Work by Jennifer Healy

I could have voted in November of 2004. As an 18-year-old college freshman, I would have participated in the country’s democratic process for the first time. But I didn’t.

Why I’m running for the Red Cross
    The last time I solicited donations, I was 13. It was my eighth year seeking funding on behalf of my grade school in Oak Park. Like the previous seven years, I didn’t think much of what the money was actually for. (Um, light bulbs?) My motives were selfish. I just needed to reach X amount to participate in the school Bingo party. (I got out of class and free candy. When you’re in 8th grade, that’s basically Vegas.)

   At 26, my motives are still, admittedly, somewhat selfish. Normally, I run for me. It’s an indulgence to myself. I can’t claim to race for any other reason than the fact that I absolutely adore how it makes me feel.

   This year’s Chicago Marathon, however, has become an opportunity to use my addiction to running, my personal pursuit of miles, to benefit those that act in ways that are anything but selfish. I chose to run for the American Red Cross because of their 130+ years of quiet, selfless service. Whether created by forces of man or forces of nature, Red Cross volunteers go where they are needed.

  I have great respect for nurses and those who serve in the military: two groups I find synonymous with the Red Cross. (If you read the “about us” section, you see why.) The former, I salute for the way they take-on the “unglamorous” side of medical care—there is very little glory in being a nurse; The latter, for their willingness to make the biggest sacrifice of all, for people they don’t even know; Both, for their clear concern for others. In an age when it’s red against blue, East against West, left against right; when we won’t help our neighbor without first asking “what’s in it for me?”, the volunteers for the Red Cross don’t ask any question except “How can I help?”

  I get to do the easy part: running the Chicago Marathon. It is those out in the field, in war-torn cities and disaster areas, that have the toughest jobs. I don’t ask that you donate for me, but that you donate for those that commit to helping others. I have been blown away by the generous response from friends, family, and strangers, reaching over 50% of my $1,250 goal in just over a week. I want that support to continue. The Red Cross needs that support. Those they serve rely on that support.

  Thank you, Red Cross, for continuing to do the work you do. Even the smallest gestures are significant to those in need. Thank you, donors, for allowing my selfish act of running to become an act of goodwill.

Support the Red Cross (and my feet) by donating here.

Thank you, and if you visit the course, be sure to tweet me a note!

Only 3 commandments—now that’s service

Originally published September, 2010. RedEye print edition.

Please hold; your readership is very important to us. Please remain on the page; the next available paragraph will be with you shortly.

When was the last time you got off the phone with a customer service representative and thought, “That was an enjoyable and helpful experience”?

As an employee in the hospitality industry, I’ll admit I am a bit of a customer service snob. I tend to hold people to the same standards as I’m held, despite glaring differences between where I work and where I generally shop. (The latter tends to be a wee bit more budget-conscious.) But there is some behavior I encountered as a customer that shouldn’t fly even at a dollar store. So in a desperate plea to businesses everywhere, here are three commandments you can follow to ensure my next column is not a public complaint letter about your company:

1. Thou shalt not get snippy.

This should go without saying, but I’m repeatedly astounded by how rude some people are, especially considering I’m supposed to be their “valued” customer. I get that you used to be a person with a soul (so did I), but coppin’ a ‘tude when I make you do your job is unacceptable. Even if I’m rip-roarin’ with obscenities about your mother, bite your tongue right now and let loose in a venting session with your co-worker in the break room later.

2. If thou can’t help me, find someone who can.

It’s not an SAT; you can ask someone else for the answers. Recently I ran into some useless reps when my apartment’s power was mistakenly turned off. The power company gave me an in-depth explanation of “process.” While it’s great you know the inner non-workings of the company, I just want electricity. How, I don’t care. Just take care of it.

3. Thou’s “customer service” means nothing if you don’t solve the problem.

Last month I was struggling to hook up a new cable box. The lovely tweeting team for the unnamed company—let’s call it Romrast—was quick to respond, but after 10 days and half the company now following me, I ended up fixing it myself. The bottom line: You could be the nicest, most charming person I’ve ever encountered, but this isn’t a date. I have an issue with your product. I need it fixed. So fix it.

