I know the last two years have been extremely challenging for most people. Devastating, in a lot of cases. As if life wasn’t challenging enough, in walked COVID.
What amazed me was the resilience of many. To see how different people dealt with financial hardship, mental and physical health issues, and the like, was an eye-opener.
I am a hopeaholic by nature. A cockeyed optimist, sure. Absolutely. Always will be. No matter what happens to me, I am keenly aware that there are countless others who have it much, much worse. It’s all about perspective. Right? But for a lot of people – creatives especially – negativity, depression and, oftentimes, hopelessness, are the norm; and seeing things from a different perspective seems impossible.
I find that when life threatens to get me down – and believe me, I am no stranger to the hypnotic lure of depression – it helps to see the beauty in nature. And the kindness strangers still show each other. The goodness that still remains in this world.
You know what also helps? Being grateful. There’s so much we take for granted… until it’s no longer there.
Every day I wake up and thank God for the air in my lungs – being able to breathe without difficulty. Being able to smell the jasmine and vanilla notes of my favourite perfume, and taste the freshly baked brioche and that occasional Starbucks eggnog latte. The ability to see the burnt orange of sunsets and the myriad stars above me. And hear my cat Tallulah pitter patter into the bedroom on the wooden floor (and then miaow at me – a new sound from her, at thirteen!). I have so much to be grateful for. My husband. Family. Friends. Being able to follow my passions (despite the lack of income from them at present). My faculties (organs, brain, body) all in working order. My health. The lack of worry in my life. Peace in my soul, no matter what…
I’ve volunteered at various places around the world, including: homeless shelters in the UK; a leper camp, a prison and an orphanage in rural India; and centres for troubled youth and disadvantaged families in Africa. As a result, I am keenly aware that so many people don’t have access to even the most basic living requirements: a roof over their head or a warm bed, or fresh, clean running water, or hot showers, or even one solid meal a day; many don’t have the freedom to be who they are or to speak freely; many are denied education or the freedom of religion… I could go on and on.
January on my blog is all about New Year, New You. An Attitude of Gratitude! Perspective. Something we could all do with a change of every once in a while, don’t you think?
I know that countless people are suffering from mental health issues that have seemed insurmountable during this pandemic. The links I’ve included at the end of this post all take you to fabulous sites full of anxiety-free news from around the world. Doesn’t that sound great? Uplifting true stories that are excellent for our mental health.
I thought I’d give you a few samples. Fourteen bites of delight, if you will.
Come with me and enjoy this delicious High Tea of uplifting story appetisers. Just enough to encourage you to keep going. Sustenance, joy and motivation for the week ahead.
Ready? OK, let’s dig in.
Have you heard about the restaurant owner who used to be a mechanic? In honour of his father, he fixes up used cars and donates them to those in need in his community. Isn’t that wonderful?
And then there’s the veterinarian who regularly searches dark alleyways and underpasses for homeless people – so he can give their pets free medical attention. Knowing that their pet is their ‘home’, he’s helped over 400 animals so far. Mostly dogs, some cats, and one python!
And what about US rapper Logic’s suicide-prevention song ‘1-800-273-8255’? It appears to have made a life-affirming impact. There were 245 fewer suicides during the 34-day period when the song received considerable public attention. Wow, right?
Say what? You’ve not heard about the mystery couple who came from poverty and so they anonymously pay the restaurant bills of people who look like they could do with a helping hand?
And what about this: A sixty-year-old janitor who took three buses then walked two miles to get to and from work every day was given the surprise of his life when his co-workers gave him the keys to a new truck. They’d raised $7,000 by pooling their money and organising an online fundraiser to buy the vehicle. The janitor was so overwhelmed with gratitude, he dropped to his knees and cried as he hugged them.
As far as unsung heroes go, I can’t leave out the more than two dozen volunteers who braved -40 degrees Celsius to travel for seven hours on snowmobiles trailing sleds laden with provisions for a COVID-quarantined indigenous community.
