Tag: health (Page 1 of 2)

Time for Q and A

a trio of sparkly pink hearts embellishing the beautiful arrangement of flowers my daughter Alison sent on the occasion of my first anniversary of what she calls my Second Chance Day

a trio of sparkly pink hearts embellishing the beautiful arrangement of flowers my daughter Alison sent on the occasion of my first anniversary of what she calls my Second Chance Day. Alison, a banker, ordered these flowers from one of her customers. I love that she supports her customers.

The post about my Heart Alert brought many questions on Facebook and behind the scenes – something that delights me because this is an important conversation about a serious women’s health issue that needs to be talked about. Here are the Questions and my Answers:

Q: How long did the diarrhea and nausea last?
A: Less than 5 minutes. It was like my body was stepping up its efforts to get my attention and get me moving toward help.

Q: Did you have any other warnings or was this the first and only clue that something was amiss?
A: There was an episode of the uncomfortable stretching sensation that woke me up 3 nights prior. I breathed my way through it and went back to sleep. Not one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, that’s for sure.

Q: In the comments on Facebook, Dana Boyle LaPointe asked this good question: Can you describe the stretching sensation . . . location? Anything else?
A: The uncomfortable stretching sensation was in the hollowed-out place at the base of my throat. (Where’s that World Book Encyclopedia with the overlays of the human body when you need it?!) It wasn’t on the left side of my chest where I put my hands when sending love to someone, and no pain or discomfort radiated down my arms. The discomfort remained localized at the base of my throat. You know those resistance bands used in fitness workouts? It felt like that. . . like 2 hands were pulling in opposite directions at whatever is in this place in my body. (Research ahead!)

Q: Did you go to Cardiac Rehab?
A: Yes, though I didn’t stay long. When I hadn’t heard from them in a month after my Heart Alert, I reached out to them. The hospital had given them an incorrect phone number for me. I signed up, went to orientation, and show up at the hospital’s gym, ready to go. I danced – I literally danced – my laps that day, so happy was I to be moving forward. I’d been afraid to walk (10,000 to 12,500 steps a day) or dance (every night at bedtime The Engineer and I dance to “Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray.) because nobody talked with me about whether I should walk or gallop back into my life. I asked the people supervising Cardiac Rehab and the head of the hospital’s fitness department for parameters: how much could I walk? What was considered a low blood pressure? High blood pressure? Any particular sensations I should be aware of should they appear? What was a good resting heart rate, and what was an alarming heart rate? I got no answers. I asked the cardiologist who directed me to ask them. Because it took us about 40 minutes to get to the hospital, because The Engineer had to tend to Baby Ava for an hour by himself, because I couldn’t figure out what the goal was for me and my recovery, and because we have a well-equipped fitness room at home (complete with treatmill, which is all there were having me do there – walk), I turned in my notice. I was gracious about it, explaining to them what I just told you, and thanked them for being there. I got no response. None at all. I have talked with others who went to Cardiac Rehab in different states, and most of their experiences were drastically different, and they recommended I find another Cardiac Rehab (there is none here).

Q: Of course I couldn’t close this post without sharing the question every member of my family – daughter Alison, son Kipp, daughter-in-love Marnie, and The Engineer each asked me in one form or another (after a respectful amount of time, of course): Did you see St. Peter? How ‘bout Lucifer?
A: Yes, these clowns are my precious family, and I adore them! Truthfully, it never crossed my mind that I might die. Not once. It has definitely changed the way I live, but the notion that I could’ve died didn’t land for a very long time, I guess because there was too much going on!

If you have questions, ask away! You can post them here in the comments, on Facebook, on Instagram (I’ll be posting there tomorrow. Some people don’t like seeing posts on FB and IG at the same time.) And you can always email me: whollyjeanne (at) gmail (dot) com

Appreciate y’all so much.

On the First Anniversary of My Heart Alert

A smiling woman in a hospital gown surrounded by monitors and machines

Hours after acquiring 3 pieces of Heart Jewelry

When The Engineer and I first married, I laid down a rule: last one out of bed made the bed up. One year ago today was the first day my rule was broken. By me.

