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Pink 3D Hearts

Heart Matters!

Wholehearted practices shared in private groups

Image by Susan Wilkinson
Image by Kelly Sikkema

Heart Matters! GCI
Shelly's private group on Global Coherence Initiative App sponsored by HeartMath Institute

My heart for Sardegna_edited.jpg

Please join me on my private group to practice heart and brain coherency!


Our heart rate is always changing, creating a pattern. Heart rhythm patterns, based on our "heart rate variability" (HRV), are a powerful window into our health and emotional wellness. HRV biofeedback will help you to access a healthy and high performance state called heart coherence which balances your mind and emotions. This helps prevent stress and clears your thinking for more effective choices.

 Free technology offered on the GCI app using only your finger and phone camera will measure your heart rate variability.  You can use audible guides to help you increase coherency and you can watch how when in your heart practicing feeling good, how your coherency gains strength and see it lower when your mind intervenes.  


With a consistent practice, you will emotionally restructure and rewire your brain. This shift will increase your baseline coherency and help you to do in-the-moment emotional refocusing in the face of triggers and stress.  It helps us take the needed pause to prevent unwanted reactions,

If you are interested in learning more or would like to join my private group for free, press on the picture to contact me!

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Heart Matters! Book Club
Featured Book


The author weaves a personal history and desire for better social skills that led him to researching the essential elements of how people can deeply connect with themselves and others. He distinguishes his loving family being an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation, but did not teach him how to make heartfelt connections.  He mentions the effects of detachment and withdrawal in life as he became a practiced emotional escape artist.  In his discussion, he compassionately explains the importance of presence for grief, trauma, mental health, including references to suicide.

Image by Kelly Sikkema

Heart Matters! Book Club
Shelly's private WhatsApp group and Zoom Meetings


If you are interested in post-pandemic growth and connection, please add your heart to the learning community where a safe space invites creative thinking about relational topics on healing, heart qualities and building caring kinship.

Please link to me by pressing on the image if you would like to join or find out more information

Heart Matters! Book Club Structure

  • WhatsApp Group “Heart Matters! Book Club”, Shelly Early, Group administrator and facilitator.

  • Insights during the reading are welcomed and encouraged in the group WhatsApp during the reading.

  • Invitation to meet on Shelly’s Zoom Room every 5 weeks and discuss findings, practices, observations and changes noted.

  • Shelly will provide a format for discussion, and encourage comments that respect the group intentions for the book as outlined.

  • If the pace of the book is too fast for you or not to your interest, please go at your own pace, but try to enjoy the things shared generally

Group Reminders

  • Let’s joyfully stay curious and open to new insights!  

  • You are invited to share with the group heartfelt comments that the selected reading has generated within you.  Be mindful to respect the safe and accepting space we are co-creating.

  • Try to contemplate any new or challenging contributions in a generous light.

  • Try not to take anything shared in the group as a personal attack.  Most people truly do not know the pain that weigh us down, although it can feel so apparent to us. Typically, other people are naive how to navigate better our battered hearts.

  • Please try to remember that what is obvious to you may not be so to me...that's why we are sharing.

  • Please be mindful that all in this group are on a personal journey of self-discovery and growth that includes integrating deep hurt from the past that registers as traumatic responses frozen in how we relate to others and ourselves.  Some of us are healed in certain areas whereas not in others and vice versa.  

  • Please be intentional as to why you share what you share.  

  • Please, let’s hold judgment at the door in this room—that of ourselves and others.

  • Please be respectful and uphold the dignity of all humans even when someone might challenge an area of your personal experience, knowledge or understanding.

  • Anything shared or in the book that is too triggering for you, please take care of yourself and do some HeartMath techniques to help make a good decision on how to proceed.


How to Know a Person 
by David Brooks

Chapters 1 - 9

Suggestions For Exploration and discussion
Chapters 1 - 5

  • In Chapters 1 - 2, the author mentions curiosity as one of the aspects to the art of seeing others deeply. Please feel free to share with the WhatsApp group your feelings about curiosity or any of the other qualities in the heart word cloud.

  • In Chapter 4, the author explores what we learn from others by just being by their side... accompaniment.  He mentions playing with his infant son everyday for hours.  It occurred to him that he felt this child knew him more than any other human being and that he knew his infant son best.  This knowing was without the construct of how language informs us. Does language help or hurt us?  Obviously, language is a gift.  But, it suggests that we can learn a bigger picture with other non-verbal cues.  What do you lean towards to help understanding?

