What’s your mantra

A few weeks ago I was sitting at Design Squared, a Web Hosting company in Bernardsville with my friend Kathy working on our new Heartworks website. As usual, when Heartworks is the topic, the conversation moved from surface to depthful very quickly and we found ourselves talking about experiences we have had in life that have brought us to our knees.

Kathy’s co-worker John shared a story about when his brother-in-law was given a terminal diagnosis his mantra was “Someone else is carrying a bigger bag of hammers”. John said this as if this phrase was as common as “Have a nice day”.

When I asked him what the hell “Someone else is carrying a bigger bag of hammers” meant, he smiled in a way someone does when they know a secret. He said that to his brother-in-law, it meant that although his diagnosis was a tough one, there was somebody, somewhere, carrying a bigger burden than his own. He said this mantra brought his brother-in-law comfort and made sense of the senselessness in his mind.

I love learning new phrases that help people and I started to use this hammer one in the days that followed. One of my own personal favorites is “Thank you God that this problem is manageable.” I started saying this a few years ago and use it mostly when something that is truly just a surface issue is getting the best of me. I remind myself that “this problem is manageable” meaning, it’s do-able…I have options…it’s just part of the static of life and not worthy of pulling me under.

manageableblogBecause I have been in situations that have not felt manageable and have pulled me under, this phrase serves as a reminder and helps me prioritize if a circumstance is worthy of flattening me or if it’s just a part of the fluff of life… like when I came to after being knocked unconscious in a car accident on an icy Colorado highway in 1992, to find myself sideways on Rt 70 with speeding cars slamming into me, this did NOT feel manageable; the 25 hour car ride back to the East Coast from Boulder on September 12, 2001, not knowing if my sister’s husband was alive or dead did NOT feel manageable; and sitting next to my father in 2004 during cancer on days he could barely open his eyes, did NOT feel manageable.

So, for me when my daughter doesn’t make it onto the “A” team, or the new rug I want is backordered 8 weeks or even when I’m totally uncomfortable in a disagreement with someone I love, I remind my brain that “this is manageable” and it keeps me from giving the issue unnecessary attention and energy. It also often gives way to another favorite, “This too shall pass.” Mantras give our minds something to focus on instead of getting overwhelmed with the details of the story we are tempted to play over and over in our head. Mantras help us stay in line with the universal flow and keep us out of chaotic thinking. Mantras have helped carry people through some of the toughest times, and they offer us a direct connection with a truth bigger than ourselves.

I was reminded of these awesome aspects of mantras yesterday when a friend called me, looping in negative thoughts and asking if I knew of anything that would help her. She was having a party at her house, and as the ego does (especially before a party at your house) it had started to feed negative thoughts to her mind.

“I need new pillows in the family room, I should have gotten the kitchen cabinets painted, ugh! I never got those pictures framed, this bathroom sucks….” and on and on and on. Now, let me point out that this party banter with the negative, surface thoughts are coming from someone who has been in the “unmanageable.”

Trust me, three years ago when her son was diagnosed with a rare cancer, she spent an entire year in the unmanageable, and she has spent the past two years training her mind to re-familiarize itself with calm and quiet. And now here we were, calculating how many mums and pumpkins it would take to keep her from spending thousands of dollars at Home Depot and Pottery Barn before Friday night. As faith would have it, I told her, I am on a mantra kick and YES I had something that would help her…

“Thank you god for this manageable problem”

Three years ago she would have given ANYTHING to have a sucky bathroom be her problem of the week and yet, in the absence of the bigger life challenges (thank you God) her ego needed to cling to floppy pillows and dated cabinets in order to entertain itself. “OOOHHHH, YES!” She said, “That’s all this is…. got it” And that was last I’ve heard from her about the frameless pictures.

So these conversations got me thinking further about the power of mantras to help us stay on track either during life’s seemingly impossible times or when we need help keeping perspective in our day to day lives. This lead me to wondering about what other people’s mantras are and how they help, so, at our October meeting tonight (Oct. 4th) there will be a table set up to write down a word or phrase that helps you cope.

