February happened to be the same month as Jennifer Grande's birthday.
She was so excited about her birthday - there were alot of things she wanted to do, like get a manicure, buy a new dress and lose some weight. So she could fit into the new dress. She also hoped she would get a promotion, as she felt she had been working really hard at work.
It was a sunday and suddenly the doorbell rang and she rushed to open it. Without thinking, she opened the door and there was Louanne, her friendly neighbour. She was just standing there with an awkward smile on her face, and a plate full of chocolate chip cookies in her hands. Louanne was a lovely woman who was always so full of surprises. "I baked them myself" she said.
Jennifer really wanted to decline Louanne's offer, after all she was planning on losing some weight. She knew that it would be rude to send Louanne away with the cookies. She also knew that if she was rude to Louanne she knew that there wasn't a soul in the apartment building that she could talk to, or to help out when she needed it. Louanne was also her best friend-she felt guilty that she was thinking about Louanne that way, since she really was a nice girl. You could talk to Louanne about literally anything, and she would listen.
The two of them spoke for a while.Within moments Louanne was gone, and Jennifer closed the door behind her. Louanne also happened to be part of the company that Jennifer worked for as a receptionist.
Jennifer kept the plate with the cookies in it on the table. She decided not to touch them, since she wanted to lose weight for her birthday, She wanted to fit into a dress she had been eyeing in a store window in the mall, that would definitely fit her, if only she lost a bit of weight.
She looked at the cookies - they seemed to be very inviting. She could only imagine the amount of chocolate chips that would melt in the mouth,the moment you took a bite out of them. She knew she wanted to lose some weight this time, at least this time! She had tried to lose some weight but all without success. This time she decided to starve herself, so she could fit into the very elusive dress that was just waiting there on the mannequin, waiting for her to come and buy it.
It was indeed hard keeping the weight off! It wasn't only Louanne's occasional treats that were the source of temptation though, even though they did taste rather good. It was in fact her 'stress' that caused the problem. She couldn't stop reaching for something to snack on because she did have anxiety disorder. Comfort eating while watching her favourite shows on netflix seemed to a very easy solution to her problem. She would lie down on the couch, while eating whatever she wanted while binge watching one docu-series after the other. She never considered herself the smart type.
So she kept the cookies in the refrigerator, and decided to write in her journal. Louanne's cookies were making her more excited, because she knew she only had to starve until her birthday, after that, it was a no-brainer that she could eat anything and everything according to her whims and fancies. She cleared her mind of the cookies and decided to get back to the business of planning out the rest of the month in her journal.
Louanne was someone who could achieve at least some of her goals. She knew that keeping her 9 to 5 job was hard enough.So she checked off exercise for the day. She woke up a little earlier than she normally did on a sunday and decided to get a workout done. She also checked off some mundane tasks like washing her face - and all the other things her beauty regimen included.
Jennifer wanted to get a few days off before her birthday. She wanted to look and feel her best on her special day, because she knew that her friends were definitely planning a surprise party for her or so she thought.
She wasn't anxious today, she was rather excited since her birthday in the same month as Valentines day. It was at the end of the month actually, right on the last day of February. There was indeed a lot to look forward to.
She went to work and came back home, like she usually did everyday. One day at work her colleague Irina said 'Looking Good girl! Have you lost some weight?'
"Yes, possibly, I have been rather mindful of what I have been eating, and did fit in some exercise here-and-there as well.'
Did she just get a compliment?
She was excited! She was obsessed with exercise and if she did this she felt like she was in control. She wasn't the vain type, but it was something most of the girls her age were doing, and she also wanted to lose a bit of weight for her birthday!
The rest of the day went well. Jennifer came home after a long day at work, and looked in to the refrigerator, and there were Louanne's cookies. She was a bit hungry since she hadn't eaten much for lunch at work, and had decided to complete some unfinished work for her boss instead. Jennifer decided to take one, just one little cookie.
"Just one." she told herself.
It had been a long and tiring day and she felt she needed to lie down on the couch for a bit and watch something on Netflix. It seemed pretty boring, every show on tv seemed like clones of each other. She mindlessly flipped through the channels, there seemed to be nothing interesting to watch on tv that day.
Suddenly she saw this channel that was describing how a local charity called "St. Jacob's Angels" was inviting people to come volunteer with them. She decided not to change the channel. The Christian channel provided really surprising statistics about how many poor people there were in her locality. She wondered if she could help them out.
