Follow Your Heart

February is heart health month, Groundhog’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Somedays it feels like the movie Groundhog’s day, the same frustrating things happening over and over. My cat had a urinary tract infection I noticed it Saturday night at 9 PM I could not even get into the emergency clinics. If a cat is blocked it can be a life threatening situation. I set out for the clinic in a horrible storm, 400 accidents were reported that night. for the one place that would take her with a five hour wait. They then informed due to emergency surgery I they could not take her.

So after calls to over a dozen different places I got her in on Sunday. I was told I again might have to wait four to five hours in the car before I could bring her in. The roads were still bad and the windchill was about -20. I dressed warmly and brought books and snacks. As I drove into the lot by my parking space their sign said “Waiting sucks we appreciated your patience.” My heart so need that acknowledgement and the compassion from that message. We now know that blood pressure readings overall have gone up during the pandemic. I think mine did during the cat ordeal. (She was treated sucessfully with meds.)

Here is some information about your heart from the Cleveland clinic. This organization is a multi-specialty academic hospital.

  • Your heart beats 10,000 times a day.
  • A normal heart valve is about the size of a half dollar.
  • Heart disease though increasing is not new, it has been found in 3,000 year old mummies.
  • Exercise is the best way to help prevent heart disease.
  • Happiness and a sense of emotional vitality also help lower your risk of heart disease.

Dr. Dean Ornish is a a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California. He was also a was a Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His prescription for heart disease is eat well, move more, stress less and love more. He writes “There is a deep spiritual hunger in this country. The real epidemic in our culture is not only physical heart disease, but also what I call emotional and spiritual heart disease. The profound sense of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression that are so prevalent in our culture with the breakdown of the social structures that used to provide us with a sense of connection and community. It is, to me, a root of the illness, cynicism, and violence in our society.” For more information if this resonates with you, see

Many of us felt a sense of isolation and still may feel isolated. Check in with yourself regularly so you know if are starting to feel lonely. Realize you are not alone in loneliness. Join a club or take a class. There are many online groups to join on Meetup and even many free classes to take online. If you are not a lover of online events, phone calls help too. Be old fashion write someone a letter. Journal some good experiences from your past. Perhaps reconnect to some people from your past. In this pandemic time, I feel safer around people outdoors. If you also do, there are many winter outside events in Minnesota. Saturday I did did Fro-ga at the Lake Harrient Art Shanties socially distanced from about 40 other yogis.

One of the most amazing thing I have done was taking a seminar from the late poet and philosopher John O’Donaghue. He spoke about all the words and sayings that use the word heart. Some that come to mind include heartache, heartbreak, heartfelt, fool-hearted, heavy-hearted, light-hearted. I knew in my heart. He has a heart of stone. She has a big heart. I am sure you can think of a few others. Over our lunch break he suggested we write a letter to our hearts. It was a powerful exercise. Many people cried as they spoke of the experience. I realized I had been ignoring my heart. This exercise was one of the things that let me to quit my IT project management job. Not only was I overworked, my heart was not in that work. For Valentine’s day write a letter to your heart. If you don’t feel called to write a letter, are you feeling the need to spend some time and deeply listen to your heart? What is your heart telling you right now?