Excerpt from Hearts Blooming
How to use this book
This book contains a collection of stories and reflection questions designed to help mentors thrive while working with others. Often, real-life situations where we teach others, transform into spiritual learning for ourselves. In this way, we become students as our own lives are made richer, deeper, and more meaningful through contact with the people we work with. In this way, the process of mentorship helps both mentors and the people they work with to bloom into the best versions of themselves. These stories contain experiences and lessons applicable to many people in a variety of situations.
Also, this book contains “Heart Blooming Tools” following each story. These tools suggest different ways to approach a situation, possible questions to help foster growth, useful reminders, or encouragement. I hope that you find the experiences in this book as useful for your growth as a person and as a mentor as I did when I experienced them!
From the Introduction
I had already quit my job as a college professor to start my own yoga business, written a book, done volunteer work in Haiti, yet I still couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. With no clear idea of what to do next, I felt depressed and confused. Then a glimmer of hope shined through when I received an invitation to mentor a lovely young lady named Rose, whom I had known a very long time. I discovered that my lifelong passion to help people, most especially people who are differently abled, was a key to improving my state of mind. I also discovered that in serving others, I learned much about myself and have been profoundly transformed by these experiences. I have come to realize that sharing these stories may help those working with differently abled people not only to effectively mentor them, but also to feel better in their own lives. This book is my way of relating what I've learned. . .
Writing this book has helped me see how the seeds of mentoring people with special gifts has been in me from the beginning of my life, but it was up to me to notice and nurture these innate passions. Eventually, I got to the point in my teaching career when I wanted a change. I began studying Yoga Therapy and decided to take a break from my full-time job to study and start a yoga business.
Around this same time, my daughter, Carina, wanted to travel to Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010. I had the time to go on this trip with her, the first of many times we went to volunteer. This was an opportunity for me to mentor and be mentored by people who were very different from me culturally and linguistically.
During this time, I was trying all kinds of new experiences to see if there was some place I felt I belonged and where my talents could be of help to someone. My daughter and her husband eventually founded a school in Haiti, called the Haiti Education and Resource Team, HEART for short (www.heartinhaiti.org), and I did all I could to support their efforts there. I did some teacher training at HEART and served in a few different positions on board, but most of my volunteer work involved fundraising and sharing the story of the school. I did so many new, scary and exciting things during this time, traveling back and forth to Haiti over a dozen times, learning different energy healing techniques, starting and stopping a few different businesses and writing the book Living Passionately: 21 People Who Found Their Purpose and How You Can Too.
I learned a tremendous amount from these explorations, picking up valuable skills in a variety of areas. Despite having great experiences and completing meaningful service, there came a time when I didn’t find myself in a place where I felt I belonged, other than in our gardens, where no matter what is happening around me, I know I am welcome and nourished. Feeling uncertain about how I could use my skills and experience to contribute in a meaningful way, I was floundering.
This book is the story of how I found a career I am passionate about where I could help people discover and follow passions of their own, some of which were similar to mine and some of which were not. In this process, I grew to appreciate how very much I have to offer.
Take a Life scan: Take time to reflect on what has been consistently important to you throughout your life. What are your passions and what are the passions of people who you work with? What clues are there to help unlock the secret gifts you have had throughout your life? Healing gifts are often disguised as things we do with great ease, or passions we have. Even if we are not proficient in these areas as a child, they are still where we are being called by our soul to contribute.
Find Your Heaven on Earth
I have been guided many times by different people to make this book focused on teaching and learning by using the stories to illustrate how these transformation tools can be used. I have resisted this guidance time after time because I haven’t felt like a master quite yet: I feel like I need more practice in order to be an authority.
Yet, when I read these stories, I am surprised and delighted by what an amazing amount of transformation happens for myself and the people I work with. Am I a “super mentor,” an “ultra-expertly trained know- it-all” who made these changes happen? Not at all! I am a humble mentor who approached each moment with an open heart and stumbled my way through the best I knew to do at the time. Because I didn’t feel like or act like a know-it-all expert, I was open to guidance from, well, I don’t quite know who guided us: could be soul, Spirit, angels, fairies, Goddess/God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a quantum field. I just don’t know how to describe who or what my guiding force is because as much as I would like to, I don’t hear, see, or feel any of these in a concrete, definitive way.
However, I do feel some sense of peaceful, joyful calm where magical, inspiring things seem to happen, where it seems (but I can’t clearly see) an energetic chord is plugged into a wise, intuitive Source of Guidance surrounding myself and those in my presence. I believe on our best days, the people I work with sense this wise presence in our midst, which helps them trust me and trust themselves in order to be open to new possibilities. I would love to be in this peaceful, open, joyful space all the time and have been searching for ways to do this for many years. I am learning to experience “heaven on earth” more and more often using the very techniques shared here. The times when I feel off balance, uncertain, and fearful are rich times of learning which I am learning more and more often to lean into, to glean wisdom, from the confusion.
I find mastery can be a process often based on repetition rather than a destination in which every skill is “check-marked” off a list. I am learning all the time, and I intend to keep expanding my heart and mind throughout my life. For example, in New York, there is a 6-month program which is offered to become a “Master Gardener.” I have met many people who have graduated from this program and who wear “Master Gardener” nametags. When people see my gardens, they ask, “Are you a Master Gardener?” My answer is always, “No, I am always learning something new from my gardens and don’t ever imagine myself achieving master status.” Maybe I might know some things another person doesn’t, but I am sure that person knows something I don’t. When hosting a garden tour in our yard, one visitor asked me, “Do you plan everything out before planting?” I replied, “No, I put a plant in and care for it as best I can. If it seems happy in this location, it stays there. If it doesn’t look happy because of one reason or another, I move it to another location. For me, gardening, like life, is a process of trying things out to see how they work and the only thing which is constant is change each and every second of every day.
This flexible approach brings beautiful surprises in both gardening and mentoring. Flowers create seeds which the wind, birds, and, possibly, fairies spread around to different spots. I call these plants which show up in places where I haven’t planted them “volunteers.” I am thrilled with the beauty of our gardens, which I credit to a mix of the nurturing efforts of my husband, Tom, and me with the magical inspiration and seeming randomness of nature.
This is the way I view mentoring as well. Often, I am not sure what will happen on any given day, yet I stay open to seeds of magical inspiration which blow in, some taking root and growing to fruition and some just popping in for a quick visit before flying off in search of the perfect location. Gardening and mentoring provide me opportunities to experience heaven on earth.
This book is called Hearts Blooming because I feel like Rose, B.D., David, and I all experienced our hearts opening and flourishing in ways we never expected. Sometimes, there are resting stages in plants during which flowers do not bloom, yet, each time our hearts expand a bit, we feel that blossom ripening and unfolding because we feel so vibrantly alive.
Find Your Heaven on Earth: Where and when do you experience “heaven on earth”? What beliefs do you have about the balance of growing roots and branches in your life? Where is that place where you always feel welcome and as if you belong?
Just as plants have all different stages in growth, so do we as people. When learning anything new, we are beginners, needing clean fresh energy to open us up. We send roots down into the ground, using our past learning as a foundation to reach up to new territory. If conditions are right, with love and support, in time buds will form, a sign of glory to come. When the flower blooms, there is great celebration, and even more follows when the fruits of our labors ripen for harvest. Even eating the fruit is not an ending as the seeds inside are saved to keep the circle of life going round and round in spirals of learning and growing together.
May we all be aware of the importance of each stage of growth which occurs as our hearts are blooming together.