Day 1600: Round numbers

Today is the 1600th day in a row of blog postings, here at the Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.  1600 is a round number and a much bigger number than expected when I began this blogging journey back on January 1, 2013.

Do you have any reactions to round numbers?  In therapy, people often describe negative reactions they have about reaching round numbers as they age. For example, somebody yesterday talked about turning 40 with a lot of self-judgment.  For some reason, when people approach round numbers, they can roundly judge themselves about their accomplishments and life situations.

A round number is just a number, no more significant than any other number. And yet,  here I am roundly noting it.

However, I am not going to get into a round of self-judgment about my posts. Instead, I’m going to post two musical round numbers (going round here and here on YouTube).

Here’s a round number of photos I took yesterday:











This is my blogging world, and I’ve tried to shape it as best I can.

A round of applause for the large number of people who’ve help me create these 1600 posts and — of course! — for you, on this round-number day.


Categories: blogging, celebrating, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1455: What makes a good gift?

Recently, somebody who is a gift to me gave me the gift of this question:

What makes a good gift?

What makes a good gift, to you?

During this time of gift-giving, I think good gifts include

  • thoughtfulness,
  • kindness,
  • attention to what people like,
  • pleasant memories,
  • really listening to each other,
  • acceptance of differences,
  • fun,
  • originality, and
  • I hope, my photos from yesterday.





























I believe that one of my photos, above, brings the good gift of a musical suggestion for this Christmas and Chanuka Day.

Any comment from you would make a good gift, indeed.

Gratitude also makes a good gift and I have gratitude, here and now, for all who helped provide the good gifts in this post and for you — of course! — for the very  good gift of your visit.

Categories: celebrating, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 1373: Dreams

Yesterday, my  12th day after open heart surgery,  I fell asleep and had a dream of  being lifted suddenly by unseen hands and carried, very rapidly, as I lay flat on my back, through many rooms and hallways. In the dream, I thought, “Oh no!  Ghosts are taking me away!” I screamed in the dream, the dream faded, and I woke up in my  bed at home.

Somewhat of an expert on dreams (because I’m a psychotherapist), I asked myself, “What did that dream mean?” And I realized the dream captured the dreamlike experience  of being wheeled down hospital hallways into  operating rooms, which has happened to me more times than you could possibly dream between the ages of 10 and 63.

Then, I got ready for my dream of a friend, Carol, to pick me up and carry me to my appointment at the Coumadin/Warfarin clinic at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, to find out if I would be able to eat all the foods of my dreams on this new medication.  The nurse there, Kathleen, was a dream, as she allayed my fears and told me I would probably be able to eat whatever I wanted (including chocolate!), as long as I did so consistently.

Then, I told Carol I wanted to drop in on members of my Cardiology Dream Team at Tufts Medical Center, who hadn’t yet seen me since my surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on September 21. I assumed my appearance would exceed their wildest dreams. And while most patients wouldn’t dream of dropping in unexpectedly on their doctors, my cardiologist Dr. Mark Estes has demonstrated (see my previous dreamy blog post here), that he is fine with my doing that.

The next hour was like a dream.  Dr. Mark Estes showed up trailed by five students and told me I looked like a dream — better than he had ever seen me in our decades of working together.  I told Dr. Estes that I might have been dreaming, but I thought I had heard various people at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota state that my heart was in a normal/sinus rhythm after the operation, instead of its usual atrial fibrillation.

Let me explain why my heart going out of atrial fibrillation and into normal/sinus rhythm, even for a limited amount of time, would be a very unlikely dream come true.

