How A Random Act Of Kindness Inspired Me

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I found myself the recipient of a random act of kindness last week that touched me so deeply, I felt inspired to share the feelings here on this blog. Coincidentally, it was my entry from last week on “Fearing Success” that brought on the act itself. A previous client whom I have not had the opportunity to touch base with in several years was caught driving up my street by both myself and my daughter while we were leaving my neighborhood. I rolled down my car window to say hello and see her delightful smile for a few minutes when she handed me a gift she had intended to drop off on my front porch. She went on to tell me that she had read my blog and wanted me to know that I should continue to write, share my ideas, and find courage in being vulnerable. She had packaged up a book by one of her favorite authors (Anne Lamott) titled, “Bird by Bird” which discussed Anne’s perspective on writing based on workshops she teaches at the college level. Throughout the book she had taken the time and gone through and tabbed particular areas of meaning to her and pointed out prose that was useful to overcoming the fear of being a writer. In the front cover of the book she shared a personal story about her own challenges as a writer. She signed the book with the words, “Write On” before her name. I was so unbelievably touched.

I was inspired by her kindness. The very idea that someone from my past who I have not spoken to in many years read this blog and wanted to connect with me in a helpful way was incredibly thoughtful and meaningful to me. She actually sat down, thought about how to inspire confidence and create courage by giving me a piece of herself. She shared some of her own vulnerabilities in order to help me overcome my own. Meaning is achieved beyond the act itself and this is the beauty behind random acts of kindness. They inspire action, thought, and humanity. What an unbelievable gift to be on the receiving end of such love.

There is an amazing website I came across http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas that provides loads of different ideas for sharing kindness with others. You can even select different kindness categories and filter them by cost and time investment such as “free” kindness act for a “community member” for “30 minutes” (produced bring a cold bottle of water to your bus driver). Kindness breeds kindness and I feel inspired to pass it on. I encourage everyone reading to check out the site and pick one thing you can do with the available resources you have on hand. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than a simple act.

I have been on a mission lately to have the overhead freeway signs (Emergency Alert Billboards) share positive affirmations instead of only threatening messages that are warning of texting fines ($215+ It’s NOT Worth It), seat belt fines, or the punishment being dished out for hand held cells. When not used for Amber Alerts as they were designed, I strongly feel they should promote messages at least one time a month that are kindness based and positive. My partner thinks I am crazy and that people on the freeway would get irritated and annoyed by overhead lights that shared inspirations such as: “Be Kind Today“, “Kindness is Contagious“, “You are Beautiful Just as You Are“, “Love One Another“, and “We’re All In This Together“. She assures me that this would lead to further acts of road rage and not positive humanity but I can’t seem to let it go. To the annoying amusement of my family, I randomly yell these out in the car as I pass below a sign telling me to “Slow For The Cone Zone – ITS THE LAW“. “Be Gentle With Yourself“, I counter.

My quest has gone so far as to actually having done research to find out who I can talk to with my brilliant (annoying) idea. It has been a hopeless loop thus far of Highway Patrol/Sheriff’s Office/Emergency Alert System with no contact names. My partner has suggested trying to find a local politician who may want to take it on as a political platform (maybe she really doesn’t hate the idea THAT much) so I am going to try that approach. I truly believe the more positive, kindness based acts/words we are surrounded with, the further our community will grow.

Kindness inspires. Thoughtfully caring about each other brings out our compassion and leads to a softening of our hard exteriors. I want to say thank you Julie for helping me feel able to move forward and more capable than I may even yet be. To the best of my ability, I will pass it on.

