Share It Forward Sunday

Perhaps I can blame it on the scorpion full moon hanging low in the night sky, but it has, quite frankly been a crappy week.

But crappy weeks somehow bring out the best in me. I become more determined to find the good, to see the positive and to be grateful for who and what I have in my life. I’m not being ignorant or building a life of fantasy. Choosing to focus on the beauty of our world gives me courage to keep going. It helps me to gather strength, and it feeds my soul.

The more I focus on how amazing this world is, the more I want to be part of it. The more I want to celebrate. The more I refuse to give up. Yes, I’m a stubborn little shit, as my mother used to say, along with many of my teachers…and perhaps the odd partner and manager…

So todays clip was found on Upworthy. Yes, it’s an ad for an insurance company. But the story is still inspiring.

I hope it reminds you why you are in this world like it reminded me. And if you have had a crappy week too, then hopefully this helps you get out of bed in the morning!

Enjoy lovelies.

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Nessim and I

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DAY 85

Every afternoon Nessim greets me with a massive smile and a booming hello, how are you? I’m not his greatest customer. Really I’m not. Usually I pop in for a packet of mints or a packet of jelly snakes for a meeting. Some days I buy a tattslotto ticket for fun from him. But it doesn’t seem to matter to Nessim; he is always genuinely happy to see me. That bursting out of your skin happy. And he’s always up for a quick chat. But what often takes me by surprise is his insight into me and his other customers.

He will introduce people to one another and let you know what their speciality is. “This is Will and he is an accountant. So when you win tattslotto you come and speak with him – yes?” It’s not if we win tattslotto. He seems to think one day everyone will win big. It’s just a matter of time.

One day he introduced me to a group of people hanging around the counter in the late afternoon. “This girl works with the nicest people I have ever met. Truly. They help young people and they are good people; very good people.” You know when you hear a compliment that is totally unexpected, you blush and stutter something? Yep, that was me, I was both proud of the team I work with and really chuffed that he had noticed.

Then I took a minute and thought. Wow Nessim really notices us. Actually, he notices everyone. He makes everyone feel a bit special. From the homeless looking guy that somehow manages to scrape enough together for his morning paper to the guy that works building yachts…to me. I don’t think I have ever seen him not make time, not smile his warm generous smile, or laugh his Buddha belly laugh. Even when he was robbed a few years ago, he stood on the pavement and shook his head with a smile. “Ah, I’m happy I wasn’t hurt. It’s just money, what can you do.” he said. I think I was more upset than he was.

Nessim got me thinking about how such a small action like a smile or a few minutes of your day can make all the difference in the world for someone. I know that there are some days that I have felt tired and grumpy~ready to pack up my bat and ball and go home! Nessim somehow reminds me that the world is still a good place, just with his simple laughing welcome.

It’s funny how our role models can come from some unexpected places. They are not always the massive game changers with the big public profiles. Sometimes they are the every day folk that we bump up against in our day to day lives.

Sometimes your role model may be your mum, your friend or your teacher. Some days they may be a complete stranger. Or in my case, the beautiful older Egyptian man in the local shop, who treats me as if I may be dead before midnight every day…

“Every single time you help somebody stand up you are helping humanity rise.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

Garla Darling Challenge Day #1

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DAY #1

100 Things To Do When You’re Upset: The Gala Darling Challenge

<3 ‘Do something good for someone else, even though you may not want to. Do a favour, help them find something, give them an item which will help them in some way. Start the flow of positive energy.’

I may have gotten a little excited about this one!

I sent a small gift containing one of my favourite books to a lady that I haven’t seen in quite a while, and don’t have too much to do with these days. She has been grieving for quite a while, and I hope that my little package will help her to feel a lot better.

The book? I CAN DO IT! by Louise Hay.

I can do it

If you haven’t read it, it’s a pretty straight forward little book that will explain positive affirmations and the impact of your thoughts on your life. I especially love the CD you get with the book. Louise Hay is also pretty awesome to listen to when you are driving to your next meeting or event.

#garladarlingchallenge

No matter how small…

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DAY 71

Day 2 of #30 Days of Kindness

It’s not difficult to be kind. It’s pretty simple really. The most difficult part is getting out of your own head space and thinking about making a difference to someone else’s life.

It’s estimated that over 50,000 young people don’t have a permanent home in Melbourne alone. It’s a staggering statistic.

