Heather Nightingale, a woman with long dark brown hair and light skin, sits in a comfortable chair next to a wall painted with a mural of rolling green hills dotted with white flowers.

Nature Lover With Myotonic Dystrophy Paints a Room With a View

View from behind Heather Nightingale’s head of her sitting on the floor to paint a white flower with a yellow center on a green background for her wall mural.

Heather painted the nature mural over the course of a year.

Heather Nightingale, 61, of Griffin Creek, Oregon, has loved outdoor adventure since she was a child. “I’ve spent much of my life hiking trails that beckoned me to explore,” says Heather, who lives with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). “I’ve always found peace there in the midst of the busy world we live in.”

When disease symptoms, such as rapid heart rate and muscle soreness and fatigue, made long hikes more difficult for Heather, she decided to bring nature to her by painting a mural in her bedroom. Creating the mural — an item on Heather’s bucket list — was a labor of love. Heather sat and painted the lower parts of the wall, and her husband, Doug, helped her reach the high parts.

“My loving husband literally held me up — sometimes five minutes at a time — so I could complete this 92-square-foot wall painting,” says Heather.

After a year of effort, the mural was complete, and Heather once again felt connected to nature.

“This mural encompasses all the wonderful adventures with family and friends in the great outdoors, like picnics in the snow, the laughter of my children, fun tales of Bigfoot encounters — the list is endless,” Heather says. “I lie in my bed at night and see these beautiful mountains before I close my eyes. It’s so peaceful.”

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