The Five Key Ingredients to a Successful Romantic Relationship …

What might they be, I pondered. And more importantly, if you knew what they were and you and your beloved could agree on them, would that give your relationship a higher chance of flourishing?

I must admit, I do love lists. Especially as I get older. You want to get something done? Write a list and then start checking off those suckers. Get it done item by item! Go Team!

So what could be the optimal list for love? Amorous love.

Naturally I went to my panel (Facebook).  What came back was this: Attraction. Love. Tolerance. Forgiveness. Appreciation. Cooperation. Trust. Respect. Friendship. Intimacy. Transparency. Accountability. Compatibility. Connection. Honesty. Humour. Financial independence and the ability to compromise.

Wow. That’s a lot of list. But yes, thought I … those are all good. I mean, I’m not really sure about the “financial independence” one if that means independence from each other. Pretty sure my parents had all their finances intertwined. But what do I know? Maybe keeping your loot to yourself is a prudent way to go? Certainly it’s the safest way if you think you might break up down the road. Not sure that planning for your relationship to fail will aid its success but hey, look at all those prenups! I decided to google “how many marriages with a prenup end in divorce”?

I could not find an answer.

Anyhoo … back to my query.

Let’s just accept that any long-term romantic relationship requires attraction and love. Otherwise we’re talking friendship. For these purposes we can remove those from the equation.

But what about the rest?

An abundance of words and those words have many definitions. Mine could be significantly different from yours. Or my partner’s. So how can I make this more succinct?

I have decided to begin with “I need … “

Pretty self-centred, right, bey hey, it is my blog. And it turns out that just maybe, what I need is exactly what YOU were saying. Just in full sentences.

  1. I need to be seen.

If you read my recent blog about what leads a person to infidelity, you will already know that to me, being SEEN is huge. My dog loves me. My son loves me. I need my  lover to SEE me. To see and acknowledge the unique and singular entity that I am and to then create a relationship with that person. This requires an enormous amount of empathy. We must truly try to walk a mile in our mate’s shoes to know their journey and appreciate the blisters on their figurative feet. We must try to see their struggles and read their roadmap long before they do because that is our job as PARTNER. We must listen and learn and look and learn some more, because the “seeing” never ends. When seeing ends, complacency begins. And when complacency begins … (go read that other blog).

  • I need to feel safe.

This is where words like trust, honesty, transparency, accountability and even respect come into play. Because in order to feel safe all of the above must constantly be in action. All of the above. How can any relationship flourish without trust? If you don’t believe that your lover is honest, how can you trust? If transparency is not 100%, how can you trust that your lover is honest? If your partner is not accountable for any and all acts that leave you suspect, how can you ever feel at ease? And if one person needs  the other to respect THEM (but mostly respect their privacy) is there truly any respect at all? Doesn’t respect in a romantic relationship come down to respecting the union above the individuals?

When we are children, we trust that our parents will keep us safe. When we are adults more of that duty becomes self-imposed. The absolute luxury of someone ELSE allowing you to feel safe (physically and emotionally) cannot be overstated. This is the true richness of a strong romantic bond. I know safety doesn’t sound romantic. But it is.

  • I need to feel desired.

Oh yeah … here we have the largest distinction between friendship and romance. It’s not enough that you see me and make me feel safe. I have several girlfriends who achieve that regularly. My romantic partner must desire me. Not only must he desire me, he must show that desire, speak that desire and act on that desire. Because if he doesn’t, guess what? I feel like we’re buddies. The magnificent, mystical  spiritual bridge between friendship and romance is DESIRE.

I do understand that many couples, as they age and their relationship settles, relegate desire to a long ago back-burner, flickering rarely if ever and tucked away like an aging photo album covered in dust. But I will tell you a tiny story about my ex-husband’s grandparents. They both lived into their 90s and, one night when we joined them for dinner, I saw him playfully pat her behind. With a wink. And she giggled. Like a teenager.

This is blessed intimacy at its pinnacle. Connection spanning decades. Hell, doing what you can with what you got! THIS is desire. The desire to show your beloved that you do indeed desire them, as a sensual, sexual, physical, carnal, libidinous, wanton consort.

In other words … you’re not just chums.

  • I need to feel aligned.

“Love is not gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. It is looking forward in the same direction.”

Many years ago I read a quote on a card that went something like that. Oh man, I thought it was brilliant! And it is. Not whole, but clever.

Love is gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes and THEN looking forward in the same direction.

You gotta have both (see #3). If not, you’re just pals planning a front-porch-rocking-chair future (and yes, I do have a few of those).

Still … being aligned as we face all of our tomorrows is paramount. It involves tolerance, compatibility, cooperation and the ability to compromise. Doing it together must be the prize. And IF you’re already counting your separate pennies in a separate bank account just in case your existence may one day separate from your beloved, or IF you feel your right to privacy supersedes the relationship’s requirement for transparency, or IF your partner no longer turns your crank  … I’m gonna guess you are not aligned.

You are along for a ride. Not invested. Not looking forward. Together. You are looking inward. Toward #1.

  • I need to feel attuned.

Attuned. In harmony. Heard. It’s like being SEEN … only with audio.

This one is all about communication, the #1 stalwart of ALL relationships. It involves EVERYTHING we have already discussed plus … humour. Oh good golly, there absolutely MUST be a sense of fun in a romantic relationship (because Holy Shit, it sure was FUN when it started!) to keep it on track. We must find a way to attune ourselves to daily merriment but more importantly daily, weekly and monthly attunement.

We must tune in to our partner’s frequency. Gage what’s going on … and why. Decide how and when we can help and how and when we should just lay back.

Perhaps for some couples this seems simple. For others – notsomuch. For many it is damn hard work.

For me I believe it is THE most important. It is very much a two-way street, with zigs and zags, detours and even roadblocks. Through all of it we must be willing to reset. And then attune.

So … there you have it. My overwrought, overthunk, over-anguished easy-to-follow guide to romantic bliss. Hey – why buy a self-help book when you have me?

