My heart seems not to know of its deficits, or it at least pretends not to know and goes on its merry way.
Here in our Stories of Grateful Living, we honor the voices of our community as we invite people to share their personal experiences with gratefulness. Join us in appreciating the explorations, reflections, and insights of fellow community members as we collectively learn what it means to live gratefully.
One of my little problems is my heart.
I am 76 years old, and I am disabled. I have multiple chronic degenerative ailments, including cancer and lupus, that affect my hips and my heart. I also have cardiomyopathy with an Ejection Fraction (EF) of 18 percent. EF measures heart pumping capacity of each heartbeat, and my EF is less than 30 percent of the capacity of a normal adult heart. It is my understanding that my heart must beat three times in order to push the same amount of blood to the body as a normal heart would do with just one beat. I am on my third installed ICD (defibrillator).
I try to show gratitude for the courage of my heart. My heart seems not to know of its deficits, or at least it pretends not to know and goes on its merry way.
Unfortunately I have problems with structured activities like meditating and writing in a gratitude journal every day. The focus and concentration of yoga and meditation has had the opposite effect — because of body pain, I could not relax.
I instead hatched a type of game called the “Gratitude Digit Game” to support my gratitude practice throughout the day. During one 24-hour day on a digital clock there are only 12 occurrences (less than 1 percent of the day) where all of the numbers are the same digit, such as 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, etc. When I see this, I stop for that minute — 60 seconds — and I give gratitude for what I feel at that moment. The unfiltered truth comes out! I think of this as kind of like a random call to prayer that happens every day wherever and whenever I might be. I love the randomness of this activity. Some days I miss seeing the digits; other days I see many of them. Also if I’m with someone when this happens I ask them to silently list their grateful points for the next 60 seconds.
Another practice I have is to end each email with the following salutation, which I truly feel:
“Gratefully — The inner gesture of receiving life as a Gift”
“Gracias a la Vida”(A famous well known song in Spanish)
I also show gratitude through music.
Music changed me — I had a spiritual awakening.
About 15 years ago when my health started to decline, I was given a guitar as a gift, which would become therapy — and this therapy was “The Gift.”
I had no previous musical experience. I had never (and still haven’t) had a guitar, voice, or music lesson. As a matter of fact, I cannot formally read music. Because of my disabilities I could not walk or stand and sing at the same time, so the advantage and enjoyment of singing in a choir or with others was restricted.
I needed an alternative solo stage and format to produce my own music.
Playing guitar and singing on my own became that alternative form of music, exhilarating like catnip. Music changed me — I had a spiritual awakening.
Eventually and as a logical extension, it would be easy for me to record music. I had worked in the computer industry, so digitally recording, editing, and mixing music was easy after years of editing words and data.
The end-product-recording that I now produce is 100 percent made by me, with the exception of “Little Heart,” which has a heart monitor beep sound track added. With most of my recordings, I usually have two voice parts and three guitar parts. Both the male and female voice parts are mine, and the three guitar parts are done with two different guitars all played by me. These parts are recorded as tracks that can be manipulated. I record, edit, mix, and master my own recordings. I do the artwork and electronically send it out to be duplicated as CD’s.
I give my CDs away free to nursing homes and older clients who like to reminisce and hear music like the “standards” done as a cover from an original source. It seems that music has the charm to bring back many fond memories.
I try to embed my emotion in the songs that I sing. I also sing for another person who is not with us today but who had inspired me to sing. Part of this emotion is, of course, a feeling of gratitude.
I have several other ways I show gratitude outside of my music. For instance:
When I am grateful for my heart, I focus on the bright side of life and experience positive results.
These positive results for the heart have been demonstrated by a 10-year study called GeneSTAR from Johns Hopkins University. This study focused on family members that have experienced premature cardiovascular disease. Their findings held that, of the people with a family history of cardiovascular disease, 13 percent were less likely to experience a heart attack if they practiced a positive attitude as compared to their negative attitude counterparts.
I cannot actually be sure of the genesis, but I developed the song “Little Heart” with gratitude and as therapy for my heart.
Years back, I had a cardiologist who tried to give me a realistic image of my heart after an angiogram (camera view) of my heart. He said in quite a pessimistic tone, “Your heart is like a broken toilet that keeps overflowing, flushing and running and not working.” Not very flattering for “Little Heart.”
But, when I sing my song “Little Heart,” this is the imagery I think about, and it makes me feel as though my heart is even more brave in its performance. Imagery is in the “mind’s eye.” I think it is important in developing a positive outlook.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If the heart is beating or pumping 80 beats per minute then the total per day is 115,200 beats. That is a lot of work for a day. While listening to the song “Little Heart,” I suggest you affectionately cradle your heart and tap to the beat. Feel gratitude for what this amazing and courageous organ is doing for you.
Have a heart-to-heart with your heart!
I hope you enjoy this recording of “Little Heart.”