Because of my line of work, I have learnt how rough homeless people have it – in particular young people. Whether you are sleeping on a string of friend’s couches, relying on emergency accommodation, or living rough on the streets, being consumed with getting by day to day, hour to hour and just surviving, is a nightmare way to live.

Many of the homeless young people I have worked with come from extremely difficult backgrounds, often betrayed by the very adults who are meant to protect them. They have very little in their lives and whatever they have they have fought viciously for.

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to be able to support the work of some fantastic, hard working youth homeless agencies. It’s afforded me the unique privilege to be able to participate in changing many of these young people’s lives.

The most surprising thing is that it doesn’t take much to turn some young people’s lives around.

An adult that gives a damn. One that is committed and who follows through. Some basic resources like food and shelter. A bit of support to get some work or get back into school.

An amazing friend of mine who worked in the homeless sector for years said to me once: “You may never know what the story is. You may never actually find out what led to that young person being homeless. But every kid deserves an adult who loves them irrationally.”

I agree with her.

So I may only have a dollar, or five to drop into someone’s cap. Other days I may be able to support the homeless folk who sell The Big Issue, as a form of income or the young person who sells their art work on the streets. The new StrEAT pop up coffee stands, that support the homeless into jobs and entry level certificates are my favourite place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat. Sometimes I am able to donate to things like food hampers or participate in drives for household goods. It feels pretty awesome to be able to help no matter how little or grand the help may be.

The best days though, are days like today, where I got to say hello and smile and hand a homeless young person some money, and with all the warmth I could muster, talk with them for just a few minutes. The smile back was totally worth it.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”
― Kahlil GibranThe Essential Kahlil Gibran

Acts of kindness

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DAY 60

1st March, 2014

So today I woke up and decided it is time to step the DBM project up.

It has been 60 days of giving, thinking and learning.

I am inspired to change the world around me, even if it is just one person, or one day at a time. Or in some instances, one small act at a time.

I have learnt that it is easy to give up and get distracted by everything that is wrong with our world. We are all overwhelmed and immersed in the day to day busy-ness, and sometimes it feels easier to let go of our dreams and drown in the never ending noise.

I’ve also learnt that it’s not as hard as we think to change the running dialogue in our heads. It takes practice, yes. And determination to think differently. Absolutely. But it’s not hard. Its about being committed and holding onto a vision that you have for yourself. it’s about swimming up to the surface and taking a big breath of fresh, life giving oxygen!

Over the past 60 days I have learnt to think differently. To think beyond myself. To be less self absorbed, and more aware of the world around me. I look into people’s eyes now. I smile a hell of a lot more. I see the goodness around me. I notice the acts of kindness.

I have been reading so much more. Listening to inspirational speakers, learning new skills to inspire myself to become a better person. To grow into the human being I aspire to be. I am learning new ways to set goals and challenges, and new strategies to support myself and my passion. I am learning about what it means to create something new. That sometimes you will be criticised for what you are doing. But that in the end ‘it’s not the critic that counts’. It’s about getting into the arena and daring greatly!

Over the past 60 days I have focussed on giving. I am endlessly surprised at how much I seem to receive back. No matter how much I give, the return is always much more than what I have offered. But most of my giving has still been what I call, ‘playing small’. There is not much risk attached to what I have been doing. It’s essentially easy. Don’t get me wrong, to take time out of my day to speak to a sick colleague, or open a door, help someone onto the tram, help out with directions, make a cup of tea for someone who needs it, cook a meal, send a text or leave a gift, all of these things, I’m sure, these things have made a difference in people’s daily experience. They matter, but they are the first small step towards a greater purpose.

Today is the first day of changing it up a little more.

I want to make a clear difference in peoples lives. So I am undertaking 30 days of acts of kindness. Acts that have a longer term effect. I’m not going to post 30 days of acts…just a few, but I hope that you might be inspired to join me. And if you do, I’d love to hear about it!

I was inspired by the following post I saw on Suspended Coffees from the Boston Magazine folk about Cathy O’Grady and her 318 Random Acts of Kindness. Wow! what an extraordinary and amazing woman. To turn her grief into something incredibly strong and beautiful.

I am inspired by people who want to create something new. Who want to be amazing people in a brave new world. They challenge me to do better, to aspire to be greater than who I am right now. They also inspire me to be prepared to ‘show up and get my ass kicked” as Brene Brown puts it.

