Dear Bullying

October is a month that is home to many causes. Breast cancer awareness, LGBTQ rights awareness, and bullying awareness. The More Love Letters Team writes letters to people from all walks of life, so we have interacted with many inspiring individuals that just needed a little light in their days. One of the topics that really resonates with my is bullying. It is so unfortunate that most people have experienced modern to severe episodes of bullying in their lives, and I will always do my best to bring an end to it. Everyone can help put an end to bullying, and there are a few ways to start.

Step In.

Learning to step in during a bullying situation has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. The main reason why people don’t step in is usually “This has nothing to do with me” or “if I say something, they’ll come after me.” If you’re watching it happen, you are a part of it. I know, it’s so much easier to say than do in this situation. It’s daunting, like walking into a burning room- you are inviting the negativity upon yourself, trying to deflect it off of the victim. Never put yourself in a dangerous situation. If you see that a bullying situation is going to turn violent, get help. Call a teacher, parent, authority figure, or even the police. Never become a human shield, only become an ally. The more people that step in during an active situation, the better. The victim is no longer the victim when they have a network of support. It’s easy to throw jabs at one person, but not so easy to fight off an army. Just remember to keep your safety as a top priority.

Connect.

Even if you don’t step in while it’s happening, you can find a way to connect with the victim afterwards. Tell them that you are on their side, and that you will be a friend. Sometimes, that can be enough to make or break the reaction to the situation. A kind word can save a life. Offer your friendship, a support group, anything to take them away from dwelling on the situation alone.

Tell someone.

As a Resident Advisor at my university, I learned a lot about confidentiality and the laws that surround it. Whenever we had a private talk with a resident, mediated a conflict, or were involved in an incident, it was required that the situation remain in confidence. There is, however, an exception to confidentiality. By law, confidentiality can be (and must be) broken when the confidant reveals a threat against themselves or someone else, thoughts of suicide or self harm, or information on an event that caused injury to themselves or others. In cases of harassment, assault, stalking, or abuse, an authority figure or counselor must be notified. Bullying is very serious, and can lead to physical or mental harm, as well as suicide. You are not a snitch if you are informing an authority figure about someone being bullied. Awareness of the situation will allow authorities to support the victim and discipline the bully before things get worse. If an authority figure is not acting on the information that you have provided, tell another authority figure. Sometimes, adults are just as unsure and afraid about intervening in these situations as teens and children are. Someone will know how to help.

Support.

Be proactive about bullying and create a support network with your friends and community. Send out a smoke signal, flare, or something that says “You are not alone.” Spread the word about the consequences of bullying and educate those around you. Encourage tolerance and acceptance. Create a bully-free zone. 

Write a letter.

At MoreLoveLetters, we strongly believe that positive words can change the world. Just like the “Dear College” campaign, we are writing letters to bullies everywhere, letting them know that we cannot and will not accept bullying. I have been bullied; I know what kind of pain and turmoil it can bring. So here I am, waving my flag. You are not alone.

 

 

Dear Bullying,

 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since we’ve stood toe to toe in those hallowed halls, where your words echoed off each wall, each tile on that floor for all to hear. I can’t say that I’ve missed you, and I could never address you as ‘dear friend,’ but it’s been a while, and I’ll say that I’m glad for it. Thanks for leaving me alone to rebuild myself (and I promise you, I am so much greater), but I knew we would meet again. This time, however, it’s on my terms.

 

How does it feel to be famous? To know that your name, your being, your essence wets the lips of nearly every human being in the modern world like a stray drop of cough medicine that seems to leave a bad taste for hours after consumption. How does it feel to know that you have graduated from every school, every classroom, every chair in the country, but you still manage to leave a legacy to be scorned? Please tell me, how does it feel to know that you are a tool of modern warfare used against the innocents of the day, week, and year? How does it feel to be you? 

 

I only ask because you seem to have everything planned out so well. You had to have been expecting this, the recoil you now see. That was your face all over the news yesterday, but lately, it seems like your time in the spotlight has been working against you like a bad tabloid article. Maybe you’ve already heard, and I’m probably not the first to tell you, but you’re losing. You’re losing your battles one by one, and I swear to you that we will win this war. For every scar that you leave, every casualty that you cause, we have a hundred hitting you back. For every name, slander, and anti-rally in your prose, we have a sonnet. A poem. A love letter to battle you back again. 