I lingered in bed then took a shower and washed my hair. As I made my way back to make the bed, I noticed a tug of war happening inside my body in that hollow space at the base of my throat. Unlike the pain folks must have felt on the torture racks of ancient times, I felt only discomfort. Intense discomfort, to be sure, but not excruciating pain that would’ve granted those turning the gears at both ends of the torture rack names and other information they sought. I made a silent note of this unusual sensation, filing it away in my mental file cabinet under For Future Reference, pulling the bedspread up over the pillows. The decorative throw pillows never made it to the bed that day. When the diarrhea and nausea hit simultaneously, Brain and Bones whispered in unison This. Is. Serious.”

We’d only lived on the island a short while, and to that point, not a single visitor had been able to find us via GPS. That’s why I didn’t trust the EMT’s and an ambulance to find me, and I sensed I couldn’t afford such a lengthy wait, so Andy drove me to the ER, something I’ve since given many second thoughts. How awful, I think in hindsight, it would’ve been for him to watch me die in the passenger seat.

As we pulled into the ER parking lot, I uttered my first words, directing The Engineer to forget what the signs said and listen to me when I told him to park at the curb to the left of the entrance to the door. At that moment, I really didn’t care if we inconvenienced anybody especially since we’d left the door open for others, and there was plenty of room for other vehicles to get past us. “You need to take the lead, and you definitely need to fill out the paperwork,” I said as the doors opened to let us through, “and remember to say the magic word: heart.”

A very nice man in a blue shirt greeted us, and when he heard the word “heart”, he quickly moved Andy to a seat near the door to the exam rooms, and offered a seat to me in the gen pop area of the rather crowded waiting room. I ignored him and took a chair next to Andy.

In a very few minutes, a smiling peppy woman also dressed in blue stood before me. “Can you walk?” she chirped. “I can,” I told her, “but I don’t think I should.”

“Oh, it’s not that far,” she assured me, swatting at the air. “Come on. Follow me.”

I tried, but when we passed mile marker 27, I stopped, leaned against the wall, and asked if she had a wheelchair she could summon. “Oh, we’re almost there,” she assured me waving her hand at what seemed to me an endless hallway. “We’re turning right here,” and that made me feel more optimistic . . . until we turned and I looked down another endless hallway. I stopped again, and she let me rest a few minutes before urging me on. People were waiting for me. And besides, we were almost there.

I entered room 16, and sure enough, many people were flitting around preparing for me. I was helped into one of those fashionable hospital gowns and somebody helped me climb up into the bed. It felt really good to be off my feet.

Though I don’t think I ever got his name, the hospitalist on duty that morning was one of the kindest men I’ve ever not met. As the flurry of activity happened all around him, he remained calm, smiling, and he made sure he touched my arm or held my toes (which ever was more readily available), sending reassurance through his touch. His touch was my anchor in what was becoming a very stressful, scary time.

“Stemmy in 16, Stemmy in 16,” we heard over the loud speaker. I looked at Andy and asked “Aren’t we in 16?” “Yep,” he said. “That’s you.

Minutes later the flurry of activity slowed when someone said loudly “The cardiologist is here” and people chose one side of the room or the other as a smiling man stepped inside the door, rubbing his hands together in keen anticipation and announced “Not just any cardiologist. The BEST cardiologist is here.”

Now y’all need to know that my first job as a married woman was working as an administrative assistance for the CEO of a private hospital in Atlanta where I was quickly introduced to arrogant doctors. I can’t tell you how many times I grabbed a doctor by the top shirt button, pulling them down to my eye level, and looking into their retinas saying “The only difference between you and me is the classes we took in college.” But on this particular day, Dr. Smalheiser’s words registered not as arrogance but as confidence – just what I needed to hear before turning my heart over to this stranger.

Shortly after his arrival, I was whisked down to the OR – kissing The Engineer good bye at the door, making him promise to move the car then come back and wait for me close by – and the flurry of activity began all over again in what seemed like a small, cramped room. When I left that room, it was with 3 new pieces of heart jewelry (aka stents) and though tired, I had more energy than I’d ever known.

Bubbles, Alison, and Ava Jeanne leave the hospital to begin our lives together! (Note the beautifully smocked - if I do say so myself - dress Ava Jeanne wears home. The bonnet Ava Jeanne wears was worn by her mother when she came home from the hospital.

Bubbles, Alison, and Ava Jeanne leave the hospital to begin our lives together! (Note the beautifully smocked – if I do say so myself – dress Ava Jeanne wears home. The bonnet Ava Jeanne wears was worn by her mother when she came home from the hospital.

I spent 3 days in ICU and 1 day in the Step Down unit (forget the official name), and recovery was easy, effortless. Three days after I was released (1 week after my Heart Alert) I was back in the hospital as daugher Alison’s pit crew in the birth of my newest Sprite, Ava Jeanne.

