So, what’s next?
“What is happiness?” I asked the 12 year old boy I nanny, tonight. His immediate response,“happiness is love”. It seems like such a simple answer yet concurrently all encompassing. As you get older, your definition of happiness seems to change situationally; as oppose to when you’re young, naive and untainted by the redundant burdens of “adulting”. Happiness is seemingly more easily attainable when you’re a child. Playing tag with friends. Getting extra dessert after eating your nasty veggies. Seeing everything Santa left for you Christmas morning. Getting to stay up past your bedtime (wtf was wrong with us?). These “small” yet monumental at the time moments to us, yielded such genuine happiness and fulfillment. Some of made us happy for a few moments or some for a few weeks. Nonetheless, it was pure joy.
It seems more difficult when you’re an adult to genuinely appreciate the small things. I’m not sure at what point that stops. And I hope it’s not just my perception. I’m actually a super positive person and really do try to see the best of everything, in every situation. But adulting is hard and expensive and draining. So it seems as if we now need “bigger” things to elicit happiness and fulfill us purely. And at 31, I think I’ve realized that no matter how you define happiness, it’s somehow directly correlated to how you define love.
Love is interpretational, as is happiness. For instance, The Celtics winning in the finals would 100% produce authentic happiness in me, for a while. But the Celtics winning in the finals wouldn’t even matter to the next person who doesn’t like basketball or get the same true joy I do from the Celtics. To each their own, right? Love and happiness is individualistic. Ones passions and what their “wells” are filled by all vary. I think finding what indubitably and legitimately “fills your well”, is how you honestly and continuously consummate true happiness. And isn’t that what life is about?
People always ask you, “how’s your job?” , “how’s your significant other” , “how’s your family”? But no one seems to ask you “are you happy?” Which in my opinion, is the most important question. I think I’ve spent a lot of my life not being happy, that I find it super important now to be unapologetically and authentically happy, for me. No one else. The best way to ensure unhappiness is to live for others. I’ve started to learn what really fulfills me and “fills my well”. And, as time is our largest commodity, those things that do so, are all I want spend my time on. Put your energy into the things you love. And only those things.
In the middle of January, I was probably experiencing some “winter blues”, as I’m sure you’d understand if you live in New England and have literally been trapped inside all winter due to the 473’ of snow we got. But I felt stagnant in my life. Like I craved fulfillment, growth and progression. I really love my job (however demanding it may be), I’m healthy, I live in a beautiful home, make good money, never go without a meal, have amazing friends and family. Everything that’s supposed to make you happy. And it does. But it’s almost as if I take it for granted and want more. As blessed as I know I am, I feel that the only way to grow, is to continually challenge yourself in finding new ways to make yourself happy and fulfilled. So I thought about it and I truly wanted to marry the two things that elicited the most pure forms of happiness from me: basketball and children with special needs. Thus was born, Boston Speaks.
Yesterday, April 7th, was one of the best days of my life. I haven’t felt that fulfilled and happy in so long. I was so naturally high and in my element, I didn’t want it to end. Everything came together so seamlessly for this event, although it didn’t feel it would whilst planning. I talked about it with my friends and just started grinding. I feel if you want to achieve a large goal, setting up daily “reachable” goals is the most realistic way to approach it. Also, it’s less overwhelming. I knew my end goal and what I wanted it to look like, but I had no idea how to get it. I naively didn’t realize how much actually went into planning anything like this. I knew I had all the right resources and contacts but I didn’t know where to start. Twitter was clearly my first step as it holds my largest audience. Social media, however negative it may be sometimes, can open several doors for you if you use it correctly. I reached out to all the people I knew could help me. And the response was mind blowing to me. They got their people involved, who got their people involved. It was alchemy. If you really want something, the universe really aligns to make it happen for you, I feel. PSA: if you haven’t read “The Alchemist” - PLEASE do!
Food donations, tee shirt donations, prize donations, ticket donations, a donated location for the camp, volunteers. I was overwhelmed. I think the work I put in for all those months was almost as fulfilling as the actual camp. I felt motivated and passionate and positive. I looked forward to waking up in the mornings (which trust me I’m not a morning person). I printed flyers and literally went out and promoted it. Hard. I put them in Starbucks, in YMCA’s, in Boys and Girls clubs, in libraries. I emailed all of the elementary school Principals in the area and went in and met with 5 different heads of differing special needs schools. I posted about it to my thousands of followers, on every social media outlet, unrelentingly. My friends posted it. People I don’t even know posted it. I will never be able to express into words how overwhelmed I was. I felt like I was doing something good. Something right. Something I was made to do. I had sooo many people reaching out to me and asking me how they could help me. Strangers. People I have never met and probably never will. People in different countries. People from behind their screens; who clearly understood the passion and real love that I was putting into curating this event. I raised $5.1k to donate to Autism Speaks. THAT IS UNREAL. I set my initial goal at $500. ‘If you’re not aiming too high, then you’re aiming too low.’
