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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

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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

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

“Good Karma Coming Back”

Still sick, but I had a feeling that today would be a good day if I kept my mind and heart open. The universe never ceases to amaze me. Put positivity in, get positivity back.

Whenever I have a lunch break, I head across the street to Trader Joe’s to pick up some food. I buy a coffee and bring it to whomever I run into first that works on the team there. This time, someone called me out, saying that he remembered me the last time he was at Starbucks. I offered him the coffee I had in my hand, since he was the first person I ran into. His manager was next to him and commented how he received a pumpkin spice latte from me about two weeks prior. The manager then proceeded to put a code on my salad to bring the the cashier and said, “This is the girl that brings us coffee. You don’t know how many people have made it through particularly rough shifts because of you. Thanks for what you do for us- your salad is on the house. Here’s some good karma coming back to ya.”

Put positivity into the world, and expect nothing in return. Do it without thanks, without showmanship, without expectations. That’s what love is- giving without expectations. Someday, you’ll find someone who gives love in return. Neither of you will expect it, but each of you will be grateful, and that will keep your hearts full.

A question that has come up in discussion among friends several times- if you do volunteer work, community service, or provide donations because it makes you feel good, is it still selfless? Is it wrong to feel personal satisfaction from benefiting others?

My answer: I believe that the act of giving, if genuinely for the benefit of others, will always be selfless. We are social beings, and cannot rightfully survive without each other. Merely being in the presence of others gives us an endorphin boost. Knowing that you are doing something to benefit your fellow man should make you feel warm and fuzzy, but shouldn’t be the soul reason of your gift. Volunteering is about putting others before yourself- but most people don’t volunteer to do things that they don’t enjoy. Everyone everywhere has a special niche in the world of giving- if you don’t find some enjoyment from what you are doing or giving, then perhaps that isn’t the service work for you. Long story short, it’s okay to feel good about giving. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to give it your all. Isn’t that what giving is about?

Love is lovely. You are all lovely, thus you are also Love. You are Love personified- how are you going to represent it?

With love and love letters,

J

Go!

What a wonderful beginning of my day off! I connected with the baristas from the other store and picked up a few items to bring to work tomorrow. They found the love letter that I left them, and had it pinned front and center on their bulletin board so everyone could see it! Walking into the back room and seeing the letter there warmed my heart, and each of them told me how much they appreciated it. I was glad to see the effects of one of my letter drops, and it has empowered me to continue on with the More Love Letters mission. So wonderful.

I went apartment hunting and found a place for us to live, which has a great loft and two balconies. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of sunset-sunrise letter writing outside from now on. I would really love to meet all of the More Love Letters Team in person for a fantastic bonding/brainstorming session. Having all of those big hearts in one place would light up the town. Maybe one day, we could go to one of Hannah’s talks and do a service project together. I had a Skype Session with Hannah just now, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue on with the More Love Letters team. We had a great conversation on where the organization was hoping to go, and what I could contribute to making it larger than life. Hannah and the rest of the team are such beautiful people, and I’m so lucky to have found a group of people that are so loving and giving. With each letter I write, each stroke of the pen, my heart opens up to the rest of the world. I’ll be spending the next few hours putting a Google Doc together for all of my ideas, as well as penning some more letters.

I said that my heart was opening up to the world, and I wanted to tell you how important that is to me. For a while, I closed my heart to everyone, including my family and friends. When people ask me “what’s your story?” I generally respond with “the happy one, or the sad one?” I know it’s a surprising way to counter that question, but I really feel like I have lived two lives. I try to keep friends out of the “sad story” as much as possible, because I feel that I have moved past the majority of those issues, and I don’t want to drag people into it. Long story short, there was a good 8 years of my life that was based on one bad situation after another. I am currently in a great position to move forward into a life of happiness and compassion, which I plan to do. As I was talking to Hannah, she said something that I related to on a very personal level. “Fortunately for me, I turned my depression into a good thing. You know, my being depressed turned into The World Needs More Love Letters.” As we were talking about how to really expand the organization and reach out, I commented on how the concept of the organization is really within every single person. Everyone has experienced a time in their life where they felt lonely, depressed, upset, or helpless. The ultimate goal of More Love Letters is to combat those feelings through kind words and a steady hand. To connect strangers together through the needs of the human soul. To show that vulnerability is a human trait that everyone can relate to. I like to tell people that “the reason why I’ve had so many misfortunes in my life is to show others that it’s possible to make it through anything.” I take my bad experiences and try to learn the most I can from them so that, when another person has a relative experience, they know that they don’t have to go through it alone. I am here to lend a hand, a hug, a love letter to those that need it.

