Tag Archives: change makers

We’re working toward meeting all the selfless souls stringing the streets of Manhattan with dreams.

Next time you tell me how to change the world, I’m going to stop you mid-sentence and ask you to go on a smoothie date.

Don’t get all frazzled by that invitation. Don’t dip your fingers into the sweet blended berries and smear it down my shirt like a reinvented version of Ann Hathaway’s “Princess Diaries” soft serve stunt.

Just hear me out, you wild world shaker. Because I am making friends in all kinds of places.

In Starbucks in downtown D.C. and in circled chairs in city churches. In front of Papa Johns pizza boxes and through computer screens in lonely hotel rooms.

And that is just this week, my friends. That is just the last six days of squeezing my smile into new conversations and shaking hands and learning names.

So when I propose a smoothie date mid-sentence, don’t you get offended. I’m just learning from the best and brightest.

On Tuesday night, amongst my pillows labeled with satin sashes for soft and firm, I hugged my Macbook Pro and livestreamed something spectacular – the Voice Your Verse poetry fundraising night.

I watched poets and world-shakers and change-makers and word-huggers all over New York City and beyond come together to honor She’s The First’s anthology to sponsor girls’ education in the developing world.

Mostly, though, I learned that there ain’t nothing wrong with meeting for smoothies and getting brain freezes amidst small wooden tables not nearly large enough to put our Big Ideas into perspective.

I learned that people you’ve never met in person can make you laugh so loud you worry your neighbors, the ones you’ll never share sugar with, are going to complain to the front desk.

I learned that when you’re freefalling toward failure, the first thing you need is a cold drink with someone who knows that side of the sidewalk so well from dwelling there long before you even knew what it meant. Long before you even knew to be scared.

And I am thanking this world for a woman I hope to someday shake hands with in front of a strawberry banana or a triple berry concoction. Someday swap stories of almosts and good enoughs and not have to count how many times we face-planted on pavement on the way to Something More. Someone Bigger. Someone Better.

I learned that we’re working toward meeting all the beautiful, selfless souls stringing the streets of Manhattan with dreams.

We’re holing up inside our houses clacking on keyboards to make connections that might last. Connections that might turn into smoothies and Starbucks and sweets baked together, shared in front of our own ovens. Late nights around a dimly lit kitchen table.

We are looking for someone who will not punch us in the face for asking for something as small as a smoothie date. Or a Starbucks run. Or a slice of pizza.

I hope we find each other. Somewhere out there. I hope we do.

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The Real Story: The Ones Who Wrote My Heart & Staplegunned It to Their Sleeves

I want to get down on hands and knees and thank God for the year that he’s given me. It’s been magical.

via weheartit.com

On August 15, 2010, I switched to WordPress. And so began Rewriting Life, an experiment in vignettes of my life and a chance to tell the world that slowing a moment down to it’s smallest fractions of a second can sometimes tell you more than a lifetime of mediocre moments ever will.

That’s what I learned this year.

That words change hearts and open minds and play tricks with your mind. That slow songs in a rain-soaked car with the ambulance rushing by on your right side sometimes brings you back to New Year’s Eve four years ago, when you best friend called to tell you she couldn’t get out of her car.

That crouching beneath a basement bar in the dark, huddled next to a metal stool, will always cause your breath to grow ragged.

That driving alone through the forests of North Carolina in the early morning hours will always liberate your soul.

That you are never too old for a makeover from your little sister.

That’s what this year, this blog, taught me.

But the real story is that I found myself through other people, the ones who wrote my heart and staple gunned it to their sleeves. And those are the ones I want to thank.

To Emily, the girl who works full-time and plays full-time and someday will win the world over as the next Rachel McAdams—America’s Future Sweetheart. You are my rock, my best friend since middle school, and my first fan.

To Kate, the girl who let the rest of us reduce her to a blonde stereotype when she’s always been so much more—a marketing expert, your future wedding planner, and lover of all things pink. You are one of my biggest fans and a fiercely loyal friend.

To my mother, who reads every single post, even the ones I want to delete because they’re awful. You are the only one who listens to all my absurd thoughts and idiotic questions in the middle of the day when I call in transit to class or the Breeze office.

