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.
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,
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.
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,
Who likes days off? Not me! When I have time off of work, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I don’t have homework, and it’s not like I can truly bring work home with me. The best way to bring Starbucks home with you? Buy a coffee maker, maybe a French Press (I may or may not have one), and have some Starbucks coffee while you sit and do whatever. That’s all fine and well, but it’s the sitting that bothers me. I’m a get up an go kind of girl, so of course I took to a Starbucks cafe’ and wrote letters. I talked about my Starbucks giftcard collection, which I pulled out of my Starbucks bag, and plopped on the leather couch in the corner with my Earl Grey Tea Latte. I have an awful case of the “I love everything about my job” syndrome. I made fun of my Barista Trainer, Melissa, for coming into work on her days off. Now I’m a Barista Trainer, and I go into work on my days off.
To my credit, though, I did laundry, signed up to be a volunteer paramedic for the Rock n Roll Saint Louis Marathon, roped my dad into taking a trip down here to be a volunteer paramedic with me (he was a paramedic for 13 years, as was my mother. We’re a family full of medical geeks. My brother got out with a business and psychology duel degree, but still audits anatomy classes for fun), mailed a package, and called around to different apartments to make sure that I would have a place to live when my lease is up. Laundry day is the one day a week that I don’t reek of coffee, so of course I go to Starbucks and hang out in the cafe’ long enough to where I feel at home again. If I could make a Starbucks air freshener, I would. Who wouldn’t want to have their kitchen always smell like freshly pulled espresso shots, steamed milk, and warmed up cookies?
I digress. Rob, the man that keeps my heart, went out of town this weekend to shoot a video for his band’s new single, and I stayed home because of work. While I surely will miss him, it gives me a wonderful amount of free time to become enthralled in my letter writing. While I was sitting in Starbucks, I penned a love note to the baristas, and secretly tossed it behind the counter while no one was looking. That particular store needs a lot of love, and I like to visit as much as I can to see how they’re doing. It’s been very unstable since it opened, and there has been a lot of negativity surrounding the recent and sudden quitting of their store manager. Besides that, baristas are often the brunt of every bad mood brought in by a caffeine-driven smile. They often times don’t receive thanks for what they do since people are in a hurry, “haven’t had my coffee yet,” or have just generally come to expect that baristas are emotionally comparable to the espresso machines themselves. Yes, many of us do live and breathe our jobs, but a kind word (or a mean word) can make or break the feeling of the day. More Love Letters has a ‘Barista Appreciation’ sort of event, where Hannah has penned letters specifically to baristas thanking them for all of the times that people are rude, inconsiderate, and lacking appreciation. When I read that on the website the first time I had visited, it really warmed my heart because it’s something that is particularly relevant in my life. Thank you, Hannah and More Love Letters for warming the hearts of the New York baristas. Warm coffee, warm hearts.
So one of the letters I wrote today was to a girl named Hannah who is struggling with something almost every young woman has struggled with: making and keeping friends in high school. Sure, men also face the same struggle, but scientists and relationship analysts have proven that the ‘mean girl’ mentality can be a much more intense form of bullying than many people realize. Junior Year of high school is THE year where young women everywhere suddenly grow up and grow out. For whatever reason, lifetime friends can become sudden enemies this year, which is what happened to me when I was in high school, and is what Hannah is currently going through. Having an older brother, no one really warned me about this weird phenomenon, and I felt extremely alone for quite some time. My friends that I had made were no longer my friends, and I didn’t even know why. Well, I did know why, it was just very complex, and there were no particular details. Just teenage mean girl complexity. Hannah’s friend group “was ravaged by drama, and Hannah was so heartbroken. She feels like she’s starting high school all over again, not knowing who to sit with at lunch or in class,” her sister said in her email. “Hannah is such a great girl, and I just want her to know that she’s better than all of this. A lot of people forget how hard high school can be once it’s over.” I think a lot of people really try to block out the bad memories and substitute them with stories that become more embellished and elaborate as we go on, refusing to acknowledge tougher times like they didn’t exist. I made sure to include my story in my letter, hopefully showing Hannah that she isn’t alone, but not minimizing the way that she feels. It’s tough growing up, and that moment that you feel alone can really impact how you feel about yourself as you get older.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned to embrace, it’s change. Embrace the weird things about you, the things that make you really stand out, and people will gravitate towards your confidence. Open your heart to new possibilities of friendship. My “second” group of friends from high school are such wonderful people. When we’re not busy conquering the world in our own ways, we still do the best we can to stay in touch. When that sudden change hits, you need to adapt. Accept it for what it is, and realize that change happened because it wasn’t the path that you were supposed to end up on. It was a time in your life that you were meant to learn from and move on. Your friends should make you feel good about yourself and your relationships with others. If there is drama or negativity creating a monster out of your friends, then they aren’t your Cinderella fit. There are people out there that were meant to love you for who you are and who you’re becoming; they are your soul-friends. Maybe a drastic change will bring them into your life, or maybe they’ll slide in without you ever realizing that you didn’t have them to begin with. Soul-friends have your heart on radar. When you feel lonely and are in need of a friend- when you feel that no one will ever love you again- that radar goes off like a siren in a fire station. Whether it happens right away or not, your soul-friends will enter your life, and you will find yourself happier than ever. So, Junior Year Hannah, things will get better. Your soul-friends are on their way.
