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It’s hard to believe that we are already in February of 2015 and that this is only the first post of the year! My intentions were clearly as impatient as they were unrealistic when I hilariously (and maybe foolishly) thought that by taking the kids on an epic adventure to NZ,  it would give me boundless opportunity to not only write, but so too to really hit the ground running at the start of the year. Lesson number one: let go of all expectations that don’t align with your capacity to follow through.

Today’s and this year’s starting post is the second of what has been an incredible life lesson that I believe so very deeply needed to be experienced in order for the next chapter of life to have the flow, grace and opportunity that I would like to invite in.  It’s written with the same raw and rich transparency that I initially began the blog with nearly 3 years ago and I hope sets the tone for what you will soon see featured on the new Maybe McQueen site as the section known as the Shareportfolio, to be launched in March this year.

Before you read on, it’s important for me to mention that this post is, in fact, one that I’m sharing to inspire and challenge us all to look at where it is that we hold on to the past, instead of using the extraordinary tension between what was and what is, to uncover the opportunity for what could be.

Ways of Seeing

…I remember our first oncologist in New Zealand in 2009 sharing a story about a previous patient of his who, on seeing him from across a busy shopping centre, instantaneously vomited all over the floor. He apparently hadn’t seen her for over three years. And as I stared at this rather lovely and very kind man, with Andy tightly gripping my arm, having just been told how easily he would cope with the treatment, I could never imagine myself feeling anything other than gratitude for this collaboration. But over the weekend, and in fact twice already this month, in another country and in a very different place, I was offered up the unexpected opportunity to experience just how very powerful memory recall really can be.

With the sun rising above us and Jesse chattering away in the back seat, with his fittingly red BMX glistening awkwardly beside him with its ‘newness’, we set off to go break it, and him, in. As I took directions through a part of Sydney unfamiliar to me, I suddenly found myself engulfed by a dark and overwhelming feeling, and my mind, in a desperate attempt to stop crashing into the brick wall of pain that it recognised far before I did, began violently signaling the DANGER sign. My right leg started to twitch with the intensity of the ‘flight or fight’ response and a raging and terrified voice inside my head began screaming, ‘Turn back, turn back!’  But it was too late, I was in a place that I had not been in for a very long time.

To my right I saw the grey stone which always reminded me of a prison from a different century, where terrible things most likely once took place. I saw the huddle of smokers sucking in their sadness as they braced themselves to deal with life’s unexpected turns and I smelled the disinfectant of the translucent and tired looking cleaners who somehow were always freshly mopping a cocktail of lime, vomit and bleach smelling fluids over the polished and cold concrete floor. And in my mind I saw Andy’s eyes, blue as the ocean but as dark as the sea with its sparkle stolen, his once burning presence having grown so very weak.

Sitting in the car, clutching the steering wheel, my eyes filled with tears and my stomach lurched: I wanted to retch with the violent abduction that my mind and body was experiencing. But somehow, as I honoured the need to focus on the road ahead, physically and metaphorically, and we turned off the hospital road, I began to see, feel and think once again about what was actually taking place in the present and all around me. I heard the excited enthusiasm of my fearless son, who so eagerly delighted in his not knowing what lay ahead and the possible crashes, bruises and scrapes that he would and will experience. I felt the gentle but very strong presence of the man who I am currently ‘walking beside’ as he calmly and slowly asked me, ‘Are you alright?’ after having realised that his directions had accidentally brought me to a road that I no longer travel down.

And I took a big, deep breath and asked myself the same question: ‘Are you alright?’

On a daily basis, I actually drive past the hospice close to where the cubs and I live, and where Andy actually took his big, beautiful last breath of life and every single time I am filled with the same sense of just how incredible the gift of life really is, however long or short it happens to be. I think about the fact that his eyes sparkled again on the day that he died and that I stole a walk in the park in the sunshine, as his father arrived from the UK, while I ate for the first time in three days, a muffin with baked apple and coconut and a delicious long black cup of coffee. It was a time that will remain precious and poignant in my mind, for as long as I able to recall it; the time where both he and I knew that the end and the beginning had become one and that finally after 3 whole years, not only his life, but his death too, belonged to no one other than him.

The memory recall of our emotional experience can be more than overwhelming in our lives. And for some, there are daily reminders which can make life feel as though it is one harsh and relentless mountain range to stagger across, without any real purpose or reason to climb.

So today’s share is about inviting, inspiring and challenging you to acknowledge the incredible power and intensity of your thoughts, of your focus and of mindfulness. And to remember that out there, everything will continue to grow with the unfathomable and brilliant cycle of life.

