Reasons to Smile

Little dog with owner spend a day at the park playing and having fun
After months of job searching, Diane was excited to be back in the workforce again. During the first day on her new job she emailed me two JPG files. Opening them I smiled with delight. One was a picture of a cafeteria and the second a bright blue piggy bank. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not one of my advice columns about finding a new job. No, it’s about…well, read on and see what you think.
Blue Piggy Bank

Never before has anyone sent me a picture of a cafeteria. This was a first. Although my client, Diane, was grateful to secure a job which meant drawing a long-awaited weekly paycheck, she wholeheartedly appreciated the small perks that made her first day a welcoming experience. The cafeteria was sparking clean and shiny, well stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. This meant no brown bagging it or running out to expensive, crowded restaurants. My client’s new employer was a large financial institution. The bright blue piggy bank was symbolic of perks such as a free checking account along with other benefits included in the total compensation package.

Later that day I thought about Diane taking a few minutes out of her lunch hour to share her excitement with me. When was the last time I hit the pause button and stopped to show appreciation for simple blessings? About that time I gazed out my office window and watched a vibrant humming bird light on a lantana bush. Yep, got the timely message, and bowed my head in thanks.
free humming bird
Then I wrote this little motivational phase in my daily journal: “Just open your eyes and you will have many reasons to smile.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the rigors of everyday life always working toward that big pot at the end of the rainbow and overlooking reasons to smile and acknowledge tiny gifts. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying, “There is more to life than simply increasing speed.” Perhaps it’s time we all slowed down a bit to observe the beauty in the details.

So, the next time you are presented with your own version of a bright blue piggy bank, take action. Acknowledge it with gratitude and thanks. Think about sharing it with someone. Tell me about it in the comments section of this blog. I’d love to see what you uncovered when you stopped to find joy in a small enchanting gift.

Sometimes You Just Feel Like a Hotdog

 Grilled hot dog

As we meandered in and out of casinos on the Las Vegas strip, I suddenly realized I was famished. About that time we were in Caesar’s Palace, so I suggested we head over to the Mesa Grill, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. My mouth began to water when I started thinking about some of his famous Southwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, my taste buds were in for a disappointment. We were too late for lunch, and too early for dinner. Knowing my stomach would not hold out much longer, I spotted a food court and went off in search of something healthy while my husband selected an all-American vendor who served up hot dogs, hamburgers and beer.

I snagged a table as my husband approached with a burger and ice cold beer. Taking his seat, John related a story about a man in front of him placing his order. Apparently, the server identified him as the chef of a local high-end restaurant. She was delighted to have him at her food stand, but puzzled and politely inquired why he was not eating at his establishment. The chef shrugged his shoulders and replied with a smile, “Sometimes you just feel like a hot dog.”

I love that story because it smacks of simplicity. Keeping it simple is definitely a good option. We have a tendency to over complicate our lives. For example, do you break out in a cold sweat when you cannot find your phone? We do derive benefits from our high tech toys, however, we should not be “on call” 24/7 unless we work in an industry that mandates it. It is perfectly acceptable to “unplug” and withdraw from all communication modes and enjoy some tranquility.

Simplifying life is not just about buying less and managing down time. Are you a slave to your social calendar? Do you say “yes” to every invitation? Do you feel obligated to spend time with people when you’d rather be home reading a great novel? Understand this…”no” is a good word. If jazz is not your preference and the gang is off to hear some band jamming Coltrane’s work, politely opt out. If your friend, Nina Negativity, wants to bend your ear for hours about all the drama in her life, find a way to distance yourself.

And finally, if throwing gourmet dinner parties for your friends causes stress and involves spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, simplify the menu, or suggest a pot luck. If all else fails, just serve up some hot dogs with a dollop of mustard and lots of love.

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