Chef’s that participated in this year’s Super Ultimate Tailgate Tasting V and helped make our event amazing!
Tuesday Night’s Meeting
I sat alone at the Heartworks House long after I said goodbye to the last Heartworker on Tuesday night. The energy in the house was solid, connected and blessed and I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. To be honest, the hours leading up to the meeting made for a very long day. Last month we had 31 families on our “sacred table” and afterwards I said to the Board “It’s too much, we have to cut back.” But how do we cut back? How do we know what we know and then cut back? How do we see what we see and then cut back? How do we feel what we feel and then cut back? The answer is we don’t. We can’t. We won’t.
Sometimes I just want to be a girl that goes to the mall. Sometimes I just want to be a girl that wakes up and focus’ on her workout and blocks it all out. But I can’t. I have never ever, not even for a minute, in my entire life have been able to do this. There is a price I pay for being who I am. I know this price… I think about in all sorts of ways, everyday. When I was 8 I would walk into the room while my parents were watching the news, see that a man had been shot in The Bronx and start to cry and demand to know where The Bronx was and ask why we weren’t going there to help the man that was shot. I have never been able to have much distance between myself and other people’s suffering.
Heartworks is not always easy, but it gives me a way to do something about the human struggles we come across every day. This past Tuesday was one of those days that I was exhausted from the heaviness of the stories and not managing it well. Sometimes I am so tired that I say to my Advisory Board “What are we doing? Are we even making a dent? Is this all worth it?” And I have days like Tuesday that I feel so overwhelmed that I’m dropping “F” Bombs as I’m putting prayer books out on the table to be signed 🙁 … And then we have a night like Tuesday night. A night where Olga walks through the door for her first Heartworks meeting ever.
Olga lives in Bedminster but leaves for Florida next week. She’ll be moving in with her mom to be closer to her son who just started college there. She’ll be traveling next week with a U Haul van filled with her belongings, and the tumor that rests inside her brain. But after tonight, her possessions include a gift bag filled with magazines and snacks to enjoy in the private room during the 17 hour train ride we offered her when we found out she was DRIVING WHILE ON HER MEDS, WITH A BRAIN TUMOR TO FLORIDA.
How does a human being sleep when she knows another human being, with a brain tumor, is driving herself from New Jersey to Florida?? I complain most times I have to even drive to Target. Perhaps a human being who doesn’t know about someone like Olga sleeps. But once you know…you know…and then how can you not do something? And so we are doing something. Because of all of you showing up Tuesday, we are able to pay for her to load her U Haul van onto a train and then go rest in a private room with a bed eating Cheetos and reading about Brangelina for the rest of the trip.
Because of the donations that continue to come into Heartworks, we can do something like this. And sweet, powerful, faith filled Olga will be able to lie her head on a pillow with Amtrak etched across the pillow case and get some sleep. The rest of us now will be able to put our heads on our own pillows and sleep, knowing that the teeny tiny section of the world that God has asked us to watch over (a 21 hour stretch from New Jersey to Florida) is being taken care of.
I wish that this felt like we were doing enough, but it never does. I’m working on this …seeing my energy worker at 8:45 tomorrow morning for assistance with this :). As I return to the Heartworks House after my appointment it will be so full of love that all I will be able to say is thank you to everyone who came to Tuesday’s meeting, thank you to Olga for receiving, and thank you to God for the opportunity to be alive…and like Nicky, who we learned had passed away after a journey with Cystic Fibrosis taught us, be grateful for every breath we are given, because he was. Every Heartworks meeting seems to teach us ways to be more connected and awake to what is happening in the world around us and this continues to help me move through this unpredictable and fragile life of ours. Thank you for your part in my lessons, see you all next month.
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-
A BLESSING FOR PEACE
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
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.
This is an update on what is happening at Heartworks in the next week with the 15th anniversary of September 11th upon us.
We want you to know about something powerful and sacred that we are planning for the upcoming anniversary.
September 11, 2016 – INVOKE PEACE DAY
We are asking all Heartworkers and anyone else who would be willing to participate to invoke peace within your own heart all day on Sunday. So what this means is…..
Start the day off with thoughts and intentions of peace. As soon as you open your eyes on Sunday say “peace” either out loud or to yourself. Set the intention of invoking peace within you throughout the day- to have peace be in the forefront of your mind. Commit to do everything this day with the intention of peace. In your words, thoughts and actions.
