Posts Tagged With: living with congenital heart disease

Day 1646: Very Doubtful

After all these years of blogging daily, it’s very doubtful I would start a post without a relevant photo.


I’m very doubtful that any of my readers have a fortune-telling Magic 8-Ball as old as mine. My old Magic 8-Ball  responded “Very Doubtful” yesterday when I asked it a question about our upcoming move to a new home.

Big changes like a move can make people very doubtful, because of all the stress involved. Right now, I’m very doubtful about a lot of things.  Are you?

Are you very doubtful about any of my other photos from yesterday?








I’m very doubtful  you can see the excellent piece of halibut on the plate that Michael served last night.

I’m also very doubtful that you noticed the question “What is Fruitcake Anyway?” in one of my other photos above. Most people I know are very doubtful about fruitcake.

While I may be very doubtful about many things these days, I’m not very doubtful that my health today is better than it was a year ago.  On July 4th 2016, I was in a hospital Emergency Room with fevers that turned out to be from pneumonia and heart failure and it was very doubtful  I’d be able to see the Boston fireworks at all. Today, it’s very doubtful I won’t have a view of the fireworks much better than that from a hospital window.

I’m very doubtful  I’ll get lots of comments about this post. Why?  Because it’s a holiday in the U.S. and as I expressed above

 Right now, I’m very doubtful about a lot of things.  Are you?

I’m very doubtful  any other blog writer would quote herself.

It’s very doubtful I would forget to include a very doubtful YouTube video

or my non-doubtful thanks to all, including YOU, my guests.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1403: Ever Vigilant

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my ever vigilant doctors to replace my recalled Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD), my ever vigilant sister Ellen showed me calendars of her awesome photographs, which included this:


Your ever vigilant blogger chose that for today’s topic, mostly because her new incision was bleeding SO MUCH last night and this morning that she was vigilant enough to return to the hospital so that her ever vigilant doctors could look at it.

That’s why your ever vigilant blogger is so late posting her latest vigilant post today. If my ever vigilant readers are worried, I want to vigilantly reassure them that I am going to be okay.

As ever, I will be vigilant about including other photos I took yesterday (in ever-vigilant chronological order):



























That ever vigilant teabag is reminding us that love has no fear and no vengeance.  With all the fearful things I’ve been dealing with lately, I LOVE that reminder.

I am ever vigilant to look for music that fits my daily blog posts. Since I’ve been “talking about my troubles” with blood, sweat, and tears lately, how about this?


I am ever vigilant to remember to thank those who help me create my posts (including my talented sister Ellen) and also you — of course! — for being vigilant enough to be here, now.

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

Day 1247: Find your place

As I was finding my place in Newton, Massachusetts, USA yesterday, I found a place with this sign:


I found a place for that image on my iPhone and now I’ve found a place for it, here.

Over the next few months I’ll be finding my place in many places, including

  • the Kickstand Cafe in Arlington, Massachusetts, to sing at another Open Mic,
  • Simmons College in Boston, for an intensive 3-day conference on group therapy,
  • New York City, with another attempt to try out for The Voice,
  • Springfield, Massachusetts to see comedian Louis C.K.,
  • Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend the Festival Fringe and also get my son settled for his first year of university, and
  • the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for heart valve replacement surgery.

What helps me find a place, wherever I go?

  • Love.
  • Faith.
  • Hope.
  • Charity.
  • Creativity.
  • Openness to new experiences.
  • Learning.
  • Using all my senses.
  • Support from others.
  • Self Care.
  • Confidence.
  • Music.
  • Being in the moment.
  • Letting go.
  • Breathing.
  • Self expression.
  • Bravery.
  • Balance.
  • Preparation.
  • Spontaneity.
  • Humor.
  • Curiosity.
  • Skill.
  • Character.
  • Safety.
  • Home.
  • The right clothes for the weather.
  • Blogging.
  • Awareness of what’s around me.
  • My GPS system, Waze.

What helps you find your place?

I shall now find a place for the other photos I took yesterday. I hope you find your place through each one.























Now that you’ve found your place at the end of today’s photos, I’m finding a place for some music I made yesterday.

I found a place in my day yesterday to make up new lyrics for “So What?” by Miles Davis. In case you can’t find your place through those lyrics, here they are:

I’m gonna have an operation.

So what?

A finer chance I’ve never had.

So what?

They’re gonna do it at the Mayo.

So what?

I’m gonna get a brand new valve.

So what?

I’m gonna have an operation.

So what?

A shiny new mechanical valve.

So what?

They’re gonna do it at the Mayo.

So what?

A finer chance I’ve never had.

So what?

I’m gonna have an operation.

So what?

I’m kind of scared and kind of nervous.

So what?

