Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2nd Blogiversary

It's been an amazing two years here at Blogger, a time when I've met so many talented and encouraging authors, made some fab friends both within cyberspace and out here in the real world, and worked hard on my craft. The inspiration I draw every day from fellow blogging writers keeps me going. Thanks to all of you for sharing this experience with me!

Just for fun, for anyone interested, here is the beginning of my first ever post:

Where to start when there's no clear beginning?

Compelled. That's how I feel these days, as if there’s something drawing me to its hiding place just over the next rise in Life's road. The attraction is strong. I’m in motion. My internal navigator, though, has closed her eyes. She trusts in the momentum she can’t understand or control. I have to follow her lead, for I know fighting it would be futile.

Here’s what I do know: When you want something very badly, so much so that you can actually see it sitting in your hands when your imagination looks down, then it will be. When I’m most in tune with the world around me, I easily perceive the signs pointing me in the right direction, toward the next goal. With that belief, that knowledge in mind, I embark on this blogging journey.
[Read more...]

Here's to another amazing year of inspiration, writing, and blogging!

Happy New Year to You and Yours!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Life Storms and Silver Linings

I'm an optimistic person who believes all of life's storm clouds have silver, writerly linings. Life storms are what we write about. A story with no catastrophic spike on the plot arc isn't compelling and exciting. Who wants to write about a bunch of people who have no problems, no steep challenges to face? So when a life storm erupts over my head, I try to survive it with courage, patience and grace -- all while I'm taking notes for possible story ideas.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the eye of an F2 life storm. I'd woken in the night with a headache, which I often do. A glance at the clock told me it was only one in the morning, so I knew I needed to pop a few Tylenol or I'd have monster head pain by morning. So I got up and went to the kitchen for some pills.

The events that followed are hazy in my memory. I remember being hit by a sudden and violent wave of nausea, and I knew I was going to be sick right then and there. The next thing I remember, I was sitting up from the kitchen floor in a pool of vomit. I had passed out. 

I was disoriented but not panicked. You see, my whole life I've suffered from the Vasovagal Response, which means my heart slows down when I'm subjected to certain stimuli, such as needles and blood, and my brain doesn't get enough oxygen. When it happens, I pass out. I've lost consciousness many times; passing out is familiar to me. But throwing up? That's extremely rare for me. So in my disoriented state, I was only concerned about the mess I'd made on the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up before going back to bed.

I still felt very nauseous, and I woke my husband up to tell him I was sick. Apparently I didn't tell him I'd passed out. He looked at his clock and saw it was two o'clock in the morning. Between two and five a.m., I vomited four more times. But at five, an alarming new symptom arose. I was losing blood and fluid from my right ear. Time to panic.

My husband recalls I said, "Maybe I hurt my ear when I fell." By telling him I'd passed out he had the missing piece to the puzzle, and five minutes later he was helping me dress.

The ER physician could see I'd ruptured my right ear drum. He ordered a CAT scan to determine whether the trauma had caused internal injuries. That's when I learned I'd fractured my skull.

The big question was why I'd vomited and passed out in the first place. An EKG showed I have an irregular heartbeat, something called Long QT Syndrome. I was admitted into the hospital for observation and spent the following twenty-four hours hooked up to a cardiograph.

After a night with no crazy heart activity, I was discharged. Thank goodness. Anyone who has ever been in the hospital knows it's no place for a person to rest and heal. Under the watchful care of my husband and kids, I'm doing better every day, and right after Christmas I meet with an ENT and a cardiologist to determine what longer-term treatment, if any, I need.

So, what was the silver, writerly lining to this life storm? I now know firsthand what it's like to be treated in an emergency room - the pain of having to move when you're injured and sick, the fear of needles that prod and test, the different bedside manners of doctors and nurses. I had a CAT scan. I now know the cold environment of that ominous, humming machine, and the unease one feels being fed head-first into its tunnel-like mouth. I also had a sonogram of my heart. That was cool! My heart looked so graceful, the valves opening and closing with the rhythmic grace of a jellyfish hover-swimming through the ocean depths.

When I was transported for the sonogram, my wheelchair was pushed through the hospital by a stoic nurse. When we passed through the wide, automatic doors of the cardiac ward, we headed down a door-lined corridor. It was perfectly silent; I couldn't even hear the rubber-soled steps of the woman slowly pushing me. On either side of the corridor, there were patients in wheelchairs just like me. Each had been draped with a white blanket around the shoulders, right under their chins, just like me. They sat motionless, one chair parked behind the next. Waiting. It was a chilling sight, an image Stephen King would have a field day with. Suddenly my chair stopped next to the wall a few feet from a door. I heard the nurse engage the brake. From behind me, she said, "We're here. Hope you get to feelin' better." And then she turned and left me there with the other silent ones. Eerie.

