Tag Archive | smile

Wonderful Winter Fog

winter fogA few days ago, in my neck of the woods, we had a morning of rare thick fog. It hovered deep over rooftops and created frost linings along wires and tree branches. The sky was white, with no hint of sun through the haze, just the glow that bathed everything. It was utterly magical.

On this frigid Saturday morning at 8:00 am, I wasn’t concerned about throwing on my yoga pants and a t-shirt to go buy some groceries since I’d be mostly hidden beneath my black parka anyways. As I hopped in the car and backed out of the garage, the awe escaped me in a gasp of wonder. If you live in a northern clime and have experienced a hoar frost in the making, you know what I mean. If you live more southerly and haven’t experienced this incredible wonder of nature, it’s difficult to describe how beautiful it is. Photographs, no matter how artfully taken, fail to grasp the beauty of this natural phenomenon.

My local grocer is only a few blocks away but I kept on driving. I’m very grateful to live near a huge wild park preserve with a network of paths, some that run along the river, and picnic table areas scattered among the acres of old growth forest. It was definitely a ‘selling feature’ when we were house hunting.

As I drove past the grocery store and into the wild preserve, I was pleased with the lack of traffic. Indeed, everything seemed hushed and in slow motion. I found myself driving under the speed limit just to gape and marvel at the incredible sight of the trees frosted with white, their tall tips melting into grey fog. Luckily the speed limit is already very slow into this family-friendly park as I kept inching along. Keeping a close eye on my rear mirrors, I saw that no one was coming, or going, on this incredible morning.

Then I saw one person, with a small dog on a leash, walking out of the fog in front of me to cross the road. I happily stopped and leaned forward to look up at the exquisite splendor of the tall trees being painted with hoar frost icicles on every surface. Glancing in my mirrors I saw, again, no one behind me. I drove slowly deeper into the park, approaching the lake and the turn-around where the road ends.

The beauty of nature always feels like a painting by God to me, and the more beautiful the sight, the more deeply I am moved. This particular morning I was moved to tears. Perhaps that I was listening to Amy Grant’s ‘Better than a Hallelujah’ might have something to do with it, but mostly I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for life, and the gifts we are so freely given, every day, if we but open our eyes.

hoar frostAs I finished the drive and looped back towards the grocery store I realized, I wasn’t finished. Not yet. I wasn’t done admiring this incredibly beautiful and rare event of nature. I had to go back! Pulling a careful U-turn on that deserted road, I drove back to the one parking lot in the middle of the main cluster of picnic areas, a place I visit often in the warmer months. A place one can easily walk down to the river. I pulled in and parked not too far from the only other vehicle, a mini-van.

As I turned off the engine, wrapped my scarf around my neck a couple of times and pulled my wool hat and gloves from my bag, I saw the occupants of the van slowly heading towards the river. From their sizes I guessed one adult and three young children, all bundled in snow pants and parkas.

Seeking solitude, I headed the other way along a path following a creek that feeds into the massive river. The hush upon the forest couldn’t hide the occasional squeals and joyful shouts from the small gathering behind me, and it made me smile. I looked up at the treetops in the blanketing fog and quietly recited a poem aloud, knowing no one was around to hear and wonder about this woman speaking to herself.

There was tremendous duck and goose chatter at the river, and I was compelled to stop walking away from the commotion and instead go and see what kind of bird action was happening. As I turned around I noticed that the family hadn’t gone far, and instead were playing in a small copse of trees just beyond the parking lot. I walked past them towards the river, pausing at a small cluster of young aspen beside the path to touch the intricate frost icicles that formed along their thin branches.

As I approached the river I noticed more birds than I’d ever seen on this section of river before, and seeing as some were on this side of the river, I stopped well back since I didn’t want to disturb them. For several minutes I stood and watched this massive display of wildlife. There were Canadian geese intermingled with black Coots, and ducks of various species, and I estimated their numbers to be in the hundreds. Shuffling about for position, drifting into the swiftly flowing, deep river to glide to a new spot, these waterfowl were busily settling in for something, or conversing with relatives, re-establishing friendships… who knows for sure. But their noisy bustling was a wonderful sight and it helped swell my already happy heart up to nearly bursting with joy.

