Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pulling on Your 'Heartstrings'

Karina Sosa, 15, of Asuncion Paraguay, poses for a photograph at "Window to the Heart," a Valentine's Day themed art installation in Times Square, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Karina Sosa, 15, of Asuncion Paraguay, poses for a photograph at "Window to the Heart," a Valentine's Day themed art installation in Times Square, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Pulling on Your 'Heartstrings'
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:06:24 0:00

And now, it’s time for Words and Their Stories -- our weekly program about common, everyday expressions in American English.

Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14. It is a day for love and hearts can be seen everywhere! So, naturally, I had my heart set on producing a completely new program about heart expressions. I really wanted to do it!

I found every single “heart” expression that I could. I wrote about how heart-to-heart describes two people talking in private about something important and somewhat sensitive. I explained that cold-hearted is a good word to describe a person who doesn’t seem to have feelings for others.

And the heart expressions went on and on and on! My heart was really into it. I threw myself, heart and soul, into the writing process. I felt as if my whole body were involved. I researched and researched. I wrote and wrote. I gave a whole-hearted effort. And it felt good! If you really have your heart set on something, you are not going to do it half-heartedly. That’s for sure. Why do something with only your heart when you can give it all you’ve got.

So, I wrote a story that used all the heart expressions I could find. I wanted to pull at the listener’s heartstrings and really make them feel the powerful emotions that I was feeling. So, I included a heart-warming example of two people deeply in love.

The story was really long, but I was pleased with it. Later in the office, I poured my heart out to a coworker. I gushed and gushed about how hard I had worked on the story. She understood. Well, of course, she did. I was wearing my heart on my sleeve. I told her exactly how I felt.

But then she said that I couldn’t use my story. You see, years ago someone had already written and produced a show all about heart expressions. I would have to write another story!

I was heart-broken!

All that time researching the subject and writing was wasted. After my story was rejected, I just didn’t have the heart to stay in the office. I walked the city streets with a heavy heart. I felt tired and sad.

I knew that I had to find another subject and fast. The publication date was nearing. But I had no enthusiasm. I had lost heart. I didn’t feel like writing ... anything.

Robert Indiana sculpture, "Love," in Philadelphia.
Robert Indiana sculpture, "Love," in Philadelphia.

After hours of walking around, friends saw me, seemingly lost in the city. Concerned about me, my friends bought me dinner in a lovely restaurant. After hearing what happened, they offered many ideas about what I could write for Valentine’s Day.

“What about the word 'love,' ” they asked.

“It’s been done,” I answered.

“What about different types of relationships?"

“Been done,” I said.

They tried to think of something else that would be a good subject for Valentine’s Day. But nothing sounded good.

Look, I know that their hearts were in the right place. They are my friends and wanted to help. And they are really kind-hearted people. But I still felt alone. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they couldn’t help me. This was something I had to fix on my own.

But then late in the dinner, something happened.

We ordered a tasty chocolate dessert. One of my friends said that she had had a fabulous dessert recently at another restaurant. She thought it was interesting that the two desserts were made with the exact same ingredients but tasted completely different.

Suddenly, I had a change of heart. I decided to look at my situation in a new way. Although all the heart expressions had already been used in an earlier program, there was no reason I couldn’t write another story using the expressions in a different way!

And that’s what I did. I also learned something. If you have your heart set on doing something and then find out that someone has done it before, don’t lose heart! Simply follow your heart. Just do what you want and do it your own way!

And that’s Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

I’m Anna Matteo.

"And I'm waiting for your change of heart, waiting for your change of heart."

Anna Matteo wrote this story wholeheartedly for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. The song at the end is Cyndi Lauper singing "Change of Heart."


Words in This Story

sensitive adj. likely to cause people to become upset

heartstrings - n. deep emotions < That movie really tugs/pulls at your heartstrings. [=makes you emotional] > <a writer who knows how to play on his readers' heartstrings >

soul n. the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever

gush v. to speak in an extremely enthusiastic way

enthusiasm n. strong excitement about something : a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy

dessert n. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

fabulous adj. very good

ingredient n. one of the things that are used to make a food, product, etc.