And just like Jesse who, on his shiny, red BMX, had the most epic stack off a five foot drop, with his ribs bruised and his stomach winded, I, like he, stood right back up with a knowing that life is about the willingness to risk the pain of the unknown in pursuit of the adventures of what life has to offer.

  • Kels

    Lovely!

  • http://twitter.com/crixacus Daniel

    So happy to see you writing again. Here’s to a new adventure – or rather, to embracing the one we are always on. I have deeply missed your writings and connecting to your insight into life. Personally very much in need of this breath of life, because the stage of life that I am in right now has me questioning everything. And it’s a new fear, as I challenge deep-set beliefs not only in those around me but in myself as well. Currently planning a solo road trip down to Patagonia and I plan to film it all. We shall see what shall be. Blessed be, dearest lady. All my love as always.

    – iD (crixacus)

  • Lucky 7 Tattoo Tahoe, Ca.

    Brilliant post. Thank you Vashti.

  • Kelly T.

    Thanks Vashti, I love how your experience is always explained so vividly and connected so seamlessly to the lesson being learned and shared. It is so much easier to feel it, and to grasp the point, even if we don’t share a similar experience, when you have walked us through your thoughts and emotions so intimately.

  • Cat

    Keep embracing life there lady.

    Those moments of remembering are normal. And just remember like you said, he walks beside you.

    Thank you for your continued coaching and shared stories that us readers may too share ourselves. Team Whitfield :)

  • millie

    So happy to know from you again. Beautifully written and inspiring as always. you remind me how crazy simple and beautiful life is, altough simple is not necessarily easy.

    Thank you!
    Love from Argentina
    millie

  • Norbert Suess

    Thank you for these intense and overhelming words, Vashti! Made me once again explore my own mountain of life and thinking about all those people who no longer will be climbing it by my side…
    Welcome back…missed you…

  • Elizabeth Boomars

    Welcom back dear Vashti!! Where the mind goes, the chi flows!! A mindfull happiness beautifull lady. Love from the Netherlands

  • Vashti

    Welcome back. Thank you so much for this post, and for the future posts that will drive me to dig deeper, and to remember to be in the present and take one step at a time. You are a blessing.
    Love
    Vashti (in San Diego)

  • Mona

    Hello Vashti :)
    I just joined the com here and I’ve read your posts and saw some videos and I’m absolutely impressed how strong you are. It’s unbelievable. 2 weeks ago I just started watching ‘Spartacus’ and I loved it.. In a description about it I read that there is a different actor in season 2 and I wondered why.. I had so many reasons for that in my head but when I asked google.. I found the only reason I really did NOT expect.. I could’nt believe it.. And for some reason I don’t understand (til today), it broke my heart.. Whenever an actor or other celeb. died, I never really “felt” something.. I never had any “connection” to things like that, I never lost someone except my grandma in 2010 (but damn.. she was 82 :/) and I actually never knew how it would feel to lose someone. But knowing Andy was gone somehow killed me inside.. I don’t remember of being so damn sad before.. I watched so many videos of him, saw pics etc and I thought “what a cool guy” and than.. Oh my dear, I’m so sorry for your loss, even if I’m actually a bit late.. This cancer shit is a really hard thing. In my family breast and lung cancer is “spread” and I’m pretty sure it will be my problem some day.
    Actually my personal problems are psychological (anxiety disorder) and I gave up myself so many times in the last 6 years (I’m 22) but now I found YOU and I can’t say why but it’s so inspiring to read your posts, to watch how you handle your life, your grief, your wonderful “cups” growing up (Jesse really IS lil Andy) and I feel the desire to honor Andy somehow by living in the present, by “being here now”. It still feels weird that a man I didnt know and now his lovely widow is inspiring me so much and I’m still damn sad about Andy’s death (I can’t watch videos of him or the BHN trailer without many many tears) but it gives me back my strength I have lost years ago and I find myself again fighting for a life I want to live, so this whole text actually says “THANK YOU” for being here, for giving me and many others HOPE.. I wanted to write so much more but the tears in my eyes coming up won’ let me.. Q.Q
    deeply grateful regards from Germany

    • millie

      The same exact thing happened to me one year ago! You described it just perfect!

      • Mona

        It’s so weird.. I’m still wondering what happened to me that those two people touched me so deeply.. My gooood… I can’t stop crying .____.

    • Laney

      Exactly what happened to me too, 2 yrs. ago! I can’t explain it either… You described it perfectly! I cried for months….that has never happened before…..

