Tag Archive | smile

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:

[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]

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:


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.

Kindness, and the power of one person

John Quiñones, an ABC News correspondent, hosts the show “What Would You Do?”. He and his team of camera operators and professional, yet unknown, actors and actresses present what they call “Social Experiments” and film the reactions of the general public when presented with unethical and uncomfortable (or downright dangerous) situations. Here I am sharing two incredibly moving segments, each just a few minutes long, to help me in expressing the message of doing the right thing.


Homelessness (Linda Hamilton) – It may be filmed in Newark, New Jersey but it’s a pretty good snapshot of all big cities. While just over 7 minutes, it is especially at the 4 and a half minute mark that it strongly pulls at my heart strings and fills me with hope and encouragement that angels truly do come in all sizes, colors, ages, clothing – you name it!

Add to that the fact that the (real life) heroine’s name is the same as the actress who I am a fan of, for playing the heroine in the first Terminator movies, as well as the late 80’s Beauty and the Beast TV series. Also she starred in a lovely TV movie called Home By Christmas about a down-on-her-luck divorcée who becomes homeless through a series of rather realistic misfortunes and has to re-build her life.

This video may introduce to us a very different woman with the same name, but she is as powerful to my heart as any hero I’ve ever seen in this must-watch video. 7:27 minutes.


Lost Child – This segment is incredibly powerful and I feel it is important to pass along. Please note, there are essential pointers to remember when presented with a lost child and the first important step is to NOT move the child. You must never encourage a child to leave with you. You stay with them and call the police for help. If you don’t have a cell, you ask someone else, a passerby if needed, to call for help. You wait with the child and reassure them that you will help find the parent they’ve become separated from.

Those rules being said, please do help!  I was a lost child at a fair once, and the memory of the kind woman who helped me still brings tears to my eyes. She was like an angel to help reunite a lost child with her worried mother. A few minutes of your time can make an incredible impact of good in someone’s world.

A wonderful quote attributed (possibly falsely) to Abraham Lincoln is: “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”  He was an amazing man and, regardless of who coined this phrase, these are wise words. Their wisdom goes beyond assisting only children, for indeed we never stand so tall as when we stoop to help anyone.


wrong is wrongRegarding the kindness, or blindness, of strangers, may each of us choose to be like an angel on earth. Let’s all make the decision to offer to help with every opportunity that we are presented with. Every urge we have to share a polite compliment, or offer a smile, or a hand to someone reaching for something too high for them, listen to that urge! That is our Highest part of Self calling to us, our Large Self as my friend Cathy Ulrich writes and teaches about. Our small self hurries past and ignores those chances to help. Our large Self however calls out to our heart and intuition, our gut-reaction, urging us to reach out and help our fellow man. Let’s all endeavor to listen to those highest callings and help whenever we can. It will make you feel better. And it just might save someone’s day. Or even their life.

Climates of Feelings

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Source – Wikipedia

It is terribly amusing how many different climates of feelings one can go through in one day.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I adore the writings of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. With this particular one of hers running through my mind today, I can imagine her sitting in the front seat of her husband’s plane, goggles on and white scarf flapping. Or of course flying it herself as she too was an aviator! I easily imagine that her moods would have fluctuated at times, like the takeoffs and landings in those planes of old. This quote brings me comfort when my own moods are fluctuating into different climates rather drastically within one day.

Earlier today I was elated to discover I’ve received two award nominations (more on that soon). Also in this joyous journey of blogging I have made some amazing new friends while beautifully connecting with established ones. I spent some time reading very inspiring works and feeling the love of God filling me, gratitude vibrating in every fiber of my being.

Then out and about with errands and tasks, bringing my love with me to my favorite grocery store. The store was quiet and I was served in the only open aisle by a new cashier I’d not seen before, a woman about my age. My warm greeting and friendly chit-chat could not elicit a smile, hardly even eye contact. I stopped after a few friendly comments and fell silent. I felt my mood take a dip, and just observed it happening. Took a deep soothing breath, gave myself an inward smile, and decided to view this unhappy woman with the eyes of love and tenderness. She kept swinging the items over the scanner and watching the screen as I silently observed and consciously changed my perception. What if being new at this store had her feeling unsure? What if she was under the weather in a way that’s not obvious? Or what if cheerful people like me just grate on her nerves? When viewing her this way my heart blossomed back open, and that is a gift to myself. As the debit charge was completed and she handed me the receipt, I met her eyes and gave her a warm smile and saw a hint of one in return.