  • Regarding Chapter 5, I put into the group chat that the factors that shape our reality are explored.  Since there are always unknown, invisible factors that can make another point of view, words and actions completely foreign to us, what seems obvious to us is not to the other person.  Or perhaps, it might be better stated that what is indisputable to them is not to us.


Learn More:

Suggested Books Mentioned In Chat or referenced by the author:

  • "The Power of Curiosity" by Kathy Taberner and Kristy Taberner Sibbins

  • "Braving the Wilderness" by Brené Brown

  • "Atlas of the Heart" by Brené Brown

  • "The Grieving Brain" by Mary-Frances O'Connor

Build Your Skills Practice:  Let's Move The Conversation Forward on WhatsApp Private Group Chat Heart Matters! Book Club:

  • How do you think curiosity could make a difference in how you relate to yourself and others?

  • What kind of questions would you like for someone to ask you?

  • How do you think curiosity brings greater honesty, vulnerability and clarity into a relationship

  • Are you curious or do you think you know what I mean in my recent 'aha' moment: "Nothing Inspires Curiosity"?  Ask some questions to deeply know Shelly and maybe get to know yourself better in the process!

  • In conversation, what is your style:  Openhearted questions or Teller of what you know?

  • What makes it difficult for me to truly see others?  

  • What makes it difficult to hear what they another is saying?

  • Why do I not ask more questions in conversation?

  • How can you use my special sauce of creativity to see challenges differently, whether that be difficult people, circumstances or doubts, fears and anxieties?


You are kindly welcomed and encouraged according to your availability to participate on WhatsApp Heart Matters! Book Club sharing any contributions...big or continue the discussion.  Try not to overthink the merit of it, all is appreciated and valued.  Your heart matters!


Our resource of creativity is a huge well.  Throughout our chat, it is shaking out that many of us have been conditioned to believe that we are not creative because of a narrow definition that limits and blurs artistic ability with creativity.  In truth, when we tap into our creative energy, regardless of how it may manifest, creativity can provide our life wiggle room to breathe, play, rest, solve and then do…we are artistically expressing ourselves.

Shelly's Op-Ed - Please press 'Read More' to expand the commentary as it relates to the book for chapters 1 - 5:

