how is your heart today?

It is still dark, not yet five, too early to be awake. But here I am, eyes wide open. It’s a new habit, this four a.m. restlessness blossoming into a low-grade anxiety that makes going back to sleep impossible. But this morning, oddly, it’s a question that nudges me to consciousness:

How is your heart today?

I lie in bed for a while, taking stock. How is my heart? There’s no easy answer.  And so I try to remember, instead, where I first heard or read these provocative, tender words.  In a book? A conversation? A blog post?

More curious now than sleepy, I turn on the light, reach for my glasses and phone, and Google the words “How is your heart today?” The first link that pops up jogs my memory: a beautiful essay from the OnBeing website entitled “The Disease of Being Busy,” which I read quite a long time ago. In it, columnist Omid Safi, wonders:

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we over-schedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love and have slow conversations about the state of our hearts and souls, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

These lines made a deep impression on me. Don’t we all hunger for breathing room, for peace, for solitary reflection and, also, to be seen and understood? Doesn’t every heart long for the kind of quiet, one-on-one conversations that allow time and space for vulnerability, intimacy, and soul connections that run deeper than words?

I’d recognized in Omid Safi a kindred spirit — a thoughtful husband and father, a busy university professor, and also a writer who invites us to slow down and to pay attention to what matters. “We know what we want,” he suggests. “A meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. . . .We want to be truly human.” These, of course, are the very ideas upon which I strive to build my own life.

Still, when I see the date on the essay — November 2014 — I’m a bit taken aback. I can’t help but think how very different the world I’ve awoken to today is from the world most of us took for granted just two years ago when this essay was published. Two years ago, our country was not yet swept up in the bruising presidential campaign and election that has led us to this moment – a moment in which, if the president’s travel ban is upheld in court, Omid Safi, a Muslim and the director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center, would not be allowed entry to the United States.

I do not think it is a random thing that my unconscious mind has nudged me awake this morning with an inquiry about the state of my heart. And so it comes as no great surprise when I reach the end of Omid Safi’s essay and find that the quote I’ve come in search of has its origins in Muslim cultures. Safi explains that when you want to know how someone’s doing, you would ask, in Arabic, “Kayf haal-ik?”  Or, in Persian, “Haal-e shomaa chetoreh?” How is your haal?

“What is this haal that you inquire about?” he continues.

 It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your in-box. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

 Soon it will be Valentines Day. We will send cards and candy and flowers to our loved ones. But perhaps Valentines Day this year offers us an opportunity to go deeper than usual. What would happen if we were to ask ourselves, and each other, a question that requires a little more time and a lot more courage to answer: How is your heart doing at this very moment?

The truth is, my own heart, these days, is often heavy. The words sad and fearful come to mind. Disbelief and shock are in there, too, although as the days pass I’m a little less surprised by each new political low and a little less shocked by the rapidly accumulating assaults on our democracy. The belligerent, false, and cynical have all too quickly become commonplace. And what was once unimaginable has swiftly become our new reality: a country in which the president lies to the people, threatens the press, insults judges who test the legality of his executive orders, and courts favor with Russia as he insults our longtime friends and allies. The list goes on.

Like some who have confessed themselves too exhausted or too depressed to keep resisting the chaos of loss and destruction, I, too, have been tempted this week to shut off the news, to ignore the latest round of threats and falsehoods coming from the Capitol, and to go about my own private business in the hope that America’s dangerous new course will somehow be set to rights.

But there is a glimmer of something else in my heart, too, something more powerful than despair. Something which refuses to be extinguished. I’m not even sure what to call it – some combination of responsibility and faith and hope.

This small, true flame is the one I want to nurture and feed. This flame – call it kindness if you will, or compassion — is what makes me me. It is what keeps me committed in the face of confusion and defeat. And it is what reminds me that to care for my own heart is to care for every other bruised and beating human heart as well.

If the last few weeks have given us a taste of some previously unthinkable “new normal” in our country, then we are also realizing that it’s up to each and every one of us to examine our own hearts with more courage and resolution than ever before. A few days ago my friend Claudia Cummins shared these wise and timely words by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield:

There is a fundamental nobility and dignity to all human beings. In your own way, your practice is to find this nobility and freedom in yourself, and honor it in others. When fear and untruth guide us individually or collectively, they lead to suffering for all. The dharma offers another, wiser way to live.

 Now is the time to practice, to steady your mind and open your heart. Then listen to your deepest values and find your own unique way to embody and stand for them. The world needs your wisdom and care, your compassion, your clarity and courage.

 This then, must be our practice now. And as we settle in for the long haul, why not take our cues from the stories of ordinary men and women all over the country who are embodying these values, whose words and deeds do much to honor the nobility and dignity of all human beings?

I’m inspired by the New York subway riders who used hand sanitizer from their purses and pockets to scrub clean a car defaced by swastikas and hateful words. By the Jewish congregants in a small Texas town who offered their Muslim neighbors the keys to their synagogue when the local mosque was destroyed in a fire. By the Jewish and Muslim dads whose children met and shared a smile at a protest at O’Hare airport. By the Juilliard students who responded to a church group’s protest against the “vanity of the arts” by playing their violins for the protesters who had come to taunt them. By the lawyers who showed up in droves to offer assistance to refugees who were stranded in our nation’s airports when Donald Trump’s travel ban went into effect.  And by the suburban synagogue members who gathered at O’Hare with signs and roses and warm coats to welcome some of the last Syrian refugees allowed into the country.