In closing I will say this: I envy those of you who find romantic love/relationship easy. Simple. Automatic. The truth is none of you is reading this blog because you’re too damn busy being happy.

For the rest of us … well … I have no gospel truths. Just a few hard-won revelations. And if they help but one ……………………………………………….

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You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw …

I like to collect inspiring memes. Little quotes (either attributed or anonymous) that speak to me. Sometimes they languish unseen in my meme file for months and then suddenly pop up again quite unexpectedly, usually at the time they are most necessary.

This is one such quote (allegedly from a site called

“You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw.”


It’s that pesky accountability thing again, right? That thing where even though you are certain someone else is at fault, it is you yourself not only allowing that fault to transpire but facilitating it to boot.

I find myself, at this moment, guilty as charged. Apparently I am not very good at setting boundaries. Or implementing them (once set). Especially when it comes to my friends. I am blessed to have many close chums and I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life. So, if someone needs me and then needs me again and then needs me and keeps needing me until their need for me becomes pretty much the largest focus of my life, I allow it to happen. I mean seriously, when someone is in need THAT desperately, how can you turn them away? How can you ask them to need you less? How can you demanded that they stop forcing that need upon you so intensely you feel like you might explode when you know that THEY are on the verge of imploding and you just might be the only barrier between annihilation and salvation?

Now … take a breath and go back and read what I just wrote. Do you see how imperious that sounds? How arrogant? How self-important? Without ME they will perish?


I’m not saying impossible and I do understand there are times when someone truly is quite literally at the end of their rope and YES OF COURSE that is when we NEED to be there.

But here is what I have recently learned (the hard way): some people, when given an inch, will in fact take a mile and then another. They will interrupt your life at any time for any reason, they will continue to demand your attention even when you (passively) choose not to give it and then they will continue to clamour for your time and energy until you are exhausted. And then, when they finally realize they have darn near killed you, they will take their needy attentions elsewhere, leaving you to wonder what YOU did wrong.

I think we all want to believe that friendships are symbiotic and we can all hope they will be – for the most part. But nothing is ever 50-50 and the best we can achieve is 60-40 going BOTH WAYS; sometimes this and sometimes that, depending on who needs what when.

These are the friendships I crave. And nurture.

I can even handle 80-20 … for a time. Just not indefinitely.

My grown son sometimes needs me a lot. I can easily become the sponge for his (figurative) tears until the weight of that sopping responsibility seems crushing. But then he sorts himself out, moves on and needs me very little. Back and forth we go.

That’s okay. Because I am his MOTHER!! He was born to this role and I signed up for it whole-heartedly. It’s not always easy but it is always my job and my joy.

This is not the case with my friends. We CHOSE each other. Yes, we signed up for friendship and devotion and solidarity and affinity. We did not sign up for self-destruction. You do not get to destroy my health – mental, emotional or physical – because of YOUR need. You are a grownup. At some point, please, be like my son, sort yourself out and move on.

And if I have far too often offered you the straw … mea culpa. Maybe I need to be needed a little more than I thought?

But if I offered you that straw time and time again and you even unknowingly sucked the life out of me, we both have a problem.

I am on the path to remedying mine. I will no longer be available to help you remedy yours. The doctor has become sicker than the patient.

This is not to say that our friendship is done. It is only to say that the relationship WE have created in recent years MUST change.

Which brings me to another meme (anonymous) that just landed in my orbit:

“A part of healing is also understanding how YOU were toxic.”

“Toxic” is a pretty heavy word. I will choose instead …


I am a fully accountable friend. As we all should be.

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What Leads a Person to Infidelity?

Sounds like a simple question, right?

Maybe they have no morals.

Maybe they don’t think they’ll get caught.

Maybe they’re bored.

Maybe they think they deserve more.

Maybe they are weak and easily led to temptation.

Maybe they never learned that commandment.

Maybe they don’t believe in commandments (or God.)

Maybe they don’t believe in vows. 

Maybe they’re just really horny.

I don’t know. Probably many of the above come into play but, in light of the new podcast Thomas Wade and I are launching in a few weeks (Screwing Around with Thomas and Vickie – where the ONLY topic is sex!), I have been contemplating this question as the theme for our first episode. Because Tom and I have both experienced infidelity. The giving and the getting. And I have come to realize that the WHY isn’t really a simple question at all.

That said, I do believe the world is filled with narcissistic horndogs (of both sexes) who are simply seeking the thrill of the chase and the exhilaration of conquest. That spicy something on the side to put a spring in your step when that old boring married sex ain’t doing it for you anymore.

Yeah, they are out there.

But what about the person of reasonable moral fortitude (please note I said reasonable, not perfect) who is lost? Feeling abandoned or rejected? Neglected? Unseen? Does that person have the right to seek solace elsewhere?


Well, some of you might clamour “no.” You’d say “work on the marriage” or “open up a dialogue” or “go to counselling” or something like that. You’d insist there is no excuse to break that sacred vow.

But YOU are not that pitiful soul drowning in a sea of confusion. Wanting to do the right thing and trying to hang on but then suddenly finding yourself drawn into an inexplicably enticing liaison. That seemingly innocent invitation that comes out of nowhere and leads you – against your will, goddamnit – astray.

We all know there is “love” and then there is “in love.” And many times, as the years race by, we find ourselves aging, more and more in touch with our mortality, frightened by the reflection in our mirror and desperately seeking “in love.” Desperately seeking that glorious feeling of reckless abandon that comes with new infatuation and unbridled passion.

Reckless. Abandon.

That reckless abandon that can, in an instant, compel you to abandon the love that you have so un-recklessly built up over months and years.

But that’s where infidelity comes in. Because you don’t always abandon. You don’t just up and leave and chase that new dream. Nope. You play both sides. You teeter-totter. You cheat and keep cheating because you want to have that big fucking cake and you want to eat it and keep eating it in secret, all to yourself, with icing dripping down your face, all the while never gaining a single pound. You actually believe it could happen. You believe you can gorge on salacious sweets indefinitely (or until you’re sick, whichever comes first) with no repercussions whatsoever.

