Smile theory therapy. Yup, you read that right. Today, I am 6 months in, and still on task. I share with all of my fellow humans, my smile therapy cause, and update, in the hopes that the contagion of a smile, made by seeking eye contact and sharing with any and all individuals and groups I encounter, will elicit a return smile. May those strangers, knowingly or unknowingly, share that smile forward throughout their day. May this much-needed therapy for me, have a similar effect for those that carry on, unaware that they have been smiled upon… and may the smile spread across the world, like the butterfly effect.
Smile a bit in traffic at your fellow drivers if they can look up from their smartphones. Let that car edging out of a parking lot, get out in front of you, even though you may miss the green light. Hold open that door for those behind you. Wave and say hello across to the people walking across the street from you. Let’s act differently. Let us all smile a bit more and share some contagion that needs no doctor.
Six months ago, I made a conscious start while I walked with my Gatsby. Five out of five complete strangers smiled back at me and wished me a fine morning. As total unknowns, we schmoozed (talked) about the beautiful day ahead, the cuteness of my pup, the way the sun felt so nice on our backs.
The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects.
And remember, just when that caterpillar thought the whole world was over, what did she become? A butterfly. A meshuggeneh (crazy) flight pattern, some lovely flowers to flutter by, freedom, and a touch of sunshine on her wings.
The bitterest misfortune can be covered up with a smile. Dem bitersten mazel ken men farshtellen mil a schmaichel.
I gotta happily report back to you, 9 times out of 10 okay, some days, it is 7 out of 10, most people smiled right back at me. Me! They didn’t know me from Adam who the f*ck is Adam anyway. But when we locked eyes, and I let out my inner Mona Lisa, bam! Like a ray of light that shines through your window and warms your soul, these beautiful perfect strangers lobbed back some pearly whites right at me. Priceless!
My hope is that this therapy will reach you, wherever you may be residing. And may the effect linger, lovingly and empathetically, to all in its spell. We all may be able to heal this shit show of a vulnerable, unhappy world after all. So, can you try this too? Too much is going on. As people, we need to heal. Are you in with me? Let me know how your smile therapy goes. Please. It can’t hurt. Nu?
These past couple of weeks have left me verklempt (overcome with emotion). We’ve gone from tsuris (troubles)to nachas (joy) and back and forth a few times over. But hey, all is good. No kvetching (complaining) here… still quite grateful just to be… In my glass-half full world, the temples are gray, yet the mind is still childish (es iz groi di pai’eh un narish di dai’eh). Now look, sit! Enjoy some shots.
So friends, for today and this week, may you all be a mensch (decent and honorable person) and may you only run into mensches.
My Little (bottom left of the picture), she’s got herself some pipes, alright. Girlfriend can scream. She can shriek so much better than like Jamie Lee Curtis (nicknamed, the Queen of Scream) in any of the Halloween movies… It’s as if she is channeling some kind inner demon, that can reverberate at only the loudest volume. It starts from the tip of her toes and amplifies at the top of her lungs, barking, bellowing, clamoring … And yes, there are biting bouts of bonelessness, punching, and kicking that add to the happening that is a Little tantrum. Dear neighbors on all sides, above, and below, please accept my apologies for the ongoing mellifluous Mayday moments that travel freely through our thin walls. It’s no doubt, meshuggeneh (crazy) in here at times.
But there is a bigger problem that rocks me to my very core. Me and my Mrs., we do not know why our caged bird sings… Sure, there is a mishmash of anger, sadness, drama, fear, stress, exhaustion, hunger, and irrationality that we all experience every day since mr t took office from time to time. But she’s seven. How bad is life when you are seven? What kind of tsuris (trouble), plagues and misfortunes are stirring in the mind of my shana maideleh (sweet little girl)?Do I seek an exorcist so that Mrs., Big and I don’t get evicted completely bleed out from our eardrums? We are shreknt(frightened, terrorized).
