When horrible stuff happens

I imagine you are, like me, reeling from the events in Christchurch a fortnight ago today. Beautiful New Zealand has been rocked to its core: 50 innocent people have lost their lives, families have been destroyed and, worldwide, our Muslim brothers and sisters are feeling threatened.

I think the thing that has disturbed me most has been to see support for the killer’s actions all over social media. When I read those things I feel overwhelming hopelessness.

In recent days I’ve thought a lot about how to maintain my hope and compassion when extremism seems to be on the rise.  I’ve pondered how best to deal with my grief, anger and fear.  I’m tempted to ignore and it and carry on as usual however I already know that isn’t a great approach – burying my emotions never works well in the long term.

And then I think about what response is useful, helpful? How can I make a difference? How can I be some sort of light in what feels like deep darkness.

I came up with a great idea – one that you can take part in too.  Keep Reading!

In the meantime here’s some of the things that help me when horrible stuff happens:

Reaching Out

When tough stuff happens we often retreat inside – to shame, or fear, or depression. A better way to engage those positive emotions again is to reach out.

Maybe a great response to this tragedy would be to reach out to a mosque or Muslim community with a call or flowers. There will be comfort all around.

I called my local mosque yesterday asking what I could do to help. The lovely guy I talked to was so overwhelmed and comforted by the cards, flowers and calls his tiny community had received. He told me he felt part of a wider community. Hurrah.

Remembering Love is Everywhere

For every person acting from hatred and fear there are so, so, so many others acting from love. I include just two of those stories – both men who had/have nothing yet have made a difference.

Not matter the hardship or horrible stuff I’m facing I will be comforted by inspiring stories – it’s one of the reasons I send them out to you so often.

Remembering the News is Biased to be Bad News

In the 1990s real world homicide levels dropped by 40% and in the same decade reporting on homicide rose by a staggering 500%!

All you need to do is a few google searches to find out that there is so much good news, and rather than the world getting worse (as it seems if you regularly expose yourself to the news) our world is evolving forward and wonders are happening everywhere. We have so many of the solutions we need already.

CLICK above to check out Steven Pinker’s TED talk on the subject.

I try not to engage with a lot of news as a general rule – it does my head in!

Feel the Fear

I have found that very best way to deal with any emotion bothering me is to sit with it and feel it.  Allow it happen – experience it … then let it go.  I know… my immediate reaction to unpleasant emotions is to avoid them at all cost however resisting our emotions helps us end up very stuck.

I generally find that most of the emotions, when felt, tend to dissipate fairly quickly. This is a far more useful exercise than either bottling up or denying and, from my experience, never as unpleasant as I think it will be.

Find Some Reasons to Experience Joy

Yes we are sad when sad things happen, and so we should be. If we stay sad though we end up being a drain on those around us and increasing the level of sadness around us.  When we choose joy we contribute to the emotional wellbeing of everyone.  Even if only for a minute – find some reasons to be happy.


But what can we do that can really make a difference in the world?

As I mentioned above, I’ve been thinking about what response is useful, helpful in the face of horrific incidents such as the Christchurch shootings?

It is easy to feel helpless in the wake international disasters, cruelty, shootings and the like so I was wondering:

  • How can I make a difference?
  • How can I be some sort of light in what feels like deep darkness?
  • How can I turn my disgust, anger, fear, sadness, overwhelm, sense of hopelessness and vengeful thoughts into emotions that serve others?
  • As I pondered this I came up with a great idea – one that you can take part in.

I hope you love it and want to get involved too.


50 SHADES BRIGHTER  – Acting together to light up the darkness

A campaign inspired by the tragic loss of 50 lives in Christchurch, March, 2019


There isn’t anything I can do for the grieving families – however there is much I can do for our larger world family so I’ve decided to do 50 positive things – one for each victim – though, in reality these acts are for all victims.

If I do 50 small acts that are positive, kind, loving, thoughtful or generous there is a tiny shift, a little shake.  HOWEVER – if we all join together and many of us do 50 small acts then we pull huge amounts of good out of an awful, unfair and obscene act.

We don’t make the Christchurch situation better – instead we make the world a little better. And always, goodness follows goodness – what we do has impact on others who will also dial up the light in the darkness.

What I’ve done so far

Normally I wouldn’t tell you this sort of thing, however in order to illustrate what I’m talking about I will overshare.

So what I’ve done so far isn’t yet 50 things – though as I plan this as a 50 week project I’m ahead of the game already (I love being ahead in projects – my type A personality is showing!)

In direct response to the shooting in Christchurch I have already:

  • Donated $20 to a good cause
  • Signed and shared a petition regarding Fraser Anning
  • Helped a local Candlelit Vigil for Christchurch victims run smoothly
  • Called a mosque to give my condolences personally (and found out how I could visit them soon)
  • Arranged to host a refugee for a week while they attend a local event
  • Started this 50 Shades Brighter campaign

I’m busy thinking of more things to do – maybe you can help by suggesting some to me?

They don’t have to be related to a particular event, county or religion.

They just have to have a positive impact on someone.

Most of them should be free or cheap to do.

Most of them should be relatively easy to carry out.

Ideally the majority of the 50 don’t take a lot of time to do – I don’t want to become overwhelmed and abandon the project (and neither do you if you join me).

You can shake the world, I can shake the world, however together, we can really get some movement going

Join me

Will you join me in making sure this terrible attack has some extra positive outcomes?

Will you join me in consciously contributing (weekly), for 50 weeks, to making the world a more positive place?

One of us makes a little difference, two us makes more! When our friends join in we begin to make real impact. I’d love to be gently shaking the world with you.


PLEASE – share this page or the 50 Shades Brighter website on to anyone you think would love to join in


Toni Powell

Storyteller, Author,
Relationship Ninja,
Recovering Worrywart,
Gratitude Maven.
For more from Toni Powell including more about the 50 Shades Brighter Campaign, visit tonipowell.me

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