Tag Archives: good day

The Smile Game

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“The ability to be in the present moment is the main component of mental wellness” Abraham Maslow

I am having some afterthoughts regarding my last post, The Art of Being Present and Making Authentic Connections.  I was thinking about being present and connecting with people and getting ready to write this post. What I am feeling mostly is gratitude.  I am grateful that this important to me.  Employing these practices has enriched my life. I have learned that I like people more than I thought I did, I am a people person. People have so much to offer, so do I. The previous post addressed being present and sharing my simple practice of connection. I had a fantastic flashback after I published that post and I want to share it here.

I was a teenager. My best friend and I rode the train into New York City. We were passionate about these regular adventures in to town. Gosh, we had so much fun. It is so wonderful to have a memory such as this bubble up from a place so long ago. I don’t think this memory is one I have consciously remembered before. Every trip into the city was an adventure.  We were in high school. Our plans always revolved around going to a museum, it was all about seeing art. It wasn’t just museums, it was galleries, shops, stopping to sketch architectural elements, it was people watching and walking the city streets. It was about lunch too, seeking out food that was new and different to us. We were fearless and brave. We ate hot dogs from street vendors, Italian ices in Central Park, Chinese food in small family owned restaurants, we adored deli, and occasionally we would dine at Horn & Hardart, an automat, just to sit there and patiently wait for that empty spot to be filled with another sandwich.  NYC was our oyster, we had not a care in the world. Looking back I sense that we felt completely present. We would head to the city early in the morning to arrive as the city was waking up.  It was always Saturday, a different kind of day in NYC, not the hustle and bustle of a work weekday. We lingered over our time, we drank the day in. We savored all that we experienced.  We enjoyed all the activities we planned, but we remained open to some of the spontaneous things that happen because we were open to that. We would head home in the late afternoon getting the 4 o’clock train. Our parents were picking us up and we usually were having a slumber party at one of our homes.  We never missed our train. We always arrived at Grand Central an hour or so early.  We had a game we played, it was truly a highlight of our day, we called it The Smile Game. We adored Grand Central, we could have spent the entire day there.  There was a large receiving room from the street as you entered.  You could walk straight ahead in to the main room where the ticket windows and the gates to the trains were. There were rows and rows of hard high-backed wooden benches to the sides of that center aisle. The men and ladies room were at opposite ends, with an aisle through the benches.  We would grab seats in the first row so we could see the men or women headed to the bathrooms. We needed those front row seats so people could see us. The smile game was just that – make eye contact smile and see if we could get a smile in return.  There were many people we never made contact with.  They were lost in thought, hurrying along completely unaware that we existed. Some stared blankly, some scowled, and some pretended that they did not see us.  Then it would happen, someone would smile, we were thrilled. There were days that we thought no one would smile.  That never happened. Others made eye contact, smiled and said hello.  We would return their hello, but never start a conversation. The woman’s side always had more responses than the men’s side.  We made up stories about the people as they walked by, oh the things we did not know. These people were older than us dealing with everything life was dishing out, they were experiencing things we knew nothing about. We were so young, 14 a and 15, and so innocent, clueless. This was pure friendship before life was dishing anything up to us.  We were free to be present, our minds and spirits were not cluttered with the business of life yet.  Right now, I am wondering if we were to go to Grand Central what would happen nearly 50 years later?  Sadly, I do know, it simply would not be the same.  I learned years ago you can’t go home again, the same applies to playing The Smile Game. Those are moments in time, in the past. I lost track of my best friend as my family moved to California at the end of that school year. We kept in touch for a while, not long.  Today I feel as though I have had a visit with her, the memory so vivid and so real. Yes, it is okay to be present in a memory, but it is not where I want to dwell. The memory was clear as a bell. I think this bubbled up out of long ago because The Smile Game is an early version of my practice today.  The visit to the past was a pleasure. I am back, delightfully and gratefully so…..

This trip down memory lane and the joy I felt getting those smiles validates why I enjoy a real connection with others today.  The practice is simple. When you interact with anyone, make eye contact, take your breath and quietly say your word (I use Namaste), centering yourself, opening up the possibility of a real connection.  You can practice in the mirror.  Look at yourself, take the breath, say the word you have chosen.  Feel the connection and the energy it generates. Looking in the mirror allows us to use the practice to connect with ourselves, nothing wrong with that. Any moment we are present is a wonderful thing. These moments add up to spending most of our time being present, being present is what opens us up to every possibility. Today I celebrate The Smile Game I played so long ago, my take away is all the joy I remember I felt making those innocent connections, a memory of moments spent in the present.  I am grateful this memory came to me, I enjoyed it, it was a great comfort to me.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: www.hudsonfineart.com

Hey, I had a GOOD Day

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If you don’t think every day is a good day, just try missing one.
Cavett Robert

