Stacey. If only the space-time continuum actually worked the way I wanted it to and you were able to actually read this, 20 years ago…
Right now, you’re probably preparing for you’re A Levels – go easy on the volcano revision, hardly any of it comes up in the exam and you don’t end up becoming the Vulcanologist you wanted to be anyway! You also won’t become a tornado-chaser or Sky Sports presenter, sorry love.
I’m writing to tell you the things I wish you knew back then – the things that probably would have helped you stand a little taller. I also want to tell you about a global situation that you will not believe. Well, actually, the way your crazy imagination works, you probably will believe it!
I know school isn’t great for you right now. You love to learn but you just don’t seem to fit in. Those bullies who ostracised you from the day they first looked you up and down, do not feature in your life. In fact, you will never see them ever again from the moment you leave Comp for good. Not even on social media – yes, this is a thing. Think MySpace but cooler and more addictive! I know they spent hours making fun of how short you were but chin up Stace, you do eventually grow to a solid 5ft 6”. In fact, all the abuse you took from them, you’ve turned into something greater. Never will you look down on anyone from any walk of life. You give them the respect that you longed for all those years in school. The emotional scars take time to heal, yes, but my goodness do they make you stronger and more resilient! One of them will even apologise years later when your paths inadvertently cross and tell you the humbling truth of why she was the way she was to you, and you will forgive her.
I know how you’re feeling right now. You’re nervous about leaving home and going to University. Well, don’t be. You get your grades and trot off to Cardiff for three years to study music and Welsh – perfect for becoming a Primary School Teacher (the more realistic choice than Vulcanologist!) Although you’ll come to realise that young children aren’t your favourite age group to teach and leave it for good, five years later! Keep pursuing it though, it’s definitely not wasted time. You take endless transferrable skills from the profession and will always be thankful for the resilience you built up whilst dealing with difficult parents of pupils! Do try to avoid racing with Mr Thomas in the school yard though, you go flying in front of 150 children and never live it down…
You’ll have a series of jobs, mainly in learning and development, PR and Communications and thoroughly enjoy them all. Be thankful, because that doesn’t happen to everyone. Be kind to absolutely everyone on your way, you never know when you might see them (or need them!) again. When you leave The Prince’s Trust (your longest job to date), your Director will call out your personality and tell you not to change. He’s right. Just do you. You are on your own mountain, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Like everyone else, you’ll love people, and you’ll lose people. You’ll watch as people you care about are unfairly taken from this world and you’ll wonder why. I want to say it gets easier, but death becomes more terrifying as you get older because you see it more and more. But with bad, comes good. It makes you take notice and savour wonderful moments a lot more than you used to. Never wish time away as it seems to move faster the older you get.
Enjoy the interaction with people as much as you can. Embrace the ones you love and care about as much as possible because all that will be taken away in 2020. An infectious virus called Covid-19 results in a global pandemic. It turns people’s lives upside down and loved ones are lost to us far too soon. Lockdowns announced by the Government mean people have to stay at home and are unable to visit friends and family. Thankfully, technology has moved on since your time and you can see and talk to people through laptops. You can even work from home! Yes, it’s something you’ve always wanted to be able to do but you will miss travelling to the office and parking in the shared car park with your dad. After nearly four decades, you could finally go into work with him (last time you did this, you were a baby and were sick over his shirt in the office!). Thankfully, this hasn’t happened since…
Make an effort to speak to those who are lonely during this time. You live with your husband (who’s a copper by the way, so stop speeding!) on the same estate as your parents so you have a lot to be thankful for – just remember those who don’t have those luxuries. When you have a ‘bad day,’ don’t forget perspective!
Finally, on 10 June, 2010, you’ll have a gig supporting a Llanelli band called Sierra Alpha in The Bucket & Spade. Don’t be so shy, spend some time talking to their pianist – he’s the guy you end up marrying nine years later. I wouldn’t say this is a regret of mine, because I’m a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. Just give it a go, see what happens… you might get more time with him!
Anyway, ciao for now. Get your head down, dream big, don’t send your Geography teacher a Valentine’s card and keep smiling!
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Since I last blogged, it’s safe to say that life has changed somewhat.
