courtney kennedy; positivity

I just met this ray of sunshine this past year and she has got to be one of the best things that came from my freshman year of college. Her constant upbeat attitude is the perfect reminder that there aren’t any bad days ever; we are lucky, we are blessed and life is good!

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“You squint too much when you smile,” I’ve been told time and time again…There are plenty of things I could say I am “passionate” about in my life, but only one thing that’s never strayed me: a positive attitude. I have always strived to look on the bright side–from the time they told me I’d never play lacrosse again to being sick the entire second semester of my freshman year of college to finding out I’m allergic to gluten—I’ve always been able to find the silver lining. Can’t play sports anymore? I joined student council. Can’t get out of bed? I discovered Netflix. Can’t eat my beloved bread or chocolate chip cookies? I made a game out of trying to find the best gluten free version. (not to mention I totally don’t need those extra calories anyway!) I believe with my whole heart there is always some good with the bad.
I don’t know the exact moment I realized that being bright and sunny was truly the way I was supposed to be, or if I just kind of have always been like that…but I know now that being able to see the bright side as well as being able to make people smile is definitely what I was put on earth for. My parents raised me to believe that complaining doesn’t solve any of your problems, and I have always truly believed that. There are certain aspects of life that no one is excited about, but I’ve learned that even if the situation is 98% bad, there is always that 2% that’s good. I think my true passion lies in trying to find that 2%.

Courtney Kennedy
19 years old
Boca Raton, FL
June 28, 2013

Also, you can follow Courtney’s gluten free journey on her blog: http://glutenfreeegirl.tumblr.com

donald major; family & tennessee vols

I love this man more than anything in the world and he’s one of the only people that I’ve trusted wholeheartedly my entire life. He can be closed off with his feelings sometimes so to have him open up for my project is incredibly special. 

As most of the people that know me know, I am not someone that is known as a passionate person. But, here goes.
 
Going back to the first time I really felt passion for anyone or anything, I remember the first true love I ever had. She was a beautiful blond haired girl I found on the beach in Daytona. She was way of my league. But somehow I got the girl of my dreams (more about her later).
 
Staying with my early years, my next greatest passions were my two sons. I truly relished all the years we had together as I watched them grow into young men. There are no words to express how proud of them I am.
 
Of course I cannot talk about passion without bragging about the mutual love I have for my grandchildren and great grandson. They have all turned out to be terrific young people.
 
Now, as I am well into my senior years I realize that the early true passions are the ones that last a lifetime. After 49 years with Lois I know that I could not have accomplished anything in life without her. Hopefully the next 50 years will bring us the same love and joy we have had thus far.
 
To be honest the only things I have ever been passionate about other than family were fishing, golf and of course TENNESSEE VOLS FOOTBALL. But fate has taken fishing and golf from me and left me with the VOLS. Maybe someday they will return to power. 
 
Donald Major
Huntersville, NC
June 22, 2013
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nicole fallon; dance

ImageI will never forget the day I stepped foot in that little studio down the road from my house, named POPS Performing Arts Academy…

For years I had been asking my parents for a pair of tap shoes, and for no apparent reason.  I had never taken a dance class in my life, but I never failed to bug my parents about buying me a pair of tap shoes.

When I was little, I was involved in many extracurricular activities, but nothing ever truly clicked.  One day, my parents agreed to finally buy me the pair of tap shoes I always asked for, and took me to the dance studio to sign me up for classes.  We didn’t realize then that in the years to come that studio would become my second home, and the people there my second family.  

I was thrilled to start classes, but I was hesitant.  I was in 5th grade and knew of people who began dancing when they were three years old.  They advised us not to worry…that it is never too late to start.  Needless to say, I fell in love with class and with my teacher, Ms. Casey.

At my second recital, I was awarded a scholarship for the following dance year, so that following year I got to take classes and we were charged no tuition.  The year after that I was invited by Ms. Casey to audition for the competition team.  This meant the world to me and I will never forget opening that invite.  That Fall I auditioned and made the team.  

Dancing competitively is where I really discovered my love for dance.  I danced competitively through my senior year of high school.  My senior year I competed with ten dances… double the amount I competed with the year I began competition.  The hardest part of graduating high school was having to end my competitive dance career and leave behind my second home and family.  Thankfully, I am blessed to be a member of the UNCW Dance Company, and to be given the opportunity to continue to dance.  But, nothing can compare to countless hours at the studio, multiple days a week, pre-competition nerves, dance costumes covered in rhinestones, red lipstick, fake eyelashes, dress rehearsals, boot camp week before nationals, an amazing coach who has become a dear mentor to me, teammates who are life-long friends, and enough unforgettable memories to last a lifetime.

All of these years, dance has allowed me to find a unique and special way to express myself.  It was the only time I could be whoever I wanted to be and just lay down whatever emotions I was feeling down on the dance floor.  Having dance has helped me through many obstacles and hardships.  It allowed me to gain coaches and role models I will always admire, and some of my closest friends, who are like sisters to me, come from dance.  It also has allowed me to grow as a person by teaching me dedication, time-management skills, teamwork, patience, perseverance, self-confidence, self-expression, and so much more.  I can literally never ever thank my parents enough for allowing me to dance competitively, paying all the dance bills, and always being my biggest fans.  And I could never feel more blessed for God granting me a talent that I truly love and that became way more than simply a talent…it became a lifestyle and a defining factor of who I am.

