or My Migrainal Summer

or Death walks beside me while life swirls around me.

My youth and the energy of youth is gone. I simply was too busy to notice. I seriously don’t know how this happened. One day at a time. Imagine that. But it was so fast. Zoom, here I am older. People die, life goes on end of story. I am here for a limited time. Time is not on my side and there is so much to accomplish.

I forget to breathe. Slow down and breathe. I am breathing in, I am breathing out. I am moving through my life with a sense of urgency. Can I accomplish what I want to accomplish in the time I have left. People are depending on me. What if I die before I am ready? I think more often than not, death happens when you are right in the middle of something. I will die sooner – or later. Until then, “I gotta get’er done! And because of my family of origin, I am determined not to fail, even if it kills me. I once heard Jean Houston say, “There is work to do!, You can rest when you’re dead”. I have succeeded in getting a lot done. Oh, I have been able to do it, but there has been a cost. I have been determined to save the world with my art. Yes, this is true. It is that big and important to me. In my heart this is what drives me. Yes, I believe what I teach- “What I create may be crucial to what the world needs now”. I must do all I can. When I am gone will any of it matter, anyway? These are my thoughts since my migrainal summer began.

On July 6th, I have a blinding migraine complete with the light show. I felt hit by lightning. I was at a point of completion with my latest project. My job was done, the show was hung, all my ducks in a row, and I was on my way to the spa for a relaxing pedicure when it slammed me.Oh I got my pedicure, I wasn’t about to reschedule. That’s what I am talking about. I can’t just stop and say no, I have to follow through and finish what is on my list even though I really can’t breathe well and all my nerves are on the outside of my skin. I am suddenly vulnerable and want to cry and go lay down in a dark and quiet room until it passes. I’ll just sit here with my sunglasses on and calm myself and pretend this isn’t happening. I can’t speak because if I do I will sob. I manage to get her done and get home and lay down.

Mostly I feel like my world is crashing. I can’t think clearly and I feel like I am dying. Visions of moments in my life are coming to me. I remember friends who are gone. I think to myself “it will be okay if I die”. I will be alright as long as Costello, my dog who died seven years ago, is there to meet me and Randy too, my brother/friend who died thirty four years ago. I can see them clearly waiting for me. I think, Jeeze, I gotta get up and quit these thoughts. I think I just need to do something normal. I am okay I am fine. This is just a migraine.

Oh, that same night we have tickets to Spam A Lot, a Monty Python play. I am not going to waste my money by not going. No one that I know can go nor do I have the where with all or the clarity to find some one. It was my idea and Don won’t go without me. I have never sat through a play with sunglasses on until now. I had to put toilet paper in my ears to quiet the sound. I don’t remember the play. I was stupid to go. I wish I had stayed quiet in my bed. The toilet paper got stuck in my ear and Don had to use a flashlight and tweezers to pull it out of my ear. I am in tears. Three days later I am feeling a little better and I decide to go to an open house. It was nice with wonderful food and great company. At the open house a photographer was taking photos and using a flash, lots and lots of flashes. At first I was annoyed and then I realized I was starting to have acute migraine symptoms. I don’t remember the drive home. This is bad. Oh my god I am wondering, have I been cursed? Seriously.

Now weeks have gone by and it has been filled with doctors visits, medications and supplements and body work. My tests are normal. But I am not right. It is like my body hasn’t come back on line. I am worried and every other day I am panicked and uncertain if I will survive this. I am told that erratic blood pressure will do this. Oh and did I mention the ringing in my ears that has escalated to a high pitched alarm the past two weeks? Yeah, it’s really bad.

August 21 2017. Eclipse day. I am told that it is a good day to pray. I pray for us all. I pray that the change that is upon us will ultimately be a good change. May our hearts turn toward our common relationship as humans and earth beings, stewards of all life. We all want to belong. We want clean water, safety, kindness, good livelihood, enough food, community, the arts, imagination and dreams for our children to realize. Freedom to love and freedom to be, all without fear. Everyone is deserving.

On a personal note;

At this point, I am six and a half weeks into this migraine. It has unhinged me. I walk as if on thin ice, carefully, so as not to unbalance my fragile grip on recovery. The constant ringing in my head is like an alarm that I cannot turn off. On the outside I look the same but on the inside I am on a roller coaster of anxious emotions, barely able to keep my heart steady. My ground is shifting. I am in a tippy canoe on a river of vulnerability. When I am in the thick of it I cannot think clearly or make decisions. To calm myself I lay on the couch and through a tall window I watch the cottonwood leaves shimmer in the sunlight and move in the breeze. I am holding on to this focal point and life line to this present moment right here right now where there is only this and – I – am still – Denise.

In these six weeks I have been unable to print or do new work. When the fog periodically lifts I am able to work on pieces already in process it soothes my soul and massages my weary nerves. Art has always been my life line, my breathing tube, my voice, my connection. I am my art. My art is me. I surrender over and over. As I draw I pray that it relaxes my blood flow. Take me inside the image, heal me, and help me get through this uncertainty.

I pray for myself to find my way through this sluggish adventure. I imagine if Gaia (the Earth) her self was in distress, which I believe she is, if we could hear the distress, it would sound like the high pitch ringing in my ears and head. It may not be a coincidence that my body is going through this during the time leading up to the alignment of the eclipse. There is so much upheaval in our country and the world. And in my body a re-alignment is taking place. My intention is to see it through. To embrace my new super power of sensitivity, with kindness and love. To get through this as gracefully as I can.

I feel that my work telling stories and bringing images forth is not yet complete. I hope it is not yet my time to die, though, this is what it feels like. My wish is to flow, to release, to move with ease, to relax, and let it be and let it go. I will not hold the overwhelm in my body any more. Perhaps this is a great ending. (“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings”. Lao Tzu) May I embrace the new pathways being built within me. Letting go of what no longer serves me and my well being. May I know a balanced health and renewed vigor. Please may this ringing in my head ease up.


A few days after the eclipse I begin to feel better. I am so much better now (knock on wood). Though I have had some set backs and some terrifying side effects from medications. I am a little shell shocked by the whole ordeal, but grateful to be my nearly normal self again. I am making the choice to rest when I need to instead of constantly powering through. I realize that it shows little respect for myself when I constantly crank it. Even though the migraine forced me to rest and heal, I have been choosing to allow myself time if I want it and in doing so it has expanded my sense of time. Weird huh, but true. I feel like I have more time now that I am moving through my life at a less urgent pace.

The 9 week migraine took me on a sight seeing journey through my life and let me look at the possibility of my death. This journey led me eventually to the threshold of love for myself and my life as it has been, and as it will be. Today the migraine or the possibility of the migraine walks beside me, to my left, behind my field of vision. But I feel its presence as a reminder to take my time and slow my pace. I am filled with gratitude for every moment of expanded time allotted to me. A gift.


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