I think that the best part of The World Needs More Love Letters is that it’s therapeutic for everyone involved. It’s a way for the writers to tell their stories, to feel like someone is listening, for maybe the first time in their lives. For the recipients of the letters, they benefit by knowing that someone is optimistic about their situation, even if the recipient finds that they don’t have any optimism left. Everyone gains the sense that they aren’t alone, and they fulfill their need to be social, compassionate creatures. It’s the perfect Pay It Forward setup that encourages those who receive love letters to become writers for others that need help. There is no other gain for the organization and its members other than pure love, enjoyment, and community. It’s loveliness in raw form. I am more excited than ever to be involved with this group, and I will continue to pour my heart and soul into everything I do.

If you’d like to get involved, head over to http://www.moreloveletters.com and join the mission. You won’t regret it.

With love and love letters,

J

Good Days, Bad Days

Ah, well.

It’s been like that for the past few days now. All work, no play makes Jen a dull girl. I haven’t even had the time (or wakefulness) to write any letters. 5:30am shifts are killer, and really just create a drab, hibernation sort of evening for when I get home. Awake for a couple of hours, then back to sleep. Rinse. Repeat. I worked at my own store today, which I was looking forward to at the beginning. I got to catch up with my SM that I love, and got to share my experiences at the other store with him. Then the rush began at 6am and never stopped. We ran out of milk, espresso (twice), had a broken bar, and then the only good bar had to be cleaned, so I couldn’t make any hot drinks for 10 minutes. One of the new girls that was working register miss-marked a lot of cups, which really isn’t her fault since she’s still a baby barista, but it made a lot of people unhappy, and today was not a day of forgiveness for customers. Anything that could go wrong seemed to happen, and we were all hitting our last nerves. Today would have been a nice day for some love, but no one was willing to give any away. Whether they were saving it all for church or their families, it was not easily received by the baristas. Sad.

While the no-love thing bummed me out a little, I realized how much of a powerhouse my mood is in the workplace. I am THE barista at my store (and now other stores) that usually keeps morale up, and constantly encourages my coworkers. Since I wasn’t particularly feeling my best today, I wasn’t able to give my best to my coworkers, either. No one was to blame because it was a really rough day, but I wish I could have given 200% instead of just 100% today. You can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself, though, and the same goes for loving yourself before others. I learned many years back that if I have no love for myself, then there won’t be any love to give away. Tomorrow is another day, and I will strive to be the powerhouse once again.

I sent some letters to friends a while ago, as well as “anyone who wants to send me an address,” and they have been getting them in the mail the past few days. It’s been nice to get a random text or message from those friends that I haven’t talked to in years, but sent me their address anyway. I feel like letters can really mend the tattered threads of distance and turmoil. When you read a letter that really touches your heart, the day’s toughest tasks seem doable. I can’t wait to get letters back. Keeping a penpal is the one of the most mutually satisfying ways to promote mental health and wellbeing in a relationship that doesn’t necessarily need physical interaction, or even face-to-face conversation. Texts get lost in the shuffle, and letters have become king of attentive communication once again. I’m glad for it.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Martin Luther King, Jr.

On a side note, I’m really surprised I haven’t included any pictures of my cat yet. He’s currently laying on one arm, and constantly tapping my other hand with his paw. He’s a dear, but he always needs to be the center of attention when it’s just he and I, even if I’m typing or doing something else.

Image

This is Blitz. He has a mustache, which is precisely why I adopted him, but he really is the best cat ever.

Anywho, I have a Skype meeting with Hannah on Tuesday to discuss more about More Love Letters. On Friday, we had a quick conversation about utilizing the resources on college campuses for the organization. The one-year birthday of More Love Letters is coming up, and I think this next year has the potential to reach a TON more people. I’m really excited about everything that can be done. I need to finish my extra special request letters on Tuesday and mail them out, and then work on some more little notes to drop around. I’ve given three different Starbucks locations love letters, and I plan to hit many more, as well as some local fire/police stations when I drop some coffee off (the local police get all of my free coffee from Starbucks since I’m not much of a coffee person, let alone a brew-at-home-coffee person).

How do you define yourself in controversy and “tough days?”

With love and love letters,

J

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