Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lots of things make me smile each and every day.  And yet, I realize that I should find more reasons to smile.  When I'm having a particularly bumpy day, I occasionally force a smile - even a fake one - because, sometimes, just the feeling of a smile can make me feel better.  And, if my fake cheesy grin doesn't lighten my spirits, it is sure to give someone else a chuckle as they wonder what is wrong with me and my joker face. 

In addition to my usual smiles over the ordinary stuff, I thought I would share two other things that made me smile today.

Smile #1

This afternoon, I took two of my three kids swimming.  The other one I dragged along much to his chagrin.  He'd hoped I would let him stay alone, but "not tonight," I said, "we might need to run to the store afterwards and I don't know how late we will be."  After an uncharacteristic protest, he knew there was no escaping this fate.  Rather than swim, however, he chose to sit and work on one of his Superteam Comics.  While three of us "exercised" our bodies, he exercised his creativity.

At our YMCA, there is a Vortex pool.  The Vortex is an oval shaped current pool that allows you to exercise by working against the current or "go with the flow" and ride along in the current.  I, personally, enjoy getting a good work out against the current and then kicking back with a pool noodle for a relaxing float. 

Hanging out in the Vortex today was one of "the regulars".  This particular "regular" makes me smile every time I see him.  I don't know his name.  I don't know much about him at all.  What I do know is that he is a large young man, likely a teenager, who is loved by God and valued beyond measure.  My guess is that he has a diagnosis of a severe cognitive disability and autism.  I've never heard him say a word, but I hear him every time he is there.  I learned that this young man, along with some sort of support worker, comes pretty much every day to partake in this special daily routine.

The thing that makes me smile about this young man is the amazing enjoyment he clearly gains from his nightly plunge.  He spends an hour or more going around and around in that Vortex.  He slowly bobs up and down in the current, sometimes rolling over, sometimes completely submerging himself.  Much of the time, he vocalizes loudly, nothing specific,but clearly happy.  While he appears somewhat oblivious to others around him, he manages not to run into anyone else sharing the waterway with him.  Every so often, his support worker tosses him a ball, which he holds onto as he circles.  When he comes around to her again, he hands the ball back to her.  Much of the time, his face holds no readable expression.  But suddenly, without warning, he might break into a large grin with eyes that sparkle as if he is keeping the best secret ever.  My guess is, although he can't express it, he enjoys this experience more than anyone else in the Y.  Despite his "limitations", he is living these moments full out with unabashed delight.  He is literally soaking in the moment and living out loud.  Every time I see him, I am challenged, encouraged, and delighted.  Every time I see him, he makes me smile.

Smile #2

I love the great outdoors.  Unlike many women, I don't mind roughing it or getting a bit grimy.  Some of my favourite moments are those spent in nature.  Our Calgary home, therefore, was a bit of a stretch for me.  While the amazing Rocky's were not far from where we lived, our yard and neighborhood itself was far from my ideal physical environment.  Good neighbors - yes!  Good scenery - no.

This evening, after returning from the YMCA and a quick grocery stop, I headed outside to tend to our bird feeder.  This, in itself, brings me much satisfaction as there is a great variety of birds in our back yard.  In addition to my bag of seed, I carried along some corn cobs.  The corn was for our resident deer. We don't see them now near as much as we did in the winter, but tracks in the yard bear witness to their continued presence.  On a few occasions, we have had 9 deer at a time in our yard.  At any rate, as I stopped to put out the corn - I usually take a minute or so to break off some of the kernels-, I looked up into a big tree in our woods.  Over a few days at the end of February and the beginning of March, we saw a raccoon in that big tree.  Ever since, then, I often  look into that tree, expectantly hoping to catch a glimpse of our little friend.  Sure enough, there they were...not one, but two large raccoons.  After a moment they looked up.  For a few minutes we stared at each other.  I waved the corn as a peace offering half hoping (and half nervous) they would climb down to greet me.  Eventually, they scurried into their hole in the tree, peeking back out before making a final farewell.  What a treat!  And then, to top it off, I heard loons chattering on the lake across the road.  In that moment, I felt so privileged and humbled.  I know it may sound cheesy, but I just am so grateful to have this available to me, just outside my door. I couldn't help but smile and thank God for this amazing ending to my day.

What makes you smile?  Feel free to share...chances are, it will make someone else smile too!

[I actually wrote this last night, but need to do a quick read over before posting it because it got too late last night.  I thought I would add that tonight, while coming home from the YMCA - I had Zumba, which also makes me smile and would make you laugh - I saw a little red fox about 3 miles from my house.  Once again, I had to smile and give thanks for the creation critters that roam so near.]

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