Studies about eye-to-eye contact/bonding in infancy reveals that many mammals in the animal kingdom and humans prefer to hold a baby on their left side or breast. They believe that this has to do with seeing with the left eye and the activation of the social engagement hemisphere prominent to the right side of brain. On the basis of our bioenergetic blueprint: The leftsided structures and functioning of the body (typically the domain of the right hemisphere of the brain, but something does change if one is predominately left handed) has to do more with our receiving, trusting and emotional processes, and is more associated with creativity and abstract constructs. The right-sided bodily features and performance (typically domain of the left hemisphere of the brain) have more connection with our doing, believing and rational or logical process, and is more associated with concrete thinking. Abstract thinking is the ability to think about objects, principles, and ideas that are not physically present. It is related to symbolic thinking, which uses the substitution of a symbol for an object or idea. Research has found that abstract thinkers are more likely than concrete thinkers to take risks. This may be partly due to the idea that concrete thinkers, more concerned with “how” to perform an action rather than “why,” might be dissuaded from starting a risky task because they’re more focused on the practical effort involved with the task, while the abstract thinker might be more occupied with considering the pros and cons of the risk. Concrete thinking is the opposite of abstract thinking. This type of processing focuses on what can be perceived through the five senses: smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch. The vast majority of people use a combination of concrete and abstract thinking to function in daily life, although some people may favor one mode over the other. Interestingly, I have read that most people’s right eye is bigger than their left eye. Naturally, I immediately scrambled off to the mirror and examined a myriad of photos to discern which of my eyes appeared bigger…no surprise to me…my left eye. I lean heavily on abstract thinking and emotional awareness. That is, until my husband unexpectely died and in an instant my whole world crumbled. Throughout the mourning process, I have noticed how my right eye appears bigger. Possibly, it reflects my seeking through my sensory processes to locate my former world and the persons central to that life, my husband and me. As well as, my ardent desire to to make sense of the illogical nature of his death and disparity between who I thought he was and how his life ended. In any case, it is a process to rebuild one's life after huge losses. In “The Grieving Brain” by Mary-Frances O'Connor something poignant about our reality construct can be learned from the neuroscientific view of what happens during loss, particularly one that absolutely forces a literal change to the day-to-day routines and reality that are no longer there, e.g. as one does when losing a mate. Fascinatingly, the brain has to learn to remap life and the author compared it to how we map out everything including how to navigate and locate the bathroom in the middle of the night without the aid of light. For any of you who have traveled staying in a succession of different lodgings, you might have experienced the disorienting feeling of getting back to your own home and momentarily forgetting where you are and immediately left-right sided issues manifest, such as which direction to head to the bathroom or which side to grab for the toilet paper or something like that! So, here is something interesting to think about: I asked a man today walking along the beach who happens to work in a neuro-field this: why did he think some people are more inclined to flow through change than others? In other words, why do some people feel relentlessly stuck while others seem to find ways of working through uncertainty and start the process to reinvent themselves when life-changing events happen or when the old ways and patterns of life simply are no longer working for them? It has been my observation with my clients that some folks have greater difficulty letting go and accepting that doing so will lead to good outcomes. For some, as desperately as they might want the change, it just feels impossible even if it is only one step away. The man mentioned about our attachment to our early formed neural patterns, which HeartMath Institute has done numerous studies and developed the techniques for us to upgrade our baseline reference patterns that our gatekeeper, the amygdala, carefully watches and guards. So, that was not hard for me to understand, but wasn’t quite the nuance of what I am curious to understand. Suddenly he shifted and looked at me, he asked me: “Are you a person who trusts the process?” It took me a nanosecond to know exactly at heart the answer… “Yes.” He then said, “That’s your answer. You basically are a person who trusts so you surrender to the process more easily than some others do.” Please understand, this is not a judgment, only an experiential observation of the differences. This is not a 'better than you' platform, but a sharing of something that we can all learn to cultivate into our unique styles of garnering and applying knowledge. Now I had a new burning question to explore...why do I typically trust change when I have had quite a lot of reasons in life not to do so. Later, as I was relaying this conversation to our friend in the chat, Jennifer, I was riffing about this, aka 'Shelly Audiobook Ramble'. In the retelling of this morning conversation, I started to connect some reasons why I think that I personally take more risks to trust unknown things. This thought will circle us back to one of our first discussions in the group chat when the bravehearted contributors had mentioned how fear and uncertainty can close down their creativity. I related that for me, I see life situations very much as I see my work…a field of energy or it could be said a field that contains all the pros and cons, the gamut of all possible outcomes for better or worse from one extremity to the other and the middle comfort zone within it. Being more predominately abstract thinker, I tend to relate as it comes to me in patterns. Using those patterns, I theorize how many Safety Valves v. Pitfalls are in it. Unworkable extremes are tossed out of the equation, just like in any model or evaluation where there are unusable variables because, let’s face it, that’s not an option, e.g. for me, being a Bible Student who is cultivating God's love, standards and principles, would exclude a lot of stuff. So, if there is identifiable safety measures (or resources) that I know I can access or create something to bridge the pitfall (any area of fear and danger), this process also clarifies to me my motivations and intentions, so typically I will go for it and start the surrender process of letting go of what stands in the way of progress. For clarification, I scale high for input both on sensory sensitivity and emotional empathic sensitivity. This translates to the fact that I download within me a lot of information that is more than the typical majority of population. There are downsides to this, but the upside is that I have a lot of material to play with to create a plan of action. Admittedly, this process can be laborious and time-consuming, requiring many outlets that help me to sort it and make any kind of sense out of it. In fact, recently, I was derogatorily accused of being a ‘hash and rehash’ person. I have decided to reframe that slight into a great compliment! Yes, in a way, it is true that I am. But, not in a repetitive, holding flight pattern way of thinking and definitely not to ruminate with no end game and hold it over someone else. No, I am using empathy to imagine as many variables that could be influencing the situation or person in comparison to how I am perceiving. Upon looking at everything from as many angles, dimensions and light as possible, personally, it helps me to see other options that can give new meaning or compassionate latitude to the problem at hand. It is as if I am rolling wine around in my mouth trying to discern every characteristic and flavor influencing the finality of how I feel about it.

Chapters 10 - 17

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