Invoke peace while making meals
Invoke peace in every conversation
Invoke peace while packing up bags
Invoke peace while driving your car
Invoke peace in all conversations
Invoke peace with every gesture
Invoke peace with every contact
Invoke peace in every thought
Invoke peace in every action
Invoke peace for those you love
Invoke peace for those you feel hatred towards
Commit to peace in everything you do, and as a symbol of your commitment (or your family’s commitment) we are asking that you drop a mum off at the Heartworks House between Wednesday September 9th, and Tuesday, September 13th . These “Peace Mums” will then be available starting at our Tuesday September 13th meeting for everyone to come and take one and deliver to someone they know who is searching for peace. The card attached to the Peace Mum will read:
Invoking Peace ~ September 11, 2016
This mum is a symbol of peace.
It is given to you in hope
of invoking the peace
that exists within,
especially when it
More to come on our plan for invoking peace all over town, but for now thank you for reading and please spread the word.
This is a story that was shown on the Today Show earlier this week. This story of friendship made in war is why I hound everyone all week to show up for our Veterans. It reminds me of my girlfriends and how much I love them, and how sometimes you meet a person and your life is never free of their influence.
How many times have we seen this famous picture of US troops raising the American flag at Iwo Jima?
This happened 24 years before I was born and I’m not sure I ever allowed myself to fully digest that these were real men…young men…with families and friendships and hopes for the future. This story of “Doc” and Harlon is why I feel so passionately about honoring and remembering – because Doc lost his friend so that I can raise my children in a free country and get stressed about things like traffic, the sports teams my kids get chosen for and what college they will have the privilege of attending. Watch this story and think of the friends you made at work or college in your early twenties and how much you will still love them in your early 90’s. Make the men in the statue and all the faces of war personal and real…because they are.
This post is memory of our dear family friend Ed Carroll who will be deeply missed at Thanksgiving Day this year. Mr. Carroll arrived on Iwo Jima on day 2 of the 35 day battle. He passed away this past January at the age of 89. Every year I have look at him across the table from my children and have said a silent thank you for his service and pray that my girls come to understand what men like him have given us.
Please join us tomorrow at 8:00 and 4:00 at the post office (and YES this will be the last time you will hear from us this week!!!)
They made me feel relieved that Veterans are on our radar and that honoring them is a part of our consciousness at Heartworks.
We are blessed to be aware of all that we have and where it all came from because it creates gratitude and perspective, and without these two things, anxiety is inevitable (Gratitude and persepctive keep anxiety at bay)
Please join us for our last remaining ceremonies today at 4pm and tomorrow (Friday) at 8am and 4 pm.
Heartworker Jen’s words, 8:00 am the Day After Veterans Day
Yesterday we were called to remember our military men and women who have fought for our freedom – near and far. We were called to remember the men and women who served past and present and the sacrifices they made. We were called to remember the sacrifices their families made. The holidays without their loved ones, the children who have missed their moms and dads and brothers and sisters for months upon months. We were called to take pause and reflect on the men and women returning form wars who weeks, months, years later bear the physical and emotional scars from those sacrifices. Physical wounds – limbs missing, embedded shrapnel, backs no longer able to bare the weight of their bodies. The Mental wounds – post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression.
So here we are the day after November 11th – the day after Veteran’s day – the day after the parades and formal ceremonies and dedications. The day after all the Facebook posts and commercials and political hoopla. . And, here the day after November 11th are also our Local Veterans from VFW Post 7858 – and here are you all as well. Here we are. November 12th. Is anything different from yesterday? Are the same men and women who received that moment of honor and reflection not just as worthy today on November 12th? Are they not still away from their families, missing holidays, missing Christmas chorus concerts, and soccer games? Aren’t they today – just like yesterday.. still struggling with depression, loneness, and physical rehabilitation?
So, today – let’s take with us the same energy and intention we carried yesterday. Let’s do this and remember that every errand, every sporting event, our jobs and educations are available to us because of the armed forces. Let us not forget this, yesterday, today or tomorrow.
Thank you for coming and we will see you back here at 4:00 today.
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!
