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This Is The Silver Lining of a Global Pandemic, Part 1

How 4 Uniquely Different People Found Renewed Purpose

One thing that is for certain and inevitable in life is – change. Over the past 12 weeks and counting, we’ve all had to adapt to change at an incomprehensible rate. And while we have learned to evolve and try to make sense of it all, it has ushered in some silver linings. Only those who can release the notion of what should be and arrive at what can be can teach the rest of us resilience and show us how to navigate change.

During these unprecedented times, you may have felt like a rubber band stretched to the point of extreme tension. Try this with me. Place a rubber band on your two index fingers. Now stretch that rubber band as far and wide as you can. Keep stretching until the tension you are feeling within is what you are feeling with the rubber band.

Now, look at your right finger that represents your current reality. Then take a look at your left finger that is your personal vision. In between, right in the center is creative tension. It is at that midpoint where you can intentionally shift your focus to bring your current reality and personal vision closer together. Creative tension is what fuels innovation, creativity, and clarity. Your purpose, and where you find meaning is the most critical driver of change.

“Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”

-William Pollard

I’m inspired and motivated when I witness others who, despite the headwinds, can thrive in the center of creative tension. During this period of sheltering-in-place, I especially took note of the ways people emerge from their place of shelter with a new or renewed sense of purpose. In this blog series, I will be sharing the stories of four remarkable people, whose stories deserve to be told.

Meet Samantha Stanicek – A fully baked idea

For Samantha (Sam), Stanicek baking has been a longtime passion and a hobby. Rarely would she ever show up at a family or friend gathering without a plate of baked goodies. Even with a challenging and rewarding career with United Scrap Metal, she often finds solace and creativity in baking. She enjoys the challenges of it and the smiles she receives every time someone is a recipient of her confectionary artistry.

At the start of this year, February to be exact, Sam and her boyfriend welcomed a rescue pup from Riley’s Rescue Foundation into their family and affectionately named her Waffles. Very fitting for an aspiring canine bakery sous chef!

One smile is worth a thousand words

It wasn’t but a month after adopting Waffles that they were in lockdown. It didn’t take long before Sam began missing the creativity of baking for friends and family. With her additional free time, she decided to turn a hobby into a business where she could accomplish her goal of putting a smile on the face of others. “Whether it is with pictures of my yummy creations or with funny pictures of my dog, Waffles, I bake because I love it and I love having this outlet to share my creativity,” said Sam.

So, with that in mind, she and Waffles got to work building her sugar cookie business from the ground up. The first order of business was deciding on a name. “I knew I wanted to include Waffles as part of it, so I had to do a lot of brainstorming until finally, it clicked. The name of our company would be Cookies with a Side of Waffles.”

Logo design by Sam’s cousin, Lily Stanicek
Pause for a cause

Another passion for Sam is giving back. It was important to her to include a cause that she cares a lot about as part of her business venture. “We wanted to make sure we were able to donate proceeds from every order. Every order benefits Riley’s Rescue Foundation, where we adopted Waffles from. Also, Waffles cannot forget about her fur friends, so each order includes a homemade dog biscuit.”

In less than two months, her business is up and running and spreading smiles. That is an enormous feat during a time when it can be challenging to focus on what matters.

Upon reflection, Sam shares, “I learned a lot during this pandemic. I started to notice the feeling of being content. I was very happy in my [personal] relationship and successful in my work but realized that I needed something. I started to feel comfortable in my routine and needed a creative break from my normal and scheduled day. I wanted something purposeful and a goal that I was genuinely proud of completing at the end of the day. I hope that my journey will inspire others to do something (even if it’s small) for themselves every day.”

Words of wisdom with sprinkles on top


“Find something meaningful outside of your normal lifestyle that makes you happy. Everyone has a lifestyle that works and looks different for them. We tend to get stuck in a routine and rarely find time for ourselves to do something that we enjoy. There is no right or wrong way when finding a passion project, as long as it promotes a healthy relationship with your loved ones and, most importantly, yourself!”

To see more of Sam and Waffles cookie creations, visit her online or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @cookieswithwaffles.

In part two of my blog series, you will read about a young man, Harmon Colvett, who shares how he continuously challenges himself to identify a need and then devises innovative ways to fulfill them.

Michelle is Mariola Unlimited’s Chief Brand Officer and has 20 years of experience in branding and marketing strategy. Her blog is dedicated to sharing her mastery of marketing best practices, insights into building brand equity, and her reflections on creating intentional cultures and the leaders that make it happen.

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