Then we are going to hang these cards up on a ribbon with clothes pins (I found the CUTEST polka dot and striped clothes pins EVER) and at the end of the meeting everyone can choose another Heartworker’s mantra to bring home and start using. So, please join us Tuesday night (tonight) for wine, cheese and crackers and the answer to the question “What’s your mantra?” Let’s never ever take for granted the many ways we can help each other feel connected to God and if you need a push to get you out of the house…use a mantra.
See you tonight!!!

Do not be afraid to Never Forget

For anyone feeling pulled by different commitments this 9/11 here are some thoughts…

Do not be afraid to Never Forget.
Do not be afraid to be vulnerable and softened by this anniversary.
Do not be afraid to be still.
Do not be afraid to say no to an invitation that doesn’t sit right with your soul and if you do go to the soccer game or BBQ, do it with more hugs, eye contact and humility than perhaps you normally would.
Bring peace into the world and take a moment during the day to remember how 15 years ago this day changed you, because my bet is that the day changed you for the better.
May we never forget how it changed us all.

Here is a poem by John O’Donohue, my favorite Irish Philosopher and Poet. Please share it with your family if it resonates with you-


As the fever of day calms toward twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.

We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.

For those who risk their lives
Each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence
At the heart of history.

That those who make riches
From violence and war
Might hear in their dreams
the cries of the lost.

That we might see through
our fear of each other
A new vision to heal
Our fatal attraction to aggression.

That those who enjoy
The privilege of peace
Might not forget their
tormented brothers and sisters.

That the wolf might lie down
with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten
Into plowshares

And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.

Politics and a Strawberry

politicsblogLike many other people I have been feeling crazed, exhausted, dumbfounded and scared by politicians preaching peace and then breeding hate by the end of the speech. I was feeling lost in the uncertainty of what has been happening in our country and around the world, until the other day, when I was washing a strawberry. We were having our first “Possible Party” (necessary celebrations during impossible times) in our new upstairs space at Heartworks.

I was washing a strawberry for a little girl who likes strawberries, is grieving her dad and was having her friends here for her birthday party. It was her first birthday ever without her dad and we were doing everything we could to make it special for her. I began the preparations with a distracted mind filled with irritated and stress-filled thoughts about the news coverage about the convention. Somewhere between rinsing these strawberries and cutting off the green leafy part to make things easier for her (who wants to deal with a pesky stem at their birthday party?!), I was brought to a moment of peace that was so overwhelming I wept over the sink.

The power of one small act had spun its influence up through the knife and straight into my being. Preparing a strawberry had suddenly impacted me in a way that no presidential speech ever could. I felt no discord in my body or mind. A full glimpse of true internal peace. It was like by washing the strawberry for Paige, I was in the flow of connection with a higher source and the fear of the news coverage became a stone in a river being washed over by love. This seemingly small act brought me back to a place of “Everything Belongs” (the title of one of my all time favorite books), back to connection, and back to a level of gratitude that had escaped me watching the news the night before. This peace, created by one small strawberry, lasted throughout the day until I started watching the news again… when will I learn?

politicsblog2The next day I came back to the Heartworks House, to see a note that was left with a donation of a book for the Heartworks Lending Library. It was left by my new friend Dan and his wife, who both attended our July meeting. This simple donation brought me back to peace again. Author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel made it possible for regular people like me to more deeply understand the human condition and the impact of hate in a person’s heart.

This sight of the book on the table reminded me that the suffering we are witnessing in our world today has been going on since the beginning of human existence and what I must do is take responsibility for my own mind, my own heart, and my own actions.

I can be change right here, right now by acting with a compassionate heart in every circumstance I find myself in. Dan has choices too. He could of left the Heartworks meeting feeling defeated with so much sadness on our table and in our world, but instead, he donated a book that has helped him maintain compassion and perspective in his life.

It was a reminder that I can control only myself and share peace only when I am cultivating it within my own being. We can each get swept up in the fear the news is projecting or we can donate a life altering book to a lending library.

