March 31st, 2018: My Wedding Vows

Dear World,

Today I married myself! These are the vows I made to myself.

“I am Vail Varone.

“My life with myself, so far, has been a life full of privilege, love, and miracles but also a life of tribulations, mistakes, and defeats. After reflecting on my life and relationship with myself, I have decided to make the greatest of all commitments and get married. Today, I am marrying myself. I am proclaiming to myself and the ones I love that I love Vail Varone.

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Self-Declaration 101

I am Vail Varone. These four powerful words have changed my life.

A little less than four years ago I was singing in a voice lesson. I was feeling gross and embarrassed, as usual. Every time I made a sound I didn’t like (which was almost all the sounds I made back then) I’d apologize to my teacher. Each time, she’d assure me that it was okay, but I never truly felt like it was! That day was different because when I apologized she took a new approach. She abruptly stopped playing piano, looked at me, and deadpanned, “but you are Vail Varone!” I looked back at her wondering, why is this lady telling acting like she’s never heard my name before? She explained that she was reminding me of something I had long forgotten, my worth.

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My Solo Honeymoon

The machine pulsed and beeped. To stop it, I quickly grabbed and shoved £100 into my wallet. I starkly glanced back twice over both shoulders. I should have felt relieved to see no one there with a knife or anything. But I was too paranoid to relax. My Heart tried to reason with me. She begged for me to stop freaking out.

“You’re in an airport! The only one who’s gonna hurt you is you.” she cried. “And please calm down, you figured out how to get this far.”

“Okay, whatever, you’re right,” I muttered. When it came to listening to my Heart I was a total beginner. Still, she didn’t seem to have much mercy

It took a series of deep breaths for me to calm down. Once I did, I threw my backpack over my shoulders and headed for the exit. I approached the sliding glass doors. Through them, I saw what seemed like hundreds of thousands of cars. Some skated past while others were stacked alongside the curb. Hundreds of people crowded the walkways and street hugging, crying, laughing, shaking hands, struggling to carry luggage.

“Don’t even think about feeling lonely, honey.”

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December 9th, 2018: Dear John Lennon

Dear John Lennon,

As of yesterday, it’s been 38 years since you prematurely left this world. Although it has been so long – before I was even born – if I may speak for the world, we still feel your absence.

When I was a little kid, I had a babysitter who I adored. She was a quirky artist with so much peace and imagination in her soul. She would take my sister and me on adventures across town or she’d bring the adventures to us in her cartoon monster bag. Every moment with her was a good moment. Possibly my favorite moment was when she introduced me to you.

She was the first music lover I ever met. As we drove from playground to playground she’d blast her iPod on shuffle and educate us about good music. Naturally, it was inevitable that your name came up. You may laugh, but the first time I ever heard you sing, you were proclaiming that you were “The Walrus.”

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December 2nd, 2018: The Magically Beautiful Time

Dear World,

It’s finally December!

I am super, duper ready for this month and I hope you are too! For me, December is such a magically beautiful time. We’re giving to others, spending more time together, and generally, there’s just more focus on appreciating all that we have.

And as if it couldn’t get any better… oh it does! The best part about December is even when it ends the fun doesn’t. January 1st rolls around and we are welcomed into the new year with cheers and laughter.

There is just something so human about the excitement surrounding new beginnings. New Year’s is no exception. *Cue Gabriella and Troy singing “The Start of Something New”*

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November 26th, 2018: Head and Heart, Contrary Historians

Dear World,

One of my favorite novels of all time is the young adult classic, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Leo Borlock tells the story of his junior year of high school. It inevitably turns into the story of his first love with the new, formerly homeschooled sophomore who calls herself, “Stargirl.”

It’s a beautiful tale of nonconformity and kindness. It’s the first book I can remember crying over. I have learned some of my most cherished lessons from Leo and Stargirl’s time together. The ruthless backlash from Mica High that followed in some ways shaped me.

Once I read that Madonna owns Frida Kahlo’s painting, My Birth. She uses it to tell who she can be friends with. She apparently said, “If somebody doesn’t like this painting, then I know they can’t be my friend.”

Stargirl is my My Birth painting.

I’ve come back to Stargirl almost a dozen times in the past few months. I do read it cover to cover but afterward, I am continually seeking a chapter that follows an intense encounter of bullying. It begins,

“This was the start of a period that blurs as I try to recall it. Incidents seem to cascade and merge. Events become feelings, feelings become events. Head and heart are contrary historians. “

Before I started reading Stargirl again as an adult, I had been virtually unaware of how blurry an important period of my life is too. As the presence of my own period of cascading and merging became clearer, the period itself became blurrier. Painfully, I squinted closer at a specific memory. 

It was a while ago. I had done something profoundly stupid, entirely my fault. Though I could have prevented it then and there I had no idea how to. The consequences were severe but at first uncertain. During this initial period of uncertainty, someone who I hoped would offer some comfort instead shocked me with their twisted blessing.

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November 18th, 2018: Forgot to Forgive

Dear World,

Originally for this week’s letter, I wrote about modern art and tied it all up with a conversation I had at the library and a glimmering Christmas ribbon

Then in the middle of a passionate tangent about Kandinsky’s Murnau Street with Women, I said, “nope.”

It’s not like I hadn’t been enjoying what I was writing. I didn’t dislike it either. I just felt guilty for caring so deeply about these women and their colorful town. Why should my readers care what I’m saying about some old painting? I imagined my biggest fans, Grandma and Grandpa, trying not to doze off at the mention of art history.