With love and love letters,
Today we were given our special requests through More Love Letters. Each of the Letter Writers on the team are paired with 3-5 people that need letters. These letters are a bit more personal, and have the potential to rock us emotionally. As I was reading my requests, I felt my stomach knot and my heart sank. These are stories that you wish would never happen to anyone, because having similar if not identical situations happen to you should have been enough for the world. Those situations that make you wish that you could live through them alone, just so no one should have to experience them with you. I feel connected to every single one of these people, and I believe that’s the point of being a Letter Writer. You are matched with someone you can really connect to so you can pour your heart, your tears, and your memories onto the paper, hoping that maybe they won’t have to feel alone.
I have so much respect for the girls that have been doing this for a year now. They have had a year of emails and letters that were begging them to change their friend’s/family’s lives for the better. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it takes someone strong to be able to provide advice without being a counselor. To be able to connect with the receiver without reconnecting with the memory of pain and heartbreak. To be able to pour your heart out without pouring that burden onto your letter receiver. It’s a lot to handle. And the thing is… I’m so ready for this.
You don’t have to be alone. I’ll always be here. Even if I can’t help you, if I can’t be by your side, I’ll be here with my cursive and my letters. I’ll be here to think of you, and send positive thoughts into the universe for you to combat the bad ones. I’ll be here to to battle the negative karma that is spinning toward you by telling the world just how great you really are, and maybe that karma has the wrong mailing address. Because I have the right one, and I know that the person who receives these letters deserves to smile.
More Love Letters is wonderful, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
With love and love letters,
I feel famous.
Not only am I asked “Do you know that you look like Drew Barrymore?” at least once daily (more so now that I have a lighter hair color), but I have regulars that recognize the slightest things that I change about myself, and will come up to talk to me on the streets outside of work. I was at another store today, about 20 minutes away from my home store, and one of my regulars pulled through my drive thru. “Hey, why aren’t you at your store?” I was picking up a shift at this store; they needed help. “Did you change your hair? I like your new lipstick color. See you tomorrow!” It’s nice being recognized, and having people feel like they can talk to me. I don’t know how many people/baristas I have met that, while they are fine at what they do, I would not like to have a personal conversation with them. I’m flattered that I 1. Have regulars, 2. Have regulars that like me, 3. Am recognized as a friendly person.
Adventures at the other store went well. I walked in on a quiet, unwelcoming environment and came out laughing, dancing, and singing through the drive thru headsets. Whoever says that food industry workers don’t have dignity have never experienced the joys of in-store headsets. They are adult walkie talkies, and all of your friends have them. I made myself at home early on and fell into my regular routine of singing songs that popped into my head, dancing while waiting for drinks or the register to ring, and having small conversations (we call it “connecting”) with the customer. It’s good to know that I can turn a situation around if I need to, and that it will end up for the better. They were all just nice people in a bad situation of neglect and bad management with their spirits worn down and a new hatred for the job. I hope that my working there added a little spark of goodness… and if not quite yet, I’ll be seeing them on Saturday. 🙂
As far as MoreLoveLetters goes, I wrote three more letters to some folks that needed it by special request. I love what I do, and I really hope that whoever reads the letters really loves them. I dip my pen in the ink that is my heartsong, and I’m alright with sharing it with others. Music always goes on, reinventing itself. I don’t think I’ll be changing my tune for a while though; I rather like how catchy I feel.