 

While you’ve been gone, I really have been rebuilding. Not just myself; not just those cuts and bruises that you left me with after our altercations, no. I have been building a community, person by person, heart by heart. Each person in this community has promised to fight against you and your ruthless cause. These are the people you left behind when you burned their dreams to the ground. We’re a community built from the ashes, thriving on everything that you stand against. We have been healing all of these years, and now, I promise you, now is our time. I can guarantee you that, by the time we are finished, your name will only appear in history books. You will cease to be only because we refuse to. Yes, this is a challenge. 

 

So here we are, Bullying, face to face once again. Look around you and see that you are alone. Know that you will not win this time. I know you won’t give up easily, and neither will I. Let’s shake hands like true sparring partners, and let the games begin. 

 

Visit www.stopbullying.gov for more tips on how to deal with bullying, and how to know when to get help. Join the MoreLoveLetters team in writing letters against bullying. Email us at ps@moreloveletters.com with your letters and photos. You are not alone.

With love and love letters,

J

 

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They Grow up so Fast

Today’s post was supposed to be about The Social Experiment for Humanity. I wrote the entire post out, but my computer decided to shut down before I had a chance to publish it, so it wasn’t saved. I’m still a little bitter about it, so I’ll save that topic for the next round. Anyway, I was meditating on another topic today, which just so happened to be ‘growing up.’

When do you grow up? What does growing up even mean? Is it that non-eventful time in everyone’s life where the crossover between optimistic youth and settled adulthood happens? For some, growing up is a sudden event, something traumatizing enough to rip the remnants of swaddling cloth from their skin, thrusting them into the cold world of adulthood. For others, it’s as slow and steady as growing out of your kid clothes (when did these jeans stop fitting?) and buying the next size up because that’s just how it goes. Maybe you just wake up one day, a 40-something mother of three with a full time job and think, when did I stop being young? There should be a medal, or an achievement, a trophy, something that says “Hey! You’re an adult now! No looking back!” to tell us when it’s time to start acting our age. We could join a special club (no kids allowed) that would hold seminars on how to dress, act, think, and feel like we’re old(er). Where someone dressed in the latest adult couture could tell us what to do when some newfangled adult thing happens, and we still feel too young to know how to adapt.

When you’re young, you wish so hard that you could just grow up. You wanted to do adult things, like carry a suitcase around like Dad or wear heels and lipstick like Mom. You wanted to be in charge of the radio station on family car trips, and you wanted to buy however much candy you wanted, without Mom telling you ‘no.’ You wanted to stay up late, have as many sleepovers as you wanted, and eat cake for dinner. To children, being “grown up” means doing all of the things that you can’t do because you’re too little, too young to ‘know’ what things mean, or just because your parents stop you. Adulthood means freedom to do as you please, without restriction. When I was younger, my grouchy old relatives, smelling of old spice, smoke, and some sort of bathroom refresher, would look down at me with a disapproving twist hanging at the end of their downturned mouth and say, “stop trying to grow up so fast. One day you’ll miss being a kid.” Adults and relatives that I didn’t really care to know would stop me at funerals and family gatherings, preaching about the wonders of childhood. I couldn’t get through a family event without hearing something about it. And then, seemingly all at once, nobody told me that anymore. Did I grow up then?

Adolescents and preteens have shed the rainbows and butterflies optimism that young children have, but they still see adulthood as generally desirable. Not like Mom and Dad adulthood, but high school or college aged adults. Picking your own classes, dating whomever whenever, drinking soda(pop!) late into the night, and having a cell phone. It would seem that adolescents still want the freedom, but acknowledge that responsibility and old age suck. Give me the perks without the work. I think preteens are the age that the elderly rag on. The uncommitted, irresponsible, reckless kids that should be starting to look for jobs or do something more constructive with their lives. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” becomes a serious question, and people expect serious answers, like you’re supposed to grow up tomorrow. Have it all planned out. Adulthood is responsibility, and committing to some sort of lifestyle that you probably don’t want. Working, getting old, losing your hair, teeth, and anything else on the human body that seems disposable. Like you weren’t self conscious enough about your awkward, lanky teen self, every relative from here to China is expecting you to have a plan. They ask you and ask you and ask you, like it’s a mantra of old age. Every birthday party I went to, card I received, or little note on a gift would say something about how I could “use this when you get older” or “put this toward college.” And then, seemingly all at once, they stopped saying those things. Birthday parties were less, cards were occasional, and gifts were less of a thing. Maybe that’s when I grew up.