My mood has been a bit all over the place today, granted sleep was interrupted last night and I am a bit under the weather myself on this grey drizzly day. This new (to me) world of blogging, experiencing joyful heights tempered with nagging doubts and occasional lows, reminds me of how I felt when I was first falling in love with the wonderful man who is now my husband. The early of stage of love is a type of ‘madness’ pursued by countless poets for adequate description. The highs, the lows, the worries, the excitement! I am delighted to be in a more stable and mature stage of married bliss now, and I look forward to the next stage of blogging as well. Less intensity and more comfort, less ups and downs of moods and more stability. Although I can already see that blogging is like gardening in that it’s never finished, I shall soon complete fine-tuning the details and remain focused on what touches my heart and spirit for each day’s writings. I shall come through this currently changing climate into a more temperate zone.

Family is not always blood

My thoughts today are about how I can feel so close to those across the world yet still feel so separated from those who share my bloodline.

I laughed when Wayne Dyer shared, “Your friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.” I was not from a close, jovial, generous family. I recall admiring a good friend from elementary school and wishing that I too could enjoy being a part of an extended Hindu family. I knew they got together every weekend (if not more) and ate together, laughed together, and played games together.

I was raised Christian in a liberal ‘United’ family. I memorized the Lord’s Prayer at a very young age and remember hiding my bedtime prayers after my mother caught me reciting them on my knees beside my bed with “What are you doing?! We’re not Catholic!” So I hopped under the covers and continued my prayer silently. She was a lovely woman and only knew what she was taught. For whatever reason I was born with a drive to learn far beyond what I was taught. I was drawn to reading the bible and learning about the word of God completely on my own. My mother noticed this about me and it means so much to me that she decided to gift me with my grandmother’s bible. My 11-years-senior sister introduced me to Wayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones when she was 22 and I was 11. At 12 I discovered Jonathan Livingston Seagull and I read it over and over and over. That book made me feel normal, how I longed for a connection but felt unaccepted in my outer world. Soon afterwards I read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. From there my reading exploded. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Eastern philosophy, Buddhism, Native American spirituality, and more, all the while continually reading my grandmother’s bible.

When I was 13 I looked 20, due to my height and serious demeanor. I recall a pivotal day in my life when I decided to ride the bus to a neighboring town. Quite the adventure! It was an early Saturday morning, cloudy and quiet. I had no real reason for travelling other than the journey itself. While the bus trip would end in an hour and turn back at the large mall, I had already decided I’d simply head back, since malls had no appeal to me. This journey was purely for enjoying the view of looking out windows, feeling like I was a grown-up and really going somewhere, and being independent. It made my heart sing to ride that small town bus to the neighboring town.

There were only about half a dozen of us on the bus that morning. I was on the right for easier viewing of the fields and forests as we passed by. Being only a couple of rows back from the front, it was easy for me to witness a senior gentleman on the left side of the bus in a seat facing sideways ask for the time from a person in the first row, right next to him. He was so polite, ‘Sorry to bother you but if you don’t mind, what is the time?’ I was horrified that the person asked turned away and mumbled grumpily ‘I don’t know’ when I could see their watch from here! What? Really? I was shy but I knew this was a moment ‘bigger than me’. I happened to have a watch on, so I bravely stood up and walked the couple of rows forward to say ‘Excuse me?’ with a smile to this lovely senior man who had sat back down after his rude rejection, “My watch shows 8:45am. Just so you know.” His face lit up. I will remember it for the rest of my life. He burst out, ‘Thank you! Thank you very much!” with a smile that split my heart right open. Somehow I knew, even at that young age, that doing the right thing was all the reward one ever needs.

However the story doesn’t end there. When we all exited the bus (all half-dozen of us) at the Guildford Mall in Surrey BC on that quiet Saturday in 1979 I had no interest in waiting for the mall to open. I just wanted to disembark and hang around until the next bus came to return me to Langley. My new friend, the kindly senior man of East Indian descent in the snow-white robes, smiled warmly at me and asked if he could speak with me. I smiled and welcomed him to please sit.