They’re gonna give me a new valve.

So what?

I can’t wait for it to happen.

So what?

A finer chance I’ve never had.

So what?

I am finding my place, now, to point out that my voice found its place all the way up to high G while I was finding my place at the keyboard, sitting down.

Please find your place for comments, below.

I’ve now found my place for gratitude to all those who helped me create this post and to you — of course!  — for finding your place here.


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

Day 1244: Rescues

Yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker about rescues, which I’m now rescuing from my iPhone:


I feel rescued by that, here and now, because

  1. It rescues me from having to worry about using the word “whom” in future blog posts.
  2. We have two cats, Harley and Oscar, that we’ve rescued from animals shelters.
  3. I’ve been thinking a lot about rescues since a cardiologist who’s an expert in my unusual heart condition told me she wants to rescue me with major heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic as soon as possible.
  4. I had a day at work yesterday where I rescued and also was rescued by others.
  5. I believe that healing connections among people AND animals rescue us, every time.

Who is rescuing who in my other photos?












Who rescued who through the inter-office mail yesterday?  My co-worker Susan sent me that rescuing humor, shown above.  The joke about the clown reminds me that I’ll be seeing my son’s new play The Great Spa Fire today, wherein a clown and many others will not be rescued. I think my son deserve a No-Bell prize for what he’s written, including this knock-knock joke:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

The town detective.

The town detective who?

I’ll be asking the questions around here.


Here’s some music I just rescued from YouTube:

Thanks to my son, my kind co-workers, our cats, Irvin Yalom, Elvis Costello, Casey Johnston, rescuing cardiologists,  and all those who helped me rescue the words, pictures, memories, music, thoughts, and feelings in this post today. Special thanks to you — of course! — for rescuing me with your visit.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 1242: Decisions

Dear Readers,

Thank you for making the decision to read my blog post today.

Yesterday, I met with a very decisive cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  She has decided that I should get my  heart valve replaced, sooner than later.

While this was not the decision I wanted to hear, I am now weighing decisions in my mind and in my heart. I have almost decided to have the surgery done at the Mayo Clinic in September, after getting my son settled in Edinburgh Scotland for his first year at university there.

Here are some decisions I’ve made regarding what decisive images to share with you today.

















I used to be indecisive, now I’m not sure. However, I’m sure that some decisions are easier than others.

Here’s my decision about today’s song.


I hope that if I do make the decision to let the Adult Congenital Heart specialists at the Mayo Clinic replace the valve in my decisive heart in September, that they don’t go breaking my heart.

What are your decisions about this post?

Decisive love to all,


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 81 Comments

Day 1052: The coolest

I think my readers are the coolest.

Recently, two of them made the coolest comments:

Hey — you seem like a cool cat! That line of work must be very challenging. I admire your consistent, long-running posts, too 🙂 — cmblackwood

Miles Davis for me. He was so cool, if he was alive today global warming wouldn’t be a problem! — Paul S.

Also,  fellow WordPresser  coffeegrounded did the coolest thing: she honored me with the coolest award (even though I don’t do anything with cool WordPress awards besides appreciating them).

What’s the coolest thing somebody has done for you, lately?

I’m trying to decide what my coolest activity might be, today:

  1. Individual therapy, where I work.
  2. Group therapy, which is the coolest therapy (I believe) because “the more the merrier.”
  3. Getting fitted for a dental device for my sleep apnea, which will be much cooler ( I hope) than the C-Pap and Bi-Pap machines I’ve been using through some coolest and warmest months.
  4. Getting my teeth cleaned, pre-medicating with some cool oral antibiotics rather than the intravenous antibiotics I’ve had to use over many of the coolest years around here, in Massachusetts.
  5. Attending a board meeting of one of the coolest professional organizations of group therapists.

Which of these photos from yesterday is the coolest?

Personally, I think it’s the coolest to challenge habitual assumptions and ways of thinking — that’s why I wrote that prescription.

Which of these cool songs is the coolest, to you?

I think having several choices is the coolest.

Coolest thanks to cmblackwood, Paul S., coffeegrounded, Gwen Stefani, Alesso, West Side Story,  all those who help make my life the coolest, and  you — of course! — for being here, now (which is the coolest place to be).

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 937: Everything’s falling into place

My boyfriend Michael, who fell into place in my life five years ago, likes to say

Everything’s falling into place

after I’ve fallen into relief after being in a place of

Michael has been saying

Everything’s falling into place

a lot lately, as I’ve been doing my best to let go of scary, health-threatening experiences that were falling into place in my life, starting in November of last year.

Since May, when an Implantable Cardiac Device fell into place in my heart, I’ve been gradually falling into a place of hope about the future.

