Once, while I was clearing out a storage room in a lonely warehouse building, a friend called me on my cell phone in tears. She told me of the overwhelming fear and anxiety she was feeling about a trip she was about to take that held many potentially difficult situations.

Standing in a storage room amid cardboard boxes and forgotten stuff, I listened and talked and listened, as my friend’s tears gradually subsided. “But, how will I make it through?” she asked. “What will I do if I start to panic on the long flight, or when I am in another time zone, alone?”

I wondered what I could offer right then and there? What would be totally portable, that she could look at any time she needed to, to remind her of other ways of seeing things, the opposite of fear and sadness?

I found myself saying: “Get a pen. Draw a heart in the palm of your hand. It’s a reminder of all the good things you know: possibility and solutions that you can’t imagine now, and most of all, love, and all the people that love and care about you. The heart will be hidden in your hand, and when you need it, all you have to do is open your hand.”

My friend told me she looked at the heart in her hand often in the days that followed. As it faded, she drew it anew. It was her secret message to self, a reminder, drawn with a ballpoint pen.

It amazes me that the idea came to me, standing in that cluttered warehouse storage room where there was nothing tangible to give her.  And that the heart in hand is a very old symbol……Somewhere, that powerful image had lodged in my mind long ago, waiting to be passed on.

I’ve tried it myself, and somehow, it easily becomes the very reminder I need.


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