Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Kindness Project

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.

So these fabulous writers have started this project, a mission if you will, in an effort to spread kindness. And because they are so amazing, I have decided to join them in writing about kindness.

I have never been shy about talking how amazing I think all the writers I've met via blogging, Twitter, conferences, etc. are. They have always been gracious and helpful and have literally changed my life in many, many ways.

One of those people is my friend Jolene. She lives in Alaska. I may never meet her and yet she has done something extraordinary for me. Some of you know that when I was in college, my very dear friend from high school Joel died in a car accident. I wish I could tell you what an amazing guy he was. Great friend. Genuine and optimistic and smart and wonderful. It gutted me when I lost him.

When I first started writing YA books, I knew I wanted to one day write a story about Joel. And I thought I was ready for it. It's been fifteen years. But somehow, I couldn't do it. Until Jolene said she'd collaborate with me on it. Joel became Kyle. And within a day, Jolene sent me this:

"It was stupid to come here for this.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to Kyle. I don’t think I can. My soul has been shredded in so many ways that I can’t believe I’m still breathing. The room’s the same. Smells the same. He can’t be gone with all the sameness around me.
The paper’s soft in my hand. His words are everything and nothing I expected.
My heart breaks. Shatters. Splinters into so many millions of shards I know it won’t ever be the same again. How could it be?
He was everything, and I didn’t get it. Didn’t know it. Didn’t see it."

Jolene has no idea how much writing this book has saved my soul. Brutally honest and very hard to write and there she was every day saying, "This is amazing. This is working. Joel would love this." Even though she never met him. And the thing is, he WOULD love it. It's not his story anymore, but everything that needed to come out of me in regards to how I felt about losing him gotten woven into that book. My words and Jo's words all mixed together.

The other thing that I love about Jo is that when I'm having a rough day, she sometimes sends me a message saying, "You're a fucking brilliant writer" even though she's also wrangling Medicaid and a bunch of other shitty things that she sometimes has to deal with. This is kindness to me. Kindness in the form of a message in the midst of chaos saying, "You're amazing."

So many of the writers participating in this project have done the same thing for me. I adore them all. You should know them and love them too. And go visit their blogs.


Brinda said...

Jolene sounds like a great person and very supportive. I'm glad she's been there for you and for this book. We all need our Jolenes and hopefully we are one to someone else.

Christa Desir said...

I imagine we all are;)

Jenny S. Morris said...

I'm seriously all emotional today. LOL. And this post has me all tearful. You and Jo are amazing!!! Really you are. Not only as writers but as friends. I really love you guys to pieces. Okay, I am done. Thanks for sharing the kindness.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

What an amazing friend, Christa. I'm so glad you decided to post this. Thank you for that. I wish this sort of friend for everyone.

Jolene Perry said...

I'm totally tearing...
Maybe crying a little.

I didn't even KNOW Joel, and still I felt like I lost him.
That story still guts me, and is still the thing I'm most proud of. I was overwhelmed the WHOLE time thinking - I can't believe Christa is letting me tackle this with her. This project is amazing. This project will rest in Jo's "hall of very few favorites" forEVER.

And we both know the book MUST be dedicated to him. Nothing else would be right.
Except maybe to mention whichever genius made those green converse.

You rock, Christa.

And your writing is fucking brilliant.

Kelley Lynn said...

Sounds like a brilliantly heart wrenching story. You, Jolene and many others out there in the bloggerly world are such great support, inspiration. I think you all for your kindness as well :)

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness, Christa, what a great addition to the posts for today. It's so inspiring to hear how one good friend made it possible for you to honor another in this profound way. Thanks for joining this project!

Tracey Neithercott said...

Everyone needs a Jolene. How wonderful to have a friend who can support you and lift you up like that. And the story—what a really great way to dig through those feelings and honor Joel.

I'm so glad you've joined The Kindness Project! Welcome, welcome. And thank you.

Michele Shaw said...

When you know someone is going though some hard stuff and they still worry about bringing you up, that is true kindness. It's selflessness at its best and you are one lucky duck to have Jolene in your life! I know you treasure her. So glad you've joined us with TKP!

Lola Sharp said...

I'm so glad you joined us, Christa, my love. Thank you for sharing this story with us. *hugs*

And a big thanks to Jolene for being the epitome of kindness and friendship. <3

You are blessed to have Jolene in your life. We all need a Jolene...and we should all strive to be a Jolene. :)

Love and hugs,

Anonymous said...

Christa *and* Jolene? You're brilliant fucking writers. <3

Melissa Sarno said...

I love this story. Spreading stories of kindness is genius. :)

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

Wow. That passage? Absolutely stunning. Jolene sounds really amazing--and I'm happy you have someone to tell you you're a fucking brilliant writer when you need to hear it. <3

Anonymous said...

And I thought I couldn't *get* any weepier, I read this beautiful post. I'm so happy to be a part of this project with you. Thank you so so much for sharing your memories of Joel, and for lifting up your friend Jolene. I'm so happy for you that you have her in your life.

Jessica Love said...

What a beautiful post. And I echo everyone else who says we all need a Jolene!

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

How cool is this? I love it-- I vote for more kindness! YAY!

Anonymous said...

Jolene is amazing. You both are. What a beautiful post. This hits me since I've come across so many kind writers and bloggers in the past few years.

Heather said...

I love this, how amazing. You're lucky to have such a friend, and we're lucky to have you!