What Do You Want Your Corner of the World to Look Like?
It began because of my anxiety about becoming an Empty Nester. I was being designated for reassignment because my oldest had just returned to college and my youngest was about to be installed in her dorm room. I was going to miss the rewarding job of actively raising kids.
I also felt overwhelmed by the climate of hate and intolerance that was poisoning the country I loved. People’s fear of change was causing children to be locked in cages, parishioners to be gunned down in churches and hate groups to become the loudest and most influential voice at the table.
I felt despair as friends, family, neighbors and coworkers descended into tribes, unsure how to navigate divisive beliefs and politic stands that were quickly making almost all subjects mine fields to friendly conversation.
But mostly, I felt hopeless. Hopeless that anything would change for the better any time soon. I didn’t see a path forward from just locking myself in my house, climbing into bed, pulling the covers over my head, and crying myself to sleep. Roll over and repeat.
But this is why I have a library of inspirational quote books. An insightful or wise snippet of perspective is the fuel that keeps me from running on empty. One book, Daily Peace, 365 Days of Renewal, Photos and Wisdom to Nourish Your Spirit, got me through one particularly rough year. I needed people like C.S. Lewis to tell me, “Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
I needed to decide what to do besides give up.
I wanted the world to change to a positive, more tolerant place where I could feel secure and happy. Without fame, fortune, or platform of influence, I felt powerless to change it. But as Mahatma Gandhi has encouraged, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I would start with me. I would seek weekly inspiration to set my perspective to something that didn’t feel so gloom and doom. There was plenty of positive and goodness in humanity all around me. I would reset my filter so that I didn’t focus on the darkness of life but the wonderful things that light our way.
But I didn’t want to take this journey alone. I wanted people to come with me. If I couldn’t change the world, at least I could try to have an impact on my little corner of it— that just so happened to be a busy thoroughfare.
I had my contractor husband build me a permanent sign post on our property facing the main road. I bought a year’s supply of 22”x22” neon Post-it Notes. And on August 11, 2019 the first change I wanted to see in myself and the world was telegraphed:
A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A WISH.
I have posted an inspirational quote to my little corner of the world every 4-5 days since, making a point of being the first to follow this illuminated path to a more hopeful, centered, happy and safe place.
For my doldrums about missing my kids who have flown the nest:
DON’T BE SAD ITS OVER. BE HAPPY IT HAPPENED.
On battling intolerance and hate:
A SMILE IS THE SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE.
On coming together instead of picking sides:
WHAT DIVIDES US IS FAR LESS IMPORTANT THAN WHAT CONNECTS US.
On choosing hope instead of despair:
WHEN IT IS DARK ENOUGH WE CAN SEE THE STARS.
And then something magical happened. First a little note appeared taped to my sign board:
Thank you for your wonderful quotes! When I ride by on my bike, they make my day!!! (signed with smiley face and heart)
Then some succulents were planted around the post. I noticed they matched the garden of my neighbor across the busy street.
A woman with a car full of kids stopped to yell out her window, “Thank you for posting your signs! The kids are always eager to see the next one and then we discuss what they mean.”
A mom whose kids went to school with mine zoomed over to me in her minivan when she saw I was posting a new quote to hand me a pair of fat, black Sharpie pens. “I wanted to give you these so you won’t run out of ink!”
Neighbors, dog walkers, bikers, friends on Facebook, strangers who realize I’m #KelliCornerQuotes have all taken the time to thank me for changing their perspectives 1-2 weekly quotes at a time—giving them something to look forward to each week for inspiration.
I couldn’t change the world. But I could change my view of it. By sharing my method of trying to find peace, joy and security in my little corner of the world, it resonated beyond me. It rippled outside my plot of real estate, into our neighborhood, beyond its streets, spread through discussions in cars, on walks, at dining tables and work places, to people in destinations nowhere near my signs.
I don’t know how many people have smiled, or changed their perspective, or felt inspired or uplifted by passing a little message board on the corner of Arden and Cathay Way. But I have felt my little corner of the world change for the better; Whether it’s just because I decided to see it differently or because so many in my community have taken some inspirational quotes to heart.
But imagine if we all decided to change our little corner of the world for the better in any way we could, with even the simplest of gestures.