A Letter To A Friend Who Misplaced Her Heart*

thKS6NXLQ0

I recently received an email from a young colleague in my firm. I’d given her and her precious 4-year-old daughter, Briella a gift, the cornerstone of which was a delicate, ruby red glass heart. “Thanks for the gift, Don. It was very sweet of you to think of us. Briella loved the heart. In fact, she’s hidden it in a very special place (so “special” that she can no longer remember where she put it!!!). Good times!” That’s cute, I thought as I headed out for my morning walk with a smile and certainly something all of us can relate to: the putting of special things (e.g., keepsakes, photographs, love letters, etc.) in secret places and the frustration of later forgetting where we put them. But, after six (6) miles of walking, I realized that “misplaced hearts” are another matter altogether. The following morning, I left this note on my colleague’s chair – for her, her daughter, and all the “Briella’s” in the world:

Dear Briella,

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret:

At one time or another, everyone (even your mom and dad!) has misplaced their heart.

Some do it by choice – by entrusting their heart to others who don’t deserve it, fail to care for and nurture it, don’t value its unique beauty, use and abuse it, badly bruise it with unwarranted guilt and shame, ignore or abandon it, and, in the process, violate that trust.

Others decide as a result of subtle or not-so-subtle messages they receive at an early age that their heart is unworthy of being seen, that it’s not only not beautiful, it’s ugly (imagine that) – and they hide it far away from the world, where even they have trouble finding it.

Still others, who once proudly displayed their hearts for all the world to see, one day decide theirs isn’t pretty enough, funny enough, engaging enough, desirable enough – and they bury it beneath layers and layers of what they perceive to be what the world values.

And then there are those whose hearts are being held hostage (under lock and chain, in seemingly impenetrable fortresses) by insidious diseases, alcohol and drug addiction, anxiety, depression, the venomous and unrelenting voice of an Inner Bully, or loneliness.

But, here’s the thing:

While they may have been misplaced for days or months or even years – and have the scars to prove it – nothing about these hearts is lost. To the contrary, when they’re eventually found, their owners discover that their essence hasn’t changed at all, that their hearts are as uniquely beautiful today as yours is (and theirs was) when they were four.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, let alone to find your way back to that heart and allow yourself a second (or third) chance to more fully explore and experience just how beautiful it is, especially when you get older and you start to forget the way it “looked” the last time you saw it clearly, playfully, magically – unadorned by all that other “adult” stuff.

With that in mind, maybe today you (or your mom) could jot down a few of the things that make your heart smile and tuck the note away just in case your heart too goes missing someday and you need to be reminded where to find it. In the meantime, please accept this “second chance” heart from me to you as a symbol of this important truth.

Your friend,

Don

 

*Image Credit: Hidden Heart by Millsy Art https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-HIDDEN-HEART/807242/3107790/view

 

It’s A Matter Of Moments

moment

Several months ago, I was sitting in a therapist’s office recounting (okay, maybe “venting about” would be a more accurate description!!!) a series of events that, in my mind, had “ruined” the preceding day, if not my entire week, when the therapist interrupted. “I thought you had lunch with (a mutual friend) yesterday?” she asked. “I did,” I responded, realizing that in the midst of my efforts to marshal evidence to support the miserableness of the other 22½ hours I had completely forgotten to mention the lunch, if not mostly forgotten it happened at all. “Well, how did that go?” she inquired, patiently, with a knowing tilt of her head and a slight smile. The change in my demeanor, the softening of my countenance, and the quieting of my tone likely said what she already knew. “Great”, I confided, returning my gaze from the rain-drenched tree outside her office window and meeting her eyes, “our time together is always very special”. She let me sit with that for a few minutes – all of it – the pain, the confusion, the anxiety, the misunderstandings, the brokenness, the “not enoughs”, the “why me’s”, the warmth, the vulnerability, the empathy, the compassion, the silent tears that the weight of it all triggered – and then she leaned in. “Don’t you see?“ she asked, as if it should be as obvious to me as it obviously was to her, “you missed The Moment”.

Truth is: I didn’t see it and, regrettably (for ALL involved), I hadn’t seen, let alone understood it for many/most of my first 58 years on the planet. But, I see it now, clearly, and she was right. I know that, in part, because as I sit here baring my soul (yet again) several months after the fact, I have almost no recollection of any of the events that turned that day (or any day like it since) upside down, but I quite clearly remember the lunch, as I do similar moments like it that I’m learning to search for, recognize, and embrace to fuel my soul and inspire me on this journey we call Life. It’s more than a change in perspective. It’s an entirely different, more intentional way of living – and it changes everything! It’s the difference between allowing the smallest of bumps in the road (e.g., a misstep, a slip, a sideways glance, a hurtful word, a painful memory, etc.) to ruin a day and opening our heart wide enough, even in the midst of bumps, large and small, to allow the purest of moments (e.g., an unexpected act of kindness, a hug or kiss held just a moment longer, a word of encouragement or affirmation, a next right step taken when you were tempted not to, an expression of gratitude, a shared confidence, knowing that you’ve been heard, a gentle caress, a feeling of inclusion and true acceptance, etc.) to make it!

And, here’s the good news: You too can experience the day-making magic of a “moment” starting right now. All that’s required is a small pad of paper, intention, and an open heart. Here’s how it works: When you see, feel, experience, or, better yet, are responsible for creating something  (ANYTHING) that makes your heart smile, if only for a moment, jot it down. At the end of the day, whether there’s one item on your list or a dozen, let it/them be enough – enough to have made the day worth living, worth loving, worth giving, worthy of the label: “A Good Day!” Because here’s the thing: If you don’t, if you continue to insist instead, as I once did, that “A Good Day” requires that everything go precisely as planned, that every waking moment be misstep-free not only where you, but those you love are concerned, that every bump, obstacle, and pothole, large and small, in the road be one that you anticipated or at least caught a glimpse of (and could prepare yourself for) ahead of time, you likely will spend a lifetime searching for it – and you still may NEVER find it. Worse yet, along the way, you will have missed thousands of sometimes good, often great, and frequently unspeakably beautiful moments. Trust me: In time, you won’t need the pad. It will become as reflexive as breathing, and your heart will feast on how much goodness there really is to be seen!

https://tinyurl.com/y8mtsr7a