We can get swept up in the hostility or we can do something for someone who is struggling, which sometimes is as small as handing fruit on a Happy Birthday plate to a 14 girl who just lost her dad. So if your head is spinning with the progression of this election season, know that you can refocus on small gestures and peaceful thoughts to bring yourself back to center through the connection such acts inherently create.

Come to think of it… What if every time we have a fearful or prejudicial thought, we do a small gesture for whoever is around us??

I’m going to do this and see what happens!!! Counter every fearful, exacerbated thought with a hug or letting someone cut in line or a smile or a phone call or any other ordinary way to offer the world LOVE instead of pain…. Yup- I’m doing it! Do it with me! And remember Mr. Wiesel’s words in his life altering book Night (now available in the Heartworks Lending Library).

“Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures;
peace is our gift to each other.”
– Elie Weisel (9/30/28-7/2/16)

politicsblog3Thank you Paige for asking for strawberries, thank you Dan for adding to our lending library and thank you kindness for being my steadfast savior and helping make me great again. (pun intended).

Our Lending Library is always available!! Stop by and choose a book that has affected another Heartworkers life! You can take it home or sit in our beautiful upstairs space. Don’t forget to call first to make sure we’re at the house (908)766-4400.


Thank You God for Emoji’s

On November 17th at 2:08 in the morning I got a text from one of my besties Kristen in California that read:

“Meg- we need serious prayers for Sage. Huge mass in her shoulder by her lungs. Waiting for transport from ER to CHOC. Please….This is a nightmare.”

St. Patrick’s Day will be four months since that text was sent to me. Four months since 12 year old Sage complained of shoulder pain and a seemingly routine visit to the doctor’s office turned into four months in and out of the hospital in treatment for a extremely rare sarcoma. It has been four months of constant, daily prayers and love for Sage and her family.

During the past four months, Heartworks also started our daily gratitude practice of listing 10 things a day for 30 days without repeating anything. The idea of this exercise is to help us get out of the rut we can often find ourselves in, thanking God for the same few things over and over again. Not that I am against this… gratitude is gratitude, but I wanted us to move from the rhetoric of gratitude to a deeper witness of how gratitude truly does change us when we allow it to.

One of the things that I came to appreciate in the past 30 days that I NEVER, EVER thought would make the list is…. emojis. Now, a few years ago when people first started using emojis, I was filled with irritation and judgment. Like “Really??? Now we don’t even have enough time to text full sentences??” We need pictures representing our emotions ?? “ (Insert eye roll emoji here…)

I grew up with a father who LOVED the English language, LOVED the history of words and LOVED their meanings. For as much as my dad was trusting and laid back about our education (he felt that we were blessed, blessed, blessed to live in this country with every educational choice available to us), he felt the need to make sure we practiced our vocabulary.

Vocabulary was not only celebrated in our house, but we grew up with a father who thought practicing vocabulary was FUN. He thought it was FUN to learn, review and discuss random vocabulary words over breakfast and throughout the day. I’m not talking about reviewing our weekly required vocab list from English class, I’m talking about this set of little business card sized vocabulary flashcards he had found in a bookstore somewhere.

He didn’t care if it was Saturday morning and I had been out the night before in the parking lot of Friendly’s with a 2 liter bottle of wine cooler and he didn’t care that my girlfriends who had slept over did not have an interest in the definition, root or origin of the word “aggrandize.” Or that they actually did NOT find coming up with a synonym for “sagacious” fascinating while they ate their pancakes and nursed a hangover. He loved words and all that they had to offer, and if you were staying for breakfast, you were going to get a lecture of his newest word interest, whether you were interested or not.

We did not have a color television in our house until I was a sophomore in high school which was in 1985. TV meant two things to my dad,less time for reading and less time for being creative and affective in the world. I think Brain Rot may have been a phrase that was thrown around a bit, even when The Brady Bunch, Star Search, and The Wide World of Sports were really the only things we were allowed to watch. Thank God he isn’t here today to walk in on me watching The Batchelor and The Housewives of Potomac (insert yellow cringy face here).

