Everything Happens for a Reason

I know it’s debatable, but that’s the motto I’ve lived by for quite a long time now, and for me, it has proven to be pretty foolproof.  I mean, no doubt that there are long bouts where I think to myself, “What is the lesson here?  How can I get anything beneficial out of this process/experience/struggle?”  But whenever I look back at these times, I always find the answer.

Just a couple months ago, I was on a mission of resurrection.  I was ready to dive head-first into my future, without really knowing what that was actually going to entail.  Specifically, I was desperately hunting for my ideal career path, one that would set off excitement and curiosity and dedication in every part of me.  Well unsurprisingly, this goal was a lot easier said than done.

While I did end up finding a focus fairly quickly, the attainment of it proved to be full of too-close close-calls, and near-celebrations met with disappointments.  I always thought I had a keen sixth-sense when it came to reading people, getting good vibes about situations, and feeling positive about an outcome considering the prior circumstances leading up to the result; but amid this process, I encountered successive unexpected letdowns, whether it was pure unresponsiveness or plain old rejection.  Just when I thought my searching stresses were about to cease and I was on the path towards professional success, I would get smacked in the face with personal defeat.

Of course, with all of these micro-focused imperfections, negativity began leaking out and permeating other orifices of the hours, days, and weeks, infiltrating elements that were going completely well, but became tainted by my search-for-a-calling fixation.

And then, it happened.

On a typical job-seeking afternoon, I came across an ad for a position that consisted of everything I desired in a potential role, and more.  After sending out my specifically thought-out application, I hoped for the best, expected the worst, and waited with bated breath (all at the same time) for a response.  Fortuitously, I endured less than three days of this triple action discomfort before hearing back from the Vice President of my dream-job, and we scheduled an interview date for a day soon after.  Following the long Labor Day weekend and an immediate additional meeting with the CEO, I was offered the position(!!!)

So now, I would like to formally introduce my(professional)self:

My name is Jenny Smith and I am the Marketing Coordinator for—

It’s a pleasure to meet you 🙂

Conclusion/lesson learned:  Sometimes it takes a little bit of patience and a lot of perseverance, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

*Smile Tip #8:* Being relatable to a potential employer is essential, and you appear so much less desirable with a stoic, lackluster demeanor.  By brightening up your appearance, the likelihood of scoring the position will increase tenfold, cause really, who wants to work with a Debbie downer (or Barry bummer)?

I’ll Give You a Megaphone…

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impact.  Have you ever been suffering from a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and then just as it hits the apex of dreadfulness when your heavy Trader Joe’s bag bursts open at the bottom, and your groceries crash onto the pavement, a kind man comes over to help gather the mound, and suddenly everything seems okay?

We’ve all been there, and we all appreciate it when there’s some spark of hope to allay the bad, or even just blah, spells.  This is why I absolutely love Improv Everywhere’s “Say Something Nice” campaign.

Created as a part of Guggenheim Museum’s stillspotting nyc exhibition, “the project [that] takes the museum’s Architecture and Urban Studies programming out into the streets of the city’s five boroughs…using ‘stillspots,’ which are identified, created, or transformed by architects, artists, designers, composers, and philosophers into public tours, events, or installations.”

Though the hustle-and-bustle of city-living can be exciting, it can also take its toll on both sightseers and natives alike.  This particular crusade offers a small yet curious release from the typical hullabaloo, and if nothing more, gets people talking:

Side note: if anyone can tell what the little boy is saying from 1:44-1:51, please let me know.  That’s probably my favorite part just because it’s so funny and cute, but I keep replaying it and still for the life of me cannot make out his little yelp!

*Smile Tip #7:* You don’t need a megaphone to announce your message – if you pass a stranger on the street, someone in class, or a fellow employee that looks (or even doesn’t look) like they could use a little pick-me-up, shoot them a thoughtful compliment.  You’ll have them smiling in no time.

A Journey of Empowerment

My big sister is one of the most incredible people I know.  On top of being extremely down-to-earth, talented, and bright, she is also a real-life superwoman.  When we were younger, there were a number of tell-tale signs disclosing this destiny; some of which included playing “teacher” with me using the huge chalkboard in our basement (which, by the way, made it all the more legitimate), staying awake until ridiculous hours of the night/morning to relentlessly study for whatever class or AP exam was imminent, and juggling being Student Council Vice President while also dancing and teaching dance classes on nearly full-time hours, five days a week.  As she sunk her
feet into her adult years, this drive and energy for meaningful success did not cease, and what it sparked was her very own charitable organization: Storybuilding Foundation.

After years of brainstorming while working in the non-profit world and also dancing for a well-known sports team, the timing, impetus, and intention finally felt right.  Since the arts had always been significant part of her life (at one point during her teenage years she even pondered pursuing dance therapy as a career path), the idea for StoryBuilding Foundation took flight naturally.  Essentially, the charity facilitates a personal journey through the arts, empowering young individuals in underserved areas of each city, state, or country by fusing together community, spirit, and life.

Through conducting workshops that explore tools and techniques around action planning, creative thinking, and journaling, participants are provided with an outlet to begin taking control of their unwritten future.  As people learn more about themselves, build confidence to express who they are, conquer fear, challenge the norm – and do it in their own way – they are better positioned to help others do the same.  The goal of the organization is to help individuals discover the voice of their character, the setting of their plot, and that our beliefs, choices, and actions lead to experiences that fill a new page in our storybook.

