CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHT – Wesley Miller Smith
One of National Day Calendar’s newest ambassadors visited with me for the Celebration Spotlight — Wesley Miller Smith. New to the San Diego area, Wesley shared his experiences exploring his new home and what it’s like to Celebrate Every Day.
Calling San Diego Home
Michele: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Wesley: As you said, Wesley Miller Smith, I am a newer resident to the San Diego area, a first-time Californian as well. I originally grew up in the Midwest went to school at Northwest Missouri State – Go Bearcats! And shortly thereafter, moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and then Chicago and then Atlanta. That’s where I was fortunate enough to meet my husband, well, boyfriend, fiancé, now husband. We were together for a while, and then we got married, went on our honeymoon, and moved to California all in a month. So we’re pretty tired still. It’s only been a few months. Things are great. Life’s good.
We have two dogs, Barkley and Stella. I love animals. For fun, I am a part of an app where you can go walk dogs or dog sit dogs. Which I love, because going to a very new state, very new city and not getting to know a lot of people or places it’s been fun going around to meet people, meet cool dogs.
Michele: I have a question about that, so I’m going to interject. Is that like rideshare for dogs?
Take a Walk
Wesley: Well, yeah. Similarly. So, people can download the app, and if they want their dog walked or sat or boarded, or even training, because you know there are some dogs out there that need a little bit of training, you can request that and go from there.
Michele: It sounds like a lot of fun. I’m a dog lover, so I love hearing about those types of tools and resources out there. There are a lot of animal holidays on the website, too. Dog holidays are real popular.
Wesley: I know they are. Anytime that there is a dog holiday, my dogs benefit from it. The latest one was Dog Biscuit Day. My husband Shawn and I made our own organic dog treats to celebrate the day. It was kind of fun.
Michele: What a great way to incorporate the day into your lifestyle and treat your dogs simultaneously. Of course, that’s what the day is all about. You’ve also shared the national days with your customers at work.
Wesley: It was National Customer Recognition Day. We wanted to thank our customers who are loyal to us every single day, every single month, quarter. I work in automotive. I’m a director of marketing for an automotive group. There are 57 dealerships across the nation, and I oversee 7 of those. So working with my team, I said, “Let’s go ahead and surprise our customers. If they come in, let our service advisor write a little note saying, “Thank you, Michele.” “Thank you, Joanie.” “Thank you, whoever, for coming in today.” And putting a coffee card into their cupholder and just making their day a little brighter.
Then also, celebrating at work has been huge for us and just something to stand us apart from the other competition or dealerships – creating that good morale in the workplace. So we celebrated Fat Tuesday. We got king cakes and beads for everyone. It was really fun. But what I love the most celebrating at work is when we get to celebrate the national holidays like American Heart Month was huge for us this past February. We picked an amazing organization where a family went through a really hard time having a child who had a heart defect, and unfortunately, he passed away but to live on with his legacy, we created this foundation for him. We took that organization in under our wing in February. For every car sold, we donated to the organization.
” …just something to stand us apart from the other competition or dealerships – creating that good morale in the workplace.” Wesley Miller Smith
Michele: Can you share the name of the organization?
Wesley: The organization is the Ollie Hinkle Foundation. Last year we raised almost $6,000, and even though there is a car shortage out there, we were still able to raise close to four grand this past month. So it’s been really awesome. Another one is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We have sponsored an organization called Pink Ribbon Girls, which is nationally based out of Ohio. Pink Ribbon Girls is very near and dear to our hearts because those women and volunteers help families going through someone in their family having breast cancer. They will take them to their appointments; they’ll make meals for them clean their homes. Anything they can do to make the person who is going through breast cancer, anything they can do to make them more comfortable, their families more comfortable they do. So we raise funds with them. We’re always looking for new opportunities to raise money and really just take a national month or a national holiday and make the best out of it.