Google search forest+fogWith a smile on my face I turned to head back towards my car, since I hadn’t dressed appropriately and my legs and feet were getting quite cold. Seeing the mother and children (I’d heard her voice so now presumed the adult under the parka to be ‘mom’) slowly spreading onto the narrow footworn path I’d taken from the main path towards the river, and not wishing to interrupt them, I turned to the left to follow the main path. After several feet of walking I realized this route would take me much farther from my car before I could head back towards it, over a bridge.

I was too cold to walk the further distance so I turned around, deciding to head back through the family gathering on the pathway. They were climbing up out of the lower ground amidst the copse of trees they’d been in. I was about 20 feet away when the tallest child turned and saw me, a boy maybe 5 years old. He reached his arm out full length to point towards me and exclaim excitedly, “Look Mom! A PERSON!!”

I laughed out loud with the most joyous love overflowing from every part of my being. It was already a magical, meaningful morning for me, but NOW to be someone’s sighting! How fun is that?!

I waved as I laughed again, and said, “Yes, it’s me. A person!” and the mom smiled at me, undoubtedly having known of my whereabouts ever since I arrived in the park, just after them. The youngest one at her feet, about 2 years old, slipped and did the cutest little slide in his snow pants, down the one-foot embankment the snow-blower had left beside the paved pathway. He was smiling at me as he laid there. I said ‘whoopsie-daisy’ and his mom gently asked, ‘Are you alright buddy?’ to which his smiling face, still looking at me, replied, ‘Oh yes, that was nothing.’ My heart melted even more.

My walking had now brought me right amongst them, and I smiled at the mother and said, “This fog is really rather magical, isn’t it?” waving my hand in a sweeping motion, and she replied immediately “It IS rather magical! That’s why we’re out here.” “Yay. Good for you. Have a wonderful day!” “You too” she replied. The five year old ‘wildlife spotter’ called out, ‘There’s a great big hole to play in there!’ indicating the hollow in the wooded copse they’d spent much time in, and where I was walking past. I called back ‘Yay! What fun!’

I was someone’s sighting! I felt like Bigfoot, or better yet, Buddy the Elf in the forest when he was ‘spotted’ during his assistance of Santa’s crashed sleigh in that sweet, funny movie “ELF”. I chuckled and smiled all the way to my car… and all through the grocery store actually. That sweet child, and his enthusiasm at spotting ME coming out of the fog, made my day. How wonderful that I’d chosen to go beyond merely admiring the fog’s beauty from my car, and decided to actually walk in it, correct clothing or not. God gifted my choice with the pure sweet joy that radiates from happy children, and just remembering that moment makes me smile. And the chorus was playing in my mind, ‘We pour out our miseries… God just hears a melody… Beautiful, the mess we are… the honest cries of breaking hearts… are better than a hallelujah’

Yes I wasn’t dressed perfectly for a winter outing. Yes I felt overwhelmed with grief and sadness much of the time, but the beautiful fog captured my imagination and I forgot everything else. I went for it and was rewarded with a most joyful gift. This helps me remember to go with the flow and be open to whatever might happen. Things don’t need to be preplanned or perfect. I am not perfect and that is perfectly alright. God loves me, and all of us, just the way we are… hurting or not… right here and right now. He knows we’re working on it. We’re trying to get better, to be better, but we’re already good enough. Right now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my frosty and magical morning foray. May nature’s beauty gift you always with joy, love, and learning. And may we embrace the understanding that we are enough, just as we are.

This is what I felt like…

Bigfoot+walking

Okay… who am I kidding. You know I’m more like this!