30 days of 30 acts of kindness…imagine if we all did that?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu

 

Something beautiful happened today

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DAY 42

11th February, 2014

Today something very beautiful happened.

It was life changing.

The very act stopped me in my tracks and made me re-assess some vital elements in my life. How I go about my work, how I engage with other people, who I love and adore, essentially how I walk in this world and be me.

The very act made me realise a surprising truth about myself.

And it brought me to a breathless moment; a single instance of pure white light; a thoughtful experience in the middle of a manic day.

Today my friend made me a cup of tea.

In my cup.

Two tea bags.

Milk.

Two sugars.

Humph.

A luscious moment of being truly grateful for my friend. Unbearably grateful for a strong, sweet, hot cup of tea.

It wasn’t the being grateful though. Or the way my friend smiled at me when she asked me if she could make me a cup of tea. Or even when I started to get up out of my chair thinking I should really make the cup of tea myself – why was I letting my friend go to all of that effort, going out of her way to make me tea. Who did I think I was right? Who did I think I was to let someone go out of her way to do something for me? Who did I think I was to allow someone to help me.

Because that was it.

I was so tired. My head was a bit foggy, and I was looking at a list of tasks that needed to be ticked off before I went home and lay on the couch in an exhausted, depleted little mess.

I needed some help.

And I needed to let my friend help me.

I needed to allow my beautiful friend to make me a cup of tea. With her smile. And her love.

I often talk about how important it is for us to give to others, to ‘pay it forward’ with acts of kindness and compassion. It’s extraordinary that although we are the ones being kind, or generous, or loving, how life changing this is for our souls.

So we also need to accept, and allow others to care and give back to us, because in doing so we learn how to be grateful. In allowing someone to care for us, we experience vulnerability. In allowing someone to give back to us, we also allow for that person to feel the extraordinary life changing feelings in their soul.

So today something beautiful happened. My friend made me a cup of hot tea, and I gratefully accepted her gift.

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

50 majestic ways to be a little kinder

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Day 35

4th February, 2014

So this week has all been about being kind. Some days this means being a little kinder to myself. But most days, hours, minutes, it means stepping up and being kinder to someone else.

Why?

Because when you are kind, you reconnect with your humanity and somehow kindness always seems to bounce back on itself. You start out thinking that being kind is going to cost you somehow – that you will need to ‘work at it’ and it will mean a huge investment of your time and energy. This is where we are sadly insane!

My experience is this: Kindness is a pretty down to earth and simple thing. When you practice kindness it doesn’t take up much energy at all, and really not much time. About the most ‘exhausting’ thing I have done is volunteer, and believe me I got more from that exchange than what I contributed!

And even after all of that ‘effort’ and ‘hard work’ I was buzzed for such a longtime that you may be mistaken for thinking I had overdosed on raspberry lemonade!

The truth is that being kind to others, no matter how small the kindness is, makes you feel like the best human being on the planet. It’s as if we remember who we are meant to be; how we are meant to walk this earth, and how we are meant to live our lives.

There is also  growing amount of evidence that being kinder, and practicing even small acts of kindness, is also good for our mental and physical health. See what I mean? We somehow end up on the better end of this deal all the time.

So today I thought I would share a few majestic ways to be a little kinder, and in return, I hope that this transforms your life.