The days leading up to the anniversary of September 11th always feel a bit like a reunion. Revisiting emotions from 14 years ago… the terror, numbness, shock and panic all pool together in my mind’s eye with vivid visions of…
The call from my brother to turn on the news
Crawling up the stairs to get Eddie
A silent Colorado church filled with people
The pizza Kirsten brought us for dinner
The unsteady tone of my father’s voice
The 25 hour car ride back home to New Jersey
The eerie, empty streets of my hometown
Sleeping at my sister’s with my parents and siblings
Waiting for John to call and tell us he had survived
All of us gathered in the family room to tell my nieces and nephews that their father wasn’t coming home. The cries and moans that filled the room after I spoke.
This thank you is because now when I reflect on that time 14 years ago, it is impossible for me single out these horrific visions, because they are unfailingly linked with memories of…
Cups of coffee left at the front door
My sister’s dining room table covered in cards
Streets lined with flags
Father Capik running out of Holy Communion at the memorial mass
Lasagna, lasagna, lasagna
Strangers’ hugs in the grocery store
Rides being organized for soccer practice
Cookies delivered in a shoebox
Four pumpkins appearing on the front steps
My sister’s house filled with friends
Phone calls from dawn to dusk
Funds set up and bills paid for
Her kids being taken out for ice cream
The lawn mowed and leaves raked
Milk and eggs delivered before we awoke
And on and on and on…
The kindness shown to my sister’s family in the days, weeks, months and years after the terror attacks on our country shifted my families understanding of community and compassion in ways that can not be measured or explained. Heartworks is a daily, public thank you to each and every person who reached out to the families of September 11th through prayer, a gesture, an offering or act of kindness. Through my witnessing of the compassion shown following the attacks, and the daily participation of Heartworkers over the past ten years, I have come to understand that every single act of kindness is an exemplification of human hands being instructed by the invisible mystery of the universe to show us two truths:
That although suffering is interwoven into the human experience, we are not alone and we are deeply loved.
Because of the response led by first responders, our military and every day citizens, the paralyzing memories of 14 years ago are coated with love, and it is this love that makes the anniversaries tolerable. Thank you for this and for so much more.
Reflection: Please pray today for all the suffering in the world and honor it by not sweating the small stuff. Gain perspective by revisiting your experience in September of 2001 and live the way you vowed you would, if even for a day.
I was rushing around Sunday night getting my girls settled before the start of Bachelor in Paradise (please refrain from judgment) and I was looking for toothbrushes. My little Mary does not understand why, in her perception, I’m “always asking her to brush her teeth”. I explain that asking her to brush twice a day is a pretty standard procedure in most households. She disagrees. I stood with my three girls in the bathroom as they rocked out to the only reason why Mary still has teeth in her head – a toothbrush that plays a One Direction song while she brushes so that she can dance along side her sisters.
While in the bathroom, I got a text from Heartworker Kelly that brought me to tears. One of the greatest spiritual teachers on the planet had died. Wayne Dyer was one of the most brilliant and truthful souls alive and his children posted that “he left his body, passing away during the night”. My heart is broken wide open that he is no longer walking around spreading some of the most direct love from God that we could ever hope to experience.
I was introduced to Wayne Dyer when I lived in Telluride, CO when I was 21 years old. I would listen to his audiotapes on my Walkman as I wandered through the magnificent San Juan Mountain range. His calming voice and the assurance he offered that “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience” affirmed the way I had always viewed life. My year in Telluride was a time in my life that I was just about as lost as I could be. I had loved college and it was over. I loved my family and my wallpapered bedroom in Bernardsville and yet had moved to Colorado. I was in the in-between space of no longer being a kid but by no means did I feel like an adult. I had ideas about my future but all of them terrified me. I was in love with two boys at the same time, one had been my whole world on a tiny New England campus for the past four years, and yet the second one made me feel more at home than I had ever felt in my life.
I was at a crossroads and stumbling with every step. Listening to Dr. Dyer’s voice of clarity coming through my yellow Sony head phones calmed me. Although I was not yet able to practice what he was teaching about trusting God, staying in the moment and meditation, I was still comforted by the ideas. Life felt like it was swirling around me and all I could do was watch it pick up everything I thought was permanent and either destroy it or place it somewhere that was completely unfamiliar. My anxieties kept telling me I could not quiet myself enough to meditate, but just the fact that there was such a practice, just the fact that there was someone like Wayne Dyer who saw beyond the veil of the Earthbound world gave me great hope. I would listen to him and say “YES, YES, I always knew that was true!!” He gave affirmation to the parts of myself I had not yet come to understand. I understood him and felt that if we met, he would understand me too. This is a very comforting feeling for a 21 year old girl walking away from the expected path, walking away from all that she had come to know and walking alone in the San Juan mountains.