But that’s impossible, right?

We all know that if you eat too much and don’t get exercise you will pay. We all know that if you drink too much booze or smoke too much anything you will pay. We all know that if we lie to our friends or our employer we will pay. We all know that for every action there is a re-action … or consequence.

And yet, with infidelity we are SO desperate for SOMETHING … we take an incalculable risk.


When I cheated on my husband I truly had no idea why. I was continually looking and searching and questing and then suddenly I just thought I had found my soulmate. You know, I made a bit of a boo-boo getting married and then magically Prince Charming showed up and it was my God-given right to be happy and soul-mated and blah blah blah. Oh yes, I was singing that song at the top of my lungs like a diva at a football game.

But NO.

None of that was true. I just decided to make it true to excuse my behaviour.

The real truth was this: I was desperately seeking … intimacy.

Let me repeat that. INTIMACY.

Not better sex or different sex or more frequent sex or fireworks or clandestine thrills or something new.

I wanted intimacy.

I was desperately seeking that emotional communion that truly makes us feel seen. That special connection that allows our heart to soar and our bodies to give freely – with abandon – because we know so deeply that we are seen and we are loved anyway.

That is correct. We are SEEN, with all our aging imperfections and insecure foibles and screwed-up self-doubts and we still feel so SEEN and ACCEPTED and LOVED anyway we give our bodies and our imaginations and our best sexual intentions with so much faith and love because we KNOW the connection is there. It is there for us at all times. At any time. Whenever we are in need, we are seen.

This is why I cheated. I am not saying there is ever an excuse to cheat. If you’re feeling seen elsewhere, please … go there post haste! Before you cheat.

The problem is we don’t always understand. We don’t get it. We do not understand that the gasoline fueling the engine is igniting the flames. If we only understood and could then communicate EVERYTHING to our partners we could possibly start a different blaze. One that does not involve outside wood.

That was a horrible analogy, right?

It’s far too easy to stake some moral high-ground and label every infidel as a bonafide scoundrel deserving of disdain and condemnation. My Facebook jury could not wait to bellow “Sexaholics, Satan (yes, someone mentioned that old devil), ethics, mental illness, selfishness and low self-esteem!”

Just make sure that before you start bellowing, YOU make sure that your beloved feels SEEN. Rediscover that intimacy or if you must, build it from scratch. I am not suggesting cheaters be offered carte blanche. I am simply saying there isn’t always a black and a white. Some people will suffer in silence, some people will try to fix the problem and some people will jump on the Infidelity Highway because it’s slick and fast and damn it feels good to drive a Ferrari.

Many years after my marriage dissolved and many years after I realized that emotional intimacy had been the issue all along, it occurred to me (better late than never, right?) that I really did not have to cheat. What I could have done is address the issue, seek help, insist that my husband do the same and work, work, work harder. And then, if after all that there was still no resolution, well then I could have ridden off into the sunset with Prince Charming.


If you’re wondering what leads a person to infidelity I gently suggest you look within. What gaping hole in your own soul might compel you to seek sexual solace elsewhere?

If it’s just that you’re bored, restless and want more, well then I gently suggest that you go fuck yourself.

But if you are aching to be SEEN, I recommend figuring that out. Figuring out your aches and your desires and your emptiness and your NEEDS and then explaining them to your partner.

There is NO excuse to cheat. But there are very good reasons to leave.

Choose wisely.

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Talking Relationsh!t with Thomas and Vickie

I haven’t been blogging much lately, for a few reasons.

  1. I guess I’m Covid-weary like everyone else.
  2. I’ve been podcasting these winesoakedramblings (available on Spotify and everywhere else if you care to listen).
  3. And this is THE BIG ONE – today (January 10, 2022) I just launched a brand new podcast (conversation) with my dear old friend Thomas Wade.

Talking Relationsh!t with Thomas and Vickie is LIVE! And here’s a wee bit of background:

Thomas Wade – Award-winning, Juno-nominated singer/songwriter and author of “Singing In My Sleep” (a nuts and bolts guide to healing our lives with the power of the mind). Thomas has truly lived a “country song” and come out the other side with wisdom, awareness and humour.


Vickie van Dyke – Award-winning broadcaster, blogger and author of the hilarious and poignant memoir “Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How To Cheat, Eat and Be Happy”. Vickie has lived her own country song and hopefully learned a thing or two along the way.

Together – conversations about anything and everything to do with relationship. Vickie and Thomas have done it all … sex, drugs, rock and roll, marriage, kids, divorce, friendship, therapy, vulnerability and passion. No topic is off limits on this weekly podcast.

Our first podcast is all about SEX: Middle-aged sex. Waning and/or differing sexual appetites. Body image. Imagination. Adult playtime. Communication. And how to make a longtime monogamous relationship sizzle. And if that is not enough, our 2nd podcast will be about SEX: Duty sex, oral sex, no sex, too much sex and loving sex.

We hope you’ll find a moment to tune in to our 30 minute chats and questions and comments are most welcome!

Check out #1 – The One About Vickie’s Naked Picnic … and I’ll be back soon!

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Is There Anything Better Than Feeling Grateful?

I recently enjoyed a brief text exchange with an old friend, wherein I proclaimed how grateful I was for her significance in my life. She replied, “There is precious little that’s better than feeling grateful.”

It’s true, right. A grateful heart is a positive heart. Feeling gratitude (instead of, say, resentment or bitterness) lightens the soul. Living IN gratitude every day brings the minutiae of our trials and tribulations into clear perspective. It’s pretty simple math when you think about it – the more we are thankful for (and yes, I am talking about the small stuff), the less we are inclined to play victim, host pity-parties or succumb to negativity.