I moved 7 hours away from home to a different state to pursue that life plan that everyone had asked me to conjure up when I was younger. I went to college, held a few jobs at a time, and had a whole lot of freedom. I went where I wanted whenever I wanted (as long as I didn’t miss class, work, a meeting, event, or prior engagement. So never.) and had most of the freedom that I didn’t have living at home. I could decide whether or not to pick up my phone when my parents called, and I felt powerful knowing that their recommendation were just that; recommendations. My schedule. My plans. My decisions. My life.  Still, when we walked down the streets in our large groups, yelling and slurring and tripping like laws didn’t exist, people looked at us like we had some growing up to do. Even though we felt like adults, away from home and making our own choices, we were still kids in the eyes of the Outside World. College isn’t reality. And then, all at once, people stopped looking at us like that. We blended into society, us 21 and ups. We worked, toiled, and had something to show for it. Am I grown up?

I work full time, sleep when I can, and see friends every once in a while. I live in an apartment, and get giddy when things go on sale because I am now very money conscious. I have a wonderful boyfriend of over 2 years, and we have a cat. I have a car, a bank account, work history, and a slew of references that I keep on tab for job applications. I have several drafts of resume’, and I think it’s important to be polite and respectful at all times. I can see where my life is going, but I still welcome adventure. I think I’m pretty grown up, yet, I’ll go to the doctor and ramble off my novel of a medical history, and the nurses will say “wow, you’re too young to have all of these problems.”  There it is again. That word that I fought so hard to put in my past. Then again, when is it finally ‘okay’ to have problems? When are we just the right age to deserve the problems we have? When we sit back and acknowledge, “yes, yes. These problems are meant to happen. I’m old enough to have them,” are we adults then? No one is here to tell you when you are grown up, because no one has grown up yet.

You’re responsible, mature, and understand the human dynamic well enough to know how to move and shake based on who you’re dealing with. You’ve been through a lot, but you have a long way to go. And you know what? You’re still a kid. You’ll always be a kid. Until you’ve found everything there is to find, dreamed every dream, learned every word and subject and song and trick, you’ll be a kid. Until you’ve cried every tear, shaken every hand, eaten every food, and find that you’re so full of experience that you have no appetite for adventure, you’re just a child. As long as you laugh, smile, feel bursts of joy for no reason, but always find at least ten reasons to continue on into tomorrow, you’re lucky enough to be a kid. You’ll grow old and grow big, but no, you’ll never grow up. Your soul will always find a way to stay young. Love will keep you young. So here you are, ready to take on the world, carrying a briefcase like Dad and wearing heels and lipstick like Mom. Even at the end of the last day of being an adult, you’ll always be happily young at heart.

Whenever I talk to the More Love Letters team, I’m always reminded of how much of a kid I am. Sure, we all do adult things, live our adult lives, but who says we have to grow up? Love keeps you young, and we have so much love for the world, that I truly believe we will be young forever. And you know what? Hold onto that feeling of being a kid, because someday, when you’re all grown up, you’ll miss it.

With love and love letters,

J

Romance is Never Hopeless

Ahh. The air is crisp, everyone is wearing scarves, and it’s now acceptable to wear my favorite boots. Hello, Autumn. I have to say that I really missed you. Today is my birthday, and I feel bad for everyone else that I’m not doing anything. The promise of nothing was so alluring that I made no plans on purpose. Whenever anyone says “Are you doing anything fun?” I say, “I’m sleeping in. That’s fun.” It is. After working my butt off for nearly two weeks, sleeping in and doing nothing is the best birthday present to myself I could have ever gotten (given?). I guess it’s moderately taboo in today’s world to have a day filled with nothing, lest you want to be called a lazy mooch. So here I am, mooching lazily off of some cafe’ wifi, blogging and searching for dead links on the MoreLoveLetters page. Birthday perfection.

Have you ever noticed that people tend to use the phrase “hopeless romantic” a lot? Do they even know what that phrase means? There’s a few ways to think about it. According to Urban Dictionary (dear lawd), this is the definition:

This person is in love with love.They believe in fairy tales and love.They’re not to be confused as stalkers or creepy because that’s not what a hopeless romantic is. All hopeless romantics are idealists,the sentimental dreamers,the imaginative and the fanciful when you get to know them.They often live with rose colored glasses on.They make lovelook like an art form with all the romantic things they do for their special someone.

