When your Heart Screams: “IT’S E‐R TIME!”

Thunder started when we left the movie theater. Clear skies outside but inside the car, my heart threatened to blow itself out from beneath my ribcage.

I feared an Alien replay.

Remember the movie monster that bursts out of the victim’s chest? I envisioned me the victim this go‐round. Inside DH’s brand new car.

Be calm, I whispered between breaths, now shortening into wispy gasps. Gather info. Focus on facts.

I googled “women over 60 symptoms heart attack.” 

No mention of racing heartbeat. Or shortness of breath I had earlier blamed on a recent cold. I wasn’t dizzy, tired, vomiting, or sweaty. Neither neck, jaw, shoulder, or back ached.

Relax, you aren’t about to die.

Car grew hot. Sweat bathed my face.

Can you raise the air conditioning, please?” I asked. My chest began to hurt. I imagined Michelangelo placing a block of marble square atop my breastbone. Chill. You don’t hurt anywhere. Don’t over‐react. Gather data first. Worry later.

DH neared the last traffic light. Fairness dictated honesty.

Hmm, I think maybe there’s something going on with my heart,” I force‐wrapped calm around every syllable. “It’s racing, like thunder. A bit of shortness of breath. When we get home, I’ll take my blood pressure. We’ll go from there.”

Minutes later, the numbers screamed, HELP ME!

My heart joined the chorus. My god!

FYI: Normal blood pressure is 130/80; pulse under 90.

I tore the paper from the pad and race‐walked into the den.

We’re going to the emergency room,” I forced an even voice. Don’t scare the driver. “My pulse is 188. Too fast. I need help.”

Thirty five years of me, and DH knows my sound. He whirled around, said nothing but grabbed his keys, wallet, and my hand.

Urgent care or ER?” He knows I like choices.

I barked back, “ER. And turn up that AC. I’m sweating bullets.”

Less than a day later, the diagnosis followed innumerable tests.

SVT with Left BBB. That’s Supraventricular Tachycardia with Left Atria Bundle Branch Block. 

Translation: my heart beats too fast and it’s got a short in it.

Good news? Both involve easy fixes. White pill every morning and baby aspirin every other day.

The remaining ‘scrip is tougher: absolutely no caffeine (as in no chocolate ever again); 100% Mediterranean diet; keep exercising and meditating; minimize stress. 

I’ve had my share of health woes, which I’ve tried to keep off this blog. But, I learned on Friday that women over 60 are at HIGH risk for heart disease.

Even teetotalling, speed‐walking, pescatarians ( that’s fish‐eating vegetarians) who neither smoke nor take drugs can get blinded by what they believe “protects” them.

Truth is, sometimes the body needs extra tender loving care, especially as it ages. Here’s TLC for yours:

  • Exercise: 30 minutes/day, five days/week, non‐negotiable.
  • Diet: Mediterranean or DASH diets are most heart‐healthy.
  • Weight: Pounds appropriate to your height.
  • Smoking: Don’t. If you do, quit. Now.
  • Alcohol: Don’t. If you do, minimize how much.
  • Stress: Avoid as you can; counteract its toxicity with meditation.
  • Blood Pressure: Check yours regularly; ideal = 130/80, pulse under 90.

Four crisis response tips you can learn from my recent health (mis)adventure:

  • Trust your gut: When your body speaks, listen to what information it offers.
  • Stay calm: Information empowers; gather and sort it, then respond.
  • Pain or Blood: Ignore #2; seek medical attention.
  • Mind your mind: Your body depends on your brain to guide you; let it help.

Please: learn from my experience.

Start taking heart‐care of yourself.

You really don’t want to ride in a pink wheelchair.

Or stay on the maternity ward in an overcrowded hospital.

Screaming babies aren’t fun when your heart hurts.

The Road From Form To Matter

Form pre‐exists in matter.

Now that’s a deep philosophical statement to start your day. If it’s too early in the morning then you may roll your eyes and wonder what the wacky blogger is up to now. However, take a moment and a deep cleansing breath.

You remember Michelangelo, don’t you? Renaissance man? Sculpture, Painter, Architect and Poet? The Sistine Chapel dude. Yeah, that’s him.

