I’m generally a glass-half-full kind of person. There have been many people in my life who keep my glass topped up—two in particular come to mind.
Published in S/ magazine as Lisa’s Editor’s Letter, Fall 2015.
I’m generally a glass-half-full kind of person. There have been many people in my life who keep my glass topped up—two in particular come to mind. My mother is one. Her resting face is a smile, and her friends often ask to “have what she’s having.” She’s the kind of person who can change a long-faced cashier’s frown into a grin, and a quiet cabbie into a chatterbox.
The other beacon of positive light in my life was Jen O’Shea. We met in university and
became fast friends. Jen was athletic, smart, artistic, quick-witted and had a smile as
infectious as her outlook on life. Everyone wanted to know her. We would talk about the
future over pints at the campus pub, Jen’s green eyes wide with excitement, her long, curly brown ponytail bouncing with each animated gesture. Nothing intimidated her.
When Jen was diagnosed with cancer after we graduated, her optimism didn’t waver. Her mantra became “Attitude is everything” and she changed her Facebook profile picture to an image of a robot that said, “Be an Optimist Prime” (a play on the Transformers’ Optimus Prime character). Jen transformed, too, into a public speaker and advocate for cancer awareness. “I want to inspire people to say, ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up,’” she told me.
And she did.
This past August, at just 30 years of age, Jen lost her battle with cancer. The outpouring of people whose lives she touched was astounding. “I may not have known you for very long, but you have impacted me in ways that will last a lifetime,” wrote one friend on her Facebook wall. And while I am still processing Jen’s passing, more than ever, I recognize the power of an optimistic outlook.
This issue is dedicated to exploring what the future holds—and doing so with optimism. I had the oppor- tunity to speak with five forward-thinking women, all leaders in their respective fields, on the subject of The Good Life (see A Beautiful Mind on page 92), and I was inspired by each conversation.
They reminded me of my friend Jen, and her “Attitude is everything” mantra. Positivity is infectious. It can change lives. And not just our own, but also those of our partners, colleagues and peers.
So fill your glass to the brim and raise it high. Here’s to the Optimist Prime in us all.