life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

Don't Talk Like That...

I write to find out what my heart thinks....
I write to expose and work through the ugly parts of this disease, open heart surgery that was less than successful and more recently an S-ICD (internal cardiac defibrillator) implanted in my chest that will hopefully restore my heart beat in case of sudden cardiac death. I am here to celebrate my life, to uncover my fears, to hold on to love, to learn how to live a full life with heart failure, to honor my creativity, and to explore all of my emotions out loud ...before anyone can say
"Don't talk like that!"


.

.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Even though it is plastic...

Yea…yea…yea…It is a plastic pumpkin.

It is not round like most pumpkins…rather skinny at the top quite broad on the bottom…A pumpkin with an ass…I can relate!

When the boys were little, there was nothing I could do to keep them from exploding with excitement at Halloween!  At our house in those days, being outdoors playing in the yard after dark was a big deal but to cruise the entire neighborhood (and then some) after dark, in a costume, with massive amounts of candy…it was a little boy trifecta!  The only thing that could keep them pacified, waiting for night fall was carving the pumpkin on Halloween afternoon.

The three of us continued carving pumpkins together on Halloween afternoon all the way through their high school years and rather embarrassingly through a few college years, too.  But I finally gave it up when they were quite grown and gone. I do miss the carving with them, but not the mess.

All of these years later, (the boys are now 38 & 40) I may have given up the carving but I have never been able to give up having a lit pumpkin on the porch for the trick or treat-ers on Halloween night, even though it is plastic.         Happy Halloween!

   "Spooky"   Dusty Springfield
Spooky candles burning, pumpkins lit and on guard, goblins circling, but the trick or treat-ers are getting through to the front door! 
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Frankenstein has nothing on me!

Frankenstein has nothing on me!  At the risk of sounding morbid and gross…but it is Halloween week after all!  I have got me some scars….9 kidney surgeries, 2 C-sections, 1 thyroid, a several skin cancers and now open heart.  That last one left me several fresh new ones and another surgery being scheduled soon. But then I suspect in today's world and at my age, who doesn’t?  Quite frankly for me, they are embarrassing and a constant reminder of how fragile my body and this life can be….and  that is when the fear begins to slip in.  I forget to remember how strong I have been, how many unsurmountable (and a few weenie) health issues I have overcome, and I slip into the ugly downward spiral of “what if’s”.  What if it happens again, what if they did not get it all, what if it did not work, what if….what if….what if…  I need to remember that those ugly scars are nothing but symbols I carry.   They have made me who I am….Strong!
"Beautiful"    Carol King

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The CHERYL EVANS method of cardiac function testing....

There was a time….not so long ago… when the nurse at “The Heart Failure Clinic” would want to send me to the hospital for tests….I would balk.  My reasoning was, they are expensive and invasive, and I do not feel bad.  Give me a glass of pinot grigio and send me on a brisk walk around the block and I will tell you precisely how I am doing. No muss...no fuss and the price is right!  Not to mention the results are always accurate! 

Since the surgery, I have become a big old fat weenie, depending on the medical industry’s high priced, horribly invasive and insensitive methods of telling ME how I feel.  SO… I got my ass up on the treadmill (sans the pinot grigio) and pushed my heart and my body hard!   I walk on my treadmill everyday and it has always given me the first tell-tale signs when things in my heart were  going wrong.  Why couldn't it tell me when things are going right? Clearly the doctors are evading my questions and are not going to tell me what they know, not without more of their expensive testing!  God forbid they make and educated assessment or explain to me what they are looking for and why. 

I can figure this out on my own!  I doubled the speed of my normal walking on my treadmill, very close to a run, for 2 min and 30 seconds.  I was totally out of breath (not too proud of that) but NO ANGINA! NO ANGINA…. 3 months ago I could not walk for 45 seconds without having to take a nitro glycerin. 

The CHERYL JONES EVANS method of cardiac function testing is a thumbs up success!

Based on this “kind of” scientific, non-invasive and extremely affordable test….I am doing GREAT!


"Take a Walk on the Wild Side"  Lou Reed

unstoppable....

There is no place big enough to list my
doubts and failures for the past 5 years. So how about I list them for just the last couple of days!

1. As I regain my strength, I seem to be over anxious to restore my emotional well-being by unrealistically insisting that my friends allow me participate fully. No more sympathy or empathy…I have been down right rude and militant…and I am sorry.

