2 dollars for 1 smile

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What could be more wonderful than stumbling upon friendship?  I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and oops, silly me, I didn’t take an Italian language class before I moved there.  Typical American girl just got too excited about streets of gold, palaces of art, and endless gelato.  Best decision ever.

The school arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.  Luckily, that representative forgot to show up, and I ended up walking to-and-fro in the Fiucimo Airport wondering how to get a cab.  I made a few inquiries, and within a couple minutes, I was swarmed with people claiming to be taxi drivers and promising the lowest price in Rome.

And then!

Like a dream come true, a pretty brunette grabbed my hand and asked if I was American.  I nodded my head yes, and she told me to come with her.   I followed her through the airport, and she explained about the importance of only using certified cab services, avoiding people without uniform, and always knowing the appropriate price beforehand.

We shared a cab to the university, and the 30 minute drive was filled with more jokes than a comedy show at Second City.  The two of us decided to meet up again the following weekend in Dublin.  Three weeks later we  found ourselves in Prague, six months later in Berlin, two years later in Chicago, and five years later (as in this past weekend) in Minneapolis.

Dear Clare, you’re the greatest friend in the world, and I’m so grateful that you came to visit.  I was going to post about making you a handmade Thank You card, but I just ended up writing all about you (couldn’t help myself).  Your card is included at the bottom of this post.  LOVE YOU.

Clare and Jen circa 2008:
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At my 2013 wedding:
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I made Clare’s thank you card by making sketches on paper, uploading the drawings onto my computer, and then arranging them into fun designs:
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scatter joy around you

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i take pleasure in delaying laundry day as long as possible.  when i was younger, i told my little sister that she could keep one of my outfits if she cleaned them all. in college, i bought new clothes to avoid spending the day battling the coin-operated machines (i also convinced myself that buying new clothes was the same price as washing the dirty stuff). i’ve come to a point in life where i accept that one day a week will be devoted to laundry.  unfortunately, that one day usually looks something like this:Imagemy plans to do whites, colors, towels, delicates, and sheets went down the drain (thankfully) around noon.  i received a sweet letter from my friend dawn — a sort of ‘just because’ note if you will, and it made me smile.  Imagei recognized the sweet card as a simple yet effective way of making someone happy, and so i got out my crayons, paper, stickers, markers, and pins to make some for the neighborhood (my crafts&toys drawer would make any elementary school student want to be my best  friend).ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImagei decided to hang the handmade cards around my neighborhood in the hope that someone i know might find one. i always wonder what the recipients of my RAH RAH RAH projects think about the surprises they find.  i will tell you, dear reader, that some people have raised concerns about whether these projects actually make anyone happier. i’ve gotten a lot of “well how do you know?” and “it’s not sustainable happiness.” fair points, right? i know that i can’t measure the outcome of these projects, but i can tell you that i have faith in the intangible benefits that come out of it.  if one person feels a little more joyful, then i’m OK with all the effort. ImageImageImage

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a friend of mine went to a charity event in chicago last weekend, and someone stole her purse just as she was about to board the train back to minneapolis. bad timing, right? but the worst part of that story is that someone planned to spread pain that day.  like i said before, i don’t have proof that these projects make anyone happier, but i’m committed to scattering joy, not pain, to those around me.