The day of the camp came pretty quickly. Parents were coming up to me and thanking me. Telling me their children were always turned away from organized sports as they’re not able to “play the way other kids did”. That’s fucking heart wrenching. I don’t think I realized until those conversations yesterday, the real impact that this had on people. On families and their amazing & ever so special children. I use special ambiguously. These kids lit up my day. My heart couldn’t have been more full. I was right where I was supposed to be. I was running around for most of the afternoon and once I finally stopped, took a deep breath and looked around, I was shook. They were having so much fun. Their smiles were so pure. Between me and them, I really don’t know who was genuinely happier.
And just like that, it was over. It came and went. As days tend to do. Parents came and thanked me endlessly; told me they’re appreciative of me putting together such an amazing event and they’d see me for the second annual Boston Speaks camp. That of which I didn’t even know, until that moment, that I was even going to have! The gym emptied and all was left was empty fruit snack bags, water bottles, extra tees and silence.
As I walked out with a few of my friends/volunteers I made a pit stop in the locker room. I was alone, other than an older woman in the far back toweling herself off after her workout. She had no idea what I was feeling. How overwhelmed I was. I told y’all in previous posts that I don’t cry unless it’s basketball related. And I suppose this could be relative, but I looked in the mirror and started to tear up. I did it. I really did it. I was so proud of myself. I haven’t had a moment like that in years. Where I’m really, whole heartedly proud of myself. I was elated yet concurrently sad. Sad that it was over. I felt such a sense of gratification, warmth and contentment. I was SO happy. Those tears are the best kind. The most ironic part of it all, is that it was the children’s happiness, that made me the most happy. Making others happy is happiness. Is love. And is the most fulfilling thing in the entire world.
Hmm. So what’s next? 🤔☺️💚
MY THANK YOUS:
To my volunteers- Dave, Dan, Amanda, Kristen, Elizabeth, Nikki, Taylor - Thank you so much for your support, patience, time and positivity. You’re all so awesome and I can’t thank you enough.
To my coaches - Leon Powe, John Karalis, Dave Pettine, Kwani Lunis - y’all were AMAZING and I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you for doing so well with the kids and running each station & each exercise so smoothly and never losing your smiles!
Kayla - I can’t thank you enough for providing the sandwiches. I really appreciate your time & your genuine kindness. Thank you.
To the DJ- DJ BackSpin- you were awesome. Thanks for doing SO well in transitions and keeping the kids hyped during them!! It was so much fun having you!! Thank you!!!
To GreenRunsDeep: Thank you SO much for the ticket donations. Your support has meant so much to me.
To Bri- Thank you for your constant unrelenting support, positivity and love. I appreciate you my Tasha. So. Much.
To Eileen- Not all heroes wear capes. I really couldn’t have done this without you. I’m so lucky to have you in my life and call you my friend, regardless of our unorthodox beginning! You’re absolutely amazing and I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for not ignoring my messages.
To Sullys Brand- I really don’t have enough words to thank you for all you guys have done for me, not only for this event but over the years. I’m so happy to know you all and call you my friends. Thank you SO SO SO much for the amazing Tees and prizes. I love you all and appreciate you immensely!! Thank you for coming and showing support, too!! Means the world to me!!
To the Photographer, @Iliveinmykilt aka Sam Swan- Thank you for coming and not only capturing these amazing moments but being the super sweet Sam Swan you are and truly engaging with the kids, too. You’re very appreciated and the pics are wonderful.
Thank you to Eric & the Boston Sport Clubs of Waltham for donating their court & providing food for this event. I really am so thankful you believed in me enough to pull this off!!
Thank you to all my followers and everyone that wished me luck, supported me and stuck with me. Your kind words are never gone unnoticed. I appreciate everyone that donated to the Boston Speaks go fund me. THANK YOU ALL
💚💚💚 THANK YOU FOR MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR COMING TO SUPPORT ME AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND DONATIONS. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH 💚💚💚
And last but not least: THANK YOU to the kids that came and not only had hopefully an amazing, super fun day, but filling my heart with such warmth and happiness. I can’t wait to see you all next time 🙏🏼💚