Michele: That’s a fantastic way to incorporate it with your customers and employees. I love the way you’ve used the calendar and the national days to spread the spirit and make things better for others. As a marketing person, you must have a lot of ideas for other businesses, your own business to incorporate the national days. Do you have some tips or recommendations that you can make?
Wesley: One of the easiest ways to really celebrate is…just take National Pizza Day. What we have looked at is every month, my team and I will come together and say, “Alright. Let’s look at the next month and let’s see what we can do to just one promote another business but at the same time also promote us as well.” So one recommendation I would definitely give to a business that wants to have a larger social media following would be to take a couple of those national holidays and, let’s say, National Pizza Day.
Go find a pizza place that everyone loves. Buy a $50 or $100 gift card. And then do a quick video. Do a like and share event. And say, “Hey, we’re at XYZ Pizza Place, and we all know you guys love it. Like and share this post. Like our page. And we’ll randomly pick a winner. And that person gets to have the gift card.” We’ve seen some phenomenal results promoting local business as well as having a larger following on our social media pages.
Michele: That’s a fantastic way to create a partnership, too.
Ok, so this is a little fun moment. I’m going to read off three words. And I want you to pick one. And then my question will follow.
Back to School
Wesley: Let’s do kindergarten.
Michele: National Kindergarten Day is April 21st. What do you remember about kindergarten?
Wesley: Well, it’s actually a crazy fun fact no one really knows, but I was actually held back in kindergarten so my brother and I could be in the same grade together. I basically had kindergarten twice growing up. And I still remember my teacher, Miss Kessler. I don’t know why I still remember that name. Back in the day, we only had half days back in kindergarten.
I think one of my favorite moments is one of my favorite dolls was a doll my aunt gave me, a little Bart Simpson doll. I still actually have it. So I remember this day vividly because I was so proud of finally having this Bart Simpson doll that I wanted forever and ever, and I took it to my kindergarten show and tell and showed everybody. And then, Bart Simpson even got a sticker for the day. So, that’s what I remember from kindergarten.
Michele: That’s so fun! Thank you for sharing that with me. It’s interesting. You had Bart Simpson. I had a Raggedy Ann doll.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start celebrating every day?
Celebrate Every Day
Wesley: Take it slow. Find those days you can kind of hold on to and just really enjoy. Whether it be doing something for the community or cooking. If it’s National Gumbo Day and gumbo sounds good to you. Why not share a recipe online and share how you made it. Or find something different you haven’t celebrated before or didn’t even know it was a holiday like Random Acts of Kindness Day. That’s a big one for me and how I started looking at those ones where I could help and give back to the community.
And then I was like, “Well, it’s National Bourbon Day. Why not take part in that.” I think just starting off slow and finding what is your passion and what you love. Whether it be food or drink or giving back or just those random holidays that are out there that you’re like, “Oh! Celebrate everything!” Or even animals as well. There are a lot of national holidays out there. Or if you’re a proud Oklahoman and you want to celebrate National Oklahoma Day, go out and celebrate National Oklahoma Day and enjoy it.
Michele: There’s something for everyone.
Wesley: There is. There really is. I just say find your niche and have fun with it.
Michele: When you tell someone that you celebrate every day, how do they respond?
Wesley: I think first they look kind of puzzled. And then they’re like, “Are you drunk?” Everyone has their own connotation of what Celebrate Every Day is. So, when I tell people that I’m a National Day Calendar ambassador or that I just love to celebrate every day, I have to explain it to them. But after that, you kind of see that spark almost that yearning that they want to do the same thing. Telling them here’s what I love to do and so many different ways that they can get involved and just enjoy it. I think that’s you know… People have all different types of reactions but once you tell a friend or family member that you’re an ambassador for a phenomenal program, then start getting texts and phone calls and messages every other day asking, “What are we celebrating today?”
Michele: Another fun question, a little goofy. National Cheese Fondue Day is April 11th. If you were to host a fondue party and could invite three historical or famous people, who would they be and why?
