Hearts and Handstands

I’ve gotten a few side-eye looks and questions about my activities lately.  

Such as:

    Why are you always posting hearts on Instagram, on Facebook?

    Why are there hearts all over your house, in your yard? 

    Why do hearts show up in your daily life wherever you go?


    Why are you trying to learn how to do a handstand?

    Why would you want to do gymnastics at your age?
     (that’s the tender age of 48)?

    What is the point of being able to do a handstand now?

Since since both of these interests of mine have been expressed in public and in the public eye, that is, through social media, I realize people are just curious.  

Which has, in turn, spurred curiosity in me about why do I do these things?


Why #DailyHeart ?

On a recent vacation trip a couple of years back, I started noticing them.  As I am fond of snapping photos of nearly every little moment when traveling, the hearts seemed to be everywhere… in nature, in architecture, in store windows.  So I just started taking pictures of them. 

During this trip, I had a friend back home who liked hearts too, so I shared my experiences by texting her a different picture of a heart each day.  As I found more, I sent her more.

In a week’s time, I had amassed 66 photos of hearts.  That’s nearly 10 pictures per day, or, near-stalker level of text messages.

I was sort of amazed by this - the sheer number of hearts that kept showing up.  So I hypothesized that because I was so happy, and in a “elevated state” while on vacation, with no regular routine or typical demands on my time, my mind relaxed and saw things it usually didn’t see.

But the “heart show” continued even when I was not on vacation.  I would see hearts when I was in a semi-blissful state, like hanging out with my closest friends, in my hometown, or relaxed from spending time in nature. 

After a bit more thought, I realized this was not a new occurrence, but it had been happening all of my life.  Hearts and heart-shaped items have been dear to me since I was a kid.  When I was 8 years old, I collected little boxes.  As I dated, I would save the heart-shaped boxes given to me, long after I had devoured the Valentine’s day chocolates.  And I still do this today; I cannot seem to throw away a perfectly good heart!

In my youth, I always loved Valentine’s day, making my own creations out of paper doilies.  One year I sewed a dress for my younger sister made from red fabric with tiny hearts all over it, and dainty white heart buttons, of course.  My dad gave me a yearly box of those silly conversation hearts, the ones that say “Be Mine” or “Love U”. 

Perhaps all of this love of hearts was just meant to be as my childhood home was located on Heartwood Street.

Now, I am recognizing that they are not just fun tokens or a coincidence, nor do they only arrive during vacation.  

Finding heart-shaped objects is my way for energy to be received

And the best kind of energy:  love, joy, happiness.   They are a sign from the Great Divine that I am loved and cared for no matter where I go.  They show me that love is always possible, even if I am standing in an unfamiliar city unsure of where to go next.

And they show up now in the most peculiar places . . . in my lily pond, on my patio and in my kitchen. 

And, to my delight, I now receive them by text, email, social media feeds, and even in my mailbox in the form of sweet little trinkets and gifts. 

As I keep receiving these symbols from The Universe, I share them with others.  And in return, my friends and acquaintances send hearts of all sorts to me.  It’s like a Virtual Valentine’s Day all the time.

I have learned that this back and forth flow of hearts just part of who I am as a spiritual being, someone who receives love and gives love. 

As I embrace this true vision of myself, I find that I am surrounded by an abundance of hearts.


Why Handstands?

About two years ago, I asked myself “Could you do handstand?”  The question seemingly came out of nowhere.  I had just finished an online coaching program, so I was feeling rather strong and curious.  

I gave it a try and to my surprise, I could!  With a little wall assistance :)


For a while, I practiced every week.  Kicking up to a wall, I would try to do an assisted handstand each day, seeing how long I could hold it until my wrists or hands or shoulders cried “Uncle!”

Next, I tried to get better at balancing unassisted by pulling my toes off the wall.  A few go’s of that, and I decided that I should up the ante and also work on a handstand push-up, which did not go that well.  Probably because I had not practiced holding a handstand, thus, had not built up enough strength to do the more challenging trick.

I read about handstands, sought out advice from handstand experts and did anything and everything that I thought might make my progression go faster. I had a lot of passion, practiced intermittently with a focus on speed not skill, so I did not see much progression.  That was Year One.

And then I gave up my handstand practice for a while.  Not so much in discouragement, but more like, because of distraction.  Just got busy with other things, focused more on other parts of my strength-building workout.  I kind of forgot about handstands.

Until one day, I started thinking about them again, wondering why they beckoned me... why I just needed to do one.  

“This is unfinished business" . . . I heard my inner voice say.

I used to do gymnastics as a kid.  And from ages 7 to ages 13, I broke my left arm a total of 5 times.  Finally, my parents said “no more gymnastics!” and switched me over to dance lessons.


My parents were not mean, just smartly protective and probably weary of the emergency room visits.  

I realized that deep down, I missed gymnastics - the freedom, the fun, the challenge and the struggle for mastery over a movement.

I realize that practicing handstands are energy given.

Energy intentionally and wholeheartedly given to something that pleases me.  It is my way of reaching downward and being rooted, solid and secure.

It rekindles the feelings of that fearless 8-year old girl on the tumbling mats.  It is about trying and trying again, and noticing that little “aha” when something changes and starts to improve.  It is about play, confidence and practicing “stick-to-it-tive-ness”.

So I have come back to the practice of handstands.  This time I approached it differently.

Breaking it down to a smaller version first:  headstands.  I did handstands nearly daily for weeks in my living room, on my yoga mat, at the gym, the beach.

