Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The Best Thing by JJ Heller



This song reminds me of how important it is to find our voice and to express and live who we are and who we are meant to be.

So many times we try to be somebody else to fit in and keep up with the world's fads. May we find our voice and not follow the crowd. It takes courage to stand out and step out and live our life and dreams. May you be inspired by this song as you sing your song for all to hear.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Bookery Bookstore in Placerville

The Bookery in Placerville, CA. 
My book, Essentials for Cultivating Passionate Volunteers and Leaders, is now available to purchase at The Bookery in Placerville, CA. If you happen to be passing through on your way to Tahoe you can visit Main Street in Placerville and check out The Bookery.

The Bookery, located on 328 Main Street, California, is a independent bookstore that has been around for over 30 years. Ciela Lux and Nancy Dunk purchased the store on September 1, 1983 and have been working together from then until present.

The Bookery, which was started by Gary Pigg and John Conforti in 1981, has a great variety of books and attracts locals as well as visitors.

The bookstore has also been linked to romance. To read more about a couple that met there on a blind date and later got married and other love stories click here.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Have a Wonderful Weekend!


Persey, our cat, hanging out with a friend. 

Every once in the while I like to see what others are posting online that is really uplifting or just plain interesting! Here are some recent finds. Relax and enjoy the links while you enjoy your weekend! 

Natural phenomenon transforms hummingbird's wings into tiny rainbows.

Cute dalmation with heart-shaped spots around his eyes. 

Check out Keanu Reeves as every Disney prince. 

Looking for a tattoo? And here are some temporary tattoos to try out to show some pride. 

Decorate a van to take on the next road trip. 

Rare creature identified as albino porcupine.

Check out these really cool tree houses

Read about how one man repopulated a rare butterfly species in his backyard! 

You can also check out my past cool finds below:

Really Cool Finds 7/11/12

Really Cool Finds 4/20/12

Really Cool Finds 2/12/11 

Really Cool Finds 11/21/09

Really Cool Finds 8/22/09

Really Cool Finds 7/26/12

Monday, July 08, 2019

Feature Photo


WELCOME TO HARMONY OF THE HEART!
I hope that you enjoy your visit to Harmony of the Heart. You will find inspirational articles, stories, poetry, beautiful photos, motivational videos and much more here. This blog was created to spread positive and inspirational messages that enrich people's lives. I hope that you will be a part of that by sharing posts that you like via email, Facebook, Twitter or other social networks.

Feature Photo
Every once in a while we post the Feature Photo, a striking photo. To view all of the other feature photos we have posted at Harmony of the Heart simply click here.

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Sunday, July 07, 2019

Coco Gauff's Inspirational Comeback

Cori "Coco" Gauff, a 15-year-old tennis player, is taking the world by storm. The teen sensation came from behind in a gritty match against Polona Hercog to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. She is the youngest player to play in the tournament.

In a her first match of the tournament she beat  Venus Williams, a five time champion.

After dropping the first set 3-6 in her match against Hercog, she came back to win the last two sets. At one point Hercog was one point away from victory. Watch the videos below to see how people reacted to her win and her match point.

Gauff, from Florida, was ranked 313th going in to the match.




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Surviving Postpartum Depression

Guest Columnist

 I survived Postpartum Depression (PPD).
Maternal Mental Health week was in April. Not many people know this. Why? One big reason is that many people who experience maternal mental illness are too scared to talk about it - for fear they will be seen as a bad mother.
My personal battle with maternal mental illness was against postpartum depression. An illness I describe as a slow-moving fog of blackness that sneaks up and completely consumes you, and by the time you realize it... it’s already too late.
PPD symptoms can vary from person to person so that’s why noticing you have it is complicated. There is no one size fits all when it comes to PPD.
Having a predisposition for depression I have always tried to be very self-aware. Psychologists have been a part of my life on and off since I was young. Anytime I felt emotionally imbalanced I would go to therapy for a bit, talk about what was going on and quickly get the all clear.
Because of my predisposition, I told my OB/GYN that I feared I might experience PPD. He recommended a psychiatrist and I started my sessions before I even gave birth to our son.

I was “prepared” and PPD still caught me by surprise.

My psychiatrist told me I was having PPD symptoms and I still spent months thinking it was baby blues that would be gone soon. I always handled my emotional imbalances without medication, this would be no different. I didn’t need help, or medication, or even therapy.

When I gave birth I felt that I had to be this perfect mom and nothing was ever allowed to be wrong with me.