Wesley: Ooh. That’s a good one. You picked a good day because I love cheese. And if it was National Charcuterie Day, it would be even better. But National Fondue Day… I definitely think that there are some historical figures out there that have touched my life. And have had phenomenal stories. Definitely, one would be Harvey Milk. I know Harvey Milk Day [California] is coming up sooner than later. Just because of being a phenomenal advocate for so many communities and people out there. So that’s someone I would invite. Abraham Lincoln would be another. Another strong individual who stuck up for multiple people. And then someone who has always fascinated me, and her stories have fascinated me. You just never know in life. But probably Marilyn Monroe.
Michele: Three great choices. Why Marilyn?
Wesley: Just because she was the epitome of class and sass. I just think she’s always been admirable. She seems like the kind of person who would celebrate every day. No matter what people said about her, she rocked whatever she wanted to, and she was just her true self. I truly think that’s one person I would always want to surround myself with is someone who’s accepting and loving of themselves first, and she definitely would be that person.
Michele: Well, that’s a cheese fondue party I’d want to go to for sure.
What does Celebrate Every Day mean to you?
Wesley: It’s a plethora of things. You always hear different phrases out there like, “Live, laugh, love,” but I think one of my favorite phrases in life is “Love to live and live to love.” One of my friends who unfortunately passed away in an accident years ago— that was her favorite phrase in life. I think it means not taking life for granted. We never know when we’re going to be here when we’re not going to be here anymore. It’s one of those things where stress and everything else will come to play. Finding that one thing to hold on to and making your day or even your week a little bit better, I think that is what we can do as individuals.
Celebrating in the Future
Michele: How will we be celebrating in 50 years?
Wesley: I was talking to one of my friends and vendor partners, and she says, “Wouldn’t we just be celebrating in a nursing home.” And I said, “National Oatmeal day!!”
Michele: What is your favorite National Day?
Wesley: I was born on one of the best days to celebrate, and that is Cinco De Mayo.
Michele: What are you going to do this year for your birthday and celebrating Cinco De Mayo?
Wesley: I don’t know. It’s such a cultural influence here in San Diego. One of the really cool areas that we love to go to is Old Town. It has a lot of Hispanic influence. You can walk by and see the awesome gals making the tortillas. Believe me. We went down there for National Margarita Day, and it was popping. There was not a dry hand…they were enjoying those margaritas. So I think this year, we’ll just head to Old Town and just celebrate with everyone. I’m sure it will be a big party. It will be our first time celebrating Cinco De Mayo in San Diego.
Michele: You’re new to the area. What types of restaurants, businesses, festivals have you come across that really strike you as something or a place to go to represent the day?
Wesley: I think it’s all about neighborhoods. We’re so close to Tijuana and Mexico, so not just celebrating here but celebrating abroad. Thinking about the businesses or what’s around us, one would be anything to do with the military. San Diego and this part of California are so saturated with our armed services. Everywhere you go, you see someone in uniform. Your heart melts every time. They’re going out and fighting the good fight for us. Thank them for their service, and we’re going to go for a burger, and they’re behind me, I’m going to pay for their food. I say that being around the armed services is one thing that I’m going to be more cognoscente of and looking at those national days.
“San Diego and this part of California are so saturated with our armed services. Everywhere you go, you see someone in uniform.
Your heart melts every time.” ~ Wesley Miller Smith
Also, I would say the neighborhoods like Old Town, Little Italy. I can’t wait for National Pasta Day because I’m going to go down to Little Italy and eat plates and plates of pasta. I think just taking advantage of the surroundings and the wonderful people we have around us.
There are wonderful people who protect our country every single day and really cool neighborhoods you wouldn’t get in growing up in southwest Missouri or living in the Midwest sometimes. We’re finally settling in a being able to really enjoy ourselves and find things to do. That’s what we did on Margarita Day. We went and tried a patio at a restaurant in Old Town. Café Coyote, and we fell in love with it. It was really cool. There was a tortilla station right in front of us. So we got to see the woman making tortillas. As soon as one got up, she would flip it and grab it. It was really cool.
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