She thought about Louanne's cookies. She wondered if the kids at St. Jacob's would be happier if she gifted them the cookies. She wondered about the bigger picture. She wondered that there were so many people in whose lives you could make a whole lot difference with just a little help.
Jennifer went to work the next day and told all her friends about the Charity. She thought that all her friends at the office would be supportive of her bold idea. She told them all about what she saw on tv, and about how mundane it was to just be a passive tv watcher and about not being able to get up and act on your desires.
'You could work out...' Rosie said.
'But it's like we just buy into what the media is teaching us. We follow fads that usually fade. Don't people ever want to do things that's close to their heart?' Jennifer defended her idea.
"Those people would probably not be kind to you, if you were in their shoes..." Rosie said again.
Rosie was one of the air head types who didn't think much. She was the only one in the office who knew how to make tik tok makeup tutorials. People admired her, the way she looked and carried herself.
After the coffee machine topic was over and done with Jennifer decided to get back to her desk, and get back to work. She tried her best to avoid listening to her forever-chattering colleagues. Her eyes fell on an email in her personal folder that seemed a little interesting for no reason all-together. She decided to click on it.
She was surprised that the email was from St. Jacob's. They had a program, which allowed people to sponsor kids from an orphanage close by. Jennifer then got back to work, and the hours flew by.
That evening, she called Louanne on the phone. There was a lot on her mind and she needed to vent. Whenever she needed to 'think' or talk about something she would call Louanne. Louanne's phone kept ringing but there was no answer. Maybe she was busy she thought to herself.
She slept early that night.
She had a dream.
In the dream she saw herself wearing a university graduate's attire. She woke up wondering what it all meant. She wasn't a university graduate. So what did this dream mean?
It was soon one in the morning, and Jennifer decided to go to bed. She set her alarm, and turned out the lights.
Suddenly her phone started to ring. It was Louanne! She answered the phone and Louanne said 'Hi there Jen, you need some cookies?'
"Yes Louanne, but there's something, I really need to talk to you about. I love your cookies but I had this really confusing dream. I saw myself dressed like a university graduate, you know wearing the cape and all. We both know I never went to college. I don't know why I had this dream. I think we need to visit the Charity. You coming?'
'Ohh, the Charity you told everyone about in the office? Okay Jen, I don't mind but I thought you wanted me to come over and help you buy some new outfits from Shein for your birthday? Sure we can take my car. I'll drive" Louanne said.
The conversation ended at that, and they both said Good night to each other and went back to sleep.
The next day both she and Louanne were awake and ready for the trip to the Charity. They had decided to go really early, they went in Louanne's car. When they reached the place, Jennifer and Louanne handed out the bags of candy and the cookies that Louanne had baked for the children.
Jennifer suddenly looked at the Bulletin Board. Something told her to go and look at the posters up close. She saw a picture on the board that looked alot like the herself in the dream she had. There was some resemblance between the girl in the picture and how Jennifer looked as a young girl.
The picture showed the young girl wearing a graduate's attire looking pretty and smiling. Suddenly she noticed that under the poster it read "Sponsor a child's education. Dream Big Dreams. Any contribution you make will go towards sponsoring a child's education."
She decided to go to the charity's office and spoke to the staff there. "How can I sponsor a child's education she asked?"
The staff member handed her a huge book. "There's a list of kids who need to be sponsored. Take your time deciding who you want to sponsor".
She decided to sponsor a young girl who had blue eyes and blonde hair. The little girl reminded her of herself when she was of the same age. She was just five years old. She was in Kindergarten, but she needed someone to at least help her get through high school.
Jennifer did not plan this. She never dreamed her entire life that she'd be one of those people who saw the big picture. For a moment it looked like all her friends at the office seemed very flaky and the things they sought in life were only temporary. She realised that the old saying that what you fed your energy to would be what consumed your life, was actually true. She remembered the Julia Roberts movie 'Eat, pray, love'. She suddenly felt like she wanted a different life.
She wasn't about to do something too drastic, but she did feel at some level that she saw reality in that Charity.
She realised she had a great job, but she had no savings! She felt like she needed to be more mindful about herself and her life. Her thoughts, her actions, what she ate, and what she spent her money on in general. There were people who had no options but to survive on less. People seemed to be getting a little careless at her end of the spectrum.