But then it hit me. It hit me that there IS something infinitely more satisfying (at least for me) than feeling grateful. Expressing gratefulness … now that is the bomb! When you say thank you OUT LOUD, to someone (anyone) in particular, about something specific that impacted you personally, well, it’s like giving them a gold star on their report card! It is no longer just a thought or a feeling or some other ethereal mist floating in the ether. Gratitude expressed becomes a tangible commodity. One you can offer endlessly knowing the recipient will receive endlessly. I mean seriously, has anybody in the history of creation ever said “thank you” too much?

Which makes me wonder why so many of us have difficulty telling our truths. Our personal truths about what exactly it is we are grateful for. Or for whom we are grateful. Or even why we are grateful. Why the hell are we not scattering appreciativeness all over the place?

Yes, we do the expected. We buy cards to say thank you and we send thank you texts and emails and we offer praise for dinners cooked, gifts given and compliments offered. I am talking about the “unexpected” thank you. The one where the server does an extra special job and not only do you tip heartily, you write a little note on the bill. The one where a teacher goes above and beyond for your child so you send her flowers. The one where you read a book that impacts you profoundly so you seek out the author to tender praise and appreciation. The one where you tell everyone in your life how important they are to you even when you think they must already know that. Yeah … that one.

I have been very fortunate in my radio career. Over the years I have received more than one “thank you” from a listener, happy to report that I impact her day positively. That I made him laugh. That the entire family loves the station. One man once stated, “You must get this all the time.”

Never enough, my friend. Never enough.

Because there can never be too much gratitude. There can, however, often be way too much unexpressed gratitude. My suggestion is this: don’t let that happen. If you feel thankful, offer thanks. Offer it again and again and again and again. I can assure you, ain’t nobody out there gonna ask you to stop. We all desire appreciation. Affirmation. Recognition, credit and praise. Sure, go on, be super-duper humble and say, “No, I do not!”

Uh-huh. I do not believe you.

Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Might as well appreciate out loud, right?

I am grateful that my friend gratefully acknowledged my gratefulness as a good thing. Actually, I am grateful that she acknowledged gratefulness in general as a good thing. Because it is.

I, however, will henceforth choose to offer up my thanksgiving in a more specific and individual manner. Why? Because I know what it feels like to get that gold star. And I want to offer that acknowledgment  to as many people as possible. One at a time.

Thank you.

For reading.

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The Song That Taught Me All About Empathy …

I am a word girl. I love words and their power. Their beauty. Their significance. Their singular ability to express emotions, feelings, fears and delights. To me, words are like individual sparkling jewels, which, when strung together can create the most dazzling bracelet.  But there are words that cause even me great consternation. And “empathy” is one of them. 

So I checked in with the always erudite

Empathy: the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

Also: The imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself.

Sure. Thanks.

I asked my friends to weigh in.

“Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”  Yes, it is always a good idea to walk a mile in another persons’ boots. To try to understand their motives and reactions and decisions. A good idea but not always the easiest task.

My pal E has decided she would like to have an affair. Her hubby doesn’t do it for her (or to her) anymore and, even though she has no inclination to leave the marriage, she does long to set a fire or two between the sheets. She asks me to understand. To acknowledge. To give her my green light. To empathize with her plight.

Well okay, yeah, I get it. Middle-aged sex can get ho-hum, hum-drum and let’s face it, infrequent. Who wouldn’t want to reignite the passions of youth?

But can I empathize with E? Can I identify with her pain and then psychologically understand it as if it was my own?

Nope. I can sympathize with her and I can even attempt to comprehend but I cannot walk that mile in her shoes because they do not fit me. I cannot make those shoes fit me. Far too painful.

Another friend offers that empathy is “Knowing that even when you’re struggling, you can still spare a second to recognize when another person is in need of the same help you could’ve used.”

That is really lovely. And we should all aspire to such altruism. But is it empathy?

I return to dear old E. I know she is struggling. If her hubby would just show up in the boudoir with a little more enthusiasm she would most likely never contemplate adultery. I too have been in relationships where the desire for carnal acquaintance was painfully lopsided. And again I say, I sympathize with her plight. But do I empathize?

“Empathy is meeting everything and everyone with love!”

I love this concept of “meeting everyone with love” (and will probably write a blog about it one day) because it speaks to non-judgementalism, sensitivity and compassion. I also believe we can be non-judgmental, sensitive and compassionate and still not have a flipping clue what someone else is enduring. We can sympathize. We just can’t empathize.

“Listening with your soul, not just your ears.”

Yes. Beautiful and poetic. And this also goes to the above: listening without judgment. Without advice or discrimination or guile. Listening ONLY to hear, absorb and then love. No matter what you actually THINK.

Fuck, that is hard to do.

“Understanding, feeling and even absorbing others’ challenges and sharing them so their burden is not as heavy.”

Another resounding YES!

But absorbing someone else’s challenge? Sucking it out of them so that they are lighter and YOU are now weighted with the pain? Also really fucking hard. I recall many years ago I told a “secret” to a trusted friend. This secret had been damn near killing me and the act of unburdening it to her lifted its weight considerably. I was SO grateful for her empathy.

She, in turn, immediately told her husband. She had promised me it was ours and ours alone but she immediately told her husband.

I don’t blame her. The matrimonial bond is and should be sacred. But THIS is exactly why empathy is so hard. Empathy demands that we place someone else’s needs/feelings/pain ABOVE our own. And that is damn hard work because we are most definitely hardwired to avoid pain.

What we are “wired” to do is solve problems. And as it turns out, empathy has absolutely nothing to do with solving problems.

I took a life-coaching course several years ago ( and “empathy” was one of the first BIG concepts we discussed. Because you cannot coach without it. You can advise and counsel and bully and even inspire but you cannot coach.

One of my coach-buddies was a yoga instructor from the west coast. He was fit and buff and entirely Birkenstock. He had to practice coaching on me and I had to come up with a “problem” that was realistic and coachable.

“I want to lose 10 lbs.” I said. (It was true.)

We spent an hour going up and down the hows, whys, whens and whatevers of me losing 10 lbs and not being able to do it. I could feel his frustration growing and I chose to feed it with even more obstinance (apparently I am good at that). He finally just lost it completely and bellowed, “Vickie, for God’s sake just eat less and work out more! This is NOT rocket science!”

