Category Archives: Tao

Just Smile


How do some people smile all the time, while carrying worries, concerns and other

challenges in their daily lives? This information will fill an aisle of books, in a large

bookstore and possibly be the sole purpose in some blogs and television shows. What

new ways can get your ‘groove’ back? I am not sure if any of these are particularly

“new,” but I am as sure as the “sun will come up tomorrow,” some of these may bring

you a new ‘lease on life!’ (Yes, “Annie,” the musical play and movie, does remind us

that it is a “hard knocks’ life,” along with how we should try to face every new day.)


Suggestions for getting happy feelings started in your mind, also getting your energy

revived and other ways for getting out of your funk will be found here. If I were a

speaker, I may try a joke:


“There was an elderly man who wanted his younger wife to become pregnant. It was

something she desired also. He went to his family doctor asking for him to suggest

ways of making this result come about. The doctor suggested going to a fertility expert,

so the man set up another appointment. He went on his own, since his athletic wife was

busy taking her tennis lessons.

The specialist’s receptionist gave him a specimen cup to take home and bring back the

next day. She explained what he needed to do to fill it, along with telling him to put it in

the refrigerator overnight. This would get the ‘ball rolling.’ No other way to find out what

level his sperm count would be until he brought this back.

The excited man left the office, with a little more pep in his step.

The patient came back with an empty specimen cup. The receptionist could see the man’s

deflated ego, his head was drooping. She did not ask him a thing,  since she could not

imagine the complications he had run into while collecting the specimen. She had the

dejected gentleman sit down, explaining to him that he must wait to see the doctor.

After reading a few magazines and the newspaper, the man was ready to leave the office,

irritated that such a simple action, which had produced children with his first wife, meant

he had to go through all this trouble again.

When he was escorted into one of the private rooms, the doctor came in and closed the

door behind him. The specialist asked when the empty specimen cup was given to him,

“What exactly was the problem?”

The frustrated man exclaimed,

“Well, I tried it with my right hand. . . nothing.

I tried it with my left hand. . . again, nothing.

So, my wife came home from her tennis lesson, she tried this with her right hand. . .


She decided to try her left hand. . .same results.

Then, she used her mouth. . . nothing!”

The doctor stopped this, since he was really shocked at the lack of response from

any of these practices.

The impatient man nearly shouted,

“Wait, doctor, I have to tell you more!”

The fertility specialist paused and said, “Proceed.”

“Well, we were desperate! I ended up asking my wife to invite our neighbor over,

since she is her best friend. . .”

The doctor incredulous interrupted,

“Wait a minute, did you say your wife’s friend tried this, too?”

The man exasperatingly sat down, saying in a low voice,

“Yeah, and we still couldn’t get the lid off the freaking specimen cup!”


Here are a few “Prevention Magazine” suggestions for ‘tapping your

inner peace and bringing some joy into your life.


1. “Do something called, “the ho’oponopono.”

This is a source of Hawaiian calm and doesn’t mean you need to drink

some Mai-Tai’s or dance at a luau. It is simply repeating these words

in a chant, which helps spread some warmth into your life. Murmuring

the “ho’oponopono” mantra is all about forgiveness. You, your family,

your enemy and the ones who have made your stomach get in a knot.

It means literally, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.”

By saying this in a low, quiet way, you will ease your anger, untighten

your thoughts and body, along with lowering your blood pressure.

“Try this, you may like it!”

(Source, “The Hormone Cure,” by Sara Gottfried, M.D.)


2. “Spritz a scent.”

There are essential oils which can bring you vitality, exuberance,

evoke special memories. Go to your favorite natural products store

and sniff testers until you find a couple of them which give you that

“Ah-h-h!” all over feeling. Good ones which bring many pleasant

feelings are lavender, orange, sage, and ylang-ylang. I like to head

to the Yankee Candle Company, which I know there are some who

will tell you that burning candles means there are pieces of ‘wick’

floating in the air. (My sister in law told me this before I ever read

this!) But, you can get a candle warmer, choosing your favorite scent.

