Heart/wrecked

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Like a ship that runs aground because of low tide or unseen rocks or fog or navigational errors, our beautiful heart can be damaged when blood flow is restricted or when it flows unregulated.

Heart/wrecked.

I grew up hearing the term, “Stress kills.”

I was never quite sure what that meant, but then I did when it happened to me.

After a seemingly nonstop barrage of a personal stressful situation–like a ship hitting the rocks over and over again–it all finally took an undeniable toll on my physical health.

One of my favorite places to live is in the state of Denial, but I’ve been forced to temporarily move to a new town called Reality. Hopefully, I’ll just visit there for a bit until I can come home again.

After experiencing some intermittent and strangely terrifying heart pains, I went to the doc who took my blood pressure and was concerned about the results. It was super high. I had always had enviably LOW blood pressure since I exercise regularly, am vegan and never smoked, so this raised concerns.

Over the course of a couple weeks, my BP was checked daily and it stayed consistently high; dangerously high, which only made me more anxious and more stressed, and at one of the office visits, I started hyperventilating and had a panic attack. (Super embarrassing for the doc and absolutely mortifying for me.)

This led to an order for an Echocardiogram along with all the other heart-focused tests. The echo was done at a local hospital–a definite trigger. No one wants to go to a hospital at any time, but especially during Covid. It seemed like I was being admitted, with a wrist band and lots of little stickers, and I was devastated.

I almost bolted out of the front door at that point, but I persevered. I can share with you that it’s a scary time when you have to figure out why you don’t feel great. I’ve been a medical advocate for several loved ones, but it’s radically more difficult when you have to care for yourself. Poor me.

The technician was amazing, especially considering I tormented her with a million questions. I know enough about medical stuff to see that she was concentrating on a certain area of my heart. I really appreciated her patience with me and her detailed explanations during the hour-long ordeal.

The results showed a dilated aortic root valve and regurgitation of the mitral valve.

Risk Adjustment Coding Academy- Coding Focus

What this means is that the accumulation of stress and panic attacks and PTSD that I’ve endured during the last four years manifested medically and physically and caused structural damage to my heart.

Mitral valve regurgitation - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

“Severe physical or emotional stress increases blood pressure to the point where the tensile limit of the aortic tissue is overwhelmed, causing the rupture.”

“Over time, certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, can cause your heart to work harder, gradually enlarging your heart’s left ventricle.”

“Mitral valve regurgitation can cause complications such as atrial fibrillation, in which the atria of the heart don’t contract well. This leads to increased risk of stroke. Also, elevated blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary artery hypertension).”

Hypertension makes the blood push harder against the valve and causes it to dilate, enlarge, and that’s pretty much the same scenario for the mitral valve, which seems to be the cause of the intermittent chest pain.

I’ll need to be monitored regularly because if I can’t control the stress/blood pressure and the valves stretch to a dangerous size, the only solution is surgical intervention–or death.

Reducing stress and hypertension can possibly keep the valves from enlarging any further, but the damage is done–nothing will make them reduce in size back to normal, except surgery.

Let me tell you that it’s true. Stress kills.

Now I’m off to change course, take some magnesium, eat more beets, meditate, calm down and regulate my breathing so that I don’t have a stroke or an aneurysm.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Heart/wrecked.

Shipwrecked.

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

On all charges.

Were you watching?

In a Minneapolis, Minnesota courtroom, former cop Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges relating to the murder of George Floyd.

Even better, his bail was revoked and he’ll be in custody for eight weeks until the sentencing hearing. Did anybody but me notice how his little eyes were darting back and forth above his mask? Such arrogance. It seemed as if he really thought he was going to be acquitted. NOPE.

Gotta say, this was very satisfying to watch.

Thousands of others have written with more eloquence than I’m capable of about this trial, so I’m only going to share my observations and my own opinions.

Justice did NOT prevail. Accountability prevailed. Justice would have George Floyd alive and breathing after he was arrested for ALLEGEDLY paying with a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. Chauvin got a trial, but George did not. Bad cops made sure he didn’t have a chance.

It’s simple. Police cannot be judge, jury, and executioners, but they were in this situation. All four of them. They are ALL guilty, in my opinion.

The only reason there was ANY accountability at all was because a teenager named Darnella Frazier had the brains and courage to use her phone to record the nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds it took for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. She continued recording despite threats from the cops on the scene.

I hope we can all be as brave as she was–don’t walk away, don’t pretend police brutality isn’t happening. Take out your cell phone and memorialize the abuse. Darnella Frazier is an inspiration to BE better and DO better.

A friend shared this link with me: ACLU Mobile Justice...https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/mobile-justice?fbclid=IwAR3Gbc9lQGZGBGu-lEpmrz6H4zOTLTaB4Aev59wzciakM0eGjAO_9e4pNGQ

What is even more frightening is a report I read somewhere (can’t remember to cite the article so I’ll paraphrase) about the recruiting of white supremacists and paramilitary types to our police forces and military. There has been investigation and speculation that white supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across the country.

Law enforcement failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats and racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000. Police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.

Police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

If we have any doubt that there is systemic racism in this country, we need look no further than active police officers training the Oath Keepers for a possible Civil War.

I found one of the most moving statements about the trial and guilty verdict from my friend, Vice-President Al Gore. (https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/11/04/i-met-vice-president-al-gore-at-the-apple-store/)

Statement by Former Vice President Gore on the Chauvin Verdict

April 20, 2021  by Al Gore

Nearly a year after America rose up in horror and anger at the tragic murder of George Floyd and cried out in opposition to generations of systemic racism, a jury in Minneapolis delivered a long-awaited first step toward accountability. While we know that true justice would mean that George Floyd was with us today, living free of fear of racism and police violence, I’m glad that we can at least say that with this verdict, the arc of the moral universe bent ever so slightly further toward justice.

The American legal system should be a beacon of accountability around the globe, and I’m glad that with the eyes of the world upon us, it lived up to that promise in this case. But at the same time, I’m all too aware that this same accountability and justice has never come for countless Black, brown, and Indigenous women and men in America.

I hope that this moment is a turning point for the real action and reform desperately needed to ensure our country can live up to its most sacred promise: that all men and women are created equal. While we unequivocally declare the truth that Black Lives Matter, it is long past time for the meaningful changes needed to allow Black Americans an opportunity to thrive.

My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends as they continue to grieve his loss and work toward lasting change.

A vigil for George Floyd is planned for Sunday evening at a park in my little town. I probably won’t attend because I’m still wary of public gatherings. If I change my mind, I’ll post photos.

Seed Magic

I don’t think there’s anything that enchants me more than a volunteer plant.

Where did you come from, my lovely friend?

Whether it was born from a seed scattered by the wind or bird or a garden angel, a volunteer plant seems to be healthier and grows more vigorously than others.

I didn’t plan for this California poppy, but here she is in all of her shiny, orange, exuberant glory!

In my fantasy-driven universe where animals and growing things speak, it’s like she selected this perfect location between a rose and lavender, and says, “Here I am, Princess Rosebud, aren’t I so very beautiful?”

Yes, it’s true. You are a very beautiful child of the universe and thank you for choosing me to care for you. I am grateful!

Happy Monday!

Enduring Love

Did anyone watch the televised funeral of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband? He died on April 9. Despite one’s personal opinion of the monarchy and their fame, celebrity, and notoriety–tossing aside the gossip, this is a story of enduring love.

I watched some of it and was deeply touched by how small and solitary Queen Elizabeth looked as she sat alone. I turned it off because it didn’t seem right to intrude on her grief.

They had been married for almost seventy-four years.

How tragic for her to lose her life partner, the one she shared great times and the not-so-good times, the highs and the lows, but through it all, there was a shared and sacred commitment to going through life as a loving team; against all odds.

Their eyes focused on each other in this photo really touched my heart:

Why Prince Philip Was Never King Despite Marrying Queen Elizabeth

It reminded me of a Queen song and how ironic is THAT, even more so considering I never heard it before last week when I put American Idol on for a few minutes and one of the contestants sang “Love of My Life“.

Sad.

Spring Garden Tour

I took a look around and thought it’d be fun to share my other gardens at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

The little side yard next to the driveway…See the gigantic ceanothus to the left of the flowers? I thought it had died and now it’s taking over that entire space.

.

This is one of my favorite places; a rose arbor with a hideaway pond/waterfall along with chairs and a table, perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea.

This sweet smelling herb garden under the bedroom window is starting to bloom, too. Sage and flowering borage, also known as starflower:

Borage
Edible sage

We haven’t had any measurable April showers that would bring May flowers; such is the life of a SoCal garden. We’re halfway through the month with no rain in sight. We’ll need to enjoy these flowers until the summer heat and drought turns everything brown and drab.

DIY Garden Paver Project: Stepping Stones

This simple DIY project reallyreally exacerbated my OCD issues. However, I was determined NOT to give up until my inner demons were soothed.

The fifth time was a charm, at least I think so. I’m not good at math but I used sixteen pavers with the exact same distance between each one. The middle of the arch aligned perfectly with the big living room window and that made me SO happy. It’s a nice transition between the pygmy palms and the ponytail palms and my dry river bed. I realize the standard rule is to leave 24 inches between each paver or stone, but I’m short and that’s a big leap for me, ergo the reason why they are so close together.

I have an unending supply of these adorable little mounding succulents that are ideally suited to completely fill the spaces between the pavers. If I remember correctly, it’s a kind of spreading sedum and seems to love it in my backyard garden. It won’t take long for them to grow.

I thought about painting or stenciling the gray concrete but it would have spoiled the theme of the dry river bed. The rest of my front yard is planted with California natives; coyote bush, sages, buckwheat, and this gigantic Rhus integrifolia, also known as lemonade sumac or lemonade berry. It began life as a one gallon plant and must really love it in that spot because it’s as big as the house!

(I probably don’t need to tell you that you wouldn’t want to be here when I hang a picture on the wall.”Move it just a bit to the right, I mean to the left; up a tiny bit. OK. PERFECT.”)

My Neighborhood

Yesterday started out sunny and peaceful and then we had a bit of excitement.

I was digging and digging in the front yard, trying to arrange sixteen pavers in the most perfect aesthetically pleasing design to create a stepping stone effect. I tried three times because nothing gave off the right vibe that I was searching for.

First I placed them in a straight row but that looked too cold and harsh and militant, especially as it was bordering a rocky dry river bed that had natural organic lines. The second time I mimicked that meandering shape. Nope, that looked too busy and didn’t seem right. The THIRD time I created a gently curving line like a rainbow that seems to work OK but I’m going to leave it for a day or two and see how that feels. That’s the beauty of it…I can simply dig them up and move them wherever I choose. I call it the Goldilocks effect or it’s just my OCD, either one.

Side note: Each paver weighs about twenty pounds. 16 x 20 lbs =320 lbs. No wonder my arms are sore!

While I was digging and pondering, I heard a commotion down the street. My next door neighbors heard it too so we both investigated.

We observed a stray dog walking up our street and another dog was barking at it. That’s a big deal around here because we don’t have many unaccompanied dogs in our ‘hood. Cars were stopping; everyone was asking each other if anyone knew who he belonged to.

He was a nice looking boy, well cared for, a mid-sized brown German Shepherd. He walked up to our houses, walked around, even in the garage, sniffing everything.

I gave him a bowl of water but he wasn’t really interested and continued to walk slowly and deliberately up the street. He had a collar but no tags and no one could remember seeing him before. Just as we were deciding who should collect him in their backyard, he walked away. Another neighbor came by, said she would get a leash and bring him to her home until the owner could (hopefully) be located, so we all returned to our outdoor projects.

Minutes later, a truck and SUV drove up. It was the owners and their children! They had accidentally left the garage door open and their sweet old boy had walked out.

The dad said his boy was a retired police dog, very nice, but still had the police dog training, so they REALLY needed to bring him home. I called my friend who planned to host him at her house but she said she hadn’t been able to find the fugitive but they were still searching. He seemed to have disappeared in a matter of minutes.

My neighbor and I got in my car and set off to help the search. Others in my ‘hood did the same. We all drove up and down and around and couldn’t find him. What a mystery!

Thirty minutes later, we circled back and stopped at the owners house for an update.

He told us that another neighbor had been outside bringing groceries in, their car door was open, and their dog jumped in and sat down in the car. She was still outside wondering what to do when she spied the family calling for their doggy, and he was returned to a happy and grateful family. Yay!

We went home and I continued with my day; staring at a pathway that didn’t really go anywhere.

