One Million Lovely Letters

Jodi Ann Bickley is a remarkable woman. I won’t go into her illness story, because she tells it so beautifully herself in her TED Talk below. But it’s safe to say that she’s had an enormous medical mountain to climb. The long-term illness that struck Jodi was far more serious than mine, but some of the ways it made her feel resonated with me.

“The bit about long-term illness that isn’t explained to you in the discharge lounge is the sense of loss you feel for your life before. Certain friends disappeared. […] Some days I’d spend trawling Facebook and Twitter seeing what my friends were up to and beating myself up that I wasn’t doing the same.”

Ouch. On the one hand it’s comforting that I wasn’t the only one who had this experience, on the other I’m sad that someone else knows what it can be like. As I hope you can see through my series of disability counselling posts, I’m turning all those things around, but they’re still tough. While my circumstances made me feel angry and frustrated, Jodi’s made her feel sad and hopeless. They took her to the edge of life. To the kerb.

Again I’ll let her explain in the video how it came about, but Jodi decided her life was worth living after all and she launched One Million Lovely Letters. Anyone feeling down, stuck, sad, in despair or just in need of a little lift can request a letter from Jodi.  She will find the words that make things feel better, whatever the situation. The open letter she reads to the audience at the end of the video made me cry.

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising to us that someone would spend their days absorbing strangers’ problems and making them feel better about them, with no reward other than the good feeling of being a kind human being. We’re all so busy and self-absorbed these days. Sometimes it can feel like we don’t even have time to look after ourselves, let alone people we’ll never meet. That’s what makes Jodi pretty special.

Life isn’t easy. We all have pain of some kind to deal with and sometimes it can be consuming. It can seem there is no light at the end of the tunnel; maybe even that we don’t deserve a happy ending. But we all deserve happiness. It’s how we respond that’s important. Jodi is an inspiration. She found her silver lining. My hope going forward is that I can find mine and use it in a way that improves someone else’s life too.

Enjoy the video:

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