We invite you to share a story about yourself or another person, reflecting on the question: “How has gratefulness shifted a moment, an experience, or a lifetime?”
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Thank you Maureen. May goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.
Dear Ron, thank you, you have brightened my morning. Not only that, my heart is now and will always be so much more than a pulse beat. I know that God is always directing me but I am not always listening, but you have Him right next to you every moment. Through your story I will look for ways to use and welcome the moments of the day that are God’s gifts. Again, thank you so much. Maureen on Cape Cod.
Dear Ron, you have been my friend since I was 2. You wrote me beutiful songs from your beutiful heart. My father, mother, and I will picture your heart growing stronger and better. On my birthday in June, I plan to blow out my 9 candls to make a wish for your heart and your better health. Thank you SO much for writing this song! Love from New Zealand, Kyra
Dear Kyra, what a beautiful and tender reflection you wrote! It touched my heart, thank-you! ? I wish you a Happy 9th Birthday in June!?
Love from the USA, Sheila ?
What a wonderful surprise to hear from you. Thank you for reading my story and listening to my song little heart. I can remember as if it were yesterday how your presence -smile would would bring joy to us here at Sea Colony.
I also remember the preparation put forth by your father to come to new z for your 5th birthday. I so much enjoyed writing and singing that song for you.
Ron, what an inspiration you are, living with all your physical ailments and yet having such a positive attitude and being grateful! Your reflection is a good reminder to be aware of my heart and be thankful for all it does for me. I also find music to be very healing and soothing. I love your recording of “Little Heart”!❤ Thank-you for sharing your story and being such a wonderful source of inspiration! Bless you, Ron.
Thank you Sheila for your comment. I was listening to a podcast last night and the person said with regard to gratitude –
“what would happen if you were asked make a list of the things you’re grateful for (right now)but when you woke up the next morning those were the only attributes you would have”.
I would make sure the heart was a very high priority.
Dear little HEART
due to your description I became aware, that this “little heart” is really the heart of the beat, the breath, the pulse, ….. everything and I bow infront of my heart which I never did before, and accept that it is the highest precious good within my body. You made me aware that my desire to cuddle and hold my heart is relevant to my feeling of being alive, can breath and holding my entire organiszm to be in the world. What a precious heart do I have and maintain within my body.
What a gift.
When I read your comment about the heart I thought in a non-Sequitur way about Claude Debussy and him saying “music is not the notes it’s the spaces between the notes” There is a lot going on with the heart between the beats Thank you
I agree that the heart is an amazing organ ….as is the entire body when observed from a non-fearing perspective. But it is also the central location of “The Pulse of Life” aka “The Holy Spirit” that powerful “Pulse” is the driver of Life….
but it is good for the material heart to understand that you / we / are that LIFE. beyond form The Holy Spirit is delivering that Life (us) into these bodies so that we can experience life in them.
Be Well Be Present
Well said. thank you very much.
Keep your heart and mind and knowledge of God‘s love and be grateful.
You are welcome Ron and Thank You for your song and thoughts here.
As a Essene Christian I pay particular attention to exercises which highlight the heart “centre” because it is central to our Being-ness, It is a touch point from which to serve humanity. Just before I read your note here I completed one of our exercises which Joshua Emmanuel had given specifically for serving humanity. I will share it here in words,, [ in brackets indicate time in minutes ]
relax, ……..… Take deep breaths… And feel being in your whole body.
[2; 00] This body is yours [but] not you,
Christ said “Your body is yours but it is not to you. The Holy Archangels and the Holy Spirit are sustaining it now. And they give you the right to use it as your own.
It is the temple of God…… and you’re Being Self. Ensure that this temple of God has [within it] congregations of Angelic elementals”…..[4:32]
Take away from this temple all human demons as elementals….Jealousy,… evil behavior,….. Weaknesses, unbridled desires and emotions, anger… and fear.
From this temple take away any evil or negative elementals you may find. [5;50]
Keep as a congregation in this temple, in your body [only] Human Angels, good elementals.
Create good elementals, only good elementals, in the light of love…….[6; 50]
In every temple there is a Holy of holies…..
Make your heart The Holy of holies…….. Of God.
In the Holy of holies there is the…. altar……. make it in your heart……. [8; 00]
On the altar there is the inextinguishable life light ..
.the Holy Archangels have lite it in your heart………….
You are in it…it is the pulse of life.
Now you will lite a second wick in the lamp of your heart [it is] your personality’s love to God and to all human beings around you…[ promise # 5 ]…[10; 00]
Do it now……………..
Live with these two flames of light in the lamp on the alter of your heart.
Love to God and love to all human beings..[11; 00]
They are two flames in one. [11; 30]
These two flames become as big like an ocean …pause.…showing you the way to him……….[12;20]
Don’t allow that flame to flicker…..
keep it straight and bright on the altar in your heart.
Keep it there always…………………… … long pause………..[13;26]
Take your time to feel more and more your material body again.