I was naked from the waist up, except for a thin paper vest that opened in the front. I felt very vulnerable and not a little bit nervous.
The technician was kind, but definitely was moving through her day by rote, and seemed bored when moments before she'd called my name in the waiting room, introducing herself in a monotone voice. “I’m Julie. I’ll be doing your echocardiogram.”
A few weeks earlier I'd been driving across Los Angeles when I suddenly had no idea where I was, literally didn't know what city I was in nor what day or time it was. I literally said out loud, "Where am I?" It was pretty scary. I'd also been having rapid heart palpitations. So, I was there for some answers.
As I lay down on the table, trying to wrap the flimsy paper around me like a robe, I said, “I’ve never had an echo before.” She grunted, which I took to mean, “Yeah, so? I've done hundreds.”
Instead, she said flatly, “Lay on your left side,” after which, with cold precision, and cold fingers, she connected me to the machine by gluing electro pads onto my chest.
She turned the monitor, so I could see. The dark pumping mass that was my heart took up the screen.
I watched the monitor as a massive electrical storm ensued. Inside the deep purple pulsating cloud was a continual flash of crazy lightning in a spectrum of color and intensity.
“It’s like a thunder and lightning storm inside my heart.”
“Yes, it is.” She could have said, 'Uh huh."
It was a mind-blowing concept, for me anyway, in that moment. I’d only really thought of the heart in terms of feeling. As in heartfelt expressing, or a heart full of love, or a broken heart because of sadness or pain. I mean I've actually done a ton of work around living and being in an open heart.
But, this, seeing this, alive and outside of my body, all lit up and frenetic, it was a combination of delicate mechanism and a powerful electromagnetic force all at once.
“My heart is badass,” I said. Finally, a hint of a smile.
Then the tears flowed. I surprised myself with how emotional I became. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt splayed raw and exposed. You'd think I might have been embarrassed, given the constant stream of tears. But, I wasn't. It was beautiful. I truly couldn't believe I was watching my own heartbeat. It wasn't some blip, blip on a monitor. It was my own heart, up close and personal.
As she maneuvered the cursor, carefully taking measurements and notes, I felt a warmth seep down over my head, what I can only describe as love and a protective awe for this organ that I take for granted. And, at the same time, I was enamored and held captive by its sheer strength and will.
Suddenly, I felt a kinship with Julie, this stranger with whom I was sharing this incredibly intimate moment. I asked her if she knew how lucky she was to be able to explore hearts all day long.
An eyebrow raised.
I asked her what she was looking for. She snickered and said, “There’s so much going on in there; there are numerous things we look for.” I paused.
“It’s so incredibly profound to be witnessing my own power source. I could look at it all day,” I said.
She said, “I’ve been doing this for five years and no one has ever said that.”
I knew I was getting all woo-woo on her, but I didn’t care. She needed to know what an incredibly moving thing this was. I asked her what she found the most rewarding about her job. She said, "It’s the knowledge and understanding of what I’m seeing. I know exactly what’s wrong or not and the doctor relies on my knowledge. I show him what to look for."
Then, I felt and saw her pride in what she does. She is honored to be with hearts all day long. And, I saw her desire to be seen. And, so I gave her some heartfelt recognition. She looked at me for a moment.
"Everything looks good," she said. "Although I'm not the one that's supposed to tell you that."
I exhaled. My attention drifted back to the monitor.
It got me thinking. If that lil old heart's been beating the same consistent, reliable rhythm every second of every moment of every day for my entire life, then who am I to live a less than meaningful or purposeful life? It was like, how dare I? I owe it to my heart to live full out.
So, if the heart is your power source, shouldn't it have a say in things?
Sure, you're the one making the moves and taking steps toward what you want. But, for a purpose-filled life, the heart is the true navigator. Our very own hearts provide the blueprint for how to live.
And, really, it's a seamless balance of both following the heart and leading with the heart. When you "center" yourself, it's settling into this balance.
Lead with your heart
What does that mean? It means being respectful of life.
It means using the heart as a lens through which everything filters.
Have something you want to say? Maybe it's a difficult conversation? Take a moment and filter it through your heart. Process the words through that love mechanism and the right words will always appear.
Follow your heart
Trying to make a decision? Allow your heart to lead the way.
Trim the fat. Always ask yourself the question, “Is this what my heart wants to do?” Truly. It trims the fat from the decision.
Follow the heart-speak. She’s the ultimate GPS guide, a deeply rooted Siri, the one who knows, really knows, what you want and where you're going.
It makes you want to take excellent care of your heart. Which means we are also its pit crew. Making sure there’s fuel and exercise or training to keep it strong. And, the right amount of rest.
Listen to the clues for when she tells you something is off. For me, that little episode in the car was my heart's way of telling me my thyroid medication was too strong. A small adjustment was all that was needed and we were back on our way.
Your heart knows your purpose. Ask her. Listen to her. Honor her. Love her.
After I got dressed and tossed the paper robe away, I noticed my beating heart was still up on the monitor. I stood there for several moments, just watching it pump and thrive.
I reached up and placed a hand kiss on the screen. “I've got you," I said. "And, I’m counting on you. To lead me. To point the way. I’ll follow you anywhere.”
You can’t go wrong when you follow your big, beautiful, badass heart.