So I tossed it.

Instead, I gazed in the mirror, eye to eye with my guilt. Where did you come from?

Oh, my least favorite word,

Pretentious.

Oh, I hate it so much. I forgot how much I hate it.

That awful word and I became acquainted before my senior year of high school as I fell in love with indie music and “deep” books written by dead white guys.

This prompted my friends and family to “joke” with me about my preferences being pretentious. I went along with it and at first, it felt harmless. I enjoyed my new interests, what was wrong with that? I even began to “joke” about it myself. Until I began “ironically” wearing pretentious as some badge of honor.

Yeah, it didn’t take too long for that “ironically” part to disappear.

Continue reading “November 18th, 2018: Forgot to Forgive”

November 11th, 2018: I am Thankful

Dear World, 

I’ve been tied up in stress and planning and self-centeredness. I’ve been telling myself it’s because I am moving to Flagstaff in January. Maybe it is. 

Stress is inevitable, especially in big life changes. But I’ve been so concerned with micromanaging everything. Everything has to be planned and perfect and if it isn’t I’m going to shrivel up and die, right?

Wrong.

So this week I am challenging myself to be quieter, to open up and receive whatever the Universe has in store for me. I’m going to spend less time thinking about myself.

It’s scary but also humbling to surrender to the transition and insecurities.

Each day this week I will be spending time before bed in a silent meditation, reflecting on eleven things I’m thankful for.

So today in my silence, I am thankful

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I Am Adventure #1: My Favorite Word

Welcome, welcome, welcome to your first ever I Am Adventure!

I present to you my favorite word,

Yes!

I love yes for many, many reasons but I’ll keep it simple: yes is a welcome to a new opportunity.

Now I’m not here to preach about saying yes to every single invitation or always taking on extra projects. To that, I say “no!” – unless you actually want to do those things, of course.

I’m here to preach to you about saying yes to yourself.

So here’s your adventure in three simple steps.

  1. Cut out small papers or grabs some sticky notes
  2. Write yes (or your favorite word that welcomes new possibilities) on all of them
  3. Hang them up all over! Your bedroom, the mirror, above the kitchen sink, on the fridge, your cat’s head, wherever you will see it throughout your routine.

Optional: Everytime you see a yes, say it out loud (screaming, singing, and belching are also acceptable.)

So let’s get yes-ing my friendos.

November 4th, 2018: The Cutest Optimist

Dear World,

When I was a kid I used to put immense pressure on myself. I spent all of my time fixating on doing things perfectly, whether it was a school assignment, a storyline of Barbie’s next adventure, or a drawing, if I couldn’t do it perfectly, then there was no point in doing it at all.

I can recall many times erasing and carefully rewriting my name again on my homework until it pleased me. After a while, if I couldn’t get it perfect, I’d slap my wrists until my hands would shake. “Now there’s no way I could get it perfect.”

Also as a kid, I was fortunate to have a mom who was pretty fashion conscious. She worked at a kid’s clothing store for most of my childhood because of this, having perfectly coordinated outfits became a core part of my personality. But there were times when I’d forget my matching earrings or I’d wear the wrong socks. Upon realizing this I’d be so enraged with myself. In my mind, the only option I had was to self-sabotage. I’d frizz my hair into a bird’s nest or purposely spill food on my shirt and call it all an accident.

As if it hadn’t been so already, I took my perfectionism to a ruthless new level.

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October 28th, 2018: “Little By Little”

Dear World,

Have you ever woken up to a nearly perfect day?

One of those days where the sunshine seeps through your window in a gentle yet powerful way. You open your eyes as if for the first time. Then, with a smile, the new day greets you. She whispers, “I’m the new day. I’m here and ready for you with open arms.” In lieu of a response, you spring out of bed to bring the new day in for a long embrace. You let go feeling assured that you’re ready for what she has in store.

Yeah, those days are awesome. I had one of them yesterday.

After embracing the new day. I immediately hit the yoga matt pumped and ready for Day 21 of Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Revolution. My body trembled as I channeled my inner physical and emotional strength. Afterward, I grooved through my routine to Two Door Cinema Club.

“If I don’t know,

The wind will carry me.

So just hold tight”

– Sun, Two Door Cinema Club

In the midst of the dance party, I retrieved my clean laundry from the dryer for the final encore of bed-making. Finally done, I plopped down at my desk in front of the computer ready to battle the blank doc.

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October 13th, 2018: Arcosanti, Arizona

Dear World,

Have you ever heard of Paolo Soleri? Yeah, neither have I. Let’s learn together.

Once upon a 1919, an Italian baby named, Paolo Soleri, was born. This former baby grew up to become a world-renowned architect. Not just any architect, an architect with a vision.

His career took off when he came to Arizona in 1946 to study at Taliesin West under the architectural legend, Frank Lloyd Wright. It was during that time that he fell in love with the desert landscape and gained prominence as an architect in the US.

Inevitably, he and his wife returned to Italy where he continued to design structures like bridges. It was also during this time that he explored a new interest in ceramic and bronze bell making – a tradition that is still held up today.

In 1956 he and his family settled for good in Scottsdale, Arizona where Soleri dedicated his life to working on an urban structure he called, Arcosanti.

So what’s dat? 

Continue reading “October 13th, 2018: Arcosanti, Arizona”

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