Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Power of a Smile

My smiling scarecrows make me smile every time I pull up in front of my house.

And it makes me think of the power of a smile.

A smile and a kind word can change the course of a day.

Starting a morning for a sleepy child: "Good morning, sunshine!"

Defusing a conflict. A softened face, a warm smile, and, "Let's start this over, OK?"

A wave and smile across the street to a neighbor or even a stranger. You never know what a difference it will make.

A smile and a thank you (along with their name - people love to hear their names spoken kindly) to a store clerk or one who is sweeping the aisles and stocking the shelves. 

To the scraggly homeless precious one on the street corner, a welcoming smile and a warm word, along with a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

To the struggling teen an understanding smile and a, "What can I do to help?"

A smile can change someone's or whole life. You just might be the missing link to joy.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. –Phyllis Diller

A smile confuses an approaching frown. – Author Unknown

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” – Denis Waitley

If you’re not using your smile, you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank and no checkbook.” – Les Giblin

People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile. –Lee Mildon

The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. – Author Unknown

A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.” –Charles Gordy

A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.” – Author Unknown

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.” – George Eliot

A laugh is a smile that bursts. – Mary H. Waldrip

Smile – sunshine is good for your teeth. – Author Unknown

The shortest distance between two people is a smile. – Author Unknown

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” –Mother Teresa

A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles. –Washington Irving 

Beauty is power; a smile is its sword. – Charles Reade

A smile is the universal welcome. – Max Eastman

Keep smiling – it makes people wonder what you’ve been up to. – Author Unknown

You’re never fully dressed without a smile. – Martin Charnin

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. – Janet Lane

All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile. – Chris Hart

If you would like to spoil the day for a grouch, give him a smile. – Author Unknown

Smile – it increases your face value. – Author Unknown

Peace begins with a smile. – Mother Teresa

A smile is a powerful weapon; you can even break ice with it. – Author Unknown

Most smiles are started by another smile. – Author Unknown

A smile is something you can’t give away; it always comes back to you. – Author Unknown

A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. – Author Unknown

It takes a lot of work from the face to let out a smile, but just think what good smiling can bring to the most important muscle of the body… the heart. – Author Unknown

(Quotes found here.)

And it's been said, a smile can save a life! At Australia's worst suicide spot, one man saves lives with a kind smile and a cup of tea

So smile already!


This post is part of my Autumn Grace 2015 series.

See also: Your Kindness Gave Me Courage

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Easiest Pumpkin Craft Ever

Easiest pumpkin craft ever! Seriously!

Small white artificial pumpkins at Walmart - 98 cents each. One orange permanent marker, maybe some other colors. Five minutes. No mess. Boom. Or if you want to get fancy, get some squeeze tubes of puffy paint and let your kids have a go at it.

Once a month my daughter Julia and her husband Alex organize an outreach dinner for folks who are homeless (camping in the woods) or living in transitional housing at a local motel. She just had her second baby last month, so she stayed home tonight, but I loved seeing my sweet son-in-law.

I often bring simple table decorations, and I usually don't come back home with them. Tonight, some of the kids there liked them so much, it was a joy to pass them along.

I was sort of in a hurry this afternoon since my priority was making a chicken casserole to bring, so I didn't get time to decorate them the way I wanted with some puffy paint. I literally grabbed my markers as I was running out the door and was relieved to find the bag of pumpkins still in the van. When we got to the motel where we do the dinner, I sat for about 10 minutes and wrote encouraging phrases that I thought would bless our friends at the outreach.

Fear is a big deal when you don't have proper housing.

We want our comfort to go beyond words, though. Dinner. Live music. Bags of toiletries. Shoes. Rain ponchos. Dollar store gift cards. Those speak love in tangible ways.

Kids love to serve ~~
my youngest daughter and her friend

And so does a little pumpkin sitting on your motel night stand.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

This post is part of my Autumn Grace 2015 series.

P.S. Please share on Facebook or other social media!

P.P.S. Read more?