2. I hate that I do not feel like my heart is recovering that hibernating tissue we all hoped it would, the medical response that used to be we just need to give it more time, is now scheduling more tests and I still have not received information on how the first tests went. And….next week I am scheduled to find out about having the ICD implanted. I wonder if they will do that without clear test results…

3. I have decided to try a new style of creating and committed to do the nudes for 2 exhibitions in that style….What the fuck am I thinking?

4. I screwed up my courage and invited 5 women artist, I truly admire to join me in a curated exhibition and only 2 have 3 have responded, 2 were yes.

I can go on, but am running out of space…..(I know that is a chicken shit way out of this) and I really need to focus on the good positive things happening….”ART: making a living and a life” classes and the new book are doing well….”Big Magic” Book group has a great wine bar to meet in….I get to see a community theater play….a fun art center fundraiser this week….2 possible exhibitions on the horizon….one “for sure” exhibition on deck.
"Sunshine"  Johnathan Edwards
Some man's come he's trying to run my life, don't know what he's asking
When he tells me I better get in line, can't hear what he's saying
When I grow up, I'm gonna make him mine, these ain't dues I been paying...
How much does it cost? ...I'll buy it!
The time is all we've lost...I'll try it!
He can't even run his own life,
I'll be damned if he'll run mine....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

but this time there is no book club to quit...

I have always been attracted to Dr. Brene’ Brown’s work, for me it has been a love-hate thing.  Love what she says but I struggle with the how she feels vulnerability must be incorporated in our lives ! I even QUIT a book group “Daring Greatly” How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.  I think it is the only thing I have ever quit.  I was so ashamed of myself.  I did not feel like I could risk being vulnerable in front of friends and strangers.  I down loaded the book read the first chapter and walked away.  Maybe it was not the time.  Right now I am feeling incredibly vulnerable, it does not feel good, in fact I am afraid it is getting close to letting this fear overwhelm and frighten me but this time... there is no book club to quit.


"Body Love pt. 1 & 2"   Mary Lambert       (so I downloaded her next book "Rising Strong")


Monday, October 26, 2015

"Love Potions"...it begins






Five invitations sent, 2 already accepted, one already engaged but may send a piece, and 2 more to hear from....it really is going to happen!  I am so excited!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Something new and different...

Perhaps now is not the time to be trying something new,  especially when I have several January deadlines looming.  But I am having an itch, a need, a command from myself to do what I know how to do, but do it differently.  Let go of the past “tried and true” formulas and launch into way of seeing and portraying the world I see.  I have been through a lot; I have a lot to say.  I want my work to be my voice not just something that looks good with your furniture. Pallet knives on the way here!

"Let's Get it On"    Marvin Gaye

Friday, October 23, 2015

Maybe, it is just still too soon...

Patience has never been my strong suit, so I have to confess it is agony waiting and wondering if this surgery worked, if that hibernating part of my heart is “waking” up with new blood flow.  Testing has started, more is scheduled, they are dragging it out with weeks in between them and still they do not tell me what my heart is doing. I am a full believer in “no news is good news”, however, in this case I am beginning to think it is not so.  That reality that I never allowed myself to consider, is slipping into my consciousness.  I pinch myself and remember, I had nothing to lose.  This was a long shot from the beginning, and the absolute worst case scenario would be I am no better off than when I started, and I had learned how to live and accept that quite some time ago.  Those were the cards I was dealt, I made the bet and I know for every winner there has to be a loser.  I wish I knew which one I was or maybe it is just still too soon.

"Closer to Fine"  The Indigo Girls

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

They were taking bets all over town otherwise!





I know I must be driving everyone crazy with wedding pictures......

I promise I will not be so obnoxious much longer, but there were one or two really wonderful moments, and I was so happy that they were caught!

These 3 wonderful women and I have been friends since high school (and 2 of them since kindergarten) How often does that happen? All of us obnoxious teenage hell raisers in the early 70's, but all of us managed to become responsible women, (.....well kind of) although I know a bunch f people in town that were taking bets otherwise!


"Best Friends"  Jason Mraz

Happy Happy Heart Day...I think?