A good day, filled with love.
There’s just something about today that screams “opportunity!” Maybe it’s the nice weather, or the fact that I’m working in a different store today because I was pegged as someone “that could inspire and uplift” the team there. Maybe it’s because I had all of my pressing issues completed this morning, or that I got some lovely emails from my new MoreLoveLetters team. I don’t know if I told you, but this summer has been filled with trials. I made the decision to take a year off of school when I realized that my health was finally impacting my ability to perform well in class. It was a very difficult decision that spurred a lot of sudden changes in my life. I had to move off of campus, quit my job as a Resident Advisor for the university, find a new apartment, and secure a job to stay afloat; all in the matter of about a week. At the same time, I had to battle with myself to stay above the lurking thoughts “Maybe I’m just not good enough” and “Maybe I should just quit. This is it.” About two months later, I’m happy with my decisions, and I feel that the universe has been sending positive energy in my direction. For once, I feel okay.
The World Needs More Love Letters came about in that transition for me. I always offer to write letters to friends, no matter how far they are, how busy, or how little I know them. “If you send me your address, you will receive letters.” I always hold myself to that promise. A friend and fellow Resident Advisor sent me the link to moreloveletters.com and told me to check it out. As soon as I read the mission, I knew that I had to be a part of it. I then applied for a position as a Letter Writer, which puts me on a team of lovely people that are charged with the mission of writing letters fit to specific requests each month, plus other things. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the team, and it seems that perhaps another door with the organization is now opening for me. I couldn’t be happier. By chance that a friend noticed my love for writing and inspiring, I found an organization that I love, and want to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to. It came at a time where I really needed to feel like I was enough, that I wasn’t giving up on myself or others. It’s perfect. “A Cinderella fit” as Hannah, the creator of MLL, often says. It’s a Cinderella fit for me.
Since I’ll be in a store that sees more irregular traffic, I’ll be bringing my pens and papers to work to pen some love letters to drop around the town. It’s around a lot of student alcoves, and it just happens to be Midterms for many students in the area, so hopefully some people will find some much needed encouragement. I’m excited to meet the other baristas and see what I can do to make their experience with each other and the company much more pleasant.
I’m so ready for today.
Check out Hannah Brencher’s TED Talk about the creation of The World Needs More Love Letters and how handwritten letters are necessary in our techno-fueled society. The voting is over, but you can still leave comments on the talk. Hannah did a wonderful job pouring her heart out into a spoken-word type of format, and it really gets you at the end. If you still need something to push you in the direction of checking it out, watch the TED Talk.
As I was watching this video, I was thinking about a question that I was asked yesterday on my journey through the craft store: “Who writes the love letters?” I’ve had to think about this until now just because it is such a complex question, really without meaning to be. Who writes the letters?
Everyone writes the love letters. People who stumble upon the site, like myself, write the love letters. People who have never seen a computer, but had the fortune to find one of the hundreds of thousands of letters in circulation right now; they write the letters. Best friends of the broken hearted, broken spirited, physically, emotionally broken; they write the letters. People who know people who know about the site or have had friends find the letters end up writing letters. Ramen-fueled, late-night collegiates write the letters. Stay-at-home moms and busy, working moms write letters. Managers at department stores, and coffee shop frequenters write the letters. People who wear their heart on their sleeves, and people that aren’t sure that they have any heart left; they write the letters. Those who spend sleepless nights composing would-be conversations and letters to others in their heads as the hours pull away; they write the letters. Maybe, someday, you’ll find yourself writing letters across the world to someone you haven’t met, just because you know they need it. We write letters to our families, friends, bosses, and coworkers each day. Put one aside that is purely feel-good, no business or strings attached, but unlimited warm-fuzzies included. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll find someone in need of your letter.
Everyone writes the love letters.