So although he had been gone a few years when emojis came on the scene, I still felt like a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater using them. It felt like a betrayal to all those mornings I found so irriatating in my youth (which, for the record, I would give anything to wake up to now…. no matter how many wine coolers I had chugged the night before.) I definitely felt like his daughter when I found myself thinking, when I saw my first emoji, that it is pathetic that as a culture, it was now acceptable to abbreviate the depthful gesture of “I love you” with a yellow smiley face blowing a heart out its mouth or a simple red, purple, green or blue heart.

If my daughters felt sad about something, I wanted them to go total old school and actually CALL ME so we could talk about their sad feelings instead of them sending me a little yellow face with blue tears streaming from its eyes. Or at least express themselves with words instead of dismissing the adventure of sorrow with a sad face emoji. When something upset or disappointed them, I wanted to hear about it instead of getting sent a picture of poop. (This is what happens when your mother is a therapist…she requests descriptive words and phrases describing your feelings in place of pictures of perfectly formed poop with eyeballs.)

All this judgment and irritation changed when Sage got sick. Later that day, on November 17th, I received the first of hundreds of emojis that would be exchanged over the next four months. Kristen sent me a kissy face with a red heart next to it. No words. Just a kissy face and and a red heart. But what I saw and interpreted was:


“Hi Meg. I’m in my worst fucking nightmare. My only child is sick. I have no idea what the future holds and I can’t breathe. Nothing seems real, it feels like a dream but I know that its not because even when I close my eyes and open them again, I’m still in a hospital room. Life as we knew it ended yesterday and I can’t breathe through the fear. I love you and I need support. I’m besides myself.”

But because she could not bring herself to type these words (typing makes things real), she typed the two emojis, knowing I would understand what they meant. And so this is what we have done every time there is no word to use, we send emojis. I have come to know and love these little images as if they were angels, sent from God, to offer my friend relief and ease in her worst and most exhausting moments. They began to feel like highly evolved, emotionally connected friends offering us help to communicate this new ground of horror and grace…

Smiley faces when Sage tolerates chemo without getting sick.

Dog paws when she misses her animals after not being home for a few days

Thumbs up when blood counts are good

Thumbs down when headed back to the hospital after only a day at home

Crying face, teeth gritting face and a winky face when the house flooded on her birthday

Clapping hands when something Heartworks sent brought a smile to Sage’s face

8 crying faces in a row when sitting in a packed hospital hallway, surrounded by more children with cancer than available beds

and lots of prayer hands…asking for and receiving prayers…

What is this emoji?

and on and on the emojis go, filling word bubbles from across the country at all times of day and night. Seemingly silly images seriously aiding the rhythm of a 20 year friendship and offering us concrete expressions in a reality where all words, forms and definitions are lost in current circumstances.

So one day a few weeks ago, when I was making my gratitude list and had already thanked God for Sage’s doctors, medical technology, hope, miracles, a restful night at home, some laughs during the day for Kristen and Dave and had thanked God for the all the support surrounding them, I found myself thanking God for emojis. Thank you God for symbols which have allowed my dear friend and I to communicate when for the most part, there are no words. Only hearts. And crying faces. And most of all, prayer hands. Thank you God for prayer hands.

This St. Patricks Day while the streets of New York City become a sea of green and the sound of bag pipes fill the air, Sage will be in surgery at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. Please pray for her like a million prayer hands. Please fill your mind and heart with hearts of all different colors and kissy faces galore for her as you text your friends shamrocks and beer mugs. And let’s be grateful today for the connection that technology offers us…. and for the emojis that connect us during times of deep fear, faith and friendship. (insert a thousand pink hearts with yellow ribbons tied around them here.)

Reflection: What’s something you take for granted everyday, or have judgment towards but actually ends up helping you in some hidden way?

