Lead with Your Heart; the Rest of You Will Follow

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Like most of the other girls on the third floor of Treudley Hall, I plastered the walls of my freshman-year dorm room with prints of famous works of art, pictures from home and quotations, lots of quotations.

Song lyrics, tidbits from favorite books and words of wisdom gleaned from movies, my roommate and I wrote in flowery script on colored notecards with a rainbow of markers. Stuck to the wall with blue bits of sticky tack, those notecards were like stars in the sky for me. I'd lie in my top bunk, gaze at them and think about those words.

The overwhelming theme: Unrequited love and its accompanying desolation, concepts that at 18, we felt we knew well. It was, after all, the era of Jane Austen movies, Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" and "Titanic."

As the years passed by, quotations took on a different meaning. As a journalism major, I relied on quotes from sources to make a story. And as a French major, I peppered my papers with them, analyzing them until their meaning had been sucked dry.

Once upon a time, I had a romance in France. His name was Francois, and it was a lovely chapter in my life, one I can look back upon with great joy. During a long walk through the Jardin des Tuileries on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in March, we flitted between French and English as we talked about the future.

We started discussing our philosophies in life.

Then 21, my affinity for depressing, romantic quotes hadn’t waned:

"Un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé," from the poem "L'Isolement" by Alphonse de Lamartine.

"Only one person is missing, and the entire world can seem depopulated."

His: "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware," by Henry Miller.

Today, his quotation speaks more to me than mine. An empty world seemed romantic then. Awareness seemed to be redundant.

A couple of years later, I went through a quarter-life crisis, brought on by situational depression. After picking myself up and putting myself back together after what felt like another rock-bottom moment, I looked myself in the mirror and told the swollen, tear-stained face in the mirror: "You're better than this." I repeated those words again and again as a reminder that who I was then was not who I would be forever. It was time I chose my own words, carved out my own niche, expressed my own emotions in exactly the words I needed.

Eventually, the window shade that had been drawn across my life lifted. I outgrew my personal watchword. I was better than that. A replacement, I knew, would take an organic route and arrive in my life.

The words and themes that guide my life today are more deeply rooted, and I've learned from experience that words can inflict pain and ease a soul that's been stung. I choose my words more carefully.

In the last year, I've kept returning to a singular theme: making kindness, love and compassion the utmost priority in my life.

  • Letting go of some of the sarcasm, most of the insincerity, all the judgment.

  • Forgiving and forgetting, letting go of grudges, erasing mental scorecards.

  • Loving myself and others, cutting myself some slack, realizing that I don't have to figure out my entire life all at once.

  • Allowing myself to just be.

  • Knowing that as hard as I try, I will not always succeed in this or any endeavor.

    My new mantra came to me, and like the yoga practice that inspired it, it evolved and became more fine-tuned in time.

    "Lead with your heart; the rest of you will follow."


    Today, this rules my life. The words are mine, though the idea is not.

    It's on a post-it note on my dashboard, to remind me to breathe when I'm in traffic and not let rush hour and tailgaters upset me.

    It's a phrase I utter in yoga class, to encourage my students to both physically and spiritually let their hearts lead them.

    And it's a thought I return to when I need a moment to think before speaking, to tell myself I don't always need the final word.

    This all-important phrase isn't plastered on the walls of my office or home, but it's engrained in my mind. And there it will stick, until the next chapter of my life begins.

    Do you have a motto, slogan, mantra, or watchword? How did it evolve? When do you evoke it?

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    Comments

    PAULA3420 3/23/2018
    What a wonderful blog. "Lead with your heart, the rest of you will follow." This is beautiful. I am sharing what has become my light bulb moment recently. "STRONG is the new skinny" Thanks Spark People Report
    MUSICNUT 3/10/2018
    Thanks for the great article:) Report
    JSTETSER 3/7/2018
    The best is yet to come! Report
    KASEYCOFF 11/20/2017
    I don't know what I expected when I started reading this essay, but it has turned out to be so insightful! Beautifully expressed. You put me in mind of a quote attributed to Henry James: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” It has become somewhat of a cliche, but I think that speaks to its simple wisdom. Report
    CEVIZAGACE
    A very inspiring article! My motto is: 'not perfect, but good enough'. Report
    I loved the Henry Miller quote! It's now on my SP page. Report
    I need this. I've been over thinking things lately even though I just want to let myself enjoy the moment. I'll remember this when I start worrying myself over the silliest things. Report
    Thanks for sharing. I feel calmer and more hopeful after reading your words. Report
    PJFSDIET
    Thanks for your blog! It really enjoyed it. Mine is "you get what you give". It applies to everything. I smile, people smile back at me :) Report
    Thank you for sharing. Report
    "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."