When it comes down to it, that’s probably an accurate representation of what crosses the typical mind when thinking of hopeless romance. Someone who loves love, with “rose colored glasses on.” A hopeless romantic is someone who believes in love as the cause and the cure, in a society that pushes its cold, technological vibe into every aspect of life. They are someone who believes in the perfect love, but for whatever reason, cannot have it. By this simple definition, hopelessness comes from being an idealist, and believing in something so… oldschool. Chivalry, at best. Something that, by every mean, should permeate the world we live in, yet it does not. Why is it so “hopeless” to believe in the honesty of love? Thusfar, we have hopelessness in believing in love. Now that we have that, let’s look at romance.

Now, this is where the search gets tricky. If you type “what is romance” into your favorite search engine, you’ll get romance quizzes, how-to guides, and trashy articles that tell you how to bring ‘romance’ into a one night stand. With the technological era, the true ideal of romance as an entity has been lost. Romance isn’t just emotional or physical attraction to another being; romance, real romance is a feeling that transcends any physical sense or connection between beings. It really isn’t about being human at all. Romance is about being and feeling and wanting something greater than yourself. Being so incredibly passionate about something or someone, an idea or perspective, a goal, or a future. It is so important that you will dedicate your entire being to that one thing. For many, romance is finding the absolutely perfect partner- the one person that makes life worth living. For others, it is having a passion that takes a front row seat to most other things. For me, romance is something that has a hidden beauty that I want to expose to the world. My father finds romance in machines, I find romance in empathy and human interactions, and More Love Letters finds romance in the written word. You can’t deny that romance is often paired with love letters and butterflies, the feeling you get when you thought you were in love for the first time, and that feeling you get when you really do find love. Perfection. And there it is. The reason behind the hopelessness.

Perfection.

That’s it. Striving towards the ideal of perfection is what creates hopelessness in romance. Finding the perfect someone when human beings were made to have flaws. Being the perfect machinist when technology is so quickly obsolete. Writing the perfect letter when words so often fall short of true expression. The greatest moments are created when backed by that hopeless romantic mood. When you get that spurt of inspiration that makes you drop what you’re doing and run, not walk, towards that one person or thing or moment. Or. Or not. Or you never do because, like everyone says, you’re a hopeless romantic. Hopeless because what you want is unattainable, or maybe it is and you don’t believe it. We as a society are so incredibly jaded; we constantly believe that dreams are necessary, but completely irrational. We dream to get through the lives that we live, instead of living to create a life out of our dreams. Luckily, I found a group of people that believe dreams are part of our reality- you just have to look deep into the threads of society, and read between those perfectly formed lines to find them.

The More Love Letters Team is made of hopeless romantics. But you know what? That isn’t an accurate description. We are a group of hopeful romantics. We believe in love as a cause and a cure, in a world that has turned a blind eye to romance. Founder Hannah Brencher is one of the few modern beings that has found a way to follow her dreams and create an organization based on reminding the world that romance is a thing. It started with a love letter, written in that hopeless romantic moment, and is now a great part of the future. Every one of the team members, and all of the people that choose to write with us on a daily basis, believe that love and passion for every choice and every walk of life is a necessity to our future. I am so fortunate to have found a group that has known my heart long before even I have. So here we are. A bunch of hopeless  hopeful romantics that believe that we can change the world, one love letter, one kind word, one pen, one piece of paper, one heartfelt “you can do this” at a time.

Don’t let the people make you think
That just because you’re young you’re useless
You know it’s not naive to think that you can change the things around
And that no man is an island.

For I’d rather be a pebble than
An ocean vast and dry
Alone they make no sounds

– Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. : Once More with Feeling

Join the movement of Hopeful Romantics at www.moreloveletters.com and know that you are not alone.

With love and love letters,

J

Exploration Nation

I just found out that the power is out at work, which gives me an accidental day off- I have time to blog! So lately, I’ve been dabbling around in a few extra projects. I joined BookMooch.com, which is essentially a digital library between a large group of people. You list books that you don’t want, people request them, and you pay to ship them one way to them. You get points for listing and sending books, so in turn you can request books from others, and they will send them to you. It’s a great way to give unused books a good home while scouting for new ones! I have about four books to send out this week, and I will be receiving two. Color me excited! I have also decided to become an anchor for coffee culture at work, so I have taken more hours on in order to really vamp up the store. Thus far, I think it has been a success.

