Where In The World Is Your Heart?

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Temporarily Blinded

breatheOk, and NOT by the light. But I was wrapped up in something or other like a roamer in the night. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Ever have "one of those weeks"? Well I did recently. From communication mishaps to unpaid invoices and disappearing clients to the ground literally shaking below us on several occasions here in LA, things just felt "off" and a bit unstable at times.

The "big" part of me knows that every hiccup was and is an opportunity for growth and expansion. And I can see that. Now. But more challenging is to see it as it is brewing. Right? Ah, that's the juicy part of life.

Showing up in the moment can be very difficult when you are in the middle of a great inner dramatic act of blame, worry, fear or jealously. My act was very internal, but it certainly was going on momentarily.

Here's the good news. You CAN shift that reaction. And even more exciting is that by flexing your "awareness" muscle and becoming more and more in-tune each time a situation of stress arises, you can learn to not only manage that situation but actually understand your part in creating the conflict in the first place. Now that is enlightening.

Next time you find yourself feeling like you are being chased by a tiger only to realize you are actually caught in line at Fed Ex Kinkos behind a slow customer and your meter is running out, try this:

  • Focus your attention on your heart. Yes, you can do this As you stand in that line.
  • Breathe in and out through the heart area (of course visualizing this). Take at least 5 breaths here. Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and 5 on the exhale.
  • Check in with your feeling. Did it shift a bit yet?
  • If not, take a few more breaths.
Now, seeing that the anxiousness you feel in line is doing neither you nor any other customer any good, let's shift it.

  • Still slowly breathing, shift that feeling of anxiety, fear, worry by replacing it with a feeling of gratitude, love or compassion. Find what works for you.
Perhaps you are grateful for your loved ones or your pets. Find something that sparks that feeling of love and gratefulness.

Focus, Breathe, Shift.

Yep, it's that easy. Congratulations, studies show that you have just alerted your immune system that it is safe for 5 hours.

Now that's what our bodies want to hear. Live longer, friends. With greater awareness.

And by all means, re-feed that meter!

Be kind to yourself and others,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need a little daily inspiration today?

Well, try on this.

The day I was driving on the streets of San Francisco back in 2005 and saw the man crying (which sparked the Heart is Hot idea flame), a young boy was riding in the backseat of my car. His name is Thomas, and he's a special guy in our world.

He doesn't express verbally as you or I do, but that makes no difference to his heart of gold. He just sat in the backseat holding his Buzz Lightyear character with a HUGE grin on his face as I passed the crying man.

Jump to now.

Thomas's parents, Jane and Mark, decided to honor all those who work with Thomas at his school in Tennessee with our Heart Is Hot hearts.
I am so very honored personally as I remain friends with Jane, Mark and the whole gang, and that they were there at the inception of this remarkable company.

I am so very grateful.

Here is the card that each of the 47 employees received at the school from Jane and Mark.

This small gift is sent to THANK and HONOR YOU,
for your UNIQUE skills, hard work, loving attention,
and caring open HEART you give our child
and all the children at CFA.

Thomas's Parents Jane and Mark

A Letter From Mark And Jane

A Letter from Mark and Jane
With Love and Gratitude

I am thrilled to share with you these week the actual letter Thomas's parents, Jane and Mark, sent to The Center for Autism of the King's Daughter's School last week.

They honored all the employees at the school with HIH hearts.

Of course, this is a personal honor for me to not only be a part of sharing my company with others, but to also feel the sentiment of having had spent special time with Thomas during his younger years.

This is really what HIH is all about, and I am so very proud.

And this is what Thomas looks like today! All grown up!

With love,

To each and every person who works at the Center for Autism of the King's Daughters' School:

A dear friend of ours, Sahara Damore, who helped us take really good care of Thomas when he was 4, 5 and 6, began a company after an inspiration she had one day seeing a man crying on the streets of San Francisco.

She experienced a strong desire to show generosity, connection, appreciation, and love to an individual, at that moment a complete stranger, and from this a whole goodwill organization has sprung up. When she was driving through town that day, Thomas was in the back seat of her car.

Sahara's Work now lives on the Internet, at a site called Heart Is Hot. When she finally began producing the hearts (from 100% recycled glass), she sent us Heart #16, and his story and our connection to Sahara are described on her web site (under Heart #16 or Thomas).

The heart she gave to Thomas has stayed with us. For me, it is a visual constant reminder of our love for Thomas. It sits on my bedside table, encouraging me to always send him love across time and space and to accept him, feel gratitude for what he has brought us, and to realize, over and over, that love and connection are what matter most.

The nature of these symbolic hearts is to convey love, gratitude for all of you, and to spread the human spirit connection we all share. Each heart is numbered and if, after possessing the heart for any amount of time, anyone chooses to pass on their heart, the individual heart can be followed online, all over the world.