Life is a stormy place. But like the characters we write about, we need to brave those storms in order to learn, grow, and evolve. So when the next storm brews on your horizon, pray for strength to get through it. Open your eyes and heart in readiness for the lessons to come. And, grab your pen.

[This article first appeared today in my edition of the Drama Newsletter.]


Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja vu Blogfest

It's been six days since my accident and I'm healing slower than I thought. I think I'm just in denial that I'm even hurt. Anyhow, I won't be able to visit many blogs today, and I regret that very much. Need rest though.

In the spirit of this blogfest, I'll post an entry from earlier this year, one that reminds me that even though I've been hurt and my day-to-day schedule has been temporarily disrupted, I have so much to be grateful for.  Here it goes:


It's supposed to snow in northern Japan.

As if the monster 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami weren't enough, or the terrifying 400+ aftershocks -- some up to 7.0 on the Richter Scale, now search and rescue operations will be further hindered by snow. Temperatures will drop to the 20s and 30s, while whole communities have no electricity, or experience rolling blackouts, as experts scramble to avoid a nuclear meltdown disaster. My heart goes out to survivors of this horrific natural disaster.

Puts things in perspective, doesn't it? I've been wallowing in my creative slump for too long. Yeah, it sucks feeling blocked. But I'm warm. I'm not hungry, or thirsty. Everyone in my family is safe and accounted for.

Today, I'm grateful for all I have. But that just doesn't seem good enough, to me.

I will celebrate what I have. It's an honor to have a roomy, beautiful home to live in. Beginning today, I'm going to kick-start my trusted daily cleaning schedule. Monday is Power-Clean-the-Kitchen Day. Each day this week, I'll focus on another room in the house. By next week, the whole house will sparkle and I'll shift into daily maintenance mode. A house is shelter, but it's more than a building. It protects my family life, keeps us together and safe, healthy and happy. I'm grateful for it.

When I'm finished cleaning, I'm getting out of the house! Away from my computer, away from my blockages. Many of you suggested last week that I stop trying so hard to write, get outside, commune with nature, breathe. I'm driving to the Botanical Gardens in Athens. There's a great five mile nature trail that follows the Oconee River before wrapping around the wetlands that give rise to deciduous forests. I'm taking along fruits, nuts & raisins, and plenty of water. I'll have my camera and my journal. I'll celebrate my good health, my vitality, and the beautiful, powerful planet -- capable of supporting life...capable of whisking it away.

Today is about being grateful, celebrating blessings. And praying for those whose blessings lie on rubble.

What are you most grateful for?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holy Head Trauma

Saturday was a busy day full of Christmas shopping and fun, but it ended with a freak accident that landed me in the hospital.

I'd woken at 1am with a headache, so I got up to take a couple Tylenol. In the kitchen as I opened the pill bottle, a wave of nausea hit me like a brick to the head. It happened so fast, and the next thing I remember I was flat on the floor, blinking in the dark and very confused. I sat up in a mess and realized I had, in fact, been sick.

Disoriented, I woke up my husband and told him I was sick. I later learned I didn't mention to him for several hours that I'd passed out. I vomited four more times and was shivering cold. I was concerned that I was so sick, which is unusual for me, but when I realized I was losing blood-tinged fluid from my right ear, my husband and I got scared. He rushed me to the ER.

The ER doctor determined that I'd ruptured my ear drum when I fell on the floor. He ordered a CAT scan to be sure I didn't have any other injuries. I thought it was just a precaution and didn't expect them to find anything. After all, I didn't hurt anywhere; I was just so sick.

Imagine my shock when the CAT scan revealed I'd fractured my skull.

The bone behind my right ear cracked upon impact. Crazy!

I was emitted into the hospital as neurologists and cardiologists worked together to figure out why I passed out in the first place, and to be sure another episode didn't happen. I underwent many tests and learned some stuff about my physical self.

First, I have always suffered from Vasovagal Syncope. According to  Vasovagal syncope (vay-zo-VAY-gul SING-cuh-pee) is the most common cause of fainting. Vasovagal syncope occurs when your body overreacts to triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. The trigger results in vasovagal syncope — a brief loss of consciousness caused by a sudden drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to your brain.

