Tag: SIU

Life is just a ride…you must keep pedaling!

Life is just a ride…you must keep pedaling!

It’s May and that means school is almost out.  I did a podcast at the beginning of the month with a very cool person that found me via Twitter.  His name is Chad Smart and he is the host of Positive Cynicism.  Check him out at jitterymonkey.com and listen to his motivational and fun podcasts.  Here’s a link to hear the one he allowed me to participate in: http://jitterymonkey.com/positive-cynicism-42-question-everything-jenna-jamieson/

I also did some volunteering this month because it’s kind of my hobby.  A hobby that I allow to take over my ‘normal’ life on occasion.  I volunteered at SIU’s graduation for probably my 10th time or more.   It was a simple gesture to help others out and give back to my community.  It’s important to recognize the impact volunteering can have in your local community.  With all the ways to make a difference, to give back to organizations, and to help others in need, volunteering can be one of the most simple ways to do that.  Not only does it help your community and people in it, but beyond that it gives you a sense of purpose.  That is at the core of finding and achieving pure happiness – finding genuine purpose that can give your life meaning.  I challenge you to add more volunteering to your life where you get nothing in return, not something you do at your job or at your church, or as part of a club you are in, but pure volunteering with no sub-lining or sub-benefit.  Volunteering where you give your time away for free and get nothing in return.  It will give you purpose – specifically, a purpose you have probably never felt before.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Backpacks: Here, There, & Everywhere!

Backpacks: Here, There, & Everywhere!

It’s February!  For most, that means more winter weather (and maybe some snow!), hearts, pink and red, Valentine’s Day, heart health awareness month (Go Red) and all the other stuff in between.  For me, it means backpacks, and lots of them, at school, at my house, at community dropboxes…basically, here, there, and everywhere!  This is because February is the month I partner with Circle K of SIU and coordinate a backpack drive for my school and the local Boys and Girls Club.  I collect gently used and new backpacks to provide for students that cannot afford them.

Circle K is a branch of Kiwanis International which is under the same umbrella as Key Club, a club that is often a student organization in high schools, including the one I teach at.  I remember being an active Key Club member in high school.  I loved the community projects Key Club helped with and the volunteer work that came along with it.  This is why I feel especially happy to partner with this Registered Student Organization (RSO) at my local university.

Here’s a chance for you to declutter your house and free up some space: Donate any new or gently used backpacks, duffle bags, and totes to my Backpacks for Success project.  You can find locations at the SIU Student Services Building, SIU Morris Library, SIU Student Center, and the Neighborhood Co-Op.

With your help and the support of many others I have been able to see firsthand what a difference these backpacks make in the lives of students.  Many of them have heavy books to carry and cannot afford the expense that comes along with buying a backpack, plus it’s something their family is unable to fulfill for them.  This is why it is my hope to help provide to those that need backpacks so that they have the basic necessities to be successful in school.  It touches my heart to see so many who are willing to change the lives of students and the world’s future generations by donating a backpack.  With each backpack, we are changing a life, and with that change we are making it possible for a child to feel more prepared and successful in their school environment.  Thanks to all who donate – please spread the love by sharing this post!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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What is SUCCESS?

What is SUCCESS?

I had to laugh at myself when I typed success because I started teaching in the middle of the year (January) so I shuffled to get my classroom, lessons, and several activities ready over the two week Christmas break.  It was a lot of work to clean out someone’s classroom (who had left a lot behind) and find a way to decorate and organize it so I was ready to teach.  I wanted it to be a very inviting and comfortable atmosphere for my students.  As I completed my bulletin board one evening over break, I got the entire thing laminated, cut out, and put up when I realized I had forgotten a ‘c’ in success.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was overwhelmed with annoyance at how I had misspelled ‘success’ after being in a hurry.

Fast forward a few months and I was talking to my husband who had the question, “What is success?” asked during an interview.  I thought about it for a few moments before saying, “Making other people see the value of making the world a kinder and happier place for all.”  A bit vague, yes, and probably not what most think of when they define success, but it could mean volunteering during the busy times before schools and universities begin or giving directions and a friendly smile to someone new on campus or at school.  After all, there are a lot of new people in unfamiliar places that may need help, have questions, ask you for directions, and feel nervous and stressed about the new chapter they are beginning.