But it was. And is. Coaching is rocket science. Because it is not enough to TELL your client what to do. It is your job as a coach to empathize with WHY your client hasn’t already done it. You know, without you. It is your job to crawl inside your client’s guts and get so entrenched in their muck and slime, to become so intimate with their failure and frustration, to know their fear and their hope with such intimacy you can now plan that elusive roadmap to salvation. WITH them.

“Understanding and relating to another’s struggle through experience, or similar experience. Sympathy is rooted in compassion, albeit without experiential knowledge; empathy is rooted in the compassion driven by bonding with another because you have traveled a similar path.”

And that, dear reader, is the golden ticket. If we have never felt despair we cannot empathize with despair. If we have never been melancholy we cannot empathize with melancholy. If we have never known abject wretchedness, we cannot empathize with abject wretchedness.

I learned empathy via music.

You see, a long time ago I left my husband for another man. And of course, this other man had a wife. And soon thereafter, I heard a song by Lara Fabian called “Broken Vow.” And when I heard the lyrics of that song I wept and wept and could not stop weeping. Not because of the painful mess I had created but because it was HER voice singing that song. Not Lara’s. My lover’s wife’s.

Tell me her name
I want to know
The way she looks
And where you go
I need to see her face
I need to understand
Why you and I came to an end

Tell me again
I want to hear
Who broke my faith in all these years
Who lays with you at night
When I’m here all alone
Remembering when I was your own

That was the absolute moment I knew I understood empathy.

I knew I was feeling empathy.

I knew I was living empathy.

Because that song was not about me. Trust me, there were, at that time, a lot of songs about me and I listened to them all interminably. Sniveling, pouting and feeling sorry for myself.

But “Broken Vow” was about HER. Not even about her. It WAS her. Her pain. Her rejection. Her voice. And I heard it loud and clear.

In all the years since, I have never removed that song from my library. When it comes up on shuffle, I crank it loud and absorb every word. It used to torture me relentlessly. No more. Now it makes me wistful. A little sad. But also somehow grateful. Because I now know that I do know empathy.  And not only do I know it, I can sing along with it.

So I guess that is my personal definition: “Empathy is when you can sing someone else’s lyrics as if they are your own.”

Thank you, Lara.

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Hey Vickie, Why Don’t You Just Blog Off?

We’re all really tired. Like, bone-fatigue tired. Mental-exhaustion tired. We are tired of isolation, tired of loneliness, tired of staying home and tired of being tired. I understand that, for so many people, just finding enough juice to get through the day is a battle. Sure the days are now longer and the sun is warmer and that helps, but the truth is we are all still tired. And in Ontario (where I live), we are all still locked down. For at least another three weeks.

I’m sure that for as many of us who reside on this planet, there is an equal number of methods utilized to endure this pandemic. Some have hibernated, some have broken rules, some have offered help, some have drunk a bit too much wine (who me?) and some have used this time to get creative.

Probably the last two are, in fact, me. I have written and published a book and blogged more than ever. Apparently I just have a lot to say.

However, in recent weeks I have noticed that response to my blog (especially on Facebook) has diminished. Interest in my book has … evaporated. I was somewhat perplexed so I reached out to an elderly and wise friend and asked … “Why? I know I’m no celebrity and I know these are just my thoughts but why isn’t anyone responding anymore. They used to?”

(Yes, it was a tiny pity-party, probably fueled by too much wine.)

EWF (elderly, wise friend) responded, “We’re all tired, Vic. We’re tired of being told what to do. What not to do. What to think. How to act. Where to go and where to not go. Who to see. Who not to see. We are tired of not getting hugged and not communing with our loved ones. And we are all really damn tired of being told HOW we should feel.”

“What has that got to do with my blog?” I replied, ever the astute and clever wench that I am.

EWF laughed. Loudly.

“That’s what your blogs are about, baby,” he chuckled through the phone. “Your blogs tell us how to think. Feel. Respond. Operate. That’s exactly what you write. And it’s great … usually. And it makes us think. But we’re tired, remember? We don’t want to think anymore. Not about that stuff, anyway.”


Good point.

I have decided to blog off for awhile. Give y’all a chance to live without my (endless) counsel.

However … (uh oh) … I will still be creating. You know, just in case you miss me.

My new Wine Soaked Ramblings podcast is now available on Anchor and Spotify or wherever you cast your pods. There are a bunch up already and a lot more (from the archives) are coming.

My book “Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and Be Happy” is also being podcast – chapter by chapter. It’s a “chewy” (I’ve never done anything the simple way) memoir with easy-peasy cheating recipes. The podcast is also on Anchor and Spotify and all of the actual recipes (it’s difficult to “tell” a recipe) will be posted on my Potty-Mouthed Chef Facebook page. It’s all FREE.—Prologue-e10mebk

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. For a while there I couldn’t even see the tunnel so I’m hoping you are feeling the same. Wear your mask. Get a vax. Care for others. Live in gratitude.

And if you’re bored, please do join me in my new podcasting venture. I’m sure I will be back here with fresh ideas … soon enough. In the meantime, my dulcet tones await. I am a radio gal, after all …

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I’m Just One Lottery Win Away From …

How many times have you said that? To someone else or even just to yourself?

My friend B: “I’m just one lottery win away from buying my dream home on Turks & Caicos …

My friend K: “I’m just one lottery win away from buying the Corvette I’ve always wanted …

My friend G: I’m just one lottery win away from paying off my mortgage …

My friend S: “I’m just one lottery win away from buying your trailer at Hope Bay …”

I get it. We all have fantasies. We all have dreams. We all have desires, wishes and hopes. And I guess most of us buy lottery tickets.

Well … except me. I never have. I used to belong to a pool at work and all I had to do was hand over a twenty every now and then and I was good to go. (Nowhere as it turns out. We never won anything). I was also once in a lottery “duo” with that same friend B. All I had to do was hand over a twenty every now and then and she assured me we would one day be vacationing in her dream home on Turk & Caicos. Which I was welcome to purchase with her if I so desired.