Isuspect that, if asked why they stepped up, every single one of these men and women and students and children would say what one of the subway riders expressed: “We were just being decent human beings.”

However, we can’t afford to take such decency for granted. For, just as thousands of citizens were protesting Donald Trump’s travel ban, there were “ordinary” men and women who were executing it – with a lack of caring that offers a chilling reminder that, to quote the Baltimore Sun, “No would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders.”

And so I read verified reports of a five-year-old child being taken from his mother and hand-cuffed as a “security threat,” of an elderly woman detained without food for twenty hours, of another detained for over thirty-three hours and denied use of a wheelchair, and I have to examine my own heart yet again. Painful as it is, we must acknowledge that this, too, can happen here. And that, as the Sun pointed out, “If we do nothing, that is a choice. It means we accept a government that has demonstrated it is capable of inflicting cruelty on the innocent and defenseless.”

My heart is telling me to make a different choice. I invite you to do the same. May we commit to steadying our minds and opening our hearts. May we listen for our deepest values and find our own unique ways to embody and stand for those values. May we be kind. May we be clear. May we be brave.

In this spirit, an artist friend has launched a “heartfelt” fund-raiser for the ACLU. She is working tirelessly to create beautiful hand-felted hearts for Valentine’s Day – and she is donating all the monies raised from her efforts to the ACLU. I’m delighted to share her work with you and have made a donation in honor of you, my readers. Which means I have two lovely hearts crafted by Elizabeth Stubbs to give away.

To enter to win, just leave a comment below. I will draw two names at random on Tuesday, February 14. My small Valentine’s Day gift to you — and to those working to support civil liberties for all.

So tell me, How is your heart today?

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)    

~ e.e. cummings

for my reflections & inspiration

your comments

  1. Reading your words here today, Katrina, my heart is hopeful. Thank you! Sending you love~ xxoo

  2. Jani Davis says:

    My heart is blue and desperately slamming itself into the door that will set my breath and my tears free. And despite this my body is moving normally through a world I don’t recognize and don’t choose.

  3. Lauren Seabourne says:

    I love YOUR heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for reminding us about compassion in your own unique way. xoxo

  4. Just took a class on mindfulness, something I have always struggled with. I often wish that I had been able to settle more and listen with an open heart to people, especially those not here anymore. Heart heavy this week, sick, my dog is sick,, news about education is awful. Wondering why you wrote about hearts and being present in the moment, just when I needed to hear this message.

  5. I have developed chronic arrhythmia since the election and I’m not even American but this dissonance transcends borders. My heart is anxious for the safety of all beings. I,too, was awake at 4:00.

  6. Your heart words resonate with my heart….thank you for continuing to make me think the difficult thoughts.

  7. Lisa Tillman says:

    My heart has not been great lately, but reading words from you always helps! XXOO

  8. MaryAnne Furst says:

    I am so admiring of your unafraid stance on your blog; that you speak your truth despite some of the comments I have read, and despite those who have chosen to leave your readership because you have indeed exposed your heart. It is exactly this which is needed- that people with caring hearts and souls remain steadfast. I am reminded of a poem by our Australian poet Michael Leunig which has often helped me in times of struggle:

    HOW TO GET THERE
    Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate.
    Go through the gate and head straight out towards the horizon.
    Keep going towards the horizon.
    Sit down and have a rest every now and again,
    But keep on going, just keep on with it.
    Keep on going as far as you can.
    That’s how you get there.

  9. Such beautiful words, Katrina. I, too, was awake in the early hours today — restless and troubled by all the assaults on our democracy and against decent human beings. Your quietly inspiring words give me hope that there are still many good people in the world and that we should not give up in despair. We do have to search our hearts for our values and act on them. Thank you for writing this!

  10. Oh my, your words are beautiful medicine for this tired heart.
    Thank you.

  11. As a Canadian immigrant (1977) my heart is heavy for our American neighbours. xo

  12. Marcia King says:

    My hearts fluctuates between fear and at other moments trying to be hopeful, caring and loving as people flock together to work toward a common cause.
    Your words remind me to be mindful, to be in the moment, to be here, to examine the world in the present with kindness.
    Thank you for sharing your writing. It is lovely.

  13. My heart is bruised and tender. Besides all the sad political news I had to put a cat to sleep last Monday. However today I met a woman for lunch today and hope and affection still reside there. It will just take a little more time to heal. Hearts have a special significance to me- always a message from my beloved Mom who passed in 2002. I’d love to have one of these felted hearts to add to my collection.

  14. Joanne Cole says:

    Reading this is a reminder of how big our hearts are, so full of love. Here’s to all of us who sometimes wake at 4am…there is much to do, and many to love. ❤

  15. My heart has been heavy and tired under the burden of the never ending news cycle. As always, your gentle words and thoughtful perspective give me hope amd inspiration. Thank you!

  16. Sorry but I stopped reading when you said your author, a Muslim Professor, would not be allowed into the US. You lack understanding of what is happening. Life is different in New Hampshire where the temperature of your tea water is of vital concern…maybe even before the heroine epidemic documented during Hillary’s campaign visit. Your professor would be interviewed to determine that he would love America as much as we do. Please, get it right. I am a New Yorker living in the D.C. area…a 9/11 survivor. Never again should people who dislike our way of
    life be permitted to enter here to do us harm. Ask questions and maybe take a page from this playbook to protect your youth from the ravages of heroin. Evil is coming from somewhere…why not ask if that is the intent.