I missed the actual happy heart day, yesterday because of the cruise, so it is a belated celebration.  I always celebrate my heart attack anniversaries by painting my chest but I am not absolutely sure this year is a serious celebration yet, so I only painted it is a small happy heart this year, When I know for sure there will be big big happy heart painting!   Every year on my heart attack day I celebrate and thank my amazing heart that continues to support me in ways that even the doctors find hard to believe.  This year is a bit different, this year my heart was unable to support me like it had in years past, but this year they found some “hibernating” heart tissue and did open heart surgery to try to get it to work again.  8 weeks later, I am still being tested, more tests scheduled, still waiting to find out if it “took”.  The scar is healing, but we still do not know if my heart is healing…Happy Heart Day, my amazing heart….I know you can do it…I believe in you, I believe in me!
"Heart of Gold"  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
First year...I was too afraid and did not yet believe how much control I had over this.....Not the doctors....not the medicines.....me!  2nd year- but my first painted chest.Super Heart!  3rd year- Big Ole' Happy Heart.  4th year Ejection Fraction stayed at 30...30 Hearts Celebration and this year the  5th Little but tough! My heart has been through so much and still we take care of each other!

How much happier could a mother possibly be?

I did take off that lovely "dog tag" style  ID before the
actual wedding began.!  But just so you know with the "sea
pass" I got to drink  for free all weekend , I knew
where that puppy was at all times!  LOL

There is no 'happy' like this one.  For all the things that have gone wrong in my life, these 2 have gone incredibly right! They are both happy, healthy and married to incredible young women.  How much happier could a mother possibly be?  I am so blessed in so many incredible ways, but if I had to count them this would be number 1 & 2 (and they will probably still argue the order of which is which!)


"Forever Young"  Rod Stewart

They are delightfully married and happily home!

Thrilled beyond belief to have a beautiful daughter in-law!
Had a great time seeing bunches of my family and meeting new family!
Glad I had the cruising experience, but more happy than it is possible to imagine 
that we are all happily home!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I just want to dance...


I dance badly and I dance a lot!  The music has been some of the very best out there, everything from the most upbeat melody to the depressing dirge.  I just want to dance!  I am not a musician, I am not a dancer, but I cannot imagine a world without either one.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”                                                                                                                                                            Victor Hugo

"She Just wants to Dance"  Keb Mo

A smile on her face, Cause she's in a place
Where she don't have a care
 
She ain't looking for no lover, She ain't looking for a romance
She just wants to dance. She just wants to dance
Yeah, she just wants to dance, Ooo, she just wants to dance

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Broken is not easy.....




What, how long, why…difficult days are coming in different ways.   In the past I would recognize them by the overwhelming exhaustion.  They have changed, this is my first post op difficult day, part of it I recognize, the other part is new and different and very uncomfortable.   And the damned unanswered questions begin again.  What brought this on, how long will it last, why now?  Broken is not easy…but I am learning to fill in with gold and be beautiful for having been broken.


"Undun"  The Guess Who

Monday, October 12, 2015

Somewhere....




I am just now learning how to listen to me.  What a shame 60 something years old and I am still learning how to do this.  There is some part of me, and I have no idea how it developed that craves to please others, even at the risk of being destructive to myself.    I am learning how to listen to me, but I am still hearing them.  The answer is here in me…..somewhere...

"Music in Me"  Paula Cole

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It is time....

I know this sounds morbid, but I think it may be very true!  I know I have personally had much more bravado since the heart failure began 5 years ago.  There have been a few times I have launched into a scary situation with the attitude, “What can they do to me if I fail, loose, piss someone off?  Kill me?”  That is already happening to me (and as much as I hate to point it out, “that” is happening to everyone) …failure cannot hurt me any anymore, I have nothing to lose.  It is time for me to follow my heart! I am already naked!
"Super Hero"  Ross Lynch

Saturday, October 10, 2015

no fear...no fear...no fear...

No fear…no fear….no fear…no fear….If I ever had an honest to goodness monster, its name would be FEAR!  Fear chases me down and gobbles up my confidence!  It makes me doubt myself, my decisions, my loves, my life.  It is by far the ugliest monster there ever was.  It can disguise itself, sneak up on me, and literally steal me from myself.  I wear my anti-fear armor at all times and have a reminder tattooed on me. 


"Fear"  Jazmine Sullivan

Friday, October 9, 2015

Patience is not my strong suit!

Today was the first test, an echo-cardiogram, to find out whether or not “it took”, (a holy crap...open heart surgery, that is).  So here is the thing…I have had at least a dozen echos…I know how they work, and typically I can schmooze the tech into giving me at least a hint about what is going on.  Most of the time when  they realize that this is not an initial diagnosis and I ask a very specific question, I can get a thumbs up or a nod of approval, or an acknowledgement to a specific question.

