My close friends know how seriously I take the phrase “a smiling heart”. It was a couple of years ago when I first began noticing and thinking about that feeling you get in your chest for sometimes inexplicable reasons. Often it’s easy to explain- you’re sitting at the top of a mountain looking at the world, and things just feel right. Sometimes it’s looking into the eyes of someone else and feeling a connection deeper than you’ve ever felt before. Sometimes it’s driving down a beautiful North Carolina street with the windows down and the perfect Joe Purdy song comes on the radio.
And sometimes it’s a normal drive that you’ve done 100 times before, but something about the group of people you’ve just left speaks to you. You can’t explain it in words, but you can definitely feel it. In your chest. Right where your heart is. I’m convinced that’s what it feels like when your heart is smiling. And while sometimes we were already smiling on the outside, other times it’s your heart making you aware of something truly special that you might not have been paying close enough attention to.
Smiling hearts aren’t just about people, nature or situations. Sometimes they’re about finding meaning in the work that we do. I’ve had jobs before where I showed up when I was supposed to, and left when the day was over. I made money. Sometimes I had fun. But it lacked true, deep meaning. And then I’ve had jobs that I have passionately lived and breathed. Those, despite the stress, long hours, and countless failures, are the ones that made my heart smile. And sometimes it was after the longest of days the smallest thing would happen that would remind me why I was supposed to be there, doing what I was doing, at that very moment. We as humans need to feel like our existence matters, and that our job is combining our skills with the world’s need. Then, we become truly part of something.
Last night I received an e-mail from a photographer in Northern Virginia, who heard about Big Dog Little Bed from a good friend of mine, Carrie. She had mentioned that she had passed my name along, but I had no idea what I was in for.
Jill Samter reached out to me last night to tell me about a passion of hers called the “I Am Beautiful” project. The goal of the project is to help women of all ages see and appreciate their natural beauty. In many of my Womens’ Studies classes in college we would think, read and discuss the impact of society on the self-image of women in particular. This is something I feel super strong about, and having worked with middle school and high school girls over the past 6 years I’ve seen what a growing problem it is. And I’m AMAZED at how young it begins. Yet many times I felt helpless in doing anything about it. What is the solution to a problem that seems so big it’s impossible to change?
While they may not be the answer, projects like these certainly seem like a place to start. That and getting rid of the use of airbrushing and size -2 models. What all of this boils down to is: I couldn’t be more excited to have found a project that I feel this excited about 🙂 The more I read about the project, the more my heart smiles. You can check it out here. Please do.
If nothing else, I hope this post helps you bring a little more awareness to your own heart and the messages it’s sending.