This evening’s newsletter will break from the regular format. I write to you just as me, about my journey.
I am so grateful that you are reading this and following the Travelling Kindness Rocks. This newsletter will be seen by my close friends and family and folks from around the world who I may not have even connected with one-on-one yet: I am humbled. I am amazed at the turns my life has taken in the last ten months. A year ago, I could never have predicted the news I’m about to share with you.
As many of you know, I am a full time teacher of a great bunch of grade 5 and 6 students. I stumbled into dot painting after exploring Aboriginal Australian culture with my class last spring. Since then, I have followed my intuition, building the Travelling Kindness Rocks project.
Which leads me to my news… for me, the next step in my journey is to take a year’s leave of absence from my teaching position. Although I will miss daily interactions with an energetic group of kids, I know this is the step I am to take and I take it faith. I am grateful to my school board for allowing me the opportunity. From July 2016 to August 2017, my schedule will be open to follow the dots.
And where will they lead me? Some of that is clear to me already. At the core of what I do, in all that this journey of mine is, lies a few clear beliefs. One is that we are all connected. As I continue to send out Travelling Kindness Rocks (about 10 per week), I am also moving to take this core belief to another level.
My vision is to provide educators and their students all over the world with one kindness challenge per month. I aim to make it as manageable as possible for educators by providing a short instructional video and any necessary materials so they can easily share the challenge with their students. There is no cost to participants. After students do the kindness challenge for the month, teachers can report on the Travelling Kindness Rocks website. I will randomly pick one class per month to receive a Travelling Kindness Rock and they will have to use it to spread cheer. Students and educators will be able to read posts from others around the world right here on the website. Some reports will be featured in the newsletter as well. Although I am a supporter of random acts of kindness, these kindness challenges will focus on fostering compassion and empathy, encouraging students to think about others and find a person who needs cheer at the moment.
Another part of my vision is to use my leave to facilitate workshops and presentations for people of all ages. Teaching young people to paint mandalas will overlay the message of spreading kindness. I am developing the outline for workshops and presentations. I welcome ideas and have set up a place on the website for folks to give input.
I will not receive my teaching salary for twelve months. Therefore, you’ll notice that I’m working hard to increase the items for sale in the Travelling Kindness Rocks Shop, including rocks, colouring sheets, and shirts. I am committed to a portion of sales going to either postage of Travelling Kindness Rocks or to charities that reflect the many journeys of the Travelling Kindness Rocks recipients. For instance, right now 20% of shirt sales will be donated to Children’s Wish Nova Scotia. Although I will need to make an income during my leave, I will use this newsletter to advertise minimally. The newsletter’s focus will continue to be to update people around the world about the Travelling Kindness Rocks and, most importantly, the people they connect.
I thank you for taking the time to read this. Please know that for each person, you included, that follows the Travelling Kindness Rocks on social media, signs up for the newsletter, tells me their story, comments on a post, or emails me, I am always excited and oh so grateful. If you would like to support this next phase of the Travelling Kindness Rocks, please tell educators, by word of mouth, sharing a post, or emailing the link, about the Kids and Kindness posts on the website.
As with hugging, I can be somewhat awkward closing letters like this (check out my blog post "2015: The Year I Learned to Hug" for more on that). However, I think my journey has lead me to an appropriate closing word that has a number of interpretations. I like one meaning i just read: "The Divine spark within me sees the Divine spark within you."