Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sharing a smile

As I was serving coffee to the residents at work last Saturday, a woman who is commonly quite grumpy stopped me in my tracks and asked me if I always smile. I filled her mug, smiled back and told her that I try to smile as often as possible. As I worked my way around the table, I explained to her that if I wasn't able to do anything else all day, all I wanted to do was make at least one person smile. I looked up from the last mug I filled and turned to her, inquisitively. Low and behold, a smile crept across her face and my heart filled with appreciation. Her rigidity melted away and for the rest of the day, I could tell he mood was a little more lighthearted than previous days. Each time I walked by throughout my busy day, a little chuckle would escape and she would shake he head in confusion. Why would little Miss Valerie keep smiling all day?

From a very young age I've been an uncontrollably optimistic person. I always try to make the best of every situation, find the good in the bad, and look for the sweet amongst the sour. Part of that optimism might come from the challenges I faced growing up. I never had a cookie cutter life, and overcoming obstacles became a rewarding challenge. I try to learn from every situation and take advantage of every opportunity to grow as an individual. Without optimism, I could have easily succumb to a fatalistic attitude but that just ain't my style.

So here I am today, working with the elderly in an assisted living facility. Each day I work with individuals suffering from all sorts of ailments and diseases, all of which dampening their spirit. So, each chance I get, I share my optimism. Whether it's sitting with one of them, reminiscing about days gone by, or simply cheering them up on a bad day, my goal is to share the joy.

From time to time, though, I forget my own goal. I let the world bring me down. I focus on the here and now and forget about the big picture. With the election nearing, Hurricane Sandy battering the East Coast and the weak economy, it's easy to find something to worry about. That's when I take a moment to sit back and refocus on what really matters. I stop sweating the small stuff and thank heaven for what I have. A happy, healthy family, a safe home to take shelter in, food in my belly and clothing on my back. What do I need besides that? Maybe just a smile on my face!