They say animals are therapeutic. I wholeheartedly agree. Take, for example, the service dog provided for an autistic boy who cannot be touched. His mother burst into tears of joy as she watched her challenged son voluntarily lay his head on the animal’s belly, their bond unmistakable.
I must admit, I’m such a sap. I can’t watch these videos or read these stories without bawling. One such story has to do with someone who adopted the oldest, sickest dog in the pound. When they walked into his cage, the old dog didn’t even look at them; he’d given up hope. Then they hugged him and told him he was going home with them, and he looked up at them as if he was seeing an angel. Now he sleeps on their lap, content, his joy complete.
Have you heard of ‘Cleaning for a Reason’? It’s a service in the US and Canada that cleans homes of cancer patients for free, leaving them time to rest and heal. Since 2006 these wonderful cleaners have helped over 40,000 people.
And as far as seemingly ordinary people go, I have to mention the pastor and his wife in India who rescue abandoned babies from dumpsters; and then not only do they raise them in their orphanage but they also educate them and prepare them for life as adults. Talk about making a difference!
I bet you’ve not heard about the policeman and his wife who, although they already had four children, including a ten-month-old, selflessly adopted a homeless woman’s heroin-addicted newborn.
OK, this is another one that got me deep ‘in the feels’. When coffee shop staff and patrons noticed a woman – a stranger to them all – celebrating her birthday all alone, they all left their seats and stations and surrounded her, clapping and celebrating and overwhelming her with love.
See how easy it is to make someone’s day? It doesn’t have to be a big or expensive gesture. Just taking time out of your schedule to spend a moment with someone who is alone can make a huge difference to them.
These stories are proof. Proof that everyday, ordinary people are capable of so much more than we realise. Little acts of kindness, a word of encouragement, a compliment, a helping hand to someone in need. We are all capable of these things, if only we would step outside of our own heads, rise above the challenges that plague us, and take a look around.
Keep an eye out for someone in need. You never know when YOU could be the person making the difference. Saving someone’s life.
I’m going to end with two stories about famous people you may have heard of…
Nick Vujicic – a man born with no arms or legs – is a huge inspiration. There is nothing this man cannot do. His book is titled Life Without Limits – Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. Now if a man without limbs can have a ridiculously good life – why can’t everyone? If you’re needing a change of perspective, Nick is just the tonic. From his website: ‘Nick faced tremendous obstacles in life, from living life without limbs to being bullied at school and fearful for his future with no purpose in sight. Without hope, his feelings of helplessness and isolation led him to attempt suicide. Nick persevered through life’s challenges and discovered key principles which enabled him to find his purpose and turn obstacles into opportunities; making him one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world! Millions of people have found hope, purpose and the strength to overcome their challenges through Nick’s inspirational speeches and powerful coaching.’
Pop over to Nick’s site to get weekly inspirational videos.
Have you ever read the book Run Baby Run? Or maybe you’ve seen the movie The Cross and the Switchblade? It’s the true story about notorious ex-New York Gang Leader Nicky Cruz, whose life was changed by an encounter with a meek street-preacher called David Wilkerson. Over time, David disarmed Nicky, using just one weapon: relentless brotherly love. Nicky humiliated him, beat him up and, once, seriously threatened his life. David retaliated by turning the other cheek and coming back for more. Then, one day, Nicky listened to what David had to say. It changed his life. Since then, Nicky has dedicated his life to setting people free. As his website states: ‘Dignitaries and countries looking for solutions to the violence and hopelessness ravaging their communities seek him out.’
You can read Nicky’s incredible story on his site.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for joining me for Inspirational High Tea. I hope you’re uplifted, motivated and energised!
To keep your batteries charged, I highly recommend following some of the sites listed below. Get your daily dose of energy & joy in seconds. (And you could subscribe to my blog too. For your weekly dose of sunshine directly into your inbox!)