It sounded easy, but it wasn't to put these things into practice. Suddenly she wondered if it was going to be easy to live that sort of life. She felt like there was this whole idea called wisdom, and she wondered if indeed these were the ideas of her great grand mother that were entering her head. This strange sense of wonder, and ofcourse all those ideas about thinking of the bigger picture.
A few days later, Valentine's Day came closer and closer and finally the day arrived. Every one seemed to be handing each other roses and Valentines day cards and hugging. Most of her colleagues were women, and they celebrated their singleness in style!
She felt like it was going to be difficult to ask all her friends who were attending the get-together not to booze, but being the weird one, she decided to pop the question-will all of you not bring any alcohol? I guess I'll only be serving beer at the party?
When did you become so unfashionable all of a sudden? We normally do drink at parties, what inspired the change?
Jennifer decided to put her best foot forward and defend her idea.
"I think the whole idea of mindful living is a good idea. I think one day we are all going to get old, and drinking less is only gonna help us all stay healthy for as long as we can."
"Okay, for just one party right...It's no big deal." Louanne said.
She was so happy that Louanne stood up for her! Soon the others started to say the same.
They all gathered at Jennifer's apartment for the Valentine's Day party. As previously agreed by all of them, they did not drink that day. It was in spite of that, such a wonderful celebration, and all of them had light hearted camaraderie the way they usually did.
Jennifer noticed that the she just went to work and came home everyday, but it didn't bother her all that much.
Soon it was her birthday. She checked her weight that morning, and saw that she had reached her ideal weight. She decided to take Louanne and they decided to buy the coveted dress.
Louanne and Jennifer rushed to the venue to buy the dress that Jennifer wanted so much to wear for her birthday. Louanne had heard from her sources that there was a sale going on in this shop and there was a very real danger of this dress disappearing!
Louanne looked at the Store window - The dress was still there. They were so happy! Louanne and Jennifer heaved a sigh of relief.Jennifer decided to run into the shop and try on this wonderful birthday dress.
"The dress was too tight. I think my weighing scale defies me." Jennifer said. Louanne then said something remarkable.
'Umm, the dress isn't tight- that's the way it is'
Jenifer looked in the mirror, 'its too risque, I cant wear that' she said.
Jennifer then asked the store assistant, 'How much is this dress?'
The store assistant said 'Madame this dress looks gorgeous on you, it's only 5000 dollars. I must say, it suits your complexion very well and you will be the cynosure of all eyes.
Louanne and Jennifer looked at each other in disbelief. 'That is an expensive dress!' Louanne said. 'Maybe it's so pricey because its' tight like that and in all the right places'- she added.
"I don't know why i'm turning this down, its an awesome dress, and everyone will love it, but wait, there's this other dress that I really like." Jennifer said.
Suddenly she saw the dress that she promised herself she would buy for the kid she was trying to sponsor.
She was trying to be mindful, ever since the idea of sponsoring the child who looked a lot like her entered her head. She knew it was a good idea, she also knew that she had never worn a dress like that in her life and wasn't about to start now!
'I never was sexy, I always was beautiful' she told her friend Louanne. I have never worn a dress like that because I was too fat to wear them. And suddenly I'm presented with the opportunity and I'm turning it down. It couldn't hurt too much because the fact is- it's just not me.
The store assistant who seemed to have overheard rolled his eyes and walked away. Hey let's find a better dress, that pink one over there looks really nice on you. Louanne said.
And so They bought the cheaper but amazing dress, and also the dress for the kid.
The party rolled around and Jennifer and her friends were all there celebrating and with gaiety. Everyone was having a great time. Jennifer got lots of compliments on her dress, she found a way to look beautiful without wearing something that was too tight, and she wore the pink dress that everyone agreed was much better than the tight one.
Little did she know that little change in mindset was really a good idea! She visited the Charity often and interacted with the kids there. She was really mindful of investing her energy into things that really helped her. She also decided to read more books, watch less tv and spend time doing things that were good for her mind and her body.
Maybe Jennifer did graduate like the kid in her dream! She graduated from being a passive observer to being mindfully active and someone who actually did things with their life.
She felt she was being a little bold, but by doing so, she added to the quality of her life and the ideas she manifested into reality.
She decided to Go to Church and she realised God had a plan for her.
Jenifer Grande was living her best life! One brave decision to be careful about her choices changed everything.
Moral of the story: Be careful of what you feed your energy.