I had a Skype chat with Hannah, the founder of More Love Letters, and I have a lot to work on as far as getting to know the digital ropes of the group. It’s so interesting that technology has come so far in such a short amount of time. Just 10 years ago, AOL Instant Messenger was coming out, and that was one of the first times that people got to talk to each other over the internet in real time. Now we have full organizations that function on a purely digital platform, which enables them to reach out to others across the world. I just had a face to face conversation from the comfort of my living room with someone who is currently in the New York area. Let that marinate for a second. Someone who is HUNDREDS of miles away from me is able to talk to me and see me as if we were sitting across the room from each other. I feel that my generation may be the last to truly appreciate how far the digital world has come. Children and young adults now have grown up with cell phones, real time chat, and the worldwide web, never really knowing the world before. We take advantage of the fact that this technology is around, and don’t give a second thought to life without it. 10 years ago, if there was a power outage, businesses wouldn’t shut down. Today, a storm knocks a cable down, and I have a day off of work until the power is back up. Technology is amazing, but it also has the capability to cripple us in our self-sustaining efforts. How many kids and teens would be able to function without a computer or cell phone? There aren’t many activities that can be done without electricity nowadays, but letter writing will always be a non-electric champion. More Love Letters, while a generally digital organization, has the capability to work offline. Why? Because we rely on the power of a letter. Snail mail. Stamps and seals. If we lost electricity today, we would still be functioning. While the digital portion of our organization is huge and helps us to stay connected in real time, letters will be forever. I think that, if it came down to it, we could still function, although we would have to work more slowly. It’s good to know that we are versatile, and can adapt to the changes in technology while retaining a part of our history and humanity.

So this week, I will be exploring the website to see what can be updated. One of the perks of having such a digital platform is that everything is right there in front of you. I don’t have to go searching around file cabinets, call around to have things faxed to me, or rely on “hours of operation” to get my work done. In fact, I will be SO excited when the fax machine is a thing of the past. Faxes and I don’t get along, and I am currently battling with some documents that need to be faxed. Office Max will just have to be my scan and fax go-to until the fax machine is extinct. Fingers crossed that it’s sometime soon. Anywho, if you happen to stop by http://www.moreloveletters.com, please feel free to have a click frenzy and let me know if you find anything that should be changed. I plan on whipping this site into shape, since I am well-versed in digital organization and website construction. I will also take over several administrative aspects of the organization that will allow me to be more in touch with MLL like never before. I can’t wait for my day off so I can spend all day wrapped up and cozy while becoming one with the site. A cup of tea (I had Tazo Awake Tea with chai and coconut this morning. Yum!), a warm blanket, and my not so trusty macbook. You, me, and the world, baby.

I believe that it’s very important to give yourself a “second set of eyes” every once in a while. By second set, I mean trying to look at something from someone else’s point of view. It’s a great method to approach arguments and troubleshooting with, as it allows you to be more empathetic to each viewpoint. At Starbucks, we have something called a “Values Walk,” where we take notes on the store from a customer’s perspective. We have a sheet to guide us through the walk, but it’s important to always be able to walk yourself through someone else’s mindset, with or without a guide. Everyone on the More Love Letters Team has proved that they are proficient in using their second set of eyes when writing letters. It is so important to be able to understand how your words may affect others, especially when writing letters to those that may be having a hard time. As a Letter Writer, you need to be able to empathize with each person you are trying to connect with so that you will better know how to interact with them. For More Love Letters, first impressions are King. When you write a letter to a stranger, that may be the first and only time they will connect with you, so the first impression is generally the only impression. By being able to understand the situation from the reader’s point of view, you are putting a safety net under your words so that you may be confident that you are coming off as supportive and encouraging rather than nosy or aggressive. I like to interact with everyone I meet as if I were writing a letter to a stranger, because I never know if I will have the opportunity to see them again to make up for a verbal mishap. As a barista, a second set of eyes is part of the professionalism that we require in order to gauge the interaction with our customers into a positive one. No, you can’t make the right calls all of the time, but understanding others is a great way to start.

Take some time and do some exploring this week. Have you gotten in touch with yourself lately? How would you explain yourself to others while still be conscious of how they perceive you? Do you feel confident about the way you interact with others? I will be working on getting in touch with myself this week, as well as getting in touch with the heart of More Love Letters. I have been asking my coworkers for feedback on our interactions and my work habits so that I may be able to learn and better myself in my professionalism and my image. I have been trying to understand others with my second set of eyes, rather than judging them with my first. What will you be exploring today? 

You can tweet your explorations to me @OnlyInfinity on Twitter! #ExplorationNation

With love and love letters,

J

The Dog Days

Hello, BlogFriends.

