Posted in Blog, PBIY Contributors

A Walk with A Stranger, and The Bizarre Story of Good Memories from A Bad Evening

Written by Carina Spring- Homehurrah.com

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After my walk with a stranger, I saw this huge caterpillar, and decided to bring out my cell-phone and take some snapshots.

I had an unusual experience last Saturday morning, When I went for a walk.

Just as I entered the park, I saw a woman, probably in her late 50’s, walking a little, white dog.   I casually commented that her dog was cute, when – much to my surprise – the woman began to tear up.  Apologizing, she explained that tomorrow would be 8 weeks since her husband had died of cancer.

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Trees in the park on a September day in Winnipeg.

I really felt badly for her.  I lost an aunt to cancer a year and a half ago, so I have some understanding of just how hard the whole experience can be.  I gave her a hug, and we started to stroll together.  Wound up doing a lap of the whole park. Mostly, I just listened.

When our walk was done, I felt good that I was able to lend a friendly ear to someone who needed it.  It got me thinking about how acts of kindness really do make both the receiver and the giver feel better.  Actually, this unexpected walk with a stranger also got me thinking about a remarkble experience that happened to my family, years ago.

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I used to live in the city of Edmonton, Alberta.  One evening, my mom, grandma, brother, and cousin were on their way home after a day-trip to Drayton Valley, when they were rear-ended by a distracted driver on the highway. My mom’s car was a total write-off.  The policemen said how incredible it was that no one had been injured.

The accident occurred in front of a campground about 200 km from Edmonton, so my mom called my oldest brother to ask if he could come and give them a ride back home.  He immediately went to pick them up.

But.

He was a student at the time, driving an older vehicle and – shortly after picking everyone up – his car broke down.  What an evening, right?

Now, it was past 11:00 p.m.  This was the age before cell phones, so my family stood stranded by the side of the road, assessing the unfortunate circumstance in which they found themselves.

That’s when a young farmer stopped to help. He drove my family back to the city, more than an hour and a half in one direction (never mind that he still had to drive all the way back to his farm).  When my mother offered to pay him for his troubles, or at least for the gas, he refused to accept.  No, he said.  Pay it forward.  Help someone who needs your help in the future.

That is not the end of the story.

When the accident occurred, my mom’s car got towed away. In the stress of the moment, my mom wound up abandoning a bunch of the stuff that was in her car.  Some of these items were kind of valuable, like tools.

The following week, my mom and her best friend returned to the site of the accident, in the hopes of recovering some of the items. My mom entered the campground, and asked around a bit, just in case.  Turns out there were a number of seasonal workers who were living in the campground while they worked in Drayton Valley for the summer.  Everyone was so nice.  They had collected all of her belongings and, expecting that she might come back, had stored everything neatly under a tarp.

And there’s yet another twist.  On this trip, my mom had been driving a rental car provided by the insurance company.  Believe it or not, it also broke down while they were out there! Seriously!  It had to be towed, but, fortunately, the rental agency had an outlet in Drayton Valley, and my mom and her friend were able to get a replacement vehicle right away.

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What a strange experience, don’t you think?  Such a bitter-sweet combination.  They had a terrible accident, but, miraculously, no one was hurt. Every car that went out there had to be towed away!   Yet, the kindness of strangers transformed the memories of this negative experience into ones that are warm, and rather positive.

There is something very touching, even powerful, about an act of kindness from a stranger – extended without the hope of any retribution.

Sometimes, it can even be simple gestures that make a difference: being patient and present for others, or smiling at someone whom you sense might be feeling alone.

Kindness has a way of coming back to you in mysterious and beautiful ways, and studies show that helping others increases our own happiness.  It has a way of restoring hope, not only in the receiver, but also in the giver.

I am not sure why, but when I was done this walk, I knew it was time to start blogging again.  I am excited to be here, and I look forward to sharing the simple, everyday adventures that challenge, comfort, and enrich.

By the way, after I said goodbye to the woman last Saturday, I decided to do another lap of the park.   This time, for me.  I’d had a stressful week, and needed to process it so that I would have more energy to give to my family and my work.  Even though I had not planned on it, during that second lap of the park, I took a few snapshots with my cell phone.  Those are the pictures in today’s post, in case you wanted to see what one of Winnipeg’s city parks looks like.

Oh, just thought of one more thing!  While we are speaking of the kindness of strangers, have you heard this story of a life-changing phone call?  Not exactly light-hearted, but it gave me goose-bumps.

