Alchemy, angry seagulls and the kindness rock

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Lately I have been re-reading some of my all time favorite books. Ok, re-listening to them, as I must admit that I am an avid audiobook listener. I look forward to my morning walks for this purpose. I can’t wait to lace up my sneakers, fill my pockets with kindness rocks throw on my cold weather walking gear and hit the beach. There is something deeply restorative surrounding my morning routine. It could be the solitude, the fresh salt air or the inspiration I find in the books I listen to. I believe it’s the alchemy of all three.

 

What is alchemy you may ask? Well ironically it’s the title of my all time favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I highly recommend reading it, or in my case, listening to it. It’s a story of a young shepherd boy in search of  his personal legend, finding his purpose in life and fulfilling his dream. Isn’t that the journey we are all on?  It’s beautifully written, full of insight and interesting characters, and if you download the audio version, it is read by Jeremy Irons, BONUS!

 

The dictionary.com definition of alchemy is “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance,usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”

 

In my life, alchemy is found within the little synchronicities that occur each day leaving me with great insight towards the direction I should move in. Beautifully summed up by Jen Sincero in her book You are a Badass, “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous”.  I love that quote.

 

Such synchronicities, coincidences or God winks are like breadcrumbs along life’s path. These breadcrumbs always lead me back to where I need to be.  Unless a wild animal, aka a negative person or situation in my life, gets there first and eats them, thus leaving me lost in the woods, unsure of myself, and without a sense of direction. That sometimes happens. Let me rephrase that, sometimes I allow that to happen to me.

 

These were the times I was truly disconnected to my self, to others and to the life that I was meant to live. Trust me, Disconnection is a frustrating and lonely place. Maybe you too are familiar with it.

 

Lao Tzu wrote,

 

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

The alchemy of it all is that connection leads to peace. To be connected we must start by remaining present.    I begin each day, by connecting with positive messages found in inspiring books. Next, I connect with myself by turning off that audiobook when I reach the beach and I begin to walk mindfully. Meaning, keeping my thoughts clear. When I begin to think about past events, I return my focus to my breath which brings me back to the present moment, clear from thought. This process is much like meditation, but with my eyes open while walking. Meditation is typically done in a seated position with your eyes closed.  However, mediation can take many forms, and this is how I incorporate it in my day.

 

More often than not, I find my thoughts focussed on my todo list.. Lao Tzu would call this being in a  state of anxiety. I would agree 100%. Lao Tzu really knew his stuff.

 

So once again, I let those thoughts dissipate like the waves. In that still moment, I am flooded with great insight. This is not the place or time to use my breadcrumb analogy,  as the beach is full of seagulls waiting for that random piece of bread to appear so they can dive bomb me,  pick it up, poop on my head and fly away. Oh the irony in it all.

 

So if I did use that analogy, and that actually happened, would I allow that to ruin my day? Would I stand in the middle of the beach, angry and annoyed unable to continue, or would I laugh out loud and carry on? It would seem ridiculous for me to allow an angry bird to ruin my walk…day….life…wouldn’t it?

 

Today, I use that image of a seagull every time I come across an angry or aggressive person in my life. And, trust me, there’s a lot of seagulls where I live. I now choose rocks as my trail of breadcrumbs and I leave some along the way for others to follow. Seagulls aren’t attracted to kindness rocks so I think I have found a solution for all of us.

 

So If you happen to find one of my rocks, either on the beaches of Cape Cod or on social media. Let that rock be a reminder for you to remain present. If you relate with the message,  may it become a positive catalyst for that deeper personal connection you may be seeking. My hope is that each and every time you come across one it will remind you that you too have a personal legend to fulfill.

 

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What the world needs now is more kindness, compassion and connection.

How do we make this a reality?

Well, that’s up to you and me.

That’s right, we each have a responsibility to be a part of the change we wish to see in the world. And I am here to propose a plan.  Because without a plan some of us may feel insignificant, hopeless and frustrated with the state of the world right now.

