As I was running last Thursday I thought about my heart. First, the physical mechanics of how it allows me to breathe, push blood out to my muscles so I can move and how in just a moment it could all stop. I often wonder what my lungs, other organs and pieces of me look like on the inside. Through x-rays and scans I have been told and seen scarring on my lungs from radiation and organs stunted in their growth, making them a third of the size they are suppose to be for an adult.
I am someone who believes in the power of visualization. I used visioning powers to get through many of my treatments, transporting me somewhere else as chemo drugs pumped through my veins or as I lay strapped to a metal table under a huge radiation machine. I transformed the radiation rays- accompanied by warning lights going off (for others), the sounding of an alarm, and scary sounds from the massive machine over the top of me- into little blue stars knocking pieces of the tumor in my chest into oblivion. I have imagined my cells renewed, healthy and strong. Time has proven many of these have changed me on the mental and physical plane so I now can run with lungs that still tax with every breath through scar tissue or climb a mountain 10,000 feet plus, despite my earlier doubting myself.
So now as I run I imagine my heart pumping strong despite it being smaller, despite my lungs catching occasionally, and despite the constant need to consciously reset my leg/foot onto the ground directly in front of me (it was born turned out to the side). I do it all because I have come to love the feeling of knowing my physical heart is stronger than it has ever been in my life; a great thing to be able to say at the age of 44.
My thoughts wandered from the mechanical heart, as I continued to run, to my other hearts like the emotional one. I assessed the level of genuine love in my life. How I am truly blessed with a life filled with so many people who love me openly and unconditionally. During the second week of the Catalyst Youth Leadership Program we do an exercise called Crossing the Line to bust stereotypes and other limiting beliefs. Everyone lines up along a line on the floor in silence. After a question is asked, each person chooses to either step forward, signaling they have had that particular experience, or remain standing in place, to note they have not. The questions range from light, (e.g. “I paint my toenails”) to more intimate (e.g. “Sometimes I feel judged or uncool.”). One of the questions I always pray all the gals will cross the line for is “I have at least three friends I completely trust.” The love of a confidant, someone you know will always protect you with complete honesty and love is truly a treasured gift. I am so thankful I have realized the importance of true friendship and have been able to cultivate it again and again in my life.
My mind continued on, as my body was forgotten, and took stock of my mental heart. I thought of how every night I give gratitude for another day of life by kissing a rock I have. On one side it is painted with the white part of the yin/yang and the black on the other. This wonderful gift was made by a friend of my past. This morning as I rose I flipped it from black to white (symbolic of the light of day) as I gave verbal gratitude to The Divine for giving me another day to be alive. Another 24 hours to do work I truly love. Another day to chose to see grace in the moments of my day. To be honest, living in my current metropolitan location does not feed my mental heart. Much of my time I have not been able to shake my longing for somewhere else, only my amazing clients have made it bearable here. Then, thankfully, last summer I had an opportunity to take a vacation and meet up with my aunt Faith (one of my very best friends) and her (now mine too) long-time buddy, Lisa in Southern California. I made a birthday request to visit Catalina Island (had never been and it would be another National Park to check off on my list – I want to visit every one of them before I die). On the ferry ride out a swarm of dolphins surrounded us, after we had gotten a bit out into the ocean. I burst into tears and then a full sob when I saw their joy. There is something amazing about their spirits. Every encounter I have had with dolphins in the wild is so sweet, these creatures touch my heart always. Since that visit I’ve been able to hold the joy I saw in those dolphins in my mind’s eye. I use them and their energy to keep my mental heart in check and open to the possibility of beauty crossing my path each day.
Lastly, I thought about my love for the essence of the universe we live in and the spirit surrounding us all. I know I have not been as attentive as I could to this, or as I have been in my life in the past. I can give you all my excuses of working 15 hour work days most days and two of them not in my home office. I could also say the cold leaves me uninspired. I could make a long list of what keeps me from hitting my yoga mat every day or reading from my favorite daily book of inspiration by Mark Nepo- The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have AND I am really more interested (as I am sure you are) in spending my energy on figuring out how I rework these pieces of my spirit self back into my life so my soul, the heart of my spiritual self, feels fulfilled and deeply connected again. So as I reassess all the loves I possess I, I promise to myself on this Valentine’s Day to pump up this aspect of personal heart so it can feel as fulfilled as the others in my life.