Elf sighting

Blossoming Holiday Smiles

be SO happyYesterday as I entered a grocery store I received a nice smile from a silver haired woman who was leaving the store. I broadened my smile in return and it was then that I realized I was already smiling. Just a small, closed mouth smile that softened my eyes and my whole demeanor, and she noticed. She offered a smile in return for my pleasant countenance.

zig ziglar - things u can giveAs I walked into that grocery store, list in hand, my smile was blossoming from anticipating all the holiday baking, meals, and appetizers this store would help me make. I was imagining my loved ones’ smiles as they enjoyed the treats I’d be preparing.

sunbeam smilesI smile because I remember my blessings, such as how I enjoy easy mobility, I have a vehicle and can drive to a nearby grocery store, and I have enough money to purchase what I want. I have a cozy home with a good fridge and stove with pans and utensils to assist me in lovingly preparing foods for my family and friends. Thank You God for every detail of my life. I choose to remember how blessed I am and to show it through my smiling face.

My heart beams with gratitude in remembering how blessed I am. It’s not surprising that I decided to buy yet another Food Bank hamper for the donation box, because in acknowledging my own blessings I am reminded of those who are less fortunate.

Okay, I may not smile quite as broadly as Buddy the Elf here, but I encourage us all to smile out our inner joy! It not only makes you feel better, it brightens up the world around you.

Additional Reading:
http://www.livescience.com/20578-social-connection-smile-strangers.html
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201202/smiling-strangers
http://professionsforpeace.com/2013/09/07/a-pleasant-countenance/
http://professionsforpeace.com/2012/04/16/the-kindness-of-strangers/

[With gratitude for the makers of these randomly sourced images]

Pleasant Countenance

There’s an oval table mirror standing on my desk next to my monitor. It was originally placed so I could see the door at my back for good Feng Shui but it has taken on an additional purpose. I’ve found myself checking my reflection on a regular basis and noticing how a smile on my face not only reflects a pleasant mood but also fosters it.

give up perfect be yourselfMonths ago, during an especially difficult time, I’d catch my reflection frowning or having an expression displaying inner hurt. I would gaze at my reflection, realizing I hadn’t noticed I was frowning. I’d choose to be gentle with myself, acknowledging the inner pain occurring, and then I’d soften my face. I could literally watch my emotions change as I let go of the hurt I was holding, and melt into gentleness. Gentleness with myself… my situation… my process. Taking a deep breath, I consciously release tension in my back and shoulders and look at my reflection with kind eyes.

Using this desktop mirror as an exercise to monitor my feelings has provided me with a source of great growth. By becoming aware of the expression of hurt on my face I was able to move through the pain of my heartache, heal more quickly, and let it go. Checking my countenance in the mirror helps me remember to smile… to be gentle. When we consciously soften our face and our features, even with the slightest of smiles, our heart and mood cannot help but follow.

The interactions with my mirror are always changing as my moods change through the weeks and months, but it is always enlightening. This reflection of my face has become a monitoring device, like a kind friend who tells you the truth. And the lesson I have learned the most deeply, so far, is that softening my features as I release previously unknown tension actually helps lighten my mood. It’s a validating lesson to that wise adage of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. This mirror-practice has helped me internalize that wisdom even more as I experience how softening my face with a smile actually brightens my mood.

be gentle with yourselfThis is a process I warmly encourage you to try out for yourself. Place a desktop mirror next to your computer monitor. Rather than avoiding mirrors as I used to, or only quickly glancing in them to ensure there’s nothing in our teeth, let’s take a moment to look deeply into our lovely eyes and really see our own reflection. And then soften your features. Think of something nice. See what it looks like when a kindness makes you ‘melt’. You can actually see the transformation.