Ladies, there is no checklist that I can find for heart attacks in women. I had no radiating pain, no elephant sitting on my chest, no intense pain. Just the uncomfortable stretching sensation and the briefest of brief diarrhea and nausea. Listen to your bodies and heed their warnings. If in doubt, head to the ER . . . by ambulance (though I have another story for you about that on another day.)

I call my event not a heart attack, but a Heart Alert because it did indeed get my attention! My daughter Alison calls today my Second Chance Day, and that makes sense, too. Anyway, I spend today – the one year anniversary of getting a Second Chance from my Heart Alert – creating my Vision Board for how I want to spend the next year and beyond with a side of creating the longest Daily Gladitudes and Gratitudes List ever. My friend Rainy and I call our Vision Boards “Explosive Blessings”, and honestly I need to add a room to the house – a great big room with blank walls to hold it all. Here’s to much life ahead of us all and more goodness than we can count. I’ll share photos when my board is complete. Do you have one you’d be willing to share with. me?

Cheers. Clink, y’all.

Right this way if you want to hear Jeanne read (Remember: she’s fluent only in English and Southern!)

The Eyes Have It . . . For Now

shades used after eye dilation sewn to strips of green fabric woven together adorned with multi-colored stitches

I begin to need more light, more contrast. Then there is not enough light or contrast or magnification. I cannot read emails, magazines, menus, road signs. I notice that things seem to bend. Hard, immovable things like trees and boards on the back of trucks. Initially blaming windshields, I flick that excuse aside when realizing that every windshield in every car, truck, even the rental car I rode in at the University of Central Missouri could not be made of defective wavy glass.

Big gray shapes begin hogging the view from my left eye, making it impossible to see anything smaller than the sky. True, the shapes are interesting in form, true, I sketch them out with thoughts of stitching them One Day, but mostly they are annoying. I can’t see through or around them.

At the 6-week mark with no improvement, things become alarming.

Monday, 4/1/2019

With whispers of “in sickness and in health” tickling my ears, I celebrate the 46th anniversary of the day The Engineer and I became engaged by moving “get eyes checked” to the pole position on my substantial to do list. I begin our rare ten consecutive days at home by calling a nearby ophthalmologist I find online. As the scheduler searches for an open widow, she says, “Oh, we’ve just had a cancellation for tomorrow morning at 10:30.” I take it.

Tuesday, 4/2/2019

This morning I draw the Destroyer Oracle Card: “Releasing what is potentially destructive. Preparing for new life.”

Prepared for a diagnosis of cataracts and actually looking forward to being treated because to a person, everybody who’s had cataract surgery tells me they’ve never been able to see better. They even get to design their own vision, most choosing a lens for distance and inexpensive, over-the-counter reader glasses for reading, computer, and hobby work. I have a plan. All will be well.

Not being able to see is exhausting.

Not to mention frustrating.

The ophthalmologist doesn’t follow my script. Scans of my left eye show a lot of blood, so I am met not with a choice of replacement lenses, but  with a referral to a retinal specialist. As the opthamologist’s scheduler searches for the next available appointment, she says, “Huh. There’s just been a cancellation tomorrow at 1:30.”

Shaken, I take the cancellations as a sign. The retinal specialist will scratch his head and wonder how this ophthalmologist managed to get my test results mixed up with someone else’s or come up with such a creative diagnosis.

Wednesday, 4/3/2019

This morning I draw the Beggar oracle card: “Confronts empowerment at the level of physical survival. Awakens the spiritual authority of humility, compassion, and self-esteem.”

Two years ago, I presented my daughter with a quilt top and a promise to finish it asap. Ever since, she chides me lovingly, wondering where she finds “asap” on the calendar and wondering when will she enjoy sleeping under it. Before presenting myself at the retinal specialist’s office, we purchase threads for that very quilt. I’m not being morbid, I simply resolve to amp up and bring to cloth all the images I carry around on the inside.

I go through a repeat of all the tests from the day before and some new ones at the retinal specialist’s office, and while my visual acuity is much improved in the past 24 hours. there is more blood. In the next 12 minutes, we move quickly from tests to the dreaded “wet macular degeneration” to talk of me being in a clinical trial to actually meeting with the clinical trial manager.

Unsure if the rush is because of my vision, the progression of the disease, or of getting me in the clinical trial. I leave the office with my head spinning and my heart reeling.

