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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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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

Sick Days are for E.E. Cummings

More sick than yesterday. Sicker, even. So, I’ll leave you with probably one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. E.E. Cummings has such a unique writing style that, in my height of poetry writing, I always tried to emulate. I love every line in this poem, and I hope that you will find it to be just as special to you.

[somewhere i have never travelled]

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

e.e. cummings

 

With love and love letters,

J

Home Sick

No fancy post today. I’ve been struck with the Fall Flu, and haven’t had the time or energy to sit down to write. Although, it’s funny how things like that always work. I talked to my brother in Chicago last night, and he was awfully ill. I called my parents, who are currently in Las Vegas, and they are both flu-stricken. Even though we are hundreds of miles away from each other, our immune systems still receive the Fall weather pretty similarly. After talking with all of them and fighting a cold myself, I had to smile to myself. Being sick altogether like this makes me feel like I’m almost at home again. 

Maybe I’m sick. Maybe I’m just homesick. Maybe.

 

With love and love letters,

J

Undaunted Kindness

Wow.

Today has been an amazing day. It’s so strange how unfortunate situations can lead to the most wonderful things. As I said in my last post, Hannah created More Love Letters from a low point in her life, and I feel that many of us can take the bad and turn it into good. Today, I worked 6am-2pm and then covered a shift for a coworker 6pm-9pm. I hadn’t slept last night, and I was regretting the good samaritan move of picking up those extra few hours so my coworker could go to a scheduled engagement. Even though I was tired, the kindness that I received from people today really kept me energized and powered up. 

At my store, we have about 80% regulars, which is really high for a coffee shop. It’s in a mostly affluent neighborhood, and most of our regulars are very generous with tipping us, which I am always so grateful for. On top of that, though, they are wonderful, unique souls. As a barista, I wouldn’t expect many people to really care about me; I serve there coffee and that should be the general end of things, right? I’m glad to say that I have really done my best to be the sweetheart of the store. I love personally connecting with each customer, and I treat my regulars like family. I smile, sing, dance, and laugh, and try to bring the joy of home to the shop. I stay in touch with regulars about their families, jobs, and hobbies, and make sure to ask “how was work?” or “how did your surgery go?” Staying in touch is one way that I try to guarantee excellent service, as well as providing myself a way to really love and enjoy what I do. It’s so easy to love your job when you interact with so many fantastic people. Today was a day that I felt particular joy with my customer interactions, and I have found that my customers have started to reciprocate that joy, whether through smiles or acts of kindness. I am so lucky.

I am a super Startbucks nerd. I collect Starbucks gift cards, at no value, and I have over 70 unique cards on top of the hundreds of non-uniques that I have. I want to get a binder and little sleeves to put them in. Whenever customers use a gift card I haven’t seen or don’t have, I tend to gush about it and ask the story behind it. Many of the customers find it funny that someone could be into something with no value, but isn’t that how most collections start out? I guess the word has been spreading that I collect cards, and a lot of my regulars have taken notice. Since we deal with a lot of high-end business folks, they tend to travel a lot. Lately, I have received several unique cards as little souvenirs from their business trips or family vacations. I know they think that it’s funny how giggly and excited I get when I get a new card, but I can’t help myself. I just want to hug them. Today, a woman brought me a Starbucks State Collector gift card from Texas. I was so touched that she had thought of ME while she was on her trip, and thought to bring back something that, while it may have been no big deal to her, really meant a lot to me. I was tickled.

While I was coming on to the second part of my day, one of my regulars that sits with his dog out on our patio every day, was telling me about how glad he was that I was a barista at that store, and how I make his experience better each day. His dog is very well trained, but for whatever reason, she just melts into a wiggly puppy puddle every time she sees me. We’ve used this issue of hers to train her a little more on how to interact properly with strangers. He then proceeded to have his dog skateboard (yes!) around the parking lot and back to me. He told me that I was the only one he trusted at the store to be around his dog when he wasn’t there, and if he couldn’t take care of her, that he hoped that I would have room in my home for her. That really struck me- someone that is SO attached to their pet would wish for ME to take care of them, above anyone else, if something were to happen? I hope that never becomes a reality, but I was honored. 

To wrap up the day of awesome regulars, I found out that one of my usual customers is the assistant coach for the NHL team for the city. We have a few affluent people that like to hang out it the cafe’, such as a professional NFL player, top surgeons, programmers for Apple, authors, and now the assistant coach for the Blues. What. We talked about my studies in Physical Therapy, and how I had recently connected with their strength training coach about a possible internship. After a few minutes of conversation, my regular offered me FREE season tickets for the NHL for as long as I could handle it, and a pair of tickets guaranteed to nearly every game. I LOVE HOCKEY. The lockout is breaking my heart, and we cancelled our cable since hockey was the only reason we watched TV. Someone that I’ve only known for barely two months is so generous to give me free tickets to every NHL game that I could ever want to go to… my jaw hit the floor.

I always believe that if you continuously pump good energy into the world and do your best to display your beautiful soul through love and kindness, that someday the universe would return the favor. I just didn’t think that this year would be that year. After having to take a year off of school, getting kicked off of campus and being forced to leave my jobs because of taking the year off, and all the stress that comes with the huge life change and taking on a full time job… I feel so.. lucky. I am so lucky to have people in my life that feel the same way I do about connecting and giving. This is the reason why I write love letters to strangers. Not because of the universal karma return, but because someone out there is having a bad time of it, and maybe I am their positive energy returning back to them. They are wonderful people that put so much love into the world, and now it’s my turn to give it back. I want to make people feel the way that I do right now, and that is just so grateful. So hopeful that there is absolute good in the world, and that maybe there is a reward for putting your heart and soul into every single person you meet.

I am so thankful. I can’t wait to be the positive energy for someone else.

 

With love and love letters,

J

Getting Ready

This post is going to be short. I want to save all of the potential greatness for tomorrow. Skype session with Hannah, visiting the other store again, day off, and TONS of letter writing. I’m going to University City, so I plan on dropping letters all over the place. Everyone is going to be so loved, they won’t even know what to do with it.

On your marks.

Get set…

J

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