February 2, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 3
Before the Christmas candy vacated the shelves of stores, hearts and candy were taking over. There’s no escaping the fact that February is the month of/for hearts. Riding the wings of cupids and romance, heart health is not just tagging along anymore, but has staked a claim on this month. And that’s a very good thing.
It was just a couple of years ago that the American Heart Association initiated their “Go Red for Women” campaign. I remember questioning the rather masculine sports-feeling of “Go Red” for a women’s health focused program. Now, I say, GO RED! It feels good, it’s vibrant and beautiful, it’s caught on. And we still have a long way to go, as research unveiled this week reveals.
AND, the beat goes on. I have some more wonderful musical speakers to share with you this year. Last week I finally got to meet Karen Drucker who has been highly recommended to me by numerous reliable sources. She was in Portland for a program, and Fern Carness, fellow speaker and fan of Karen’s and I attended. Better yet, we had girl time afterward. Lunch with dessert.
Tomorrow, Feb. 3, is National Wear Red Day, a day when Americans nationwide will take women’s health to heart by wearing red to show their support for women’s heart disease awareness. That’s important.
As I learned from a motivational speaker long ago, “Awareness precedes all change,” and the “Go Red” format is succeeding in raising that awareness in the media, and in the minds of women taking advantage of the screenings and educational events being offered.
Yet, we still have a long way to go in women’s health when it comes to heart disease. Awareness is now more important then ever. Just as I was pondering what to write in this issue about heart health for women, I opened my newspaper and there was the headline: “Study: Tests miss women’s heart disease.” The bottom line: Women are more likely than men to have a hidden type of coronary disease in which their heart muscle is starved for oxygen even though their coronary arteries look clear of blockages on X-rays.
The findings were published yesterday in two medical journals, Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, exploring the differences in heart disease between men and women. For many women whose symptom is chest pain or discomfort, nothing shows up on an angiogram, and subsequently, no treatment is deemed necessary. Even the patient, given a clean bill of health by her doctor, slacks off, thinking she’s fine.
The study reported that the hidden disease is caused by a build-up of fatty deposits inside the walls of the coronary arteries and very small arteries in the heart. The deposits do not show up on the X-rays, but continue to interfere with blood flow and can damage the heart muscle. The condition is often not recognized and women are told not to worry about it.
And so, the problems that lead to artery disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are dismissed, not treated. Patients may then go on to have heart attacks or develop heart failure that can be debilitating and ultimately fatal.
You are your first opinion as my friend, speaker and advocate for women’s health, Fern Carness, RN, MPH, says. Pay attention, listen to your body, and stand up for yourself, she advises. If you feel like something is wrong, insist on treatment, regardless of what the doctor says. Better yet, take care of yourself with healthy lifestyle habits, especially if you have symptoms of heart disease.
Karen Drucker: Lost the Right to Sing the Blues
I love being connected with so many musicians who are speakers and workshop leaders. What a gift it is to be so talented and then put that talent to use in this way. And what a pleasure it is to meet the person behind the voice.
While her music is soothing, inspiring, relaxing and energizing all at the same time, Karen Drucker is vibrant, funny and, well, girlfriendy.
For many years she made her living singing in blues clubs around San Francisco, singing songs of pain, loneliness and self-pity. Then one day she was asked to perform a few upbeat and positive songs for a church service. That morning changed her life and gave her a whole new musical path. And the timing was perfect.
But first, a little background. As a child growing up in Hollywood, she was a competitive swimmer who had a burning desire to be on stage. Then fate stepped in. Carole King moved onto her street and Karen became the babysitter for Carole’s two small children. Carole was her role model and Karen was thrilled that when Carole remodeled her studio, she let her borrow her piano. Karen taught herself to play and started writing songs and performing at every open mike night in Hollywood that would have her. She studied acting at Hollywood High School and eventually moved to San Francisco to start an act that combined music and comedy.
Along the way Karen has led her own band, performed all styles of music for private parties, conventions and over 1000 weddings. With her comedy partner, Lauren Mayer, she performed customized musical comedy for corporate parties around the country, as well as headlining comedy and cabaret clubs around San Francisco.
“All that changed after 9/11,” she told me. “It wasn’t okay for corporations to have fun anymore and the phone simply stopped ringing.” And that’s when the church called.
She began singing at the church regularly, and before long became music director at three churches (simultaneously!). As an offshoot, she began leading women’s retreats and speaking and singing at mind-body and health conferences. At one of these she met and struck up a friendship with author and speaker, Joan Borysenko. Karen made such a contribution to Joan’s programs, that they now work together on a regular basis.
In connection with the mind-body and health conferences she was led to write special songs and chants that expressed a path of healing. She finds this new calling more rewarding than she ever experienced in commercial nightclubs or musical comedy for corporations. For her, this is music that makes a difference in people’s lives.
“Writing chants and songs that I know will be used for people who are going in for surgery or are having a hard time in their lives, or even people who just need to have a song that will slow them down and help them relax is such a gift for me,” Karen says.
She also has another life as an athlete. She said she writes a lot of her songs, especially chants, while participating in long distance events. She’s swum the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Escape from Alcatraz Triathalon. As part of a relay team, she has swum Lake Tahoe, from the island of Lani to Maui in Hawaii, and her team holds the record as the first American Relay team to have a successful crossing of the English Channel. She has ridden her bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the AIDS bike ride, and walked from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles for the AVON Breast Cancer Walk. As you can imagine, she was singing all along.
A couple of years ago she realized it was time to leave the comfort zone of church music director and take her programs and healing music out into the world. So, while she used to sing the blues, now she’s singing a new kind of blues song called, “I’ve Lost the Right to Sing the Blues.” “Basically,” she says, “the song says that my life is just so good, I can’t complain anymore!
“Well, I still whine a little,” she admits, “but overall, life is good and I feel so blessed to be making my living doing what I love and hopefully making a difference.”
She’s recorded seven albums, two of them mostly blues and jazz and the last five all positive, inspirational music. You can find them on her website.
In a future issue, we’ll go more in depth about the healing power of music like Karen’s.
To learn more about having Karen lead a retreat or women’s event, call or email me. 503-699-5031 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Know Your Numbers” is an important part of the heart health information being promoted by the American Heart Association but I can never remember the darn numbers we’re supposed to be knowing. So I’m happy to report that you and I can look them up 24/7 at http://www.goredforwomen.com.
I’m so excited. I just got a notice the other day that “Menopause the Musical” is coming to Portland for a short run in May. It’s about time!
You may have heard the line about hot flashes being power surges. I think I like this one even better: “Don’t think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches.”
Until next time, be good to yourself for your good health and those you love.
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