  17. Leigh Sloss says:

    Thank you for sharing your hope with all of us.

  18. Thank you–for sharing your heart, for reminding me of Omid Safi’s lovely post (I adore his work), and for inviting me to pause to consider how my own heart is these days. My heart is also bruised and tender and seeking courage for the long haul. I’m grateful for your wisdom and the reminders of hope in the world.

  19. Thank you Katrina, for your tender, heart-felt and honest reflections. My heart is happy that you are a writer and that you are sharing your gifts for us all to enjoy!

  20. Katrina,
    My heart resonates with yours. Keep writing ….
    Thank you!

  21. Katrina,
    As always, you put into words what my heart feels. Thank you for being so brave. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  22. Diane Bunting says:

    Never in my life has my heart been as heavy as it is now in our current political climate. I am so worried about my children and grandchildren. I try to look for the positive: many of us are more involved and attentive to our government than ever, good people are trying to look out for others, some of our leaders are standing up for what is right, and friends like you are writing hopeful words and calming anxious hearts. Thank you.

  23. This was so beautifully articulated, Katrina. And you ended with one of my favorite lines from e.e. cummings. And so my heart is full.

  24. My heart is uplifted and soothed by your words! You are like a light in the darkness, now I see my way again! I’m giggling thinking of how many of us are awake at 4:00 am, across the time zones. Now I have something to contemplate tomorrow morning! I find myself reading a couple of passages everyday from your new book, just to keep me grounded and following your light! Together we will overcome, in the myriad of small and large ways, stay strong and breathe deep!

  25. This is a beautiful post. The e. e. cummings’ poem at the end is my favorite. My son died in a preventable, tragic accident almost 7years ago and this is my poem for him. Thank you so much for the hope today……

  26. Charlie Boswell says:

    My heart is heavy over the loss of basic courtesy and compassion from so many in this country. Selfishness won the election last fall, and now we have to live with the realization that we can become a totalitarian country as long as good people can rationalize doing nothing in the face of evil. The stories from the Baltimore Sun of good people insisting on remaining good are inspiring, and any who resist hate with love are to be encouraged and emulated. The other reason my heart is heavy is, at my age and relatively poor heart health, that I may not live long enough to see a rebirth of decency and compassion in our government, so quickly lost yet so difficult to regain. Thanks for the encouraging words, Katrina; you are a bright light in the darkness of this day.

  27. Fayrelight says:

    My heart is a little lighter knowing that others share my concerns over what is happening. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  28. Rod Murray says:

    I must admit that I didn’t expect to read this but found myself getting in touch with my inner hidden thoughts and feelings. So much personally has been on an emotional rolly coaster ride over the past year or so. Thank you, Katrina…

  29. Joanne M OS says:

    Thanks for allowing room for both the present anxieties and th glimmers of hope. We can all share kindness in this world while also working to make it better. Small acts of kindness, small moments of standing up for what we believe in, small donations of time and/or money all add up. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and consider the consequences of our thoughts, words and deeds.

  30. Claire Longtin North says:

    Here are two quotes from one of my heroes, Dorothy Day, that reflect the hearts we all have:
    “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
    “An act of love, a voluntary taking on of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all.”
    Thank you, Katrina — we are all able to expand the hearts of Valentine’s Day!

  31. Debby Kelly says:

    After reading the comments my heart is full of compassion for Joanne who is a 9/11 survivor. That must be a heavy burden. I hope the more light that shines forth from others will help her come to the understanding that every Muslim is not our enemy. There is such richness in other cultures and it is tragic to have that kind of fear permeate our country.
    Thank you, Katrina for continuing to open your heart to your readers.

  32. Allie Wilkinson says:

    Coincidence that in the past 24 hours I reread Omid’s piece, Kornfield’s quote and the Sun article all separately…and you wove them beautifully together. Our collective hearts are opening because the alternative is unacceptable. Brave and open-hearted, daring greatly (to also channel Brene Brown) I too am seeing glimmers of hope in the darkness. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of starting first with what’s in our hearts. And thank you also for expressing what I have been feeling. In loving kindness to you.

  33. “May we commit to steadying our minds and opening our hearts. May we listen for our deepest values and find our own unique ways to embody and stand for those values. May we be kind. May we be clear. May we be brave.”
    I’m not sure how brave my heart was today, but I tried to be kind.

  34. Heitkamp Karla Strayer says:

    My heart is heavy with the loss of my son a few weeks ago. My entire self feels as if I am alive inside a huge snow globe and someone has shaken it so hard that every part is flying around me. It is hard to catch my balance with the turmoil in our country and then this added personal shattering.

  35. My heart feels heavy and full at the moment. But, like you, am trying to hold onto the bit of something that feels hopeful, yearning for connection, compassion. Feeling a part of is definitely helping to lighten my heart and it feels nice to read your words (as always). I am so appreciative of the community you help to create here.

  36. Carol Hancock says:

    Katrina this is such a timely note and offering from you. In the morning I had plan to gift a copy of The Gift of an Ordinary Day to three of my “younger” yoga students, dear friends and mothers at various stages of family changes that you describe…40, 45 and 50. All the while reading this book, my heart longed to share understanding of this new land through which many of us pass. I believe it is through community of hearts that we will make it through these days in this strange world. I invite you to take a look at Adyashanti’s upcoming online course Fierce Love which will empower us further to be that loving presence out in our worlds. Thank you for your sharing.

