The Heart of the Matter


The grade-school pleasure of construction-paper hearts and pink-buttercream cupcakes never really goes away.

On college campuses, lean Romeos leap February’s slushy curbs with tissue-wrapped bouquets in hand. Doilies cascade across the windows of senior centers. And more than a few boxes of message hearts find their way into corporate cubicles.

It’s a day of red built on the hope that someone is true blue.

This month, Valentine’s Day mingles with cardiac-health awareness in a combination that promotes giving your heart away while keeping it safe.

To thine own self be true. Protect your beating heart by, among other things, shedding extra pounds. Extra baggage — emotional and physical — leads to heart attacks and heartache.

Of all the challenges we confront each day, human interaction can be the most confounding — all those hurts and slights inflicted knowingly and unknowingly. At the former Severo school years ago, a group of ballet students hanging out at the barre before class got to chatting about how to deal with problematic people — the perpetual difficulties of the social pas de deux.

Marcia suggested declawing catty females by bestowing a disarmingly lavish compliment. Michael, less inclined to sweet talk, said: Every once in a while, you have to put some people’s names through the paper shredder.

Another solution: Invest your resources and energies where they’re appreciated, as our item on a yearlong drive to shelter and feed the too-many hungry and homeless among us suggests. It will do your heart well.

The 2011 food-and-shelter effort comes via the combined efforts of The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. They and other non-profits are called “foundations” for good reason. They focus on the underpinnings of what really matters.

Basics are at the heart of a new creative competition sponsored by Hour Detroit. Beginning this month, we’re seeking submissions for a Rust Belt logo. (Details at

We in the great oxidized north — from Chicago to Cleveland, Detroit to Pittsburgh — regard ourselves as survivors who know how to make things, even if the industrial ground has shifted beneath our feet.

In the “heart-shaped world” of February, we can ask ourselves Bo Diddley’s musical question: “Who do you love?” Answer: Ourselves. If we don’t, who will?

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