Well, Michelangelo was a neoplatonist. He put forth a philosophy about sculpture where a work of art was already living within a block of marble. It is the calling of the artist to chip away and free the work of art and bring it to life. Through the artistic process of sculpture, art emerges from marble.

What a concept! What if I look upon myself as a big block of marble? I was born with a work of art inside of me. Then as I grew up and continuing into today, my life experiences chipped away at the block of marble that is me. Slowly over the years I have emerged as the person I am today. Each of us is a block of marble with beauty emerging from within.

Sometimes you may see a sculpture that is intentionally left unfinished. The work of art continues to emerge from the stone. A work of beauty already, but still emerging into form.

As any sculptor can tell you, sometimes the block of stone will resist. This can happen even if the artist carefully works with and goes with the grain.

In sculpture, art is forever emerging. Moving towards freedom from the captivity of the stone. Waiting for insight and clarity to merge with life experiences.

Does this only apply to sculpture? Of course not. Whether you are a painter, writer, photographer, scientist or any other type of creative person, there is a beauty that only you can bring out.

Once again, many thanks to Dr. Anna Tahinci, Professor and Art History Chair at the Glassell School of Art, for teaching wonderful classes in Art History where I got the inspiration for this blog. Also, the pictures of sculptures in this blog were taken while on a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Until next week.….

Lava on the Road, Story on the Page

Only weeks ago, I resolved to find magic in this New Year. It landed last night, courtesy of an unexpected gift.

The weekend crisis du jour sent DH and I on the road. A new lamp shade beckoned.

We arrived home with that and a bonus: a Lava Lamp for my writing studio.

In the store, the colorful box screamed, “All this color! You know you want me!” Curious, is it not, that all the box’s colors match my novel characters? Can you identify the six shades?

Looming larger, this toy offers a different kind of road trip—straight down memory lane. But in my 70’s teen days, I never owned a Lava Lamp.

Having one up‐close, I’ve realized a Lava lamp is essentially an electric candle, sans wick, parked inside a glass bottle. It works when a glob of bottled wax gets heated, rises then dances inside glass under illuminated by a tiny light bulb.

Lava Embryo With Legs speaks of new life, new creation, new start. And unable to stand.

This mutant look compliments reality. Nothing’s ever perfect as it’s born.

All applicable for what’s been an ongoing funky new year. Maybe now as we begin week number five, it’s full‐on reboot time? Isn’t that what last week’s Full Moon with a Wolf SuperBlood twist teased? Saying goodbye to the past and moving forward with gusto, finally free?

An hour after plug‐in, Lava Embryo With Legs grows up, sprouting a semi‐carpet of background grass.

Technically, my inner feminist says this should be Lava Woman. I squinted to identify relevant body parts.

It becames that: It. Or SkullScoliosisRump. Alien doesn’t fit because this image resembles no creature I’ve seen in the best (and worst) sci‐fi flicks.

Still, it’s perfect, mimicking change with scary precision. Is change ever easy to figure out?

Two hours in, an entire new world arises: Lava Universe?

This unfolding lava world reminds me of watching last week’s eclipse. Shadows and colors changing on the moon as a memorable lunar evening reveals itself. We changed, too, watching, absorbing.

As I unplugged Lava Lamp three hours later (and DH already in bed), the meaning of the night roared in.

We writers do all this as we pen the stories that call us to the page (or the computer).

Like solid wax in a cold lava lamp, Story remains static, unborn, unchanging. But give Story enough heat, time, and attention, and it rises to new life, changing shape, spawning tales, and building the form that was always inside. Waiting.

More than a half century ago, Michelangelo wrote: “The greatest artist has no conception which a single block of white marble does not potentially contain within its mass but only a hand obedient to the mind can penetrate to this image.” 

Substitute a few words and you’ll find a writer’s truth: “The greatest writer has no conception which a single page* does not potentially contain within its mass but only a hand obedient to the mind can penetrate to this image.”

We’re not working alone.

The Story is already inside us, awaiting heat, time, attention.

Like a lowly little lava lamp.

*Substitute computer screen, piece of paper, notebook, etc.

*NOTE: The Michelangelo quote is verbatim from 1501, thus verbiage rings/reads somewhat stiff and awkward to 21st century ears/eyes.