Writing On…
Stacey Neil

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Fearing Success: The Vulnerability in Achievement

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Imagine sitting down and finally writing that book you have talked about in and out of your head for at least 20 years. You put in the blood, sweat, and tears that is needed to take the internal battle of your thoughts and have them spew out in a coherent, engaging format that is enjoyed by others. Imagine that these “others” love what you wrote, tell you how much it meant to them, how brave you were for sharing as much of yourself as you did, etc, etc…. Dream come true? Not for me. Instead, this vision has me running to the bathroom in horror as I am terrified about being a successful writer even though it is my dream. When I imagine finally writing a successful memoir, I am immediately paralyzed and have been for decades. Ironically, it is not the idea that NOT a single person may read my book, but the very idea that millions of people may buy my book that causes this feeling. I am embarrassed to even admit that in print as it feels egotistical (really, millions of copies? Who am I thinking I am?). I am so incapacitated by this thought that I cannot sit down to get past the first sentence of chapter one. Seriously, I have the first sentence clearly ready to go (oh, and the title of my book, “Holes in my Wall”, in case you were interested). Yep, I’m on it.

I have been attempting to create self efficacy in my “toe in the water” blogs such as this one, but even these are scary for me. I sit and stare at the computer screen and the blue “publish” button mocks me from the side trying to get me to second guess every single word and line. “Who is going to want to read what YOU have to say?“, my brain screams at me. I have read works by prose artists who can string together words like musical lyrics dancing together under starry night skies. This is not me. I am directive, sarcastic, and blunt in life and it tends to translate into how I write. I have to tone down my words in order to be more appealing to a general audience. I continue to work on what “my voice” in writing should sound like. To have it sound just like me seems somehow presumptuous and I continue to play around with ways to sound unlike me and more like a different version of myself. Softer, more supportive, maybe? I’m not entirely sure this is the right approach because in the battle of me v. my computer screen, I am not winning.

As I continue to struggle with how to overcome my fear of writing my memoir, I have realized my “stuckness” is based and rooted in the core of my vulnerability. When I write, and feel brave enough to let go, I feel so exposed. Naked. This feeling of rawness keeps me frozen and I can’t move forward. Hey, I have been working on this. I have watched, “The Secret”, and know I am supposed to use my positive energy to send out to the universe what my largest desires are so that I can attract them into my life, but I cannot do even this. I literally sit down and have conflict with my positive attraction meditations:

See yourself being a world famous author…” (cool music is playing and a light show is going through my mind)

“NO, I feel vulnerable.” (light switch on, music stops)

You must feel the excitement and joy that this success will bring you as if it is really happening right now!” (cool people with neat eyes are staring at me making me believe)

“OMG, Everyone is staring at me and asking me questions about myself. They all think I’m a fake, I can’t really write anyway…Am I wearing the right outfit?” (pulls me right into the hear and now with a racing heart)

It’s really ridiculous when I play it out in my mind. The likelihood that I would pull off writing a critically acclaimed memoir is statistically low and I simply need to sit down and just begin. I call that internal hierarchical critical voice appropriately “The Judge” after one of the characters that live in our head according to one of my favorite books by Don Miguel Ruiz,”The Four Agreements”. My judge is an angry overweight woman with a mean voice and she is stopping me cold in my tracks and has for years. I wonder if everyone struggles with a similar fear of success. I do not hear as much about this in social media. Maybe it is because to imagine being successful is a egoistic perspective that many people aren’t really comfortable talking about with each other. I imagine the conversation going somewhat like this:

Hey Bob, I’ve been feeling amazingly successful lately and it’s causing me to feel a bit vulnerable, exposed, naked you know?

“Um, Yeah…Poor You. Get over it.”

So I blog today to put myself out there in the hopes that I will continue to build up my courage to become exposed in my writing. I’m curious how many of you readers/writers experience a similar fear in the areas of your life that make you feel vulnerable. Please leave your comments below.

Yours in Health,
Stacey Neil

Butts, Guts, Sucks & Tucks: Self-Care is Different for All Of Us

Click on the link below to check out an article I published on GoodTherapy.Org as a expert contributor for Self-Care. It discusses how self-care should be up to us to determine with no judgement.  Some people find plastic surgery to be useful to feeling better about themselves while others hit the gym.  The point of the article is that there are no right or wrong ways to care for ourselves.  

http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/butts-guts-sucks-tucks-self-care-is-different-for-each-of-us-040714

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