I woke up pretty early. Excited, nervous, scared, emotional and all at the same time. My family have been worried about me making the decision to go on this ‘crazy’ adventure and so I get a knock on the door at about 6:30am. It’s my parents who have a coffee in hand; can I accept? Has the journey begun? I take the coffee out of their hands. I’ll keep them happy for the next 90 minutes.
Time for a quick shower; I’m not sure when I’ll get another so I make it long. Last minute check to make sure I have everything that I need. Water bottle, Phone, Charger, spare change of clothes. My bag is pretty light but I know it will fill pretty quickly as the journey moves so I’m OK with that.
After calming my parents down, I say see you later to my boys; Twix and Finley the famous turtles. I haven’t been able to contain their egos since their appearance on channel 7 news the other night. They are complete rock stars now and have demanded the organic version of their food from now on. Pffft.
It’s 7:50am and I’m running late. I pull the door shut behind me and I know that this is right. I’ve never felt more certain about anything in my life. People are good; I know it just from the amazing response from my call out last week. I’ve filtered through over 4,000 requests to help me out. Why don’t we celebrate the good people more than this?
I’m met at Mortdale train station by more of my family and one of my best friends. My nephews wish me well on my ‘holiday’ and promise to look after Twix and Finley for me. It’s an emotional time for all of us but we are all excited just the same. Up the stairs I go, towards the first stop, Sydney’s Bondi. I’m met at the station by a lovely lady Tmne (Tem- Knee). Tmne has followed the kindnessfactory journey since we started. She was introduced to us by a friend who worked at St. Vincents Hospital after we brought them morning tea and coffee last year. Tmne has all sorts of great friends who also meet us for breakfast. We order and the conversation quickly turns to me. Immediately I’m out of my comfort zone as I fill them in on my life to date. Some have heard the story, others haven’t. we’re holding back tears but we agree that everyone has a story and we all face adversity in life. Everyone’s story and challenges are relative to the individual and life events affect us in different ways.
I’m amazed to learn more about each person. I quickly discover that I’m amongst some incredible company. Magistrates, Barristers, Lawyers and Charity workers. They all have incredible things to say and I’m fascinated by them. Tmne has to leave early as she has volunteered her time with the local breast care centre. Two of the ladies have brought me goodie bags with food, pyjamas and water. I’m grateful but my bag is already much heavier than when I left this morning.
The ladies chip in and donate some cash for me to get me by for a while. It’s hard for me to accept but they insist and I know it could come in handy if I run in to any trouble. People are good.
I say goodbye to the crew and off I go to meet Paul; my driver for the day! Paul is from a small transfer company ‘BonVoyage Transfers’. He greets me with a smile and we head off towards my lunch dates; the incredible crew at ‘Grow’.
Grow is a not for profit mental health help organisation open to all ages. I was contacted by Janine earlier this week when she heard about the kindness journey. Janine is passionate and loyal; I could tell that from the first text message she sent me last week. I arrive at about 1pm for lunch and I’m greeted by four of the crew. Alex, the youngest of the bunch stands out immediately. He looks strong and confident. I’m shocked to learn that just six months ago this young man was battling dark times with his own mental health concerns. I’m blown away as he tells me that he is working towards happier times with the hope to inspire younger generations to speak up about mental health. Alex is training to become a mentor within the program. The guy inspires me. He is strong and I admire him.
We go to a Greek restaurant for lunch and I fill the crew in about the kindnessfactory, my journey and what I hope the future holds for me. We chat for a while and then it’s time for me to be picked up again by Paul who is taking me back in to the city for the night.
Before dinner, I have an hour. I collect myself on the steps of Sydney’s town hall. My phone is running low so I charge it at a nearby power supply on the street. Time gets away from as I quickly realise that I am running late for dinner with Erin. I met Erin last year in the early stages of setting up the kindnessfactory. I purchased her fuel one day and it changed my entire outlook for the week. I was buzzing and the life stressors that had been getting to me suddenly had no way of impacting me in a negative way. I’m not really that smart but I’m pretty sure that when you engage with acts of kindness, it releases some chemical in the brain which makes you feel good. I don’t have time to google all of that at the moment but I’m 60% sure that it’s true; take it as you will. Maybe even try it. It feels really good.
All I remember of Erin is that she has a beautiful smile and that she works for the commonwealth bank. I’m secretly hoping that we don’t eat anywhere fancy; I have jeans and a hoodie on and I’m not sure I’d fit in. I see her walk down the escalators and I’m nervy. There’s no need for nerves though because Erin meets me with her beautiful smile again and it’s like we have been friends for years.
We quickly decide on Thai for dinner and we start chatting and get lost in the conversation. About half an hour passes before the waitress gives us a hurry on to order our food. We do and then keep chatting away. Erin asks about my life, where I’m at and agrees with me that we need to celebrate good people more often. I learn that we are from a similar part of the world and that we went to neighbouring schools. Erin has a long term partner and a beautiful family in the Sutherland Shire. She is warm and friendly and her smile matches everything about her. We’re friends for life.
My driver Paul picks me up from darling quarter and gives me a quick tour of the harbour before we grab a photo with me sticking out of the car roof. It was my idea, I’ve always wanted to do that! Time is limited though as I’m on my way to a beautiful family in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Ruth contacted me during the week and for some reason I felt compelled to stay with her and the Parkers.
When I made the decision to go off on this adventure, I also decided to go with my gut instinct on everything. I’m so glad that I did. It’s about 8:30pm when I arrive and I’m walking with my tail between my legs a little. I’m embarrassed to be arriving so late, especially given that Ruth and her Husband Sam have two young sons Oscar (7) and William (6).
Again, I need not be feeling embarrassed as I am welcomed in their beautiful home with open arms. Ruth is English, from Nottingham in the UK. I connect with her accent after living in the UK for two years in 2008/09 on a professional cricketing contract with Middlesex CC.
Ruth hurries me through the door as the boys (Oscar and William) haven’t been able to fall asleep with the excitement of me coming. I have nephews the same age so I can appreciate this. I meet Sam, the boy’s dad and he is immediately welcoming. His smile and hug puts me at ease and I know I have met incredible people. I head in to the boys room and I’m surprised to see that William is on a mattress on the floor. He gave up his bed for me for the night! I quickly hug the boys goodnight and promise to watch their soccer game in the morning.
Ruth, Sam and I head towards the lounge room where we properly introduce ourselves again. This couple is beautiful and I can sense that they are soul mates. We learn a lot about each other just by chatting. Oscar is cheeky. He has escaped the bedroom and joins us in the lounge room as we get to know each other a little more. Oscar has an accent like his mothers. It’s adorable.
We chat some more and then it’s off to bed for me. The day has been amazing but also exhausting. I go to bed with a heart full of love from meeting all of these incredible people. This journey has just begun and I’m blown away. This is life changing stuff.
We’re on top.