Now that Michael’s oft-repeated phrase

Everything’s falling into place

has fallen into place in my blog, I’m wondering what Michael means, exactly, when he says those words, a smile falling into place on his face.

For example,

  1. What are these things that are falling?
  2. Where is this place they are falling into?
  3. Will they break when they land?

I can’t ask Michael those questions  (because he’s fallen into a place of slumber) but this is falling into place for me: Question #3 , which fell into place above, reflects how catastrophizing — and other automatic cognitive distortions  — can so easily fall into place in the human mind.

Do unhelpful, fearful, and unnecessary thoughts fall into place, sometimes, in your mind?

If so, let them fall into place where they belong:

The trash.

Let’s see if any other photos fall into place, in this post.

Lots of chocolate candies have fallen into place in that display case.


Two pieces of candy and coin have fallen into place on that countertop.


Harley has fallen into place on that rug, which — if my memory is falling into place correctly  — also has fallen into place somewhere in the home of WordPresser Diana Schwenk.


Oscar seems glad that some water has fallen into place in his dish.

Because I was so busy, yesterday, making sure that informational messages about my 45th high school reunion were falling into place for my classmates, no other photos fell into place on my phone.

However, here‘s some music that falls into place, right now:

The Beatles song “I’ve Just Seen a Face” fell into place quite nicely there, don’t you agree?

Which parts of this post fell into place for you?

My thanks are now falling into place for Michael, my Implantable Cardiac Device, our cats, chocolate,  the Beatles, the Loading Dock, and faces I like to see, including yours!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Day 927: Greens

What are your associations with the color green?

Mine include:

  • Plants and trees
  • Healthy food
  • Lack of experience
  • New growth
  • Envy
  • Feeling sick
  • A color I miss during the winters in Boston
  • A color I don’t usually wear
  • The trim color for the outside of my current home
  • Money

Yesterday was the day of my first appointment with my very experienced and non-green chief cardiologist — Dr. Deeb Salem — since getting my new cardiac device in the green month of May. My doctors and I have been hoping that my greenly new pacemaker/defibrillator might provide new and healing therapy for my 62-year-old — and extremely unusual — red, blue and not-green  heart. While you might be green with envy about my having such a special heart, there have been many times in my life when I’ve been greenly sick, dealing with my heart condition since the green days of my birth.

When I woke up yesterday,  I was feeling a little green around the gills with nervousness, because I have continued to feel greenly depleted whenever I climb stairs.  My green fear was that might be a bad sign, especially since one of the green doctors I consulted with — during the non-green months of November 2014 through April 2015 — had said to me:

“Ann, the only important sign of whether you’re going into heart failure is how you feel when you’re climbing stairs.”

To distract my green thoughts until my appointment with Dr. Salem yesterday, I made the green decision to notice the color green, all around me:


That’s Nancy, who used to be the harpist playing soothing music for the big green Boston hospital where I work. I haven’t seen Nancy since soon after I sang a song about a green jungle with the greenly new harpist, Allie, at a work party held during the non-green winter months.  Nancy, who was wearing such a lovely color green yesterday, told me she is half green, with her Irish-Jewish roots. She also said she listened to Allie and my performance of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on YouTube and found it greenly new and delightful, which made me go pink with pleasure and pride.

That’s the hallway of Tufts Medical Center, where I’m on my way to see Dr. Salem. To the left of that red exit sign is the Mother/Infant Unit,  where I greenly gave birth and new life to my only child, Aaron,  seventeen years ago.

That’s another green painting, close to that same spot. Every time I notice it I wonder, greenly, who chose it for that corridor wall and why.

There’s the portion of the check-in station in Cardiology where people stamp their tickets for the validated and reduced rate, so they don’t have to pay as much green in the hospital parking lot.  At that point, I was  just a few green minutes away from seeing Dr. Salem.

It’s Dr. Salem! Dr. Salem, who was wearing no green at all yesterday, told me that how I feel on stairs is NOT the only measurement of how I’m doing.  He also used his non-green experience to state that even if I don’t feel better,  as long as my heart doesn’t  get greenly worse, I should stay around through many more green months and years. He also told me some stories about when he was a green medical student fresh out of only two years of undergraduate college, but he made me promise not to tell any of those tales  in today’s green blog post.

Any green questions or comments from my readers around that great, big, beautiful green-and-blue globe we all inhabit?

Here’s my pick for some green music, today:

You can find many performances of “Greensleeves” on YouTube, including that one.

Many fresh thanks to Dr. Salem, to Nancy (and other harpists who soothe our green souls), to my son Aaron, to our newer cat Harley (who sometimes looks to me like he’s turning anxiously green under his fur), to my downstairs neighbor Karen and her dog Faxy, to the green monster at Fenway Park, to all the other greens I saw yesterday, and — of course! — to you, for reading this green post, here and now.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 904: Free Associations

Did you know that some  psychological tests ask people to make free associations with pictures?

