The Heart is a Muscle

22 May

Whenever we lose a family member, we feel that our heart is breaking. And sometimes we worry that it will never heal and feel whole again.

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That’s when we need to remind ourselves that our heart is a muscle and muscles need to stretch and flex and work to stay strong.

In the past six weeks, my heart has been through a workout that would put even Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels to shame. And I did it all without putting on a pair of cross-trainers or strapping on a Fitbit.

These three adorable faces belong to the three dachshunds (although Murray, top left, reminds me that he’s a dachshund/kangaroo/Tasmanian Devil mix) who are making sure that I don’t let my heart sit around on the sofa, crying and eating popcorn — not when there are walks to take, squirrels to chase, bellies to rub, and love to spread.

Sanders (the strawberry blonde at the top) and Katja (the brindle who believes she is the reincarnation of Amelia Earhart) found me just when I needed them. Good thing they have excellent senses of smell because I was buried under some covers, hiding from the world, and perhaps desperately in need of a shower.

Murray, Sanders and Katja understand better than I do that they will not replace Watson and Penny, just as Watson and Penny did not replace Justin and Maddy Lou or Copper and Slate. What they are doing is replacing pain with joy, tears with laughter, self-focus with time spent trying to come up with something other than broccoli that Katja will eat or talk Sanders out of barking at everything that moves or throwing a half-eaten toy bear for Murray to fetch for the 8,713th time today.

Unlike the other muscles of the body, making a heart bigger and stronger simply requires opening it up to more love. And that’s my favorite kind of exercise.

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