February is Heart Health month, which is near and dear to author, speaker and entrepreneur Jordan Lee Dooley, because her family has a history—and powerful story—that has to do with matters of the heart.
My grandfather was a well-loved man. He fell in love with my grandmother, a woman from Mexico, and patiently communicated with her using a Spanish-English dictionary since she did not speak English and he did not speak Spanish.
They married and built a life together. Although he had to be on medicine for heart problems, he continued to work hard and make a better life for his family. One day, he died of a massive heart attack. My mother was only a toddler when she lost her father.
My grandmother was a fighter. Though she did not have heart-health problems, she did have a broken heart while raising a family of four children on her own. She was determined to give them a better life and immigrated to the U.S., working her tail off along the way.
I love this story about my grandparents, because they loved so big and boldly, and worked hard towards what was important—their family, marriage, and health. Although my grandfather passed away, his legacy lived on through my grandmother. As she took the time to mend her heart, she still worked hard and gave her love, time, and resources to their children and her community.
Their example is a reminder that even when life is tough—and when there’s hard work to be done—there’s also “heart work” to be done.
In other words, beyond our productivity and beyond what we can produce with our hands, there is even something more special to care for: what’s inside and unseen. It’s the connection we make when we pause to be present; the healing that comes when we allow ourselves to feel and ask for help; the state of our hearts, not just physically but emotionally, that really matters.
So, today, I’m passing on Nana and Grandpa Lee’s legacy to you—whenever you’re working hard, don’t forget to also do the “heart work” to really make an impact, inside and out.