Chocolate Milk and Judgement

judgementblogSo we are about three quarters of the way through our commitment of listing 10 things a day that we are grateful for (with no repeats). This practice forces us to put gratitude in the forefront of everything we do and it has been a heart opening experience.

When the Advisory Board arrived this week for our meeting, we created a gratitude list for the day. I happen to know a lot of the things that are going on for the women gathered here. And so for me the list makes sense and I understand why certain people are grateful for certain things. Looking at the list it reminded me of how, when we don’t know somebody’s story, it’s so easy to judge. And how often I catch myself in judgment, like, all day long, catching myself in judgment type of judgment. So I wondered when we post lists like this to the public,

are we even judging each other’s gratitude lists???

Judgment is quick and its powerful. It comes on fast and unconsciously. And before I started paying attention to it in my own mind, judgment seemed reasonable and normal. Now I see it as a trap my mind uses to keep me stuck and disconnected from God. So I have trained myself to catch judgment and shift it into something more productive, like gratitude. When I am in judgment of someone or something (again… it can be everyday all day) I am just staying stuck in my own hell and not seeing clearly.

So when I catch myself in judgment I immediately start praying for a higher understanding to help me get un-stuck. Today I felt protective when Beka wanted to post the gratitude list my advisory board put together, cringing at the possibility of someone reading the list and judging its contents. When it was my dear friend’s turn to add to the list she said “My chocolate milk Megan brought me”.

As I added it to the list I wondered if people’s fast and unconscious judgment would kick in and say “Why in the world would someone be grateful for a glass of chocolate milk? What is up with these Heartworkers? Don’t they have bigger things to be grateful for???” so I am here to expose the hidden power of small gestures like a glass of chocolate milk. My friend is going through enough daily uncertainty and challenges with her health to know to be grateful for simple things like a chocolate milk brought to her by someone who loves her. I don’t know what the glass of chocolate milk did for her, but I know what it did for me as I was pouring it this morning… gratitude.

Thank you that my friend feels good enough to come to the meeting.
Thank you that I can bring her something she can digest and tastes good.
Thank you for the ability to do something for her.
Thank you for milk.
Thank you for my refrigerator to keep it cold.
Thank you for her doctors.
Thank you that we met.
Thank you that we have so many laughs even when things suck.
Thank you for my advisory board.
Thank you for hope.

So because this glass of chocolate milk offered my heart so much love and obviously affected her as well, I felt nervous about the possible misinterpretation of it on the list! I felt in love with the little red cup I had poured it into. When she drank it I felt so grateful that with all the things I have no control over, I could do this one small thing for her.

It reminded me that with all the big stuff happening in life, most times it is the smallest of things that bring us back to center. The healing comes when we take gratitude seriously enough to become humbled by the smallest of things. The big things are easier and more obvious… our health, our family, our home. It’s the digging deep to find gratitude in a glass of chocolate milk that starts to peel back the layers of our hearts and this truth is certainly something worthy of making the list. Judgment or no judgment.

Reflection: Let’s practice giving with gratitude and receiving with gratitude. Let’s be grateful for the smallest of comforts in this uncertain life.

Multitasking With Gratitude

multitaskingblogMy little Mary forgot her lunch today and after I dropped it off at her school and left the building I said to myself “I’m going to see how many things I can be grateful for before I get back to my car.

Here’s what i came up with…

Thank you for the trees

Thank you for the certainty of Spring coming

Thank you that all these cars are filled with people
who get to be alive another day

Thank you for the sound of the birds

Thank you for this safe school

Thank you for how nice it is for Mary

Thank you for teachers coming to work everyday

Thank you that I am healthy enough to be out today

Thank you that I can walk

Thank you that I have a car to take me where I need to go

Thank you that I get to spend the day at the Heartworks House

Thank you that my girls are healthy enough to go to school

Thank you that when Mary forgets her lunch, my day is flexible enough that I can bring it to her

Thank you for heat in my car

Thank you that the people who I love who are sick feel OK today

Thank you for the reminder to choose gratitude

Thank you for how gratitude makes me feel

Thank you for friends who also want to practice gratitude

Thank you for everything

When I got in the car to drive away I felt sooo much more connected to God than I did when I arrived with the lunchbox. So then I felt thankful for that too.

