Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jim Moss... Turning Small Gratitudes into a Big Movement

Right now, Jim Moss may be best known as a former professional lacrosse player in the NLL. At least, that's what Google thinks. But even the world's best search engine can be wrong at times, because what I know Jim for is something different... it's the Smile Epidemic.

In short history, Jim's an all-star athlete... from what I gather he's the kind of guy who'd be good at any sport he tried, even if he'd never heard of it before that day. In September of 2009, Jim started experiencing pain and swelling in his arms and hands and one day, found he could barely walk, his legs just weren't listening. Soon after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It's an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the nervous system and leaves inflammation that causes muscle weakness or paralysis, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, fainting and other frightening symptoms.

So Jim started a gratitude journal called Why Moving Sideways is Actually Still Moving Forward... a place where he could heal through writing and where his family, friends and fans could keep in the loop on his progress. The blog is very insightful and heartwarming... even at the worst, you can still almost literally feel his upbeat attitude coming right at you through the computer screen.

Eventually, Jim, his wife Jennifer and their son moved back to Canada. Jim started at Wilfred Laurier University and is working towards a bachelor's degree in psychology. Now, Jim learns that he doesn't have Guillain_Barre Syndrome at all but an as yet to be diagnosed movement disorder and he's found a new calling that doesn't involve hurling rubber balls at people's heads. He became an instructor with The Happiness Enhancement Group and then launched The Smile Epidemic blog. 

The Smile Epidemic is a "shared digital gratitude journal" where readers send in pictures with their paper smiles and the simple things that make them happy. 

"Starbucks delivered - with a hug"
"Great conversations"
"Big Bang Theory marathons"
"Being married to my best friend"
"Bonfires & family bonding"

These are just a few of the vast amount of smile provokers on the blog. One look at the cover page has me grinning from ear to ear.... really now, who can resist a great smile?

Jim also won a grant from the KW Awesome Foundation (we know the Awesome Foundation, now don't we? FoodLove won a grant in July 2011) to adapt The Smile Epidemic for schools.

In a world that can at times, be overwhelmingly sad and depressing, Jim Moss has given us a way to remember the little things that make life better. Whatever you're grateful for, be it your morning cup of coffee, a hug from a friend or a blog that reminds you that there are great people out there doing great things (meaning this blog, of course), why not take a picture and submit it to The Smile Epidemic? Be a part of the worldwide phenomenon of taking a moment to be grateful for what you have, because what we have is often all we need.

Smiling because of all the awesome events in Waterloo Region.

*This is part 1 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

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