Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Me and my funk and the power of a smile.

We've been in our new home for five weeks now and we absolutely love it. So much has been done in terms of remodeling, and there's still so much to be done as we continue to live here and make it ours.
It's been an exciting time and it's been an exhausting time for both of us.With so much to be happy about - so much to be grateful for - why then, WHY? would either of us feel down-in-the-dumps, discouraged, depressed or out-of-sorts? Why, indeed...
Being able to rent our former home for a few months before our actual move gave us more than ample time to pack and prepare. One of the things I took on was to go through my belongings and purge the things that no longer served me. In hindsight, I think my funk started way back then.
I sifted through cards and letters from my mom, drawings and sweet notes from little Carrie, a memory of an old flame, and photos from oh-so-long-ago. All those emotional ties connected to things and people, and the letting go of them...phew. Tough stuff right there.
Then came the actual move. The going non-stop day after day (and now week after week) took its toll physically. And when one is not well rested, one can usually not handle the emotional side of things as smoothly as one normally would. Sigh.
I'd been moping around for weeks and it was really getting old!

One day last week I swung by the grocery store on my lunch hour. Before I got out of the car I flipped my visor down to check my look in the mirror and noticed the scowl on my face. "This has got to stop," I thought. "It's just not like me..."
I did my shopping and grabbed an iced tea from Starbucks, all the while silently grumbling to myself about the long lines, the toddler throwing a fit over a candy bar, and the oblivious woman taking up the entire damn aisle with her cart. Seriously, lady?!
And then something happened that changed everything.

As I walked out the exit door, grocery bag in one hand and iced tea in the other, another customer was entering. The woman looked at me - looked me right in the eye - and her face lit up with the most generous smile. A smile that spoke volumes of all-is-right-with-the-world. The sparkle in her eyes combined with her kind expression melted me just a little. My heart burst wide open with gratitude.

It was a brief encounter, and one that touched me so deeply that I was reduced to a few tears on my way out to my car. She had no idea of the gift she'd given to me. No idea that her happy disposition, shared by way of a simple smile to a grumpy scowling me, could rub off on me and shift my perspective. She set me right back onto the path I am meant to be on.

Our recent house move has been wonderful. It's been exhausting. It's been rewarding and challenging and easy and frustrating and awesome. It's been a drastic change wrapped in the most amazing blessings we can imagine. And that's just it - it's been a huge change.
If I've learned nothing else in this process, it's this: even when we are enthusiastic, ready and willing, change is still tough. It takes time to feel settled after a move and I may not feel completely that way for a while now but that's ok. 

A stranger smiled at me and changed my perspective in a profound way.
Never underestimate the power of a smile to someone who isn't already wearing one.


Linda said...

Awww Deb! Sorry you have been feeling a bit down. I read once that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. I guess it is the result of the move, the emotions and the sheer physical exertion. So glad you were open to the strangers smile! Sending more smiles from 'over the pond'. ((HUGS)) X

debs14 said...

A smile costs nothing and can start a chain reaction - let's all make an effort to smile at someone who looks like they need a bit of cheer!
I always try to make the effort to smile and say hello to anyone elderly and on their own that I encounter when I'm out. I read something somewhere that you never know if you may be the only person that speaks to them that day and it really struck something inside me. (not that I'm suggesting for one moment that your 'smiler' saw you as someone elderly - oh my goodness I'm digging myself in a hole here!)
Throwing things out can be hugely emotional and I'm sure that, along with the obvious stress of moving, hasn't helped your mood. I'm pleased that you've turned the corner now and are managing to 'turn that frown upside down'!

Ruth said...

It's so easy to become bogged down in the minutiae of life, isn't it? So glad a smile made your day ... I smile at Londoners all the time ... very few smile back!

Patio Postcards said...

First I'd say Deb that you need to be gentle with yourself. Those things that we attach memory & emotion to are HUGE & to sort through & even dispose of, well that has got to be difficult. Hugely difficult. A smile is like a secret weapon. I try to smile & make eye contact as much as possible, whether I am really feeling it or not. What's that saying, fake it until you make it. One of the cashiers at Costco this morning thanked me for being such a cheerful customer. What a gift that was to me because I wasn't feeling so energy charged. So I am sending you a very big cyber smiley ... and thanks for being so honest, that is a gift.

Lady Ella said...

Glad you are on the up, but don't beat yourself up, we're all allowed an off-day or two! You have had a lot on your plate.
I've worked hard on smiling more in recent years and was surprised how quickly it started to become a habit. The other day I walked into an office at my work and one of my colleagues said she could tell it was me coming because of the cheery whistling that preceded me! I'm sure this is your default setting anyway but for me it was encouraging because I don't necessarily think of myself in that way. I'm also consciously upbeat in the supermarket/on the roads cos I think it's a chain reaction and could make a big difference, from brightening someone's day to preventing a car accident.

Becky said...

So glad that the smile helped you.

Karen said...

I'm a firm believer in the power of a smile! And totally agree with your analysis of your funk---not surprising as all!

Sian said...

Moving house is a hugely emotional thing for some of us who get so connected to the home we make. Honestly, don't underestimate its unsettling power.

A smile! Yes! I've been thinking about a post for World Kindness Day next week and I have a story about the power of a stranger's helping hand. I love this one too

Susanne said...

Sorry to hear you're having a bit of a rough patch. The thing about funks is that we are often well, well into them before we recognize it. I hope your turning point is a permanent one, but if not - go out and look for smiles, won't you?

Maria Ontiveros said...

I those get of this and gave smiles and kind words to people on Friday, and it felt good!
I love seeing your in process mandalas. Intend to ink and then paint but will try the other order today.

Barbara Eads said...

This is a beautiful post to remind us how even the smallest thing as a smile can have a huge impact on someone else. Still, I have to applaud you for recognizing it!! Our moods come and go, but it's nice to know that a simple little thing can turn it around---pronto!! Still loving your new house shares!

alexa said...

How lovely that you were noticing and receptive to her warm smile - and that your positive cheerful part got nourished and had a chance to step forward. Change is always tiring, isn't it - even though we can feel energised by it too. My lovely envelope from you arrived today, and I hope to be able to give it some proper attention at the weekend - thank-you sooo much! Smiling and waving from across the pond to you :).

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