A Million Little Things

I’m a sucker for the emotional television dramas -( hello This Is Us and Downton Abbey!) Do any of you watch the show A Million Little Things? I do, and in episode 7 of season 4 there was one scene that felt like it was written just for me.


Can’t Take the Insecurities Out of the Girl

In this scene two characters are discussing how one of them recently met a woman he would like to ask on a date, but she did not know he uses a wheelchair because they met when they were both in a parking lot and sitting in their cars. The guy is nervous because he doesn’t know how to tell this woman that he is in a chair. He feels he must explain it to her so she can be prepared.

Let me tell you, I feel like I lived this scene in real life. Let me explain: At the beginning of the school year, I met another mom at the bus drop off. Of course, because of all things pandemic related, we were wearing our masks. Over the next few weeks of hanging out together every morning watching our kids get on the bus, we exchanged numbers and decided it would be fun to get together for coffee and chat elsewhere besides the cold of the bus stop.

That day, as soon as I left the bus stop, the thoughts started pinballing through my brain like well..a pinball. I thought “I met this mom while I was wearing a mask. She has no idea that I have a cleft. What is her reaction going to be? What will I say? Will I have to endure the inevitable look to my nose and mouth and then further endure the quick look away?”.


A Million Miles an Hour

My brain was going a million miles per hour thinking out all the awful situations that could occur, and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t think any further than my immediate reaction – which was..can you guess? Fear. I was feeling afraid of being rejected by this nice woman who I genuinely liked chatting with every morning. I was feeling anxious because before this woman, I haven’t met anyone new that couldn’t at least see what I looked like when they met me. Just the thought of “unveiling” myself was almost too much.

I may be 44 now, but all those insecurities that were there as a young girl born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate never really go away. They came roaring back with a vengeance. So much so that I contemplated trying to cancel our yet to be scheduled coffee hang out before it even was on the books.


A Million Little Anxieties

Fast forward to me watching this particular episode of A Million Little Things, and this scene comes on. It was just the wake up call I needed. As the main character is talking out his thoughts of should I call her and tell her that I am in a wheelchair”, the other character in the scene dropped some knowledge. He said “Sure, you can do that. While you’re at it do you want to tell her others things like your credit score?” It made me laugh out loud, not just because the actor’s delivery of that line was perfectly dead-pan, but because of how silly it would be if the guy really did that! The actor continued… “She liked you for you. And if the chair changes that, then it is her loss, not yours.”

The point that this scene so perfectly makes is that nothing other than who you are on the inside should determine whether or not someone likes you.


You Are More Than What Is On The Outside

So the next time you are feeling nervous, fearful, or anxious about meeting someone new, or going into a new situation, remember this –  nothing about your physical appearance needs to be explained away. Who you are is more than your physical appearance.  Who you are is a combination of a million little things. And if someone doesn’t take the time to get to know you just because of what they see on the outside, it is their loss, not yours.

~Vickie


Pageant Dream: The Spirit of Miss Teen

Would you believe me if I told you that a young girl who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate entered herself into a pageant and actually won an award? Well, back in August of 1993 at the age of 15, that’s exactly what I did!

Pageant Photo Flashback..

My mother found some old photos recently and sent them my way. This one not only surprised me, but brought back so many emotions and thoughts about that time. The main thought being “how did I ever feel so confident to do this at such a young age?”

From The Outside In..

Looking back, I can pinpoint one major factor in how I became confident enough to not only enter this pageant, but to try so many other things throughout my life that I may have otherwise been too afraid to because of feeling fearful of how others may look at me, react to me, or what they may say to me.

I found activities that I enjoyed and could hone and become proficient in. Being able to develop skills and talents that had absolutely nothing to do with how I looked gave me the boost of confidence that I needed. The first and foremost being piano. I started playing piano at age 6. From that age, all the way through high school, I took lessons. I performed at recitals, talent shows, and even at the Miss Teen of Oregon pageant where this picture was taken.

They Can’t Take That Away..

Learning piano and becoming proficient left no room for anyone’s opinion on my ability. Whereas beauty is subjective and as they say “in the eye of the beholder”, my musical ability was not up for debate. I didn’t have to try to explain it away or justify that I could play. The fact was that I could.

I had something that I could do and that I was proud of. I could receive praise for my ability, which had nothing to do with my outward appearance. It was liberating.

Aristotle Was Right..

