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When you talk about Roseann Sdoia, “Boston Strong” is an understatement. Just ask her fiancée, Michael Materia.

The February series, The Relaxed Heart, has concentrated on how to keep an open heart in tense times. Intellectually deciding to stay in peace with a difficult person is one thing. But what happens when life is filled with circumstances you didn’t choose?

Roseann Sdoia was excited to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. However, as fate would have it, she was near the finish line when two bombs detonated.

Her right leg was severely injured. A Good Samaritan stepped in and applied a tourniquet, which probably saved her life. With no time to spare, emergency workers piled her into a police transport vehicle. Michael Materia was the firefighter at her side.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Michael tried to simultaneously hold the tourniquet and balance Roseann on the metal bench used as a bed as the truck tore through the streets of Boston. Roseann remembers, “And then here I am, telling him to hold my hand! So the poor guy had a lot going on.”

Materia visited a few days after the surgery that took most of her right leg. And he continued visiting. They were engaged in December 2016.

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It’s natural to focus on their amazing love story. But Roseann and Michael’s response to tragedy is equally impressive. Their love story wasn’t about moonlight and roses; it was filled with long days of physical therapy and grit.

In this series, we’ve met people like Roseann. Their circumstances could have made them bitter, but they kept a relaxed heart instead:

    • In “Love That Counts”, Krista Tippett might have soured on love following her painful divorce. Yet as she stepped back and reviewed her life, she began to see love everywhere. We learned how love is present in more places than a single romantic relationship.
    • For Rico and Courtney, love was a surprise. In “That One’s A Keeper”, we set aside the desperation often present in modern relationships. We saw the power of allowing a relationship to unfold
    • Not Knowing and Loving It” showed the importance of staying true to yourself, especially when you’re faced with a relationship that isn’t working. When you support and respect yourself, you make decisions with integrity. And actions filled with integrity are good for everyone.

A key idea of being a Soul Boss is that you show courage and self-awareness. For many, February can be a trying time. You may be at peace while you’re meditating or at yoga, but all that zen can fly out the window when the media bombards you with happy couples.

The challenge is to take that peace out into the world. When you’re at peace, all the feelings and insecurities that can be triggered by those ads – fear, being impulsive, or driven by other people’s opinions and expectations – go by the wayside.

The next time you feel like you’re standing in a pile of rubble, emulate Roseann Sdoia. A future of love and hope begins with a mighty, relaxed heart.