  37. Carol Hancock says:

    Katrina, I meant to include the link to Adyashanti’s course, Fierce Love. Here it is..
    http://www.adyashanti.org/cafedharma/index.php?file=webevent

  38. Mary Ann Dunant says:

    As always, a beautiful post. I needed to read this tonight. My heart has been heavy today but there is a bit of hope in it right now. I don’t feel brave at all, but I do try to be kind and compassionate. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  39. Oh Katrina I am sitting here with a heavy heart after hearing that Senator Elizabeth Warren of my state of Massachusetts was silenced on the floor of the Senate as she was reading the words of Correta Scott King during the confirmation hearing for Senator Sessions to become Attorney General. How can this be happening? There are so many daily unbelievable damaging words, executive orders, coming forth that my brain and my heart hurts. I attended the Women’s March in Boston with my husband and four friends and felt on that day that all of us together can make a difference. I sign petitions and contribute to causes I believe will make a difference. However my heart is heavy while all the time I try to be hopeful. Thank you for your words Katrina.

  40. Susan Baron says:

    My heart hurts, I am sad to say. I can’t believe that all of this is happening. Thank you for the post.

  41. Tonight my heart aches for acceptance and love from my mother. My heart is full with love for my husband and 4 wonderful grown children. My heart worries about our country but is hopeful because of all the decent, loving citizens who are standing up against injustice.

  42. As a Canadian, I struggle with great disbelief, horror, and fear of the events in my neighbour’s country. But today, I was much more aware of the enormous outpouring of love, acceptance and support from ”ordinary” people in the U.S. and many countries all over the world towards the oppressed – the world has never seen such a beautiful outpouring of human kindness. In the midst of the horror, perhaps this can lighten our hearts a little while we maintain our resistance to the current political
    maelstrom..

  43. Thanks, I needed this encouragement. I just want to hide from this “new normal” most days….

  44. What a poignant post. I love that question, “how is your heart today?”. I feel on the verge of tears a lot – but sometimes it’s because I’m so moved by people’s compassionate actions and responses to this gruesome situation. Your words made me feel that way – thank you!

  45. My heart is heavy, but for the sake of my three sweet boys and this world I love so much, I go on.

  46. finding your recent posts to be so inspiring and affirming. love to you, and wishing peace for your 4 am heart. i just recently quoted that exact e.e. cummings poem on a post about my 5th anniversary with my fiance. e.e.’s my favorite and the reason why i choose to type in lowercase.

  47. Rania Mike says:

    My heart is heavy as I progress in this parenting journey. I love my daughter deeply and yet I am challenged by her daily, questioned, negated, argued with. It hurts terribly to see a rift where once there was a bond. It is part of growing up, and yet I am at a loss.

  48. Alice Book says:

    You speak in such a beautiful way and share the feelings of many of our hearts.
    It’s a heavy sadness that my heart beats with.

  49. My heart is grateful for posts such as this. As I struggle to focus on love, listening and service to keep deep fear from overwhelming me, you remind me of the many gifts of caring and connection that we are seeing everyday. My heart is determined to have hope. Thank you!

  50. Julie Bruggenthies says:

    Thanks so much! Beautiful!

  51. Wonderful words for a strife-filled time. As a local homeless man says with fervor, “Don’t let nobody steal your joy today!” And so we will continue to resist, in love. I wish Joanne would read the rest – your words are wise and kind.

  52. Thank you, Katrina, for the beautiful post. My heart is hopeful.

  53. Let us all nurture and feed that one true flame of kindness and compassion. It is in all of us!

  54. My heart remains steady and life giving – we will endure and more importantly will blossom and thrive regardless of the challenges we go through.

  55. Youngest child turns 4 today. I know I should feel joy, but feel the bittersweet passage of time.

  56. Your writing always seems to find me when I need it most. After yesterday’s approval of DeVos, after working so hard and truly wanting to believe that the right thing would prevail, I felt angry and betrayed. You reminded me that kindness and compassion are what make me me and I refuse to let them take that away.

  57. Hi Katrina — my heart actually gave a little flip this morning when I saw your email. I have returned to writing personal essays to express how I’m feeling, and also seeking out books and other writings, like yours, that inspire and encourage me. Thank you for this — please keep it up!

  58. My heart is dreadfully disappointed but resilient. Ready to be inspired and make its way in this new reality. Kindly but resolutely.

  59. Susanne Schadde says:

    Dear Katrina
    I heard you speak at the Lexington Waldorf School many years ago about your then new book Mitten strings for God. It left a deep impression on me and my parenting and still stands in my bookshelf. Thank you for your kind thoughtful words, they made me think and seek deeply what I, an American citizen now living in switzerland, can do from here.
    I also am touched by Elizabeth Stubbs- who I also know from Lexington Waldorf School -making these beautiful felted hearts. Thank you Thank you thank you

  60. There was something vaguely familiar about your quotes from Safid. I can rarely remember where I put my keys, but I remembered reading his article. What I haven’t remembered is to ask the question. To answer the question. Thank for this reminder. Your words, as always, resonate with me.

