Monday, December 31, 2012

Team Seamus: the Christmas Saga

After my emotional last post,  26.4.26, I anticipated the following one would be much more light hearted. It would be about ugly Christmas sweaters or eating too much. You know, Christmas stuff. Christmas stuff like the quick trip to East TN to see my family when Jon got off work Saturday night. Christmas stuff like driving back to Nashville on Christmas eve morning so we could spend the following couple days with Jon's family. 
Then Saturday night as I was preparing to leave as soon as Jon got home, this happened:

Trip to the emergency vet for a very sick Seamus :/
 — atNashville Veterinary Specialists.

Nashville Veterinary Specialists
Veterinarian · Nashville, Tennessee

Around 10:30pm I let the pups out in the backyard to potty, and then called for them to come back in a couple minutes later, as the temps had dropped considerably. Aka came charging back in- as usual- but Seamus was nowhere to be seen- very unusual. I gave it another minute or two, thinking maybe he was taking his sweet time selecting the right bathroom spot...but still no Seamus trotting back to the door. I went looking around the house, checking corners of the yard, nervous about what I would find. Then I saw him- laying on the ground by the fence. He barely acknowledged me and did not move to stand up- very un Seamus like.

I slid my hands under his cold belly, lifting him to his feet. He hunched over, shaking, still not offering to move. I got him back into the house as quickly as possible where I put him under a pile of blankets- thinking he had gotten too cold. Thirty minutes later the shaking hadn't stopped; he actually seemed worse . With Seamus squinting, panting heavily and still shaking I texted Jon to let him know something was really wrong, then I got on the phone with my sister in law Jessy. She is great with dogs and works for a veterinarian so I was anxious to hear her thoughts. She brought up the fact that his shaking was likely caused by pain and stress rather than cold. She recommended Nashville Veterinary Specialists as the best emergency vet, and said call them if this goes on much longer. Another 15 minutes of Seamus shaking, panting, and not responding. I called the vet and gave them a heads up we were coming. Jon left work early, came home, put the sick pup in the car and off we went. 
Pretty quickly after he was admitted, we knew his condition was very serious. No out of town travel, no Christmas as planned. Maybe Seamus would not even make it through the night. X Rays and an exam showed major problems in his lower intestines. The diagnosis: ruptured lower intestine requiring immediate surgery to stop the leaking fluid that would poison the rest of his body. The cost estimate: low end $2800/ high end $5400 due at the time surgery begins. Ouch. I feel like I am not alone in saying I don't have $5400 lying around, readily accessible in the wee hours of a Saturday night/ Sunday morning. 

Panic: My husband is a great man. I hope you know that. He kept relative calm, as I became a red-faced avalanche of tears and snot. Jon was able to get a hold of a vet who is a family friend (Kevin- bless his heart for answering the phone at 2 am). Kevin confirmed the estimate was in the right ball park, that diagnosis and treatment sounded appropriate, and that we were in the best possible place, as Seamus would need constant monitoring- something our usual vet wouldn't be staffed to provide during the weekend and holiday hours. The emergency vet talked us through what our options were as we needed to decide immediately because Seamus would not make it much longer in his current state. And when his body started failing there would be no more delaying the decision. The options:

1. Surgery- which the Dr. required proof of payment for prior to starting.
2. Euthanize- which would spare him pain when his body did fail.

We tried our best to realistically weigh the options. 
Pro Surgery: He's only 7 years old. He is very strong and healthy. He is our big, sweet baby; he has been there to love and comfort us through so many ups and downs.
Pro Euthanize: He seems too young to not have a shot at surgery- BUT we don't want him to suffer. 

Decision: We will hope for the low end of the estimate because he is otherwise very strong and healthy and pursue the surgery using Care Credit- a credit line they suggest for people in our situation. 

Next step: Apply for Care Credit, and get the surgery under way now, because he will have a much harder time making it through if we wait until he is failing.

