My cardiologist sat across from me in the examining room and scribbled in my chart, a foot-thick folder he balanced on his knee.  I waited for him to look up before asking what had been on my mind for years. 


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I’m often asked what it’s like to live with heart disease. For me, the physical limitations have been much less difficult to manage than the emotional and psychological ones. Heart patients are cautioned about becoming “cardiac cripples”—overly anxious and worried about their future to the point that it affects their health.  Yep, I’ve done that.


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It was 1998 and I had just moved to Louisville, Kentucky, very close to where I grew up as a child.  I was returning to my native state to care for my mother who was dying of ovarian cancer and her mother who was bedbound by a stroke.  My life had been interrupted and part of me was okay about that and part of me was not.  Caregiving can be hard.


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When a promising relationship ended recently, I knew I needed help understanding what was at the bottom of its tumultuous ups and downs. A trusted therapist-by-day and friend-by-night suggested I read up on attachment disorders, in particular the damaging patterns created by mothers who are emotionally ambivalent toward their babies.


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An editor once remarked after reviewing the third revision of an essay I was trying to perfect, “You’ve rewritten this so many times it’s turned brown.” Her analogy to children who color and recolor the pictures in a coloring book was spot on. I had tweaked the essay too much. Instead of a simple message that floated off the page, it was cluttered with unnecessary descriptors and meanderings.


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It had been nearly a year since I had seen my friend Gerry at church so the news that I had recently lost my job and been left at the altar (figuratively) came as a surprise. “But let me guess,” he said without waiting to hear the details. “You didn’t give up.” Not knowing what else to say, I agreed.


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Maybe it’s because I’m a writer so people are prone to tell me this but it seems everyone wants to write a book.  Mostly they want to write their life story.  Maybe not all of it, but there are always a few memorable events — being high-jacked over Africa, surviving a childhood illness, catching the garage on fire — they want others to know about before too much time passes.


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