In the fall, I enjoy and savor pumpkin spice, Home Sweet Home, and

country apple… I also found “Woodland Walk” at Meijer’s which has

a very different scent and it doesn’t cause me to want to eat cookies!


3. In 2011, a Michigan State University conducted a study of customer-

service employees. They found that ones who smiled throughout the

day, by thinking positive thoughts, reported feeling more serene overall.

I certainly would feel great if the customer service people would carry

this practice out. But I also did not see in the study, that there must

surely be a reward. By smiling; you get smiles back. This perpetuates

the positive activity. “Psychological Science,” (2013) published the results

which include smiling lowers your body’s stress response and also, can

even overcome ‘road rage,’ if one tries to smile in traffic jams!


4. Plant something. (If you are in warmer season now)

or Rake some leaves or clean your garden out. (If you are entering the

cooler season, where your plants need to be covered, the remains of

stems and messes need to be ‘mucked out.)

According to research done in a recent study, gardening is an even more

effective stress reliever than reading a good book! This was done in Holland.

There is also evidence microbes found in soil, may lift your mood, from an

older British study conducted in 2007. If you wish to clean your garden out,

digging in the dirt can also be a good way to greet Autumn’s weather changes,

along with feeling like you accomplished a big task. For me, I love the idea of

building a big pile of leaves, after using physical effort which does get your

endorphins going, and asking your children/grandkids/ neighbor kids or

a silly adult friend or two, to jump into the leaves with you!


5. Pet a cat, dog, gerbil or ?

If you don’t have a pet to take care of, it is always uplifting to go to an animal

shelter and offer to walk a dog. If you are a cat person, you are always welcome

to pet the kitties, there may be other unusual animals to see and touch, too. I

have a good friend whose two cats came from a farmer who was over-run with

cats. They are adorable calico cats, which I will be cat-sitting in just a week and

a half from now.


6. Offering to read to someone’s child, at the library. Volunteering for a monthly

obligation of being a classroom ‘helper’ or a ‘library aide’ are other ways to get your

spirits lifted.


Baking cookies is always a treat for me, along with my grandchildren. I am going to

share a company called “Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.” She has 400 employees,

over 2 million dollars sales in only 12 days of being located at the Minnesota State

Fair. Wow! People want cookies!! This retired elementary school teacher may be fun

to look up and get inspired.


Here are two books I can guarantee you will feel are ‘guilty pleasures’ but really will

entertain you! I did not skim nor read just the book jacket for these two FUN books!


1. “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating,” by Carole Radziwill. It is considered Popular

Fiction. The author was on the television show, “The Real Housewives of New York.” This

is a very satisfying read, one that used to be considered a ‘Beach book.’ Why does it have to

be summer-time to choose an indulgent piece of fluff, which may surprise you with some

deeper meaning, more than you would expect from a ‘real housewife!’ She was, after all,

an award-winning former journalist/reporter. Her book, “What Remains,” was critically

acclaimed, about the memoir of her marriage after her husband died of cancer in 1999.

The widow may not be based on herself, but her wry sense of humor, her simple writing

without frills, will be possibly one of the moving, insightful books you will enjoy this year.

2. “Confessions of a Counterfeit Country Farm Girl,” made me burst into laughter, each

time a new chapter started. This woman, like Carole R. above, is one who captures your

imagination and pulls your leg, getting you to picture all kinds of lively challenges in an

uprooted lifestyle. She is Susan McCorkindale, one of my friends, in my mind! Here are

some of the chapters I loved, “Days of Whining the Big Wigs,” “Get Down on the Farm,”

and the “Chick in the Mail.” The author was really running with the big wigs being the

former marketing director of both “Family Circle” and “Sports Illustrated.” Her husband’s

choice of farm living to raise their boys, involves the whole story, including learning how

to buy appropriate footwear, helping her boys to not always be the dirtiest kids, and how

to order different products, fertilizer, seeds, and of course baby chicks.