  61. Marie Osorio says:

    My heart is hopeful. No matter what, good will always prevail in the end. Nothing is an accident. There is a deep and powerful lesson to be learned from the times we are living. I believe all the chaos will make us reflect, just like you have done, and will prompt us to make valuable changes to better our country and the people in it. Now, all change is difficult and creates fear, but we must work through it to make it to the other side triumphant. And so it will be. It is good to take a news break. It does re-charge the spirit!! Love and light.

  62. I remember reading Omid Safi’s essay and sharing it also. I loved his message. And I have long felt my heart was knit together with Katrina’s. Our lives are incredibly similar! But it was for wonderful insights like Omid’s and shared moments about loving our husbands, boys, and friends, that I savored her writing; not to read more political opinion. I miss that writing.

  63. I continue to be amazed and immensely grateful at just how succinctly your words articulate what is going on in MY heart. Thank you for shining your light into the world! xoxo

  64. The president purports to want to help Christian refugees from Muslim countries & yet, it was Christ Himself who welcomed everyone. Such hypocrisy from someone so powerful. We can pray that somehow Christ can turn Mr. Trump’s heart….

  65. carol morris says:

    My heart hurts with what is going on in our country. I am encouraged and uplifted when I read words such as yours. It warms my heart 🙂

  66. I have a heavy heart, but it was made a little lighter by your words. Thank you once again for your thoughtful essay.

  67. Janet Lee says:

    The only comment I have is how to unsubscribe.

  68. Stephanie says:

    My heart is crying. Katrina, thanks for giving voice to the pain of our hearts. My heart is also hopeful and encouraged by all the action I see towards humanness. Peace.

  69. I learned a valuable lesson from my mother who was diagnosed with dementia that just sitting on a porch on a lazy springtime Sunday afternoon holding hands was one of the most powerful connections of love — no words were needed! Let your loved ones know you love them before it’s too late.

  70. This morning I awoke, once again, in the early dawn hours with an anxious, heavy heart. To be reminded of the kindness of strangers through your gentle words and the comments of this community, strengthens my resolve, yet again, to be courageously, respectfully, kind. Don’t ever be deterred from writing and sharing Katrina! Love and gratitude to all who share their hopes and fears–especially those sharing their “4:00 AM” wakeful moments. It truly helps during these difficult times to know that I’m not alone in my deep concerns.

  71. I worry. My heart hurts. My anxiety is showing. But I’m hoping. Hoping that our world starts to right itself.

  72. This is my America too
    I have to remain open
    To what I see
    To what I hear
    To what I feel
    But also remain open
    To what other’s see
    To what other’s hear
    To what other’s feel
    This is our America

  73. Maureen Donnelly says:

    Perfection.

  74. This. Is. Beautiful. Thank you, Katrina. you have encouraged and buoyed up my heart with your words over many, many years, beginning with your “mitten strings” book. I have all of your books on my shelf. Thank you for taking time to share your heart.

  75. This is so true and beautiful…and needed, especially today. Thank you for your inspriring words and invitation to inquire about my own heart and the hearts of so many others. When we share what is truly in our hearts, we connect…and connection is something we need in great quantities to metabolize our current state. Peace, love and gratitude.

  76. As an educator, my heart hurts with the misguided and misinformed attack on public education. My heart is lifted though, knowing that despite this, I am surrounded by my colleagues who with me, get up today and every day, going about their business of doing what they do best-devoting their lives to students.

  77. Ruth Lowery says:

    My mother died in December. My heart is feeling so many things…. sadness, disbelief, gratefulness, love. I miss her very much.

  78. Thank you for sharing essay by Omid Safi, “The Disease of Being Busy.” After 40 years in a very busy & rewarding career, my heart has told me it’s time to transition to another way of being. To slow down and be. Not sure what it all means or will go, but the quiet and my heart are grounding me. This is how my heart is doing. Namaste.

  79. Sandy Lentz says:

    My heart feels strengthened. By the actions, large (Marches) and small (hugs), the contributing and phone-calling and all the other actions in resistance I see every day. My own community proudly passed the tightest sanctuary ordinance in the country. My focus is environmental, so I ‘m battling a proposed tall building whose shade would irreparably damage the adjacent park, and teaching about planting for monarch butterflies.

  80. Shelly Gilliland says:

    My heart fluctuates between heavy and determined to find love and joy and a way to contribute to making this world a better place! I’ve been apolitical all my life. Until now. I’ve been called mightily into action, and I’m working hard to figure out how best to be involved. Self-care has become more important than ever before in my life. Some days that means no TV or social media. Other days it means quilting and quilting and quilting or playing with any or many of our 6 grandchildren. Still other days it means finding the right music for my soul. We who are not too weary or too weak must continue the good work of our ancestors. Count me IN!

  81. your gentle heart washes over, begins to heal, my own shattered one. your litany of hope — the acts of kindness that spring from humble defiant hearts — gives me sustenance. thank you for pointing toward the north star of love and refusing to abandon the march. i send love. to all who gather here.

  82. Bonnie Sanchez says:

    Like many above I often feel on the verge of tears. Thank you for so elegantly writing what I feel.
    I have made the commitment to listen and love to all that my arms can reach.

  83. My heart is sad and heavy, but it is also filled with hope. Amid the political turmoil I have a happier home as my DH has worked hard with a therapist to find new ways to help his depression. Good things continue to happen, and I am recognizing those things while also keeping updated and finding ways to combat the horrible things our so-called president and government are doing. Thank you for your words today – as always, they are exactly what I needed to read.