Since the opposite of hate is indifference,  we must take action. Indifference  is the absence of feeling or interest. When we begin to feel something, such as fear and frustration, we must use those emotions as a catalyst to create change.

So here’s my plan

  1. Give of yourself in service. Volunteer. Do something positive for someone else. Drop some kindness rocks, hold a door, donate some clothes, anything that benefits another human being.  This will help shift any negativity you have and you will begin to feel better.

2. Heal the relationship with yourself. Heighten your awareness around your feelings and begin to explore where they are coming from. Turn any negativity into a positive agent for change. Get curious! Begin to ask yourself the question, ‘What is my purpose here”

3. Expand your awareness around how you connect and interact with others around you. Bring peace and kindness into your home, your community and ultimately the world. Surround yourself with like minded positive people (find your tribe) and together you will serve as a a model for others to admire and follow. Kindness is contagious!

What the world needs now is more kindness and compassion. Geez, I’ve been forced off Facebook due to all of the negativity and anger that is being expressed. Nobody wants to start their day with that? Am I right? So I have been busy creating unity and peace rocks to doing my part in keeping it kind. I hope you will join me in creating this message for others to follow.

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Here is some information about our kindness rocks project assembly at Mendon Center Elementary in Pittsford, NY today. Our kindness revolution began when myself and a co-teacher brought the idea up to our 4th grade classes as a community service project we could work on together. We wanted to help the kids see that spreading kindness does not have to be a grand gesture, rather something as small as a smile, a hug, or holding the door for someone without wanting something in return. The kids were very excited to take on the project and immediately began collecting rocks and sketching ideas. One student single handedly brought in, in his wagon, over 50 large rocks for our class from his grandmothers yard. The kids were excited to get started with the actual rocks. Before we got too much further into this project I figured it was about time to check with my principal to let her know what we were doing. She loved the idea so much that she asked if we could make it a school wide project. Before I knew it, our entire school of over 700 students and staff were painting rocks. The project took off in such unexpected ways. Both kids and staff were creating rocks outside of school and in our spare time because it was so therapeutic. Our 4th and 5th graders helped the K-1st graders paint the words on their rocks. Even our amazing PTSA joined in the cause by donating $500 in paint and paint markers to our cause. We even had families heading to beaches on The Weekend to collect rocks for kids who didn’t have any. One family collected over 600 rocks for our schools use. Today was the culmination of the project for the school. We had an all school assembly where all the kids brought their rocks to the auditorium and we enjoyed a slide show showcasing all the kids hard work.  At the assembly the kids were given instructions about what to do with the rocks.  The media came and did a short clip on the project on the 6:00 news. I have already posted the news reel to the kindness rocks page.  This has been such an amazing project for all the kids.  Although the school may be done with the project, the original classes have plans to start kindness rocks gardens throughout our community.  They have already started brainstorming places to create a garden, like our local Ronald McDonald House, the hospital, a local nature trail. The kids are  still excited about creating more rocks.  Our plan in to hunker down this winter and create some great rocks and then use the rocks in the spring to create more gardens.  Thank you for starting such a simple, yet powerful movement that has brought so much joy to others and has helped teach our students that the smallest ack of kindness can cause a ripple.

Sincerely,

Kim Hosbach

4th grade teacher @ Mendon Center Elementary Pittsford, NY

From Cape Cod to Carlsbad CA…S. Sheeran spent the week in CA at the Chopra Center for a Meditation Certification Retreat.  She brought “#TheKindnessRocksProject” in her carry on (ok most likely not in her carry on, I’m sure it was in her checked luggage) But she’s carry-ing on the project to inspire others to join. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?  She commented, “What a gift to see people moved by the rocks!!! Now they’ll go out and spread the love!”

SPREAD THE LOVE….SHEILA, you are lovingly doing that!
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