    Great Article, really. Report
    EMBRACEACTIVISM
    Just came across this...fabulous! My favorite mantra that started many years ago listening to my Dad: "You create your own destiny" Report
    I ALSO LIKE... "THE BIGGEST LIE YOU'LL EVER TELL IS THE ONE YOU TELL YOURSELF" . NO MORE CHEATING MYSELF OUT OF MY HEALTHY JOURNEY !!! Report
    Mine is: "One of the biggest mistakes most people make in their lives is trading in what they want most for what they want at that moment"
    I usally use it when there's a goal at hand and I'm struggling. It helps! :)

    Report
    I love this. It's been a long time coming, and I still stumble, but I have become a much better person and found amazing inner peace by simply being a kinder, gentler and more understanding me. My mantra is the definition of integrity: Do the right thing - even when no one else is looking. Thanks so much for this! Report
    "Nothing is impossible with God". These words are the catalyst that enabled me to "set out" on my spark journey with determination and faith that I will reach my goals.
    author/God Report
    "Leap, and the net will appear." Report
    "Doubt is OUR greatest Inhibition" Report
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!
    ~Goethe Report
    MAGNOLIA53
    What a great motivator! My favorite quote is:

    Oh God of dust and rainbows, help us see
    That without the dust, the rainbows could not be.
    -Langston Hughes. Report
    Live Strong.
    Where ever you go,there you are. Report
    Quotes are wonderful …
    My office is covered in pictures of places and things with quotes
    Mine positive thought would be “prancing on rainbows”, it brings a feeling of peace from the inside out promoting a positive outlook.
    Report
    i found this on one of my spark buddies page

    P ushing myself
    E veryday
    R esulting in
    S uch
    I ncredible
    S elf-worth;
    T aking control of my life and most importantly my physical and mental health
    A t all times
    N ever ever
    C easing to love myself and
    E njoying the journey every step of the way

    PERSISTANCE = SUCCESS Report
    QUILTQUEEN4
    I found this somewhere, don't remember where but I have posted it on my refrigerator so that I see it whenever I am in the kitchen "Nothing taste as good as thin feels" Report
    DORBAJA
    These are wonderful, helpful and inspirational. What I will add is this: NAMASTE. A poetic version follows: I SALUTE THAT PLACE IN YOU WHEREIN RESIDES THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. I SALUTE THAT PLACE IN YOU WHERE THERE IS PEACE AND LOVE AND BEAUTY AND TRUTH. I SALUTE THAT PLACE IN YOU WHERE, IF YOU ARE IN THAT PLACE IN YOU AND I AM IN THAT PLACE IN ME, THERE IS ONLY ONE OF US. Report
    LUVLYLADYDIVINE
    If its something negative going on I say this to shall pass. I also tell myself today is a new day with new posibilities. I remind myself that no one and nothing is greater than he who is in me! Report
    SATYAGRAHA
    Something I find myself saying to myself all the time lately is "Everything happens for a reason. You are exactly where you are meant to be." This has helped me IMMENSELY and keeps grounded when my emotions want to get the best of me. Report
    Having survived cancer twice, the death of my mother, and the loss of a marriage, I have a mantra that I use frequently. I look at what is happening, I think about how it stacks up against cancer, death and infidelity....and then I say "Well, if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I'm doing pretty good!" :)

    Thanks for your words.....they fit nicely into my life right now. Leading with your heart is sometimes scary, but always worth it! Thanks for the reminder. Report
    Loved your Blog!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words! Report
    MIAWINNER
    That was so inspiring! Thank you! Report
    I read ECKHART TOOLE'S "The Power of NOW" and he puts it all into what matters. NOW is all we ever have.

    My favorite saying is:

    The hardest thing to do in life is to make yourself do what you want to do and to keep yourself from doing what you don't want to do. Report
    JUDEMARG
    Thanks for the inspiration. Love the quotes. I am always looking for insirational quotes to help me thru the day. Thanks again! Report
    I really LOVE this! Report
    Great blog! Report
    What a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing! Report
    Loved your article. Sounds like you and I are of the same mindset. My personal quote is "Always say what is in your heart." I've learned that doing this will resolve almost any issue or open the door to wonderful things! Report
    Mine is "With courage and a smile, go in peace." Report
    Thank you. You took the words right out of my mouth. You say them so eloquently and understandably. Thank you again. Report
    Thank you for sharing this. I am inspired to find my own words for my life now. Report
    PUDDLE_JUMPER
    Very inspiring and just what I needed to hear at the moment. Thank you. Report
    JESBOLEN
    Loved your quote! I am going to use this one! Report
    L-ANNIE
    Thank you so much for your words. I found it most interesting to read your post, & quotes. I am in the Autumn of my years & have learned to let things go. To forgive others, not to hold grudges like I did in my youth. I am now at peace with myself & I like it that way! I know that I do not walk this life alone, That 'My Father in Heaven' walks beside me,to comfort, guide & stregthen me each day. I have learned that no one is ever alone. 1.''Learn to forgive others, as you yourself would want to be forgiven.'' 2. ''Don't judge others, you have to walk in another man's moccasins to fully understand his problems!! 3. Tomorrow is another day.!! Blessings to all. Enjoy life whatever it brings your way, it's all for your growth. Remember it's not the problem, it's how you deal with it that matters!! x Report
    Very touching blog! thanks for sharing your transformation! Report
    A beautiful Blog.This too shall pass...Let it Be. Report
    So true! This blog is a keeper and tucked safely in my favorites! Report
    Thank you for this beatiful blog. Take care. Report
    CHRISTAMOM06
    I have wrote the words down and I plan on putting the up on my desk and in my workout room at home. Thank you for sharing this blog with us. Report
    I always try to have an inspirational quote at the bottom of my email. I change them regularly because there are so many good ones out there to inspire. This is the one that I use this month: "Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get."
    Dale Carnegie
    Report
    MISSCURLEY
    "Just because you think it's impossible doesn't mean it is."

    "I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul "

    the above quote is from the poem 'Invictus' by William Ernest Henly Report
    Mine comes from a Destiny's Child song, Survivor:

    "If I surround myself with positive things, I'll gain prosperity."

    I think it speaks volumes. Report
     
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