Like many of the heart babies you know I was born blue. I had transposition of the greater vessels and became the 100th baby to undergo the switch surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. Back in the 80s the fact that I was blue may have just been littttttle shock for my mom, especially since it was Halloween. At that point she may have thought the whole giving birth situation was more of a trick than a treat…

However, I am not here to put words in my mom’s mouth or even begin to pretend that I understand what it’s like to be a heart mom or dad. That is my biggest fear… to become one. To all heart parents and grandparents, I have no idea what it is like, but my heart is with you and you too are heroes.

What I do know is my story and my journey as a young woman living with a congenital heart disorder. I do not let it define me, but it is a major part of my life. It is something that breaks my heart and is something that makes me stronger every single day. I was one of the lucky ones. I’m alive, I’m healthy, and most of the time I am super happy. I was fortunate to play sports my entire childhood, in fact I was a national champion gymnast. I was fortunate enough to go to my high school prom, go to my dream college, be in a sorority, and then follow my heart to San Francisco. I did all of this without even thinking twice about my heart condition. The only thing I cared about was how to hide my scar, so I wouldn’t seem “different” or get asked questions.

Then my whole world stopped. I needed another open heart surgery. As I sat with my mom at Stanford Medical Center and listened to the surgeon say, “if this was my daughter I would have had her on the operating table a month ago” a little part of me died. My hope was gone. I was scared to death, felt all alone and thought that was it. My life was over. Yet, in reality my life was just getting started.

I “literally” woke up this happy after my 8 hour long surgery.

A few months post open heart surgery I launched Project Happy Hearts. Our mission is to make hearts healthier and happier. We have created a lifestyle clothing brand to spread awareness, but also to simply be a reminder to live happy and give happy because that will ultimately make your heart happy in so many ways. With proceeds from the clothing purchases and generous donations we give “happy moments” to children recovering from open heart surgery and inspiring events for communities to spread awareness about heart health in a new and improved way. We do all of this because….

Imagine if we can turn this devastating “disease” with statistics that make me cringe into something positive. Imagine if we can create so much awareness about CHD, not through all the scariness, but having people put happiness and heart health in the same category. Imagine if we could simply change the way we think about CHD and realize how much happiness it has actually brought us through the trials, sadness and hard times, yet always think about that one smiling face of a family member or friend who lives with it every day and decided to not let it define them. That is what I am doing and that is why Project Happy Hearts exists. I challenge you to live this way because as my personal favorite quote says, “life is short, live it with a happy heart.”  

In 2016 there is still no cure for CHD and not to burst anyone’s bubble, but there probably won’t be a cure in 2017, 2018 or possibly in my lifetime, so we might as well live as healthy and happy as we can and ask ourselves every single day, What Makes Your Heart Happy?? Then go do that.