Complication: Care Credit. The vet office staff (and many friends have since confirmed) says CC customer service is available at all hours- call now and get an account. We call, and get only automated responses. Nothing except an automatic approval for the lowest possible amount of $500. We call every number listed, multiple times- no answer. Finally, we have to accept that we're not reaching them tonight. The vet says, "Go home and try Care Credit again first thing in the morning- maybe their system is down tonight. We'll inject antibiotics into his abdomen every 30 minutes and try to hold off the infection until you can get the account set up. I say "OK", Exhausted and not knowing what else to do. I set the alarm for a couple hours later: 7am. 

Sunday morning: The alarm goes off. I call and get the same automated response. Try again several times. My heart drops. It is a Sunday morning. For whatever reason (holiday weekend?) Care Credit's customer service line is down when they are apparently usually "always" available. I call the vet and tell them. They ask, "What do you want to do? He cannot last long on antibiotic injections." I say, give me a little more time to come up with... something? I have no idea what that will be. I try Bank of America. No answer. No answer. What the hell. How is this happening. As friends and family start waking up, I get messages asking what is going on? How is Seamus? I try to recount what has thus far been our own "Nightmare Before Christmas". Many people offer to pray for his health and ask if they can help in any way- can they help contribute some money to his care? It feels extremely weird... I know to most people this is just a dog. My dog. No one else should feel responsible. Why would they? Because they care. People do exceptional things because they care. At this point so many people asked about contributing, and my heart was breaking as we'd run out of any other options, that I gladly accepted this generosity. Folks start sending in contributions to Pay Pal. Then I realize these funds will take days to transfer and the vet is asking to be shown funds that are immediately available. I tell a couple people this. I call the vet to discuss options. She says, bring at least a 50% cash deposit and we'll accept Pay Pal immediately if you show us proof of funds and give us a statement that you are using it to pay the invoice. I say "GREAT". And start a crazy collection pulling every bit of accessible $ that we have. Then I get word that Jon's co-workers and friends gathered hundreds of dollars that morning at Boscos, for what I now call Team Seamus. I get a call from a friend and her husband who are out of town but know about the emergency. They give me instructions on how to get into their house and find a very generous amount of $ to take directly to the vet. I call the vet and tell her, we can do it. WE CAN DO IT. Thanks to the kindness all around it. The surgeon is called in. We meet at the vet and hand over the stack of mixed cash and checks, and the front desk staff stops and says, "You have AWESOME friends." I  tell her, "I KNOW!" I have been blown away by their willingness to help, by their desire to make a difference. 

Sunday evening: At this point we've set up the pattern of morning and evening  communication. When the surgeon came in and checked Seamus, he wanted to postpone and run an ultrasound Monday morning to gather more info since Seamus was hanging in pretty well. Then around 8pm his white blood cell count spiked, signaling the infection we had feared. Time for surgery. In fact, they were trying to get to him so quickly he was already prepped and ready to go when the surgeon called. No postponing till Monday. I am eternally grateful for everyone who contributed amounts large and small towards his treatment. Without each and everyone of you, that Sunday evening call would have been to confirm euthanasia. Two of our friends took us out for dinner- first meal since Saturday- and kept us company while we waited for the next call. How did they know exactly what to do? And how did they manage to find the time to take care of us during their holiday weekend? I don't know, but the fact that they did carried us through that scary night. By midnight, we got the call- he made it! He made it through surgery and was waking up from being put under. A golf ball size mass had been blocking his intestine, and had also weakened the intestinal wall causing leaking. The mass needs biopsy. We hope to have those results today. Knowing he made it through safely, and that Team Seamus was out there all around us caring and contributing to his (and our) well- being, allowed me a night of much needed sleep. 

Monday: He made it through the night, and we were able to visit in the afternoon. Poor guy, whacked out on heavy painkillers, but hanging in there! His blood levels,body temp, heart rate etc were pretty stable- good signs! Monday evening's call reported the same- he's stable! 

Tuesday: Still stable! BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER. The vet cautions us that the first 3-5 days post surgery are still high -risk as we wait to see how his body responds to the surgery recovery- wise (will the leaking start again, will there be infection). Tuesday night's call reported continued stability, and the possibilty that he could come home Wednesday!

Wednesday: The wee baby Seamus (as one of my sister-in-laws, Missi, calls him) was cleared to come home. I'm crying YET AGAIN. Several days ago, I had known there was a very real chance that he would never come home. And our house without a Seamus is just not the same home.