Years later, long after I had chosen the right man for me, moved back to New Jersey with him and had two of our three baby girls, I was watching Dr. Dyer on PBS and was glued to the TV, hanging on to every word he said. During this particular broadcast he was up on stage and introduced a woman named Immaculee IIbagiza. Immaculee survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide huddled in a bathroom with seven other women for 91 days….YES 91 DAYS IN A BATHROOM WITH 7 OTHER WOMEN.
Rwandan genocide?? When the hell had that happened??? In 1994 I was drinking craft beers on a rooftop bar in Boulder, CO….nobody ever mentioned a GENOCIDE IN RWANDA!! And if they had, I would not have even known where Rwanda was…Jackass. JACK- ASS.
With this single introduction of Immaculee on PBS, Wayne Dyer transcended my life yet again as I gazed upon another great teacher. As I looked at her, my mind filled with shame at my 25 year old, 1994 self that was choosing which homebrew to have with my burger while Immaculee’s 22 year old self was hiding in a bathroom while her two brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were among the one million people being murdered in a genocide I didn’t even know was taking place. I walked up to the TV and placed my hand on the screen. I told my new teacher Immaculee that I was sorry about what happened to her and that now that I knew about her 91 days in the bathroom and the loss of her family, I would help her spread her message of forgiveness and hope.
So the reason why I am telling you about Wayne Dyer and about Immaculee is because both of them are entwined in the beginning story of Heartworks. Dr.Dyer because he spoke about all the things I ‘ve always thought to be true but was too young and insecure to believe my own truth. He was part of the fabric of support I had in younger years that helped me understand and navigate the truth of spirituality and in turn be able to eventually create the concepts of Heartworks. After I read Immaculee’s book, “Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” I was obsessed with her and how she came to be able to forgive the men who killed her family. I spoke about her at meetings. I gave her book to my friends. And when I learned that she was speaking in New Jersey, I took a carload of Heartworkers to go see her. After the presentation ended the audience was encouraged to stand in a 3 ft x4 ft replica of the bathroom with 7 other people to get an idea of the cramped space she lived in for 3 months. Ummmmmmm…. Even though the replica only went up to my knees, I felt claustrophobic after a minute and it put every single thing in my life in perspective.
The second we get in the car I announced “WE NEED A REPLICA OF THE BATHROOM FOR HEARTWORKS MEETINGS!!!” and by the next month’s meeting my friend Shellie had made me one (thank you Shellie). Starting that month, every time you came to a meeting I greeted you at the door by saying “Hello, welcome to Heartworks, in an attempt to keep our problems in perspective, please grab a glass of wine and go stand in Immaculee’s bathroom with 7 other people!!” This was back in the days when we had Heartworks meetings at people’s homes and every month I would lug the replica to the host’s house, set it up and force people to stand in it!!! I love that even though I was a crazy woman with a 3 ft x 4ft bathroom replica, most of you kept coming back and stood in the bathroom!!
Since then, numerous Heartworkers have read Left to Tell and have had their lives transformed. So this is why I grieve the death of Wayne Dyer. A man I never met, but whom I adored. He was a pebble thrown into my lake over 25 years ago and the ripple it caused was a major part of how and why Heartworks came to be in the aftermath of September 11th.
Today I pray for everyone who is grieving and honoring him. Especially Immaculee, who remained dear friends with Dr. Dyer and continued to travel with him to speaking engagements. I also pray for my famous pretend friends Oprah, Deepak Chopra and Ellen DeGeneres who love him dearly.
When my girls gather at Mary’s tooth brushing dance party tonight in my bathroom that is twice the size of the Immaculee’s (but I have been known to complain about) I will think of her and Dr. Dyer and the impact they have both had on our group and I will say thank you while One Direction plays in the background.
Reflection: If you are struggling with the idea of forgiveness, please read Left to Tell, It will help you. Attached is the PBS episode when Wayne introduces Immaculee, if you watch it, it may be most impactful 14 minutes you spend today.