I do. I desire a vacation home on Turks & Caicos. I just figure if I desire such a thing I am going to have to formulate a lottery-free plan to get it. Sure, people win big with lotteries every day. I’ve just never been the kind of girl to leave my big dreams to chance. If I REALLY want something I will wrack (wreck?) my brain with as much creative, outside-the-box thinking I can muster to get it. It doesn’t always work but I will sure-as-shootin’ try.

Case in point: I always wanted to do a Christmas album with all of my talented musical friends. I have loads of talented musical friends and I love Christmas music but I truly had no money to accomplish such a thing. Studio time costs money. Talent costs money. Pressing and releasing a record costs money. So … at first I said, “When I win the lottery I will do a Christmas album.” And then I gave my head a shake and said, “I want to do a Christmas album now so HOW can I make that happen?”

I decided to do the record for charity. Three of them, in fact. I enlisted corporate sponsors and for their (healthy) donation to the project they were allowed to choose the charity to which their donation would go. The funds for that donation would come from CD sales. They would get their name on the record cover and the money they “invested” would pay all my costs. I asked all those talented friends to work “for free” because ALL proceeds were going to worthwhile causes. And they did. “Vickie van Dyke & Friends – Simply Christmas” was born and exists to this day (at all the usual outlets) and ALL proceeds still go to charity. I never cared about MAKING money. I cared about spending money I did not have and I cared about fulfilling a creative dream.

I did not wait to win the lottery. I dreamed it, I developed it and then I did it.


My pal C had her own development strategy. She always wanted to have a summer home on the water. Being a big believer in those “dream boards”, she posted a photo of a waterfront cottage in front of her desk so that every day when she sat down she would be reminded of her goal. She and her hubby both worked hard and when they retired, they sold their big-city house, bought a condo and finally purchased their own piece of summer paradise.

Is it a palace, a dump or a tiny fixer-upper? I have no idea. They haven’t invited me (yet). What I do know is it is their happy place. They will most certainly make it “their own” in time and they will be – quite literally – living the dream.

My other pal H had a different kind of dream. She wanted to retire, move west, be close to family and look after her granddaughter a few times a week. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe for some but H didn’t have much spare cash (moving is expensive), she was still grieving her husband’s death and her nerves were somewhat fragile. Did that stop her?

No. H organized every last duck one by one, step by step, dollar by dollar, and when it was all lined up thanks to her determination and exhausting effort, she landed in Winnipeg ready to start living HER dream.


W is not quite so motivated. W complains constantly about her life (especially during these Covid times). W is negative and needy. I mean, she was negative and needy before the pandemic hit but now she is pretty much immobilized by inertia. She blames everybody (else) for everything. Her only dream is that when she wins the lottery she is going to take a cruise around the world.

And yes, of course you can dream about that kind of stuff. But how you develop it and then do it?

Why not dream about taking a cruise to the Caribbean and then actually develop THAT dream? Maybe THAT is a more manageable dream? Why not dream about renting a cottage on a lake this summer and make THAT happen? Why not dream about being the most positive, upbeat person you have ever met and make THAT happen?

THAT won’t cost a penny and I guarantee your life will change tenfold.

We can all have dreams that are fantasies and nothing more. Yes, I concede that George Clooney is never going to invite me to Lake Como, I am not going to be the next Carole King, my book (Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How To Cheat, Eat and Be Happy – you should read it!) is never going to made into a Netflix series and I will most likely never win the lottery.  (Sorry B, you’ll have to buy that house on Turks & Caicos without me).

But I DID dream about living on the water and now I do. I DID dream about Lake Huron sunsets and now I see them from my living room window. I DID dream about having a Golden Doodle (15 years ago, before they were the rage) and when I saw my first Sheepadoodle 5 years ago I dreamed about him too. Now I have both.

I have enjoyed ridiculous fantasies along the way (next blog?) and I have also adjusted my dreams along the way to make them more realize-able. I am actually astonished when I start listing the dreams I have dreamed that I would have never thought stood a chance of coming true … but did.

  • I wrote a cabaret-style musical 20 years ago. Five years ago, seemingly out of the blue, 6 of the most talented people I know helped me produce a fabulous little workshop production of it. (“My Romance” – available on YouTube.)
  • I left a marriage that I couldn’t figure out how to figure out a life that I could figure out … and live honestly. Hard to believe I’m a writer I know, but here we are …
  • I recorded ANOTHER album (Vickie van Dyke & Davor Jordanovski – “Under The Influence”) of jazz standards because it was on my bucket list. My mother (may she rest in peace) financed this one, and ALL proceeds continue to go to Hospice Wellington where she died.
  • I started writing this blog (almost 9 years ago) and when I started I had 7 followers. Now I am closing in on 150 (plus all my lovely Facebook friends who take the time to read and comment).

And yes. I did dream about writing a book AND publishing it and now it is out there for all the word to see.

Is it a best seller. Nope.

Was it endorsed by Elizabeth Gilbert or Glennon Doyle?


Is it a worthwhile book and am I glad I wrote it?



You really and truly DO need all three steps. Dreaming is easy. Developing takes a lot of work and creative thinking. And DOING it? Well, that’s the most difficult part.

Also the most rewarding. Because when YOU do it, YOU win. It’s not fate, it’s not chance and it’s not a fucking lottery.

It’s YOU.

Who knows? Maybe my book WILL become a Netflix series? Maybe George Clooney will produce it and star in it and then of course invite me to Lake Como? Maybe my next album of original songs will propel me into the Carole King stratosphere?  And maybe one day B and I will own a vacation home on Turks & Caicos?

I hope we do. But you know what else I hope?

I hope we earn it. I hope we DREAM IT. DEVELOP IT. AND DO IT.

Can you imagine how much more meaningful it will be?