There is no question that when my kinder (children) hurt, I hurt. You see, as I am certain you wise caregivers already know, this special performance nearby residents aside is saved only for us, her mishpocheh (family). Yes, we are safe enough to go all batsh*t cray-cray on to let your hair down. But it is a real shondah (shame) that we can’t crack this nut code and offer solace to my maidel (cutie-pie).
What is wrong? What happened? Are you angry honey? I don’t know. What happened honey? I don’t know. Little, can you stop screaming? I don’t know.Sweetie, please listen to mommy. No response. Did somebody hurt you? No. Did somebody hurt your feelings? I dunno? Are you sick, wounded, have we somehow scarred you for life tired, shaken, scared, hungry?
Okay, sweetie. Come with me so I can leave the room and not lose my sht all over this place we can talk more privately. You are right. We are not having Chinese food tonight. I am sorry that makes you mad and sad. And, this behavior is not okay actually it is quite impressive. If you think that acting this way will get you an Oscar or an Emmy a trip to the Chinese Restaurant, you are indeed batsht cray-cray incorrect. Now, are you really throwing a fit over Chinese food? Please know you can tell mommy or Ema absolutely anything in the world about anything and everything, and we will always love you. Always! If I could crawl inside you and see what it feels like to be myLittle right now, I would. I want to help you. And you cannot act this way. Okay? Okay, mommy. I’m sorry.
Take some deep elevator breaths and calm down. ( I do them too.) Good. Now Little, is this behavior you are sharing a good choice? No mommy. Is this behavior showing kindness to your family or community? No mommy. Whatis the one rule we have in our family? Be kind, mommy. Can we leave the bathroom where I am doing everything humanly possible to not go all meshuggeneh and scream louder than you and Jamie Lee Curtis combined go into the living room with everyone else and be kind now? Yes, mommy.
Consequences for such a performance? No TV. No iPad. No allowance. No play date. Obviously, no Chinese food. No solutions. Nothing works or phases my Little. Oh, she is a strong woman in the making! Somebody, help me?
Enter bathroom scene. Repeat. Oh, how I love this kid of mine!
If you have nothing to lose, you can try everything. Aoyb ir hot gornisht tsu farlim, ir kenen prubirn alts.
the sciencebranch of knowledgeprojection of feartsuris (troubles) concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services buying the stuff you need today, tomorrow and the next day for your family.
Meshuggah (crazy) behaviors or actions, that oftentimes arise with heart palpitationscreatively as the direct result of the scarcity of means, in order to achieve certain common and normal ends. Huh? ex.: We need to brush our teeth, we still, really!!!have no toothpaste… Achh!
Take a look at this photo. I walked into our bathroom the other day, and this is what I saw, no joke! From our loo to your eyes. I ran for my magical iPhone to snap this baby. And with this, comes a tale. After all, you that is why you are here …
Did you know, that when you run out of toothpaste, you can actually cut the tube in two or three parts, and have enough toothpaste to last a normal family of four at least five more days? Did you also know that when the deodorant thingy-mah-jiggy-holder falls from its container and bounces on the bathroom floor a few times and lands in the corner, a linty, hairy mess, you can remain odor free for about two weeks more, if you pick it up, wipe away the yuck, and rub it under your arms? Two weeks! And, that pump in the shampoo bottle… when that stops pouring out perfect spurts of soapy suds-making, you can lengthen and lusciously lather for days, maybe even a week if you take it off? The little straw itself holds two days worth of ‘do-cleaner! Then, the bottom of the bottle, don’t get me started! It’s robbery! In Yiddish, we call this, aroizgevarfeneh (pronounced ah-royz-geh-varf-ehn-uh). It literally means thrown out, wasted.
Extrapolate this scenario out across your personal purchases: think about the sunscreen, moisturizer, conditioner, make-up (like I would know, Nu?) caulk, paint, glue, … wait, don’t. It’s too upsetting to think of the money we’ve all put in the landfill left at the table. Look at this little Yiddisheh gem:
It is not so good with money, as it is bad without. Es iz nit azoi gut mit gelt es iz schlect on dem.