[This story article can also be found on Homehurrah.com]

Posted in Blog, C Thehappymeerkat, PBIY Contributors

WHY BLOG? CAN IT SAVE YOUR LIFE?

Written By C Thehappymeerkat

Why do people start blogging? And what do they get out of the experience? Everyone will give you a different answer, from having a voice to being part of a community. But what if the simple act of writing some blog posts could do more than just be an outlet for someone’s opinions? More than entertain those who read it? What if blogging gave back someone’s life?

There are many different reasons to start blogging, mine wasn’t even to start a blog. I’d been through a horrible time in my life, had to move home quickly after going through a traumatic event and my whole life was a mess. I was a mess. With depression and anxiety eating away at me I cared little about myself or my life. I started writing reviews on Amazon UK, it was out of boredom more than anything else and as I wrote, I could forget, for a time, what had happened. After a while I created my website as a place to put a copy of all the reviews I’d written, in case they were ever lost or deleted. I never expected someone to visit the site and i didn’t even know what a blog was (compared to a website) or even how to do it!

Of course like most people I eventually tried my hand at posting something. My first blog posts were nothing but me talking to myself about finishing my website, but after a few bad attempts I tried posting something that I wanted people to know, nothing more than recommending a book I’d read on depression. Instantly people ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ me. It was a bizarre feeling. Somebody out there wanted to read my words…My words, the words of somebody insignificant, somebody who barely cared for her own life.

I tried posting another book recommendation/review, yet more ‘likes’ and ‘follows’. And this time I even got talking to somebody about the books and my review. This person became a good online friend and to this day we keep in touch. These new friends and the mere fact my blog posts were even noticed was an instant boost to my own self confidence. I had been so depressed, felt so useless, now that people were liking and even talking to me about my reviews I felt like a spark of me had returned. I was smiling more in those few first weeks than I had done the whole year before.

After some time of reviewing random things I felt a love of books return. I’d always loved reading books but had stopped reading more than a handful a year since the trauma. People enjoyed my reviews and though I didn’t know it yet, something else was brewing inside me. Through blogging about books, and the more life went on, the more set I’ve been in book blogging/reviewing, I’ve met so many book lovers and a LOT of writers. I learned about this whole community of indie authors and have been amazed just how many proffesionally written and professionally looking books there are. I had no idea the indie community was so big.

All these people whether readers, writers or well anyone helped me gain confidence in myself. For the first time since years ago I even started writing poetry which was very well received! All this was still odd to me, it felt so alien, so strange to have people say kind words, praise my work. I’ll tell you why…

My confidence in my own writing ability had been shattered since high school. The teachers themselves telling me I was no good. So bad was their criticism that a piece of me died in that school. The fun loving girl who had been shy but confident in her own creativity, the girl who had written stories, poems and even plays since she was young had disappeared. She had crawled into a tiny hole in my soul and I thought she was gone forever. I thought I would never write another thing again. I thought everything I wrote was rubbish, stupid, that people would laugh at and not be touched by my words. But that’s not the case anymore.

Through meeting a community of like minded people, being given compliments about my writing and talking to many authors who have become friends, I’ve found that part of me I thought was lost forever. Apart from the reviews which I still write to this day I gained the confidence to write poetry, and not any poetry but tough and dark poems, ones from my soul. And now something else has happened, a new (or maybe that should be old) love has come. A love and desire to write fiction, something which I did long before I wrote poems and something which I’ve been afraid to ever do since my teens. But I’m not afraid anymore, at least I’m not afraid of trying. Whether what I write sounds good or reads like gobbledigook, it doesn’t matter. The point is I am now doing it, I now have that confidence back.

So although I still wonder why so many people enjoy my writing, I’m truly amazed and surprised every time somebody compliments it (perhaps my confidence is still not all there), I am writing, creatively, because it’s something I want to do, something I’ve always wanted to do and something I never would have done had I not met some amazing people. And I never would have met them without starting a blog. So when asked why did I start blogging, the answer is a simple one, because I wanted to share a book I enjoyed with others out there. When asked what do I get out of blogging, the answer is simple: I got my life back.

So why do you blog?  Has it helped you connect with a part of yourself?  Let me know 🙂

And if you’d like to visit my blog and see how far I’ve come in just 8 months (yes only 8 months) :https://happymeerkatreviews.wordpress.com/

[This article can also be found on MyTrendingStories.]

Posted in Blog, PBIY Contributors

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