Thursday- now: He's recovering very well! Seamus wears a plastic cone collar for 3 weeks to prevent him from messing with the staples in his belly. He is on many antibiotics and painkillers. But he back! His personality is back; he's gently playful and sweetly looking for some love. We're expecting to hear from the lab anytime now, and will keep everyone updated on the biopsy results. I am forever grateful for what happened this past week. Some people have commented (and I have thought at points) "this must be one of your worst Christmas' ever". It certainly was a pretty nightmarish week- but the ending was the best I could've ever hoped for. We started out with a nightmare before Christmas and ended with a Christmas miracle! 

I can't even find words enough to say how very,very thankful I am. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


This morning I ran the most bittersweet run of my life. In the course of the past five days the most phenomenal response to the Sandy Hook tragedy formed in Nashville, thanks primarily to Robbie Bruce -endurance athlete and coach for X3Endurance.

On Monday morning Robbie decided to try to gather 26 fellow athletes for a weekend long run of 26 miles in honor of the 26 lives lost in CT. Money would be raised for every mile we would run, and then sent to the victims families.

I thought it sounded beautiful and said "I'm in". Little did I, or anyone realize how this would blossom into an event that would unite over 1012 runners and raise $30,000 for those affected. 

Here are the event details below, which primarily circulated via Facebook. Entirely grassroots, in less than 1 week:


RUN INFO:In some way, shape, or form we have all been affected my the horrible tragedy that happened in CT this past Friday where 20 children and 6 adults lost their life. On Saturday morning, we as a running/triathlon community can show our support for those affected by doing what we do best.
We leave LP Field (Parking Lot R) at 8am. We will offer 4 loops of 6.5 miles and you can choose to run 6.5/13/19.5/26 mile routes all for one of the precious angels lost last Friday. Relay teams are offered and we ask that each person bring a $1(minimum) donation for each mile they will run or walk. All proceeds will be donated to the families of the lost in Newtown. No matter what your "training schedule" looks like, come out and run for a great cause. 


As this event grows and grows we can't help but feel overwhelmed by the gracious outpouring of love and support from the Nashville community. We'll need volunteers to help keeping this event organized. We are working on gathering up support for those running, but if some of you out there would like to bring food, coffee or other items to contribute we will set up a post run refreshment area. Contact Season Kaminski ( if you would like to help!
We look forward to handing you each an angel's name on Saturday morning. We look forward to spreading this loving kindness to as many as possible from Nashville to Newtown and everywhere in between. We look forward to sending help to those in Newtown as they begin to rebuild, continue to cherish those lost and continue to support those who are directly affected. We look forward to sharing our miles, our stories, our hearts and our support for a town far away in distance, but close to our hearts. With open hearts, open minds and open arms we will send money for miles to Newtown. 

Yesterday morning I picked up the name of the angel I would run in honor of. All runners were given one, Benjamin Wheeler was mine and my running buddies, Carrie. (I CAN'T GET IT TO CENTER!)

Carrie sent me this image and said "Here is a pic of our little guy, Ben".

His sweet, innocent smile brought waves of tears. He is the same age as Blake. Same twinkle in his big brown eyes. I cannot imagine the pain his family feels. I was so thankful to have a positive outlet for this flood of emotions, and thankful that it would be a tiny drop in a little bucket of love and hope we Nashvillians have gathered and will pour into the many broken hearts in Newtown, CT.

My friend Daniel just posted this, and I will share it because I cannot think of a better way to summarize what this beautiful day meant to everyone who gathered this morning for 26.4.26:

All day long, the sun shown on us, and as I saw it set, I thought of all those angels looking down on us running our legs off to try and do a small act to show we care. No amount of miles or money can undo the pain of their families, but no one can take away the hope and love that was shown today!

Thank you Robbie Bruce, Season Kaminski, Robert Phifer, Lee Wilson, every volunteer, every runner, and the City of Nashville. You had an impact on not only me, but the whole world. You showed us that good people are alive, well, and active. Keep moving!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reddit and Believed It

You may have heard by now, but my youngest brother is basically an Internet sensation. I mean I can see why. He is pretty great (except for the time he pretended to slam the restaurant door on me when we went for food post marathon). 