That is NOT what I got this morning.  She was a tough cookie.  I worked my charm every way I knew how and could not get one tid-bit of info about what my heart was doing….Damn it.  I am going to have to be patient and I am so bad at it! 

Maybe it is better that I not know before I leave for my youngest son’s wedding on board a cruise ship, if it is not good news it might spoil the trip, besides I do blissfully ignorant so well!  The most important thing is that, this only has 3 possible results…it stayed the same (and I am no worse off than when I started, although I have a lot less money, and some big honking scars), I have gotten some heart function back, enough to implant an ICD, or I have gotten so much heart function back that I will not need an ICD at all.  Any of these 3 possible outcomes will be what they will be and I will be fine regardless of which one it is.  This is the best attitude I can muster up  while waiting..  Patience is not my strong suit!
"Hold on my Heart"  Genesis

The happy prescription!

When so much hurt and pain is consistently swirling around me I have found how easy it is to slip into a pattern that focuses on the chaos and the confusion of depression.  However, I am finding, when I stand back and look at the big picture, I realize how much I do have to be grateful for  a warm home with a comfy bed,  food in my cabinets , happy healthy successful grown children and (grand children).  Gratitude is a marvelous emotion!  It is one of the most amazing and powerful tools to fight depression, that and staying active, keep moving (walking) or anything physical.  This is my magic “happy” prescription, the cost is right and it has worked like a charm so far!
"Belly Belly Nice"  Dave Matthews Band

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One step closer to getting it!

And today it begins!  Several months of a 4th artery collapse and almost 2 more months of recovery after open heart surgery and I promise you no one is more anxious to take back a life than me!

The honest truth is, I would be tickled beyond belief to have the quality of life I had before surgery, and even with all of the problems….I was functioning!  This sitting around, waiting for this invisible event they all call “healing” is not easy for me.
 
You cannot begin to imagine how thrilled I am to begin teaching again tonight.  Teaching means I am taking my life back; it is the beginning of functioning again.  Teaching means I will be in the midst of my tribe, ARTISTS & CREATIVES at least once a week and that will fill my soul.  Teaching at the Leesburg Center for the Arts means once a week I will be out of town with friends and family!

YEP….I want my life back and today….. I am one step closer to getting it!
"Back to Life" En Vogue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

When Words Fail...Music Speaks...


Lyrics from Sara Bareilles' "She Used to be Mine"  spoke to my heart today!

"It's not simple to say, Most days I don't recognize me
With these shoes and this apron, That place and it's patrons
Have taken more than I've gave them, It's not easy to know
I'm not anything like I used be, Although it's true
I was never attention sweet center, But I still remember that girl

She's imperfect but she tries, She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself, She is broken and won't ask for help
She is messy but she's kind, She is lonely, most of the time
She is all of this, mixed up, And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

And it's not what I asked for, Sometimes life just slips in through a backdoor
Carves out the person and makes you believe it's all true, And now I've got you
And you're not what I asked for, If I'm honest, I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over, And rewrite an ending or two, For the girl that I knew

Would be reckless, just enough, Who get hurt
But who learns how to toughen up, when she's bruised
And gets used by a man who can't love, And then she'll get stuck and be scared
Of the life that's inside her, Growing stronger each day
Til it finally reminds her, To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes, That's been gone, but it used to be mine, Used to be mine

She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely, most of the time
She is all of this, mixed up, and baked in a beautiful pie

She is gone, but she used to be mine "                            ~Sara Bareilles
                                                                   
"She Used to be mine"  Sara Bareilles

The perfect analogy...

Love, is there anything written or talked about more? Is there anything people spend more money on? Is there anything people chase more? Is there anything that that we understand less?  I hope you do not think I am going to offer up some kind of answer here, because I am quite frankly clueless! 


But ask me about “horny for my creativity” and I could write a book (and maybe I should, what a great title!)  I cannot spend a day without writing, or painting, or drawing, or sewing or making something.  I have no choice, I have to make something,  I will do anything to "make".  It is like a 17 year old that has finally reached raging maximum hormone levels! Thank you Gilda, for the perfect analogy.  I  understand perfectly that overwhelming obsessive drive....I will do just about anything to create and yes there are times I feel like a........whore....an art whore!
"Come on Get Higher"  Matt Nathanson

Monday, October 5, 2015

The first anniversary

I cannot believe it has been a year since you died, but then there are days that it feels like it was just yesterday, it still hurts that much. Will I we ever stop needing and missing you?  I do not know, but I will find the strength  I need to go on.   You taught me that.