  1. My heart went out of normal rhythm and into atrial fibrillation almost exactly three years ago today (described in this here dreamy blog post).
  2. At that time, my doctors agreed it did not make sense for them to try any non-surgical means to return my heart to a normal rhythm, because the atria were so stretched out from my leaky valve that my heart would almost definitely return to a-fib.
  3. When I had my last cardiac procedure in May of 2015, Dr.  Estes told me that my fibrillating atria were even bigger — “the size of a grapefruit, instead of the normal size of a walnut.”
  4.  My other cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem,  had a dream: he hoped that the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, when performing the open heart surgery twelve days ago to replace my leaky valve, might also use a surgical technique (called the Maze technique) to try to get my heart back into a normal rhythm.
  5. When I discussed that possibility with the Mayo doctors, they all agreed that the added surgical time of two hours was NOT worth the risk, since the chances of any technique returning me to normal rhythm was highly unlikely.
  6. At that point, I let go of the dream of my heart getting out of atrial fibrillation, and instead focused on preparing myself for the heart valve replacement surgery.

So when I told Dr. Estes yesterday that I thought I had heard people at the Mayo Clinic say that I  was out of a-fib after my surgery, he looked like he thought I was dreaming. He said, “Ann, if your heart DID get back  into sinus rhythm post surgery, that would have lasted for a very short time. I am skeptical it happened at all.”

And then everybody  — Dr. Estes, the students, Carol, me, and others — watched yesterday, as if in a dream, as we accessed the data stored in my pacemaker/defibrillator to see what kind of rhythms my dreamy heart had been generating recently, when I’ve been awake and dreaming.

As if in a dream, my dream team cardiologist, Dr. Mark Estes, announced to all of us: “You’re in sinus rhythm.  And you’ve been out of a fib and in normal rhythm consistently since your surgery on September 21.”

I responded, “My boyfriend Michael would call this a Christmas miracle.”  I heard Carol say, dreamily and sweetly, “Today is the Jewish New Year.”  Everybody looked happy, like in a dream or in a special on the Hallmark Movie Channel where the heroine does better than anybody dreamed possible.

How did this better-than-anybody-could-possibly-have-dreamed result occur?  I have a dreamy memory of a discussion, last week, with a Mayo Clinic EKG technician, who told me I was in normal/sinus rhythm when he visited me in the Intensive Care Unit.  Perhaps, we speculated, when they stopped my heart and then restarted it after the open heart surgery, that helped my heart’s rhythm — just how we often fix our phones, computers, and other devices  by turning them off and turning them back on again. Sometimes, the simplest solution works better than our wildest dreams.

After this dream of a visit with Dr. Estes, Carol carried me away in her car and drove me home to my dreamy boyfriend Michael. I told him the good news, as if in a dream. Later, when I shared the good news with my dreamy 18-year-old son, Aaron — far far away in the dreamy land of Scotland — Aaron texted me: “It sounds like a magical fairy wonderland situation over there.”

Magical and MUCH better than the scary dream that started out my dream of a day, yesterday.

I also want to say, at this point in this dreamy post, that it’s very possible that my dream of a heart with its shiny new valve might go back into atrial fibrillation — tomorrow, next week, or some other point in the future.  However, I wouldn’t dream of lowering my heart’s expectations right now — that heart of mine has exceeded everybody’s dreams for sooooooo long.

When I was dreaming under general anesthesia last week at the Mayo Clinic, my surgeon played dreamy music by our favorite saxophonist, the late Michael Brecker. On this dreamy day, 13 days later, here is one of my favorite tunes by Dreams, the 1970s dream team of Michael Brecker, his brother and trumpet-player Randy Brecker, the dreamily fabulous drummer Billy Cobham, dreamy bassist Will Lee, and other dreamily amazing jazz musicians.



Because my readers appreciate photos I take beyond my wildest dreams, here are all the dreamy images I captured yesterday:









You know what?  Yesterday still feels like a dream to me ….  too good to be true. And I don’t have any photos showing Dr. Estes, the medical students, Carol, Kathleen the nurse, or any of other people I dreamily wrote about in this post.

So …. maybe it was all a dream?

What do you think, my dreamy readers?

Dreamy thanks to all those who helped me create this dream of a post and to you  — of course! — for whatever dreams you bring, here and now.

