Joy

The Power Of Dreamers & Other Lessons From The 2014 Oscars

I rarely watch an awards show from start to finish. I love admiring the insane amounts of style that strut down the red carpet, and reminiscing about my favorite moments in the different categories, but by the halfway point I’m either uninterested or too tired to continue. But this Sunday, I watched the Oscars from start to finish, and I’m so glad that I did.

I was really rooting for a few films, and loved seeing my favorite stars in all of their splendor. For many of them, the Oscars is like a graduation from a tedious and insanely competitive program that has no official end date. The mixed look of nerves and genuine accomplishment on everyone’s faces is almost contagious, you can feel their emotions radiating, and I was feeling them too!

By the end of the show, I was totally exhausted, and simultaneously immensely inspired.

I didn’t expect a post to come from the show, let alone all of the takeaways that I’m about to share, but it merely goes to show that inspiration is everywhere. (Which is why I always keep a notebook & pen nearby!)

01/ The power of an idea and a dreamer. This year I found myself listening to the awards that aren’t broadcasted. The ones that won’t be plastered on the front page of newspapers and lifestyle blogs. As I listened to the acceptance speeches, viewed snippets of small films and heard selected sound bites, it hit me that all of these little pieces were the fruits of someones dream.

One of those short films probably began as an idea in someone’s notebook. The sound technician probably played around with little pieces of less than sought after equipment, hoping that one day someone would be able to hear the sounds the way he did. And now, we were hearing them – the world is, in one space, and we are honoring the dreamer who was bold enough to chase an insane passion. How powerful is that?

02/ A small team of mighty supporters makes a strong impact. Some of those same smaller, less talked about categories that won less night only had 2 or 3 people on stage to receive their awards. Some only had single digit teams working on the project as a whole. Still, they were able to achieve so much.

Undoubtedly, there is strength in numbers. All the same, there is strength in a team of passionate and willing individuals willing to go all in. So know who is on your team, and willing to dream on the same scale that you are.

03/ The beauty of humility and thankfulness. Some of the acceptance speeches last night nearly moved me to tears because of their pure sincerity and transparency. I felt like the awardee let us into a piece of their soul even more precious than the one they shared in their work. Because now they were not acting, there were being fully themselves, which is an incredibly vulnerable position to be in.

04/ The fulfilling power of joy. This lesson is a full credit to the stunning Lupita Nyong’o and her incredibly powerful, emotional and sincere acceptance speech. I have never gotten more chills and joy from seeing someone win an award for sharing the depths of their heart and talent. View her speech here, in case you missed it. I hope it touches your heart as much as it touched mine.

05/ The true purpose of talent. Without a doubt, there was more talent in that one room last night than exists in many other places. And all those talented individuals, and teams, wanted to do, was take what they could bring and create something to give to the world. Something that would open eyes, touch hearts, and create a wave of joy to crash over us all.

I say, mission accomplished.

Did you tune in Sunday night? Which moments stood out most to you?

Gratitude is a Choice

When I left out in the morning to make the commute to the city for my internship, the news predicted a huge snow storm. The snow was supposed to start at the very time I would be making my commute back to Jersey on public transit. I was hoping I’d beat the storm. I didn’t.

As soon as I left my internship and hit the pavement, the first flakes started to fall. I ran into Dunkin’ to grab a hot chocolate, so I wouldn’t freeze to death waiting for the bus. By the time I was crossing the street from Dunkin’ to my stop, the snow was already sticking. When the bus finally arrived, all I wanted was a warm seat. I didn’t know I’d always be getting a huge lesson in choosing gratitude.

The bus driver was going slowly, and the snow was coming down like crazy. Within the first 20 minutes or so of my commute, there was easily already half an inch of snow on the ground and it wasn’t letting up. No one on the roads was going more than 30 mph, and the commute that usually takes me 45 minutes was already hitting on an hour and a half. I was annoyed and freezing, and really just wanted to be home in bed. Just as we were about to enter my town, a sea of flashing red and blue lights met us head on. The storm had knocked out a traffic light, and police were there blocking the road.

The bus driver tried to avoid getting anymore lost than he already was on this detour, and take us back to a main road. By this point, everything is covered in fresh fluffy snow, and people were already out salting and shoveling. As the bus driver tried to make his way down the tight residential blocks, the man sitting opposite of me decided to take a phone call. Loudly. Letting all of us tired and cold commuters in on his conversation.

I took my headphones out when the lady sitting across from my starting shooting me looks of embarrassment and concern. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. The lovely man who was talking on the phone was now making rude comments about the bus driver. Not quite loud enough to make a scene, but loud enough to have every passenger left on the bus very uncomfortable. Luckily, the bus driver brushed it off, and didn’t say anything.

The guy continued for about 10 minutes like that, until the bus finally hit the main road and found his stop. When he got off, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The older woman who was shooting me concerning looks even yelled “hallelujah” once he was gone.

I got off the bus at my stop with two other men. We both thanked the bus driver over and over for getting us home safely, and for ignoring the rude man. One guy, a sweet older man, insisted on having me hold his arm to cross the snow-covered street. We said good bye and went our separate way as I headed towards home. My entire snowy walk back I thought about the man on the phone. Nothing annoys me more than when people are blatantly rude, especially to someone doing them a favor.

We were all cold, all tired, and all just wanted to get home. But we were all also grateful to be protected from the snow, with a ride that was safe and reliable. That’s when it hit me: having and showing gratitude is a choice. You should which things you’re going to glorify and which things you’re going to to put degrade. The man on the bus opted not to choose gratitude that day, and his ride (and a few of the overhearing passengers) was unpleasant because of it. Because the rest of us opted to choose gratitude, we were able to laugh and bond with one another.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you can either rejoice or complain, opt for gratitude. You, and the people around you will absolutely thank you for it.