  84. I am both hopeful and anxious at the same time. For the past four days, I was with a group of high school seniors in our nations capitol. These students are in a government education program formed by the family of a past senator. The mission of this program is to teach cooperation, civility, and compromise in a nonpartisan manner. They were fortunate to meet with senators and representatives from their state, one of which holds a very powerful position. To see current events through their eyes and to hear some of their views gives me hope. And yet, I wake up anxious and scared to the point that I feel it in my heart. So many, too many, events are happening that make me so sad and embarrassed for my country. The career I chose as a special education teacher- I am concerned about this administration’s effect on public education. I do believe in the good of so many people, and that does give me comfort.

  85. Mary Erlain says:

    Thank you for this, Katrina. I didn’t know that this was exactly what I needed until
    I read it. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  86. Kristy Rolen says:

    My heart is sad lately. Thank you for giving me a little perspective. I am so sad about what is going on in the world today. I am in shock that we, as a country, appear to be going backwards. How can this be? Have we not learned? I continue to fight, it is my nature to stand up for things that are blatantly wrong.

  87. Katrina, I cried as I read this. I’m heading to D.C. to present on empathy at AWP, yet all around I see the lack of it. But I, too, am hopeful and it helps to celebrate the kindness that still exists in the world. Thank you for highlighting goodness and mindfulness. May it encourage those who walk in such fear to open their hearts

  88. I had hoped to find some words of hope, of reaching out to all in this new administration but have found none and so I turn again and again to voices that don’t shatter my heart and spirit. Thank you Katrina for being one of those voices and helping me find others I so desperately need. This morning I found myself thinking of Maya Angelou and went and found her beautiful Inaugural Poem for President Kennedy it and your words have given me strength for the day.

  89. This essay made me cry hopeful tears. I, too, to be kind. To be clear. To be brave. My heart is hopeful, joyous, and despairing all st the same time. Isn’t it amazing that our hearts are so big that they can hold all of the feelings at once?! I have the words “I carry your heart” tattooed on my forearm. When people ask me what it means, I say “It’s for all the people I love… and I love all of the people. I carry your heart, too.”

  90. Meg Flournoy says:

    Thank you for the words of compassion and your writings. I am right there with you when I think about ‘how is your heart’. As I walked in the door to work today at Duke University, where I work with a lot of international students, my heart is heavy (as it has been for the past couple of weeks) and aching for the fear and worry I see in their eyes as they stop in to talk about their career plans. Hoping that small acts of kindness and compassion can bring strength to them, and me.

  91. My heart is breathing into this dialectic, mental fatigue and determined devotion, colonized mind and liberated body, contracted fear and open-hearted love, hope in the dark (as Rebecca Solnit offers). xo

  92. My heart beats rapidly at night, leaving me sweaty and wondering. Do I get up in the dark and sit with my tabby who naps in my office or try and slow it down and return to sleep. My heart is near-to-bursting with thoughts unshared. Carrie

  93. Physically, my heart is strong but emotionally it is suffering. Each day brings something new to upset the peace that I once enjoyed. On Valentine’s Day my daughter will be 49, my long term neighbor will turn 90. I will share my love and caring with them and hope that it will somehow be a better day for all of us. As always, thank you Katrina for your thoughtful sentiment!

  94. Geri Garrett says:

    Thank you so much for this. Also, is there a link to find these felt hearts being made to support the ACLU?

  95. Nancy Lewin says:

    My heart is soaking in the gift of hope. Thank you!

  96. Phyllis Downey says:

    ♥♥♥
    Thank you!!!

  97. Nancy Oberrath says:

    My heart has been heavy, and I cry so easily these days. I cry for the beauty of the world, and the recklessness of the present administration. I cry for those fooled by his brash promises, and those who fear them.
    But then, reading all the hopeful and personal comments above, my heart returns to its hope in the arc of justice bending in the right direction. Maybe this is the Vietnam of the millennial generation, and will bring forth more empathy and strength.

  98. Thank you Katrina. My heart shares with yours.

  99. Katrina…with your E.E. Cummings quote from a favorite of his of many of your readers, I’d bet, and your continued heart rendering writes, myself along with many of my friends and family have taken heart. Your suggestions, information, and quotes have moved us in so many ways. Our hearts, our hopes, our souls, our feet, our fingers, our voices. With your suggestions and sites and connections I have allowed myself to hope by not whining as much and moving more in many ways. I keep in mind Margaret Mead’s quote and so many of the others you have sent our way. I’m not sure where we are going or what will happen but we must continue to believe in the goodness of people, as Anne Frank said. It is so difficult to do that, but what choice do we really have?

  100. Barbara D says:

    Katrina
    The picture of the man on the subway cleaning off the vulgar written there was inspiring. There is hope as people do what they can, even if it doesn’t seem to be spectacular. We all must continue to do what we can and these small actions will build. Thank you for your words and please please continue to share your thoughts with us.

  101. Love reading everything from you! Got your last book as a gift and am loving every page! My heart, like so many others, is hurting. I look at my two young daughters and weep for them, this is not the world I thought it was .., I feel comfort reading your words and search for kindness.
    Please keep writing!!