Such were the beginnings of a pivotal conversation with a very wise old soul who recognized in me a deep kindness and reverence that he wanted to encourage. We spoke of Oneness, and Nature, and Family, and Destiny. We sat together and spoke for over four hours. I never wanted to leave his side. I felt honored and delighted and truly heard by this wise man who honestly communicated with me as an equal. He shared of his family, his children, his grandchildren, and the ones I reminded him of. He asked me my age, and after a hesitation, I shared with him the truth. He hid his surprise that my nearly 6-foot frame and wise demeanor was wrapped up in a 13-year-old shell. I remember when a hot-rod car filled with young men drove by, slowing to jeer something about ‘quit bothering that girl’ and I did not remove my gaze from his face and his story, but he stopped to ask me if I knew them… if they were friends of mine. Certainly not, I exclaimed! I would rather spend time learning with him than be anywhere else. I wish I’d got his number. He took mine though, to call my parents and tell them about what an exceptional child they had. They didn’t ‘get it’. Got worried. Scolded me. No matter. I will always remember that wonderfully wise teacher and the hours we spent together, and will forever cherish his memory.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” ~ Richard Bach

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” ~ http://www.atti-tude.com

Gardening smiles

I have spent the entire day outdoors working in the garden and I have loved every moment. Rebuilding our front yard fence, pruning out the dead limbs in the old overgrown lilac, breaking the branches down to a neat kindling pile, setting up our summer fountain, repairing a bird feeder, and proving a push-mower really can cut thick long grass if you’re willing to go over it a few times. Loving the tasks, and remaining in the present moment. Being thankful for bumblebees, butterflies and songbirds swooping all around me. I am happily tired and truly satisfied with a good day’s work. I will sleep well tonight. Physical exertion plus the outdoors is a perfect prescription for sleeping through the night.

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.” ~ Mirabel Osler 

Build community

Building a stronger sense of community can begin with offering your name with a smile and learning the names of others. A great way to start is learning the name of your letter-carrier. And the people who live across the street, or next door. Go for walks and compliment people on their (house color, front yard, bicycle, nice pets, etc: fill in the blank). It helps us feel connected to know our neighbours. It used to be commonplace. Let’s help bring it back.

Perhaps start by learning the name of the store clerk/coffee barista you see every day. Then when you come in to the shop you can say ‘good morning’ with a specific name. People love names. We enjoy hearing our names being said. Do your part. It’s easier than you think!

Learn the names of the neighbourhood dogs, walking with their owners past your place every day. Go talk to those animal lovers and their dogs. Learn their names. Offer the dogs pats. Say hello. Or another wonderful conversation-starter is babies. Compliment mom or dad on their wonderful baby. When someone moves in next door or near your home, welcome them to the neighbourhood. Learn their names. Gardening or playing with my dog in my front yard has become a wonderful place for chatting with neighbors and building a sense of community. My dad used to putter on his car out front as an opportunity to learn the names of all the neighbours (and the makes of their cars) within a week of any move to a new house our family made.

Building community can also blossom by beginning a new tradition. Sundays in my home are now a time to embrace the once common practice of supper together at the table. A blessing. Good food (but it doesn’t have to be fancy). Conversation. Laughter. Catching up. My beloved sister-in-law and I alternate Sundays at each other’s homes and we welcome other friends and family members whenever they can join us. We do not keep the schedule rigidly because life happens. So other than the rare rescheduling, we are together as a family for a meal every weekend. We are doing what we can towards building community in our family.

We can all do things that help create community right where we live, today. Turn off your computer and go for a walk. Plant flowers in the front yard. Smile. Use your library. Buy locally. Share what you have. Volunteer. Help a lost dog. Take children to the park. Have potlucks. Pick up litter. Talk to the mail carrier. Listen to the birds. Help carry something heavy. Barter. Start a tradition. Ask a question. Hire young people. Organize a block party. Bake extra and share. Open your shades. Share your skills. Mediate a conflict. Listen. Seek to understand. Believe in the power of kindness. Know that you make a difference.

diversity cohesion hands circle image source  http://www.blackburn.gov.uk/

Thank You Dog

My head is swimming with technological data. I am doing my best to hold onto the steep learning curve I’m riding today. Being the mind-reader that I am convinced she is, I look over and my dog raises her head to look pointedly at me, as if to say, “We could go for a walk, you know. It would make you feel better.”  How does she know these things?

Enough computer for a while, enough learning and thinking and problem solving for me right now. Time for a walk, to admire the new green growth in gardens along the way, to smile at people I’ll see on the block, and to get to the green off-leash area. There I will find joy from encouraging my Nikki-girl to run and run and run. That enticing ball of hers keeps trying to get away! I shall return with a refreshed mind and spirit.