I’ve become fully immersed in my now not-so-new job, got married, moved house and am now on the most impressive chapter of my life so far. If I was a J.R.R. Tolkien series, I’d like to at least think I was on Return of the King, the good bits, you know what I’m saying? I’m on Mount Doom. Sinister name aside, I think I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Strangely and unexpectedly, Mount Doom seemed to erupt with the giant pyroclastic cloud called Covid-19, and there’s probably no one in Middle Earth who doesn’t know what that term means. Five months ago, it was unheard of here. Four months ago, it was just labelled coronavirus. Now, it’s Covid-19 and has touched the lives of every single human being on this earth.
I remember first hearing about the ‘coronavirus’ on the news back in January/February. They said it started in a Chinese market in Wuhan where the virus supposedly jumped from a bat, to a pangolin, then to humans. There are so many theories but nothing is listed as fact just yet. All I knew was that it was infecting people left, right and centre. There are approximately 5,635 miles between Wuhan and Swansea, my home. That’s far enough away to be safe, right? My curiosity and addictive personality took over and I glued myself to Sky News. I found myself whistling the theme tune most days as it was the only music I was listening to at the time! I read every news article that mentioned it and worldometer.com became my go-to webpage. How many people were getting it? How quickly is it spreading? What’s the death rate? Are we safe?
Back in February, I found myself talking about it to anyone that would listen. People were starting to get sick of it even that early on. In true British style, most people I talked to brushed it under the carpet. Far too big a deal was being made out of this. More people die of flu every year. Shut up Stace. Sing a different song. Mostly, my concerns fell on deaf ears, which was actually strangely encouraging – perhaps I was over-reacting. I mean, was I?
I’m no scientist – I’m in Communications for goodness sake! I did have an app on my phone however – a game I had played for years and had become obsessed with, called ‘Plague Inc.’ On the face of it, the objective of the game sounds completely twisted, but boy, I loved it. You have to create your own disease, bacterial or viral etc. and infect a starting country. I’d always choose somewhere hot with an enormous population and good transport links – somewhere that was the perfect incubator for what was to eventually become a deadly, worldwide virus. The aim was to create a virus contagious enough that it would infect the whole world, but not too deadly that everyone would die before it had a chance to infect all seven billion people. I was fascinated by the science of the game and learned all about transmissions, infections, symptoms and research. After several months, I mastered it and succeeded in wiping out the human race with my homemade virus. Told you it was twisted! At this point I’m just going to put a little disclaimer – I have no secret fantasies about wiping out the human race, I just loved the science. Like when I go driving, I don’t lay banana skins on the road behind me or summon lightning to shrink the cars overtaking me like I do in Mario Kart – they’re just games.
The reason I brought this game up (which has since been removed from the Chinese app store I might add) is that it gave me an excellent understanding of what was to come. I knew from the news how infectious this was and the damage that it would cause if just one person brought it over to the UK. I immediately prepared myself for the worst. I can honestly say that I never panic-bought anything, I just started spending a little more in my weekly shop a lot sooner than the people around me. I told friends to do the same – not to panic-buy (that’s incredibly selfish) but just to make sure they had enough food for a couple of weeks in their houses instead of the usual week. That way, they could limit the amount of times they had to venture out which could put their lives at risk. Some did it but others didn’t. I remember having arguments with people and how frustrated I got when they didn’t take it as seriously as I did. In hindsight, I probably should have just accepted their differing views and let them tackle life the way they wanted to but all I could picture in my head was that game and the loud, terrifying noise it made when a new country was infected.
My work colleague and I started categorising people (it’s a comms thing!). Camp One knew that what was coming was bad and were getting prepared (this was us). Camp Two were the cynics who thought this was one big over-reaction. Camp Three were something else altogether – these were gathering two of every animal and preparing to never see loved ones ever again – think zombie apocalypse! Although I was scared and had an inkling of what was coming, I had faith in the human race and had every confidence, however bad it got, that we’d get through it. I had faith.
March arrived and so did the increased threat of the coronavirus, now named Covid-19. There were more and more local infections and worryingly more and more deaths. Suddenly, I was living the game I’d played for years. I was one of those people terrified that I would catch this disease or worst still, give it to a vulnerable loved one. When people were dying of this virus, this was no game, it mattered. They weren’t abstract – they were fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings, cousins and children. I’m an only child and extremely close to my mother and father. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst and always have been my best friends. I couldn’t bear the thought of catching this virus and passing it on to them to deal with, not a chance in H.E. double hockey sticks. I knew then that the time would soon come that I, along with billions of others, would not be able to throw my loving arms around my parents the way I always did. I wouldn’t be able to catch up with my new in-laws… it was just us.
As time went on, the public started panic-buying left, right and centre. Toilet rolls, pasta and anti-bacterial gel become rarer than diamonds. My Sunday netball games were all cancelled and I knew I wouldn’t see my team, The Milkshakers, for a long time.
On 23 March, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced he was putting the country on lockdown. An action taken by many countries by this point, including our immediate European families, France, Italy and Spain. Shizz just got real. I was sent home to work (which I was extremely lucky to do as so many people were about to become seriously, financially affected by this decision). Yes, I’d be home on my laptop with no one to talk to around me but I was safe. I had technology which allowed me to work and communicate with my colleagues and I could set up shop in my lovely, still new house. Being in the police force, my husband was considered a key worker and had to go into work every day as he always did. Every day I’d worry that he’d come into contact with someone with the virus and bring it home. It would make me sick to my stomach. I’d also worry about what he’d face – what if people start acting irrationally and violently in all their fear? I quickly dispelled those thoughts from my head – mainly because I knew we were in this for the long haul and I couldn’t live every day worrying about his safety. A change in mindset was needed. He’s well-trained, he’s got protection, they know what they’re doing. I chanted this over and over until I believed it.
As well as my family, I couldn’t stop thinking about our Health, Care and Emergency Services choir we both run, the Hospital Notes. These are a fabulous group of people we’ve got to know and love since joining as Musical Directors back in 2018. The sang at our wedding back in October 2019, a surprise that will go down as one of the best we’ve ever had.
All of a sudden, these weren’t just our choir and friends, these were the superheroes fighting the virus on the front line. Our friends were suddenly risking their lives every day to take care of the sick. What I quickly noticed was that not one of them complained about it, which says a lot about them as individuals. The worked long hours, sometimes stepping in to other jobs as numbers were needed. Every Thursday at 8pm, we would go outside and clap for our carers – this became a clap for all key workers as so many others had to risk virus exposure to keep everything running. I remember the first Thursday night as if it was yesterday. I stood on my drive with tears pouring down my face. Not tears of sadness or fear but tears of pride for our nation. For a few minutes, we came together to thank them all and there was no more powerful feeling. It’s something I will never forget and I’m sure one day, will tell my grandchildren about.
Fast-forward to now, week 12 of lockdown. Some rules have been adjusted to ease us out but not much. The threat is still out there and I’m still not allowed to hug my parents. You know what though? They’re still around. They’re still safe. My husband is still safe. Our families are fine. Our jobs are secure. Our house is still standing and our hearts still beat. I’ve saved a packet on petrol. I’ve got to know the area I live a lot more. I have a new hobby in gardening. I’m closer to my neighbours. The air I’m breathing feels that much cleaner. The world looks that much more beautiful. I have never felt more alive than I do now. Yesterday, I heard the sound of a baby crying for the first time in three months. Generally, it’s never a sound anyone wants to hear but boy, did it feel good – I had forgotten what new life sounded like!
Since lockdown began, we’ve grown our first plants, cooked our first Sunday dinner together, raised over £700 for the National Emergencies Trust by singing in our lounge and broadcasting over Facebook, run choir rehearsals via Zoom most Monday nights and checked in with our NHS friends, walked hundreds of miles around where we live, cycled together for the first time from our new home, got to know our neighbours’ cats really well, went viral on TikTok with a stupid video we’d made in the supermarket and the hubby even started a new job in the force.
The human race really is remarkable. We’ve lived through so much in our time on this planet. This was no ice age or world war, but it was still a world-wide threat, a global pandemic as named by the World Health Organisation. Days of standing in crowds at concerts and football matches seem a thing of the past already. As a species however, our ‘bouncebackability’ is second to none. We will bounce back from this. We are financially, the worst off than we have ever been. What’s worse though is that hundreds of thousands of loved ones have been lost to Covid-19 – some of these are family members of friends of mine – it’s so close to home, for everyone, and it’s devastating. This scar will be eternal and no doubt will be talked about for centuries to come – much like how we learn about the plague in schools today. This is one of the main reasons I’m writing this blog. I want to have something to reference when I tell my grandchildren of the heroism of their grandfather and my friends.
We lived through the coronavirus era. We probably wish we didn’t but really, we should be thankful that we LIVED through the coronavirus.
“Don’t worry when you are not recognised, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Intrinsic Motivation is when we perform an action without any obvious external reward. We do it because it naturally satisfies us within.
Why are you reading my blog right now? Is it because the subject interests you and you want to learn more about it? Well good on you! That’s intrinsic motivation! You’re getting no praise for reading it – if you were, that would be extrinsic motivation.
It is rare that you’ll find me sitting in front of the television for hours on end (unless I have a temporary Netflix boxset addiction – it’s Line of Duty at the moment by the way!). I would most likely be researching subjects online that I want to learn more about. I might be scrolling through the iTunes store looking for new artists in the ‘Listeners also bought…’ section to expand my musical knowledge. I might be watching International netball videos on YouTube looking for tips and strategies for my team. I may even be blogging! The point is, I don’t do any of these activities for praise or reward. When I’m doing them, I’m looking for that dopamine-inducing, powerful feeling of internal satisfaction I get when I challenge myself and act on curiosity. I feel proud when I’ve learned something new and often look forward to the day I get to use it. It’s a feeling of bettering oneself.
Imagine you were tasked with writing a bedtime story for your friend’s child. Your friend told you that her daughter loves unicorns and dragons, so make sure you include those. Oh, and she also likes stories that involve singing, not to mention how much she loves rhyming. By the way, you have two hours to write this story and if you get it done on time, she’ll pay for your pizza. Being a good friend, you write the story and get your free Hawaiian for doing so.
In this story, the pizza is the extrinsic motivator, along with praise from your friend and her daughter. You’ve got ‘the reward’ but you might not necessarily have enjoyed the process. You didn’t learn anything yourself and you certainly didn’t enjoy the subject matter of unicorns!
The sad fact is, not every real world behaviour or activity stems from intrinsic energy, as this scenario proves. It is for this reason that I personally seek out activities that interest and excite me, ones that boost my creativity and self-esteem. Ones that make me an all-round happier person.
I think back to when I was in school. I worked hard, revised for my exams and passed all my GCSEs and A Levels. Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation was at play here. Yes, I wanted the praise off my parents and teachers and the pride of being a set one student, but I also wanted to feel good about the work I had put in to get there. I was controlling my own learning and liking the result.
American and Australian Psychology Professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan developed Self-Determination Theory (SDT) which talks about the three psychological needs of a human: to feel competent, related and autonomous. When we feel all three, we will actively seek out what interests us, thus we are intrinsically motivated. The bottom line here is that if you are simply uninterested in a particular activity then you are not intrinsically motivated.
Think about your job and the SDT. Are you good at it? Does it mean anything to you? Do you have freedom within in? I’m here to tell you that if the answer is no to any of these questions, then do not fret. I believe you can feel intrinsic motivation in a job you’re not 100% happy in.
You might be someone who loathes repetition but in your job, you have to speak and say the same messages over and over to people all day, every day. What you need to do is start integrating you actions into your sense of self. Try to get something out of it, any positive feeling at all. Some of those people you have to talk to might not have talked to anyone else all week because they live alone, have no family and rarely leave the house. Greeting them with a smile and asking them how you can help might be the highlight of their week. Sure, you won’t get praise from your manager every time you do this and you certainly won’t get a pay rise, but you feel good about it anyway.
All this is, is relating every activity you do to your own personal growth as a human. Think about it as up-skilling and bettering yourself. Don’t do it for others, do it for you.
Hobbies are considered intrinsically motivated. You do these hobbies with a passion you rarely exhibit at work. It is your hobby because you feel competent at it, connected to it and are free to do it how and when you want to do it. It’s that Self-Determination Theory again!
I’m writing about this subject tonight because of my interest in Engagement, whether it’s at work or at home. If you are reading this as a Manager and you want your staff to feel engaged, motivate them by empowering them and ensuring they have autonomy in their job. Train them up to feel more competent. Relate what they are doing to the company – make sure they see the bigger picture. Try to move away from those extrinsic motivators which only change employee behaviour temporarily instead of changing their beliefs and commitment to their job.
If you are the employee reading this, you have a responsibility too. Look at your daily objectives and start thinking outside the box. What can I get out of work today? Look at the skills you’re utilising and gaining each day and write them down in a LinkedIn profile – you might find people endorsing them which always makes one feel good! Are you the go-to person on a particular topic in the office? Write something about it for the Intranet and share you knowledge with others. Help that person on your floor that is struggling to get their work done on time. The actions that can be taken to improve life at work are endless.
Find yourself that intrinsic motivation and start getting more out of life.
Dreams – the doorway to to the subconscious. I have always found the world of dreams interesting, ever since I was little. It’s a place where you can do things you cannot do in real life. I’m not going to blog today about regular dreaming everybody can do that, I’m going to write about LUCID dreaming (controlling your dreams). I’ve chosen this topic because it’s one of my favourite abilities and happened, most recently, just two nights ago. The best thing about having a lucid dream is that when you wake up, you feel more in control of your life than you have ever felt – because the night before you somehow controlled that petulant child that is your subconscious. It is the most powerful feeling!
Most people over the age of ten have four to six dreams every night. Those numbers, times 365 days in a year makes between 1460 and 2190 dreams every year! We dream during REM periods (rapid eye movement), which can range anywhere from five minutes to half an hour long. In the course of one night, this happens many times. It might seem hard to believe, but this is because we forget between 95% and 99% of our dreams!
Now, I put it to you. What if you could enter a world within your own mind? A world where you could do anything your heart desires? No limits, no consequences. If you can imagine it, you can do it, and all whilst sleeping peacefully. I am of course referring to LUCID DREAMING. Lucid dreaming is a fantastic psychological phenomenon that happens when we sleep. It is a state where you realise you are inside of a dream. This isn’t a naturally occurring thing, only about 20% of the world’s population have had lucid dreams and I’m writing about it to help you get into that 20% with me! It’s a dream where YOU are the writer, YOU are the director.
I know there are probably people reading this thinking, ‘yeah, right-o Stace,’ but it isn’t just a theory, it’s factually proven in science! Using cat scans, scientists can see which lobes in the brain activate when you ‘go lucid.’
Lucid dreaming is a learnable skill that can be used for living out fantasies, practising creative problem-solving, role-playing important life situations, stopping nightmares, creative or artistic inspiration, and even personal or spiritual exploration.
Two nights ago, in my dream, I was sat in my old work’s office in Llangennech. My colleague and I were terrified as we could see spaceships flying round the sky, shooting lasers at buildings and destroying everything. I suppose you could say it was more of a nightmare. My boyfriend was working his shift at the time and I couldn’t get hold of him so I rushed to the office car park ready to drive to see if my parents were okay. Strangely, everyone else’s car was there but mine.
This is the moment I went lucid. Initially I didn’t realise I was dreaming until my car (which is the only way I ever used to get to that office) had disappeared. It was then I realised that what I was experiencing, the aliens, the spaceships, the destruction, the missing car, it was all a dream and I knew it! I turned to my colleague and told him not to worry because this wasn’t real and it was all happening in my head. He asked me to prove it, and rightly so, bless him, he was terrified.
“Watch this!” I said with a satisfied grin on my face, knowing full well I’d conquered my nightmare and was in full control of what was to happen next. I went to the parking space where my car would have been, sat down on the concrete and pretended to put my key in the ignition. “I want my car to be here so if I really concentrate, it will appear around me and I can drive home” I said out loud. All my work colleagues had surrounded me at this point, looking at me in confusion. Sure enough, a few seconds later after wishing hard that I had my car, it appeared. “Ha! See? Told you I was dreaming!” I shouted to them. I told them they didn’t need to worry about the aliens destroying Earth anymore because I would will it to stop.
How did I do this? How did I stop my nightmare? Simple – I just recognised I was dreaming. Once you are aware you’re dreaming, you can alter your dreams and dictate what happens. Learning to dream like this often requires you to know your dreams well enough to find any differences between your dream and waking life – in this instance it was my car not being where it was supposed to be. For example, if you dream about a certain person, place or thing that you never see in your waking life, you can use that as a cue to aid you in becoming lucid. This is called a dream-cue or dream-sign. More often than not, these dream-signs take the form of things or events that you wouldn’t see or wouldn’t happen in the real world. Some examples of dream signs are:
Flying or taking unusually long jumps
Oversized/undersized objects or people
Lilac skies and pink cats… just generally weird stuff1
Beware though, dream signs can be more subtle, perhaps in the form of suddenly returning to an old job, losing the ability to scream, inability to run, arriving somewhere naked or your teeth falling out.
If you don’t intently look for these signs in dreams during sleep, you will accept everything, no matter how strange it is and lucid dreaming just won’t happen to you. Some people keep dream journals where they can record all their dream signs. I just don’t have time for that, so I talk about my dreams. I tell the content to whoever will listen. We chat about how weird they are generally and it sticks in my head, thus helping me recognise my dream signs.
In lucid dreams, you can do things like transport yourself to a new place if you’re not happy where you are, become invisible if you are being chased, fly around if the ground is filling up with water or lava or find money on the ground if you’re feeling poor. The dreams can make you feel so good when you wake, trust me, I’ve had them all!
So how do you go lucid in a dream? In order to be successful at changing things in your dream, you have to believe it is possible – if you don’t, then you won’t be successful. Just think about what you would like to change and picture making it happen (like me picturing I was sitting in my car). For instance, you could imagine a bolt of electricity flying out of your hand pr even something much simpler like a can of coke appearing if you are thirsty – this usually happens when after alcohol!
Dream spinning can also help you control a dream and change your dream setting – I’ve only done this a couple of times as it’s quite advanced and I generally don’t really think about doing it when I’m asleep. Verbal commands are a good way to gain control as well. If you want a shark to disappear, just say it. Repeat it over and over and picture it gone in your head. This is easier to remember than dream spinning! Remember though, if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in a dream, trying blinking really fast, it will often jolt you awake.
If none of the above works for you and you’d like to train yourself to go lucid in dreams, I recommend the ‘Wake-Induced Lucid dreaming’ approach:
Start making a note of your dreams – the more you write them down, the quicker you learn the differences between dreams and reality in your mind. Alternatively just talk about them every morning like I do.
Find a way to remind yourself what is real and what isn’t – a bit like the movie ‘Inception!’ Leonardo DiCaprio has what’s called a ‘totem’ which is a spinning top that spins indefinitely when he is in a dream world. Instead of this, you could just simply practise something you can do in the real world that you might struggle with in your dream, such as your nine times table.
Remind yourself once, every hour of the day, that you are awake – you can chant ‘I am awake, I am awake, I am awake…’ ten times out loud and recite the nine times table. This way, when you fall asleep and you subconsciously feel like you want to keep doing it, you can’t. Why? Because you are asleep and dreaming!
Set your alarm clock 4-5 hours after you fall asleep. When that alarm goes off, don’t get up out of bed, don’t freak out, don’t get excited or anything, just turn it off. Don’t go back to sleep however!
Relax, close your eyes, breathe deeply – focus on ‘I’m going to dream, I’m going to go lucid’ – keep reaffirming this. Fight any urges you have to move and fidget. you may want to roll over, scratch things etc. but don’t! If you need to distract yourself from your body fidgets, focus on what’s called your third eye, which is directly in front of you. You may see squiggly lines and patterns, lots of activity behind your eyelids, but this is simply your brain confirming that that you are about to go to sleep, but DON’T fall asleep yet, you have to keep conscious throughout this whole process – this is the hardest part of it!