To Heather, whose messages about my posts always break my heart but demand that I keep writing for the rest of the girls just like her who are fragile and wandering through life, searching for a guidebook. You are not alone.

To Lauren, who made my day one Wednesday in the middle of February when she DM’d me on Twitter and asked to be my friend. You are stronger than so many women in this world and every time you compliment my writing, I am forever amazed.

To Hannah, whose blog saved me from the worst version of myself in my 21 years and who wins the award for being the easiest to talk to on the phone for an hour without realizing that much time has passed. Your words are like poetry and your heart is always always in the right place. I’m buying your book the day it comes out.

And to J, who might be the coolest 40-something I’ve ever met and whose blog always keeps me thinking about the Big Ideas and Small Moments. You are never without an insightful or inspiring thought for me to consider. Thank you.

I only hope I stumble upon a hundred more people just like them who have my shaking my head in amazement and gratitude. These women are beautiful, loving, and just downright awesome.

Here’s to another year of loving, learning and writing.

20SB Guest Post: As Simple As Writing A Letter

I guest posted Tuesday on the 20 Something Bloggers official blog — TwentyTwenty — and had to share it with you all because I adore this girl and her project. When I read her first Love Letters post, I ran downstairs to tell my roommates I’d seriously met the next Mother Teresa.

via weheartit.com

When Hannah Brencher answers her phone, the first thing you notice is the way she spins the conversation so it’s not about her—it’s about you.

“How are you?” she says. “How is your summer?”

And she wants to know. She’s not asking because that’s what people do. The genuine question threads through her voice like syrup dripping all over fresh-griddled pancakes.

That’s Hannah’s MO. She believes that helping others as much as we can helps us lead a fulfilled life.

Last year, Hannah volunteered for the United Nations and commuted on the 4-train every morning from her residence in the Bronx to the U.N. headquarters in Manhattan.

It was on one such train ride that she picked up her pen and never set it back down.

She wrote a letter to a woman with a red hat on and didn’t know what to do with it. She said she left it on the seat and felt like she’d left a piece of herself on the train.

“I started on the train because I needed something to do so I didn’t break down crying,” she said.

That first love letter sparked 30 or 40 more until they became, she said, her cure for loneliness.

“I know how it feels to be lonely, and people seem so lonely in New York City,” she said.

She hoped the love letters would work their way into the hands of someone who desperately needed them.

She left each one somewhere different but intentional—on the shelves at the New York Public Library, behind saltshakers at restaurants, on sinks in Starbucks bathrooms. She didn’t want anyone to accidentally throw the letters out.

After all, they were just scribbled on notebook paper.

And she didn’t sign them.

Then, she did what she does best. She wrote a blog post about it, opening up the love letter requests to her readers.

“At most, I thought I’d get 20 requests from readers,” she told me.

Within a week, she had 200 requests. She called her mom, completely baffled, asking her what to do.

“I just need to start writing them,” she decided. And so she did.

A week later, she got the opportunity of a lifetime: meeting her favorite author, Courtney Martin, for coffee in New York City. She emailed Martin on a whim and asked for 5 minutes of her time. What she got was so much more.

Martin gushed about Hannah’s blog. She’d shared a link to the love letters post on her own blog—Feministing—and that’s why the requests took off.

Hannah opened up for requests in October 2010. By Christmas, she’d written 250 love letters. Some of them were just from people who thought the project was cool; others wrote her heart-wrenching emails about the lives they were living, asking her for a letter.

“The last person I would think to reach out if I’m going through something tough is a stranger,” she said. “If they’re not getting a love letter [from someone else], I’m gonna get it done for them.”

And now she’s doing what she always wanted.

“I always said when I was a little girl, the world needs more love letters,” Hannah told me.

It seemed too simple.

“If you asked me a year ago if I was just gonna write love letters and that would be enough, I’d be like, ‘What are you talking about?’ she said. “God threw me a left hook.”

And so she’s bringing back the handwritten note—love letter style—because she thinks everyone deserves a love letter. Since then, she’s written 368 letters covering residents of 5 continents, 43 states.

“We don’t need to be best friends. You don’t need to do anything for me. I just want to help you in whatever way I can,” she said.

It’s as simple as that.