While I am still working on doing actual affirmations in the mirror, or saying things aloud to myself, I feel like this is a step I can honestly manage and maintain. Having this mirror here I can conveniently look at my face, my eyes and myself with kindness. And even without saying words aloud, I can feel the meaning of the sentiment, “I like you.” And what a powerfully healing sentiment that is!
.
Excerpt from Finding Your Way Home, © 1998 Melody Beattie
 “Take a minute. Change your perspective, your mind, and the content of your life. See God, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, or Muhammad touching your shoulder and saying aloud: “You’re valuable and important, and you’re on this planet for a reason.” Then commit to remembering and carrying out the special mission your soul came here to do.
You’re a child of the light. Feeling blessed and protected is beyond words, but words are an important part of the blessing. Tell yourself you’re safe. Move through life with ease. Remember how blessed your soul is. Ask for a blessing whenever you can, and bless everyone you meet.”
~ Melody Lynn Beattie

[My heartfelt gratitude to the creators of these lovely images randomly sourced off the Web]

Spreading JOY!

Joy and happiness is ‘catching’ and I am eager to share the sweet infectious enthusiasm from these images. Enjoy!

SoHappylike it's your birthday

Joy is not in things - Ben Franklin
[Randomly sourced images off Google]

Returning To Light

~ Happy Winter~Solstice 2012 ~

faith rabindranath-tagore

Quote by Rabindranath Tagore

May this be a tipping point towards ever-increasing light and kindness!

Living at the 51st parallel North, the Winter Solstice is an anticipated point of the year. At long last, the globe begins its return to increasing daylight. I feel my spirits lift for I know this cold, northern hemisphere is on its return trip towards summer, more sunlight, and abundant growth.

Yin Yang EarthFor us residing this far north, today the sun is above us for less than 8 hours, from 8:35 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. This is less than half the time it’s above the horizon on the Summer Solstice, when it’s up for 16 hours and 33 minutes. I sympathize for those living even farther north. In the extreme north the sun doesn’t rise for a week around the Winter Solstice, only allowing a faint twilight between 9am and 2pm.

astonishing light beingAs I contemplate this earthly return towards the light, I also envision humanity’s spiritual return towards ever greater light within us all. This is a prayerful time for offering not only the light of our hearts during meditation and prayer, but also to share our light within through genuine smiles and acts of kindness. It needn’t cost a thing as we offer a compliment or a gentle word to a frazzled clerk or shopper. We can anonymously shovel a neighbour’s sidewalk or scrape the ice off their windshield. We can gently offer our arm to a senior traversing an icy parking lot or treacherous section of sidewalk, or our hand to someone who has dropped a bag. We can put up sweet posters on public community boards, offering quotes on hope or faith or joy. Our acts of kindness are only as limited as our imaginations!

light shines johnLet us turn our faces towards the light and our hearts will inevitably follow. Let us take even one step of action towards kindness and we become an active member of the tipping point of goodness in the world.

light-a-candleI will continue to give thanks for my beeswax candles, Christmas tree lights, and outdoor strings of lights adding cheer and warmly illuminating these long nights. I feel gratitude for the blessings that each day brings, but especially today on the Winter Solstice, I feel a burgeoning hope!

I will joyfully watch for evidence of the lengthening days to start appearing soon, as well as evidence of humankind’s active kindness towards each other. We can all do something that brings ever more light. I will do my part, and let this little light of mine shine. Namaste.

Additional Reading Suggestions:

http://professionsforpeace.com/2012/04/26/shining-from-the-inside-out/
http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2012/12/26-acts-of-kindness/
https://www.facebook.com/26acts
http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/35-Little-Acts-of-Kindness
http://www.366randomacts.org/
http://www.deliberateactsofkindness.com/

Also, click ‘kindness’ in my tag cloud Ideas Found Here for many posts on kindness!

Please note that all these posters have been randomly sourced off the internet.

Change The World

how to change the world

everybody wants to change the world“Love transforms people from the inside out, which is a genuine change that cannot be taught – it can only be caught by those who experience the love.

be the change gandhiIt may sound idealistic at first to most people, but that’s how we can turn the world upside down.” From fellow blogger Jimmy on his postHow To Change The World

Cartoon Source: Jimmy shared with me that he found this cartoon at Jay Bakker’s Facebook page. Other posters randomly sourced off Google.

Choose to be kind

kindness quote

kindness quote Plato