Day 1393: In the driver’s seat

I have gotten the go-ahead from my cardiologists to drive again, now that I have recovered sufficiently from my open heart surgery of September 21.

Now that I’m back in the driver’s seat, I have many places to go today, including:

  1. Cardiac rehab at a nearby hospital, where I’ll sit and walk on different types of exercise equipment with my usual drive,
  2. My dentist’s office, for a 3-month teeth cleaning (driven by  my real risk of endocarditis),
  3. A Boston hospital, to surprise people who are used to being in the driver’s seat,
  4. A real estate property in a nearby town within easy driving distance, where perhaps I’ll soon be driving and parking my car.

Here‘s one of my favorite in-the-driver’s-seat tunes, performed by the amazing and driving Bonnie Raitt:


I love my life with me and the boys — my boyfriend Michael, my son Aaron, and our kitties Oscar and Harley.

Here are some photos I was able to take yesterday because I was in the driver’s seat:



















When I see a product like Chinese Szechuan Chicken-flavored potato chips, I wonder who’s in the driver’s seat over at Lay’s.

What helps you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat?

When I’m in the driver’s seat, gratitude is often sitting in the passenger’s seat beside me, so here’s a driving feeling I want to express to all those who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — no matter what seat you’re in right now:



Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1392: Depends

What’s my attitude about life?  Depends on what’s going on around me, how I’m perceiving things, and people I depend on.

How am I feeling as I recover from my recent open heart surgery?  Depends on how much sleep I’m able to get, which depends on how much pain I’m having.

How do I answer questions from myself and from others? Depends on the question, my attitude, my experience, and what I know.

How  do  I come up with a title and topic for each of my daily blog posts?  Depends on what’s happened the day before, usually.

How do I decide which pictures to share here?  Depends on which ones I think you might like.











How well do I quote other people in this blog?  Depends on my memory and what they have to say.  Yesterday, the dependably hilarious, brilliant, and charming Mel Brooks responded to a question from the audience as follows:

Question:  Boxers or briefs?

Mel Brooks:  Depends!

My choice of music for each post depends on several factors. Here‘s the theme song from Blazing Saddles  — the movie Mel Brooks showed and discussed yesterday:


Will you comment on today’s blog post?  That probably depends on what you have to say.

I depend on others to create every blog post and on you to read them, so many thanks to Mel Brooks, to my neighbor Karen for driving me yesterday to a realtor’s open house AND to see Mel Brooks, and to you — of course! — on whom I depend more than you know.


Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1391: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

To start telling this story, today’s post title is a quote from the musical Hamilton.


Who lives, on the day I’m writing this?

  • I do, against all odds and even though a team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic  essentially killed me* on September 21 in order to repair my heart before they brought me back to life.
  • Mel Brooks, thank goodness, even though he is 90 years old (and whom I’ll be seeing today in person in Boston).
  • Approximately 7.5 billion people, according to this link.


Who dies, on the day I’m writing this?

  • Kevin Meaney, suddenly at age 60, who was one of my and my son’s favorite comedians.
  • 151,600 people, according to this link.


Who tells your story?

I’ll tell you who tells my story —   it’s me, through this blog.  Perhaps because my story has included so many doctors and medical institutions from the moment I was born, it’s VERY important to me to be the expert of my own experience — the primary teller of my own story. Of course, I can’t control how others will tell my story after I die, but to quote Kevin Meaney about that, “I don’t care.”

Here’s how I photographically choose to tell my story of October 21, 2016, when I went to  one hospital for cardiac rehab and then to another hospital to get blood work to prepare for ANOTHER surgical procedure on November 2 and also to drop in on my  amazing cardiologist Dr. Deeb Salem:













And because we do need help from others to tell our stories, I want to thank my friend Carol, who is such a wonderful woman, for capturing the story of those last four photos.

Here’s the last photo that I took yesterday, to tell my story:


Now, how would you tell a story in a comment, below?

I’ll end today’s story with live gratitude to all those living and dead who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — no matter how you tell your story.

* I’m glad you lived to read  this part of my story from the Mayo Clinic surgeon’s report on  September 21:  “The aorta was occluded, and 800 cc of cold blood cardioplegia was infused into the aortic root obtaining satisfactory asystolic arrest.” Doesn’t that sound like they satisfactorily killed me?

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 1390: Such a _____ woman

Since I witnessed  a presidential candidate being called “such a nasty woman” during such a nasty debate two nights ago, this blogging woman has been experiencing such nasty AND un-nasty  memories of  names she has been called over the years.

