Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kindness Project: Finding Strength with a Shovel and a Pail




Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.



Recently I started running again. This may not mean much to you, but it's pretty huge to me. I've never been the kind of person to whom running came easily, and I often dismissed it with a snort. But a few years ago, everything blew up. I was so anxious all the time, edging in on my 30s with so many unfulfilled dreams, not understanding how much I'd truly given up when I'd given up writing. I was looking for a change in my life and to lose baby weight, so I started running, even going as far as lifting weights and attempting to get healthy and fit. I'm talking de-toxing sprees, too. And one day I started writing again after years of hiatus. Not that it took away all the stresses, but it was something, and I was proud of myself.

And then summer of 2011 I got thrown into the harsh tumult of publishing in a number of ways. Then I got sick. And slept all the time. And I got sad. And I had to stop running and working out. I stopped caring about a lot of things, slipping into survival mode. Eventually, doctors figured me out and set me straight. But I'm not sure I ever got out of survival mode. I had no idea how fragile I was. So when I went to Haiti? Well.

I shattered.

This is the part of the post where I sit and stare, because it's hard to know what to say next without feeling like I'm cracking my body open and putting myself on display. So. Suffice it to say, it's been a tough 2012.

Now do you understand why it feels so big that I'm running again?

Life is nothing but shifting sand. Sometimes it cushions our fall and gives us a soft place to lie. Sometimes it blisters our feet and blows into our eyes. Gets grit into our mouths and into all the soft creases. But so often we build these castles out of it, hoping they won't get washed away. We try so hard to believe in those castles. So hard. How many hours we spend sitting in that sand, digging and scooping and shaping with our fingers. That's my castle, my dream, my life, we say. Please don't sink.

But always, it seems like the tide comes in eventually. More often and harsher for some of us. And some must stand by as jackholes knock their castles down and stomp them back to dust.

That's when you have to decide: Will you lie there mourning in the ruins, sifting the remains of your castle through your fingers? Or will you build your castle again?

All runners know that there comes a point in every run when you hit a wall; the pain gets too intense, your muscles are straining, and you're so tired, struggling to even breathe. At that point, I'd say 98% of your body and mind wants to quit. But you also know, having run before, if you can just keep going and break through that wall, you'll be able to run forever. When I hit that point, I always change my iTunes to Pitbull's "Castles Made of Sand." Not because there's some magical quality to that song that sprinkles me with super dust. But because it reminds me I can turn my pain to strength. It reminds me that I already have. And it reminds me to keep believing in the castles made of sand. Not because they're everlasting and unsinkable. But because they can always, always be built again.

Be kind to yourself. Believe in your castles. Don't ever stop building them.

Here's your shovel. Here's your pail.




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Be sure to check out all the inspirational posts for THE KINDNESS PROJECT. Want to join us by writing your own inspirational post on kindness? Sign up in the Mr. Linky widget below, grab the button in my sidebar and post. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say.



33 comments:

  1. It reminds me i can turn my pain to strength. It reminds me that i already have. I love this. Thanks.

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  2. Thanks Carolina for the inspiration. I can so relate to your post because I'm in the middle of those times when the castle I built--my job that always seemed certain but will go away in 2 years when my company closes--crumbles. I can't believe I'm there. But on my good days and the bad ones, I'll be using your shovel and pail.

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  3. So glad you are running AND writing again! I'm all for anything that keeps a smile on your beautiful face. Sometimes a combo of doing what we have to and love is the recipe for getting through the day. Beautiful post.

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  4. Life is so short and fragile. There is heartbreak in the souls of those we pass whose faces reveal nothing. I am happy that you are writing and running again. Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House)died today after years of fearful withdraw from the world. Her ghost would urge you to live each day, breathe each breath.

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  5. You had me until you mentioned Pitbull.

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  6. Beautiful post. Life is tough. And life is wonderful. Yes, rebuild the castles and smile towards the sun.
    I just want to give you a big hug!!!

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  7. Fantastic post, Carol! And all I can think is it's a good thing I love the beach b/c I feel like my little castle got hit by the big one--LOL!

    I know part of your story, but I don't know it all. I will say I'm thrilled at you running again. Over last winter, I struggled to get my feet in the street as much as possible, and it makes all the difference in the world.

    TKP is such a fantastic idea. Thanks for starting it! ((huge hugs)) <3

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  8. What a lovely, brave post. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your pain. It is not just our triumphs that make us, but our challenges and failures. We just have to get back up and do the best we can. You are amazing and the backbone of this fantastic project. Kindness will come back to you ten-fold and you will be all the stronger for it. Each time you build your castle, it will be bigger and better :) Love the song.

