Unleashing the Heart of Mary™
It just started as this little voice. They were asking the crowd who would be interested in going to Indonesia to teach English, talking about a school in a third world country that needed support. I sat there thinking that I wouldn't be any good at that, but I could cut hair. THAT I'm good at.
They said yes, you can go. So you keep moving, stepping forward with the plan. Doors opening...sometimes that's all you need to look for to know you are on the right track. Is it happening easily? Or do you need to force it? The easy flow seems to always be teamed up with a sense of peace. The forcing doors option tends to leave you with some pretty frustrating splinters.
I stayed quiet about it those first few weeks, contemplating, doubtfully, how helpful would this really be? Surely the needs of these children and teachers in Bogor aren't going to be met with a haircut? Would it even matter to them?!
I spoke about it with one of my clients who grew up in the Philippines. He told me that the gratitude in places like that runs deep, that the children get excited for something as simple as a baseball card, so a haircut would be great. I wonder if that client understands that his comment was a piece in the puzzle to making this project happen?
Every day in my salon we witness the power of a haircut. It's not the actual cutting of the hair that has the power, it's the act of creating confidence that holds it. How rewarding. By doing something you love with passion you can create that smile on another human being! That your expression (of what can only be described from an artists point of view as an act of love for another human - stranger OR friend) holds so much power within it that it can subdue the negative holds of insecurities for the person in front of you. Even if it's just for that day, or that moment, it's still a win. That power is helpful then isn't it? If it lasted the children at the school a short moment, or even just a day, wouldn't it be worth flying the distance to touch as many people as you could?
Then it hits me. This is so much bigger than being about me and what I can do for others. What's the point in experiencing the beauty and joy life has to offer if you aren't taking other people with you on the journey? The need in Bogor is large. I can't even come close to covering all the possible ways we could help these people. It's going to need a power much bigger than me. Why not involve a whole community to join together to make an impact?
After all, who knows better than our own clients what that smile feels like anyway?
So I decided to open this plan up so that others could take part. Perhaps we could ask people to pay for a haircut for a child in Indonesia so that we can fund the project. I could do it myself of course. But by involving others, each person taking part then OWNED a part of making it happen, they got to be responsible for the impact. Then the people receiving the haircuts get to connect with the person who made it possible for them. That’s when the notes came alive. It was another Mary who helped us come up with the idea. You could not only purchase the cut you could write your child a note. We asked 'what would you like to say to the child who just got a haircut thanks to you?' and let our clients go from there. The messages were so varied but quite simple. You could even convince yourself it wasn't that big of a deal. It took some loose change and less than 1 minute of my time.
You'd be very wrong though.
Getting me to Bogor wasn’t the only thing that a community could get involved in though, nor should it be. What if donating money or writing messages just isn't your thing? So we left it open to the individual to decide how they wanted to be involved. School supplies started being bought into the salon, many from a school principal, someone who clearly values these in her own life. One of our artistic, arty natured Mary's rocked up with colourful art supplies, pencils and coloured pens. A health passionate Mary bought in skipping ropes and frizbies amongst other things, while a lady that attends a weekly sewing class made a special visit to drop in pencil cases her group had made, telling us that if we needed more just to ask and he group would get onto it. One of our product companies donated products to raffle and both clients and friends sold tickets in their workplace to people who have never even ventured into All For Mary™. Toys appeared, homemade cards to sell in salon were created and children's hair products were donated by another of our product companies to take with us to Bogor. One of our Mary's even contacted a radio station to be interviewed about the project. All the while people hearing about the project encouraged and inspired us, freely speaking words from their heart that helped build not just me, but our entire team up.
With each haircut purchased, each item dropped off and each individual's act of support or encouraging words, our heart strings were tugged by watching the beauty of the generous hearts before us. With every step the project grew far beyond me. It was now a life of its own, made possible by a community of strangers joining together, all now themselves BECOMING the Heart of Mary™.
We were then faced with a staffing issue causing the salon to be senior-less for the week (which, as all business owners out there would know is one risky business issue). That aside, we called the landlord, who embraced what we were doing with the project and immediately agreed to allow us to close for a week. The 'door' was again opened, so we stepped through it deciding to close for the week. Our amazing Mary and Marty’s understood, moved their bookings and worked around when we could fit them in without complaint. Talk about having a sense of peace in that moment! Even as a business owner the business risk was irrelevant by that point anyway.
It's not like it all stopped once I got on the plane either. The messages came through, the comments on Facebook, even the likes on posts that showed a community's support, all flooded in. The power and passion of the Heart of Mary™ had now well and truly crossed oceans making its way into Indonesia.
I'm going to write about the haircuts themselves. I am! Just in another blog. THIS blog, is to pay tribute to the force that bought this project to life...our salon community. It's so easy to stare at a problem and decide that it's too big for you to handle on your own. So simple to decide that since you aren't capable of what they need, that you can't be involved. Or that what you are good at isn't going to make a dent so there's no need to bother.
What if there was another lens you could view these thoughts through?
We aren't supposed to do it all ourselves! We aren't supposed to fit into another's mould! We aren't even supposed to believe that our skill alone will fulfil all needs, cause it won't.
What we are supposed to do is know that while we can have some effect on our own, that the power is actually held when we unite. We are to know that the design was never for there to be a line to reach for, that if you could master it you would then be helpful, and if you couldn't reach the line then you are useless. Our very unique community tapestry of individuality proves no ONE person can perfectly provide everything, but a community each using their skills, is what creates an impact. No personal gifting, no natural talent is worthless or beyond helping others, we just need to humbly understand the limits of our power and join with others to really be a force. THAT is where real power is held.
Don't ever ignore the little voice sparking an idea to begin within you. It’s there for a reason.
The notes created by the salon community weren't chosen and handed to the children, they were left to fate, by allowing the children to reach into the bag to grab one out. I was able to see the effect the words had by watching their faces and they way they cherished the paper they were written on. Witnessing that, I can tell you that the right notes reached the right people. Even if it was just a name from the person who was generous enough to care for them, they felt it. Love.
Want to know the last door that was opened? Our fundraising covered the trip almost perfectly to the dollar. The final donation that pushed us to that point was slipped under the salon door the morning I left. I don't know how you perceive that, but for me, that's without a doubt a door open kind of peace, not a coincidence.
Images from the haircuts in Indonesia are below with a link to the full album. I didn't create a single one of these smiles by myself, the Heart of Mary™, owned and operated by All For Mary's salon community made each and every one of these smiles possible. On behalf of myself, our beautiful host family and school principal Ibu Dora, the teachers, the students, the families in the community where we stayed and the families homes we visited...THANK YOU! Thank you for your financial contributions, for your useful gifts, for your time supporting the Heart of Mary™, and for your words of encouragement. You created memories and a powerful presence of LOVE and being valued that will last far beyond the haircuts.
All For Mary – Creative Director
KEEP WATCH! This is just the beginning. More Heart of Mary™ projects will be coming up in the near future.