Thank you God for this wee dog.


photo courtesy of Randy Gilpin ~ http://www.facebook.com/randygilpin  

On Forgiveness

Since my eyes opened this morning I have been pondering forgiveness. Is it an easy thing to do, like snapping our fingers? Can we just choose to basically forget? Can it really happen in an instant, once we make the decision? I want to believe that it can.

Last year when I had my vision prescription updated, suspicions of glaucoma surfaced and I was scheduled to a busy lab for more comprehensive tests. It is a relatively minor malady but I would rather not put chemical drops into my eyes for the rest of my life so during the long period of time until the appointment I did my best to not worry.

The book by Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life” has a reference section to look up nearly any illness and see her ‘probable cause’ and then her suggestions for thinking and meditating on a new thought pattern. As I flipped through her updated release to look up glaucoma, my mouth fell open at what I read. The probable cause could be ‘Stony unforgiveness. Pressure from long-standing hurts. Overwhelmed by it all.’ Instantly I memorized her suggested new thought pattern: ‘I see with love and tenderness’ and began repeating it over and over. Saying it internally on a regular basis helped it become like a mantra in my mind.

I acknowledge that I’m a sensitive person. Much less so than in my twenties or even thirties, but a bit thin-skinned nonetheless. During the weeks until my eye-testing, I’d notice the moments when I would lose focus (pun intended) of my intent to ‘see with love and tenderness’. Little things like poor service by a waitress and I would begin to feel irritation rise. Then my mantra would rise to the surface, and I would remember to see her with tenderness. It was me who was benefitting from this internal work. Driving amongst congested highway traffic within this huge city became less stressful for me as I saw the other drivers with love. Line-ups became opportunities to remember to see with love and tenderness, helping me arrive at the cashier with a smile.

When the day of the test came I made the conscious decision to remain calm. Either way, I’d be fine. But I did better on the tests than I had months earlier at the initial testing. The doctor stated there appeared to be no signs of the disease and basically I had a 20% chance of contracting it within the next five years. I can handle that!

I am not claiming the power of positive thinking did or did not do anything. However I know that spending weeks and weeks focusing on seeing the world with eyes of love and tenderness benefitted me greatly. I still have a ways to go to fully release my tendency to hold on to old hurts. I am not sure if the relationship between my once-beloved sister and I can ever be repaired. A family estrangement is a tragedy in this world of too-little community. I work on breathing and meditating with love towards her everyday. I do it for myself. And my eyes. Just in case.

Here is a poem I wrote many years ago. May I continue to learn from it myself…



Attempts to control other people

Imprisons ourselves instead;

We tighten the chains that bind us

When our forgiveness is limited.

When we love with conditions

We cause our own misery;

By releasing expectations

We return to harmony.

To stay in the present moment

And let the future unfold;

Brings us peace and a sense of calm

As we fully release our hold.

Whether out loved ones stay or go

Is never for us to know;

So much more healing can love be

When we set each other free!

© GinaV and Professions for P.E.A.C.E. 1998


Visit my updated Quotes page for an inspiring array of famous quotes on forgiveness.

View Louise Hay’s book on Amazon.com

Just A Smile

Simple kindness is something I genuinely enjoy offering to others, and welcome it warmly. It is more magical and healing than we often admit. Even just a smile or kind word cause ripples out into the world, helping more than we know.

I will always remember a moment that happened one morning about 12 years ago as I faced another day at a horrible job. I trudged along, head down, my smile gone. As a financially strapped single mom, all I could do was pray every morning for the strength to endure and send out resumes every evening, like messages in a bottle thrown into the sea.

Nature is always my solace, so in the concrete jungle I look for trees and birds as I walk. The sidewalk was sloping down as it headed under the railway and I looked up to see if pigeons might be roosting and quietly cooing to each other in the rafters. As I wearily raised my head I saw a woman looking at me with a smile of pure sweetness. Bright teeth flashing at me in that dark depressing morning. Instinctively a smile slowly grew on my face to return the favor but she was already gone. Passed swiftly by me, leaving a lingering moment of kindness like a ray of sunshine piercing the gray. I felt touched, noticed by another person amongst all the pedestrian traffic, trudging along. She was like an angel, to know how much I needed that smile, but didn’t even know it myself. My spirits immediately lifted and I remembered the Truth: this hardship was temporary and I would get a better job.

The generous kindness of a stranger, giving me one of her smiles when mine were all gone, changed my world that day and will be remembered forever.