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Aristotle was on to something with these words.   It is so easy to look at someone as separate parts. How they look, how they sound, how they dress, etc. However, they can become so much more because of how those parts of put together. Although my talent for piano is a part of who I am, the effect it had on my ability to see my worth was life changing. I knew from the inside out that I was more than my parts, because when put all together I am a person worthy of love, respect, and have value and gifts to share just like anyone else. And so are you.

It’s Your Turn..

So now it’s your turn. Look back and reminisce on all that you are. Celebrate not only the fact that you have overcome challenges, but celebrate what you enjoy and have a talent for. You are worthy of this adoration. The gifts you have are unique to you because there is no one else like you on this Earth.

~Vickie



Skunked: It’s as Awful as You’d Imagine.

If you saw my social media post last week, you know that my family adopted a new dog into our family! He’s a big (100 pound), lovable (won’t stop with the face licks), funny (lays on his back 50 % of the time just waiting for someone to walk by to give him a belly rub), and as we found out the other night, a dedicated protector. Turns out, that when given the opportunity to protect his new found family from an intruding skunk in the back yard, our lovely Apollo would not back down! And so, as you probably guessed, he got skunked!

Never Been Skunked Before

I’ve had dogs all my life, but this was a new experience for me. If you and your dog haven’t had the pleasure, it is as awful as you would imagine. We made the mistake of letting him in the house, so it wasn’t just a smelly dog, but a smelly house as well. In our defense, this event did take place at 3AM. So in our tired, sleepy stupor, we didn’t quite realize what had happened to him until it was too late,. He attempted to get the skunk spray off by rubbing his body and face on every surface he could find.

Let’s just say, it was a VERY LONG day. Lots of cleaning, lots of bathing, lots of telling our daughter “Don’t hug the dog!”, lots of saying out loud “Ugh, everything stinks!”.

Pepe’ Le Pew is a Punk

You can be moving easily along, putting one foot in front of the other going about our business, and then BAM! You get Pepe’ Le Pewed! With a few days reprieve from Skunkageddon, this entire experience has been a good reminder that when life throws a wrench in your plans, and the unexpected happens, you have two choices. Resign or Rise.

Skunks Show Up When You Least Expect It

Going through my early years living with a cleft there were plenty of times that things did not go entirely as planned. For example, my mother has told me a story about the second surgery I ever had. To avoid an additional procedure, my surgeon attempted to close both of my lip clefts in one surgery. It was successful, but during the healing process one side reopened, and I had to have the additional surgery anyway. It was not at all what either the surgeon or my parents wanted or expected to happen. Both parties were understandably upset at the result, knowing that they now had to send a not yet 6 month old back into surgery so soon. They had been skunked.

My parents had to do the hard work and prepare both themselves and me for the second unplanned surgery. My surgeon had to put aside the failure of the first attempt and focus all of his efforts on this next procedure. Both sides chose not to dwell on to the failure, but instead accept what had happened, and work with what they had to create the best result possible for me.

Resign Or Rise

We all have a choice in how we react to the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can resign and think we have no power to improve our situation and rail against the unfairness of it all, or we can rise and look for workable solutions. The choice is always ours.

It All Works Out In The End

The surgery to close the reopened cleft was successful and there were no more unforeseen issues during the healing of my lip. Either way the surgery was going to have to happen, but because my parents accepted, not rejected, the initial failure, they avoided getting stuck in cycle of blame, frustration, and sadness. Therefore they were able to work through the situation and ultimately provide me with the steadfast support and care that I needed.

Skunked No More

When have you been confronted with your own “skunkageddon”, and had to make the decision to rise instead of resign? Whenever we do, we are actively building up our resilience muscles. Remember, resilience is forged through adversity. Confidence comes from taking action, not the other way around. So be brave. Choose to rise and face your challenges. You will be stronger for it.

~Vickie


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Whom Do You Love First?


Yesterday was my 12-year wedding anniversary. 12 years! My husband and I are at the point now where we have to actually stop and ask ourselves…”Just how many years has it been?” Sometimes it feels like it was just a few years ago that we exchanged vows, and other times, well, it feels like waaayyyy longer. Any other members of long-term partnerships know what I’m talking about?! All jokes aside, my husband and I are a great match, with love and respect at the core of our relationship.

Looking for love in all the wrong places..


