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We only have a couple mailbox keys for our apartment, which means I’ll often wake up in the morning to late night letters slid under my door from my night owl roommate. That was how I found out The Smile Project was officially a certified nonprofit organization.

On Sunday, July 9th, around 7 am, I opened the envelope, took a picture of the document, and sent the image to a couple close friends as well as my family group text. Then, I got to work on other To-Do List tasks.

A couple hours later, my friend responded with enthusiasm. I shot back, still trying to process, “So it’s official official” complete with a heart-eyed emoji. It was almost as if I was trying to convince myself it was real.

She responded with more happy emojis and the line, “we have to celebrate!”

Then I paused and thought about it. Of course! We do have to celebrate!

I was absolutely thrilled with the news but I had quickly acknowledged the moment, notified the necessary people, and moved right on to the next item on my To-Do List.

But this was something I had worked toward for five and a half years. This was something I had dreamed of for longer than I can remember. I thought of my Bucket List. “Start a Business” kind of falls under the “Major Life Events” category. It’s right up there with graduate college, publish a book, and change the world.

I know my work isn’t over and I know this is only a starting point. This is only one rung on the ladder and there is so much to do. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to savor this feeling – to soak up every bit of awe and wonder that comes with realizing this kind of dream.

Later that evening, my roommate was talking about a new ice cream place she had heard of and wanted to go to. I made a mental note, about to add it to the list of places we’d talked about going to in our apartment. Then, I thought back to my friend’s text from the morning.

We need to celebrate.

Let’s go tonight.

And we did. A few friends and I spontaneous skipped down to Chinatown and enjoyed a perfect summer evening with a delicious treat.

I know this is just the beginning and I know that the real work is about to begin. But I also know that that night, I deserved every bite of that celebratory ice cream date with my friends.

To say I’m excited about what the future holds is an understatement. To say I’m terrified isn’t far off either. But if I can count my life in melted ice cream, joyful laughter, and the knowledge of a respectable day’s work, then maybe I’m on the right track to figuring this whole thing out.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to every family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, teacher, etc. etc. who has supported this crazy Happiness crusade that I can now, beautifully refer to as a nonprofit.

Love always,


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