If we practice gratitude consistently enough, it becomes a natural response and has the potential to change the course of the day.

30 Days of Gratitude

Megan’s Gratitude List

I am grateful…

that my thoughts are calm,

that we have a fun weekend ahead,

clean water,

that my friend feels good enough to go out today,

that there is no pain in my body,

that my family is healthy,

that there is available treatment for Sage,

that I get to spend time with Maggie,

that my mom is alive,


that we live in a free country.

…and the greatest of these is purpose.

purposeblog1Sometimes I get stuck on things that can seem so simple. Last week the Heartworkers organizing our January 22nd fundraiser asked me for words and short sayings to be displayed around the room on the night of the event. “Short sayings” are tough for me…I’m a talker, a processor and the depth of what Heartworks offers hidden inside short words and phrases can paralyze me at times. I would do better if someone said to me “Hey Megan, give me a four hour long explanation on the phrase “receive with grace”.


So the assignment of short sayings has had me perplexed. We used a phrase on a poster the other day that said, “Think like a Heartworker this Holiday Season” and it was suggested to me that I come up with 3 short works that describes thinking like a Heartworker. Hmmmmm….two words immediately came to mind- PERSPECTIVE AND GRATITUDE. Two words that would help anyone out in any situation, the third word was escaping me…until Sunday night.

Sunday night I went to a Viewing Party with the Blink Now organization to watch my friend, the founder, Maggie Doyne, receive the CNN Hero of the Year Award. I had one of those nights that I was so filled with gratitude and perspective these two words settled deep in my bones.
When I first walked into the viewing party, it took me a good half an hour just to move through the foyer…each person I met was so loving and full of purpose. I could have spoken to each person all night! Their sense of purpose for the work being done by Blink Now, or local foundations they have created or support, lifted me up from the moment I walked through the door. My heart was already beating out of my chest from the love and energy in the room even before I made my way over to hug Maggie.

I think this house was so full of people like this because my brave friend Maggie only attracts purposeful hearts. Hearts that are either seeking purpose or hearts that have found purpose and so automatically identify with hers. I noticed this because I see it in my own life, I see how women who may not even know what we are all about, crave Heartworks. Sometimes they start to cry when they walk through the door.

As they see an Advisory Board member come towards them to greet them, they nervously say, “Why am I crying? What’s wrong with me??” Nothings wrong with you Heartworker…it’s your purpose rising above the distraction and chaos. Your soul is finding a place to rest. Sometimes, when I see women crying at meetings, I have to bite the insides of my mouth to keep from smiling from excitement for them. I know they are being cracked open and I know how awesome this is for the perhaps long buried struggles of their life. But I also know, first hand, how agonizing and frightening this “cracking open” process can be the first time around, because we don’t even realize we need it.

I was reminded once again, before even moving out of the foyer Sunday night, that
Purpose sucks the life out ego.
Purpose sucks the life out of apathy and “stuckness.”
Purpose sucks the life out of insecurity, gossip and judgment
Purpose opens our eyes to the needs of the world around us.
Purpose gives us a focus beyond the ordinary illusions of our small hometown.

purposeblog2I thought about all this as I sat next to Maggie and watched the ten CNN Heroes nominees tell their stories. I noticed how clear their eyes were. How alive they all seemed. How even though they do the type of daily work that you would think would exhaust and defeat them, they all seemed more peaceful than people I know who have waaaay more comfortable and luxurious jobs. Each of these ten people seemed to embody the words I had chosen so far for the fundraiser as well as the one I was missing-
gratitude and perspective…gratitude and perspective…gratitude and perspective….and PURPOSE.