  1. Go out of your way to make someone a fresh cup of tea or coffee.
  2. Put that gold coin rattling around in your bag in the homeless guy’s cup.
  3. Go a little wild and buy him a takeaway coffee or cold drink…and put a few gold coins in his cup!
  4. Leave flowers or a potted plant for a friend who needs a little cheering up.
  5. Give away the old car you are going to only get $250 for at the dealership.
  6. Locate your local soup van and donate a night of your time.
  7. Send a greeting card with a nice message to someone who you would normally not be kind to.
  8. Help the mother with the screaming child in the supermarket, rather than mutter under your breath about naughty children.
  9. Leave fresh water outside for birds or passing puppies.
  10. Save your gold coins in a cheap tin money box and donate the tin to your local homeless shelter.
  11. Moving house? Perhaps you can donate some furniture to a homeless shelter or a charity? Youth homeless services are always looking for furniture in good condition.
  12. Pay the parking meter for someone else!
  13. Give someone a second chance, or perhaps a third.
  14. Say thank you to your partner. Often. tell them how amazing they are. Often!
  15. Buy an extra bunch of flowers when you visit someone in hospital and ask the nurses to give them to someone.
  16. Buy the nurses a bunch of flowers, or a box of chocolates.
  17. Give a friend or your partner a foot massage, or a full massage.
  18. Make someone who needs a bit of support some dinner.
  19. Take a sick friend soup or a picnic in bed, with a good book and a funny card.
  20. Encourage your children to look after their toys and clothes so they can donate them to a charity when they have grown out of them.
  21. Spend time with your children and praise them for kind behaviour.
  22. If you know someone is going through a difficult time, help out a little by purchasing a gift card, or sending a little money in the mail. They don’t even need to know who you are!
  23. Clean your sister/brother/cousin’s room for them.
  24. Wash the family dishes!
  25. Cook your parents a meal.
  26. Make fresh jam and give it out to all of your colleagues at work.
  27. Leave a post it note with a kind message on someone’s computer screen.
  28. Think before you speak! Say kind and genuine things to the people you see/work or live with all day!
  29. Wash your friends car.
  30. Plant a herb garden and then share the herbs when they grow.
  31. Be kind and courteous when you drive; leave the poison of road rage behind.
  32. Think about the words you use all day. Make an effort to speak positively, instead of negatively.
  33. Get excited for other peoples dreams. Listen to them and believe in them.
  34. Be present for your family, friends and colleagues. Show them that you are interested by focussing on them, looking them in the eyes and listening.
  35. Open doors for people.
  36. Give up your seat on a bus/tram/train or at an event.
  37. Tell the person you love that you love them, as many times as you can. There is never too many times!
  38. Go out of your way for someone just once. Maybe this is about organising a surprise dinner or event, or driving someone home, that is not on your way home.
  39. Offer to babysit a friends children so they can have a night out together.
  40. Surprise your love with small random gifts or cards with a poem. Pop something in their lunch, or set up a picnic dinner in the back yard or on the balcony under the stars.
  41. Call your mother/grandmother/father/grandfather , or person that raised you, at least every week.
  42. Approach every phone call with a smile. The person at the other end will hear the smile in your voice.
  43. Stand up for people who are being bullied or wrongfully treated, even if you are a little scared yourself.
  44. Get to know your neighbours f you can. Even if you just watch out for the old lady across the road, or mow the neighbours lawn when you mow your own.
  45. Take a moment to thank someone who has made a difference in your life or has helped you. You can do this in so many ways from sending a text message to sending a card. Or have a conversation with them and thank them face to face. Don’t let them brush you off! Make sure that they hear you.
  46. Smile at strangers. I do this all the time and I am amazed at how many people smile back.
  47. Try and turn someones day around. Got a grumpy staff member at the check out, or a waiter/waitress in a bad mood? See if you can make them smile. Often it just takes a kind word, or an understanding comment that acknowledges their work to make them feel a bit better.
  48. Pay for the person next in line behind you. Perhaps this is a coffee, or their sandwich, or the road /bridge toll, their petrol, or a cold drink, or perhaps even a whole meal like a family dinner!
  49. Be a mentor for someone. This may be a child, or a colleague. Be their hero for a day or a year. Go the extra mile to assist them with changing their world and achieve their dreams.
  50. Be the kindest person you can be – it will change your life!

There are so many ways to let a little kindness into your life, I really could have listed hundreds of different ideas to try. But I encourage you to check out the following kindness movements: randomactsofkindness.org and kindness.com.au

Or you could just google kindness and find the relevant kindness sites in your part of the world. I’ll leave you tonight with a beautiful quote:

“It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.” Charles de Lint

Sharing It forward Sunday

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Yay! It’s Sunday night!

In the world that I live and work in I am sent a lot of inspirational stuff. Partly because we are always looking for new resources to assist our work with young people, but also because people know that I get totally excited about anything that promotes positivity or inspires others to do great things, or endeavours to change our world for the better on every level.

There is always something. Every day, there is always a new idea, a new blog, a quote, a video or a beautiful story or poem. Sometimes I wonder how our evening news can only be filled with tragedy and darkness, when there is so much that is amazing and beautiful happening in this world around us. Truly, there are so many people in our world who want good things to happen, and work hard to do good things. Kind things. Meaningful things. Not just for themselves, but for everyone. I really love sharing their work and their stories.