I tried a few variations, thinking that it would help my balance and help my core (both important to handstand-ing).  Instead of going fast, I focused on just being in the moment, noticing when something seemed a little easier, practicing more and then deciding if I should move on.

Sometimes, I did well, other times I fell out of the hold or held it in a wonky position (like ^this^).  But I kept going.

And when I felt like my headstands were pretty solid, I gave myself permission to try handstands again.  This time much more slowly and cautiously. 

Again, asking for a little advice here or there, but this time I took it in, really listened and then just focused on applying it.  

The more I focused on handstands, the more information and guidance came to me.  Like when I attended the Girls Gone Strong-sponsored Women's Fitness Summit, and one of the break-out sessions just happened to be given by an former gymnast who showed us how to build skills to do handstands.

And now, after a 2nd year of consistent practice, I invert myself with confidence, one leg tapping the wall and the other soaring to the sky, and for a breath or two, I cautiously pull both feet away from the wall,  

and I balance.  For a second.  Sometimes, even two.


Will I finally master this movement and be able to balance freely without the wall?  Can I continue to improve, gain more skill, more strength?  I am curious to find out.  So that is what will I continue to give my energy towards.  


Where do you give your energy to something that gives you a quiet satisfaction, something that is just for you?

 Where do you receive energy from something that fills you up with comfort, love or healing?

Act Like a 91-year Old for Better Body-Love and Healthy Progress,

Mollie, age 91, is one of my at-home training clients.  We have been working together for nearly 2 years.  Although I am the “hired hand” in this scenario, I believe I learn more from her than she from me.  Her wisdom is deep, pithy and unabashed.

Here’s a couple of things she told me last week that made me realize perhaps we need to adopt her approach when we view our own bodies, our own process of observing them, caring for them, and embracing them as we try to make improvements in our healthy habits.

>> “I am fascinated by my own body.”<<

We were doing hip bridges on her bed.  For those of you unfamiliar with this exercise, you are laying on your back, knees bent, and trying to squeeze your butt as to lift your hips while keeping your upper torso on the flat surface under you.  It always reminds me of Jane Fonda’s workouts in the 1990s, or getting an OB-GYN exam.

We were talking about the muscles in her legs and rear end that “work” during this exercise.  As I demonstrated, I had her put her hand on each my quad, hamstring and glute muscle, so she could feel each muscle working.  Then I had her do this with her own body, her own muscles.  As she probed around, she seemed quite delighted when she could observe that something was truly happening.

Her curiosity about how things worked, or could work, kept her engaged in the exercise.  She did not consider that she would not be able to do this exercise, but rather, she remained curious as to if her body would do it, and how her body worked to accomplish it.

Many times in our pursuit of an exercise goal or nutrition goal, we may not realize we can learn from interested experimentation, but instead we may consider our behaviors black-and-white-ly:

Yes, I was able to do the squat with X amount of weight.  

No, I did eat enough protein today at lunch time.

What might happen if we were intrigued by the process or open to possibilities?



>>“I was just enjoying this sexy time and now we have to stop?”<< 

(Giggle, giggle).  Yes, she actually said that, both of us snickering like school girls after she did.

Again, we were working on the bed doing an exercise called “pelvic tilts” for her core, with her trying her best and really concentrating as I silently looked on.  I stopped her after so many reps, and then she burst out with this declaration.  

After we enjoyed the shared laughter, I gathered myself and explained that we needed to do different exercise and would then return to this one again.  “Oh goody!” she exclaimed.

In addition to her constant curiosity, Mollie approaches our training sessions with the enthusiasm of a Labrador puppy.  She meets me at the door when I arrive, full of bubbly energy, and, but for her wheelchair, would probably wag her tail if she could.

Much like a young pup, she finds joy in the simplest of things: a new exercise, noticing a new sensation while doing an exercise, a tiny milestone of progress.  All of these things are greeted with glee and amazement.

Like most of you, there are days when I head to the gym or into the kitchen with less than an elevated mood. How can we overcome lack of motivation (and possibly inertia) on those days?

What if we approached the activity with that same attitude as she has . . . trying to discover where there might be some fun or something new?



>>“I am old.”<<

Again, said with enthusiasm, a bit of wonder, and a hearty chortle.  This proclamation came shortly after Mollie calculated how long she had been “working on” getting her legs to work better.  She noted that she had been at it since she was in her 70s; for 20 years she had been exercising for the sake of keeping her body as healthy as she could. There was not a hint of negativity or gloom about this statement, but rather it just hung out there merely an observation.

Her honesty has always been so refreshing.  She does not judge herself, but instead just looks at the facts head on.  She reflects back on her journey to maintain her health, in spite of a debilitating disease, with crystal clear directness and calm acceptance.

Many times we are so looking forward …. to our bodies changing from our efforts in our exercise routines and nutritional adjustments, we sometimes forget to look back and reflect on our accomplishments like consistency, perseverance and self-knowledge.  

Or perhaps, we dodge a bit and skip the step where we hold ourselves accountable, not for the purpose of condemning, but rather to learn, to see where we could make a small adjustment or find a foothold in making a new habit.


I find it exciting to work with older adults to see examples that learning never has to end, and there is always progress to be made.  In this symbiotic relationship, Mollie and I both continue to learn and grow, understanding ourselves and each other more.  And giggling along the way.

What is your takeaway from Mollie’s story?  Where do you want to be more loving or accepting of yourself in your wellness journey?