As we sat there last night and watched Anderson Cooper (love him!) take the stage I turned from the TV to see Maggie giggling and covering her face. It reminded me of 2008 at the Dolan’s house, waaaaaaaay before Heartworks had an office space with a filing cabinet and a sign on the front lawn. My friend Jeanine had read about Maggie in the Mendham paper and we called her and asked her to come speak at Heartworks about her purpose. She stood at our meeting in front of about 40 Heartworkers with this little ponytail in the back of her head and her hands stuffed into the pockets of her jeans and spoke about the work she was headed off to Nepal to do. How her friends were going to college but her calling is different.

She was headed to Nepal to help children have a school or home to go to each day. She sounded like a wise old woman instead of this young 20 something standing before us. This was back before she shared the stage with Hollywood stars, before the cover of The New York Times magazine and television interviews. And yet last night, her eyes, her heart, her giggle remained the same as when I first met her. This is because she has never lost track of the purpose. The work has never become about anything else other than the work. It has never become about anything else other than her children. This is so rare in this day and age. She is changing the world just by being herself and following her purpose, even though she was unsure, afraid and was going in a direction most of the people around her were not. She is showing people that we all have the potential to change things if we get clear enough in our own lives to use every extra hour we have to help someone else.

Why not? Many days I wonder what else is there to do? Especially in a place like Bernardsville where we are so blessed with comforts and safety and “extras”. It’s why Heartworks believes so strongly in women doing our own personal growth work. What more could we each be doing if we just get over ourselves and reach out…get involved…listen to the purpose in our hearts. I know for sure that the more we heal ourselves the less we need to do so much running around and crazy making. The more we heal ourselves the “busy-ness” makes less sense and we want to be at Heartworks House instead of in places or with people that do little more than make us feel unsure about ourselves and less than. The people gathered to support Maggie all had a sense of purpose bigger and wider than their shopping list this Christmas…and it is all because Maggie Doyne allowed her bigger soul purpose to guide her life all those years ago.

Thank you Maggie, Blink Now and to the nine other CNN Hero nominees, for a night of gratitude, perspective and the third word I was searching for…purpose. It made me feel like I must not be a jackass if I was included in such a night…it humbled me and inspired me to keep showing up at Heartworks and to follow my purpose… with gratitude and perspective

What is something purposeful you can do this week instead of buying into the chaos? Be aware of how it makes you feel and what it changes in you.

If you are feeling like you are getting sucked into the madness of the season, give yourself some time to watch what the 10 CNN Hero award nominees are doing and it will reconnect you with something deeper within yourself and snap you out of it 🙂

Thanksgiving thoughts from Megan

thanksgivingblogI am sitting here alone at the Heartworks House. There has been a flurry of activity here all week getting ready to help families with Thanksgiving that are too sad, exhausted or distracted with illness or grief to care about what type of stuffing they are having or what tablecloth they are using. We feel blessed to be a part of the sacredness of their holiday. We feel grateful for the opportunity to “walk with God” by planning for them what they can not plan for themselves. We wonder if this time next year, it will be one of us that illness or grief places in a position to accept kindness and we pray that if so, we have the grace to say “YES” to any kindness that comes our way.

Below something that my dear friend Kristen wrote yesterday. Kristen has spent the past week in at Children’s Hospital of Ocean County, CA with her 13 year old daughter Sage. Sage has had shoulder pain and when Kristen took her to the doctors last week thinking it was a pulled muscle, she was sent to the emergency room and has not been home since. Sage has a cancerous growth under her arm. A treatment plan is being formed while Sage and her parents go home for Thanksgiving. I know Kristen, and I know how much she loves holidays. I’m pretty sure a week and half ago she was thinking forward to this week and planning her centerpiece and her menu. But that was a week and a half ago….

I send you her words because if your table is full this year and you have nobody in the hospital, my prayer for you is that you are able to let go of what is not important and live the rest of the week in deep contentment and gratitude. And if someone is missing from your table, or someone you love is not well, please remember that you are not alone.I know that there are a lot of happy faces rushing around the grocery store this week, there are just as many anguished faces sitting at home wanting the festivities to be over. My greatest hope is that her words reach a place within you that is aware of perspective and hope, and that a spark of knowledge is lit there to lead you clearly throughThanksgiving and the coming weeks.

