little bottles. So I have pink tops, gray tops, yellow tops and…I forget the fourth color. These are to be put in the eye around meal time and bed time. Rather a full-job if you ask me. But I digress.

I read the eye chart and had my pressure taken and then the doctor came in. The first thing he did was, are you ready for this….take a contact out of my eye with a tweezer!

“See that mark I made above your eye with the pencil yesterday before surgery?” He asked me, conversationally.

I had made an effort to wash it off, but it remained persistently there. “Well,” he said, as if he was not a pre-eminent eye surgeon, “I scratched your eye with the pencil. I didn’t want it to irritate you, so I put a contact lens over it.” That seemed to be the end of the matter for him. I, however, write jokes, and will never be content with passing up such a gold mine.

He had been warning me about not scratching the operated eye after such delicate laser surgery.(To even turn the laser on costs well over thirteen hundred dollars, he had told me on the pre-op visit). He didn’t tell me that he couldn’t operate a number 2 pencil skillfully.

After I got home, I came up with the perfect one-liner response to him. “So I shouldn’t do anything that might scratch the eyeball myself. Instead, I should rely on a skilled professional such as yourself to do it for me!” Because, folks, that is exactly what happened.

The tag end of this story, which I called “I’ve Seen Too Much” happened in the parking lot of my Public Supermarket. Rob had run in to give them my latest prescription for eyedrops. I pulled out my purse mirror that has a magnifying side and gave myself a look. Oh. My. God. That is me????

Words cannot describe what I saw. There was an old lady looking out at me. Her eye bags had bags and her nose and cheeks were scrawled in red ink. That is what it looked like to me. Never mind that the eye doctor had penciled in something on my eyeball that shouldn’t have been there. He at least could cover that up with a temporary contact. I have to wear this face out into the world. All I can do is laugh and cry about it all again, as Leonard Cohen wrote so well. That line applies to everything, dear Leonard. In my head I am already shopping for a new pair of glasses, ones that will make me see less, not more, of myself. Is that possible? Maybe only if he uses a box of crayons the next time. I would use a color called “Youthful.” One can dream….

Vicki Woodyard


I was born a perfectionist. No one plans on this; it is simply a genetic thing. It didn’t help that I was the eldest child and that my grandmother helped to toilet train me. At nine months, I had it down. I also spoke my first sentence at 9 months. My grandparents raised English bulldogs and one named Shine had disappeared. Apparently I knew this, because I said, “Shine gone!”

According to my parents, I called the kitchen the “kitchroom,” which made perfect sense to me. And one day on the toilet, I told my mother “My stomach has a headache.”

I also had an imaginary friend that I called “Bop Boobin.” I don’t remember him, but I was told I had many one-sided conversations with him.

Fast-forward to today. I am having cataract surgery on Wednesday. True to form, I am getting everything done ahead of time. We will not run out of groceries or anything essential. My genes have seen to that.

The true things about me run very deep, as they do in all of us. I write because I breathe. It is that easy for me. I know what to write about and when. I know people to an amazing degree, which causes me to mostly stay away from them. You see, I was also born an introvert and I know not to waste my energy in pretense. It’s all I can do to stay honest. Honesty is also one of my rather distressing virtues. I have learned to tone it down. Otherwise, hordes of people would be angry with me. I see everything, whether I want to or not.

I used to think my writing was good enough for me to sell a considerable number of books. I was definitely wrong about that. I only sell to people that find me through the grapevine, which is a very mysterious thing.

I am also a born loner. I wish to have lots of friends, but I truly am not accommodating enough to put up with people on a regular basis. I much prefer writing and contemplating the essential truths of life. There is no free will and there is no free lunch. God is not recognizable. If He were, I would have drawn a picture of him. Then again, I am a terrible artist.

I make people laugh. When I was 21, I had a benign nodule removed from my breast. In those days, they told people that if they found that the frozen biopsy was malignant, they would remove the entire breast then! Lucky for me, I woke up with both breasts intact and just as small as ever. My mother tells the story of how an intern came in and asked me if I could gauge the size of the growth and I said it was about the size of a walnut. To which my mother replied in an aside to me, “Your whole breast is the size of a walnut!”

