Love is all around

Well actually in my case it’s kindness, but I have that song in my head now :D.

Once again I feel very privileged to be attending another one of Andy Smallman’s kindness classes – this time The Practice of Kindness.

Today I had numerous experiences to practice acts of kindness – some small, and some larger – and I am so humbled by the experience.

I have often read that what you think you become, and you draw into your life.  

And I could see that today – because I was focused on kindness, and finding opportunities to practice kindness, they just seemed to keep appearing out of nowhere.

#1 After reading the latest “assignment” from the kindness class, I was trying to think what I could do that would be meaningful. And not a few minutes later my Mum rang to say one of our relatives celebrates her 80th birthday tomorrow (which I had not realised). My Mum said she thought about sending a card, but decided it was too hard.

And I knew instantly what my kind action this week would be 🙂

However it was more than about just sending a card.

I wrote my relative a lovely long letter to go in with the card. And filled her in on all that my son and I had been up to since we saw them last (more than 12 months ago). I also included photos, and a drawing done by my son.

It was such a privilege to complete the action this week. I adored how meaningful it was to actually write a letter to her. Not many people seem to write letters any more, and I know older people especially enjoy receiving one.

#2 Removing a tree branch off the road so it wasn’t a traffic hazard.

#3 As I approached my sons school, I went to press the button to cross the road, but stopped. Instead I waited for the line of cars to go through first before pressing it so I wasn’t holding them up while I crossed.

and lastly:

#4 I saved a Rainbow Lorikeet (native Australian bird) that had been hit by a car. I ran onto the road and scooped it up. Then sat on the footpath and gently cradled it in my hands and stroked it’s head. I held it like that until it had recovered enough to fly away.

 

For me, all of those opportunities were such a blessing, and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to have done them.

Perhaps the most meaningful though for me was to help this little bird.  It was so incredibly profound to sit there on the footpath cradling it’s warm little body.  And stroking it’s head, and whispering to it that it would be okay.

I truly felt that it knew I meant it no harm.  It didn’t struggle, or try to bite me.  It just lay peacefully in my hands as I poured love into it.

And looking back on these events, nearly all involved a level of fate or “meant to be”.  

I was walking to the post box when I came across the bird, just after it had been hit by the car.  Had I left a few minutes later (as I had been intending to), it would have been hit by the next car going past (which was coming towards me as I ran onto the road to pick it up).

I’m really so moved by the events of today, and thankful to have had the opportunity to be involved.

Blessings,

Meg

Learning humility

I feel privileged to have read just another one of Andy Smallman‘s exquisite blog posts.

In the blog post, he discusses those parts of ourselves that we see as “flaws”.  And he questions whether it is those same flaws that make us unique, even beautiful.

He also questions the purpose of our flaws, asking:

Is it to teach me humility, remind me that I’m not perfect and should therefore not expect perfection in others?

Is it to provide me something to work on, to grow from, to better myself, knowing I will never be able to “fix” everything?

Seen this way, then they are not flaws at all but an important part of who I am.

 

If you haven’t already read it, I urge you to read the full blog post.

 

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Through the looking glass

I have recently started a wonderful course – Power of Kindness.

This is the first week, and the assignment is “Practice being transparent in your interactions”.

It’s a wonderful theme this week, and it’s interesting to see the way in which everyone is interpreting it.

The idea for this week’s assignment comes from chapter one of the class textbook “The Power of Kindness“, the subject of which is honesty. On page 13 Ferrucci references Sydney Jourard’s book “The Transparent Self,” saying, “As soon as we become more transparent, we start to feel better.”

We are all encouraged to interpret the themes in a way that is meaningful for us.

For me, I chose to practice being transparent in regards to my communication, and how I share ideas and information.

I noticed I have a tendency to communicate in a particular way – by giving great thought and consideration as to how people will perceive me, and making that the foundation for my communication and what I say.  Rather than saying what I actually think and feel.

So my exercise has been to communicate openly, freely, and from the heart.

And by doing that I have noticed that my initial desire and intention is to act with kindness and love, but I have held back through fear of what people will think of me.

I’ve learnt to accept though that although it’s scary to be so open and transparent, it’s also liberating.

From my experience there is something very special about people who communicate openly with integrity and authenticity. 

 

“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” ~Walter Anderson

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People that inspire me ~ Andy Smallman

The people I find inspiring are those who embody the traits that I value – kindness, generosity, compassion and positivity.  And I feel incredibly grateful to have very inspirational people around me – both in real life, and on the world wide web.

I recently had the idea to do a weekly blog post to recognise these wonderful people.  

And to say thank you for inspiring me and countless others, and making the world a much better place.

The first person I wanted to feature was the person who has made the biggest impact on my life thus far – Andy Smallman.

It was this (relatively) simple video that inspired a chain reaction of events in my life.

I have long tried to be a good person, and to make a difference in other people’s lives.  However it was watching this video that inspired me so much, and moved me to action.

I was blown away – a school dedicated to teaching kindness.

Thanks to Andy I was inspired to start my own random acts of kindness, and also this blog.

Andy was kind enough to let me interview him for the piece.  The questions, and his answers are below.

 

About Andy:

Andy Smallman is an education innovator and director of the Puget Sound Community School. His unique approach to learning has kindness as it’s foundation and is inspiring students and their communities alike.

In one sentence, describe yourself…

ImageI try not to take myself too seriously, hence this description. 😉

What is your life motto?

Be true to yourself.

 Happiness is….

… being warm, both on the inside, with myself, and on the outside, with everyone and everything else.

 What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about those moments when a person taps another person on the shoulder, metaphorically or actually, and the second person turns to see the sunrise, metaphorically or actually.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Just today I went for a run and saw an early spring flower blooming. I thought, “Who put that there? What a kind thing to have done for me.”

Who inspires you?

Children. Nature. Honesty. Oh, the question said who, not what. Sorry.

What are your goals?

To grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. That’s it. Everything else flows from those two things.

What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?

Well there’s always a “right” answer to this question, like the decision to marry Melinda, my wife, right? And that really was a good decision, a great one, in fact. But I never would have even had the opportunity to make that decision if I hadn’t made countless decisions that led to it. So the best decisions I ever make are the good ones I make in the present, right now, to be positive, the decision to be present. These “now” decisions are what lead to great opportunities in the future.

What are you most grateful for?

How wonderful is it that right now I can feel the sun on my skin?!

What was the most defining moment in your life?

There have been several, each of which directly influenced EVERYTHING that followed. But I’m going to say that founding the Puget Sound Community School in 1994 is the most defining. To do so, Melinda and I quit our jobs with their known salaries to start a venture conventional wisdom said had no chance of working. That we did it soon after having our first child and soon after buying a house, as well as having no savings to speak of, adds to its “definition.”

What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?

See my answer to the “goals” question above and let the “achievements” take care of themselves.

If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

Take care of yourself and by that I really mean it: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Your REAL self. Find something that you love doing and commit to doing it regularly. Oh, and while you’re at it, make it simple. Because it really is simple.

 

For more information on Andy:

Please visit:

Puget Sound Community School

Kind Living Blog

Chat with Andy