Smile, You’re on Candid Camera

“Smile,” my husband urged me as we were navigating a cart the size of a tanker through the insanely busy and crowded Costco. What he did not know is that I had been smiling for a while, excusing people who darted in front of my cart willy nilly, and stopping just short of crashing into oblivious shoppers who were only pretending to be less than mindful to get where they were going without appearing insensitive.

I was done smiling and excusing and dodging. The aggressive me who I generally keep under wraps was starting to make her appearance, and she was not pretty. She grumbles not quite under her breath, she darts seemingly obliviously in front of other carts, and when she gets to the check out and some guy with a cart full of fertilizer and topsoil scoots in front of her cart and beats her to the lane she was very clearly aiming for, she does not smile. In fact she frowns and gives him a raised eyebrow. He smiled goofily but does not relinquish the place he has stolen in line.

“We are never coming here on a Saturday again” I declare vehemently to my husband (I did not just say it, or state it, I declared it vehemently). He agreed, as he is not really fond of the aggressive me. But as I said before, he was not with me while I was being light-heartedly juggled and pushed around in the aisles of Costco. He was returning some jeans that had proven to be a size too big, so he was safely in the return line while I was in the jungle, smiling at my assailants.

I am generally a person who smiles at others—for no reason other than the fact that I like their reaction and subsequent reaction (which is usually a return smile). But I have my limits, and that limit was reached on Saturday. In spades. When I was younger I was often told to smile, which made me grimace in response. I often thought to myself that I was not a grinning idiot or someone who should be prompted to smile. Whose business was it anyway, whether I smiled or not? Then I caught a reflection of my unsmiling (arrogant, deluded, smug) self in the mirror and it was none too pleasant. So I started to smile more. Now I smile or try to half smile so that the havoc wrought by age (at rest my face unfortunately sports a downturned mouth which makes me look really grouchy) is at least partially compensated.

This brings me to the point of this column (which I am sure you were wondering about). The following phrase caught my attention in a book I just started reading over the weekend: “A smile is the passport kindness uses to travel to your eyes, your heart, your soul.” At one time this type of jargon would have made me gag at its sweetness. But having travelled down the road for a few decades, I now understand the truth of the words.

The book is called “Live Your Dash” and it is by Linda Ellis, the author of the “Live Your Dash” poem which was met with worldwide accolades. Not because the poetry sang, as it is to me not particularly lyrical, but because of what it counselled—that we “make every moment matter”. The dash of course is the little line between our birth date and the date of our death, and to quote her poem:

“To many, it is but a hyphen….
Marking time between the years,
but in that little dash, is a lifetime
of laughter, love and tears.”

So, I have determined that during my dash years, I should smile more (even if I look like a grinning idiot) and not use my “facial facade” as a closed gate. Ellis says quite wisely that some people believe that if they smile they are “opening that gate to an unwelcome world” when instead she counters, “sharing a smile is like aspirin for the soul. It helps remove the hurt from the inside out.”

I do think though, that if smiling more is going to be my reigning philosophy I should avoid Costco on Saturday mornings. Why set myself up for failure? Turning that frown upside down is not always possible when you are playing Dodge ‘em Carts.

Published in: on April 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm  Comments (14)  
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Is Bliss the Whole Truth?

Holkham Hall - the rooms inside - The Old Kitc...

The Old Kitchen clock (Photo credit: ell brown)

Cause to celebrate: we change the clocks this weekend and “spring forward” to satisfy our urge to save daylight. We have no control over this—it is ordained.

Why This is Cause to Celebrate: my kitchen clock will now not be an hour ahead—for the next six months it will be the right time. Even if something is ordained it does not mean that we cannot rebel just a little bit. By not changing the time on the kitchen wall clock, I am not being controlled by that effervescent Big Brother.

The Truth of the Matter: The kitchen clock is really high up on the wall in the kitchen – you need a ladder, or at the very least a chair to reach it, take it down, and change the time. In the last six months I did not have the will to change it. And no, not once did it fool me into thinking I was late for something.

My little rebellion was really just laziness. And Seinfeld is right, everyday life is all about nothing.

Bliss is somewhere between the truth and a good story. What do you think?

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 11:01 am  Comments (60)  
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My To Do List ~ The Sorry Story

to do list

to do list (Photo credit: ebby)

How did I do with the first “To do” list I posted last week? Since you, my readers are clamouring for an update (okay only one of you asked—but that is all I need), I will tell you how I did. The list will be in italics and my response in a regular font.  I know you can’t wait to see how I made out (yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm):

1. First things first: I must write my On The Homefront column for the week for my newspaper deadline, which is Monday, and as of 6:45 on Sunday night, have no idea what the topic will be.

This is one of those things that have to be done every week. Yes I completed it, but due to its nature, have to do it again this week. The only time this is ever taken off my list is the week between Christmas and the New Year, as it is a holiday for the whole newspaper staff.

2. Write up council news taken from last week’s council meeting—discounting all the drainage and sewage discussions,…

Again this is something I have to do every week, except for the above noted holiday.

3. Write up the article for the Wine, Writers and Words Workshop.

This makes it way to this week’s list and for Monday’s deadline. Sometimes I have leeway with things that have happened, but not things that are going to happen.

4. Continue doing book work for our company.

Ongoing, and another one for this week’s list—I so hate paperwork and filing, and numbers—I like words!

5. Get everything into files—

I don’t want to talk about it.

Time Management

Time Management (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

6. Get some groceries and plan meals. Sounds easy but it is not. Or not for me. Will let you know how I do here.

This is one of those things that rears its ugly head week after week after week after (you get my drift). I did do it, but it has to be done again in a few days.

7. Get the house in some semblance of order which means get the pile of clothes off the bed and into the closet or drawers. Seriously, I cannot die suddenly, as my bedroom is in such a terrible mess I would be blushing in the next life over what I left behind.

Thinking about having a living will that says no one is allowed in my bedroom after I die except my husband. This is a mean thing to do to him, but at least finally the bedroom will be clean.

8. Email my youngest son, Tyler who is at college and my sister Peggy every day. Expect to hear back from Peggy. Be surprised if Ty ever emails back. (I am one of his free calls on his phone, so we do talk often).

Did this religiously, may have missed one day for each of them. As predicted, my sister writes back, but Tyler calls.

9. Do some kind of  post for this blog every day; keep up with my blogging friends.

So for the first week in a long time, I think I missed posting for a day. It was probably my rebellion due to the fact that it was on the list.

10. Prepare a presentation for my Writers’ Group about blogging.

I was going to email them at the last minute to say I did not do it, but pulled myself up by my frayed bootstraps and did it. It was not really that hard because so many of you helped me out with your suggestions—so I used your responses to provide them with answers from a variety of people, instead of just me. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

11. Work on my October book and an intro to my On The Homefront book—thinking of calling it “The Worst of On The Homefront.”

I did both of these this morning before I wrote up this account of my To Do list so I could say that I had done them.

The good thing about “To do” lists is that you do some of it because you have to, you rebel against some of it (which does not really pay off in the end as you still have to do them), and it makes you do things you know you should. The best thing is that I finally went back to my book-in-waiting “Always October”  with a new twist that will help move it forward, and I got a good start on my “On The Homefront” book by writing up part of the introduction.

All in all, I would give myself an A+. (I am a pretty easy marker unless I am marking other people’s papers.)

Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm  Comments (31)  
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