What associations do you have with this photo, which I took early yesterday morning?

What thoughts and/or feelings do you have  when you look at that image?

Here’s my first association, when I look at that:

Don’t drop the ball.

I wonder how a psychologist might interpret that first reaction from me?

Wait! I’m not a psychologist, but I am a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW), which means I’m a legit psychotherapist. Therefore, I could interpret my own interpretation  — that is, explore what’s going on in my life to explain why

Don’t drop the ball

… immediately popped into my head when I saw that yesterday.  However, I’d rather just riff on the meaning of “Don’t drop the ball.”

To me,

Don’t drop the ball

… means “take your responsibility for getting things done. ”

Here’s my free association with that thought: Why would dropping a ball be so terrible? If I do drop a ball, I could always just pick it up again.

Yesterday, I probably did drop a ball or two. We all do, because we’re imperfect human beings. However, I also did my best to pick those balls up again.

Here’s my current free association, as I’m writing this: I wonder if anybody is smiling at my use of the word “balls”?

Speaking of smiling, soon after I took my first  photo of the day yesterday (see above), I took this one:

Here’s my free association with that photo: soon after I took it,  I dropped the ball of my concentration as I was walking, tripped, and fell to the ground.

What’s your free association about tripping and falling in public?

Yesterday, I tried to fall as well as possible, and then I tried to let go of any sense of shame about falling. I sat there on the ground for a moment, realizing I most likely had not hurt myself (even though I take a blood thinner and recently had surgery).

A construction worker (not pictured in this post) walked by me and we had this exchange, while I was  sitting on the ground:

Construction worker: Are you all right?
Me: I’m okay. That was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?
Construction worker: I actually didn’t see it. I thought you might just be sitting here. But I did hear the noise.

(As I’m telling you this story, I’m free associating about what noise he might have heard. I know it wasn’t my voice — I don’t cry out when I drop anything, including myself.)

Then, the nice construction worker helped me up, as I made some comment about falling.

Construction worker: It happens.
Me: I know.

Soon after that, I free associated as to why  I might have tripped,  fallen, and dropped to the ground for the very first time in all my walks to work — through rain, snow, sleet, and sun  — for almost four years. I free associated the fall with my brand new shoes:

I also free associated by taking two photos of the one place on myself that had dropped most heavily on the ground, my right hand:

I wondered if that would bruise by the end of the day, because I’m taking Xarelto.

Then, I free-associated the rest of the day, regarding

Dropping and picking up the ball (and other things)

… and I freely picked up these photos, so I could drop them on you today:



Here are my current free associations with those photos:

  1. The sunglasses are something my friend Jan found and picked up on a street in Maine, this past weekend, and
  2. That last photo demonstrates that I did not bruise, at all, from my morning drop to the ground.

What music might I free associate with, about balls dropping or anything else I dropped in this post?

This tune just dropped into my head:

I just dropped “Cloudy” by Simon & Garfunkel on you, here and now.

Freely associate about anything you choose, in the comments below.

Free-association thanks to all those who helped me drop this post and thanks to you — of course! — for dropping by, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

Day 893: Mood Changes

I wonder if this post will change your mood, or mine?

Here’s something that changed my mood yesterday, at Tufts Medical Center.

It was not that sign that changed  my mood. What changed my mood was Bob —

the great guy who has been checking my pacemakers for many years — and Dr. Mark Estes (not pictured), telling me that everything is good with my new Implantable Cardiac Device.

Here is some dialog, from yesterday, that changed my mood:

Dr. Estes: Ann, you look better than you have in years.
Me: Maybe that’s because of this (gesturing to my new blue hair extension).

Last night, at the Coping and Healing therapy group I facilitated, the group members chose “Mood Changes” as the the topic. Here’s something I created, at that group session:

Here are some other mood changers, from yesterday:




Here are some potential mood changers, in my near future:

  1. Today, before noon, I will find out whether I’ve been called back for the Concord Massachusetts Players production of the Sondheim musical “Follies.”
  2. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting fellow WordPresser Mark Bialczak and his lovely wife Karen.
  3. In August, my 17-year-old son Aaron and I (and, perhaps, my excellente ex-sister-in-law Deborah) will be attending the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  4. In September, I’ll be going to my 45th high school reunion.

What mood changers are in your life, today?

Here‘s a mood-changing tune:

“Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington is changing moods on YouTube, right now.

Thanks to all things that change my mood, including the people, creatures, places, and apparel in this post. And thanks to you — of course! — no matter what mood you’re in, today.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

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