Thursday morning, 4/4/2019: The Day After

I wake and am able to see better than I have been in over a month. Ignoring the images I was shown yesterday, I think thoughts from the denial column like “Maybe they’re wrong” and “Maybe my eyes were just tired”. I give myself a day of slow ease, a day that quickly becomes filled with emails, phone calls, text messages. Thanks to the efforts of my brother-in-law, I get a second opinion and decided to go ahead and apply to be in the clinical trial. The screening will the place Tuesday morning, 4/9/2019.

“Your imagination is your super power.” 

My friend Joyce texts me this reminder, and as we both know and have talked about before, there’s a flip side to imagination: fear. “Fear comes with imagination,” Thomas Harris writes in Red Dragon. “It’s the price of imagination.” Imagination is not entirely a benevolent creative tool. Imagination has a torturous side, cluing us into the worst that could happen. “Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn,” writes Mary Ruefle in her chapbook, On Imagination. True to form, my imagination glides from denial into fearful overdrive, flapping around unchecked, frantically shouting “Sure, you can write without seeing, but how will you live if you can’t stitch?”

Cue my internal chorus

With denial and fear beginning to fade, my internal chorus warms up and begins chanting their ever-familiar refrains of  “You ought to be ashamed of yourself because you know good and well that people are dealing with much worse” and admonitions to “stop that pity party right this minute.” Continuing my plan to honor what comes, I listen to the chorus then bid it shush, pointing out that I have never and will not start now using other people’s circumstances as comparisons to shore myself up and feel better about my situation. My diagnosis doesn’t diminish their pain, and I refuse to use their pain in an attempt to diminish mine.

Having ridden this beautiful rock around the sun quite a few times, I don’t throw myself a pity party, I simply take the emotions as they come. Fear. Sorrow. Embarrassment. A pinch of Pity. They come, we talk, they leave. No angst, no wallowing, and fortunately, no overstaying their welcome.

Without apology, I delve into my secret stash of chocolate. More than once.

Friday, 4/5/2019: The Day After The Day After

Knowing that things are piling up in my absence from the computer, we go into town and buy me a pair of reader glasses that I wear behind my prescription reading glasses, and while I can see somewhat better, I still struggle to make out even the enlarged words on the screen, tire quickly, and take frequent eye rest breaks. And so it continues for now.

Note: “I’m going to rest my eyes a bit,” my grandparents used to tell me. Silly me, I thought they were using code for “I’m gonna’ take a nap.”


If you are part of or wanting to become part of The 70273 Project Tribe and are waiting on quilt labels, bundles, a reply to your email, or something else, please accept my apologies for my tardiness. It’s now Sunday, 07 April 2019, and I’ve been working on this post for several days. Taking the aforementioned eye rest breaks take time, Reading a screen filled with words in 40-60 point fonts takes time, too, as there’s room for no more than 5 words on the screen at a time. That one caught me by surprise. I will get my daughter Alison to proof this (she surprised me by coming up to spend several days with me!), mash the publish button, rest my eyes, then move into the studio to begin checking in blocks and quilts. Replies to emails may have to wait till tomorrow. We’ll see.

The 70273 Project is an international endeavor, amazing in the magnitude of geography, numbers of people, and kindness. With my whole heart, I thank y’all for using your imagination as a force of good – for showing me the patience, understanding, kindness, and compassion you continue to show those we commemorate. Your good wishes comfort me, your continued petitions for healing encourage me,  and stories from your personal experience fortify me.

Updates to follow, I promise.


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Not an Insignificant Exchange


The short version for those who don’t have much time:

  • Where I live, there are 3 Great Voices of Authority: God, Doctors, Football.
  • Single words, short phrases, or simple sentences, have The Power to change lives.
  • When something stupid, thoughtless, inconsiderate, moronic, or potentially harmful falls out of a mouth – even the mouth of one of the 3 Great Authorities – you have not only the Right but a Duty to speak up.
  • Speaking up at times like #3 can change lives, too.

The longer version:

Two years ago, at our first visit, the cardiologist looked at my husband (who was then a recent recipient of a stent in his heart) and said, “You’re lucky. You know how you’re going to die.” I sat there and said nothing, in part because I was struck speechless with such a stupid thing being said by one of The Great Authorities, and in part because this was a conversation between my husband and this doctor to which I was a mere observer who didn’t want to risk the doctor “taking it out on my husband.”