First, I want to apologize for my leave. A new Starbucks location opened nearby, and my store is very tight with the folks at the new store, so most of us have been working back to back shifts each day in order to help out while they get on their feet. Many sleepless nights and 16 hour work days since Thursday, and it will continue for the next couple of weeks until the hype settles down. I haven’t really had a waking moment that I haven’t been working until now, and I have been attempting to sleep for the rest of it. It gave me a new appreciation for the work warriors out there, though. The emergency doctors and medics that work 50 hours straight, policemen, and others that tend to work overnights, crisis shifts, or work more than one intensive labor job- you are all heroes, and I appreciate you. Working that hard for that long isn’t easy; physically or mentally. There were a few moments during these long work days where I thought I was going crazy from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. 

I am hoping to get back into the blogging/writing groove by the beginning of next week, when I am no longer feeling the pressure to take back to back shifts. I’m taking my birthday off of work (Saturday), which is my only day off this week, so I’m planning on kicking myself back into gear with More Love Letters and the rest of civilization. Eat, breathe, sleep Starbucks. 

As this past week, I have begun figuring out the transition from Letter Writer to the Fall Administrative Intern for More Love Letters, and I hope to have more exciting insight on projects and the beauty of the human soul for all of you when the switch takes place. I love being a Letter Writer, and I won’t be dropping that aspect of the organization, but I’m so excited to be digging deeper into the soul of the group. There are going to be a great many projects to look forward to, and it’s going to be a beautiful few months of working closely with everyone on the team. I want the world to hear about More Love Letters– anyone can participate from wherever they are, and the idea couldn’t be more simple. Write a letter of encouragement to those that need it. Exercise your writing chops while helping your fellow man get through those tough, I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed-today kinds of days. There is no reason why this organization shouldn’t go viral, and I hope to help make that happen. I have big plans for MLL, and I couldn’t be more excited to share them with the team and the world.

Bear with me, friends. I’ll be back soon!

With love and love letters, 

J

Opportunity Comes A-Knocking

It may be the end of September, but it’s never too early to give thanks.

Things that I’m thankful for as of TODAY. 

  • The World Needs More Love Letters
  • My NEW internship with More Love Letters- Fall Administrative Intern! Stoked!
  • Starbucks
  • Employment from said Starbucks
  • Finding a great apartment
  • New friends that I’ve made in the past couple of months
  • Pumpkin everything
  • My customers and regulars
  • Finding and adopting my cat
  • Friends and family
  • Application for leave of absence and scholarship hold accepted (phew!)
  • Growing closer with my family
  • Getting through the tough days
  • Being relatively healthy (minus the recent cold)

Yes! I was notified by More Love Letters founder and heart-base, Hannah Brencher, that I have been selected to be the Fall 2012 Administrative Intern. This is a huge opportunity, and I am so glad that I get to share my passion for this organization in a bigger way. I already have a 4 page Google Doc going with ideas that I have, and I’ve only been around for about two weeks with the organization. Excited much? Yes, much excite.

Take some time today to think about what you’re thankful for. Think of it as a head start on your Thanksgiving gratefulness list! With school starting, new semester jobs, and the overall craze that autumn weather brings, we sometimes forget to be grateful for the things we have when we spend all of our time plowing through the days. Since the cold weather snap, work has been crazy. Talking with a few of my coworkers, I realized that I was so task-oriented that sometimes I would forget the true purpose of my job. Starbucks is so much more than serving coffee quickly and perfectly; it is a base for coffee-shop culture, philanthropy, and customer connection that is on SUCH a different level than most food-retail centers. My customers are wonderful, and I always try to let them know that I am thankful they decided to spend part of their day with me. I enjoy meeting new people, and I believe that anyone can be a soul-friend, you just have to connect with them.

Also SO so thankful to have met all of the wonderful team members with More Love Letters. I have already found a soul-friend in several of the women in the organization, and we fit like a puzzle. Each and every person I encounter through that organization is so inspiring, so positive, and just overall amazing. They have their own stories, their own triumphs and failures alike, but they are on a mission to prove to the world that anyone can make it through anything, with a little encouragement and good penmanship. My findings about the team thusfar:

  • Natasha is so talented, focused, and down to earth.
  • Sara is so organized and is always excited to dive into new projects, enticing everyone she knows to get involved in the best kind of way.
  • Hannah is an amazing, driven individual that overbooks her days into nights just to make sure that everyone feels that extra bit of love in everything she does.
  • Pamela is creative, sweet, and ever-optimistic, and I felt that I have learned so much from her beautiful soul already.
  • Danielle is so passionate about sharing her story, and plows through any challenge that so much as looks in her direction.
  • Becky is so upbeat and always has something to share on Twitter! (I wish I could knit!)
  • Leonora always has an encouraging word to give to others, like everything she says is wrapped in a hug.
  • Paige is always looking for a way to give back to the universe, and takes care of our animal friends of the world, as well as the people friends!