First it starts with some local media coverage.

Then it goes viral online, somewhat obscurely.

Then it gets more attention and is featured in more mainstream media.

After briefly reading the online responses, I've grabbed a screenshot of my favorite take away:

[–]myusernameranoutofsp 130 points  ago
Isn't a marathon a reasonable thing to post about on facebook? It's a big personal accomplishment. If you're sharing anything personal beyond contact information, I'd imagine that should be pretty high up on the list.
[–]JackBauersGhost 29 points  ago
As a person who finished his first marathon this year, I'm wondering why OP is so butt hurt about people posting about it on facebook.
[–]lenguataco 30 points  ago
Seriously - I made one post about my marathon this year and was lambasted as being arrogant, a jerk, etc. So I just went with it and really rubbed the salt in by mentioning my girlfriend. Thought Reddit was about to explode in fury.
[–]jimbolauski 13 points  ago
You accomplished something besides sitting around looking at cat pictures all day, no wonder you were ostracized.
[–]Bobzer 7 points  ago
Thought Reddit was about to explode in fury.
Their butthurt makes you stronger, their tears are salty ambrosia.
[–]res0713 2 points  ago
Hey hey hey don't go around showing your pride!
[–]pnine 5 points  ago
Congrats! I've never done one but this summer I signed up for a couple races.
[–]JackBauersGhost 1 point  ago

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Marathon #2

"WELCOME TO THE ROCKET CITY MARATHON- 36th Annual Rocket City Marathon: A 26 mile, 385 yard footrace through Huntsville, AL. December 8, 2012 8:00 AM" ,

read the race websites home page.  Then further down the page, 

"The Rocket City Marathon is more than just a race. It is an "event" built around the race. We work just as hard creating exciting activities to make your trip to the Rocket City fun as we do conducting a flawless race on a fast course to produce an enjoyable race that should yield your maximum performance. The carbo supper is excellent and we feed about 500 each year so be sure to give it a try. These and the other Friday activities are provided to encourage you to run your best.''

It seemed so low key in comparison to my previous (and first) marathon experience- Chicago 2011- where the race app and broadcasting info were the type of specifics listed online.  I welcomed the thought of it. Chicago was generally a good race for me; my first marathon memories that are still so vivid, including cruising through China town to the beat of local drummers and their dancing dragon, very sloooowly running the last mile in the dead middle of a 4 lane downtown Chicago street and crossing an epic finish line flanked by rows of grandstands full of cheering spectators.  As I wove through the crowd to find my husband and friends in the reunion area, I was overflowing with pride. I'd accomplished something that 5 years ago would've seemed out of reach. I finished slower than I'd wanted to (4:30ish) but at least I finished uninjured and knowing I wanted to do another. Here are the Chicago results:

I chose to tackle other goals in early- mid 2012, but was very, very excited when I added an end of year marathon (Rocket City) to my calendar. I was also pretty darn happy to be joined in training by many of my Chicago training buddies. They are the ones that keep it fun! 

Training for Rocket City went very well with the exception of my final long run. My grandmother passed away peacefully and suddenly early in the week, and I knew by the end of the week I would be headed out for a long drive North towards family. My friend and Huntsville training buddy, Cristina, offered to run the 22 miler with me on Friday morning before she had to go to work and I had to get on the road. Off we went before 5am on a frigid Friday morning after staying up late packing the night before. It wasn't ideal, but I am so thankful she offered to go with me. I struggled so badly that morning. My legs felt like bricks, and by the time it was over I felt so weak. My confidence dipped, but slowly returned over the next couple of weeks as I ran some shorter distance. 

Race weekend rolled in and I felt ready: stronger and much less intimidated than I had been going into the Chicago marathon. I credit that feeling to a couple things:

1) Sticking with a good training plan and having a great running community to push and support me through it.

2) Experience. One marathon in the books eases ALOT of nerves caused by not knowing what is in store! One half iron distance tri in the books taught even more about what to expect  and how to react during endurance racing.

