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Friday, May 6, 2016

Listening to your heart

It is Spring in Saint Louis and beyond gorgeous outside! I have been busy in my yard, on outside outings with Esme and finding all sorts of reasons to get out of my house but I just dragged myself inside to share a little something with you!

I recently had two speaking engagements. Both were very different, different audiences, different topics, but both extremely exciting and heart warming.

My first opportunity was to talk to a fourth grade girl scout troop about being a small business owner and what a delight that was! I went in prepared with a simple outline and a handout, but I had been forewarned that the girls had questions for me, so I kept my mini presentation short and sweet. My overall message to the girls: Listen to your heart! Listening to your heart or following your gut is an essential when running a business, but also a great skill for anyone, especially a young girl. I went in hoping to inspire them, and encourage them to listen to their hearts and follow their own dreams, but once they started asking questions I felt like I was in a little group therapy session. They asked me about my dreams, they wanted to know what sort of sacrifices I had to make to make my dreams as a small business owner come true, they wanted to know how life has changed since we started our small business. Their questions showed that they could see the complexities of the work/life balance, which struck a cord. And I had no idea how attentive, intelligent, thoughtful, and creative these girls would be, but I enjoyed every minute of my time with them and I have loved daydreaming about the amazing business owners, which I hope they become!

(Talking to the girl scouts and a glimpse of my hand out! Photo credit to Holly Kunze.)

 The following day I spoke to a classroom full of Saint Louis Children’s Hospital Cardiac Fellows. I was asked to speak to the fellows about our experiences receiving bad news. When I was introduced by one of Oakes’s doctors she noted that we received lots of bad news. Almost continuous bad news for 15 months, and she thought I would be a good person for the Fellows to connect with. So again, I shared what I had prepared and then they began asking questions, which again, took us to a place that I didn’t really think it would, a mini therapy session.

What struck me about these students (and I remember this same observation with Oakes’ doctors years ago) was their real, genuine, heart-felt interest. It was clear they weren’t just in a classroom because they had to be. Their hearts were in it. They had real concerns and questions. They wanted to hear about the worst news we got, and how it was delivered. They peppered me with all sorts of questions. Some I had answers to, some left me shrugging my shoulders. I welled up with tears a few times, but overall I loved it. I loved talking about Oakes. I loved telling our story. I loved being back at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I loved that my perspective was so valued and helpful. I loved seeing a classroom full of people who were going out to battle congenital heart defects, and to care for it’s victims and their families.

I would have loved to turn the questions around on these students. I would have loved to learn why they all chose this line of work. What pulled them into medicine, into pediatrics, and why Cardiology? Why would they want to be in such an intense setting? I imagine when you go to school for as long as these doctors do, and you choose this specialized area that you are called to this career. You are pulled in this direction. It must resonate with you. And you must listen closely to your heart to get to this place.

(A blue heart sliding down a rainbow, spotted by our house last week after a little rain storm. )

It sounds like such a simple thing to listen to your heart, but it isn’t always that way. Sometimes it is difficult to get to that quiet place were you can really listen, but as I’ve been outside enjoying this weather and pulling weeds in my yard, thinking about all of this, I do think that the times in life when I have followed my heart I have almost always been pulled down really exciting paths. Maybe those decisions where I have followed my heart, but that have started with a leap of faith seem scary at first, but I think I have always end up in a place that feels extremely comfortable and familiar. Like I was meant to be there.  I think I almost always have had a feeling of, “thank goodness, I chose this/did this/picked this” sort of conclusion. It is so easy to listen to fear and let it hold you back. It is easy to talk yourself out of something hard. It is easy to listen to the stories that you make up that limit you and create little boundaries in your life, but what a reward it really is when you listen and bravely leap where your heart wants to take you.

Enjoy your weekend friends. Enjoy the budding trees and blooming flowers. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. I hope you all have a moment to listen to your heart this weekend. I’ll be here cheering you on if you decide to take that big leap.

XOXO, Becky

(The storefront of Olive + Oak, one of the small businesses which our hearts led us to!)