The Open-Hearted Truth Teller


“You know what we’re going to put you in?” she said.


My eyes rolled back in my head at the tangible excitement in her voice. I knew that tone. I had heard it many times during our coaching calls. It meant she had an assignment, one that wouldn’t be easy, one that would require work, one that no doubt would be uncomfortable.


“What?” I said unenthusiastically.


“Lovefest Bootcamp!” she blurted out.


Oh Jesus.


“We need to get you back in your heart,” she continued in a much softer tone, “because there’s magic when you’re in your heart. There’s magic when you’re in love with what you’re doing. There’s magic when you’re loving. When you’re loving it is so powerful and to be on the other side of that – and I know what that feels like – is really something special. We need to get you back in your heart, so we can design the dream and bring it to life.”


I don’t even know what I want anymore.


“Right now, you’ve lost the magic because you’re caught up in fear, you’re worried about what someone else is doing or what someone else has that you don’t – you’re angry and frustrated about what you don’t have anymore. We need to bring the love back in.”



She was right. Truth be told, she always is. I knew I wasn’t in my heart but getting back in my heart was hard. Over the last year I’ve had my share of experiences that have broken my heart and crushed my spirit to the point that I became quieter and the dreams became smaller – where I’ve questioned myself and what it is I want.


The 1st thing about designing your life means knowing what you want and bringing back the love affair to your dream. You can’t dream if you’re not connected to your heart.



“I honestly don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what my dream is anymore,” I moaned.


“You do,” she assured me. “If I took away everything in your life right now, if there was nothing, and I asked you, what do you want to do?, you would know. You need to remove the fear.”





It’s absolutely why I was so resistant to this Lovefest Bootcamp idea. It’s why I was so put off by rewriting my dream or doing anything beyond what I was currently doing – because what if I put it out there (again) and lost everything (again)?


The last time I rewrote the dream was during an intenSati retreat in Mexico over a year ago. It was hard AF to get laser clear about the dream and to cut through the fear, but an amazing thing happened when I did. Shortly after rewriting the dream, I landed the Studio Manager role at the Life Time in Fort Washington, taught a Life Time pop-up class for Be Well Philly (something I had on my vision board for years!), the opportunity for Master Trainer showed up out of no where and I started to climb the ladder as a nationally ranked performer in the company.


Fast forward a year later and I’ve left one club for another and I’m starting all over again, scared AF. I’ve left behind my soul tribe and I’m trying to make new connections and friendships. I didn’t land the role of Master Trainer. While I know writing out the dream isn’t a wish list, I feel like I got burned for dreaming so big and putting it all out there. It makes me afraid to really dream. I’m afraid of losing everything and having to start all over again.


My coach reminds me that it’s difficult to get into your heart and dream, it’s near impossible to fall in love with what’s in front of you in your present moment reality when you’re looking behind with upset, longing, fear or resentment.



When you don’t get the dream, you get disappointment and when you hold onto that you lose the love affair. Fear keeps you stuck.



I don’t know where to begin.


The thought was overwhelming and paralyzing. But, I also knew I didn’t want to keep feeling how I felt, so I reluctantly dug out old journals – tools from my coaching calls, as well as many edits and revisions to my dreams over the years. As I paged through a journal from my very first intensive life coaching weekend (way back in 2014), I found the words Open-Hearted Truth Teller. It was written in big, bold letters, taking up half the page, with a big circle around it. Seeing it made me cry.


At each weekend, based on the work you were doing, what you were up against and working through – what your ultimate soul purpose was – the facilitator of the training bestowed you with a name, something to remind you of the work you were called to do when the reality of life came calling. The name given to me was Open-Hearted Truth Teller. And, after talking with my coach earlier in the day, the irony was not lost on me.



We all want more of something – more space, more time, more love, more whatever. This is where the dreaming starts. With the “more”. The more is where the excitement and love is. Just the idea of having our more, of living the life we want to live, is tantalizing. But, in our dreaming and in creating our love affair with the dream,


We realize: Shit. I’m not there yet.

We worry: What if I never get “there”?

We recall: This is what happened before.

We close off: Fuck it.



We develop what is known as closed-heart syndrome. We literally close ourselves off to the magic of living, creating, loving.


When our hearts are closed, we can’t express our full potential. We limit what we allow into our lives. We limit our careers, personal relationships, health and overall wellness.


We think getting what we want requires us to focus on what we want. But, to truly get what we want, our focus needs to shift from what we want to reflecting on how much we allow the things we want into our lives, how much we truly allow our hearts to be open.


Opening our hearts is hard because opening our hearts isn’t a doorway we just walk through – it’s a multi-layered cake. The sweet bits that are most exquisite sit in our core. The hardened, tough outer-crust sits closer to the surface. Sometimes covered by icing sugar, it’s dressed up to look like something it’s not. In fact, the outer shell tends to be made of the really hard stuff we’d rather layer on than cut through and deal with: anger, frustration, resentment, fear. These emotions are usually the cap for everything that exists within.


In order to get deeper, we need to get things off our chest. In order to get back in our hearts to the place where we can design the dream and bring it to life, we have to face our vulnerabilities, be with our difficult feelings and admit that we can’t do it alone.


What I wanted – what I think we all want when we find ourselves stuck in a cycle of fear, anger or resentment – was a quick prescription. I wanted a detailed, ‘You do this, this and then this, in this order, at this time, and BOOM! problem solved’. I wanted a foolproof map with every step – what to do and how and when to do it.


The heart won’t give you a map because there is no one prescribed path. The heart will simply ask you to feel and it’s in the feeling that the path unfolds.



Open your heart


Breathe into the hard stuff

When a painful situation occurs in our lives, we slather on copious amounts of icing trying to mask the pain. Closing ourselves off to the pain isn’t just a metaphor though. When we close ourselves off emotionally, we also close ourselves off physically.


One of the easiest ways to tune in and ask if your heart is open is to notice your breath. Is it constricted, shallow or irregular? Or, is it open, expansive and full?


Our breath mirrors our life and our yoga practice teaches us to simply come back to the breath as a means to quiet our minds and enter our hearts. By utilizing our breath, we soften our experiences and allow ourselves to breathe into the hurt, sadness, anger and resentment.



Get if off your chest

The initial impulse to uncomfortable feelings is to run away, mask or suppress how we feel. But when we do this, we only put more layers between ourselves and what it is we want. We close ourselves off to the parts of our lives we need to experience most in order to grow. Ultimately, the only thing keeping us from having a love affair with the dream – from the full-blown freedom in our lives – is our resistance to feeling something.


The next time the urge to mask the pain and suppress how you feel comes up, breathe and lean into the feeling. Acknowledge how you feel and act in spite of the fear.



Ask your heart what it wants (and be willing to fully listen)

Fear keeps us stuck. Past events limit our future vision. We overthink, overanalyze and make pros and cons lists until our eyes bleed and our brain are sore.


What if instead, you took a different approach? What if you engaged a muscle that is not normally involved in the decision-making process: your heart.


Choose one area of your life and write out the dream. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Focus on how it would feel to be experiencing your life in this way in the present moment (I am… versus When I… or I want to…).


Create the dream in full detail as if it is happening right now and don’t be afraid to make it a stretch. It should be something that scares you, something that gives you goosebumps, something you desire so much that you want to have an outright love affair with it.


(Need help designing your dream? Handel Group runs small workshops , more intensive Design Your Life Weekends , and offers one-on-one coaching sessions .)



This week, dare to dream and open your heart. Start a love affair with yourself and watch the magic unfold.