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I Rang in the New Year with Dr. Ruth
Dr. Ruth and I snaked our way through the crowd of 1,200 of our closest friends in search of the ladies’ room at a New Year’s Eve gala two days ago as she took my hand and told me how fun it had been to buy the sparkly blue jacket she was wearing.
As we chatted, we were repeatedly interrupted by people stepping forward to tell her how much they appreciated her.
In response she was perfectly gracious without slowing down, a woman who had mastered the art of sharing heartfelt connection while keeping to her purpose and course.
We all know Dr. Ruth Westheimer as a pioneer in mainstreaming sex education. A powerhouse of a woman who, for 40 years, has taken every opportunity to give us the information she wanted us to have about the most intimate aspect of our lives.
Whether we were comfortable hearing about it or not, she persevered.
Because her media message has been so strong, most people know nothing else about her and the heart-breaking events she has lived through.
Did you know that Dr. Ruth faced extreme challenges in her early life?
- At age 10 she was sent from Germany to Switzerland for safety, where she lived for years in an orphanage.
- While she was in Switzerland, her parents died in a concentration camp.
- At age 17 she became a Jewish Freedom Fighter for Israel, where she was a sniper and sustained such a serious injury in action that it took her months to walk again.
When I learned these things, I saw the vulnerability in Dr. Ruth.
Yes, she’s tough as nails when she wants to get her point across.
But she is also 85 years old, 4 feet 7 inches tall, and carrying a past I’m not sure I could have recovered from.
Yet even with terrible violence and loss in her youth, throughout her Dr. Ruth career she has been talking to people from her heart.
In spite of all that the world took from her, she has been
working tirelessly to give to the world and make it a better place.
She does what she does because she loves us and she wants the best for us. I absolutely got that when I was with her.
Her heart’s mission is stronger than her heart’s wounds.
Might that be true for all of us? That deep down our heart's mission is stronger than our heart's wounds?
Sometimes our losses feel crippling and our challenges look insurmountable. Maybe the secret to recovery lies in developing a more intimate relationship with the love in our own heart.
And maybe resilience comes from letting the
strength of our heart’s mission lift us up and guide us forward.
As we start a fresh year, let’s each ask, “How can I turn to my heart for recovery and resilience in the year ahead?”
I wish you a liberating and transformative year.
Believing in you,
January 2, 2014