I’m not asking for rose petals thrown at my feet or expect my gas company to do back-bends to please me (what am I going to do, threaten to switch to a wood-burning stove?). But what I do expect is to not have to feel like I’m going into battle every time I have an issue that needs addressing. So until this message is heard throughout the land, I will continue to hold the line with my proverbial sword at my side.

Because my call is important to you.


Grilled cheese: Classic or gourmet?

Originally published October 2010, in "Food Wars. Grilled cheese: classic or gourmet?"

Warm, crisp bread. Gooey cheese. Butter if you live dangerously; after that a grilled cheese should not be touched. Add bacon, mushrooms, a slab of ribs? Then you no longer have a grilled cheese—you have a mis-mash of a sandwich that happens to be grilled and have cheese on it. Delicious? Perhaps. A grilled cheese? No. And frankly, I’m not into pairing my tomato soup with a cheese-slathered catastrophe of whatever the chef had leftover.

Because they are not the same.

Some good points, but I feel like it doesn’t draw a clear enough line that “homosexual” does not equal “pedophile”. Not all grown men attracted to the same sex are attracted to little boys, just like not all grown men attracted to the opposite sex are attracted to little girls. Pedophilia—rape in general, actually, is not as much about sex as it is power and control. Forcing yourself on, and into, someone physically is the ultimate form of exuding these.

RedEye’s Job Fantasy Camp: 4 tips to landing your dream job

Originally posted 10.13.10

"I can’t think of anything worse than doing a job everyday that you hate." -Karl Sponholtz, interior designer

Landing your dream job is actually quite simple.

Really. In the past several months, I’ve gone behind the scenes of 10 different industries, chatted with dozens of wise professionals, and heard all about the hopes and dreams of an untold number of Chicagoans.

The experience was RedEye’s Job Fantasy Camp, where we found rock stars in their respective fields, ambitious peeps aspiring to follow suit, and got them together.

In the 10 weeks of job-hopping, I couldn’t help but notice some reoccurring themes, similar pieces of advice, and a general attitude that translated to any and every type of career.

And since knowledge, like chips and salsa, is best shared with a large hungry group, here are four things I learned about turning your dream into your day job.

"You know as much as anybody….My dad once said to me ‘an expert is someone who had an opportunity to do it and they just did it’." -Ed Scanlan, CEO, Total Attorneys

1.) It’s only a “dream” now

I’ll admit, as much as I truly believe in a person’s ability to surprise themselves in what they can accomplish, I couldn’t help but wonder “Could everyone actually have their dream job? Wouldn’t all the ‘dream jobs’ be filled?”

Yes, if we all had the same dream.

But we don’t. Not by a long shot. And of all the pleasant surprises I received this summer, this one by far took me the most off-guard.

"Sometimes you have to order things you don’t like. "If I only ordered what I liked it’d be all bacon and cheese…" -Kevin Pang, Food blogger, Chicago Tribune

"So, what’s your dream job?"

I now like to throw that question out to everyone I encounter, because there is no question more telling of a person than what they would dedicate their entire life to given any option in the world.

And of all the people I’ve asked that question, I can honestly say I can’t recall getting two of the same answer.

And as it was seen by these fellow dreamers, very few people are truly motivated by money or fame or the things we may, on the surface, associate with a “dream” life.

So while there will always be those stepping-stone jobs that need to be filled, they are just that: steps. The only dead-ends in life are the ones you build yourself.

So don’t build them.

"I’m obviously doing what I was born to do." -Cheryl Delio, Personal Trainer

2.) Stop asking “Can I?” Start asking “How much do I want to?”

One of my favorite pieces of advice came in on our first day of Job Fantasy Camp when we asked Total Attorneys CEO Ed Scanlan how one does “the deep dive” and start their own company.

"Quit," he said.

"The way to do the deep dive is to quit. Make it your only option and I guarantee you’ll make money," Scanlan told us.

While no one else advised us to put in our two weeks, a similar sentiment was had by all the pros we talked to.