Dear Friends,

What a day.. a nightmare… a roller coaster… a blessing… I am so grateful to be home. I am so grateful Sage smiled. I am so grateful for my family who has been unbelievable in helping… There are not enough words to thank them. And our friends. Our friends…I’m speechless at the outpouring of love.

This is impossible. Almost unbearable. The pain, grief, fear, sadness and exhaustion are beyond measure.

Sage had her hardest night last night with the pain from her biopsy, yet we’re home. She and I cried listening to Meghan Traynor’s “I’ll Love You Like I’ll Lose You” , a song we’ve listened to a hundred times, but which takes on a whole different meaning when you are staring into the eyes of your child fighting for health. Listen to that song under that context. You’ll see what I mean.

Bawling when she tells me with a wisdom beyond her years, that she “feels different.”… I know what she means. It is different. She is different. We are all different. Life has changed forever. Sage now knows pain and fear and uncertainty.

This is one of those moments in our life journey that defines us. That throws us in a direction of experience, challenge, learning and growth that we didn’t want. That I feared. And am now living. It’s a fight I’ve seen others fight. A fight that scares the shit out of me. And now I’m the underdog, the challenger…because it’s new and terrifying. And my purpose and reason for living is the prize. We will not be defeated. It’s not an option.

Yet, there are moments of calm and peace and beauty in the storm. My husbands hugs. My daughters look. My pets showing affection. The nurses care. The doctors expertise. Medication. Family love and being there. Friend support. Visits. Requests to visit. Understanding. Messages. Texts. Cards. Meals. Calls. Posted pictures. Posted memories. Prayers…

How could I not feel blessed?

And I know, in the deepest core of my being, that this is a wrinkle in what my mom called my “charmed life.” And I know that she, and all the others who have loved us and have moved on, are wrapping Sage in love and healing. We will look back on this time, in time, with awe.

Blessings and peace.
Have the sweetest of dreams.

The Most Delicious, Healing, Pumpkin Bread

Here is a note that a Heartworker gave me when she dropped off the most delicious pumpkin cake for the Summit football players. I know it is the most delicious pumpkin cake because she also made one for the Advisory Board that we ate at our meeting yesterday morning. The note below (I have her permission to share it) is the transformation that took place for her while baking this delicious pumpkin bread for a group of boys she has never met. I am writing about it because it exemplifies exactly why we do Heartworks, perhaps in a way I am unable to explain when we gather at meetings. Now, for the record, this Heartworker is not having the easiest time…she is living with some significant sorrow, fear and pain in her life. She would be someone who I would easily tell “Hey, it makes sense you want to have the pity party, I’ll just sit here next to you and hand you pumpkin cake as needed.” Her words in this note brought me to my knees because they teach an almost unteachable concept

That when we stop separating out our stories of suffering and simply allow them to all merge together into one, they begin to heal each other regardless of story content, time of event or name of people involved. Suffering is suffering and when we acknowledge our own and reach into someone else because of it, unexpected miracles take place.

Please read the note and know that there is a power in being present with our own struggles while giving (or baking) for someone else.

Dear Megan, Holly, Tressa, Beka and all Heartworks,

Please enjoy these treats as a very small token of my enormous appreciation. I am so grateful to have Heartworks in my life. I am honored and blessed to be a part
of such an amazing group of women. The love and kindness that you have shared with countless people (including myself). But you appear to pull off these miracles with such ease and grace.

As I was baking for the football team, negative thoughts began to creep in to my mind- I’m tired. I hurt all over- physically and emotionally, when will I be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Then I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself while baking for young men whose lives will be forever changed, the whole community that is so devastated by this loss, the Moms and Dads who are trying to comfort their severely ill children, all of those watching their loved ones take their last breath, the list of tragic events happening all around us can be staggering.

So I stopped my pity party and continued to bake with love in my heart and sending prayers to all of those struggling.

Please accept my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all you are and all you do!