In the past, I've passed out from having my blood drawn and once, from just hearing the story of a friend whose appendix burst. But Saturday night was the first time I passed out from violent vomiting. I learned that can happen.

I underwent an EKG, which revealed I have Prolonged Q-T interval

My cardiologist wants to be sure my prolonged Q-T intervals don't indicate I have Long QT Syndrome, which is a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, your heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death. (Source I am scheduled for a stress test after Christmas, which I must pass before I'll be given the okay to resume vigorous exercise, like training for half-marathons. Wow. So thankful all this happened, if I discover something life-threatening in my heart.

Okay, this is getting longer than I anticipated and my head is beginning to pound. Time for some meds and a long nap. Please forgive me for not responding today, should you leave me a comment. I will be back to my old self soon -- within a week, according to my doctors. Just need rest to heal.

Hope your feeling healthy and vital today. Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 5, 2011



I feel like #@!$ today 

Question: Know why?
Answer: Blogger Support 

I have two simultaneous but completely unrelated problems on my blog.

1.  My Google Friends Connect gadget does not update when I get a new follower. It has shown Nick Wilford as my most recent sign-up'er for weeks, (*waves to Nick*), but I have at least a dozen new peeps following who remain un-displayed. 

(BTW, this is the reason I am now using DISQUS commenting system. Please fill in the blanks the next time you leave me a comment! You only have to do it once; DISQUS will remember you. And that way I will have another trail back to your blog, if I've never been there before. Thanks in advance!!)

2.  I have a new blog layout in mind that will include a slider to display artwork for my short fiction and include links to the stories. (If you know me, you know I change this blog rather often-ish. Graphic art is on my top five list of passions.)  Anywhooz, I uploaded into my "practice blog" the HTML coding for the new blog and checked it in the Preview mode. It's going to look beastly!! But when I click Save Template, I get an error message. I've tried in Google Chrome and IE9, I've tried other third party templates, I've tried everything I can think of! Every time I get a different error code that always starts with 'bX-'.

So, I did what any reasonably intelligent blogger does:  I posted two different questions in the Blogger Help Forum, one for each of my issues.  Usually, someone (*waves to Dark UFO*) gets right back to me.

This time, nada. Rien. Absolulte radio silence.


In the meantime while I wait for help, I've tweaked this old blog template.  Looks sleeker, I think. :))

Hey if you've ever encountered any of my problems, won't you tell me about it in the comments? Oh, and I have lots of other problems, if we don't share one listed above. Like, I steal Halloween candy out of my kids' pumpkins. And I hate housework so I keep the place "tidy" until someone says, "Um, Mom/Dear? I went down the hall and walked right into a spider's web. Is  there any still in my hair?" And I cuss. Sort of a lot. (Hey, lots of situations warrant it!)

Hope your week's off to a great start. I'm off to check the Blogger Help Forum...again. Then maybe I'll see if any of the kids has a Snickers left...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hey you! Read This (please!)

I’m thrilled to welcome several new followers since the Déjà vu Blogfest sign-ups began. Blogging brings people together and I’ve found some wonderful friendships here on Blogger. That’s why I’m so sad when I can’t follow someone back. Sad smile
Now, I have a personal follow-back policy. If someone finds my humble site interesting enough to follow, I want to extend the same kindness to him or her. The problem arises for me when I click a new follower’s picture on my Google Friend Connect mosaic and, alas! The person hasn’t linked his or her blog to their profile.
Am I describing you? Not sure?? Here’s how you verify:
Find your picture on my Friend Connect mosaic right now. (Or you can go to your own blog and under your About Me, click “View My Complete Profile.” Either action will bring up your Blogger Profile, as others see it. Is your blog linked under “My Blogs?”
If it isn’t, click “Edit Profile” (on left margin, under your profile picture). On the edit page, the third option under “Privacy” is “Show My Blogs.” Click “Select Blogs to Display.” (If you have several blogs that include family blogs, special interest blogs, etc. that you don’t want others to see, only choose your writing blog to display.) Be sure to save your changes.
It’s important to realize that Blogger doesn’t always default to linking your blog on your profile. It’s a great idea to verify that your blog is linked, so people like me can follow you back. Rolling on the floor laughing
And don’t forget to enter the Déjà vu Blogfest! Click the link below the badge on my right sidebar to add your name to Mr. Linky’s list!
School Have a fabulous day! School