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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just Smile!

Tonight my mom and I went to dinner and shopping. Our experience was a little less than what we expected

We decided to try out a new restaurant in B-town which had been greatly anticipated.

You probably know by now that I am a very particular person and when I know what I want- I expect to get it. Whether that is a class in school or goal of mine, I expect myself to get reach it. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about giving chances and being patient.

However- I don't think we will be making a second trip to this particular restaurant.

1) Our server was glacially slow. Seriously. She was only taking 1 other table besides ours and the restaurant was not busy at all. Slow in every aspect. :/
2) The food came out cold and less than average.
3) The water tasted like it had chemicals in it
4) Everything was very over-priced considering what we got to eat
5) The overall feel of the restaurant was dull
6) There were about 15-20 people working in the restaurant, all of which were teenagers from the local schools in my area. They all looked frantic and confused. They were slow and unprofessional, inefficient, dazed, looked like lost puppies, and had zero ability to multi-task.
7) My food was so cold that I asked them to reheat it for me. Ok, I'm picky but not THAT picky. I seldom say anything about my food unless it's really that bad.
8) The quality of the food was not nearly as good as other places that compete
9) My mom and I watched the servers and workers as we waited... and waited.. and waited.. they were so entertainingly funny. There was one girl who went back to the kitchen 4 times. Each time carrying 2 cups from a table she was clearing. I wondered if she might consider using a tray instead of making the commute each time just to carry 2 cups.
10) The manager came to apologize for my cold food but in such a scary tone that both mom and I broke a small sweat.
11) So many mistakes...

We filled out a comment card (I promise I wasn't mean, just friendly constructive criticism) and it told us to leave it at a box in the front of the restaurant. There was no box to be found so we asked the two girls at the front desk. They both looked at each other in frenzy and finally gave us another card. No, I smiled and explained. Where can I put this card? Ohhhh! Uhh... here, we can take it- just give it to me. 

With that, my mom and I looked at each other and kindof nervously smiled and said thanks and left. Card in-hand.

Overall, I would just describe the experience as: Unimpressed.

But  you see, the above mentioned things would not have bothered us so much if for one thing.

Anyone in the restaurant smiled.

We made this observation as our meal progressed that everyone was really dull. Like there was no happiness there. It kindof exhausted me to be honest! I definitely can say some good things about the place. It was clean, the ice was my favorite kind, and it was nice of the manager to come out immediately and apologize. I know it was the first week it opened and so the servers and staff were unexperienced and probably nervous to be working in (most of their) first jobs. But, no one was smiling. At least not for real. We both left the restaurant $30 poorer and laughing about how sadly pathetic it was.

After dinner, we went to the store. Immediately after we walked in, the cashier of the store looks up and with no emotion in her face says "Welcome to ____". I was like uhh.. thanks. Don't be too excited. We spent a good half an hour in the store perusing and ended up not finding anything. But, the entire time, I could only think about one thing. The awfully sad or expressionless welcoming we got to start our entire trip inside their business. No sincerity, no happiness, no smile.

This has consumed me for the last day and a half. At a leadership conference I attended earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to listen to various speakers from around the world about everything from Shakespeare to Chemistry, Diversity to Happiness. One of my favorite speakers shared some thoughts on the Power of a Smile. This was a PERFECT topic for me. I absolutely loved what he had to say about how a smile has the ability to turn a day around, to make someone happier and to bring someone joy. That is incredible.
"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have"

At the conference, I was given the nickname "Smiles" because well.. yeah, I do love to smile;) I think that people like being around people who are happy. Smiling has the power to erase bad feelings or negative aspects because smiling=happiness, and happiness=lack of negativity. It's important to me to share my smile and not take it for granted because I know like so many of the children I met in Jordan and also all around the world, their smiles are something they wish to have. 

On my mission, I vividly recall the immense happiness I felt while I was with the kids. I did not remember their  deformities or burns, clefts, and anomalies, but the happiness I felt in their spirits and their eyes. They had beautiful smiles to me- but we were able to give them a much more beautiful outlook on life. 

A smile is one of the most powerful and influential forces on the earth. I truly believe that if anyone at either the restaurant or the store had given us a genuine, happy smile- all the negative aspects of the experience would not have seemed so bad. Maybe this post would rather have told about the one server who took our table and even though it was chaotic and not the best, but made our meal so extraordinarily pleasant because of a happy, smiley personality. 

After all, "A Smile is a curve that sets everything straight" 

;) Oh come on, I had to interject a little cheese in here somewhere haha

I hope that you can take away what I was trying to say today. No matter what is happening around you- but especially in times of chaos or need, evaluate those things around you that you can't change and the things you can change. Oftentimes it is a rarity to be able to completely change every single circumstance, but the one thing you can change about any given situation is yourself. Sure, maybe you just started your job and you don't really know how to do it well yet, or maybe you are seasoned at it but just hate it. Look at yourself and see how you come across. Remember this post and maybe, remember to Just Smile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New York

Whoever my reader is in Great Neck, New York- are you preparing for a mission?


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blogs of Happiness*

The other students I have met through Operation Smile have got to be the most influential, powerful and inspiring individuals I have ever met! Many of them have started blogs of their own and their stories and experiences in their respective missions and journeys are life-changing to me. I hope that you can spend some time today or anytime and look through some of these wonderful blogs that document the world being changed- one smile at a time.

Katie Osterloh (Utah)
Cebu, Philippines Mission
March 2010

Katie is an exceptional person. I am forever indebted to her for her great example to me. She is a student in Utah here with me! We met at ISLC '09 and have worked together and become great friends since! She told me in person the life-changing experience she had on her mission, I would highly recommend reading her blog!

Melanie Boyle (New Jersey)
Pampanga, Philippines Mission
May 2010

Melanie was my roommate in Portsmouth this January while we were at MTW. Her blog is pretty much just as cool as her:) She went on her mission this May with Mary Claire- whose blog I mentioned in an earlier post but can be found here. They had an amazing time together! They are both inspirational girls.

Frannie Coxe (California)
Fortaleza, Brazil Mission
August 2010

Frannie is fantastic. Seriously. She inspires me so much- She is making her way from Cali to Brazil in just a few months! Her blog right now is following her preparation to Fortaleza. Visit and follow!!

Andrea Joseph (South Africa)
Madagascar Mission
September 2010

Andrea is one of my best friends. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa and is going on her mission to Madagascar in September. She interns at Operation Smile South Africa and is so passionate about it. She is one incredible person and I am a better person for having her in my life. Follow her blog if you need just a little bit of happiness or inspiration in your day- the way she conveys her feelings is just beautiful.

One of the greatest things that I have received from OpSmile is the enormous amount of support from students just like me. The ones that I have had the privilege to meet and befriend are among the tops in their classes, communities and are on the tracks to be the leaders of the tomorrow- today. There is never any competition or jealousy- we are always excited for one another and help each other reach our full potential. We all share a common goal, dream and drive that is united in love for something so much bigger than ourselves. 

I am inspired daily by amazing students who are doing their part in making the world a place they want to be. They take the initiative to get things done and to start making a difference. I am so thankful I've had the chance to be a part of this. Some of my very best forever friends are those whom I've met through this incredible cause.

We are so blessed to live in a place where we CAN be that difference and start making the changes we wish to see. Happy Independence day to those here in America- may God bless all of you wherever you are!

Never forget to smile!!