Today, this same cardiologist walks into the room, and instead of saying “Wow, you look great. I can tell you’ve been seriously exercising” or anything comparable, he immediately starts hammering away at Andy about nutrition and eventually says (and I quote), “If you want to live to be 88, you need to watch what you eat and to cut down on the fried foods.”

Having heard enough, I take Andy’s face in my two hands, look into his retinas, and say, “Baby, we’re shooting for at least 98, okay?” When he nods, I turn my attention to the cardiologist . . .

“You deal with hearts,” I say, “I deal with psychology and emotions, the driving forces in life.” And before I can finish that train of thought, he says, “I deal with more psychology than you might think.” I am both relieved and borderline thrilled to know he realizes that.

“Then you understand about the power of suggestion,” I tell him. “When you put a finite number on how long my husband or anybody else, for that matter, will live, you plant a seed that might grow into a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what say we leave out the finite numbers and ages and stick to concepts, information, and most important of all: encouragement and support.” I guess it comes as no surprise to hear that my contribution quickly brings the visit to a close.

To his credit, though, when the cardiologist shakes my husband’s hand as we exit the office, he says, “Okay, we’ll shoot for 108. Or 109. Yes, 109. Let’s make it an odd number.”

And me? I just smile and say, “I like odd.”

[ :: ]

Jeanne Hewell-Chambers has long owned and seldom apologized for her authority issues.

I Felt So Bad I Forgot to Put on Lipstick



Since we last met,

  • I traveled out to the rehearsal dinner and wedding of the son of my cousin Stacy;
  • helped with all the needs to be done during hell week of Twilight’s last production (Les Mis, school edition)
  • sold a house (can I get a hearty YAY?)
  • threw myself into an unplanned, time-consuming, and ultimately fantastic studio makeover
  • visited Nancy and picked up about 500 new drawings. That’s one of her newest there at the top of this post – um, yeah, I’ll be stitching till kingdom come, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my life. Her teacher keeps colored pencils and paper within reach of Nancy at all times. Says when Nancy draws, she calms down, smiles, and focuses. Art will do that to a girl, I tell you.
  • finished stitching In Our Own Language, 2.1, have based In Our Own Language, 2.2, and conjured an image of what In Our Own Language 3 will look like
  • gone and gotten myself sick (see below)
  • finished my art class, graduating With Distinction.

[ :: ]


I felt so bad this morning, I forgot to put my lipstick on when i went to the urgent care for the third consecutive day. I have a place on my face that I thought was a pimple caused by using hotel lotion as my nighttime moisturizer since I forgot to pack mine when we traveled down to see Nancy almost 2 weeks ago. Well, if this was a pimple, it was the pimple to end all pimples. One thing led to another, and a week ago I went in to let a professional have a look see. She declared it a spider bite (ON MY FACE? eeeewwwww) and prescribed some antibiotics that didn’t work, as anybody could see. Friday morning I told Andy that I had to go back because it took way too much energy keeping my imagination in check. I’ve been to the urgent care unit so many consecutive days that they’re just running a tab for me. I expect we’ll all be swapping Christmas gifts. Same goes for the pharmacy where I’ve gone every day to get a new prescription. Yesterday was a pretty awful, horrible day, and today I woke up feeling so bad, I forgot to put on my lipstick before I left the house.

Every time I encounter somebody and they don’t throw up or run away screaming, I tear up with gratitude. Once I’m on the mend and the various aches and pains are on the run, I’m gonna’ have to devote some pondering beauty and identity and vanity and such as that.

[ :: ]


For the past several weeks I’ve been working to merge my two blogs. Why? Because I am tired of living a containerized life. Books, art, cloth, laughter, sickness, health, saging – these things and more are my life. Period. Gone are the days when I had a tote bag for each different interest – now my life is my art, and my art is my life. There may be some hiccups along the way, so thank you in advance of your patience. That kind of tinkering under the hood is quite tedious and time-consuming. I’m sure I don’t know/didn’t think of everything, and I would like to thank my son Kipp for helping bail me out of A Big Huge Pickle I got myself into last week – a pickle that had to do with links and broken links and 301 redirects, I won’t bore you. If you just want the feeds, try this: feedly.com. I’m still working on how to generate just rss feed – I’ll keep you posted. If you want to subscribe by email, though, click right this way. If you’re receiving this email, you’ve already subscribed, so thank you.