Eight Simple Steps to Have All Day Energy: Mini-Meals

1. Get up every day at the same time and eat something OTHER than refined carbs.

Suggestion in the August, 2014 “Prevention Magazine,”

Try some hunks of cheese, fruit and a scrambled egg.

2. When you have another hour until lunch, your cortisol levels are dipping, as is

your energy. So, go ahead and have a second cup of coffee.

3. Adding nuts to your day, will help you stay ‘full’ longer throughout the day.

Recommended only 1.5 ounces of almonds. Oh my, I hope you know how to measure

this delicious snack!

4. Lunch time.

Meat, protein if a vegan, eggs, avocado (decreases people’s appetites by as much as

40%) some fiber and vegetables. A salad with chicken, tomatoes and spring greens,

with some whole grain crackers, instead of croutons. This meal is supposed to be your

‘main’ meal of the day. You still have time to wear off the calories when you walk around

the block, catching up with your kids, friend or husband.

5. Sip water or herbal tea, (I love Bengal Tiger Tea, which is aromatic, cinnamon

and has, I believe some chicory in it.) Dehydrated people report more headaches

and dips in mood.

6. Carrots and hummus, yogurt with blueberries and a drizzle of honey, …

Suggestions for a small snack to ‘beat’ the mid-afternoon slump.

7. Dinner.

Balanced but not heavy. Your meal should not include greasy or spicy food, particularly

as we age. This can interfere with your sleep and also cause heartburn. It may also leave

you groggy in the morning.

8. A light carb-rich snack is okay, according to a new Yale review and American Journal

of Clinical Nutrition. Include a banana, milk or something that is not too heavy. I like the

idea of cookies, my favorite one is oatmeal raisin cookie. (My real favorite one is white

chocolate macadamia nut but am sure this is not allowed on this good food plan!) Often,

I go against protocol, so a small bowl of ice cream or a ‘treat’ is what will make me smile

before I go to bed at night. . . or a small goblet of wine or hard apple cider!


Dean Koontz quotation:

“Happiness is a choice. That sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it’s not; you can make it or not.

Readers (of Dean Koontz), over the years, say what they love about my books is that they’re

full of hope, and that’s the way I see life.

If you always dwell on what went wrong in the past it’s almost hopeless.

So, I don’t dwell.”

Check out Dean Koontz’s newest thriller: “Innocence,” at bookstores or the library.



Friend’s response


I have written so many times about my friend, Bill, that you

must feel like you know him! He is the man who my daughter

met at Bob Evans while she served him  coffee. We have figured

out this happened while she was age 15, now 12 years ago.

Bill is the man who once I started working at Advance Auto

distribution center, we started to become friends.

After that, we realized that he had been a friend of a man (Daniel)

whose parents I became close to at the Arbors nursing home

where I was an Activities Director. Daniel is one of the three men

named Dan that I dated in one month and wrote a post about.

Then, we realized that after Daniel’s parents died, I have lived

in that friend’s apartment building. Also, after we reflected back over

the years, our two families had lived in nearby towns. Somehow, 2 of my

3 teens had been friends with 3 0f his 5 teenagers, years ago!

Oh, and now, 2 of his 5 children work with my oldest daughter!

We have had so many overlapping lives that we revel in the fact that

karma or fate wanted us to share this path we walk together as friends.

We have credited that at least 3-4 times our paths crossed but probably

if we took a complete tally and we counted them, we have had almost

eight chances to meet.

Anyway, Bill and I ate dinner at Red Lobster this past Friday. We were

talking from the minute I got into his car until the minute he dropped

me back off at my apartment. Oh, by the way, Bill was divorced many

years before we actually dated and travelled around together for almost

four years. We mostly considered each other good friends and companions.

We have ultimately decided that we are not destined to live together nor

share our lives on a daily basis. We “work out” best as once or twice a month

best friends. I have written many posts all about Bill including our beginning.

(“The Man Who Knew My Daughter First” and goes on from there.)

The reason I am going to add this post to all the rest is more to define our

friendship and glorify the way two people who may not have a lot of surface

commonalities have a lot of deeper common threads, our values are very

similar. This to me sounds like a free form of poetry:


Family, God and True Friendship

We don’t agree in our religions but we believe in having a personal relationship

with God.

