Telling my story never gets any easier. What it does do is strengthen my positivity and serves as a reminder that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

I’m not going to tell my story from the beginning because we would be here until Christmas (and that’s coming around way too fast as it is) so I’ll start from the part that defines me the most. In 2008, I was bitten by a spider and ended up with something called Guillain Barre Syndrome. What this did was put me on life support, paralysed and although I was told I would get better, nobody could say when. I had to learn to walk again and I look at babies learning to walk in a whole new light because it’s bloody tough! I remember this was at an age where I’d get news of people getting married and having kids and I couldn’t even push the hair out of my eyes. Mum was a pillar of strength and told me over and over again that it wasn’t a race and that it would happen.

My motivation has never wavered and although the days were long, I did learn to walk again and just months after leaving the hospital, I met my now husband, found a job and moved from Adelaide to Perth. I’m pretty sure my family put me on the plane thinking I’d be back. How wrong they were!

Matt and I were engaged six months after meeting and married just over a year later. Of course, becoming parents was on the list of things to do but a further health setback meant we had to wait. I kept getting pelvic cysts which would put me in the hospital and unfortunately nobody could pinpoint where they were coming from. Eventually, my surgeon said it was too risky to keep draining them and that a hysterectomy was the only way to go. I was 32. Consulting an IVF specialist, we were told that there was no chance of harvesting any eggs either and it was in this 10-minute consult that life changed dramatically.

What followed was a harrowing journey from both a mental and physical standpoint. The operation itself was the easy part, although I did not appreciate being in recovery and having the Registrar waltz in, saying “We took your uterus” then walk out. I’m not exaggerating that either. I had been told to prepare for sudden onset menopause but wasn’t prepared for it being within a matter of hours. I remember being in the hospital bed with tubes galore, and four fans directed on me because I was so hot. I also wanted to be naked while everyone else had their jumpers on. Unfortunately, this operation didn’t go as smoothly as we liked and in 2017, two years after the original surgery, I had 10 operations and months in hospital. But once again, I was determined to get better. And I did just that.

In November 2017 I was at the shops when I saw a teenager knock over an elderly lady and not stop. That to me is unfathomable and was all it took for me to challenge the people of Perth to be kind. In what I call my 3am moment of madness, I designed and printed 50 kindness cards which I then hid around Perth. With no expectation of response, I was amazed when in total, I got 32 responses! One gentleman took a homeless man out for lunch, a lady with cancer said she needed perspective so volunteered at a shelter and one of my favourites, “I washed Mum’s car without her asking. She was stoked!”

Earlier this year, I let an elderly gentleman go before me in the queue. I had way more items (of course I did — there is no way I could shop for one item if my life depended on it!) and I wasn’t in a rush. When I did, he stopped with a look of shock on his face. It took all I had to ask if he was okay and he responded by saying he was finding it hard to work out what he was feeling because nobody had been kind to him in such a long time. All I did was let him go in front of me.

Situations like this strengthen my resolve to continue to make a difference and in the last few months, I’ve had responses from individuals who have found kindness cards in Philadelphia and Arizona, which is totally mind-blowing.

The Cool To Be Kind Project was officially launched in January 2018 and has now gone global. On August 6th Arianna Huffington tweeted my story herself which was a huge “wow” moment in itself! 

Our 52 Weeks of Kindness campaign started on September 1st. This won’t be your typical kindness challenge because I believe kindness to be a part of self-care, therefore, challenges will also include mindset, positivity and reflection. Our first challenge? Simply start by trying to see the best in people. 

We all have the opportunity to make a choice: to look at life a little bit differently, maybe with a softer and kinder heart. More importantly, we all have the opportunity to build our best lives. Who knows if children are in our future but I’m no longer sitting around waiting for that to happen. Instead, I’m lending my nurturing ways to the hearts of others in the hopes that I can help them find their way out of their darkness and into the light of new dreams.

By Naomi Lambert, Founder and CEO, The Cool To Be Kind Project.