  102. Katrina, I cannot tell you how much your words resonate. I so appreciate your work and your kind heart.

  103. Beth Bruno says:

    I am finding myself in a state of constant alert, of hyper-vigilance and it is causing stress-related physical symptoms. This is not sustainable for me, I know,and I am trying to find a place where I can be informed, make a difference and safeguard my mental and physical health. I am not there yet and I am not sure what that will look like for me, but I know that it has to happen soon or I am going to become really ill. Thank you for this article. Thank you for continuing to speak your heart. ♥♥♥

  104. Stella Foco says:

    I’m a high school teacher in a very conservative town. I have a neighbor who has a confederate flag on his lawn. It’s all so depressing. However, your words give me hope and I have taken your suggestions from your previous post. This weekend, I was writing letters and making donations. I participated in the Women’s March on Washington. It’s hard though because it feels like most of my actions are not going to bring any positive change. However, as a mother, teacher, I cannot give up. I am not off the hook.

  105. As a PhD RN my focus is on vulnerable populations and global health. 1/3 of my students are here on VISAs or green cards. Thank you so ~ for your post and shared quotes. We must find our own personal balance between being open to and emotionally processing information and participating in action.

    So yes this “Heart Month” we can act by giving love, valentines, a hug, a hand an ear. But remember “it is better to give AND receive”; accept a hug; a hand; an ear; love an friendship ~ take care of your self too in this very difficult time.

  106. Thank you for your beautiful writing. My heart feels assaulted on a daily basis but I take hope in the uprising I see and feel in response. I’m taking comfort from one of my favorite quotes:
    “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”-Cynthia Occelli

  107. Thank you for your beautiful writing. My heart feels assaulted on a daily basis but I take hope in the uprising I see and feel in response. I’m taking comfort from one of my favorite quotes:
    “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”-Cynthia Occelli

  108. Thank you for this. I am realizing that maybe I am not as alone in my concern about the way we seem to be heading as I had been feeling and because of that my heart is a little more hopeful than it has been. My favorite quote keeps coming to mind: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

  109. Thank you for creating space for us to think about this question. My heart is light having come from yoga class with some kind hearted friends. I try several times a day to not succumb to the fear of what we are becoming as a country and instead focus on the great awakening of people standing up for each other. Without the threat, the goodness would not be rising. I pray the goodness will ultimately turn us back toward the beautiful light of democracy.

  110. We shall overcome! Because decency, compassion, and kindness will always overcome the dark side. We must remain vigilant and call and wrote our reps. and continue on with our lives making them the best within our own circles. The evil among us usually self-destruct in time.

  111. Katrina,
    Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts.
    My heart is healing now. My heart has received much love this week.
    I hope kindness and goodness will be shared throughout the world.

  112. Jean Greaves says:

    Reading this reminds me of my constant gratitude that I get to share the planet with so many good, kind, thoughtful people, of which you are one. This much light cannot help but overcome whatever darkness the world tries to create. Love is and always will be sovereign here.

  113. Katrina, Thank you for the beautiful post. Thoughtful quotes and reflections are helping me shift my heavy burdened heart to a more light-filled, kind and hopeful one. ❤️

  114. My heart is heavy but your post inspires introverted me on ways I too can cultivate love in a world that at times is so vulgar, callous and unloving. I can donate to the ACLU, I can make felted hearts and pass them around, I can share incredible photos of fellow ordinary men, women and children whose activities embody the values I cherish. Thank you.

  115. Christine says:

    Katrina, you will never feel better unless you stop focusing on sadness and self pity. LIFE GOES ON! President Trump is taking steps to protect our country and its citizens. Change is never easy, but it is necessary. I’m encouraged that we have a President who is focusing on jobs for Americans, and protecting our borders. You speak about love and compassion for all people, yet you voted for a candidate who supports abortion and late term partial birth abortion. That is the ultimate act of human cruelty, and something to be sad about.

  116. Amy Canby says:

    A stranger bought my college aged son and his girlfriend dinner at a restaurant, then without a word, snuck out the door. I heard about this on a day when Trump’s tweets had left me feeling hopeless. This small act of kindness uplifted me and reminded me there is good around us. Maybe this time in history is one of those places where we’re asked to remember this despite all we hear to the contrary. Maybe we’re all being called to give of ourselves, just a little more, than we were willing to do before. You do this with your writing, risking criticism from those who believe differently, and I thank you.

  117. Cheryl Ives says:

    Thank you for your words today. I refuse to give up. I pray and hope that our country will return to kindness and love. I will do all I can to make that happen, even if it is just in my own little corner of the world.

  118. Celine Herrmann says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt message, Katrina. I share your feelings and am encouraged by your writing and by your readers’ comments. Peace be with you.

  119. Gloria Howard says:

    Thank you again Katrina,
    Your words touched my heart and made it feel better.
    Beautiful, perfect and inspiring!
    Thank you.
    Gloria

  120. My heart is strong and very persistent!

  121. Katrina
    This is going overboard now with the politics
    We hear enough daily about the chaos of it all in the news but now your sweet caring kind blog too ? All the time

    You need to move on Katrina and back to your beautiful self and life . If you are waking up at 4am to think about this all daily something may be wrong ?

    What happened to your once beautiful philosophy of the gift of an ordinary day ? Where did it go ? Where did you go ?

    I am saying this to help you and not to harm you . It may be time to tell a different story or keep the politics for the proper forum ?

