Monday Smiles and Book Excerpt

The following thoughts about smiles was taken from a devotional that a friend sent to me recently. In light of the challenges so many of us face with health issues, social concerns, and surviving horrible weather, I thought it would be good to stop and think about the power of a smile.

“Smiles are contagious. Smiling makes other people’s day a little brighter. Smiling can defuse a negative possibility. We smile without expectations of good to ourselves but to show kindness to others. If we are not in a good mood, smiling may not be the first response we want to make, but it is worth the effort. It may well make someone else’s day a little brighter and give them a reason to pass that smile on to others instead of a frown. We have so many reasons to share God’s blessings. Try sharing them with a smile.”

Sometimes we forget the impact a smile can have. Quite a few years ago I read something about how a smile can lift the mood of a harried clerk in a store, so I started smiling more, instead of just standing there waiting for the transaction to finish. Not only did it seem to make the clerk happy, I felt better, too.

Of the 10 Big Benefits of Smiling I found on the Very Well Mind website, this one was a bit of a surprise:

Smiling Reduces Pain

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together, these brain chemicals make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do they elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural drug.

So I’m going to try smiling more when my head hurts, even though the nerves on one side of my face would rather I not disturb them. 🙂

Another tidbit from the article:

Smiling Suggests Success

Research has shown that people who smile regularly appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and are more likely to be approached. Try putting on a smile at meetings and business appointments. You might find that people react to you differently.

I didn’t know that smiles were connected to success, but I have always been aware that a smiling face is an inviting face, suggesting friendliness and a willingness to connect. Some people smile more often than others, and there are folks who rarely smile, and their face at rest can be like an unconscious barrier. My husband had such a face and he was often seen as unapproachable, when he was usually just lost in a book or in his mind, mulling over thoughts about whatever was uppermost in his mind.

On the website, How Stuff Works, I found this article on How Many Muscles Does it Take to Smile. I’d always believed that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown, thereby reducing the wrinkles that might develop over time. Not that I really care any more about the wrinkles on my face. The take-away from the article is that there is no specific number to attach to either the smile or the frown muscles engaged, but the accepted belief is still that frowning takes more and creates more crevices.

That was an interesting article and a fun read, with nothing contradicting the information in the other article I read.

Now, in keeping with the lighthearted theme, I offer this excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant & a Paycheck for your reading pleasure. The book is a compilation of many of the columns I wrote for a Dallas suburban newspaper when I was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano. I was always humbled and thrilled to be put in the same category as Erma. She was my idol.

Little Black and White Ball

Or Whose Turn is it to Kick?

Long before anyone heard of Soccer Moms and Sarah Palin, I was spending several days a week at soccer games or schlepping kids to practice. For a number of years our lives revolved around the soccer fields and trying to make it to two or more games on a Saturday, sometimes scheduled only fifteen minutes apart and at opposite sides of town. Three of our kids, David, Michael, and Dany, played regularly for several years. The other two did not enjoy soccer. Anjanette stayed with swimming and diving before getting into gymnastics and dance.

 Paul made a valiant effort to hold to the family tradition and tried the sport for one year before deciding he just didn’t care for it.  He tried baseball after that, and didn’t care for it, either, finally realizing he wasn’t really the athletic type, which doesn’t mean he wasn’t in shape. One year he won a Physical Training trophy in JrROTC for doing the most sit-ups in a minute – over a hundred. I’m not sure who was the most surprised, Paul, me, or the buff kid he beat out.

David was the one who started the soccer craze at our house. He took to the sport like he was a Pele clone and played for two years before Michael made his debut. David has always been a good athlete, and he really liked the competitive spirit of the game, so the only problem he encountered on the field, was trying not to trip over the sole of his shoe that we tried to hold together with Duct tape. He was also lucky enough to start off on a good team, with good coaches, and they twice vied for city champs.

So I became a Soccer Mom before it was a status symbol. Even if it wasn’t my turn to take a kid to a game, I seldom missed one and usually ended up hoarse from cheering and exhausted from pacing up and down the sidelines. I never thought that taking an interest in our children’s activities would be so tiring.

As soon as Michael was old enough, he wanted to play soccer, too, so we signed him up. On the way to his first game, he was very excited about his new soccer shoes, his jersey, and his shorts, and I started to wonder what he thought the game was all about. He asked if I would yell and cheer the way I do at David’s games, and I told him of course, that’s a mother’s place in the scheme of things. But I’m not sure if the following fit the definition of cheering:

“Michael, kick the ball. Don’t just stand there!”

“Michael, get up! If you’re tired, your coach can put somebody in for you.”

“Michael, you’re not out there to pick flowers, you’re out there to play soccer.”

“Yes, Michael, I saw you kick the ball. Now get back into the game.”

“Michael, if the coach says come out of the game, come out. Don’t stand there arguing with him.”

And so the season went, with the kids playing what some of us called “chicken soccer.” That’s where all the players flock together around the ball and seem to move up and down the field in that cluster. Once in a while one kid would break loose and make a run at the goal, only to stop when the goalie said, “Stop.”

Obviously, this was not a team intent on winning a championship.

That first season came to a close with a rousing one-win and nine-loss record, but the kids weren’t daunted. After the final game, they were just as excited as if they’d won the city championship and their attitude toward losing was very pragmatic, so what?

Following that last game, there was a team picnic where the coach gave each of the boys a small trophy. As he handed them out, he made a few remarks about each boy, mainly concerning their potential once they got it all together. There were still a few boys waiting to receive their trophy when the coach said, “And to the boy who could really be a good soccer player, if you could ever get his attention on the field…”

Before a name was called, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind who was going to get a trophy next.

To be fair, after that first season, Michael did catch on to the intricacies of the game and went on to be a really good soccer player. Like his brother, he still plays in adult leagues, and loves every minute of it, despite all the bruises and broken bones.

Oh, did I mention, they both play goalie, and think nothing of sacrificing life and limb for a save?

That’s all from me, folks. I do hope your week starts off splendidly and continues through to the weekend. Be safe. Be happy, and don’t forget to smile.

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