With the beginning of many new chapters for those around us, it is a great thing to consider success in this way of light.  We have lots of first-time college students, middle school/junior high students headed to high schools, young children starting school, and lots of people who are embarking on new adventures and journeys whether it be new jobs, traveling to new places, or struggling with a new diagnosis or unforeseen challenge (for some of us, it may be the unknown of a little thing called the Solar Eclipse 😉 ).  If when we see new faces at school, at work, in passing, or in our community, people took the opportunity to be welcoming and helpful it would help my ‘definition of success’ expand as more people would be helping each other.  Give directions to a stranger, smile and say hi to put a person at ease, provide exceptional service, let someone know you are happy to help if they need it, etc.  This time of year is often very stressful for many of us and we can become extremely focused on our own hectic and chaotic schedules that we may forget to help those around us.  I challenge you to help others this month as they embark on new adventures (and new challenges) so that together we create a kinder and happier world for all.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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A day, month, and year of random acts of kindness!

A day, month, and year of random acts of kindness!

I feel very lucky because I have way more than I even want or need.  I have more than I feel like I deserve, I feel completely overindulged, and find myself living a life more blessed than most people in the world.  Yesterday was Easter and I was showered with numerous “goodies” from candy to quote books/journals and little things.  I got to eat my favorite food (pizza!) for lunch at one of my local favorites with family I love and finished the night with a lovely dinner with more family I love.  It felt like a pretty perfect day. However, today it reminded me of how overindulged many of our lives really are.  My Facebook and social media pages were filled with overflowing Easter baskets for children, egg hunt after egg hunt, and church gatherings with lots of people in new pretty dresses and clothes.  It was quite lovely to see the happiness that filled the world, but it was also a reminder of those that can’t afford to celebrate holidays, can’t afford new Easter dresses or Easter baskets for their children, and people that can’t even afford clean water, clothes, or even a house over their head.  It is a reminder to be mindful of those around us.  Those that may be suffering and need our help.  Those that could use something as small as a compliment, surprise, or someone to listen to them to brighten their day.

As my family and I talked at both lunch and dinner yesterday Starbucks coffee came up because they are changing their rewards program.  It reminded me how lucky I am to be able to buy a cup of $3 – $5 coffee (which I must admit makes me feel guilty typing because I know it is probably ridiculous and not to mention out of reach for many).  I still am guilty of consuming it on a semi-regular basis.

The point of this post isn’t to make anyone feel shameful or guilty of their choices, luxuries, or things.  It is rather a reminder for myself (and hopefully others appreciate it as well) that I am more blessed and overindulged in the most simple ways that are so easily taken for granted on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.   It is a reminder for me to give back more and more each day as I go through life.  There are endless random acts of kindness that can be done for nothing or a little something, but that can light up someone’s face and change the entire outcome of their day or maybe even their life.  For that, I think kindness is definitely something worth spreading.

My mom had a little boy over when I was younger who couldn’t keep his pants up.  It seems funny and it was, but she went and found a belt for little Joey.  She later received a thank you card from that six year old little boy thanking her for the belt.  It was a simple gesture, but that little boy is now in his late twenties and sent her a message yesterday again reminding her of how much it meant that she gave him a belt that day.  Something as small as that is something that can impact someone’s life. I recently had a mother of a student at school bring hot chocolate for myself and two other teachers as a thank you for being such happy “parent pick-up” coordinators at our school during all weather – rain, snow, hot, and cold.  Today will be a day to put my foot forward and be the person to do a random act of kindness.  I am going to show up at SIU and give treats to some of my fiancé’s co-workers and the staff that work across the hall from them.  People I don’t really know, but may appreciate a small treat on a Monday!  These are just a few random acts of kindness, but there are endless people and places to spread it. From police officers to firefighters and the random person in line at McDonald’s to sliding a few dollars in a Redbox DVD to pay it forward.

I hope today is a day you remember how lucky you are and how thankful you should be if you have clean water, clean clothes, family, and a roof over your head.  I know I don’t always remember how blessed I am, but I continue to remind myself that the things I take for granted are another person’s dreams.

Celebrate spreading kindness and remember you can brighten someone’s day! 🙂

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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