Connections built on love and gratitude can spread to others. Or a heart can be yours forever. It is entirely one's own choice. It is a sort of "Pay It Forward" experience, though hearts certainly don't have to be passed on further. The Heart Is Hot website has hundreds of stories now of these hearts. Reading them is uplifting and fun.

We were with Sahara at the very beginning of her journey to realize this vision, and we are so grateful to her for giving us this way of honoring all of you. Sahara is one of the most extraordinary people we know and has been so important in Thomas's life, and our life as well.

Because of our close relationship over the years and her own generous nature, she has made these forty-seven hearts available to us. In this way she too honors the work that you do.

Everyone at KDS Center for Autism is an extremely important part of the hard-working, dedicated, skilled, and loving village where my child and every other child there can live well and grow in all realms.

These Hearts are for you, to remember how much you mean to my child and to every child there. The symbol on the heart represents our spiritual interconnectedness. Hopefully, looking at this beautiful little heart will remind you of your own great value to each child at CFA. And none of you could be there, doing what you do, without a Big Heart inside of you; this means so much more than can ever be adequately expressed.

With Love and Gratitude,
Jane and Mark (Thomas's parents)
May 4, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mom's Lessons Live On

Mom's Lessons Live On
How one mother's lessons carried on, beyond the grave

Pieces of Time and Pivotal Moments
by Patricia Gatto

Mother's LoveLife is comprised of pieces of time sprinkled with pivotal moments. Sometimes these moments have immediate impact. Other times, they are slow to manifest and reveal their importance. But if you listen closely to the soft whispers of life, they will guide you on an unexpected journey filled with beauty, understanding and fulfillment. One such moment occurred for me about eight years ago.

On this particular day, I was helping my mom redo her bedroom. We rearranged the furniture, cleaned, polished and changed the curtains and bedding. Then out came the new floral arrangements, potpourri and matching candles. Proudly, we stepped back to admire our work. That's when Mom decided we needed a little atmosphere and she lit the candles.

Evidently, there was a residue of cleaning solution on her hands, because the moment she flicked the lighter, flames burst in the air. Large blisters instantly formed on her hands and she began to shake. As the tears rolled down her face, she looked up at me and whispered, "The children."

Those were her first words, not a cry, not a scream, not a curse - "the children". I panicked. I thought she was in shock. I hurried her into the bathroom to tend to her wounds but the blisters were so large she couldn't move her fingers. I realized I would have to take her to the doctor; I was also concerned about her state of mind. Her response seemed so strange. "Mom, what do you mean, the children?" I asked.

She looked up at me with the sweetest, most sympathetic tear-filled eyes I had ever seen. "The poor children who get burnt." Then she continued to explain, "I saw it on Oprah. If this is painful for me, how much pain would a child be in? I feel so sorry for them...what they must go through."

That was her answer. My mom had second and third degree burns, her hands were swollen, blistered and shaking, but her tears were for the children. Children she saw on Oprah. My thoughts were less pure. At that moment, I didn't care about anyone but her.

Four years ago this October, I lost my mom to cancer. True to her nature, she never complained during her illness. Not once. Even in her suffering, she taught me valuable lessons. One of these lessons came when we were in her hospital room waiting for test results. The doctor finally arrived, flew into the room, delivered his devastating news and then abruptly left.

I was shocked, hurt and angry all at the same time. I turned to my mother and said, "I hate him." She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, "That's not nice. He was just doing his job. Can you imagine how hard it must be for him to have to tell his patients bad news like that?"

Oh, Mom, you certainly were something.

In the years since I lost my mom, things have changed in many ways. There are sorrows and bittersweet longings, but her gentle lessons continue to touch my life and guide me.

Mom would be proud to know that my husband John and I recently published our first children's book. Although we originally set out to write an entertaining story about a boy with school troubles, I soon discovered that John was the victim of a school bully. He had buried the hurt and humiliation deep inside, but as we stepped further into the writing process, the impact of his experience was evident.

My mother's lessons taught me to listen closely to the soft whispers of life. This perspective helped me to realize that a message emerged from our collaboration, beyond the pages of our book. This knowledge changed the direction of our lives.

Our children's book became the basis for an anti-bullying program. The program, filled with stories, songs and practical advice, teaches children about the consequences of bullying and helps to provide a safe and healthy learning environment.

Today, as John and I speak at schools and community events, I pray that our pieces of time sprinkled with pivotal moments serve to help the children. Because now, I understand.

Patricia Gatto and John De Angelis are the authors of MILTON'S DILEMMA, the tale of a lonely boy's magical journey to friendship and self-acceptance. As advocates for literacy and children's rights, the authors speak at schools and community events to foster awareness and provide children with a safe and healthy learning environment. For more information, please visit Joyful Productions at http://www.joyfulproductions.com