Vicki L. O'Dell is a maker of magic, an alchemist, a soothsayer, a wild, wonder full, woman of substance. Artist, gardener, Reiki practitioner, writer, and backyard farmer, regardless of what she's doing, it's done with heart and soul. She sums things up on her website with the following:
"Midlifer, empty nester & breast cancer survivor who lives on coffee and creativity. ♥ Lady Farmer wannabe ♥ Artist ♥ Writer ♥ Earth Energy Master ♥ Reiki Practitioner ♥ Believer of living in the moment."
Vicki is a survivor, but more than that, she's a thriver, and she shares her journey with other women encouraging them to slow down and savor life. Never one to take the main road, she's spent her lifetime exploring the side roads and creating new pathways. This restless creativity has led her on all manner of fascinating adventures that can be explored in depth on her website Make. Midlife. Magic. Vicki is, like many women over 50, redefining herself while rejecting the status quo. A gifted wordsmith, artist, and designer, she never ceases to inspire!
We both spent many years working in the craft industry, and we’ve both segued into new directions. Things really changed in that industry, especially with the explosion of DIY blogs and the proliferation of what I jokingly call craft porn. Pinterest and Instagram shifted the landscape, making a very specific kind of image with a very specific color palette take over the internet. Then came the huge wave of bloggers willing to work for free product and exposure. It’s noisy out there, and there’s a lot of bad information. I know we both felt the crunch. What are your takeaways from this experience? How has that refocused your blogging?
Wow! You summed up a few years worth of tears and heartbreak into one paragraph. That’s some kind of skill there, ladyfriend.
I have never been the kind of woman who likes what everyone else likes. In fact, once I see that something is becoming popular, I’ll drop it like a hot potato. Even when I LOVED it. And now that everything on the web looks similar I sit back and wonder why all of the photos I see look so washed out? Where did the COLOR and vibrancy go? Why is everything so BORING?
As usual, when something becomes super popular I turn my back on it and walk the other way. I don’t know why I’m like that but there ya go. All of this creative whitewashing has helped me to see that folks that live in bold color (like you and I) are needed in this world. The pendulum will swing back again and all of those white loving people will need us. I just keep my head down and keep doing what I love. How can I do anything else?
It’s made me stronger, helped me to narrow my focus and also helped me to see who I am as a creative. I’d rather not work than create things I hate. So I’ll work my part time job to get by and ride things out. Creating what I love and minding my own business.
You’re a mid-lifer, empty nester, and breast cancer survivor. I think a lot of women over 50 can relate to all three of these experiences. That’s a lot of change to navigate at the same time. That’s a lot of loss to navigate at the same time. Can you speak to how these three things have informed your journey? What have you lost? What have you gained?
By the time we women get to 50 we’ve seen a thing or 20. Sometimes the only thing to get you through the loss of today is knowing that you’ve lost before and survived so you’ll do it again. And again. It’s never easy but we do what we have to.
Also, I think the best thing we can do when we are experiencing one loss after another is to sit with the feelings and just let them be. It never does us any good to push them aside or try to pretend they aren’t there. Sit with them, feel the loss, and then give yourself time to deal. It took me nearly 3 years to get over the hellstorm that was 2014-15 but I’m still here. And quite frankly, I feel like I’m better than ever.
It’s true that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!
According to your website you’re a “Lady Farmer Wannabe”, would you really like to live on a farm? How much space to you have now? I’m fascinated by the rabbits, are you spinning the angora into yarn or selling it? What made you pick quail and angora rabbits? They’re wonderful unconventional choices!
Haha! See my reply in the first question above. I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing. In this case CHICKENS. I have 1 acre outside a pretty big city here in Ohio. While I’m allowed to have chickens, and I enjoy hearing my neighbors chickens, I wanted to be different. Also, quail are much quieter and less destructive than chickens. Also, the eggs are pretty darn tasty.
I grew up on farms with both sets of grandparents. Yes, I’d like a small farm. I have this idea that most of us in our 50’s had grandparents who farmed, or at least had big gardens, but our parents had fast-food and TV and no garden. I think it’s why my/our generation has the health problems we have. Instead of turning into my mother I like to think I’m turning into my grandmother. I’m volunteering with a local group that hosts a community garden and I’m teaching women how to can and preserve the food from their gardens. It’s an important skill that most of our mothers didn’t pass down to us and I want to make sure that other women have that skill in their arsenal to help their families.
Also, French Angora rabbits create the most lovely yarn.
You practice Reiki and you’re an “earth magic maker.” Way back we chatted about moving in new directions and you were concerned about sharing those aspects of yourself online. I am so glad that you decided to go for it! Fifty and Other F-words is all about becoming your full self without fear, shame, or apology. I believe that when we do that, life unfolds for us. Did you have any negative reactions from craft fans? How has Make. Midlife. Magic. been received? Can you talk a little about Reiki and earth magic and what they entail?
Every now and the someone will step up on their soapbox and point their finger at me and loudly proclaim that I’m wrong, but I don’t really give them any space in my head. I have my opinions that are pretty strongly held, and I try to give others the same leeway. To a degree. No one has pushed me past my tolerance level yet.
I know from family history that some of the women back a few generations had some “gifts” that they used to help care for their loved ones. Cancer put me in touch with that part of myself. Receiving Reiki treatments at a local cancer support center helped me to see that maybe I had retained one or two of those gifts.
I took the Reiki certification courses and my instructor mentioned that I intuitively used a lot of earth energy in my practice. That lead me to becoming an Earth Energy Master. I’m part Cherokee and using the energy of the land around me is intuitive to me. It just feels right.
It is what centers and grounds me. Also, I’m an empath (I pick up on the energy of those around me and it affects me) having a way to ground and center is invaluable when it comes to the energy I receive.
You went gray a few years back and your hair is spectacular. What motivated you to do it and how did you manage the transition? I know a lot of women over 50 want to take the leap, but they’re afraid of the in between phase.
Honestly, it had a bit to do with time but even more to do with money. I was at a place where I had to color my hair every 3-4 weeks because it grows super fast. Also, the white hair wouldn’t hold the color, so it faded fast. It got super expensive to keep it colored so my stylist and I came up with haircuts and ways of coloring it that would allow me to grow it out without too much drama. My hair was short at the time, so I was also growing it out. That allowed us to cut layers into it that helped hide the “line”.
The in between phase stinks but once it’s done you’ll never regret it. I cut my hair short when I was diagnosed with cancer and donated it (Don’t even bother donating white hair BTW) and from then on I’ve only trimmed it now and then. I get comments on my hair all of the time.
What’s next for Vicki? Where can folks find you?
Well, I’m changing things up. Again. I think that creatives have a tendency to do that fairly often.
I was doing work as a Virtual Assistant, but I’ve let my clients go as it’s not something that I enjoy doing. And honestly, I’m burned out on it. Especially since social media seems to be changing on the daily.
I’m working out some new art processes and working hard in my gardens. I’ve been taking master gardener courses and permaculture courses to help me become a more earth friendly gardener. I’m teaching art classes at local rec centers and making appearances at home and garden shows and other public events. I’m not sure what I’ll get into next, but I know for sure that it won’t be boring!
You can find me on my blog Make, Midlife, Magic.