There are several other girls that I haven’t interacted with yet, and I’m so excited that I can continue getting to know everyone. I really feel like we are beginning to form a family, and we are so lucky to have formed ourselves around a common cause. I haven’t met a group of people that is so inspirational, giving, and unique like this group is. I’m thankful for More Love Letters. In only two weeks of knowing about the organization, my life has changed for the better. I find myself being more empathetic with people I meet each day, and I’m always for simple ways to brighten someone’s day. I had been craving a writing outlet since I graduated from high school, and it has been incredibly freeing to finally have an endless supply of inspiration and reason to write (I don’t get to flaunt my cursive skills in medical school).

I thought that this year was going to be more miserable than it has turned out to be. I was crushed when I took my leave of absence from school, thinking that I would be lost without it. In the two months that I have been out of classes, I have already learned so much from my experiences that could never be taught in a classroom. People have been so loving and giving, and that was exactly what I needed. These past two months have been a giant love letter from the universe, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I put together a sort of inspirational letter that I would like to share with you, as this was how I was feeling last night:

Image

Turn your Can’ts into Cans and your Dreams into Plans. You are capable of the most amazing things. Turn your dreams into a reality tonight; write down a plan of action, and start as soon as you wake up tomorrow. Step 1: Get Motivated! You can do it!

With love and love letters,

J

Facing Your Demons

What’s that one Thing that you’re afraid of doing? That Thing that makes you take a sharp breath when it crosses your mind with it’s talons clacking against the floor of your brain; frozen. The Thing sits in the bottom of your stomach like a ton of bricks, threatening to withhold your appetite until further notice. Do you run away from It? Let It hide deep inside, sleeping dormant like a volcano with the propensity to explode? Do you sit there, busying your hands and your thoughts with idle, useless things, just so you don’t have to think about It, hitting that imaginary button and watching It go BOOM right there. In front of everyone. Do you?

What is it about that Thing that holds your heart in Its clutches, pulsating, ready to inject it with a syringe filled with fear? Where does that fear come from, and how do you confront It? Maybe, if you don’t think about It, somehow, It will just go away. Maybe someday.

But probably not.

Today was about facing the Thing(s). They are people, things, or ideas that give me that empty feeling, like a vital part of me just disappeared. That part of me is my confidence. My composure. My all-around Good Girl Champion 10.0 score. The part of me that smiles when things go wrong. The Things that I wish would scare me like horror movies do, because then They wouldn’t seem so scary. No, the fear is more internal; deep within the confines of my soul where I keep my most personal feelings, next to where I keep my most precious memories. Knowing that something can get that close to my core is scary in a nightmare-at-home kind of way. The kind of nightmare that takes place in someplace familiar, so when you wake up in that place, you’re not sure if you’re still dreaming, or if that Thing is going to follow you beyond the boundaries of Dreams and Reality. That kind of fear. Lingering, burning, always waiting for Never to finally end. Fear that stalks you through every motion.

Can there be something that really causes that fear? Yes. If you have children, panic attacks, or have experienced that stomach-dropping phone call from a loved one, you have probably had that fear. The closest superficial feeling that I can even come close to comparing it to is that split second when you feel like you’re about to fall backwards in a chair. It’s funny after the fact, and you’ll continue leaning back in your chair even if you do end up falling. It’s that one moment where time and reality are suspended on marionette strings like Father Time is having some sort of show. The moment where you are no longer in control, and you think “how will it feel if I hit the ground?” You don’t breathe or scream; for that moment, you do absolutely nothing, because that’s all you can do. Paralysis. There are real fears that make every waking moment feel like that split second. Could you imagine always feeling like you’ve lost control? Like you’re wondering what will happen when you finally hit the ground.

More Love Letters helps me to combat my fears, as well as offer a hand to others that may need help getting past theirs. In science, a positive charge will cancel out a negative charge. Think of every word in that letter as a positive charge. We’re going to light up the sky. Bear with me; I’m about to give you a small view of one of those memories I keep so deep, and if you prefer to stay on the positive, please scroll past the italics.