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Is It Possible To Go Through An Entire Life Without Giving Or Receiving A Broken Heart?

This morning I put that question out to my Facebook family. I was honestly curious. You see, I had recently learned, in a conversation with my old pal B, that he had endured neither. In his almost 60 years he had never broken anyone’s heart nor did he feel his own heart had ever been shattered. Yes, he had been dumped (more than once) and sure, his actions undoubtedly led to the dissolution of a love affair or two. But he truly believed there had never, ever been a broken heart, either given or received.

“So what did you do when you got dumped?” I queried. “Were you not sad or despondent? Did you not grieve the end of the union or ponder what went wrong or even wonder if it could be salvaged?”

Ummm … no. B just got on with his life. Hung out with the guys. Approached his hobbies with full-time zeal and not an ounce of guilt that they were stealing time from his girlfriend. Maybe bought himself something new. B’s heart was fully intact and just fine, thank you, and there was still much life to be enjoyed without old whatshername.


I bet we all wish we could have been B at some point in our lives.

My first gargantuan (and completely unexpected) heartbreak took place when I was 17. I had fallen for a much older man (22) who I had met whilst underage drinking at the local haunt, facilitated by my mature countenance and my sister’s fake ID. I was fully smitten with Mr. Dreamy and he seemed taken enough with me, in spite of the fact that I was still in highschool and still a virgin. I had lots on the go (theatre, music, I even took him to a beauty pageant where I represented my store in the Miss Savette contest!). Even though I was young, I’d like to believe he found me unique. Certainly different than the girls his own age who drank with us on occasion.

The trouble came when he realized I wasn’t quite ready to explore full carnal knowledge, nor was he ready to be the one deflowering me, especially when the girls his own age who drank with us on occasion were more than willing. . Off he went on a party weekend with his buddy and buddy’s girlfriend. When he returned buddy’s girlfriend was HIS girlfriend and buddy (who had apparently been drunk most of the time and therefore oblivious to the extra-curricular activities of his “friends”) was single again.

So was I, as it turns out. Except he didn’t tell me. He called me upon his return, all chit-chatty about his crazy week-end, and then ended the conversation with a simple, “I’ll see you at the bar.”

I did not see him. There or anywhere. Nor did he ever call me again. I endured three weeks of torturous misery, wondering what the hell had happened. Finally one of his friends coughed up the truth. And I was devastated.

I spent most of that summer wallowing. I woke up every morning hoping it was all a bad dream. I sleep-walked through my days wishing with all my might he would call. I went to bed every night believing I would never be happy again. I was crushed. Mr. Dreamy crushed me.

It would be another 30 odd years until anybody crushed me again (read my book).

You see, that’s the thing with broken hearts. When you get one and survive, you don’t want another one anytime soon so you do everything in your power to prevent a repeat. This typically means becoming the Dumper as opposed to the Dumpee. I became an expert Dumper.

My friend SB posted this on Facebook this morning: My heart has been broken and while it was awful and took years to recover, the journey to mend my heart took me places I might never have gone without the heartbreak. And for my heart to break in the first place I had to love. I wouldn’t wish that love away to avoid the pain and am forever grateful to have had the journey.

Nice, eh? Very astute and mature and even poetic.

I wish I could subscribe. But when I look back on Mr. Dreamy, I am just pissed. I am pissed that this vacuous, immature and unaccountable JERK coloured me and my life for a very long time. He could have told me the truth on that phone call. He could have let me down gently and kindly. Instead he turned me into a Dumper-Junkie for many years to come!

Okay, breathe Vickie.

At least I was available for the heartbreak, right? CL chimed in on Facebook that “unless you are emotionally crippled” hearts will break and get broken. Perhaps Mr. D was emotionally crippled? Perhaps he still is. I, at least, know I am not.

KB (my teenage guru) believes that hearts will always roll unless someone is “actively” trying to prevent it. In other words, if you’re open and vulnerable and willing, at some point you’re gonna get schmucked. MB echoes this sentiment: “I think the only way it may be possible to prevent all heartbreak is to keep your emotions under lock and key at all times and don’t get close to anyone or let them get close to you.”

Yep. That I understand. It’s the vulnerability thing. You’re either willing to get naked or you’re not. Damn the torpedoes and damn the consequences.

A lot of folks offered that heartbreak isn’t always romantic and I concede to that willingly. I have many friends who have been broken-hearted over the loss of a parent, a child, a pet, a friend … even a job. I understand that many of these heartbreaks are unavoidable or arbitrary and we must simply live through them. My question went more to the relationship side of things, where broken hearts are typically caused by choice, not chance. RS offers quite eloquently that, “If it’s a lover breaking your heart, just make sure he or she is worth the suffering.”

Amen, brother.  

I was surprised that I did not hear from a single soul who said, “I married my high school sweetheart and we’ve been blissfully happy ever since. No heartbreaks here, lady … sorry.” Not one single person. Maybe all those folks are so busy being blissfully happy with fully intact hearts they have no time (or desire) to weigh in in pithy Facebook questions?

What I did learn (and love) is that most people who have known a heartache or two have taken the lesson and left behind the anguish.

LM: I truly believe heartbreak is inevitable if you live and love.

CF: A heart wide open will take some hits … but that means it is living

BP:  It’s definitely a learning experience and has made me who I am today. I think that’s a good thing.

Yes. Every learning experience IS a good thing. And for the record, this pendulum swings both ways.

Many years after Mr. Dreamy became my worst nightmare, I found myself in the unenviable position of breaking off a 4 year relationship with a colleague. We had never been a stable union, our match was not made in heaven, I’m pretty sure we both cheated and I had met someone with whom I wanted a “real” relationship.

And so I told him the truth. I told him I had met someone with whom I wanted a real relationship and our acquaintance, both romantic and professional, was now coming to an end.

That morning, after my heartfelt confession had been rendered, I left his house and did not go home. I went straight to my parent’s home where I sat on the sofa in their den and wept buckets for two hours. My mother didn’t quite get it. “But YOU broke up with him, Vickie? Why are you so sad?” (To be truthful, they never like him or our relationship so they were not exactly crying with me).