  • Laz

    Welcome back , so nice to read your post again , when you shared parts of your life with us , I feel very touched and grateful , especially when that part has Andy include which for me he was a great, humble and a beautiful human being. every single word that you write has a significant meaning in my life and you has teach me to be a better person. I have to be strong very day for my son and you are giving me that push since a started to follow you. Thanks , lots of love……

  • Sally T.

    What a great start to 2015! Your post made me question, once again, my attachment to ‘my story’ and how capable we all are of maintaining fluidity in our experiences, no matter how devastating or thrilling they were. Another wonderful reminder of the benefits of staying present and while nodding to the past and its place in shaping our lives, not allowing it to cast a shadow on the amazing, vibrant bits of life happening right now.

  • susan_mangan

    Great to have you back lady! Beautiful and moving post as always. Thanks hun x

  • stef

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRaIeyd7JbA
    I dedicate this song to you and Andy xxxx

  • Madeleine

    UGH! the thoughts within our mind can blanket a happy day with sadness so quickly! but luckily we have beautiful friends and wise souls around us to help lift it from us so that we can breathe again.

    Great to have read your first post of 2015 V! I missed you and you have touched my heart with your words so many times and my life has gone in an amazing path because of it. Thank you!!!

  • Verdallh

    wow have I missed your posts, and what a entry into 2015.Your posts are as always very insightful and all inspiring.Never have I been one to follow anyone as closely as I have been following you and your posts, everyday I look forward to your insightful messages, I currently have lumps in my breasts and being human the mind being all powerful tends to put doubts and negative thoughts,but when I read your blog ,this just give me the courage to smile and go on .I am ever so grateful that you are around to touch so many people with your inspirational messages daily.Please continue.God has put each one of us on this earth for a purpose,many of us never get to find out what that purpose is, I do however believe that yours has been found,you touch so many peoples lives on a daily basis with your messages and photos of love,live,learn and let go.Had it not been for Spartacus I would never had found you, so please continue and the moments of remembering are normal . and just remember like you said he walks with you.

    Much love

    Verdalle

    Cape Town

    South Africa

  • SadButTru

    I am experiencing the same thing some others have experienced. I had heard of Andy’s death in the magazines, but not having seen him in anything, his death didn’t affect me at the time. I started watching Spartacus a week ago, and all of a sudden I am crying for/because of him. Death happens everywhere, everyday. Even though I have been “obsessed” with death since I was a child, there have only been a few instances where I was this upset about the death of someone whom I don’t know. I am not sure why his is upsetting me like this, and I admit it is kind of strange.

    Mindfulness is undoubtedly the perfect way to enjoy life to the fullest. Even knowing this doesn’t always help me not to think about the past and/or worry about the future, though. I am looking at my beautiful children’s faces, not knowing what the future holds for them. I can only guess what Andy’s parents might have hoped/dreamed for him when he was their age. No one is invincible; we will all die. Yet, I feel like it is unfair that this beautiful and seemingly nice man was taken away from his loved ones and his loved ones from him, prematurely. So, I am crying for what more it could have been, but didn’t really have the chance to be. I am also crying about the possibility of experiencing such an untimely death of my kids/loved ones. Death is unpredictable and unescapable. And that’s what makes it terrifying. I guess Andy’s death invokes these fears and anxiety in me for some reason.

    People leave holes in us, -in our minds, in our souls, in our hearts-, when they die, and we can never really fill those holes. Grief is the painful cost that we HAVE to pay for love, attachment and commitment when we lose them. Having lost my father 12 years ago, I like reading other people’s understanding and insights into the truth of life and death. I like reading how Vashti is trying to deal with her grief, while also trying to have a meaningful relationship with life with mindfulness.

  • Rose

    I am so glad I found this blog & that my experience on learning of Andy’s death has happened to others. I began watching Spartacus about 2 weeks ago & got through series 1 and the prequel. When I started watching series 2 today I noticed that the actor looked different & after consulting Google I to learned of Andy Whitfield’s death. I sobbed most of the afternoon & evening ,which is completely uncharacteristic of me having worked as a nurse for over 20 years and accustomed to both illness & death. Plus I have never before experienced grief & a sense of loss about someone I didn’t know personally, except for John Keats. I was embarrassed at my reaction so I tried to figure out why I had responded like this. Basically I think it has to do with the inspiration, vitality, and strong moral compass his character inspired who managed to defy death over and over again only to succumb to death after all. It is comforting to know that he was that inspiring & lovely man after all.