Categories: adult congenital heart, celebrating, heart condition, heart surgery, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 54 Comments

Day 1299: Looks

As I look around, I notice how much looks matter to people.  Personally, I look at a lot more than just looks when I look at somebody.

But look at me!  Yesterday, looks mattered so much to me that I requested that people look at this photo AND I asked them “HOW DO I LOOK?”


Look, I’m like anybody else. I want to look good.  But I especially wanted to people to look at how I looked yesterday so they could see how I look a short week after  diagnoses of pneumonia and heart failure .

And even though I asked others “HOW DO I LOOK?”  I look at it this way:  What’s most important is how I thought I looked. If somebody else had looked at that photo critically and judgmentally, their looks would not have mattered to me, at all.

Are you ready to look at other images I looked at yesterday?











Did any of those photos get a second look from you?

It’s time to look at some music!

I’ll take a look later to see if I get any comments for this post about looks.

Look!  It’s me thanking you for looking at my blog, here and now.

Categories: celebrating, personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Day 1284: Perfect

Sometimes, life seems perfect, even if only for a moment.

Is this the perfect time to ask if any of these photos seem perfect to you,  in any way?

















Are there any practically perfect videos for today’s “Perfect” post? What do my perfect readers think?

If you can’t see or hear those videos perfectly enough, try here and here.

Perfect thanks to all those who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for being here, now.

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

Day 1267: Daily Musings

I’ve been sharing my daily musings here for several years. Today, my daily musings will celebrate my meeting one of my favorite fellow bloggers and muses, Lisa, also known as  DailyMusings.

Yesterday, Lisa and her musing and amusing husband Alex traveled into New York City to muse away the morning with me. If you’re curious about how Lisa mused about our meeting, see here.

Our two hours of shared musings about work, family, therapy, health, blogging, music, travel,  love, the past, the present, the future, and other topics flew by. My daily musings now include the hope and wish that we will see each other (in person and not just “in blog”) again, very soon.

Ready for today’s photographic musings?



Here’s my daily musical musing:

You’ve got to have friends and I’m SO glad that Lisa is a friend.

As usual, I will end today’s daily musings with gratitude to all (including you!).


Categories: blogging, celebrating, personal growth | Tags: , , , | 39 Comments

Day 1196: Bunches of things happening all at once

In recent  bunches of days,  bunches of people in my life  have expressed bunches of empathy and sympathy about ..


It happens that bunches of people have expressed bunches of empathy and sympathy to me in bunches of ways, including:

  • “You have a lot on your plate!”
  • “You have a lot going on.”
  • “Your only child is leaving for college soon and you’ve got all this medical stuff to deal with, not to mention a high-stress job.”
  • “No matter what’s going on with you, you never stop.”
  • “You do more than any other 63-year-old I know.”

For me, it’s difficult NOT to have


For example, yesterday was definitely a day with


These bunches of things included:

  • getting a cool new case for my iPhone, which will prevent me from dropping it with bunches of thing happening all at once,
  • having bunches of delicious brunch food with my son,
  • stumbling across Open Studios in Newton,
  • purchasing some fabulous earrings and a necklace made by Deborah Rochman of DLR designs,
  • visiting “The Villa” in Newton, which was filled with artwork and color,
  • having bunches of awesome conversations with my son Aaron and my boyfriend Michael,
  • going to the Burlington Mall, which always has bunches of things happening all at once (including that “Bunches of things happening all at once” sign),
  • consulting with bunches of geniuses at The Genius Bar at the Apple Store, and
  • getting bunches of storage space freed up on my computer!!!!

Now, for some photographic proof of







I’m wondering if I’ll get bunches of comments about those


If I do, I’ve got bunches of storage space on my computer.

Bunches of thanks to all who helped me create this post and bunches of gratitude to you — of course!  — for reading, even though you might have


Categories: celebrating, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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