We don’t agree in ways to handle our problems. I raise my voice using dramatic

effect and he uses a rational, calm tone. But we do appreciate the ying and yang of

it. We can talk things out forever!

We don’t always agree in our health choices. I don’t like Bill’s smoking nor some

of the “bad” stuff he puts into his body. He agrees that these are his personal choices

and yet, I cannot help wanting to preach to him! (While I indulge in some cheesy

biscuits and shrimp scampi!)

We don’t agree about politics. He is not ever going to vote, he does not believe in

voting. But he does tell me that if he were to vote, he would choose the party I

vote for!

We don’t always agree on relationships. I believe in a firm and exclusive situation.

He feels that there should be no boundaries in relationships, everyone should be

able to have as many friends, no matter which sex they are. Part of this would rattle

me due to my past experiences and insecurities.

I do believe he is “very wise.”

He thinks I am “smart.”


I would like to close with a quote he sent me after our dinner and conversation.

To emphasize relationships that do work, Bill quoted Lao Tzu:


“The small tree that bends with the wind will not break,

but the tall and mighty oak that has lost its flexibility

will topple with the slightest breeze.”

The Man Who Knew My Daughter First (Bill)


During the course of my youngest daughter’s pursuit of money and her future,

she often worked at a wide variety of restaurants and a country club. She is

a social and interactive young person, so her work was quite lucrative. She also

felt close to some of her customers. No one was as close to her over the year she

worked at Bob Evans than a man named Bill.

She would talk to him about her courses, her books she read, her thoughts and

plans. She would fill and refill his coffee cup and listen to him talk to her about

mainly philosophy and becoming a calm and centered adult. She was always

coming home excited about the new words (like Tao and Daoism) and especially

enjoyed the Eastern philosophies he espoused.

Bill became a person who we met once, while my ex-husband and I stopped by

for a meal. He seemed genuinely pleased to meet us and he shook both our

hands. He was wearing a Kentucky hat and that became another subject

entirely that my daughter would hear stories about. He loved to cave and he

was very happy when he was out hiking or in nature. This all seemed to fit

with his studies of philosophy, too.

Once my daughter left the restaurant, there became numerous times that she

would think aloud, “I wonder where Bill worked?’ or “I wonder if he is down

in a cave in Kentucky this summer?”

Later, while in college, my daughter again brought up Bill’s name, “I wish he

could meet my roommate who is from Kentucky.” When she traveled down to

visit Erin’s family, she went to Louisville and listened to some blues and jazz

bands. My daughter recalled Bill talking about music and that he played the

guitar. She called home and said, “I wonder what kind of music he played?”

In a particularly trying semester of Philosophy, my daughter brought up Bill’s

name in a question over the phone, “Do you remember Bill’s last name? I really

need to talk to him about this dumb course I am taking!”

It was different when I started my laborer job, not knowing how to relate to

people until at lunch a last name connected me to someone who was an aunt

of my oldest daughter’s friend. We had another person join our table a second

aunt of the same daughter. I felt comfortable talking to people in my bins order

filling group. I still would not have approached anyone outside our group or ask

any questions about other people.

But, as I would walk into work for first shift, I did notice a man with a Kentucky

hat on. He looked possibly like the man I would have met in 2000, eight long

years ago. So much had happened, as you may recall, losing a house, a husband

and a professional job. I started say, “Good morning!” or “Hello” to this man with

the KY hat just to see if he recognized me. He would greet me with a smile, a nod of

his head or a “Good morning!” back at me. Neither of us were yet aware of the fact we

did know each other.

One morning, a long line at the security desk with a man dumping out all his pockets

and still setting off the beeper,  was getting “wanded,” and behind me a voice yelled out,

“Jeesh, Bill,” and “Leave it to you to make us late, Bill!”

Little tumblers in my brain suddenly came into focus and I knew that was THE Bill!”

How small a world could it be? (to be continued…)