Living in the frugal lane, we’ve learned some very good money-saving tips and ideas. We’ve all worked to change our anti-penny-pinching ways many years ago. It’s all good. And we’ve argued and cried learned and grown. Vey iz mir (OMG!), it is madness if any of you let the above actions go unnoticed! Think conservation! Teaching the kinder (children) about resources and savings, everyday environmentalism and, well spartanomics!
My glass is always half-full. Now, I think it may be even more full than I ever imagined! What I do know:
To make promises and to love don’t cost any money. Tsuzogn un lib hoben kostn kain gelt nisht.
So try these tips. See if you save. If you have tips for us, please! Do tell! My Mrs. and me, we are trying desperately to save our money for a home. Alevai! (It should only happen!) These small humans we are raising, Little and Big, they cost a fortune! And, yes, these shanah maidels (sweet little girls), they are indeed priceless.
This is one tough world we live in… but who am I to tell you that? I wake up each morning and cautiously look at my smartphone, one eye opens at a time, and already, I get discouraged.
Stuff yourself with hope and you can go crazy. Fun loiter hofenung ver ich noch meshuggah.
Grateful? Mindful? Of course! Every day I remind myself of the good. And yet still, there is so much bad in the news, in the world, in our lives, in the lives of our friends. So what to do? I must find the laughter. Share the laughter, and add to the contagion in the chaos of the smile theory.
Laughter is heard farther than weeping. A gelechter hert men veiter vi a gevain.
So here’s a little story to share:
Right before school started, the Mrs. and me, we needed to get the kinder (kids) leggings and jeans. We went to Old Navy, you know, the cheap version of Gap? We found quite the sale, which better fits our frugal finances of $0 per month on frocks and finery. We found about 8 -10 pair, a shirt or two, and we were only lighter by $30-some dollars (That’s a -$30-some on the master budget spreadsheet). Not bad. Don’t you know, when we got home, the first pair my Big wants to wear has a dime sized hole mittendrinnen (smack dab in the middle of) her tuchas (tushy, butt, derriere)? I dry the tears and promise to sew this slit and salvage the day. After all, I am of the age that literally had to take Home Economics in school (feminism, oy vey). What part of baking brownies and crocheting toilet paper roll covers made that class economics? Oy, a whole other blog post right there. Needless to say, I made a promise.
A needle and thread were tough to find in our little flat, so two weeks later, I finally remember to make a trip to the local pharmacy. For $4.95, I buy a small kit to fix the leggings that were $1.99. Little, not caring a bit about the rip on the rump, had already worn them to school. Big, she has been hock mier chinik (banging on my tea kettle, yammering on and on) for me to make the fix.
It doesn’t cost anything to promise and to love. Tsuzogen un lib hoben kost nit kain gelt.
This morning, it was the first thing I set out to do. These pants, shmata (rags) no more! I make a nice hot coffee and place the new sewing kit, and the lacerated leggings all in arms reach. Gatsby, he is securely settled in my lap in support. Children nestled all snug in their beds our bed. I begin.
Threading a needle is a tad bit more difficult than I recall. Glasses on. Glasses off. Like Karate Kid, I repeat this mantra. At 654 months old, home ec or not, it took me over 25 minutes to put the blue f***ing thread through the teeny, tiny needle. Less than three minutes of sewing said slit, and I’m done. My Big, she is still sleeping. I almost want to wake her to see the joy on her shanah punim (beautiful, radiant face). I know she will wear them immediately.
I get up and proudly look in the mirror who the h*ll is that wrinkly old lady with gray hair?(Glasses on. Glasses off) as I brush my coffee tinted breath. I laugh. Maybe this gray coif is the silver lining of optimism I need.
I hope you all laugh today, and continue to find the laughter. We need it.
Folks, it’s time for a post update. We still fearlessly, tirelessly, endlessly march on, supping together in hopes of a higher purpose. Manners are hard to come by here at the Manor. This week I see that mac-n-cheese is still perceived and approached as finger food.Opposable thumbs do not impress our small humans. The Mrs., and me, our voices continue to make no sound at all to our giggly little, pierced ears who nosh (eat a little) during this very important nutritional act of derring-do. My glass, it stays half full yes, they spilled again, but I am using the metaphor now.