So every Sunday night I have decided to share something I have come across in the past week or so. Hopefully it will inspire you in your own adventure, or at the very least give you a great start to the coming week!

Enjoy!

20 Small but Grand Gestures of Kindness

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We seem to have been taught to only do something if we can make it the best, the biggest, the loudest or the most visible. Just take a look at the avalanche of wedding proposals at football games, (I’ve always wondered “How do you say no in front of 60,000 people?”) or donations made to charities by celebrities with a television crew in tow. It’s like all of a sudden we are all participants in some ridiculous reality television show. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try for the best, or that there isn’t a place for that extraordinary grand gesture. What I am saying is that we seem to have forgotten the small stuff and the impact it can have on our lives.

Sometimes the small act like a hug, or the kind gesture of opening a door for someone, or sending a text message telling someone you are thinking of them, can be just as powerful.

Have you ever had an experience when someone has just thought of you first? They offered you the first taste of the tiramisu, or a complete stranger stood up for you on the bus? Or someone just went out of their way to do something kind for you.

The other day I had a post it note left on my key board at work which said, “Thank you for being you, from me.” So lovely. It made me feel like the best boss in the world.

When someone is kind to you, or does something small but caring, it makes you feel like there is goodness in the world after all. It’s amazing how something so small can have such a great affect, which often stays with you for hours or days.

Small, but grand gestures come in many guises. For example: saying thank you and meaning it!

When someone thanks you it shows respect and gratitude. You feel acknowledged for whatever it is that you have just done. So, when you thank someone, make sure you mean it. Say thank you with a genuine smile and look at the person you are thanking, whether they are handing you your take away coffee or opening a door for you, or have just driven you to the cemetery to visit your grandmothers grave. You will be amazed at the difference you are making for the person you are thanking.

Experiment with a small act of kindness.

A small act of kindness is about taking it to the next level. You are not just reacting to something another person has done for you. You are going out of your way, in a small way, to be kind to another human being. This could be someone you already know, like a family member or a friend, or a colleague at work.

I will often make a cup of tea or coffee for a colleague that may be working really hard on a project. I look for ways that I can support them in a small way: a cup of tea, grabbing them a takeaway coffee, helping to print off resources, or asking them how I can help? It’s also not uncommon for people in our team to leave notes of encouragement, (like my post it note) or to find a bunch of home grown flowers in a jar on your desk. These are small things that have made all of us feel acknowledged and cared for. The bonus is that as the manager, I am not the only one that does this. This culture in our team has grown over the years and nurtured by all of us and it plays a massive role in how we treat each other every day and how we function as a team.

So, here’s my 20 small, but truly grand gestures of kindness and other such things:

  • Smile and mean it!
  • Open doors for people.
  • Give up your seat for someone else who needs it.
  • Leave a post it note with a positive message about the person. (Thank you for your help – you were amazing! I couldn’t have done it without you! You are a star! etc )
  • Send a text message.
  • Make a simple card with a positive message and give it to the person you think needs it the most. For extra creative points you can get a card making kit and fill it with sparkles (you can get these for next to nothing at the $2 shop).
  • Make cup cakes and share these at morning tea.
  • Give 5 minutes of your precious time and talk with that old lady sitting across from you on the tram, or the young boy at the supermarket check out.
  • Help the mum or dad with the pram get on the bus!
  • Give flowers – this is always lovely and definitely kind.
  • Make someone a cuppa when they least expect it.
  • Cook someone dinner (It’s ok if this is spaghetti bolognese or eggs on toast!)
  • Offer to give someone a lift – even if they are not going in your direction. Sometimes the best conversations happen on a mini road trip (even the 15 minute ones!)
  • Become someone’s unofficial support person (be the one that checks in to see how they are travelling)
  • Put up your hand to be the photographer at the next family event.
  • Talk with that shy person in the corner – you never know who may be lurking under those cast down eye lashes.
  • Help wash the dishes! Better yet – wash the dishes or stack the dish washer – again, always a lovely thing to do!
  • Loan out that dress/book/pair of shoes/jacket/suitcase…
  • Make that phone call to your mum or dad…or great aunt.
  • Bring chocolate to any crisis. It helps and this is probably more of a grand gesture!

And as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”