The heart is a universal symbol of love. Do you remember Valentine’s Day back in grade school? Who didn’t hope that their secret admirer would present a candy heart with an even more deliciously flirty phrase?

bunch of heart shaped assorted color tablets
Photo by Emily Ranquist on

But where did this whole heart as a symbol of love thing originate anyway? Sorry to disappoint, I’m not here to tell you that.

What I do want to get off my chest (hah!), is the fact that the heart has four valves. But I bet you already knew that. The real question is, can you name them? Oh, you were too busy flirting with candy hearts during that lesson? No problem – I’m not here to grade your homework either.

What happens if one of the valves in your heart ceases to work? In an effort to not get all “cardiologist” on you, lets (for simplicity’s sake) agree that you’re dead, departed, cold, stiff, asleep, checked out, neutralized, sayonara…you get the idea.

In life, there are multiple “valves” that we need to take care of. I personally like to keep it simple “MIND, BODY, SPIRIT” – if you want to sound a bit more “uppity” (like you were paying attention in class) you might say “INTELLECTUAL, PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL.” You can slice your life’s heart into as many chambers as you wish (apparently a cockroach has 13). For example, you might include “personal, professional, and family” as some or all of your categories. It’s up to you.

You only get to die once.

THE CHALLENGE: Once you’ve sliced up the chambers of your life you need to keep the valves flapping. You can’t just have one love. A balance must exist. Heart failure will result if blood doesn’t flow. Blood, in this case, is time and attention. It’s commitment and planning. It’s a beautiful thing to have your life in balance and harmony. Now go flap whatever valve you’ve been neglecting!

Who Shot Me?

Want to appreciate military history? Or just life in general? Try playing paintball. You will see “bullets” flying at you. It will make your heart race. You will get shot, a lot. You might get a bruise. The best part is, you won’t die. It is perhaps the “realest” make believe you can engage in. I tried it for the first time last week and got blasted in the face, arms, finger, shoulder, leg, and butt.  I had 9 lives and 900 laughs.


During game time, the opposing teams are enemies and the players feel a degree of aggression. In the field of play, it is best to let your rounds remain anonymous. There is no time for chatter. The mask can’t come off. The action must continue. But off the field, it was nothing but jokes and laughter as we reflected on how each round played out.

“Who shot me in the back?”

“Hey, that was me that shot you in the face!”

“Awww man, you got me in the leg.  That one is going to leave a bruise for sure!”

Let’s apply this to life. Suppose there is a hereafter. I wonder – will we have a similar post game analysis? Will we let our guard down? Will we laugh at how we won or lost? Will we realize that the “round” that struck us right between the eyes – wasn’t that serious after all? How would knowing you are not really dead-dead change the way you interact with others? Might this lead to 9,000 random confessions?

“Hey, I was the one who stole your car.”

“I was the one who lied to you.”

“That was me who started that rumor.”

THE CHALLENGE:  If the actions of another human being are debilitating you, STOP! It might just all work out in the end.

Photo by Clauzemberg Jardim


Mind Your Mice

It was a sunny afternoon, bad day for the mice.


My kids jumped out of the car onto the sun baked asphalt. “Awwww, Dad look!  Baby mice!” Sure enough, three blind mice (the fourth was squished by a car).

I found it rather ironic that we were in the church parking lot. I had a chance to be the good Samaritan and save these helpless vermin. We could have easily used a piece of scrap paper and relocated them to the relative safety of the nearby shrubs. I made a decision to let nature take its course.

“Don’t worry kids, mama mouse will run back out to collect her litter.” We glanced back after crossing the parking lot. Three mice dancing in the hot sun, but no mama. I stuck to my decision.

Ten minutes later I ran back to my car for a pen. The mice were a bit more mobile but still needed rescuing. The odds were stacked against them – blind, no fur, no footing, rolling around in a parking lot, and there was not a cloud in sight. Again, I stuck to my decision rationalizing that they were just “pests” and we were in a residential area. Then the inevitable happened, a car pulled up and pancaked the remaining three rodents. In the moment, I second guessed my decision not to help.  But this is precisely the lesson I was willing (if not aiming) to teach my kids, that death is real. That nature is foul and therefore – foul is fair. That there is a cycle of life and something would eventually eat those mice dead or alive. That parents need to take responsibility. That there are hazards all around us and if we aren’t careful we will face bunny’s dilemma. That not all decisions are easy.

THE CHALLENGE: We often give up on our goals long before we give birth to them. What happens after we “give birth.” When you launch your project do you behave like mama mouse? Do you drop your litter off in an unforgiving environment? How many projects have you started in a stillborn fashion? Now is the time to do it right. i.e. Don’t start a diet in a bakery. Go attack your dreams even if YOU are the one who feels blind…just don’t forget to mind your mice.

Photo by Mark Seton