"I was at the gym all the time. I decided to make the leap," said personal trainer and week three “camp counselor” Cheryl Delio.

The overall message: At some point, you are going to have to make a decision. And you’re going to have to commit. Maybe that means widening your job search. Maybe that means taking an unpaid internship. Maybe it means you work weekends. Maybe it means you decline some nights out and stay home with your wallet. Maybe it means you move.

And there is a good chance it may be the most petrifying thing you’ve ever done. But in the end, it’s sink or swim. And when it’s important, people usually are surprised just how well they swim.

Now this may sound harsh, but if you can’t fathom making certain sacrifices then maybe it’s not as much a priority as you thought. And that’s OK, because it’s your life and your dream and there’s no standard time-stamp you need to have approved. But you do need to be honest with yourself and figure out your priority list.  

"I play with poop all day, and I love it." -Dr. Rachel Santymire, Lincoln Park Zoo

3.) Sometimes you have to get it wrong before you get it right

"I thought that’s what I wanted to do…I could do it, but it doesn’t fulfill me as much as I thought," Lincoln Park Zoo’s PR director and week five’s Job Fantasy Camp participant Sharon Dewar said of her initial dream job.

The former aspiring primatologist is not alone in her detour-filled roadmap. In fact, she’s more the rule than the exception. Whether it’s a German teacher who became a video game producer, a lawyer who became a sports agent, or a PR major who became a news anchor, there is a very good chance you may not end on the same path you started.

But that, again, is OK. We put so much into milestones we set for ourselves long before we even know what the road looks like. And then we freak out when we realize we were off, or the path ends, or it’s not the route we wanted.

I’ve learned from these successful Chicagoans that we shouldn’t. Louis and Clark didn’t map out America before they took their first step; they figured it out as they went along and adjusted accordingly.

"Some days are great, I’m walking on air. Some days I want to crawl in a hole." -Scott Rochelle, sports agent

4.) It’s not always safety first

Sometimes we’re the ones holding ourselves back. We may not push ourselves as hard as we could to take that first step towards dream job to day job conversion, because doing so would make it real.

"But wait, isn’t that the whole point? Don’t we want our dreams to come true?"

Yes and no.

Because a dream, is safe. It can be as big and outrageous as you’d like. And it should be. Because, it’s a dream.

But as much as we may yearn to be a professional *whatever*, actually making physical, concrete steps towards it means there’s a chance we could fail.

There’s a chance we’re not as good as we thought, it’s not as fun as we thought, we’re not as passionate as we thought; there’s a chance we’ll realize, like so many of the people we spoke with, that we don’t want to continue on this path. And that’s a scary reality.

"You could interview the heroin addict who happened to be outside and then talk to the president of the bank," says Rice. "You have to be able to deal with both." -Special Agent Ross Rice, FBI

It may be terribly cliche, but there’s something to getting out of your “comfort zone.” But you shouldn’t strive to push yourself out there because there’s anything wrong with being comfortable or being in your “element,” but because getting outside your comfort zone is the only way to extend it; the further you push your own boundaries and challenge yourself, the further you can go comfortably and the bigger the challenges you can handle. Eventually, you can make the whole world is your comfort zone. And that, is something to shoot for.

But how?

Running a marathon is “simple,” right? It’s one foot in front of the other. But we can probably all agree it’s not easy. So as the campfires are put out and the last of the S’mores eaten, I leave you with homework.

Do something by the end of the day that inches you closer to your dream job. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be quitting your job (so employers, please don’t send me angry e-mails). It can be something as simple as e-mailing that friend of a friend who works in the industry you want to get in to. It could be applying to grad school. It could be having your resume critiqued. Setting a budget so you can get some savings for that business you want to open someday. Start a blog. Tweet people you want to network with.

It doesn’t matter how big the step, as long as it’s forward, because it is amazing just how big a spark that little step can make.