I suffered my first panic attack when I was driving home from college one summer. The week before, my parents had called me and said “Your grandpa got divorced, and he’ll be living with us.” “How long?” “I don’t know.” I protested, sitting in my college apartment, telling my parents that it would be weird living with him. I had to take summer classes back home, so I would need my space so I could do well. They assured me that it would be fine, and so we said it was. It wasn’t, but we pretended.

My grandpa and I don’t get along, and we never have. He was an angry man who never used the word ‘love’ in his life, but didn’t even hesitate to slur the word “hate” after only one beer. He was a Korean war veteran who leaned on the excuse of ruined hope to justify his mistreatment of others. “The world is corrupt,” he would say to an 8 year old me, “it’s filled with [inappropriate slur] and people who don’t give a [darn] about anyone.” The war didn’t make him like that. He didn’t see combat. He made himself hate the world. I had horrible memories of him slurring his words and rubbing my arm at family gatherings, my dad pulling him away from me. “You’re so beautiful,” his breath reeking of acid and gasoline, as his fingers would linger on my shoulders. Memories of looking out from in between the wooden slats that made up the closet door as my grandpa waved a rifle and yelled profanities. Hate in its purist form. “It’ll be okay.” My parents said, trying to convince themselves of it.

I pulled over on the side of the highway, holding my chest, thinking I was about to die. “I can’t come home,” I called my mom, babbling between hyperventilated tears. “I’m going to crash if I drive. I can’t come home. I can’t live with him. I can’t.” I did, though. I pulled myself together, drove home, locked the door to my bedroom and slept for 18 hours. We made it work. Grandpa didn’t want to be there anymore than we wanted him. He lived out of a suitcase in my brother’s bedroom, keeping the place relatively sterile. We passed in the hallways like ghosts of different eras, muttering the common conversational courtesies in our wake. I went to class for 6 hours a day, then went elsewhere for the remainder of the time. I stayed at friends’ houses often, and sometimes, I slept in my car. During dinner, grandpa would always find something to complain about. He hates this, he hates that, [F] this, screw that. My father always taught us that cursing was unacceptable in the home, and prohibited at the dinner table. I had enough, and my stomach was unsettled as I poked my food with a fork. “Grandpa, please stop cursing.” “What?” “Please. Just stop. Everything will be fine.” “[F] you, I’m moving out.” “Okay.” He packed his little suitcase and sat in his car for a couple of hours. He had nowhere to go, and we didn’t come after him. Eventually, things returned to normal, and he apologized two weeks later. I don’t think my mom has forgiven him yet.

I had panic attacks all summer. They started following me everywhere I went. It was like nothing triggered them anymore, they just happened. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know that you have to do all you can to assure yourself that you aren’t going to die, because everything else is telling you that this is it. This may very well be the end, on the bathroom floor of the community college. In the car on the way home. In my bed in the middle of the night. On a rainy Sunday afternoon.

At that moment, I learned how important it was to confront your fears early on. Save yourself the trouble of building all of this stress, because it will follow you through everything. I still have panic attacks, but not as frequently, and they pass without much event, because I have been able to talk myself into knowing that I’ll be okay. As for how the summer turned out, it went fine. I passed my class and went back to college, my grandpa ended up leaving/getting kicked out, I’m not sure which. My parents are now fielding angry letters from he and his daughter, with whom he is now staying. Today is my mother’s birthday, and just like when she turned 16, my aunt had an angry letter all ready to go, ready to blame her for the world. My grandpa and my aunt have disowned us, and we decided to take a step back from them as well. No need for such negativity in our lives.

I wrote my mother a letter today to counteract the bad one. “Know who you are and remember the love that surrounds you. While everyone deserves your forgiveness, no one deserves your tears. I promise that everything will turn out alright.”

More Love Letters is so important to me. I know what words can do to someone. It can tear families apart. People that decide their words should take the place of their hearts have no place in my life, and I will not stand for such degrading behavior. Everyone deserves a chance to be happy, and if you are not there to aid in their journey, then step out of the way. The universe has a funny way of making certain memories stand out to you. This particular sequence of memories is no longer negative to me, and doesn’t trigger any anger. I could never be capable of hating another human being; that is an evil that my heart could not endure. Instead, I choose to use my experiences to impact others in a positive way. If you have someone in your life that is bringing you down, degrading you, or making you feel less than the spectacular you that you are, I want to be there to counteract every crude word, every snide grin that they throw your way. I write letters to others so that they have a shield to put between themselves and the negativity. I will help you conquer that Thing that keeps you up at night.

You can do it. You can get through anything. You are a warrior that kills with kindness. You are the most beautiful You.

With love and love letters,

J

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