“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

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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

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

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

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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