Giving From Your Heart

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Follow your heart. Listen to your heart. Your heart knows the way.

There are a lot of clichés that encourage you to be guided by what you feel and take action based on what you believe in your heart. And in this National Heart Month, rather than focus on physical heart health, let’s talk about emotional heart health.

15910043680_5b040e7726_mYou never know when one word or one helpful gesture or act of kindness can mean the world to someone else. Giving them reason to go on, to believe in goodness again, or to get through a rough patch. You don’t know when a smile hides incredible sadness and pain, and how reaching out in some way when the inclination strikes you can change the course of a life. The best we can do is to follow our hearts and try . . . not shying away from feelings, but paying attention to ­­­­them.

The emotions and beliefs we have about giving are not something we talk about as much in the business world as in nonprofit circles. Disasters and deaths, though, can break through our veneer and are when we more publicly express emotions.

When it comes to charity, we give because of the good it will do—and the impact it can make. We also give because something that happens in life gets to us, and we want to make things better. We give because we care.

I’m borrowing from a familiar credit card commercial message, but I believe giving from your heart is “priceless.”

3211153569_b93ba33f2a_mI know we’re a month past making resolutions for this year, and actually, I’m not asking you to make a new resolution for 2016. I’m asking you to make a resolution for your life: make giving from your heart a part of how you show up in the world.

I’m not going to try to sell you on the benefits of giving or why it makes us happy. I’ll just say this: giving money away can improve your health and is, quite literally, good for your heart.

And this heart month, I challenge you to listen, find what connects for you, and take action. Starting now.

Support what touches your heart

Have you lost a loved one to a terrible disease or personal tragedy? Give to help find a cure for the health issue that has personally touched you, to keep tragedy from striking other families, and to provide support for someone else who has to deal with it.

kitty_love_unsplashAre the commercials that show abused animals so hard to watch you switch the channel? Don’t push those emotions away, do something about it. If you aren’t in a position to give money, volunteer your time or donate old blankets—doing what you can for something you feel so strongly about. Put your energy to work so the day comes when there’s no reason for those commercials to exist.

Are you frustrated by our education system, worried that kids don’t have all the resources and opportunities they need to succeed, and concerned about what they’re not getting at school (food, support, exposure to the arts, more)? Give them access to what they need to change their lives.

Do you believe we need to make sure the basic needs of others around the world are taken care of?  Support the nonprofits sending them global aid—for better health and life-saving services that we too often take for granted.

I have a sensitive heart. I feel things deeply, and family members and friends know that about me. But I don’t make any excuses for who I am. And I hope I’m known for being true to who I am, all the time. When I care, it’s sincere. When I feel it, I react. And when I give, it’s from my heart.

This month, I challenge you to do the same.  Give from—and for—your heart. For your life.

If you need help finding a charity:

And if you want to help with today’s pressing issues, read our blog. Better yet, subscribe and we’ll automatically send you an email every time we post a new blog.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

One From the Heart – February is American Heart Month

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Image Source: Flickr

I’ll be the first to admit it. I get stressed.

Stress affects our health in many ways, but heart disease is a common result in the United States, particularly among women. As a woman, this is a stressor in itself. Worries and perfectionism aside, what are some simple, everyday ways you and I can decrease our stress and be kind to our hearts?

A plant-heavy or plant-based diet is a wonderfully heart-healthy eating plan. Personally, I switched from a vegetarian to a vegan diet 2 years ago, and everything I continue to learn about its health benefits encourages me to keep at it. Avocado and olive oil are my favorite plant-based ways to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while leaving heart levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol intact.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Hobbies that include movement are a low-stress way to get your heart pumping stronger. Dance class (or dancing around the house), gardening, vigorous cleaning and yoga or stretching are some relatively low-impact and low-cost ways to get your circulation up and flex your heart muscle.

But what about the mental stress? It’s the biggest factor in many of our busy lives. Mindfulness meditation is one way to change your mindset and even regulate the rhythm of your heart. Look for a zen or yoga center in your area for more information. Lucky for me, San Francisco is home to a beautiful Zen Center that hosts a variety of programs, classes and retreats.

My personal favorite fact about preventative heart health? Doing good for others lowers your stress levels.

This is something we can all do anytime and it doesn’t have to cost money – sharing time is just as valuable.

Image Source: Flickr:

Image Source: Flickr

If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, you can use our Act Locally search option and contact local charities to see how you can help. Bonus points on volunteering: It gets you outside – and being in nature is another great de-stressor.Even if you live in a city, you can likely find an urban gardening project to volunteer your time. Check out The National Gardening Association’s Kids Gardening program, which empowers every generation to lead healthier lives, build stronger communities, and encourage environmental stewardship through gardening programs.

If you’d like to support their efforts:

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The most sobering fact I uncovered in my research: women are more prone to suffer from undiagnosed heart disease. Women’s symptoms tend to differ from men’s, and women are more likely to suffer a silent heart attack.

In fact, heart attacks are responsible for the loss of half a million women per year in the U.S. alone. Heart disease is the number one killer of women even though many women are more afraid of breast cancer.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

I lost a friend and community member, far before her time, to silent heart disease. After her untimely passing a few years ago, another friend organized memorial donations in her honor to WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. It’s a charity that provides support and research and was started by three women who have personal experience with heart disease issues. Women Heart was the first – and is still the only – national patient-centered organization focused exclusively on women’s heart disease.

If you’d like to donate to help WomenHeart carry out its work:

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Education, information and advocacy are our greatest weapons against killer heart disease. Together, we can multiply our strengths in fighting the battle against heart disease with a unified front. We have to watch out for each other, right?

-Alex Mechanic

Customer Service Manager