  • Mommydeno

    I haven’t visited your blog in awhile but have been dealing with some “stuff” lately that needed some wisdom beyond what my mind can conjure up at the moment. You always seem to have just that. This was so very poignant for me tonight and for this season that I’m currently marching through. Thank you. I love this:
    “life is about the willingness to risk the pain of the unknown in pursuit of the adventures of what life has to offer.”
    Peace and love

  • Julienne

    What a beautiful post. And how beautiful to see so many impacted by your postings and journey. Like others who have commented I just started watching Spartacus, only to learn that the actor in the first season who I found so compelling, died of cancer. And I too have shed tears for someone I never knew but whose story has had a profound impact. For me writing about the grieving process was incredibly helpful for me when I lost my husband in September 2009 to a climbing accident. I have to drive by the place where he died every day on my way to work as well, which now no longer brings tears. Time is a great healer but sharing the journey with others brings about collective healing and I can see how much he was loved by so many. While I don’t want to experience that kind of grief again, I never felt so alive and present as I did in the midst of my pain, and reading your post today reminds me to be present and enjoy all this life has to offer. Thank you!

  • Gina

    Sometimes the pain is so confusing, overwhelming and ultimately staggering…… I lost my friend last week. She fell ill a year ago and then I heard last week that she died. That’s when it becomes so bloody final…I mean I hope she’s in a better, happier place with NO suffering but it’s we who are left behind who hurt so much. I miss her.

  • Georgianne Wordlow

    I started receiving the Maybe McQueen newsletter about two months ago and amazingly, in your weekly email about two weeks ago, you said exactly what I needed to hear. I was in a situation at work where I realized that my racist boss was trying to get rid of me. Your message about focus helped me put things into perspective, that I didn’t have to give into the negative story other people were trying to convince me to believe about myself. It was a tough time and I ended up losing my job, but I lost it because I spoke up for myself, finding the courage I didn’t know I had to let that horrible woman know that I refused to be defined by her hatred and bigotry. Your email helped me get through that day and I just want to thank you so much. And I want to also say how very sorry I am for your loss. I know it’s been three years but I know Andy’s absence is still keenly felt. I watched Spartacus: Blood and Sand for the first time in October 2011. I remembered it was on Cable TV but I didn’t have the channel it was on and when it came out on DVD a colleague from work brought it in for me to watch. And I have to say I was hooked, hooked, hooked! I already knew that Andy had passed away, and with each episode of Spartacus I watched, it became more and more heartbreaking. He had such presence and gave such life and passion to that character, I felt it down to my core. I devoured each episode and as I got closer to the last episode, I didn’t want it to end but I was helpless to stop watching it. And that last episode…man, I cried and cried…it was the strangest reaction I believe I have ever had to anybody in my life, especially one I had never physically met. I remember asking, Who is this man? You can tell how amazing Andy was and you just want more of him, and knowing that was it really broke my heart. I went out and rented a couple of his movies – Gabriel and The Clinic – Great movies!! And, when I returned Blood and Sand to my colleague, I went straight out and bought a copy of it for myself. You could tell he was really on his way. And now, with Be Here Now, I feel blessed to still be inspired by this extraordinary man, and with Maybe McQueen, by his beautiful, courageous wife. You both have inspired me, someone who has lived in fear for most of her life, to get out there and be in the moment, to face my fears and go after my dreams fearlessly and in love. I thank God for you and pray for you everyday and always look forward to your newsletter

  • Luis Hernandez

    I feel I’m rather late to your blog and to post, but feel compelled to do so anyways.I first enjoyed the series Spartacus some yrs ago and presently revisited the series. Once again filled in its full splendor! Upon coming to season 2 and 3(new to me), I realized its original actor was no longer a part of it!! I sadly soon discovered the reason and it was something that struck close to home. My young wife was also diagnosed with NHL at 29 and it was the worst time in our lives. I prayed incessantly that I not be left a single father of 2. My wife is thankfully still with me. She is now 40 yrs old, but not a day goes by that I’m not fearful of this illness returning. I remain in faith that all will remain well. I pray as well that you’ll be granted peace,wisdom and love for you and your children. This is an illness that unfortunately touches many in all its forms. I hope one day it no longer affects so many lives. Even though I came upon this knowledge rather late, I feel for your loss and can’t help but wonder why some are spared this sorrow and others must endure it. Don’t get me wrong, I am most thankful, but only wish it could be so for others as well. Andy’s performance performance captivated an audience. His battle and yours touched many more. Wherever this journey takes us next, I’m sure he continues to do the same! GOD bless.

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