Exercise your heart

Let this lovely handcrafted card from the Boom Room inspire your heart to soar -- or at least jog!

Let this lovely handcrafted card from the Boom Room inspire your heart to soar —
or at least do some jumping jacks!

“Exercise your heart today.” — from a Dove Chocolate wrapper

One year ago today, I wrote a post about the physical demands of sailing, using it as a metaphor for dealing with the challenges of living.  It’s not just our bodies that get stronger with exercise, though. Our minds and spirits need it even more.

As part of Jeff’s ongoing campaign to keep me from getting as thin as I think I should be (or maybe because of their documented mood-elevating properties), he often buys me chocolates.  Most recently, he gave me a bag of those wonderful Dove dark chocolate hearts that have little sayings inside the wrapper.  Now that I’ve used one of the sayings here, I have an excuse to eat more of these candies.  Ah, the perks of blogging!

When I saw the message quoted above on one of the wrappers, I really liked it.  Depending on how you read it, it can be a very deep concept.  Some will think of physical exercise and its cardiac benefits.  But I think the best meaning is the figurative one; we need to take time each day to exercise our ability to care, and to show it in useful ways.  As with all exercise, it will require intent and some degree of stamina, but will get easier as we go along.

OK, so here’s a challenge: let’s exercise our hearts TODAY by doing some little or big thing we might not have planned to do.  Here are some possibilities to get you started:

Send a note or card to someone who might enjoy hearing from you.

Tell a loved one how much you appreciate some VERY SPECIFIC thing that they do or are.

Leave an encouraging comment on someone else’s blog. (NOT counting this one! 🙂 )

Carry a small plastic bag outside and pick up any little bits of trash that might have blown into your neighbors’ yards.

Let cars merge in front of you, or let someone go first in the checkout line at a store.

Listen to someone who just needs to vent.

Give a heartfelt compliment to a stranger who has an adorable baby or pet with them.

Be extra patient with someone who is having a bad day.

If you catch yourself starting to say something negative, try to substitute something positive in your mind, and say that instead.

Your turn!  What are some other ways we can exercise our hearts today?  Share your ideas here – then let’s all “just do it!”

One year ago today:

Adjust the sails


  1. Great tips. Who knew Dove chocolates would be both delicious and philosophical. Have an amazing day.

    • Yes, their philosophy is sweet indeed! 🙂 Hope you have a great day too!

  2. singleseatfighterpilot

    Go, and worship (not just by force of habit).

    • I agree! But I would add, sometimes even if I do go mostly from force of habit, there is still a blessing to be found there. Sometimes I end up in true worship almost in spite of myself, not because I’m sitting in a church building, but because something someone says or does will touch and inspire me. That’s why I’ve always found worship is best and most beneficial when one is among other believers.

      • MaryAnn

        Well said! The sermon today was about worship being powerful as a group of believers gather, because it releases the “river of praise” we each have within us.
        As the praise flows together & swells, it is great uplifting worship! What a beautiful way to “exercise the heart”.

        • Yes! Many, many years ago when we were at a congregation that was having its problems (as it seems so many do) I said to Drew “if it wasn’t for all the wonderful people here I would want to leave this church” and he said “Mama, the church IS the people!” Good reminder.

  3. raynard

    Julia, while I walk several miles during work everyday, We still try to go out to the local walking track. I believe it’s about 2 miles long and it’s also a reason to”go out on a date after to get some Rita’s Italian Water Ice. BTW you have one in your area( i looked it up for you and yes they do have sugar free).. Making a difference in the daily lives of others is my theme. Never one to draw attention to myself especially when I bake. Still have first 2 road trips planned after finished getting our van worked on. It’s 8 years old and she’s a workhorse. I didnt resend the same card but a different one. hope you both enjoyed it.Busy week this week, 10 hour days. be blessed

    • Hi Raynard, I have seen Rita’s and thought about stopping there, but haven’t thus far. When it gets hot, though, I might really enjoy it! I’m already getting back into my cold club-soda-with-a-splash-of-fruit-juice routine, even thought it’s still way too cold to really need it. I still could not find any card; what email address are you sending it to? There is nothing in my inbox or spam filter, so it must be getting blocked somewhere, but I’m not getting any bounce notices. No rush, especially if you have 10 hour days this week, but just wanted you to know that something is apparently causing them to go missing. Thanks anyway for thinking of us – we appreciate it! BTW we have a van that’s 14 years old and I don’t like to part with it because it too is a “workhorse” although it’s going to conk out sooner or later!