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  9. an inspiring post! I love how you've gotten back to running again. And you're back to writing. That's the light at the end of the tunnel. I totally understand how that feels.

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  10. Wonderful message, Carolina! And I like the analogy that life is like sand. A season for all things...

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  11. Beautifully said my dear. And congratulations on running again, that's fantastic! I'm so happy that you're rebuilding your castle. :)

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  12. All writers have to believe in their castles. If they don't, why would anyone else? Thoughtful post!

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  13. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we are our biggest enemy, right?
    I'm glad you didn't give up on your dreams, even when things were at their toughest!

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  14. Thank you for sharing this. I know these posts are some of the hardest ones to write. But they also mean the most to read. I know all about that shifting sand, about having it blow in your eyes and the way it stings and burns. And as a newer runner, I also know what it's like to hit that wall and push through, but I'm still learning just how far I can make it. You are an inspiration and I'm so glad you're running again. Wish we lived closer so we could run together! <3

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  15. I'm so glad you're getting back to running! This is a beautiful, honest post. I trained for a half marathon once, didn't quite make it, that pesky heart surgery happened, but I remember that wall, and I remember breaking through it. I'm SO SO proud of you. YOU are amazing and strong and unselfish and all the good things people are. And I count myself lucky that I can call you a friend <3<3

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  16. OH - I LOVE this castle analogy. So gorgeous and so inspiring. YOU are a beautiful person, Carolina. I hope you continue to believe in your castles. Thank you for this.

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  17. Good for you!!! When I get to that point in a run, I start imagining an acceptance speech for some big publishing award. I always look really good when I'm giving the speech and people cry listening to me.

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  18. Your sand metaphor is brilliant. Perfect. Also, I can totally appreciate how meaningful it is that you have started running again. Not just because I run for five minutes (okay, two) and want to pass out, but for the reasons you gave as well.

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  19. In case you don't already know, I completely understand this.

    As a writer. A runner. A human. A sand-shoveler.

    I'm right there beside you. On my knees. Hoping.
    And hoping some more.

    Good for you for getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. That wall? It's there for us to break through it.

    This I know.

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  20. Wow, what a story, Carol! I'm so glad the world is looking up for you again. Isn't it crazy that we can be so fragile at certain times and not even know it? I'm so glad you're running and writing and hopefully enjoying life. xoxo

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  21. Hey, I just found your blog and I wanted to say that this is a great post. Very inspiring. And I love that song. Keep being awesome and inspiring to others!

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  22. Carol, I'm so sorry to hear what you've been going through.

    There's nothing wrong with being fragile. We all are in our own way and all it takes is the right knock to shatter us. We're like those safety windows, you have to hit us in a certain way to make us break.

    What matters is that we take the time to carefully, gently, slowly, pick those pieces of glass up and put them back together again. We need to take the time to heal.

    Big hugs, Carol. I'm glad you're writing and running again. I care about you and wish you the best.

    Jai

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  23. Beautiful post! I'm sorry to hear it's been a tough 2012 for you - but this post is so inspirational, I can tell you're strong and these hard times will only make you stronger. Keep running, girl!

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  24. Beautiful! I'm sorry it's been a rough year, Carol. You have some amazing words in you, though, that can strengthen you and others. Thanks for sharing them with us all! <3

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  25. Great blog, liked it.
    I'm following you.
    Cheers from Argentina!
    HD

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  26. Wow what a story! So glad doctors discovered what was wrong. Sorry you had to go through all that. VERY powerful story. What awesome inspiration. You go girl.

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  27. Wonderful post. I've got a daughter who is bipolar and loves to run. I totally get how running can be a sign of where you are.

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  28. I love this idea of the kindness project. It's good for us to get away of thinking about ourselves and to look at what others are doing. I'm a runner myself and enjoyed your post.

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  29. What a beautiful and heartfelt post! Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I'm glad you're back to running and writing. You're going to be better than OKAY!

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  30. What a wonderful, sincere post. Sometimes it feels like we cannot possibly handle any more on our plate...that the struggle is too much. I know whenever I feel like I am at my limits, I have a good cry and things get a little easier. I take a step. And another. A big part of that is knowing other people are finding the courage to take those steps too.

    So, thanks for being one of those people!

    Angela

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  31. I'm discovering your post a little late, after realizing I hadn't seen your blog in awhile. Thank you for sharing these honest, heartfelt words. The castle metaphor is perfect. Hugs to you.

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  32. Hi Carolina. I know I should have visited and read this last month - but I haven't blogged for quite sometime. Thank you for sharing these feelings. I do feel like this sometimes. But like you, I try to get up from every fall and have faith again.

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