Right now, your body is realising that you’re ready to go to sleep and is starting to shut down but you are NOT going to sleep yet. You are still conscious and focussed on the fact that you are awake and this is reality.
At this point, you start to see a load of colours and images flash before you, but don’t focus on any of them, do not pay attention, don’t attach yourself to any themes you may see. This is your brain trying to get back into the REM cycle.
If you keep doing this for as long as you can, eventually, you will attach yourself to a theme you really like and you will realise that you are in a dream. You are not choosing to have that dream, but you are becoming lucid within it and the power is now yours.
When you wake from a lucid dream, you feel so powerful and that nothing can stop you from having a great day. Good luck to all those attempting to go lucid tonight, please do let me know if or when you do – I’d love to hear about your experiences and know that there are others out there that can do this too
This is one of my favourite movie quotes because it is something I’ve always believed in. In a world full of questionable decisions made by even more questionable leaders, we need to do what good we can whenever we are able to – how else can we keep faith in humanity?
Last Friday’s staff meeting was a special one for me because it focussed on just this. A rather inspiring chap called Matt Callanan came in for a chat. My description of what he is about would not do his work as much justice as is deserved, so here is a little screen shot from his organisation’s website, www.wemakegoodhappen.com
Inspired by his story and all the good Matt and his team have done so far, we split into groups and roamed the streets of Cardiff, each group equipped with a £10 note from Management. This idea came from Matt’s #tenner4good initiative which saw him hiding £10 notes round Cardiff in the hope of inspiring those who found one to spend it on someone in need.
My colleagues and I decided to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and take a carol-singing approach, right outside the Apple store in the busy St. David’s Two Shopping Centre, Cardiff – an idea which horrified the three of us but when challenged to think of others, it’s surprising how quickly inhibitions get lost. My colleague’s father is a Director of a charity in Pontypridd that is struggling with funding, which will have a massive affect on its service users. Viva! began in the early nineties, providing leisure and training opportunities to children and young people between the ages of 11-30 with and without a disability. Working for a youth charity myself, hearing my colleagues story about what could happen if it all stopped really affected me, so we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to raise some awareness of such a great charity and the need for more funding.
With our £10, we bought some pens and paper for posters to display what we were doing. We also bought lots of Christmas chocolates to give out to the public while singing along to any Christmas Carol karaoke videos we could find on YouTube. It was a massive gamble for us because although the footfall in the shopping centre was huge, you could see that with only ten days until Christmas, shoppers probably wouldn’t want to know.
After an hour of spreading festive cheer and talking to strangers about our concerns for Viva!, my faith in humanity was strengthened. Busy shoppers took the time to stop, listen and give to the cause. From the happy-go-lucky businessman who gave £5, to the Cancer Charity elderly driver who gave £3 and to the gorgeous little girl in the penguin Christmas jumper who gave 13p, we thank you all. Our #tenner4good had quickly turned from £10.00 into £56.45. Of course this isn’t enough money to save a charity, but it sure is a start. I returned home that night with an enormous sense of wellbeing – my team and I had done a good deed with a single tenner.
I’m writing this blog, not for praise for what was achieved, but to plant the seed in your mind that you too can really help someone – and you don’t even have to be rich to do it! We Make Good Happen is aiming to collectively achieve 1 million good deeds – why not be a part of it?
With 2018 looming, and a brand new year just around the corner, I, Stacey Louise Harris am going to make a conscious effort to do more good deeds for others. There are so many benefits to this attitude I implore you to try the same. ‘Good deeds’ or ‘acts of kindness’ can improve confidence, control, optimism and overall happiness. You never know, they can even encourage others to repeat the kindness that’s been bestowed upon them.
The World Mental Health Foundation says, “When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness.” it also says, “Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realise how lucky you are, enabling you to stop focusing on what you feel you are missing – helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on the things that may be causing you stress.” Working for a youth charity and helping youngsters overcome barriers every day, I can already promise you that this completely true – you really are reminded how truly blessed you are.
So whether it’s short-term like paying for the shopping of the person in front of you or giving up a seat for an elderly lady on a bus, or long-term like volunteering for a charity or mentoring a person in need, give it a shot and be the light in someone’s dark.