A Tibetan lama encouraged C. J. and the Kindness Cure Campaign was born.
|THE KIINDNESS CURE CAMPAIGN BEGINS
Interview CJ SCARLET
D. CJ you have a very interesting background. Could you tell our readers a little about yourself. What are some of the events that have influenced your life as it is today?
Long story short: I grew up in a large, chaotic, dysfunctional family in which I felt like I was never recognized or appreciated. This driving need led me into some traumatic and dramatic situations that got me plenty of attention I didn’t want. I was the consummate victim and played the part to the hilt. It took a life-threatening heart condition to get me to appreciate that acting like a victim was a choice I made, and that I could choose a different attitude. I started my career as a carhop on roller skates, then was a forest firefighter, lifeguard, U.S. Marine, victims’ advocate and, most recently, founder of The Healing Tree Foundation and the Kindness Cure Campaign. These last two bring me more joy than all the others combined.
D. The Kindness Cure Campaign is a wonderful idea. What were your reasons for starting the campaign.
In 2002, I was told my long-term disability had led me to develop a life-threatening heart condition. As you can imagine, I went through all the stages of grief, heavy emphasis on the anger and depression, and then curled up and waited to die. At my point of greatest despair, I got the chance to meet with a Tibetan lama. I went to him and poured out my tale of woe, fully expecting him to shower sympathy upon my deserving head. Instead, he said to me with loving ferocity, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start thinking about the happiness of other people.” I argued with him (not a good idea and told him I was too sick to help myself let alone anyone else, but he insisted. So I began as I could, saying simple prayers when an ambulance passed and letting people go ahead of me in line at the grocery store. I noticed that when I did something nice for others, I felt a flush of happiness. I graduated to larger acts, like giving my cane to an elderly man who was struggling to walk and buying a tank of gas for a woman whose husband had been laid off so she could get to work the next day. I noticed that the more I did and the less I focused on my own suffering, the better I felt—I experienced far less pain and more energy. By that time, I felt like a new woman and was able to volunteer at the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina. The doctor couldn’t believe my turn-around, and announced that my condition was going into remission, due, he said, to my shift in attitude and outlook.
The next time I met with the Lama he was pleased by my progress and commanded me to “write books and give lectures” to teach others the secrets to happiness I had learned. I sat down and in one 24-hour period, wrote Neptune’s Gift, which mega bestselling author Jack Canfield calls “the next Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I have written a second book, a hybrid self-help memoire, for which I am seeking a publisher.
The idea for the Kindness Cure Campaign came when I meditated about how I could impact the most people. The idea that I, one person, could have the chance to impact millions of lives with my kindness campaign is both gratifying and humbling. As I work to perform 365 acts of kindness over the next year and recruit a legion of volunteers to perform one million acts of kindness, I can’t begin to imagine how our lives will be changed.
D. Could you tell our readers how you came to meet the Tibetan lama who inspired you to teach others?
The lama, Geshe (teacher) Gelek Chodak, resides in Raleigh, N.C., where he is the spiritual advisor for the Kadampa Center. It was hard to even find the center in my town, since they don’t advertise. I eventually stumbled on the center while doing an Internet search on Buddhism.
D. What would you say was one of the most important secrets to happiness?
THE most important secret to happiness is this: to get what you want, give it away. If you feel unappreciated, offer appreciation to someone else. If you want love, give it to another. If you want praise or respect or recognition, offer them to others first and you will find they return to you in even greater measure. It is the greatest secret and truism in the universe.
D. You have experienced an enormous degree of tragedy in your life. Can you share the most important thing that helped you to move forward in your life?
The most important thing that helped me move forward with my life was embracing the lama’s advice and start thinking of the happiness of others. It even saved my marriage! I was separated from my husband and we were getting ready to file for divorce when a friend suggested I start putting my husband’s needs ahead of my own. I was appalled by the idea—after all, he wasn’t meeting MY needs! Why should I meet his? Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and the most amazing thing happened; when I treated Wes like a king, he started treating me like a queen! Suddenly we were both getting our needs met and our relationship has grown into true love. We’ve been together for 13 years now, and every day seems to get better.
D. Can you share some of the successes you have had in your motivational speaking and life transitions coaching?
I’ve been so focused on writing and marketing my books and the Kindness Cure that I haven’t done much in those areas. My desire it to do as many speaking engagements as possible. I have time for only five more coaching clients and encourage folks to contact me right away to get on my schedule if they need support to work their way through a major life challenge, such as death, dying and loss issues.
D. You have such an interesting and busy life CJ, how do you find time to write?
I am a writing vampire! For some reason, I can only write in the middle of the night. I’ll get on my computer at 8 p.m. or so and pull an all-nighter, falling into bed exhausted at around 7 a.m. At first I felt like I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t keep a strict working schedule, but then a fellow author told me I should embrace my writing style and timing, and just go with what works. That was a huge relief to me.
D. What inspired you to write your latest book “Neptune’s Gift: Discovering Your Inner Ocean”?
I wrote Neptune’s Gift in one 24-hour period after the lama told me to “write books and give lectures.” I got the idea for the story from an allegorical tale told by Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie. I just loved the allegory of the average wave who is terrified when he learns he is going to crash on the shore, until me meets a magnificent wave who teaches him that he is not a mere wave, but the ocean itself. The story just seemed to flow out of my fingertips onto the keyboard.
D. Who are the authors that have been a major influence in your writing?
I know I should credit some of the best-known literary writers, but my tastes run much more to the arcane and humorous. I love Christopher Moore (whose book, Lamb, is probably the funniest I’ve ever read), David Sedaris, and Chuck Palniuk. I don’t read much fiction, preferring business and spirituality books.
D. What does your family do for fun? Do you include the Cocker Spaniels?
We’re total home-bodies. My children, ages 24, 21 and 18, are off on their own now, so we’re empty-nesters (and loving it!). Wes and I love to watch football (the puppies lay on my lap), go to movies, and go to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for long weekends. Of course, reading is my favorite activity, which I also do with the puppies on my lap.
D. Thank you CJ for a very informative interview and good luck with all your endeavours.