I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel anything except wonderful. Denial and fear didn’t let me accept what was actually going on. I was thinking I would be considered a bad mother, bad spouse, and weak person if I admitted I had PPD.
My PPD presented itself in the form of extreme sadness followed by emotional numbness with a hefty side dish of OCD and Anxiety.
In the beginning, I cried a lot and I got angry when things didn’t go exactly as I expected. If something came up last minute, it meant canceling everything else I had to do that day. I would make any excuse if it meant staying home in my PJ’s.
Later I would swallow the lump that built up in my throat to avoid crying so I would seem ok. After swallowing my feelings for so long, my emotions just shut off.
Eventually, I was a robot going through all the motions but never truly absorbing any of the moments.
My OCD had me thinking if I didn’t rock my baby exactly 10 times before putting them down or if I didn’t sleep facing the nursery something terrible would happen. Not your "average" terrible, I mean out of the bloodiest horror movie terrible.
Anxiety would keep me up at night checking to make sure the baby was okay, even when I had a 24-hr nurse 6 days a week. The fear that something bad was going to happen wasn’t a first-time mother anxious feeling, it was anxiety that would send me into full-blown, chest constricting, hyperventilating, panic attacks.
How could I be that anxious and be emotionally numb at the same time?
One day day I was in the car with my husband and explaining to him what I was feeling. I said I was feeling like,

“There is a boulder weighing down my emotions…I can’t be as happy or even as sad as I want to be.”

I loved my baby, I just wasn’t able to push that rock off my heart that kept me from experiencing love fully and to enable me to outwardly express it.
That thought that people looked at me with anger, hatred, disgust, and disappointment made it so much worse. Like I was a monster.
Even though I had an incredible support group, that was probably almost as afraid as I was, I felt incredibly alone.
I waited. Waited the eight weeks I was able to breastfeed, waited the 4 months past it. I waited. I spent almost 6 months locked away in my brain before I agreed to take medication.
That was whole other scary scenario. I had to take something with side effects that might be worse than the symptoms I was having and had to pray that I wasn't part of the 2% who feel those extreme side effects.
One thing I cannot emphasize enough is…DO NOT STOP THERAPY WHILE MEDICATED! My psychiatrist helped adjust the medication, work out any problems I had with side effects; and once I was ready, we worked together to get me off the medication. DO NOT DO THIS ALONE!
Two weeks after taking the medication I felt a literal weight lift off my shoulders.
The boulder holding down my feelings floated up like a light fluffy cloud on a sunny day. The fogginess around my brain disappeared. When I was thinking a little clearer I found other things that would be able to support my emotional state once I went off the medication. I got into yoga, started taking vitamin D, and changed my diet among other things.

That was when I realized I had to fill my cup first.

I learned that nourishing myself was vital to my well-being and vital if I wanted to be able to nourish anyone else.
Once I was better and more outspoken about my PPD I had people say things like, “I could NEVER be sad after having a baby,” or “how could you act that way when you have a baby to care for,” or even, “why would you want to feel that way.”
That’s right because I chose to feel that way. When I gave birth a magic birth fairy came to my hospital room and told me, “‘You can feel happy and great or miserable and not yourself,’ and I said, ‘ You know what? I am happy enough all the time I will take the miserable, thanks.’”
I was feeling better and these people said these awful things looking directly at me with no concern of how incredibly hard it was to go through. It’s hard for anyone to understand that we don’t choose to be sad or anxious.

Nobody wants to feel that way, nobody chooses to feel that way, it is not their fault.

I believe I still deal with the effects of PPD and the medications I took to this day. Sometimes I find myself sitting at the edge of a black hole dangling my feet and looking at shiny objects at the bottom wondering how far I can scoot down before I am not able to get back out. I know better now, though, than to go down there if I can help it.
PPD doesn’t define me, but it will forever be a part of me.
I try to fill my cup full whenever, and however, I can. Not just because being happy and confident is awesome, but because I know the alternative is frightening.
I am so thankful to my support system for helping me through that scary time in my life.

I still feel guilty when I think about the quality time I lost with my family because of PPD.

So how do you know what you are going through is PPD? Talk about what you are feeling. Talk to your spouse, to a therapist, your OB/GYN, to a family member, a friend.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ASHAMED!
It happens to so many of us, and so many of us go off to cry quietly in a dark corner and it can’t get better if we don’t get help.
The faster you speak about maternal mental Illness, the more others will know they are not alone, and that it’s okay to say “I need help!”
The faster the stigma goes away, the more these mothers will be able to enjoy motherhood.