13 Ways to Help People Who Are Homeless

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Beauty for My Blue Haven


A month ago I shared My Blue Haven, the decorating I have done in my bedroom. (Be sure to click that link and take a peek!) I have a few more blue things to add, but first a digression on where I found one of them.

A friend had posted on Facebook that her friend Christine Brown was opening a new art/craft studio and community art space called Barbed Wire Browns.  (Facebook page here.) Wedged in between my Saturday errands, I made sure I squeezed in a visit to the Grand Opening. In addition to the beautiful pieces for sale, there will also be classes and make-and-take sessions. I'm so glad I went! Besides all the pretty things, I enjoyed chatting with Christine and realizing how much we have in common.

Christine Brown
Barbed Wire Browns
in Longwood, Florida

Christine and the other artists craft a lot of their creations from reclaimed materials, such as old window frames. These necklaces feature clippings from old hymnals.

My eyes were quickly drawn to the words on this tall glass panel with a distressed light blue frame. (Yes, it is reclaimed vintage wood.) I love words. I love inspiration. I love this shade of blue. I had some birthday money. It was mine.

I hung it over my bedside table. 


Just what I need to read first thing in the morning!

I found the blue globe lamp on clearance for $5 at IKEA. It gives off just the right amount of glow as I am getting ready for bed at night. Soothing!

At Walmart that night, I spotted a blue laundry basket, blue towels, and blue hangers for my favorite blue shirts. Laundry baskets and bath towels always disappear at our house. I wanted a way to distinguish which ones are MINE and not for general use! It is not selfish to preserve my own sanity.

I also found a light blue sheet set, which I badly needed. Microfiber is so soft! I have such a hard time sleeping at night that every little extra bit of comfort makes a big difference. I stacked pairs of dense foam pillows into two of the pillow cases because I am supposed to sleep on my side (back problems and sleep apnea) and these sturdy "pillow bricks" in front and back of me help keep me in position.

On my IKEA trip last month, I also picked out these inexpensive blue picture frames. I reframed three photos I already had on my shelf. The color is actually more of a turquoise/teal shade than it appears in the photo. I plan to hit IKEA's clearance aisle again when I drive down that way for my next spinal neurologist appointment later this month. It's a 30 minute drive in good traffic, so I try to make the best of wherever I am. I'm on the go so much that I try to keep my tote bag and purse in the same place, ready to grab on moment's notice.

This box and trash can aren't new, but I borrowed them from the living room, which is now decorated for autumn. I always need a handy box to stash things that migrate into my room and need to be put away elsewhere.

My youngest daughter brought me breakfast in bed...

A few last little thoughts:

I found this Australian decorating book, How to Decorate: An Inspiring and Practical Handbook by Shannon Fricke, at Brightlight, my favorite used bookstore. I haven't read all the way through yet, but I'm already nodding my head at this quote from the chapter "Telling Your Own Decorating Story":
"Whoever I'm decorating for, I always begin by constructing the story of the space and the people living in it. I find this the best way to humanise a space and give it a personality. Unearthing your story isn't easy, I admit. We're complex creatures with many facets, elements and stories. But once you begin to take note of your life, the places you love and the things that make you smile, you'll see a thread or a pattern emerging that will form the basis of your decorating story... Once you have your story in place, you can begin to piece together the decorating puzzle, matching that story with colour, texture, and spacial configurations. The aim is to elicit some ideas and watch as they begin to flower."
That's how I've decorated the bedroom. I know the things that speak to me, that make me feel calm, creative, cheerful, and courageous. Blue. Soft. Vintage. Books. Wood. Quilts. Muslin and tatted lace. Tie dye. Baskets. Vibrant chalks. Family photographs. Encouraging words. Solitude. All the things I'll want in my dream cottage someday.

(I do already have a cottage, but it's just too tiny to live in. My mother bought it for me when I was in college, so it's a sweet memory of her, and part of my story.)

What is your story?

Watch this video, where Shannon Fricke talks about this concept of "your decorating story" and how to nurture your creativity every day.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles