Through the eyes of a 7 year old

"What would you do if you had a stroke in Africa?" He asked me.
"Try to get to a hospital." I answered, even though I knew so much of it depended on where exactly I was when in Africa.
"What would you do if you had a stroke in Morocco?" He knew I spent almost two weeks in Morocco last summer.
"Well, I would try to get to a hospital." I answered.  And in fact, I almost did have to go to a hospital when I was in Marrakesh since I got serious heat stroke (after decided to work out everyday in the 115F weather).

But his questions started me thinking.  I had my stroke in Cambridge, MA.  In fact, it happened on the Harvard Business School Campus (I suppose if you are going to have a stroke, that is as good of a place as any...) Once we arrived at the hospital, I received immediate medical care and now have minimal, if any, residual affects from the stroke.  But this is not always the case.  What if I did have the stroke while traveling?  Would I be ok?  Would the care have been as stellar?  I honestly cannot say.  Perhaps, is my answer.  However I am only familiar with Boston's medical hospitals and research capacities.  I have had great experiences.  I am lucky.  I can only hope the same is true for others.

D.C. and the AHA

The Cherry Blossoms have gone - they are no longer on the trees; they are fragile and delicate, and can disappear right before your eyes.  That means that the tourists who have come by the hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. to see the event have also gone.  However, the city is still full.  It is full of life. 

As the plane touched down shortly before noon this morning I realized just how much life really existed within the Beltway.  Major decisions are made in the District - and over the next few days I will have the privilege to join hundreds of other American Heart Association advocates to discuss future decisions: Health Care Reform, NIH Heart and Stroke Research, and CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

All efforts to increase awareness around the Nation's number one killer.  Heart Disease.  And the Nation's number three killer.  Stroke.

Almost three years ago at 33 I had a stroke due to a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect, and this is why I am here today: to advocate for heart and stroke awareness and education.  After all, a heart can go just as quickly as those cherry blossoms if you do not take the time to appreciate it while it is there.

On the Hill

There are only a few more days until H and I go to the Hill  in D.C.  I was invited to go to Capitol Hill with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to meet with members of Congress.  We are going to talk about the importance of education and funding around heart disease and stroke.  I have my red dress, I have dinner reservations on Sunday night at one of Jose Andres' restaurants, I have planned my running route around the Mall on Monday morning so that I can appreciate the monuments in all of their glory, and now I just have to figure out what the hell I am going to say to all of those people when I meet them.  I have told my story time and time again - girl teaches fitness class, girl has stroke, doctors fine hole in heart, girl makes decision to have open heart surgery... etc.

But it really is so much more than that, and certainly more than can be summed up in a few minutes, words, or friendly handshakes.  It is a life a story, and one that I am lucky enough to share.  So maybe I will have a piece of chocolate cake and sort this whole thing out... Between now and then, I cannot really think of anything better to do anyway!P1019931

Life is about living

Someone wrote her a long message - it was not a very happy one.  In fact, it questioned how she was living her life.  They told her about life, and about living.  Specifically, that life was about living.  She felt convinced that she understood that statement to the fullest.  What had she spent the last years doing?

She tasted pure buffalo mozzarella on the Amalfi Coast...
She sipped on espresso atop the in outdoor cafes in Ravello...

She sampled chocolates and sweets while wandering Borough's Market...
Chocolate copy
She peered behind secret corridors in North Africa...
She felt the cool spray from the fountains at the Alhambra palace...
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She thought about everything for a few minutes, and dismissed the comments that had been told to her earlier.  Yes, she knew that her life was about living, in fact, she knew that better than most.  She did it to its fullest everyday, and had no intention of stopping.

Behind the Doors

I have to say, there are lots of places I really want, no, let me change that NEED, to go and visit.  However, on an oh-so-magical-trip this summer to Morocco, I feel in love all over again.  The people, the food, and the mystery of a country that is nothing less than spectacular.  I found that some of the best secrets in Morocco were hidden, and you had to look around corners and doors to find them.  Door

That being said, some of the most amazing people were not hidden, and they can be found right here...

Amazing people and places

I have friends - amazing wonderful friends -  who are all doing incredible things with their lives.  Lisa has an extraordinary organic design company with colors, patterns, and designs that would make almost anyone want to start doing bits and pieces of their home all over again... Steevy just started an editing company to "dress up your words"... Jojo has baubles and bling that would dress up any girl on the dreariest of days and make her feel downright sparkly... Jody has one of the best restaurants in Cambridge with charm, class, and oh, did I mention the food???  I recently met Maryam on an exotic holiday to Marrakesh.  She told me tales and stories about the city and its history that would entertain even a snake charmer!  And you might need to pack something to pack your baubles and new fabrics as you pack for your next holiday to Morocco... well then, hop on over to Nankeen and you will find something that will fit everything for your trip there, and all of your treasures for your trip home!  Oh, if all the shopping and travel planning makes you hungry, then you really should order one of Pamela's spiked divine desserts!

Have you ever...

Have you ever noticed that moment when the seasons change?  It is not an exact date or time or even second, but rather a feeling.  For me that feeling happens now, in November.  Perhaps because two years ago during this time my days were spent in planning mode for the two months that I was going to be out of work and out of my own day-to-day life following my heart surgery.  As I walked home from the gym this morning I felt the change.  It was colder, and even as I stepped into the sunlight, the air felt different.  Have you ever felt that change and for just a few seconds wished that you could step into another place?  For me that place is often the Amalfi Coast.  A two week vacation was all it took, and it brought me away from the cold air of the North East.  Have you ever seen the pink paint peeling away from a gorgeous wall with palm trees surrounding it, and even though you know that it is old, and perhaps could use a new coat of paint, you would not change a thing about it...Pink-walls
have you ever sat underneath a grape arbor and seen lemons the size of grapefruits, and breathing in the air tasted like the sun?Grape-arbor
what about driving recklessly around an island in a car that is no more stable than a golf cart as people yell at you because the muffler has half-fallen off, and sparks are flying from behind the back of the car...Car copy
or, have you ever tasted buffalo mozzerella so fresh that you actually get to meet the buffalo from where it came???Buffalo So when I find the winds changing, and my mind drifting to the places I have been, and the past, I think about where I would like to go in the future.

Somewhere I have never traveled...

There are many places.  Many places I have never traveled before, and as Wednesday was  World Stroke Day, I am thinking about those places.  Some of those places never happened because of my stroke.  Because I was afraid of what might happen if I left home, and the security that home provided for me.  Places like: 

Montreal, Montreal

New Years Eve on Martha's Vineyard, Mv copy
the Pacific Coast Highway,



Morocco, Marrakech

and Spain.Gaudi These were all places I almost never traveled to.  But I did.  I did travel to these places.  I laughed, I ran, and I did everything that I possibly could to take it all in, and to absorb each second, each minute, and each moment.  There will no longer be moments of no travel, or unknown places.

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

-ee cummings