A Healthy Heart


Scott and Erin Iler are ready to move forward.

Friday afternoon, Scott and I finally had the opportunity to have a date.

We drove to Cal State Los Angeles and sat in a very well organized line, and waited for quite some time, to get the anticipated Phizer vaccine for Covid-19. With school reopening, we felt the urgency to find a vaccination site and act quickly to get the vaccine. As we drove around the entire campus, we were impressed by the logistics that each mega site has created to allow thousands of individuals per day to receive this vaccination.


As we came to the final stopping point, Scott and I displayed our ID card to the National Guard and they asked us a series of questions. When we turned the bend, I was overwhelmed by the amount of cars and lanes that were presented in front of us. All of these individuals were waiting for the same thing, all of us for the past year, have been on pins and needles (no pun intended) to keep ourselves safe and healthy.


I watched the multiple medics rush to get more shots from their “Red Cross tents” and I told Scott, “This is something we will be telling our grandchildren about for years to come.” My grandparents told me stories about World War II and the Great Depression. I will someday be sitting in a rocking chair, telling the grandchildren not to waste toilet paper because I lived through a global pandemic. When the medic came to our car windows, he asked us what our profession was. We quickly told him we were teachers. He said “Oh my gosh. I don’t know how you guys have done this for a year. I would have given up a month into it.”


Then, I looked at him. I wondered the same thing, How does he have the endurance and stamina to help vaccinate thousands of individuals each day?

It was an emotional moment. All of the stress, anxiety, strength to build for our children in the past year, just poured out. I looked at Scott and I honestly don’t know how we made it through different points of this past year.


Regardless of your views on vaccinations, we can all agree that the physical and mental health of humans in our society declined in the past year. When I officially got the vaccine, I didn’t feel any different physically, but mentally, I felt like I allowed the sunlight back into my brain.

Let the sunlight in. . .

I know that might sound dramatic, but I felt like I had hope that I could start to heal and repair from the trauma that I have gone through in the past year.


As I had these overwhelming emotions, I began to think that above anything, our mental health is what often inhibits, prevents, or even creates a barrier to our physical well being.

I thought about how I repeatedly tried to suppress my fear, my anger, my uncertainty in the past 350 days to show my strength to my children and my students.


Behind closed doors, I would vent to Scott, but I built that shield to help protect me on my daily occurrences so I could remain “healthy.” As I went down this rabbit hole of trying to figure out how to move forward, I stumbled across Brene Brown’s inspirational quotes.

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

As I read this a few times, I realized why children in general are more healthy than adults. Don’t get me wrong, they get sick countless times. But they bounce back from their ailments, they heal more quickly.


How many times this year, I wish I could have stomped my feet and done the same thing my girls did when they heard there was going to be more zoom teaching, or more travel restrictions, or scream when I heard about the repeated injustices that were happening.


A colleague of mine, who is a licensed family therapist, said when children feel safe they will “vomit their emotions” on the loved one they can trust. After they perform this act, they can move on and return to a more calm mental state of mind.


Who can you trust to authentically pour out your emotions, free of censor, without any judgement? I love to talk, I love to write, I love to express myself and purge my thoughts. It feels like I had a great bath, and then I can move forward.


The state of being HEALTHY is more than being free of illness. When I googled the definition, the definition that appeared first was the following one:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”


This past weekend, I finally had the opportunity to see my cousin. Although we still had to wear our masks and socially distance, I felt more healthy than I had in a long time.

That one hour of talking, laughing, going on a walk together as our children went for a bike ride, felt like I had just boosted my immune system. I had mental strength and I felt connected again. We wished we had days to catch up and chat. . . but that one hour gave us both a shot of Mommy Power.


So, are you Brave enough to truly heal from this past year? It’s going to be a combination of physical and mental doses of health remedies.


The date that Scott and I went on at 2:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, in the parking lot of Cal State Los Angeles, gave me time to talk to Scott and time to have perspective on how to regain my health.

Guess what? My heart is thanking me for it already. I need to begin to repair, I need to start making plans again, and I need to be present for my children.


Don’t underestimate the power that lies within each one of us. You can move forward, and regain your Health. Remember yet another quote by renowned Brene Brown,
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of light.”

Erin Iler captures the natural light.

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