Friday afternoon I headed to Huntsville AL with my buddies. A couple hours later we were checked into our hotel and meeting with the rest of the Nashville crew for a pasta dinner. A friend, Meg, has family in Huntsville who not only graciously invited us into their home, but served us a Fan- Effing- Tastic meal. That hospitality set the tone for the weekend. It seems most of Huntsville is really into this event. The local race organizers did a phenomenal job on their end- no complaints there! AND I love my race shirt (pretty blue, long sleeve, with a rocket logo) so that doesn't hurt.  
Our hotel was the official race hotel, meaning the expo/packet pickup was held onsite and the start/finish line was on the street outside the front door!!! Logistically, it was a breeze compared to Chicago. Our Saturday morning start time of 8 am (outside our front door!) allowed for a little more sleep than normal, than plenty of time to get up and prep. Obviously, our first priority as a group was to don our East Nasty gear and take a group holiday photo pre- race. SUCCESS.

Temps were warmer than expected, but it never got really hot so I was happy in that arena. My buddies and I decided to follow behind the 4:10 pace group (meaning- there is a leader who will keep the correct pace to achieve a 4 hour and 10 minute finish time; runners with this time goal can follow along). We wanted to keep the 4:10 pacer in site, but not necessarily stay right with them. That type of pace intimidated me; the closest I'd come to naming a time goal was "I think I can do 4:30". Soon enough the gun went off, and our relatively tiny crowd of 1,200 runners surged across the start line. 

I summoned my confidence and made the decision to change some of my marathon strategies based off previous experience. At Chicago, I had been so afraid to expend any extra energy that I basically ignored the crowds, didn't cheer back at spectators, or talk to any other runners. Wow, was I bored by mile 9. I did those things out of fear and anxiety, and it was not a fun race. At all. I was bored and mentally struggling at only half way through. My half iron tri taught me that giving myself over to experience makes endurance racing a much more positive experience. Embracing these adventures in their entirety, acknowledging that I do them because I love the challenge and enjoy other people who share that crazy drive has shifted my approach to racing. 

So there I am racing in Huntsville. Exploring the new scenery. Talking to my current running buddies and meeting new ones (CARRIE- I 'm looking forward to doing B2B with you, hahaha). Cheering back to the folks who cheered for me- which was alot, I must say. The neighborhoods, the schools, the community athletic groups, our friends, and plenty of random people were all through the course supporting the runners. The vibe was great, so I thought "why not feed off it." Instead of thinking "don't cheer back at them, you'll waste energy" I went with a "let's cheer together and build more energy" approach. I think I'll stick with this approach from here on out, because the first 20 miles of the course felt great- FUN almost! 

Huntsvillians seemed really into "Worst Parade Ever"as sign theme, but I 'm gonna say my brother, Seth should win a prize for best poster and spirit. I'm mean he did get into the local newspaper and all! And then front page of the next day.
The last 2 miles were when the pain set in. My stomach got a little queasy and then continued to get worse so I dropped my pace down quite a bit, let my stomach settle and sprinted in the last quarter mile with the aid of the ever encouraging Daniel H. 

I found my friends, found a patch of grass, and started pounding Gatorade. Here are my final results:
476 Sarah Shearer 35 Nashville TN 4:14:18

I could hardly believe it! I'm still so proud and happy just thinking of it. My hope is that we all find that for ourselves- no matter what outlet (sports related or not) it comes through.
Recovery commenced, with the highlight being an "ice bath" in the outdoor pool.  It went from being just me, with Seth keeping me company here:

To a full fledged pool party in December attended by several of my cutie pie friends here:

I did have to warm my self with a hairdryer in the hotel room to regulate my body temp, but the pool was pretty effective in it's purpose- my soreness was gone by today (3rd day post race) and I feel great! I also recovered with great post race snacks and hydration provided by the marathon- the race organizers did a great job with that aspect, also. Mexican for dinner with the group followed by a lil shopping at H& M (Yes, Huntsville has an H& M! No, it is not fair.) rounded out an awesome race day and all around great weekend!

I'd highly recommend the Rocket City Marathon to anyone considering it, and hope to return to it again in a year or two! Oh, and here are more pics if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My How Times Change

This morning I am frantically going at my To Do list like a rabid squirrel, yet I am compelled to stop for a moment and blog. Blog about how life's curve balls never cease to amaze me. At the end of 2011, I had just gotten through a tumultuous job situation, was pysched to make some life changes and take on new adventures in 2012. Ha! Boy, did I not fully envision what that would entail.