My father explained quietly, “She just broke a heart. And often the pain of breaking a heart is worse than the pain of having yours broken.”

How right he was. Because when our heart gets broken, we don’t get a vote. Our fate is foisted upon us and we are left drowning in a puddle of our own tears, wondering what the hell happened.

But when we break a heart intentionally, we get that vote. We become judge, jury and executioner. And to watch the person you once loved shatter in front of you … well, I’m not sure which is worse.

I am sad to say I have broken a few hearts since. And my own has sustained more than its share of bruises.

And that is okay.

Because there is no amount of money on this planet that would make me want to be B.

Has he had a simpler, less volatile life? Probably. But the question begs – if you have never felt the loss of love, have you ever truly loved?

My life has been saturated with colour. Every colour of the rainbow. Every level of pain and joy. Every realization that actions have consequences, we are all each other’s keepers and it is up to us to share our hearts freely and with faith but to also hold other’s hearts in our hands with respect and honour.

I have no idea what ever happened to Mr. Dreamy. I have no idea what will happen to B. I do know that it is truly “better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” (thank Alfred Lloyd Tennyson). I am grateful for ALL of the opportunities an open heart has brought to me and I am confident that, no matter what, I will survive (thank you Gloria Gaynor).

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Do You Have One Soulmate or A Dozen?

I don’t mean a dozen as in 12 different people on this planet who might potentially be your soulmate. I mean a dozen as in – it may well take 12 different people – with very different attributes – to make up that one perfect entity called “soulmate”.

We all grow up thinking that our missing puzzle piece is out there somewhere, just waiting for us to find them. And when we do, we will magically understand what all this “soulmate” fuss is about and gallop off into a fairy-tale sunset, happily ever after. We shall be complete. Completed by another human being. Just one.

Holy fuck … the pressure.

I myself waited a very long time to find that soul-dude. 48 years, I believe. On the way, I settled, I maneuvered, I complained and I made-do. I reckoned it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I saw couples all around me (and still do on social media), purporting full-on blissful soulmate-hood and lifelong gratitude that they had found “the one”.

When I finally did think I had found “the one”, it turned out that he was only “the one” for a very short period of time before he decided he was in fact not “the one” and trotted off to sew some oats and leave me wondering what the hell had happened. Because if “the one” I thought (after 48 years) was “the one” and it turned out he was not “the one” then where the heck was “the one” and how was I ever going to find him?

Turns out I didn’t.

I recall a conversation with my highschool pal T who maintained that we probably all have several soulmate options in our lifetime. Sure, his wife was his soulmate but so was his teenage girlfriend, a few lovers after that and potentially even someone yet unknown (should his marriage fail which, at last check it has not).

Wow. What a pragmatic approach, right? Not exactly Disney but I am quite sure every bit (if not more so) plausible.

Then there is M and B. They met in college, became best friends, married other people, divorced other people, married each other and are now mated soulfully. So what took them so long? Why did they have to test-drive other models before realizing the Ferrari was right in front of them all along?

I have no idea. I do love seeing them happy though.

D and W took another route. They were sweethearts at 13, had babies at 18 and got divorced at 49. Were they soulmates for those 36 years? I expect they were. But something happened that weakened that bond. That frayed that rope. That ultimately altered their soulmate connection. And they were compelled to reevaluate and move on … with new soulmates.

On the flipside of that coin, R and G fell in love at 17 and that, as they say, was that. They are still in love after 51 years of marriage and so obviously soul-mated you want their photo stamped on a Hallmark card.

So … back to me (hey, it’s my blog).

I still absolutely and whole-heartedly believe in soulmates. I just do not believe I am going to find one all stuffed handsomely into a single package. When I subscribe to the theory that such a person exists I am invariably devastatingly disappointed. When I place ALL that pressure on one man, HE invariably shrivels, balks or bolts. It just never works out.

I have decided that my soulmate is a puzzle. A puzzle with as many pieces as I need to make it work. And when I put all those pieces together they make a beautiful picture.

Piece#1 – my beloved. We cohabit, we travel, we entertain, we watch Netflix and sunsets and we raise our dogs joyfully.

Piece#2 – my dear friend J. We discuss the issues of the day and the issues of our hearts, we pick up each other’s pieces when we are shattered and we celebrate each other’s victories joyfully. Truth be told, I have several amazing girlfriends who fall into this category. And I call each and every one a soulmate. Especially as I mature and allow unnecessary “friendships” to evaporate. I just don’t have the time or energy when my “Soul Queens” are waiting.

Piece#3 – my friend C. We fell in love the moment we met. Girlfriend love that was so profound and so immediate it has flourished, floundered, weathered a hurricane and survived. Our souls are mated, this I know. Even if we do not speak for months (or years).

Piece#4 – the musical men in my life. Three in particular who I could love no more if I bore their children. There is something absolutely magical about making music with a man (or woman, for that matter) who not only sees your soul but can then translate what he sees to music.

Piece#5 – my son. I know, it’s weird to classify your offspring as “soulmate” and I was certainly no soulmate to either of my parents (as much as I loved them). But we are. Who knows … maybe in our next life he’ll be the parent and I’ll be the child?

So yes, I guess I DO need a dozen soulmates. I need every piece of that puzzle to fit perfectly. I don’t need perfect people. I need puzzle pieces that fit perfectly.

Am I sad that Prince Charming never actually showed up?

Of course I am, for fuck’s sake, I grew up on Disney movies!

Am I grateful for my puzzle pieces?

Of. Course. I. Am.

Eternally grateful.

My life would be unfinished without them. Like an incomplete puzzle, languishing for eternity on the cottage table.

My advice is this – sure, go find your soulmate. That soul may, however, exist in a few different bodies and that’s okay.

Acknowledging the soul is hugely important.

And so is finding your mate.

Or mates. However many it takes.

There are no rules. This is your life and your puzzle.

Just do it.

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