  "By Your Side"  Ben Taylor

Sunday, October 4, 2015

it does not mean I have stopped caring....

Whew…that one just shot through me like a bullet!  I have been struggling so much with this one recently.  The only difference I would like to add, and I hope Mandy Hale will forgive me, is to include “expecting” care.  I have had a life time of wanting to be cared for, and when it does not happen, I am the on that feels so worthless.  I have tried to “force” care, I have begged for care, but that does not work either.  I thought the recent heart crisis would change things, but it has only made it worse.  I am letting go….I am letting go of this pain, but it does not mean I have stopped caring.  It means I have stopped letting it hurt me. It means I will care for me.
"You're the Only One in Your Way"  Cloud Cult


"…and by that I mean…If you believe that you are a child of the universe, or a product of Love, and/or a global citizen, then it’s common sense that you care well for yourself. In fact, you’re honour bound to love yourself.
And like, self care as a divine responsibility is more than a monthly pedicure or treating yourself to your favourite pint on Fridays (though both are fab’.) But let’s think more highly of our cosmic selves. Self care is taking the time to recover. It’s sabbaticals to clear your head and chart your course. It’s leaving. It’s investing. It’s asking for more. It’s being protective and tender and limitlessly compassionate with yourself.
Treat yourself like the divine creature that you are…
and then get a pedicure and have a pint."                                        ~Danielle LaPorte                                                   

My only choice...



There are so many things in my life I will not have control of.  My choice, my only choice will be how I react to what is happening to me and around me.   I have the power to choose how I allow these things (events, people, and health) to affect my life and my happiness.  I have decided to be happy!  So many people think that is the easy choice that it comes easily without struggle or pain. They are wrong!  It is a decision that takes commitment and work, just like any other life choice, but I know in my heart it is worth it.  I am hoping the rewards when realized will be more than I or anyone else could possibly imagine, but even if they are not I can honestly say I am happy!

            "The Best day of My Life"  American Authors

Saturday, October 3, 2015

That is my job...

As I heal, grow and take my power back, there are some big lessons I am learning and this is a big one.   I think I may have known this in my heart all along.  But I have held on so tight to the way I thought life should happen that I have been unable to see this.  I have wanted someone to love me enough to fix me. I have waited and waited, hoping that eventually they would see my pain and fear and fix me.  I know I cannot fix other people or situations, why would I expect that they might be able to fix me, It is not fair for me to expect  anyone else to fix me.....That is my job.
"Never Going Back Again"  Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks

Friday, October 2, 2015

Back in the Saddle!

I am not certain that there are words that would ever be able to express the struggle the emotion and the sheer determination it takes to survive heart failure and then go through open heart surgery with no guarantee it will work.  I cannot count how many times I was sure this surgery was the biggest friggin’ mistake of my life, nothing and I mean nothing has hurt as bad or as long as this did.  (and I have had 2 kids and 7 kidney stones, I know what hurt is!)…..But today….oh boy finally today I took my life back, I put my big girl panties on and drove myself to Leesburg, took part in an art grant review meeting, then had another meeting about curating an exhibition.  (and drove myself home) 

Today is the first day in a very long time I felt like I am taking my life back.  My heart is still struggling and there are lots more hurdles I have to jump, but it feels spectacular to be back in the saddle again!  Woo-hoo!

"Get Back"  The Beatles

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bucket List #32B Swim (snorkel) in a sink hole!

you got to know I am feeling much better if I am am planning bucket list goodies.....
the Devil's Den is an hour and a half from here....how could I have not known about this???



but....with a cape!



I looked around the house this morning, there are piles of books, piles of dirty clothes, piles of mail (mostly medical bills& insurance statements), bed sheets that need to be changed, an empty fridge and toilets that need to be scrubbed.  I was always taught that really good girls, spectacular women and well organized successful  ladies have miraculously clean homes, but when I look around my house,  it only makes me feel super lazy!  I mean….what about any of this seems the least bit enjoyable, creative or inspiring?  I am afraid, this time the super woman cape is not going to help….unless I flip it around backwards and use it for a small blanket while I take a nap.


"Good Girls"  Julian Moon