Sunday, July 1, 2012

Color Me A Smile - Olivia

     Most people would be a little self conscious about grabbing a guitar and singing on the main street of their hometown, but Olivia Winn throws caution to the wind to make things happen in her life. On June 16th, she happily sang songs to passing cars in hopes that they would stop by to support her non-profit organization, Color Me A Smile.
      Color Me A Smile began when Olivia was going through Chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. She met other children, much younger than she, who were having to battle extremely harmful diseases such as Leukemia and cancer.  One day while visiting with a 3 year old girl diagnosed with Leukemia Olivia "...couldn't help but think that all of this girl's childhood memories would be of a hospital. I wanted to make her smile so I drew her a picture to color, and the idea just evolved from there!".
     Olivia is always putting others first. When asked what her motivation was for Color Me A Smile she said, "I don't think about why I am doing this. I just know God gave me a job and I have to do it." Her selfless mindset along with her generosity and kindness puts a smile on the face of anyone she meets. Now she will be making even more people smile through the coloring books she will be providing through Color Me A Smile.
      The goal of Color Me A Smile is simplistic in its design - make children smile while they are going through a hard time. These locally made coloring books will be filled with original drawings created  by people in the community, giving the coloring books a more personal touch. By people in the community contributing their artwork to the coloring books it not only gets people more involved, but it shows the children receiving the coloring books that they have a multitude of people thinking about them and supporting them every step of the way.
     The community has been such a huge support to the organization from the beginning. Olivia has had encouragement from her friends and family while she was battling cancer and they are still showing support by donating their time, money and creative skills to Color Me A Smile. "I was blown away by all of the support everyone gave at the fundraiser today." Olivia said after a hugely successful end to Color Me A Smile's first fundraiser. By the end of the day, Color Me A Smile earned enough money to make over 300 coloring books!
   Color Me A Smile seems to grow more and more successful everyday but every success story has it's obstacles, and Olivia said that one of the greatest obstacles in her way was life in general. "I just got lazy and busy, so everything got pushed to the side. Another obstacle was not really knowing what to do or how to start." Obstacles make a journey seem next to near impossible at times but sometimes waiting a little while and getting past the obstacles makes the outcome even more sweeter, and that is definitely the case for Color Me A Smile. "Someone asked me why I waited so long to start all this up. I realize now that if I had tried what I am doing now back in 2010, it wouldn't have happened this way and I wouldn't have known all the people I know now that have helped make this happen! Then I think, this is when it was supposed to happen. A day is a thousand years to God and a thousand years is a day."
     I love the idea of Color Me A Smile, it is a different way for kids to take their minds off of what treatment they have to go to next. I have always loved to color, and I still color on occasion. It is the perfect way to take my mind off of a crazy schedule - the smell of a new box of crayons, the bright colors, fun coloring pages and infinite ways to color them, what's not to smile about?

To learn more information about Color Me A Smile, check out their Facebook page :

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finding My Path

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted of I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

- Robert Frost -

     This poem has been an inspiration to me over the past couple of years. It helps me remember that it's okay to take a different path than everyone else; it's okay to do something different. Over the past year I have been trying to decide what to do with my life and exactly which path to take.
     Since graduating from high school last year I have been trying to pick a profession that would make me happy. Instead of picking a career that would simply allow me to be happy I had to add extra things to worry about like income, probability of a job after graduating, and prestige. But after changing my major from culinary to dental this year and still not being content with the decision, I have realized that my means of logic and reasoning obviously are not working for me.
     Recently I found myself  re-reading Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and it gave me hope that I would eventually find my own path to take; one where I wouldn't over analyze every situation down the road. This past week I believe found that path.
      I have always been intrigued with the news. Sure, I love keeping up with news stories and all of the political drama that ensues within a day but the news is so much more than that to me. It is the opportunity to tell someone's story. It is a way to bring an issue to the attention of millions and show people that something must be done. I have always loved that about journalism. I feel inspired reading/watching journalists tell amazing stories of the people they meet throughout their lives. I have been inspired by journalists for so long but it didn't hit me until this week that journalism is the career path I should be taking.
     When I think about majoring in journalism/photojournalism I don't think about my salary or worry about the small details; instead I think about all of the wonderful opportunities I would be given to share people's stories. There are so many amazing people that the world should know about, and I hope I am lucky enough to meet some of these people, talk to them and take something away from meeting them.
       They say practice makes perfect and although I will not start my classes until the fall what is stopping me from working on my writing and critical thinking skills? And so the reason I have decided to make this blog is to start telling the stories of people I meet and the impact they have made on my life. This blog is dedicated to showcasing the lives of amazing people and capturing their stories through the lens of a camera and through the words on a screen.
        I truly believe this is what I have been called to do in life. It will push me out of my comfort zone and make me work harder than ever before, but I know it will be the most rewarding experience of my life. So I invite whoever is reading this to follow me on my journey of meeting new people and taking myself out of the world I know and onto the road less traveled.