Monday, December 31, 2012


Follow your heart to a healthier life

When my children became adults they moved to Utah and California to pursue their dreams.

Consequently, my husband and I spend a lot of time on airplanes, visiting them as often as possible.

In an effort to pass the time, I like to be friendly and engage my seatmates in conversation. Unless, of course, the person pulls a hood over their face and pretends to sleep even before take-off.  I can take a hint.  But in most cases my experience has been very positive.  I have met the most fascinating people.

Our most recent trek was to San Francisco, a six-hour flight.  The window seat was occupied by a woman of about 55 years old who was on her way to a small business seminar in San Francisco.  

She was a genuinely happy person, with a positive attitude who revealed that in the past she had a very responsible job that she hated.  She earned a good salary, but had no job satisfaction. Her husband was deceased and she was raising her two children alone. She seemed to be constantly sick from one illness or another. 

As soon as they were grown and on their own, she quit her job to pursue her dream of owning her own business.  It was a struggle getting started, and she still doesn't make as large a salary as she once did, but she said her physical health improved dramatically once her emotional health did.  "I wouldn't go back to a job I hated for all the money in the world."

Coincidentally, the in-flight magazine featured an interview with actor Hugh Jackman. He told of his early life and career and how he acted strategically instead of making choices from the heart.  "I wish someone had told me earlier that it's OK to follow my bliss," he said.

When I worked for Hospice, I often asked my patients if they had any words of advice for me.  It was no secret that they were at the end of life, and they invariably said they wished they had started working on their "bucket list" earlier. The most content people were able to say they truly enjoyed their family, friends and occupations.  It was sad to witness people who didn't pursue their dreams and sorely regretted it.

Colin Powell has been quoted as saying, “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”  Indeed, it is not always easy, but my children are pursuing their dreams and we have never seen them happier.

Hugh Jackman said, "whatever we do in life, if it's from the heart, the result is irrelevant. It's the journey that matters. I'll only follow my heart from now on." 

Sounds like good advice for us all. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at   

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