March 20, 2018

Hearts Broken Open

Tree women, barbara musser, sexy after cancerMichael Lerner’s talk at the CPIC breast cancer conference a few weeks ago continues to resonate in a very deep place within me. As I explore what it means to have my heart broken open, I’m discovering some pearls about this:

  • My heart broke at a young age when I felt unseen and unvalued in my family. How I coped with this was to build walls around my tender heart ~ walls designed to protect my heart from breaking again. I’ve lived much of my life in this protected place, even as more and more heart breaks happened. They are all piled up on those walls, like Gargoyles looking down on anyone attempting to come close to my heart.
  • Another way I coped with heart break was to be very busy, driving myself to do good in the world,  to help and to love others ~ so that they would think I was worthy and lovable. But if they came close, the Gargoyles would get them in some way, with defensiveness, sarcasm, not being allowed all the way in.
  • My adult life has been about teaching awareness and love ~ a humbling example of teaching what I most need to learn.
  • There’s been the ache of not being fully seen by others, and the realization that if I’m protecting my heart and not fully revealing myself, it’s not possible to be seen.

During the past few years as my focus has turned to helping women on the cancer journey to know that they are beautiful, desirable and lovable, my heart is broken open again and again. I’m rocked to my core by the courage it takes to be on the cancer journey; to want to heal more than the body; to allow the healing to happen and to seek healing. My heart has been broken open in spite of my survival and coping strategies. Seems like this is what it has taken for me to wake up in this way. I’m grateful for that.

And I’m experiencing the rawness of peeling away the layers of protection, realizing that I don’t know as much as I thought I knew, and not really knowing how to help, or if help is even wanted.

Today as I walked my dogs on the mountain I came upon a huge sprawling live oak tree, with many branches kissing the earth and then rising toward the sun, with several trunks wrapped around each other in support and growth and then rising toward the sun. As I looked at this beautiful tree, I realized that we need each other in ways we might not even be aware of.

What do you need? Is there a way that someone who reads this, or I can hold your broken open heart gently as you rise and grow toward the sun? Shall we walk this journey together, knowing that beneath all the thoughts we’re not separate from each other?

If you know an organization where we can speak, or you can connect us with someone who does, shoot us an email to We want to take this show on the road!


  1. Beautifully and vulnerably spoken Barbara

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