"If you show you’re willing to take on ‘whatever,’ that goes a long way." -Chelsea Blasko, Video Game Producer

"You’re always against the clock. If my story runs at 9:01, it runs at 9:01, not 9:02 …you’re always hustling." -Lourdes Duarte, WGN News Anchor

"That I drive around in a Lamborghini and a big ‘number one’ sign….I’m not going to run over people to get ahead." -Billy Dec, Restaurateur, on the most common misconception about him


Can someone explain the cover of today’s @redeyechicago? 


Can someone explain the cover of today’s @redeyechicago? 

Remember when I said I’d run 31 miles? Well I didn’t. I ran 33.

What am I thankful for? My failures

I am thankful for the guy that stole my bike; Apparently I like running.

I am thankful for that full-time internship that never came to be due to budget issues; I can’t imagine not having this experience.

I am thankful for being cut from my high school soccer team; Lacrosse kinda worked out.

I am thankful for every second I spent at my soul-crushing job; just try and throw me now. I’d like to think it’s become pretty tough.

I am thankful for every disappointment, every door I’ve had shut in my face, every guy that’s made me cry, every stumble, misstep, bruise, blister, and bad day.

It is because of those I can handle what I can handle. It is because of the bad I can better recognize the good.

The home-run hitter isn’t so because he gets perfect pitches every time; he is so because he adjusts accordingly. I’m not a a big believer in “destiny” and will never tell someone it “wasn’t meant to be.” But what I know is that when one path turns out to be blocked, you have two choices: stop there and call it quits, or, turn around and find another way. Maybe it will be a little bumpier. Maybe it will be longer. Maybe it will lead to another dead-end. But it also may be the path you’ve been hoping for.

The bottom line: you are not going to choose the first option.

And I sincerely believe that this “missed opportunity" will some day be added to this list.

"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck." -Dalai Lama

So say “thank you” to that person who hurt you. Show gratitude to that company that turned you down. Be grateful for that dark time you’ve gone through. They have only made you stronger, more resilient, and less likely to need a nightlight. Life doesn’t get easier, you get better at life.

As much as a fall may hurt, I like to think it’s only made me better at getting back up. And every circumstance, be it good or bad, has brought the people in my life into my life. And they’re hands-down the best part of it.

It sounds tough. And it is. And there’s nothing wrong with embracing the emotion you’re feeling. But you should never let it own you. How? Emerson (as always) said it best:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Because let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, it really is nonsense, isn’t it?

Happy T-day all.

Thank you!

In less than 24 hours, one these social media mavens (or I) will be dubbed the “World’s Coolest Intern”. It’s been one heck of a ride with Standard Chartered Bank’s social media team. To say I appreciate the support shown by Tweeters and Facebookers alike would be a textbook understatement.

I was genuinely overwhelmed by the awesomeness you kids brought forth. You all went above, beyond, over, sideways, and every other direction possible, and you made yourselves heard! (LITERALLY.)

It’s pretty amazing to see just what the power of social media can bring together. I always knew I had some pretty cool peeps around me, but to see them all come together like a social media powerhouse; well, it had me floored. 

So a most sincere and heart felt thank you to each one of you who tweeted/commented/liked/risked Chuck Norris attacks all in the hopes of helping me achieve a dream. No matter who’s left standing tomorrow, I am thrilled and honored to have been a part of this elite international crew of cool, and of course, the World’s Coolest Social Media Posse.

It’s said you’re judged by the company you keep. Well then, there’s just no contest. If I do pack by bags for Singapore this winter, I’ll be sure to bring an air mattress. Cuz I’ll have quite a list of visitors to expect:

@Hollandersauce @AccidentallySxy @ptem @Ernestwilkins @scottkleinberg @Felska @Rookiephenom @Joephiel @sdoesimkins @iaman @haterface @alekbabel @Theaccordance @Desireekoh13 @Goatking @Hgrove @bexrunschicago @Funnybunnytoes @Crushgear @phampants @redeyesportsguy @Windycityevnts @MarathonMissfit @r_vance_b @jamfish728 @cokehat @Chicagodaniel @Smiletone @Bugsyrocker @AngelaTenClay @Brandi_w60 @MatthewChicago @Ksquaredchicago @Hotsauce22 @Mcapp22 @Thetonyham @Bgervais @ChicagoLeoB @GumpB @Lpelanek @DoBetterDude @RosannaLe @JennaMoles @AlysseD @RudyChicago @Danheinz @BrianKpowers