Speak up for you, speak up for them!


About the Author:
Rachelle lives in South Florida with her husband and 2 kids. After going through Postpartum Depression she started to blog about her journey from empty cup to full and how she learned to nourish herself so she could nourish others. She is a maternal mental health advocate sharing her story in hopes other women will know they are not alone and that its okay to ask for help. You can read more about Rachelle and her blog at www.theplentifulcup.com. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Strength of My Father

My father had a great influence on my life. His gentle and understanding manner really modeled for me that a man could have these qualities and thrive. His hard work ethic and vision showed me that dreams can come true if you work hard to attain them.

I wrote an article when I was in college that was featured in the Spartan Daily. Here is a link to the story to read.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

The India School Project Invests in Education and the Well-Being of Children

In India, girls are married off early, parents are not aware of the importance of education, school standards are low, and children are forced to work to help their parents in earning a living.

The India School Project (TISP) is a non-denominational and politically neutral charitable association headquartered in Switzerland. It invests in the education and well-being of disadvantaged children and their mothers in rural, underdeveloped villages on an island in India. As it is self-funded and reliant on donations, the association members work on a voluntary basis.

At present 170 children, divided into six classes, are being educated at a primary school and an additional 150 students at their Education Support Program in a small village in India. The curriculum is based on a holistic approach, which stimulates the cognitive, social and emotional growth of the students. Apart from the main subjects of math, English and Bengali, extra-curricular subjects, such as dance, singing, sports and yoga are taught. Furthermore all students are served a daily warm meal. 

Sandra Gojkovic, founder and president of the association, states, "This has a positive effect on their performance and serves as motivation for regular class attendance."

The school was recognized by the state government and was listed in the official school directory last year. 

Circle of Poverty
Gojkovic, states, "I learned that the circle of poverty has its roots in the rural areas, far away from the well-known slums of the big cities. Low living conditions in rural villages cause people to hope for a better life elsewhere and so they migrate to large cities where few succeed in finding a better life for themselves. Most emigrants end up in miserable slums and are forced to continue their lives begging. Our support, therefore, had to be based in the rural areas, so that help can be offered where it is most needed, while simultaneously easing the burden on the overcrowded urban slums."


Gojkovic enjoyed traveling with her parents at a young age. The travels exposed her to various cultures and experiences including witnessing poverty. She states, "Being confronted with poverty awakened my desire to help disadvantaged people at an early stage. I attempted to keep up with that by regularly donating money to various charities throughout my studies. However, this only fueled my drive to become involved and the plan to personally and actively help had been at the back of my mind ever since."

A work opportunity in Dubai opened new doors for her career in the field of Business Development and Marketing. In 2011 she embarked on a journey throughout India, which allowed her to redefine her priorities. She encountered unbelievable poverty that she could barely put into words. She shares, "As a backpacker, I crossed several areas of India by myself, visited several NGOs and helped locally in order to understand the source of this poverty and the potential for providing sustainable aid."

Given the fact that the drop-out rate at public schools in India are amongst the highest in the world,
it is remarkable that all final year students they worked with have passed the state exams.

Poulty Farm Social Business
In 2013, Gojkovic moved to Bangladesh for 3 months to study Social Business under The Nobel Peace Prize Winner Prof. Muhammad Yunus. This led to another venture: A poultry farm social business, which generates income and provides employment to villagers. So far, the group have created 20 jobs, which contributes to the improvement of the economic situation of the entire project area.

Women Empowerment
Gojkovic states, "As we believe in a holistic approach, we are about to set up a tailoring training center/Social Business to provide training as well as employment to women. They are the nurturers of the family and spend their profits on the whole family. Their income therefore leads to more literate children and less child labor as they are not dependent on additional income."

Twenty-five women just completed their tailoring training last month and will each receive another two months of additional training. 




The founder states, "My dream of being able to achieve a positive change in the world was realized step by step. In 2012, the money I saved up and the support of local partner organisations enabled the birth of the The India School Project.

