Nobody but me is going to change my story…

In the slip of a bolt, there’s a tiny revolt.
The seeds of a war in the creak of a floorboard.
A storm can begin with the flap of a wing.
The tiniest mite packs the mightiest sting.
Every day starts with the tick of a clock.
All escapes start with the click of a lock.
If you’re stuck in your story and want to get out,
You don’t have to cry; you don’t have to shout.
~Matilda the Musical (Naughty)

It’s been quiet here, I know. I thought maybe I would take a few moments to explain what’s going on.

You know how every now and again your children go through these incredible changes? Sometimes they’re painful, sometimes they’re pleasant, but when they come out the other side they’re completely changed.

Well, we’ve been having one of those change phases here. Except it isn’t the children who are being transformed. It’s me.

Call it a midlife crisis if you want, but I’ve been doing more growing in the past few weeks than I’ve done for a while I think. And it’s been an amazing, intense, painful, precious few weeks.

It all started the same day Daniel made his debut as Trouble in Madama Butterfly. I had my echo and cardiologist appointment to see how I was doing with my PPCM. I know I didn’t share much here, but I was terrified. My last appointment 6 months ago showed that I was 100% recovered. But since then, we had tried to discontinue my medications and I had bouts of high blood pressure, dizziness, and tons of palpitations. I felt tired and just not right. I was convinced that my heart function had slipped and that I was sick again. I was tired all the time and basically just sat around a lot, not wanting to waste any energy in case it made me sicker.

At my appointment, the woman who did my echo was amazing. She really listened and actually said she liked working with PPCM patients because she wanted to hear their stories. I told her anxious I was, how obsessed I was with the idea that I was going to die. I left her office with a recommendation for a therapist and a family doctor, but with something more as well. Her words, which I carried with me, were this:

You don’t want to be defined by this.

Hooked up to the echocardiogram, I had several palpitations. They registered and my doctor assured me that they were nothing. People have hundreds every single day and usually just don’t notice. He assured me of something else as well—my heart function was fine. My heart function had not slipped. I was still recovered.

That night, as I watched Daniel step out on stage, I realized that I had been missing so many moments and opportunities as I sat around waiting to die.

What followed was an amazing Holy Week. Daniel had his final performance on Palm Sunday. One thing I realized as I hung around the opera house for a month was that I missed singing like crazy. I couldn’t even blame it on the heart failure. I had children and sort of dropped out of life for 15 years. On Monday, I posted on Facebook asking my friends for recommendations for a voice teacher. On Wednesday I had a lesson. On Friday I sang in the Saint John Passion by Schutz. On Saturday I had an audition. And by Saturday night I had a part in the chorus of Carmen.

And that was just two weeks ago and it’s been kind of amazing ever since. And you know what else? I haven’t had any palpitations since my doctor visit.

I’m not sure where this is all leading. Obviously, dreams do have expiration dates and I’m not going to the Met. At 40, I’ve missed a lot of chances and that’s just the way it is. I wouldn’t trade what I’ve had along the way for anything. But at 40, I’m also still in the game. I still have my voice and I still have my dreams and I still have a song to sing. So I am looking forward to seeing where this all takes me.

And you know, it’s rocking the boat a little. I’m upsetting the status quo, but that’s OK. I think it’s good for us all to learn to dream new dreams.

We’ve been listening a lot to the new cast recording of Matilda the Musical. It’s amazing. If you have Spotify, definitely go and take a listen. One theme of the show (and the book too, really) is that of being your own hero. It’s a Cinderella story, but instead of waiting for her fairy godmother, Matilda makes her own magic.

And that’s where I’m at right now as well. I’m tired of sitting around, waiting for bad things to happen.

I am ready to make my own magic.


  1. //

    For some reason I woke up this morning singing, “Angels watching over me, my Lord” – a real gospel version. Don’t know why that was in my head, but now reading this, I think we touch the divine when we sing. And not some abstract divine – out there – but the divine that lives inside us – all the time.

    Oh Annette. This is so, so wonderful. I feel blessed to read it and share your delightful/scary/amazing story.

    We listened to Matilda a couple of years ago, and every once in awhile I will think about the ending and say to the boys, “I love that Matilda gets to live with Miss Honey.” There ARE happy endings, and sometimes we have to change our own story to make it happen.

    Love, love, love and light to you today and always.

    1. //

      You’re just so incredibly sweet to me! I’m thankful for my online friends who have cheered me along this journey. Thank you!

  2. //

    LOVE it! I’m going through the same thing – although instead of expressing myself through music as you do I’ve been doing the different dress and wearing hats and got a perm. I have this sudden desire to be the cool person I was back in the day. Don’t know what the means at all but I’m also not waiting around anymore either! I’m ready for change.

    1. //

      Hats are awesome! And I’m getting my hair done as soon as our tax money comes in. Mama needs headshots, LOL!

  3. //

    Ever since I’ve become a mother, I have found myself worried about my own death. Each biopsy or test that is run for any number of malladies along this nearly a decade of motherhood, I’ve been nerve racked. Sharing your insight about what you had missed the weeks you were “sitting around waiting to die” is a helpful and powerful insight to share — thanks (:

    Here’s my internet toast to your new path of adventure and new dreams!

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