Right now, my sister is in Haiti marking the launch of StoryBuilding Foundation’s oversees program, bringing it to orphanages and tent cities greatly impacted by the earthquake.  I have yet to get a full report, but the following is a taste of the experience thus far:

“There are no words to describe what has happened on this trip. The pictures will provide a glimpse of a moment, our blogs will recount a memory, our hearts will hold the experiences – to allow our future words and actions to carry the energy and love of our individual and collective story.”

*Smile Tip #5:* Pictures are worth a thousand words…

Visit Storybuilding Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages to learn more about how you can help, or feel free to make a direct donation – any little bit helps keep those smiles alive!

Resurrection

After exactly 3 years and 2 months, I’ve decided to breathe life back into this neglected little creation.  So much has happened since its inception, and with my newfound stimulation, now seems like the perfect time to find little bits of inspiration to further me (and others) on the path of growth and discovery.

I guess this entry calls for a little update; an official introduction, even.  When I first approached the idea of having some sort of online written identity, I was an aspiring magazine editor.  I was obsessed with the idea of one day having a byline in an Oprah’s magazine (or the likes of), and thanks to tons of networking within the field and various internship experiences, I was on an effective path to one day reaching my goal.  However, somewhere along the way—okay, I can pretty much pinpoint that it was between the time I graduated and the time I met my now roomie/boyfriend of 3+ years a few weeks later,  my path sort of took a detour.  I fell out of dreams of freelancing from my bedroom and fell into concocting fun flavor twists for bejeweled walls of frozen yogurt.

Yes, self-serve fro-yo shops became the center of my existence.  I mean, it was pretty perfect – I got to cut up deliciously fresh fruit all day, be around some ridiculously awesome people, and delay growing up for little while more.  Really, I wouldn’t take any of it back for the world.  Though, after three years of being in food management, and even considering the idea of birthing my own “Simple Sweetness for the Soul” yogurt shop, I realized I was finally ready to dig back into my bag of passions and move on.

Actually, that’s been the trend for a little bit now—in addition to acquiring a male sidekick, I have apparently developed the ability to become a world traveler—or even just a national wanderer.  I’ve moved more than halfway across the country from my comfortable little bubble in New Jersey, and after a semi-short stint near the Rocky Mountains, journeyed a bit back east, now residing in the Windy City.  I suppose I’ve really adapted to this whole “change”  thing fairly seamlessly, with only a handful of bumps and scrapes along the way (which, of course, is inevitable).

So what now?  I guess we shall soon find out.  I came back to this because it felt right, just like the search for happiness should be!  And now, being just a bit older and wiser (at least I’d like to think so), I’ll probably be adding a bit more dimension to the simplicity of this blog’s theme—while still keeping it filled with positivity and butterflies and flowers, naturally 😉

I look forward to the journey ahead, and hope you will join me!

*Smile Tip #3:* This might be TMI and slightly off-topic, but I am finally becoming accustomed to, and oddly sort of enjoying, my newly fitted mouthguard.  I’m a gum chewer – it helps me focus, though I realize it could be a not-so-great habit – so I’ve started substituting it with some daytime molded plastic clenching instead—I know, I told you it was weird.

Apparently I may grind my teeth while I’m asleep, according to the dentist I acquired while living in Boulder, which is why I had a succession of fillings (whose cost could have easily gone towards a used craigslist car, if I needed one), and he suggested I get a mouth guard to prevent my teeth from developing any more holes/grinding-related erosion that may happen overnight.  Just the idea of that freaks me out, since I literally have nightmares about my teeth falling out; so I invested in a really expensive plastic molding of my teeth, even though I thought the whole thing was kind of ridiculous (mind you, this is coming from a girl who never had to wear braces, or a retainer, or any sort of foreign metal in my mouth through my awkward pre-teen years).

It was super uncomfortable at first, and I really thought I didn’t even need it (wouldn’t the guy who sleeps next to me every night notice a funny noise coming from my side of the bed?  I mean, I know he’s practically a brick when he’s asleep, but still…).  Though, I was told it needed to be broken in like a new shoe, so I wore it around our Colorado home while reading, watching TV, and packing for our second move.  In between departing and settling more into or colorful Lincoln Square apartment, I took my first visit back to New Jersey since leaving in the winter.  It was then that my rigid mouth contraption had a little tune-up by my childhood dentist.  Soon after, it finally felt right, and I was hooked.

In conclusion, if you cherish your teeth as much as I do, make sure you see a dentist before a small problem gets significantly worse and much more exorbitantly priced.  Your smile is precious—make sure it stays brilliant and strong for a lifetime!

Express yourself

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Growing up a dancer, my body was trained to breathe life into emotions.  Even though we were expected to strive for technical perfection, the punctuating effect always rested on the power of passion.  Movement was an interpretation of a song’s energy.  Expression was a reflection of movement.  Each year when it was time to perform for audiences of judges (at competitions) and family/friends (at recitals), we had the opportunity to spread the spirit of our dance symphony.  The feelings and emotions that we developed a connection to over the months were finally able to be passed on to others.

The bulk of these dancing days have slowly faded away, but my interest in the impact of emotion has not.  Since so much of who we are rests on what we feel – or what I like to call “vibes” – I wanted to find an outlet where I could explore these positive vibes, and find out how they can be strengthened.  Whether emerging in planned special moments or random acts of kindness, by reactions to others or through self-reflection, these emotional spurts of cheer are both infectious and addicting.  There’s that old saying, “Frown and you frown alone, but smile and whole world smiles with you.”

To kick off this blog, I’ll get down to the crux of what it’s all about: simply smile.  Seek optimism.  Laugh—a lot.  Find your joy.

*Smile Tip #1:* Show that you’re genuine—don’t just smile with your mouth; smile with your eyes.