I have said many times over the past few months, “this isn’t what I thought I’d be doing right now”. Well I am saying that again now. I planned and wrote a different post. But wait, today was a very good day. I feel compelled to share it. It seemed like any other day of recent memory. I awoke at 4:30 AM, yes I know very early, but it is when I begin my day. You can say, I am a morning person. More importantly it is something I can do and I am focused on what I can do these days, not what I can’t. I like to have breakfast with my sweet husband, John. It is a good way to start our day. I make him a hot breakfast each morning and I make his lunch. Making him breakfast is a lovely tradition in our house. Some of his friends (men) promised him when we were dating once we married that hot breakfast was history. Not at all to prove them wrong (well, maybe a little bit), I enjoy it. A healthy lunch he enjoys is also important.  I love seeing him off to work. After he left I rode my bike, I have worked up to 15 minutes twice a day. The bike is so good for my overall well-being and healing. I am exercising my muscles that can’t work themselves, and are atrophied due to the nerve damage. The does not require that I can lift my foot, which is a joy, because I can’t lift my foot. I have been so inactive with my precautions with my PT when I get off the bike and I have those little tingling sensations in my butt and legs, like I once experienced after a long walk, it feel so good and it lifts me up. I think the endorphins are good, and it is improving the quality of my appetite and sleep.

My physical therapist, Ellen came for a session She was here for me through my hip surgery four years ago, she has been with me through my two hip revisions this summer. She is fantastic. She is kind and patient. Her encouragement is priceless. We have become friendly and I am a bit sad that Thursday will be our last session. The good news, she believes I am ready. I really like seeing her, she has brightened many a day. I know how to do my PT and I will do it religiously.  I am honored to do the work that works toward my recovery. I made her some of my fabulous granola, a small parting gift. It is perfect, she loves cereal. We are certain to be in touch as we have a bond.

I had a couple of unexpected phone calls, from two of my favorite people. I found myself being very engaged, less flat and very much interested in our conversations. Was I feeling more like myself, I think I was. Both of my friends noticed. I noticed too.

The day continued. I did some work in my Etsy shop. I have a vintage jewelry shop. I had re-opened my shop on Labor Day, quite fitting I thought. It had been closed for three months as I was unable to work.  The shop re-opened to a flurry of activity and seven orders right from the smash. I was thrilled, and encouraged as well. Thing then went totally flat. I can happily report that I usually have orders each day, or one or two days between orders. The initial flurry died down and nine days went by with not a single order. Something was not right. I chalked it up to being closed and needing to get back up on the search engines. One day last week I went downstairs to do some laundry, I walk through my studio to get to the laundry room. I stopped in the studio and turned on the light. What I saw, for the first time, horrified me. My studio was lifeless, I had no custom work, my bench look lonely. It was dusty, I saw a few cobwebs, the chi was perfectly awful. It looked like a place where something wonderful had happened there and then for some reason it stopped. I wasn’t happening at all. This was a revelation, I set about making the necessary changes. Simple things like cleaning, I felt myself coming alive, invigorated about my work, my studio and my shop. I also realized that I had not been very engaging with my customers since reopening. I wasn’t in touch with other shop keeps I was friendly with. I wasn’t connecting on social media. I was flat, the shop was flat, but I knew how to change that. I have worked so hard. I learned so much building my business, I experienced success. Okay, we are on our way back! I wanted to contribute to the household, and I wanted my income stream back. That afternoon I engaged like I knew how. I was even a bit animated. I was still in here. That evening I had two sales and sales are increasing. Things are looking up and feels great. Keep doing the things you can, and for goodness sakes do them well.

I had some lunch, focusing on my protein intake. I am what I eat. I set about making that yummy granola and baked two loaves of pumpkin bread with craisins and toasted pecans. The house smelled wonderful. I put some music on. I love music, where had the music been? One loaf of pumpkin bread for my husbands lunch and a loaf for my friend I was getting together with tomorrow night.

Yes, I have plans out in the world with a dear friend. I will be driving, driving at night which I have not done since the spring….baby steps. Fantastic! I had a call from her, we firmed up our plan and gosh, it just felt great. I did another fifteen minutes on my precious bike, a ride to well-being. I worked on my planned post and thought I am having a good day. I must write about that. This may on the surface seem pretty mundane, my day, it was. But not to me. It had a sparkle to it. I was seeing and thinking about things just a little bit differently. Dare I say, feeling like myself. That my darlings is miles from mundane…..

So really, truly, no crosses count, hands down, one good day. I haven’t thought about a day being good in a very long while. Am I back on track? I pray it will grow and continue in that direction. I am sure the Prozac is helping, I know the iron supplements are, I am sleeping and most of all I remain hopeful, prayerful and grateful. This day added up to good and I say bring ’em on……..

Hoping this finds you in the best of spirits.

Always dazzle, Karen