"I currently dedicate every spare minute I have left after my studies and a part-time job to develop the project so that as many children as possible can be supported. I am very happy to be able to rely on the support of my family, friends and donors and thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

How You Can Help
Thanks to the combined effort of a team of 20 employees in India, as well as a board of seven members in Switzerland and the UK, TISP became a functioning reality. Simultaneously, without the support of private donors, foundations and volunteers in Switzerland and abroad, they could not have executed their work. Therefore any kind of help is highly appreciated. If you wish to make a contribution, kindly visit the organization's website at www.theindiaschoolproject.org or directly contact Sandra Gojkovic at sandra@theindiaschoolproject.org

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Volunteer Makes a Difference in His Community

Eddie and Russell
When Russell Prophet is not volunteering his time at Trailside Terrace, a Mercy Housing property where he lives, he can be found working on a bike to donate to a child or giving out popsicles to kids.

Prophet, who is involved in helping youth at the property, facilitates the Outdoor Club on Mondays and helps with tutoring and supervision of kids during various after school activities. It is not uncommon for kids to knock on his door to ask him for a snack or for help with something.

I think it means a lot to the kids that he is here, Shirin Wells, a mother and resident at Trailside Terrace who also helps out when she can, said. The kids just love him. If he was not here they would be lost without him.

Prophet started volunteering three years ago when approached by Resident Services Coordinator Eddie Zacapa, who has recently published a book called Essentials for Cultivating Passionate Volunteers and Leaders: Guidelines for Organizationsthat Value Connection. In the book Zacapa captures stories like Prophets and gives tips to leaders on how to build quality relationships with volunteers to help them reach their full potential. Prophet was really excited about a ping pong table that was donated to the community room and that is when the two first connected.

Building Connections
After a few ping pong games and a couple walks during our weekly Walking Club on Friday mornings, I decided to ask him if he wanted to volunteer with the kids, recalled Zacapa. He kind of shrugged his shoulders and said he would think about it. After he started volunteering he didnt stop and has been doing it since. He really means a lot to this community.

Prophet is one of three volunteers at Trailside Terrace and one of 20 active volunteers who are part of the Community Care Team that reaches out to both Trailside Terrace and White Rock Village. The team of volunteers wear t-shirts that read on the back, Demonstrating our care by doing our neighbor good.

Trailside Terrace is a property of Mercy Housing in Shingle Springs which provides affordable housing to create stable and healthy communities by developing, financing and operating affordable, program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic resources to access quality, safe housing opportunities.

Zacapa, whose intention in writing his book was to help organizations build quality relationships with volunteers that help them serve out of their passion and giftedness, says, Any time you meet someone, you can share your need and ask them if they might be willing to help. When you do, you are offering individuals a chance to contribute to making a difference.

Prophet and 20 other volunteers have been making a difference at both properties. Zacapa, who holds a community care team meeting once a month with his volunteers, believes it is important to include volunteers in the decision-making and giving them a voice.


Prophet, who has a chapter named after him in Zacapas book, came up with the idea to get a bike for all the residents at Trailside Terrace and worked on various bikes getting them ready. He also donated some to White Rock Village, another property of Mercy Housing.

People want to help and make a difference and many times it is simply about finding the right role for them to thrive, says Zacapa. It is about caring enough to get to know the volunteer and exploring with them what they like to do and their strengths.

Passionate Volunteers
Iva Bartley volunteers with the youth at White Rock Village and does an arts and crafts class in the summer and said that the reason she helps is because she wants to share her passion for art with the kids.

Terry Wagner, who has volunteered on the White Rock Village Knitting Team that has donated over 3,000 caps to newborns and cancer patients to local hospitals, says, The reason I help is really a selfish reason. It feels good to volunteer and help others. I like to share something that makes me feel good with others so that they can experience it as well. 

These individuals all have one thing in common - they shared the passion they had in their heart with others. Zacapa says that when this happens it is magical to watch what happens. I enjoy getting a front row seat to seeing these volunteers do wonderful things to enrich the lives of those around them, he says. 

Zacapas book demonstrates how to inspire and motivate volunteers and staff, reduce turnover and cultivate passion in the workplace. Zacapa, who has worked with volunteers for over 20 years with various non-profits and is also a certified trainer with The Center for Nonviolent Communication, draws on his experience and shares many inspiring stories of volunteers making a difference in his book.

Yoko Kono, Outreach Coordinator for Hands 4 Hope and an organization that has partnered with White Rock Village states, From building leadership skills to forming relationships and a sense of belonging, Eddie shares his expertise and knowledge for all agencies and organizations who work with volunteers. A must read for everyone involved in community engagement services!

Zacapas book is available at the Face in a Book Bookstore in El Dorado Hills and is available for sale at most online retailers.