I was tired of feeling the dread of Nicole's birthday year after year. I was tired of seeing my family suffer
leading up to the day and even more so on her birthday. It just didn't feel like a day that had any part of Nicole in
it anymore. In 2014 I decided I wanted to change that. I wanted to remember my sister on her birthday in a way
that brought smiles to people's faces. I wanted to feel a tiny bit of the joy, humor, exuberance, and youthfulness that
Nicole embodied in life. That year I created Sharing Smiles For Nicole. Soon family and friends joined in. In
2014 we gave away well over 100 mylar smiley face balloons to random strangers in hopes of sharing smiles into the world.
We encouraged them to pass them on to others and share the experience. Smiley faces always makes us think of Nicole.
She loved them, and well, they just fit her personality. It seemed like a fitting way to bring Nicole's spirit
back into her day. For the first time in years I was happy on her birthday. It brought more smiles to my face
than tears, and I was able to think about my sister and the memories brought joy. In 2015 and 2016 the project grew
even bigger and we brought many more smiles to people's faces all in honor of Nicole's birthday. This year in 2017 we
thought we would try something a little different. For over a month before we planned and painted. Our mission
was to hide painted smiley face rocks all over the D.C. area. Wow, this took on a life of it own! We were able
hide or gift almost 1,300 smiley faces rocks not only in Maryland, but in also Paris, Germany, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia,
D.C., and beyond. We even had someone volunteer to take them back to hide at Virginia Tech, the school she was attending
when she passed away. ArlingtonNow, an online newspaper, even picked up a story about it. I love that my family
and friends have enjoyed following or particpating in the project. More importantly though, I love that it feels like
Nicole got her birthday back from the gripes of a family in mourning.
Here are a few pictures from project Sharing
Smiles For Nicole. You can also see more on the facebook group of the same name.
I hope somehow this story brings
just a little smile to your face.
(Nicole's big sister.)