Life: In the Shape of a Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day 2010…

Ashton Kutcher said something recently about celebrating Valentine’s Day that I really resonated to.   Every day – not just February 14 — should be a celebration of love.

And, while I’m the first person to jump up and down when I receive flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day, today I want to share my heart and deepest thanks to some important people — the many teachers and healers in my life.  The people who’ve helped me to find my path and stay on it; people who’ve filled my heart with love and joy; people who make my life February 14 every day!

Some are my dearest friends, family and colleagues; others I barely know; and others I may never have met at all!

Though my experience with them may be over a lifetime, for a few years, a couple of days, in a moment, in a lesson, in a phrase, or from a quote they’ve all served to significantly influence me and shape my life.

I invite you to create your own list of teachers, healers, helpers and angels who have shaped you into the loving, amazing person you are today!

Today I send hearts, chocolates and flowers to:

  • Alice Walker for teaching me “there is gold in grief”
  • Agapi Stassinopoulos and Bim Bissell for demonstrating what it looks like for a woman to be comfortable in her body!
  • Andrea Dowding for permission to say “maybe I will, maybe I won’t”
  • Barbara Sher for teaching me “isolation is the dream killer”
  • Bella Abzug for inspiring me to tap into my power as a woman
  • Ben and Rosamund Zander for wise counsel to “give everyone an A and then help them earn it”
  • Bill Keesee for nurturing my talents as a reporter and writer yet letting me know my good spirit and positive attitude were what really counted
  • Blue for being the finder of all lost objects and her advice: “if you want to find something, search like a woman!”
  • Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and all other 60-plus-year-old rock stars for removing any excuse I might conjure up not to exercise, stay fit and give my passion my everything!
  • Cecily Saunders for encouraging me to speak from my heart
  • Carly Simon for sharing that “there’s more room in a broken heart”
  • Carole Black for her advice “to reach back and pull up as many people with you as you can”
  • Curt Steiner for the surprising life lesson that my arch-political nemesis could marry my best friend…and I would end up adoring him!
  • David Deida for asking “what is the love you have to give to the world before you die?”
  • Denise Guest for setting the example to “take the time to make the time to take care of yourself”
  • Dick Phillips for standing me in front of a mirror to repeat (under much teen-ager duress!) “I will greet each day with love in my heart”
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiring me “to cultivate a tough mind yet lead your life with a tender heart”
  • Eleanor Celeste for viewing the world from a fresh perspective: “if we change our clothes, will it change our personalities?” and “where exactly does the sun sleep?”
  • Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for teaching me the stages of grief
  • Elvira Lang, M.D. for advising me when receiving tough medical news to “act swiftly and comprehensively”
  • Geraldine Ferraro and Ellen Wingard for showing me the importance of meeting regularly with girlfriends in a “mastermind” group to take stock and get support
  • Gloria Steinem for transforming my life by simply being the very epitome of graciousness and support
  • Holly Getty for sharing the shopping secret that if I wouldn’t pay full price for it, then don’t buy it “on sale.”
  • Hugh Fullerton for advising me to never assume anything
  • Irene O’Garden for sharing creative genius that allowed the rising tide to lift all boats
  • Jack Walker for showing me that peanut butter is to be eaten with a spoon from the jar!
  • Jacqueline Pimentel for NGUNGI – Never Give Up, Never Give In
  • Jan Allen for teaching me best friends take notes for each other in life and share them
  • Janette Barber for transforming heart-breaking adversity into humor, success and service to the world
  • Jerry and Esther Hicks and John and Annie Glenn for living lives of passion, purpose and partnership
  • Judy Tatelbaum for teaching me it takes courage to grieve
  • Julia Celeste for the miracle of a tender shoot in the darkest of winters
  • Kelly Boggs for her knack of introducing me to a wide-range of important teachers and inspirations from spiritual leaders to country music stars
  • Kippy for being a dog I could share my innermost thoughts with!
  • Libby Bradford for showing me how to live as she held my hand and showed me how to die
  • Lucinda Sweeney for being there always with unconditional love
  • Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley for teaching me the awareness of life’s “final gifts”
  • Margaret Mead for the words that made my aspirations seem possible: “no doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world…indeed it is the only thing that ever has”
  • Marianne Williamson for inspiring me not to stop before the miracle
  • Mary Jo Ruggieri for teaching me yoga and meditation and that the future of medicine will be energy healing
  • Mary Lue Phillips for demonstrating change is good, necessary and exciting! (And impressing upon me the importance of education…and telling me I can do anything…and reminding me never to envy anyone because we all struggle with “something.”)
  • Mary Lynne Musgrove for planting the idea that I “must, must, must write a book”
  • Mary Tyler Moore for assuring me I’m gonna make it after all
  • Max Celeste for teaching me the joy of sharing French fries
  • Maya Angelou for reminding me when I have a knife in my hand it’s best not to let my focus wander!
  • MJ Bindu Delekta for creating sacred space and the perfect landing spot on a bamboo floor
  • Mother Teresa for her example of allowing nothing to stand in the way of living life’s purpose
  • Nancy Neal for showing me open, loving hearts cross all boundaries and obstacles
  • Nikki Giovanni for the comfort I will never be without purpose: “There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well.”
  • Norman Shub for locating my “steel rods” and teaching me self-confidence is believing in my abilities; self-esteem is believing in my very being
  • Oprah for having the guts to perservere and lead the way
  • Pat Wynn Brown for sharing her bliss and urging me to follow mine
  • Phil Bradford Jr. for comforting me that God will not give me more than I can bear
  • Phyllis Krumm for advising me when guests are expecting cheese and crackers I should surprise them with cinnamon toast!
  • Rabbi Jerome Folkman for his wisdom that intelligent people get help
  • Regina Blos for courage in face of losing everything tangible
  • Rob Berkley for transforming my life and my soul by loving me to my very core
  • Roseanne Rosannadanna for having attitude: “it just goes to show ya…it’s always something!”
  • Sarah Ban Breathnach for writing a book that I read every single day for two years to keep my head above water
  • Stedman Graham for cheering me on in my new, unheard-of profession by assuring me life and executive coaching fit me “like a glove”
  • Stephen Cluney for telling me everything I need is already inside of me
  • That Girl for the hope and belief that I, too, could grow up, have my own apartment and a great boyfriend like Donald!
  • Thich Nhat Hahn for being the first to show me exactly how to slow down and mindfully drink a cup of tea, wash a dish, take a walk, breathe in loving kindness
  • Thomas Leonard for helping me to perfect the work and life of my dreams — effortlessly
  • Wilber Philber, the cat, for nudging me every day to stop and play
  • William Shakespeare for his terrific suggestion: ‘to thine own self be true’

I would love to hear your own example of someone who touched your life and helped to transform it.  Please share in the comments section below.  I look forward to reading your comments!

Happy Day of Love to you,


P.S. Thank you to Woman on Fire Melissa McClain for the wonderful, heart-shaped image above; you can view her exquisite work at melissaAnneGallery.