Yep, I know how to make people laugh. As I lay in the hospital bed, my mother’s friend popped in for a visit. I didn’t know what to say, so I looked at a brown spot on the ugly pale green wall and said, “I guess that’s where the shit hit the fan.” And I write that way to this day. If you like hearing from perfectionistic loners, I’m your gal.

Vicki Woodyard

Uncomfortable Choices….Sky and Trees

Make Uncomfortable Choices

“Make uncomfortable choices,” I heard a dancer auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance say that just now. He was advising his students to get outside of their comfort zone in order to create something new.

Wow. That woke me up!

Life is nothing but uncomfortable choices, not made by us but by the Universe on our behalf. I would not have chosen to lose a child and spouse. To say that made me uncomfortable is the understatement of my life. But once the universe put me on that course, everything I did became uncomfortable.

Oh, I sought refuge in conformity, but it had no use for me. I was destined for an uncomfortable life. So I write in order to make people feel something so deep they can hardly bear it. People weep over my words because I pull no punches. I had none pulled with me. God got me by the short hairs of my neck and yelled, “Write!”

I can no longer thumb through mementoes of a life gone wrong. I can no longer cry easily at sad movies. Something has caused such a deep shift in me that I have fallen off the edge of enlightenment and into the Canyon of Comfort.

Don Theo works his magic on me in an hour. He strips the grief off and disposes of it completely. I have no questions for him and he has none for me. Just this meeting between people who are able to accept that life and death are forces totally beyond the ego’s control. Am I ready to be choiceless so I can be reborn?

Can I throw out the words I used to cajole people in making people think I knew something in order to be something? Can I discard the image in order to be the essence? Can I throw away my crutches and walk?

Don Theo is not concerned with this. He sees me flying, more than likely. There are no comfortable choices to make. There are no guarantees. There is nothing to attain. It is all down the drain. I think I see a rainbow hovering over the garbage heap that used to be my life. I think I see an end to the suffering. I have seen beyond the place where things are happening. I only thought they did.

I need to share one special memory with you. As my little girl was put into the car for her last trip to the children’s hospital where she died, we asked if she wanted to lie down in the back seat. “No,” she said, “I want to sit up front where I can see the sky and the trees.” And so she did. And so she did.

Vicki Woodyard

Announcement: You Don’t Know

Announcement: You Don’t Know

Some of you know exactly what the announcement means. In fact, you are either smiling in confirmation or doing the dance of joy.

Others have already begun to argue. “What do you mean, I don’t know? I know I owe money. I know I am suffering. I know I feel alone. I know those things!”

And some say, “I admit I don’t know, but I NEED to know. TELL ME!” And these fear-charged statements flung into the void will only lead you into a dead end.

What to do?

There is no telling.

Once you get stopped in your tracks, stay there. Remain with the unknowing that you consciously are.

Knowing is so last week.

Vicki Woodyard

Essence never changes….

I woke up this morning remembering that I have to start the eyedrops today since I am having cataract surgery on Wednesday. I worry about getting the drops in correctly, but such is life. I have already read the Sunday paper and will get my hair cut this morning. I love being able to have it done on Sunday. I can go to the deli next door and have a bite to eat and bring something home to Rob. He will be in charge of me during my recuperation, which I hear isn’t long at all.

Having time to spare before leaving, I sit in my meditation chair quietly. I think of how things were almost 40 years ago when we lived on Montego Bay Drive. I was slender with dark hair. Now I am roughly the same size but now my hair is silver.

In 2018 it will have been 40 years since we lived there and my little girl died. Such a devastating period of my life, one that would have deep consequences for all of us. Now it seems like a dream, as my grandmother said it would. (She had lost 2 boys at the age of 2. Not twins, in different years.) I remember her singing mournful songs as she rocked me to sleep. Now I understand why her voice had such a sad quality.)

I have given my interests over to truth, but I would have done that even if my child had lived. I find nothing as interesting. Love grows out of truth; that is the right order of things. Without truth, love can be harmful to people in surprising ways.

I hope you will resonate with the things that I write. I have fallen from grace so many times, but there is never a time when grace will let you down. Gratitude for grace eases so many things in life that would otherwise continue to sting.

Our essence never changes. Who you are born to be is who you will always be. The personality, if you are lucky, will soften with age and wisdom. At least that is what I hope for.

Time to get out into the world. See ya later.

Vicki Woodyard