Yes, such a history I’ve had as a woman,  being called such a list of names, including  these:

  • A selfish woman
  • A sefless woman
  • A kind woman
  • An ungenerous woman
  • A generous woman
  • A neat woman
  • A messy woman
  • A brilliant woman
  • A stupid woman
  • A sarcastic woman
  • A talented woman
  • A foolish woman
  • A thoughtful woman
  • A thoughtless woman
  • A respectful woman
  • A disrespectful woman
  • A respected woman
  • An attractive woman
  • A not-attractive-enough woman
  • A cute woman
  • A silly woman
  • A mature woman
  • An immature woman
  • A  sexy woman
  • A controlling woman
  • An uncontrollable woman
  • A brave woman
  • A sensitive woman
  • A strong woman
  • A vulnerable woman
  • An unusual woman
  • An ordinary woman
  • A smart woman
  • An unambitious woman
  • An ambitious woman
  • A creative woman
  • A boring woman
  • An understanding woman
  • A judicious woman
  • A catastrophizing woman
  • A funny woman
  • A serious woman
  • A helpful woman
  • A spontaneous woman
  • A quirky woman
  • A focused woman
  • A distracted woman
  • A distracting woman
  • An empathic woman
  • A joyful woman
  • An angry woman
  • A sad woman
  • A calm woman
  • A fearful woman
  • A fearless woman
  • A non-judgmental woman
  • A critical woman
  • An accepting woman
  • A competitive woman
  • A delightful woman
  • A stubborn woman
  • An honest woman
  • A defensive woman
  • An assertive woman
  • A resilient woman
  • A nice woman
  • A determined woman
  • A maternal woman
  • An unsmiling woman
  • A smily woman
  • A healthy woman
  • An unhealthy woman
  • An independent woman
  • A needy woman
  • A loyal woman
  • A woman who likes to move on.

Moving on, now, to music that this writing woman is now hearing in her such-a-woman’s brain, here are  two songs about women: “Witchy Woman” and “Kind Woman,” both written and sung by such_____ men:

Such great music with such interesting titles!

Now, this photographing woman has such a lot of _____ images to share with you:

















Such a beautiful smile on that grandmother’s face! Such a laugh I had, yesterday, when that grand woman told me that the baby’s mother has already been reading advanced books like “Women in Science” to that beautiful 4-month-old girl!

Such a smile I’ll have on my  face if you leave a comment about this “Such a ____ Woman” post.

Finally, such gratitude I have for all the women, men, etc. who helped me create such a ____ post and for you — of course! — for being such wonderful readers, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1389: Within Reach

Here are some things that are within reach for me, as I write today’s post.

  1. My laptop.
  2. The end of the 2016 U.S. presidential contest.
  3. Halloween.
  4. My getting the go-ahead to drive again, as my sternum heals from my September 21st open heart surgery.
  5. My returning to (and probably exceeding) my exercise “baseline” through cardiac rehab.
  6. Determining my weekly dose of Coumadin/Warfarin, an anticoagulant I now need because of my new mechanical heart valve.
  7. The replacement of my recalled St. Jude Medical  ICD (Implantable Cardiac Device) on November 2.
  8. My seeing Mel Brooks in person for the first time, two days from now.
  9. My next teeth cleaning, in five days.
  10. My return to work as an individual and group psychotherapist, probably during election week.

All day, yesterday, I took photos of things that were within reach of my iPhone camera:





















Here‘s a tune whose title was within reach in one of my photos, above:


What’s within reach for you, here and now?

The end of this post is within reach, as I thank all those who helped me create it and all those who are reading it today, including you!


Categories: personal growth, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1388: Flesh and Bones

During this time of the year, there are flesh and bones everywhere, but many more bones than usual:


























Here’s something I feel in my flesh and bones, on this October day: I miss my only child, Aaron, who is away at college in Edinburgh, Scotland. Three of those photos of bones, above, reminded me of this fuzzy, flesh-and-bones Halloween photo of long ago:


In my flesh and bones, I also miss my late mother (on the right).

What are you feeling in your flesh and bones, today?

As I continue to recover from open heart surgery, the bones in my rib cage feel like a too-large bird cage, especially when I’m trying to sleep. However, this flesh-and-bone blogger is SO grateful her  bones and flesh are healing, every day.

Since my trusty and strong leg bones took me many other places besides Hillcrest Road in Belmont, Massachusetts, yesterday,  I took several other flesh-and-bones photos besides the boney ones, above.  I’d say it’s time to flesh out this post with those:


























Which of those photos do you prefer, in your bones?