While there’s a lot to bemoan about this hectic world we inhabit, it’s positive and uplifting when an entire neighborhood comes together to help a family find their beloved dog.

What a wonderful world!

Update: I dug up the pavers yet again to move them four inches back which seems to render the right kind of feng shui. Now I think I’m happy. We’ll see. I’ll post a pic when the project is complete.

For a Princess-in-Training

How could anyone resist this sparkly butterfly shirt and frilly tutu?

Not me, that’s for sure.

I can’t wait to send this to the one and only Angel Girl 2.0 and watch her twirl.

There’s not much else going on in SoCal on this quiet Sunday.

PS I kinda wish they had this in MY size so I could feel like a princess ballerina, too.

#LevarBurton for #Jeopardy Host

UPDATE: This post was liked by the REAL Levar Burton!!! I really hope he becomes the only rightful host of Jeopardy. Then maybe I could convince Angel Boy to become a contestant…

Thirty years ago my Angel Boy entered and won a poetry contest hosted by Reading Rainbow.

My son never watched much TV but he loved to read and he loved Reading Rainbow.

I know I still have the poem he wrote but I couldn’t locate it and didn’t want to tear apart the boxes in his bedroom–yes, I confess…I proudly saved EVERY SINGLE essay, poem, picture, craft, test, report card — from the first day he started kindergarten up until NOW.

What I could easily find, because it’s framed and I can see it every day, is the official photo taken at KPBS studios of the local children who entered the contest.

Somewhere in that group is my fashion-forward Angel Boy.

Since the death of Alex Trebek, no one is no one more qualified or more right for the job of Jeopardy host than Levar Burton.

Please click on the link below to sign the petition to make Levar Burton the next host of Jeopardy: I did!

https://www.change.org/p/sony-pictures-entertainment-levar-burton-should-be-the-next-host-of-jeopardy

YUM! Miyoko’s Vegan Cream Cheese

Whenever I find a great product, I love to share it with you guys.

I thought I’d try vegan cream cheese again. The last time I did, it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience. It looked gross and tasted like grainy, slimy wallpaper paste that left a nasty residue in my mouth. Yuck.

At Traders this morning, I gave in to temptation and picked up a tub of Miyoko’s Cream Cheese.

I didn’t examine the label with as much scrutiny as I usually do because the store was crowded and I wanted to hurry and get out of there.

When I got home, I was starving and opened a box of crackers, crossing my fingers that this new variety of vegan cream cheese wouldn’t be another disaster.

After my first taste, I thought I had accidentally purchased real cream cheese with LOX (salmon) and I was totally freaking out. I literally ran in the kitchen to look at the container to check ingredients in case I made a mistake. I was gobsmacked (love that word) to read this:

I can’t believe how accurately Miyoko’s replicated the flavors and texture of milk-based cream cheese. What a joy!

Product Details: •Non-GMO • Lactose Free • Gluten Free • Soy Free • Palm Oil Free • Kosher • Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream, Sea Salt, Organic Seaweed, Vegetable Juice for Color, Cultures

Even if you’re not a vegan, I suggest you give it a try because it’s simply DELICIOUS. And best of all, their products are cruelty-free.

**This post is an unsolicited endorsement; the company didn’t send products for review nor have I received any form of compensation.**

A Light Bulb Moment

Literally.

Photo by Luca Nardone on Pexels.com

I don’t know how long it’s been since I needed to buy light bulbs; maybe five or six years, something like that.

I can’t remember exactly, but I had so many of them go out at the same time that I was compelled to navigate the light bulb aisle at a local home and hardware store.

I must have looked sufficiently confused because an employee walked over to me and said, “I’d ask you if you need help, but I can tell you do!”

I DID need help!

Apparently, I’ve been on another planet because the entire light bulb industry has changed while I’ve been gone.

Weird shaped bulbs, lumens, CFL, LED, halogen, incandescent, wattage, energy saving, HID, voice-enabled, smartphone technology–pretty soon even the light bulbs will be listening to our conversations like Alexa and Siri. It’s a whole new world.

I paid no attention to the lesson he gave me (sorry, nice man) but I told him what I wanted or what I used to have in the good old days, and let him choose the appropriate replacements.

They’re also way more expensive than they used to be, also a shock, but when I got home and restored illumination to previously darkened rooms, I was grateful for his kind assistance.