I am speechless when asked to explain the feeling I get when I am on stage dancing.  There are truly no words to describe that feeling or to put into words how much dance truly means to me.  But that alone proves that dance is what I am passionate about…loving something so much you cannot even begin to explain.  Something only others who share the same passion will understand.

Life is full of many uncertains, but something I know for sure is I will never stop dancing.  It is forever a part of me.  This is my story… dance is my passion.

Nicole Fallon
20 years old
Huntersville, NC
June 20, 2013

 

kerry coppinger; laughter

When I think about what I’m passionate about, the first thing that comes to mind is laughter. It’s important for me to keep laughter in my life and, hopefully, be able to give the gift of laughter to others. I think everyone can remember times when they’ve felt upset or mad or let down, but if we attempt to counteract these less-than-perfect moments with moments of laughter, we work toward living a life of joy and happiness. 

I can remember specific times where I’ve been stressed out and, after hearing a funny story from a friend, was able to almost instantly let go of what was bothering me. A shared sense of humor can make friendships stronger and is a wonderful thing to have in common with someone. It brings cheerfulness to not only one person, but can lighten up a situation or change the mood of an entire room. With laughter comes that variety of perspective that lets you step back from life’s little struggles and enjoy yourself and the company around you.

Kerry Coppinger
21 years old
Billerica, MA
June 19, 2013

sara moye; jesus

I personally asked this beauty to write something for the project because I am so inspired by the person she has become. She’s a year younger than me and yet I still look up to her as an amazing role model with her positivity and outlook on life. 

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I am passionate about Jesus and helping others. Last spring I had a major epiphany about who I was and what I was doing with my life. I realized that I was unhappy and felt like I didn’t have any purpose, like I was just going through the motions of what I thought life was supposed to be. Through YoungLife, I learned that there was more to life than partying and boyfriends, and that I am LOVED by Jesus. Through this never-ending love that I have accepted into my life, I have become more than I could ever imagine. A good friend, a loving daughter, a caring sister. I forgave myself for all of the damaging things I did and I forgave others who had hurt me in the past. I learned that I could learn from my past mistakes, rather than let them define me. I learned that no one is “perfect” and that we are loved unconditionally just the way we are. I learned to love others in a brand new way. I learned to care about people other than myself. All of this I learned through Jesus, and I continue to learn more everyday through Him. That’s why I’m passionate about Jesus, and about leading others to his love.

Every day I see people just like I was before I met Jesus. People who feel alone, unloved, and purposeless. This is what motivates me to lead them to God’s love. It makes my heart ache when I remember how broken I was, and how other still feel this way. I can’t contain my want to help broken people by loving them unconditionally and showing them what Jesus has done for me. I wish that everyone could see life how it’s meant to be seen: like a gift. 

Jesus has affected every aspect of my life. I see things with a new perspective that leads me to appreciate and love with all of my heart. My aspirations have changed from wanting to feel like I belong somewhere to wanting to help others in any way possible with the ultimate goal of giving them this full , beautiful viewpoint of life through Jesus.  I have decided that no matter what I do when I’m older, it will involve helping people in some way. Currently, I would like to become a math teacher to be able to make a lasting effect on student’s lives. My favorite thing to do is love my friends and family compassionately. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for my future, and I know that Jesus will be with me no matter what I’m going through constantly pushing me to fulfill His higher purpose. 

Sara Moye
18 years old
Cornelius, North Carolina
June 17, 2013

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camy plahn; traveling

Camy is a Swedish exchange student that I met my freshman year of high school. She was only in the states for a year and I am so blessed to have been able to get to know her but more importantly that we continued to keep in touch over the years. The fact that she wrote something for my blog before I even reached out to her gives me hope that this project will continue to grow and reach more people than I can even imagine!Image

So first of all I wanna start by asking you to ignore my not-so-great English since that’s not my first language.

My biggest passion in life is travelling. I just love experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, seeing new places and trying new food. There’s something so amazing about learning about the world by experience and not by reading about it in books.

Since I was a young girl I have travelled a lot, but my true passion for travelling started when I was 16. As many other 16 year olds, I wanted to see something new, but unlike many others, I decided to go for it. I left my safe, secure home in Sweden where I had all my friends and family, and moved to a completely new country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I moved in with a family of two kids in Huntersville, North Carolina, where I would spend one year as an exchangestudent. 

That year was truly a life changing year for me. Not only did I get to know myself and learn to be more independent, but I got to experience what it was like to live in a different culture where not many things were the same as they were at home. I met so many amazing, inspiring people, learnt so much about the world and got a greater understanding of other people. Before I’d actually lived in the US myself, I kind of expected things to be like in the movies. Most people that visit the US from Europe go to the big cities and only see the tourist places, and not that I don’t enjoy that as well, but  seeing “the real” America and living the normal, everyday American life was truly amazing.

After that I have travelled as much as I have could and I have tried to visit the not so touristy places. To me, there’s no such joy as seeing something new for the first time, learning about how other people live their lives and what their routines look like. It has given me a bigger understanding of the world and of other people. It is so inspiring to see and hear how other people view the world and to know what they have been through.

Through travelling I have definitely learnt that every human being has a story to tell, and no matter what they have been through, they have all made an impact on my life.

So if we meet up, anywhere in the world, please, please, come up to me and share your story, your culture and thoughts!

Thank you for reading about my passion!

Camilla Plahn
21 year old girl
Sweden
June 18, 2013