In my bones, I know that this is the video — created by my son Aaron more than seven Halloweens ago — that I want to share  with my flesh-and-bones readers, today:


Flesh-and-bones thanks to my son Aaron, to everyone else who helped me create today’s post, and to you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 1387: Parallel Realities

Yesterday, I encountered several parallel realities, including:

  • happiness and sadness,
  • blame and forgiveness,
  • health and illness,
  • life and death,
  • hope and despair,
  • improvements and setbacks,
  • old and new,
  • ups and downs,
  • pain and relief,
  • poverty and abundance,
  • ins and outs,
  • driving and walking,
  • connection and loneliness,
  • Democrats and Republicans,
  • fear and safety,
  • hot and cold,
  • cats and dogs,
  • doctors and patients,
  • belief and skepticism,
  • apples and oranges,
  • comedy and tragedy, and
  • one of my favorite CDs,  Parallel Realities,  with drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist Pat Metheny, and keyboardist Herbie Hancock.

Here‘s a live version of the great tune “Jack In” from Parallel Realities, wherein Jack, Pat, Herbie, and bassist Dave Holland work it out.


Early in the day, I attended Cardiac Rehab for the first time since the winter of 2015 and encountered several parallel realities there, including …


… a cardiac rehab student named  Tori and a cardiac rehab veteran named Danise,

… two parallel  measurements of exertion, and

. … two parallel signs.

On the way home from Cardiac Rehab, my long-time friend Eleanor, who is very much alive, drove us by some characters who were definitely dead:







Do you see any other parallel realities in my other parallel photos from yesterday?







What parallel realities are you encountering, right now?

Finally, here are some parallel and real thanks for those who helped me create this “Parallel Realities”  post and those who came to read it (including you!).




Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 1386: Be Audacious

“Be Audacious” seems like audaciously appropriate advice on this audacious Monday in the audacious month of October, 2016.

I mean, so many audacious people are being audacious all around us … why shouldn’t we be audacious, too?

During my audacious recovery from some audaciously recent open heart surgery, I’ve tried to be audacious and focus on my own audacious needs first with doctors and other audacious people in my life. Being audacious in this way has been particularly helpful as I deal with the unexpected and audacious recall of my audaciously important St. Jude pacemaker/defibrillator, which I received 17 audacious months ago.

Indeed, when I saw this audacious flyer, yesterday:


… I immediately thought to my audacious self, “I shall be audacious and make ‘Be Audacious’ the title and the topic of my next audacious blog post!”

Was I being audacious when I took these  other photos on that same audacious day?



















Which photo is the most audacious of all, in your audacious opinion?

My audacious friend Carol sent me this audacious photo yesterday, via an audacious text message:


If you are audacious enough to request more audacious info about any of the audacious photos in this audacious post, I shall be audacious enough to answer.

There are so many audacious possibilities for an audacious video here, but I shall be audacious and choose this one, for your audacious pleasure:

I shall now audaciously thank all those who helped me create this audacious post and  audacious you (for reading it)  with one final audacious photo.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1385: Compassion

I’ve been working on developing more compassion for myself and for others, lately.

Compassion has always been a passion of mine, but I’ve been more passionate about it recently, because of:

  • the current political climate in the United States,
  • the physical and emotional challenges I’ve been experiencing as I recover from open heart surgery,
  • disappointments I’ve been encountering, including the ill-timed and unexpected  recall of my pacemaker/defibrillator,
  • the healing power of  the compassion I’ve been experiencing from passionate friends, family members, and blog readers, and
  • the undeniable importance of compassion for human connection and growth.

Can you see compassion in any of my photos from yesterday?







I find it particularly difficult to experience and show compassion when I am in pain, afraid of the future, and disconnected from others.   Thank goodness I have compassionate people in my life like Michael, who compassionately cooked me that delicious meal and Megan, who compassionately brought me the apple cake her compassionate husband, Paul, made for me.

It’s easy to feel compassion when you’re eating delicious apple cake with some compassionate ice cream.

Here‘s some music I found with compassion on YouTube:


Are you compassionate enough to leave behind a comment for this “Compassion” post?

Compassion and thanks to all who helped me create today’s compassionate and passionate post and to you — of course! — for having the compassion to visit me,  here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Day 1384: Too ____ To Be True

About a week ago, I wrote a post about my very recent open heart surgery and how the outcome seemed too good to be true.

Today, I’m writing another post about a development that seems too weird/unlucky/odd/scary/infuriating/ distressing/unfair/sucky/ridiculous to be true.