Timothy Patrick Laura Bezinovich Nicolas Bautista Holguin Helder Weil Leyla Arsan Marge Kelly Coughlin Chris Torres Megan Arkin Elliott Serrano  Shari O’Bryant Jenny Stierman Amanda Legan Lara Philipps Bhupen Acharya Caren Erickson Romero
Leo Fliman Geryn Roche Jessica Lipuma Jessica Six Connie Reyes Scott Justice Jessica Downey Kevin Lawson Dawn Butler Puzon Meghan McHale-Rogers Kyle Morris Nicole Monaco Joanna Long Charles Sims Betty Chen
Jeanne Sauger-Lawson Bonnie Newman Joe O’Sullivan Tracy Samantha Schmidt
Roland Lim Ernest Wilkins Alia Torvik Smith Steve Healy Hank Bausch
Karin Sauger-Gregory Alec Reisberg Alexandria Christian Toni Yogatones Heather Grove Calvin Damien Hinson Fang Xuan Dan ‘Chops’ Domke Dave Sorrell Olivet Nazarene John Phan Ian O’Dea Steph Yiu Jay Beaver Heather Wade Katie Holland
Amanda Kowalski Christina Hong Magda Stefańska Holly Hawaii Jared Novack
Joe Piehl Alek Babel Samantha Cameron Eric Smith Jenn Korducki Krenn Dave Tovey Jennifer Healy Maggie ‘Also Weldon’ Fegan Jill Felska Kim Dunbar Pamela Patinkin Kassy Kozdoy Eugene Spivak Kayleigh Brown Scott Delano Jenny Fer Gettings Amanda Demmel Bianca Andrea Irving Margaret Collins Brian Patterson Joseph A. Mainwaring Western Michigan Jordan Myers Mark Hing Meghan Ristau Wade Reece
Donnie Biggins Bex Allen Andre Aguto Alforque Emily White Ramon Rivas II Phil Melcher Jeffrey Sauger Mary Wieczorkiewicz An Phan Ray Saleh Meghan Racky Millie Collins Schwartz John Craig Jay Baldridge Scott Kleinberg Steve Jankowski Christopher Searose Taylor Dana Moran Molly Fannin Angela Myles Rudy Segovia John Lendman Jen Smith Brendan Keating Tony Ham Jenna Moles Kim Healy Eric Pehrson Katie Rogers Alysse Dalessandro J.P. Campuzano Aaron DeWinter Williams
Andrew Tuzi

A special THANK YOU to the good people at Standard Charted Bank/Breeze for letting me be a part of a truly amazing initiative, and to my fellow WCI candidates. Social Media: For. The. Win.

Make me run 31 miles: Tell @StanchartBreeze I’m the #WorldsCoolestIntern!

It’s time to get SERIOUS people: If you haven’t heard, I’ve made it to the top 23 coolest interns in the world! They’ll be cutting it down to 10 in less than 12 hours. Remember, we’re half a day behind here! (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click Here!)

If 31 NEW people tweet “Hey, @Stanchartbreeze, @Henjealy is the #WorldsCoolestIntern”, by 7:00pm, I will sign up (and actually attempt) this 31 mile run! Keep in mind, I have not even done a marathon…hell, officially, there’s no record of me ever running any kind of race. Figured an Ultramarathon is as good a start as any, right? (Whatever, official is overrated!) Sound cool? Sound crazy? Either way, get on Twitter and spread the word!

A HUMONGO thank you to all who’ve been supporting me, you are beyond amazing.

Whoop whoop!

Without social media, I would just be another weirdo: Social Media:IRL

Like this? Then let the Twitterverse know! “Hey, @Stanchartbreeze: @Henjealy is the World’s Coolest Intern!”

Think I’m nuts and would like to send me away? Done: “Hey, @Stanchartbreeze: @Henjealy is the World’s Coolest Intern!”