  4. We think as we act, and we act as we think. May we think and act virtuously. It just may make someone’s day-maybe our own.
    have a great day Julia,

    • Thank you Alan! I am growing more aware all the time of how important it is to “take every thought captive” instead of letting it work the other way around! I appreciate your visits here.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, would baking a batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies count? I could bake them for Bill and sample several to make sure they are edible. I think I’ll mosey into the kitchen and tell him I’m exercising. Never a dull moment! 🙂

    • Sheila, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies count triple! Be sure and take adequate sample tastes, though. My philosophy is to eat about half the dough and/or cookies to ensure the best quality control. 🙂 You just never know.

  6. I’ll have to remember this quote…and exercise it daily. thanks for sharing Dove’s secrets. I buy Dove chocolates for my SS class members…I’ll look for the Dove chocolate hearts.
    Hope you’re enjoying a spring day. 🙂

    • Thanks Merry, it turned off a good bit colder today (wind chill of 37) but it was fairly sunny, and a nice relaxing day. Hope yours was nice too! You’ll love the Dove chocolate hearts. I like the dark ones best.

  7. michael

    I was just reading a meditation about patience with God and they mentioned an exercise to increase patience as to get in the longest line at the market checkout. That for me would be one of the most irritating things I might do and probably I will pass on that one.
    However, yesterday I did see an older couple in their 80’s moving slowly down the canned goods aisle at Safeway. I thought that will be me- sooner or later. So I might as well start practicing.
    By the way, you don’t see a lot of older folks walking in NYC at Times Square. Sometimes you see them lounging in wheel chairs in Central Park with their care givers. Does not seem a great place to grow older.

    • Michael, I’m not too wild about Times Square myself – too much stimulation except in very small doses! I think NYC could be easier for seniors than living out in the country somewhere. Medical care, transportation, and the pool of available health care workers all might be more accessible there, as would various forms of social services and activities. However, the stress would definitely be difficult. Perhaps a suburban location near a major medical center would be best, a sort of blend of rural and urban living. I have been surprised at Matt actually having FEWER available options in the DC area than he had in York County – because, although there are lots of possibilities, there is also a huge population base seeking such services, and almost everything has a long waiting list. As the population ages, we will discover the price that comes with everyone being so independent and isolated from each other. We have seen it a bit earlier than most because of living with Matt’s disabilities, but sooner or later, everyone will get a taste of it.

  8. LB

    Excellent advice and I like the term “exercise your heart”.
    (and keep eating that chocolate!). I’m looking forward to our Skype Tea. I don’t think I realized that you are also in Virginia 🙂

    • Yes, LB, I live on the less attractive side of the Commonwealth 🙂 but it’s still a pretty place. I am excited about our Skype tea also! Boomdee didn’t want to call it a “Tea Party” to avoid political connotations, but perhaps we can call it a “Mad Tea Party” – that would fit me anyway! I can’t wait to have tea across the International Date Line! See you there!

  9. Megan

    I once had a Dove chocolate wrapper that said “you are gorgeous.” Even though it was just a candy wrapper, it elevated my mood for the rest of the day!

    • I think they really hit on a clever idea with those little wrappers, because they really do make an impact, silly as it may seem. Sort of like the proverbs on the tea tags from Good Earth tea, which I always enjoy (and often save, alas). I like Fortune Cookies for the same reason, as you may remember!

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