[ :: ]


It’s time to take my new meds and try to finally start the healing process. I’ve missed you.

sinuses obviously can’t read a calendar




here i am, spending a week on the beach in hilton head when along comes a sinus infection. i’m taking my antibiotics and using the prescription nasal spray like a good little girl, but still everything tastes like cardboard or soap. so while the others order all sorts of tasty goodies, i just feast on the menus.


he has a good heart


it is his fourth
battery of tests
in less than a year,
there is no comfort in that.

they do not make eye contact
when we check in,
there is no comfort in that.

we are directed to go
across the hall
to sit and wait
in the waiting room
with taupe walls
and taupe baseboards
and taupe carpet.
with signs taped
to the wall
ordering us
to turn off cell phones
and demanding that we
ring the bell
only once.
there is no comfort in that.

we were not told
before our arrival
about all of the tests
to be run today.
that is not good
to hear,
but maybe,
just maybe,
not knowing
prevented much
anticipatory stress.

other patients
come and go
without so much as a
grunt about why he
is Back There
for hours
and hours.
there is no comfort in that.

finally the tests are done
and we are directed
to go to another waiting room.
this one as cold
as the other was
we wait
and we wait
and we wait,
more than
one-and-a-half hours
after the
appointment time
we’d agreed on
some eight months ago,
we wait.
there is no comfort in that.

we are escorted to
a taupe
exam room,
adorned with
a poster of a sailboat
in a cheap frame.
where the assistant
looks over his records
and seems quite
to hear that
his medications
changed over
six months ago.
there is no comfort in that.

we are told
that he passed
all the tests –
every single one of them –
with flying colors.
blood pressure: excellent.
blood flow: excellent.
overall circulatory system: excellent.
and there’s great, huge,
comfort in that.

creating less and less of me: day 3

“day 237”. “day 464”. “day 729”.

those are things i long to write at the beginning of my daily journal entry – and i want those numbers to represent consecutive days. you see, i’m trying to create less of me. writing a minimum of 1000 words daily so that eventually i’ll spill more and waste fewer words. walking daily to burn calories and create less of the physical me.

i will walk the same route day, adding an extra hill or bend every week, knowing that with each repetition, i will see the same things differently.

i will write in my journal – the one adored with the three graces – each day, knowing that with each entry, i will say more in less words.

that’s just the way it is . . . or so i’m told. now i’m committed to finding out for myself.

today is day 3, and though i promise not to bore you with every single walk, i did want to share some of the amazing things i saw on walk #3:


my path. see that little butterscotch-colored dot a little less than halfway up? that’s my walking mate, phoebe. a welsh corgi who has a funny way of herding.


made me think of my friend julie daley who’s winding up a trip to ireland. a budding dolmen, perhaps?


a late-blooming gardenia.

and this exquisite companion that came along to color my way:



the persistent stowaway


they’re never on my packing list,

but i never leave home without them . . .


hot flash strikes.

out of the blue

no warning

no discernible trigger

just the teensiest little ole’ warning i’ve come to recognize

from paying close attention to myself:

nanoseconds before a hot flash arrives

i can breath more clearly.

my breathing passages just flat-out open up

heralding the arrival of

the intense heat that spreads rapidly through my body,

not discriminating against any one particular area.

i feel like i’ve just been wrapped in plastic wrap –

not the kind you buy in the store –

this plastic wrap sticks.

no air can get to me.

moments before, i could breathe expansively

now i can’t breathe at all.

while my brain races

frantically looking for an exit sign,

my body quietly points to the exist sign

and my brain calms down,

settles in.

i toss out the dismissive, overused phrase “this too shall pass”

replacing it with

“more women than i can count have survived hot flashes. i will be fine.”

then i tune in and notice my body like never before.

this amazing body

that has long been a source of embarrassment

instead of a place of refuge and strength.

on any given day and for far too many years

i scold it, scoff at it, ignore it.

and now, during this wildfire,

i find my way to appreciation.

breath holds my hand

until the hot flash recedes,

regrouping for next time

it will show up unannounced and uninvited

to beam me into my body,

into the present.




This post was birthed by my participation in Bindu Wile’s 21.5.800 project, and (even though it’s officially ended) Dian’s Self Evidence project (self-awareness).