  122. Madrejulie says:

    Opening my heart and hope to attend events like this….. Valentines & Wine at A Different Path Gallery (connected to Lightways). Saturday, Feb 11, 2-5pm.
    Help bring positive energy to our current political climate by making your own or signing a supportive valentine card for our state senators and congress men & women. Addresses and postage will be provided.
    Drop in, make a card, enjoy a glass of wine or juice!
    Also enjoy the art exhibit, All You Need is LOVE!

  123. Thank you Katrina, for your wise and thoughtful expressions! I have been following you since Mitten strings for God.I believe that you provide us women with a positive voice. We need you to continue to be there for us. Those who have a negative view of your latest topics have a right to disagree. To those readers I say what a shame. You are voice for our times! We need you! I for one am sincerely grateful for what you do. THANK YOU

  124. Lora McClelland says:

    I know it wasn’t easy for you when you first shared your politically-acquired heart aches. I am so grateful that you took that risk and wrote so openly and honestly about the state of your heart in the wake of these major challenges our country now faces. It has been most helpful to me. As fellow mother of 2 almost-grown sons, I have felt so many connections to your words about ordinary days and it was so wonderful to know we had so many other, more deeper connections too. Your words regarding our current state speak my mind, and my heart. Thank you for sharing.

  125. Bonnie Liebelt says:

    I haven’t read all the comments above but a sampling gave me hope that you have inspired others to do what they can to take a stand against oppression, bigotry, bullying and ego. Adlai Stevenson said, “Nearly any man can withstand oppression. If you want to test a man’s true character, give him power.” The current administration has failed this test miserably. Thanks for giving hope to fight this.

  126. Chris Wells says:

    Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)
    To sin by silence, when we should protest
    Makes cowards out of men.

    To read the entire poem
    http://www.ellawheelerwilcox.org/poems/pprotest.htm

  127. I look forward to your posts. They bring thoughtfulness and encouragement. You have pointed me to Indivisible and activism to improve my community and country. Don’t let anyone tell you to “get over it” or “move on”. Those are the voices that are afraid that a terrible mistake has been made.

  128. My heart is weary. I grow weary of people saying we are merely “disappointed” that we “lost” the election. Our concerns are much greater. This was no garden variety election, but one that threatens the very soul of America and our way of life. As bad as they were, the 9/11 attacks were militarily insignificant. Osama bin Laden’s aim was psychological and his hope was that the attacks would initiate the precipitous decline of American liberal democracy and freedom, which he despised, and bring about America’s eventual destruction. Bin Laden would have been very pleased with this election and the epidemic of post-truth fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric and destructive policies that are tearing our nation apart and inviting antagonism from around the world, including from allies. Bin Laden was confident that America would rot from within following the attacks and our current political climate seems to indicate his confidence was not misplaced. For those who claim Trump will make us safe, I’ve never felt less safe. The fascists played on their people’s unfounded fears and played the security card to facilitate their power grab. I barely recognize my country, it is not the country I grew up with and love. Only our dissent is keeping the dream of democracy alive. So, Katrina, you have every right to make your voice heard, and for all the dissenting voices heard in order for us to preserve our nation, its integrity, its institutions,and its democracy and freedom. As for your few critics on this page, they know not what they do!

    • THANK YOU Carl. You’ve clearly summarized how this fellow supporter of Katrina’s blog has been feeling. Oh so much appreciated. . .

  129. Dear Katrina,

    I have been following you for years now. You in New Hampshire, me in Sonoma Wine Country. I am drawn to your love for the simple and true. Thank you. How is my heart? Grateful. And it too beats for every being on this earth.

  130. Happy Valentine’s Day Katrina. My heart is always filled with hope.

  131. It’s so much easier to give up. I love your words about what it is to be “decent.” May I be kind. May I be clear.

    Gus says that running is the simplest sport but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I feel the same way about doing the right thing. And then taking the next step and doing it again.

  132. No, not every Muslim is our enemy. But neither is any person who chose to vote differently than your liberal persuasion. Politics should not define our “hearts.” I’m saddened that you used such beautiful descriptions to insult your readers who lay on the opposite political spectrum from you. Hearts beat as one, feel love, sorrow, joy, and pain, no matter the political “side.”

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Ah, Judith, I do not look at those who voted differently and see enemies. Do you? I see human beings who are as scared and hopeful as I am. Nor does politics define my heart. What does define my heart? The values I hold most dear: truth, which I honor and uphold and expect from a president; kindness, which I look for in both friends and leaders; humility, which seems essential to service; empathy, an ability and willingness to walk in another’s shoes. Yes, human hearts beat as one. And I believe the values of a just society do not belong to any one religion or political party.

      I intended no insult, just a sharing of my own struggles here as I watch a president who has made it quite clear from his words and his actions that his values and mine are not in alignment. I am deeply disturbed about the way this country is being governed. My own heart is heavy and sad. Our nation will not emerge from the peril it is in right now, or come together as a “united” states of America, until we can learn again to practice mature democracy (a skill we’ve somehow lost, and lost sight of).

      I believe a mature democracy requires the discipline of self-reflection. It requires curiosity rather than ideology, compromise and cooperation rather than pronouncements and threats. It requires a solid understanding of our history and a respect for, and a commitment to, the facts. It depends on the healthy, independent functioning all three branches of our government. It requires a free press that is able to report difficult truths and hold all politicians accountable, including the president. And, from both its citizens and its leaders, a mature democracy requires open minds — minds willing and able to receive other views, experiences, and perspectives.

Share your thoughts

*