Yesterday, I got a voicemail message from one of my too good to be true cardiologists, Dr. Mark Estes, requesting that I call him as soon as possible on his cell phone. This seemed too unusual to be true, since I’ve never gotten a message like that during all the decades of my working with Dr. Estes.

When I called Dr. Estes, he picked up immediately and told me this, which seemed too bizarre to be true:

Ann, St. Jude, the manufacturer of your pacemaker/defibrillator, which we implanted in you a year ago May, has  informed us that your device can suddenly  and prematurely completely lose  battery power.  We are informing all those patients with the device. You are one of seven patients we have who are completely dependent upon your ICD, so I am recommending that you have surgery to have the device replaced within the next two weeks.

I was too shocked by this unexpected news to believe it was true, but Dr. Estes did his too-calm-to-be-true best to clarify the situation, accept my reactions, and continue to push for surgery as soon as possible. It’s true that I was initially reluctant to agree to another surgery so soon, especially since my sternum/chest still feels too painful and tender to be true, three and a half weeks after my valve replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Estes was too empathic and reassuring to be true, as he explained that the device replacement surgery would be day surgery and minor enough to allow me to resume my normal (?) activities a day later.

Dr. Estes suggested that I think about this too-strange-to-be-true development for a few days, while he informed my other too-good-to-be-true Boston-based medical team members about this new and too-ridiculous-to-be-true truth.

I hung up the phone and informed my boyfriend Michael and my ex-husband Leon (who had just driven me home from  another  one of my too-frequent-to-be-true medical  appointments) about this too-absurd-to-be-true necessity  for me to undergo another too-soon-to-be true surgical procedure. Michael and Leon are too-friendly-with-each-other-to-be-true, considering the complicated history there, and they were both  immediately too-sympathetic-to-be-true about this unexpected turn of events for me.

Then, I wrote a too-stunned-to-be-true post on my Facebook page, as follows:

Just found out that my pacemaker/defibrillator is being recalled and my doctors want me to have it replaced within the next two weeks. What kind of hashtag should I use for this news?

Here are the too-quick-and-empathic-to-be-true hashtag suggestions I got:

  • #defibrilatethis
  • #wtdf
  • #ohsh*t
  • #oyvey
  • #SMDH
  • #sucks
  • #thatispoop
  • #holyshit!
  • #unfairperiod
  • #annisnotaguineapig
  • #WTF?!
  • #gimmieabreak
  • #showmethemoney
  • #you’vegottobekidding
  • #It’sAlwaysSomething
  • #shoulda put in a zipper
  • #IWillSurvive
  • #areyoukidding
  • #speechless

Here was my too personal to be true suggestion for a hashtag about my too freaky to be true situation:


My ex-student, Chris, was my too-clever-to-be-true Facebook friend who came up with the too musical to be true hashtag above (here on too-popular-to-be-true YouTube):


Here are  the too-happy-to-be-true photographs I took yesterday at Mount Auburn Hospital (where I was registering for the too-awesome-to-be-true cardiac rehab program there), before I got the too-infuriating-to-be-true news from Dr. Estes:






And here’s the too-delicious-to-be-true meal my boyfriend Michael cooked for me, last night, after I got the too-overwhelming-to-be-true phone call from Dr. Estes:


Because I am having trouble sleeping tonight because of this too-outrageous-to-be-true need for more surgery so soon after my September 21 valve replacement, I just sent this email to my too-great-to-be-true Boston-based medical team:

Hi all,

Dr. Estes tells me that he recommends replacing my recalled St. Jude ICD within the next two weeks. I would like to comply with his recommendation but also feel the need to say these things:

  • My chest is still soooooo sore from the open heart surgery that the thought of another surgical violation, no matter how small, seems quite daunting to me.
  • I would like Dr. Carol Warnes and Dr. Joseph Dearani from Mayo to be informed and included in this decision process. Even though I understand that too many medical cooks can sometimes spoil the broth, adding the ingredients of their participation would help me feel better about moving forward with the plan.


Now that I have communicated these thoughts to my trusted Tufts team, I believe I can go back to the process of healing from the major surgery I so recently underwent.
As always, I am eager to hear any thoughts you want to share as we move forward.

All the best,

It would be too awesome to be true if you could leave a comment about this Too ____ To Be True post,  below.

I am too grateful to all those who helped me create this too-whatever-to-be-true post and to you — of course! — for reading it.  And in case you were wondering,  it’s all true!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 53 Comments

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