Technorati Tags: #215800, #SelfEv

yoga, betty crocker style


back in the day, betty crocker and some of her friends baked cakes from scratch, and they never had all the ingredients they needed, which meant baking a cake took nearly all day long what with all the trips to the grocery store and all. so they got smart and developed a cake-in-a-box mix. only women wouldn’t buy it, the corporate fable goes, because it was too easy. they didn’t feel like they’d really baked a cake by just opening a box, so betty revamped her idea to include adding water, milk, oil, and/or eggs. women liked that. it was easy, convenient, and they had contributed just enough to give them the satisfaction of accomplishment.

for years, i’ve been dreaming of my days as a bowl filled with yoga and writing and walking and reading. years, i tell you. dreaming.

this year i stepped things up a notch and created a collage around the beginning of the year. it was my way of telling the universe about my plans so she could take care of it.

and eventually, she – in the form of bindu wiles – did take care of it. betty crocker style. bindu put together a plan that stirred writing and yoga into every day. easy peasy. she even brought in marianne who has a yoga for writers video. all i had to do was open the box, add words, stir, and bake for 21 days, only 21 days – just the right amount of time it’s said is needed to develop a habit. twenty-one days and my life would be soooo different. soooo much better. i would be leaner and stronger. i’d have clarity. i’d be able to set old roosters to rest and stand other things on their head. when my friend angela kelsey and i finally meet in person, we could do a yoga duet. (when we’re not swapping stories, doing metaphysical diagnoses of each other, or comparing bags and electronic gizmos, that is.) shoot, i might even have a book i hadn’t exactly expected to have.

but here’s the thing: in a scant 4 days, the timer chimes, indicating the end of the 21 days. the program will be done, and i’ve done yoga, what – maybe 3 non-consecutive times now and written a blog post or two (also non-consecutive). (oh, sure, i’ve written more in my head, but i don’t need to read the directions on the box to tell me that writing in my head does not count. in fact, head-writing is precisely what i want to get away from.)

then yesterday, bindu announced a 10-day extension. what? an extension? was this a coveted second chance to bake the cake of my dreams or was it a dreaded second round of opportunities i’d let pass me by? would my cake rise or would it fall? would it burn from staying in the oven too long or would i take it out before it’s done? well, didn’t i just stick my toothpick into this cake, and when it came out with some of the batter sticking to it, i decide: to put it back in the oven for another 10 days.

now for years, i’ve been going to bed every night vowing that tomorrow will be The Day I Get Up And Do Yoga Then Write before anything or anybody has a chance to derail my day. and, well, i just told you how that cake turned out. but the funny thing is, it was yesterday afternoon when i decided to stick this cake back in the oven, and last night, i plumb forgot to drift off to sleep thinking about how marvelous my tomorrow was gonna’ be.

this morning, i got up, did a few things, then popped in the yoga video. i didn’t make it nearly all the way through. my knees cried foul and my wrists quit in protest. my ankles walked right off the mat and watched the remaining video from the sofa. but i did enough to make my entire body smile with satisfaction and possibility, and i’m writing minutes after turning off the tv, choosing to reheat this topic out of the plethora of topics (some half-baked) (sorry, couldn’t resist) that are vying for attention.

that part of me that loves to distract and derail, that part of me that thinks thinking is the only way to go, wants to know why i didn’t bake the cake the first 21 days and what makes me think the next 14 days will be any different. my heart, that part of me that thinks in ways the brain cannot ever understand, already knows the answer . . .

two nights ago, i was treated to a phone call with danette, emma, and julie, the loverlies known online as oliveandhope, pleasurenotes, and unabashedly female. that phone call had all the ingredients for baking the most delicious cake ever, and one thing emma tossed into the mix near the end of the call has stuck with me. in the midst of vowing there’d be no more self-bashing around our campfire, emma pointed out that sometimes saying that we didn’t quite accomplish what we’d hoped to could be cathartic. when we say i didn’t do this or i didn’t do that, it takes the power away so we can move forward. when things stay hidden in the shadows, they grow, feasting on shame and embarrassment. there was something so freeing about that. not admitting failure or defeat, not hanging the head or wringing the hands, just saying i didn’t do quite what i’d intended to do then moving on.

it’s so simple, and surely it’s something i’ve known for a while, but those words on that phone call came at Just The Right Time. like julie says: “Now this might be Life 101 for many of you, but in my experience, the truth comes around again and again and again until I realize it deeply and profoundly. And then it comes around again.”

and with that, my friends, i’m shoving my cake back in the oven to bake for another ten days. then we’ll see. we’ll just see.


This post is part of  #SelfEv, #215800

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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