There were many years growing up however, that I never thought I would find anyone who would love me. Being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate certainly made the usual “standards of beauty” that society values feel way out of reach.  It was a long struggle to get to the point of thinking of myself as “pretty” or “beautiful”, but I do now.

However, it was not anyone outside of myself that got me there. Let me tell you there were times in my late teens and early 20s when I was actively seeking validation and recognition of my physical beauty from everyone else except me. Looking back, I am incredibly lucky that there were no serious ramifications from my desperate search because I was taking risks with myself that I never should have.

We can get our self-image so twisted up in other people that it can become almost impossible to unravel the tangles. It usually takes something big happening to shake us awake and recognize that our behavior is destructive and doing just the opposite of what we want it too.

Who holds the keys?


Low self esteem and low self-worth can be so dangerous because it can lead us down such a reckless path. With even just the hint of desire or validation of my beauty from someone, I was ready to hand over the keys to my confidence, all in the hopes of having just one person love me.

Shaken up but not broken down..


My jarring moment came in 2004 with the illness and eventual death of my father. That event late in 2004 shook me and made me start to take a hard look at my actions and knowing deep down that I needed to change my behavior. I decided I was no longer going to let anyone else dictate how I would feel about myself. I stopped looking at my physical appearance as the only indicator of my value as a person, and stopped letting other people’s desire to use my body be the only means of measuring my worth.

I’m not saying that this change happened over night. Having a facial birth defect made most emotional challenges harder to work through, but it did happen. I had to make a conscious effort to see all of my other attributes just as, if not more so, important than my physical ones.

Resilience List


Want to know one tool I used? I made a list in a journal of all the things that I loved to do and things I had accomplished so far in my life. When you feel low or down, try this exercise. Make a list of all the activities you enjoy and things you have accomplished in your life so far. Trust me, once you get over the initial resistance of writing something nice about yourself, it will start to flow. List anything and everything you enjoy, and what you are proud of yourself for doing. Still stuck? Ask a trusted family member or friend to help you. Let them know that you are making yourself a “resilience list” to give you a boost when you need it.

Self-love begins within..


See your value through your own eyes, and do not let the opinions and desires of others (or society for that matter) dictate how you determine your worth. You hold the power to lift yourself up when you feel down. Be your own best friend. Remember, you are a complete and wonderful beautiful human being just as you are.  

All my best.

~Vickie


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Second Chances: Are you vulnerable enough?

I’ve been thinking a lot about second chances lately. Reflecting on the times I have been given the option of a “do over”. To try again at something that didn’t work out the first time. The times in which I’ve given someone else the opportunity to make amends.  Seeing as it is also Father’s Day, I am thinking about my own father and the second chance he was vulnerable enough to take.

Third Time’s the Charm..

I am the product of my father’s third marriage. He had a brief marriage when he was very young which ended just about as quickly as it began. He then settled down and married another woman years later. From the stories I have heard it was not the best of unions with many tumultuous times. That marriage resulted in four children, and years later, another divorce.

I mention all of this because it gives a bit of context, but also demonstrates the overall messiness of life. No matter how clear the intentions, most of the time there is a lot of mess. It can be easy for someone who had the type of experience my father did (regarding romantic relationships), to just say “to hell with it” and never allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to try again.

One More Try..

However, he chose to keep trying. As time went on, my father met my mother, and that, as they say, was that. They fell in love, got married, and then had me. He was given a second chance (or some may say a second, second chance) and gave himself permission to be vulnerable enough to open his heart to my mother. They went on to spend more than 25 years together, and even after his death in 2004, his lesson of daring to be vulnerable lives on.

Shared Experience..

I cannot speak to the relationship men have with being vulnerable, but I suppose it is not much different from my own. Developing a tough outer shell to protect myself from bullying and rejection due to my cleft made me resist being vulnerable with others. Years of conditioning made me equate being vulnerable with being hurt.

Vulnerability is Good..

As I get older, I find myself thinking more and more about my father’s experience. I am trying to follow his lead and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to take a second chance when offered and extend one to someone else when they need it. It is my hope to pass down the knowledge to my daughter that vulnerability is not a weakness, but a strength to develop.

Don’t Let Life Pass You By..

Vulnerability is hard. It certainly is not for the faint of heart, and it takes lots of practice. But take a cue from my dad. Deem yourself worth enough to give yourself a second chance. Because if you don’t, just think what you might miss out on.

~Vickie


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