Fast forward to end of 2012.

Early to mid-year I was going at my new adventures full swing- training for and completing a half iron man triathlon, as well as adjusting to the new job position I accepted in April. Then fall rolled in and slapped punched me in the face. I was permanently laid off from my full time job. Yes, the "new" one I left a stable job for and had just gotten adjusted to/ past the chaotic learning curve.

What next? I thought "I NEED A NEW JOB. MUST GET FULL TIME JOB A.S.A.P." and I searched job listings and read job descriptions and searched more, but nothing really grabbed me. I need something to grab me. After the crazy job experience that had just ended, I knew that my next step needed to be very intentional. Life is just to short to do stuff day in, day out that does not matter. And when I say matter, I mean- I want to make an impact. I want to fully use my skills. I want to do quality work. I want to make an impact on my community. I want to go through life fully engaged.

It seemed a time for big decisions and major changes. Unemployment may at some point come through but thus far it hasn't- due to complications stemming from the fact that it looks "suspicious" that I was only employed somewhere for 6 months and then had to file for unemployment. Maybe evetually that system will work, but I can't sit around waiting so  I am going into business for myself. The business of Art By Sarah! So here I am. December 2012. Ending the year broke, and working like a crazy person- but happy. Just completely happy. I am thankful to have a spouse who trusts that I will bust my ass. That I can maintain and manage a freelance income. That I will work 6 days a week morning to night to create the job I want. I thank God for him everyday.

I have my eye out for part time work that would be a good fit for me, but in the meantime, expect to see art making galore. Shows. Commissions. Online shop coming soon!

Here is an upcoming event I am involved in:

Please excuse this post for being all about me. Me, Me, Me! Ha. As we come into the final month of 2012, the crazy course of the year has jut been so been heavy on my mind. How was your 2012?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pet Portraits

Pet portraits are top-of-the-list, definite favorite commissioned projects for me. The images below show my process of creation.
I ask clients to provide several photographs for me to sketch from. (No, I do not wrangle animals trying to get them to model live for me -it's a frequent question!) I create these in an 8" x 10" size, making it easy to frame using a standard size frame. These pieces are watercolor and ink on paper. The background colors can be determined by the client if specific colors are preferred. The cost is $80, and the turnaround time is typically 1-2 weeks. They make a fantastic gift for any animal lover- and it's not too late to get in your Holiday order!

Email me at if you're interested in ordering!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Artoberly Ever After

Here we are mid- November, watching Christmas decorations go up at full speed. Hopefully we'll all not rush so headlong into the Christmas frenzy that we forget to stop and enjoy this fall's many other treats:

  • This is the most gorgeous, colorful Nashville Fall I can remember.
  • Thanksgiving is next week- what a sweet time to focus on thankfulness rather than acquiring material gifts.
  • Nashville's second annual Artober wrapped up very successfully! Yay for the growth of arts advocacy in Nashville- thanks in a large part to the Metro Nashville Arts Commission. 
To pull from that final bullet, here's a series of images that captured the creation process from sketch to completed painting of the Artober community project I did on the last Friday in October. It was hosted by the 5/3 Bank in Hillsboro Village. Many thanks to 5/3 Bank, who came in and sponsored Artober in a big way; I am thankful to be in a community where businesses recognize the value of the arts.

The rough sketch.

Event set up...
Kickstarting the painting and inviting others to join.
Community participants jump right in!

Signed and delivered!

The completed piece hangs in the 5/3 Bank located in Hillsboro Village, located on Wedgewood Ave.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Past Paintings

A couple of my favorite large paintings from this past year are back in the studio- and are pictured here.

If you are interested in a studio visit to see these or any other works, please let me know by emailing

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Small Works @ Twist

Come see these pieces among others at Twist Gallery in the Arcade this November! Tonight kicks off the show, with the downtown art crawl running from 6-9pm.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Come See What I've Been Up To

 I hear some actors use a technique called method acting   to really immerse themselves in the thoughts and emotions of their characters.  I thought I'd give it a shot and see if it translates into the art and characters I'm creating.  Come out Saturday and be the judge!