I’m always telling suggesting to the Mrs. about the importance of sitting down together to ess a bissel (eat a little). How we need to dine with the full mishpocheh (family). Studies by big machers (hot shots) like scholars and doctors all laud the big meal get together as the solution to practically all that plagues the planet (don’t get me started, oyvey iz mir).
Jointly sitting and supping brings benefits to the body, brain and overall ‘mini-mojo’ of our kinder (kids). A nice nosh (proper meal) together makes for little Epicureans that become ‘epi-curious’ eaters who will choose more fruits and veggies, and pick less fried foods and sugary beverages. If mealtime is conquered correctly, the consuming kinder (children) are less likely to kvell (be happy) over a ‘happy meal’ that is loaded with tasty toxins, added fats, oils and who the hell knows what other unsavory ingredients. They won’t hunger for the little tchotchkes (small, unnecessary plastic toys), that promote future gluttony and materialism. They will be less likely to become obese. That alone equals a healthier lifestyle with fewer illnesses. Kaynahorah (to ward off evils — like the big C, heart disease and stroke), all this magic with one familial sit down a day?
Wait! There’s more. Those same above-mentioned mavens add that clever conversation over a nice meal boosts vocabulary for our kinder (kids), which makes for stronger, happier readers. Nu? If you can survive manage regular family mealtimes as the kinder mature, higher test scores, better grades and overall academic performance are in your future.
Add an avocado to the meal, and you win top honors in Nobel nutrition.
Well, it is obvious that no maven of any sort has observed the goings on at our little corner of the dining room here at the Manor. The Mrs. and me, we do our best to offer nightly variations of healthy, overly expensive organic suppers while trying to stick to our frugalista rice and beans every night still ways. With you, I must be honest, dinners hock mier en chinikeh (drives me bat-shit crazy). Etiquette and decorum have left the building by this witching hour!
Things usually start smoothly. The girls, they clean up a bit and set the table when we beg, plead and bribe. They help bring out our food (beans and rice). We all sit, and the Mrs. and I, we ask open-ended questions like a job interview to try to get them to respond speak with us. They sit with their knees up, spread eagle (vey iz mir), and have clearly left their listening ears in the ‘OFF’ position. They seem to have their own form of communication that is specifically designed to exclude us. They use their fingers instead of utensils even for soup. In fact, just last night, I was prompted to wax eloquent on the beauty of our opposable thumbs and how they separate us from the animal kingdom in hopes they would just pick up a g-damned fork or a spoon and eat like humans.
Little, she has a tendency to lick random and incredibly disgusting things WTF. She gets up from the table an average of 267 times per meal. She may need more water, go use the bathroom, want something better to eat, have an undeniable urge to dance, jump on the trampoline, or simply incite an enormous giggle-fest with Big. And I won’t kid you when I say it, she ‘toots like a trumpeter’ at the table. My madelah (sweet little girl)!
Big, she started with the whole knees up posture. She may use a fork for a moment or two, then she will quickly resort to her more primal instincts and pick up everything with her fingers, especially condiments. She can tell a story or two during dinner, and get up to act it out, share via interpretive dance, or become totally taken in by the mishegas (craziness) of Little. This leaves the Mrs. and me sitting table-side for what must be days, weeks, months hours, getting all cobwebby, and stiff-jointed, waiting for her to finish the feast.
And mittendrinnen (in the middle of everything), Gatsby, will jump into any temporarily vacated seat, and make a quick and successful quest for any food sitting idle.
The shvesters (sisters) behavior has the Mrs. and me chugging the Apple Cider Vinegar (an excellent indigestion remedy) nightly, straight from the bottle. It’s a mitzvah (good deed) we don’t drink enough or at all!
Lo and behold, we will endure these rituals because we have put our trust in the big macher alrightniks (good people).
Charlotte, she will weave her nightly web around us. We make this sacrifice night after night with the promise that our girls will not engage in high-risk behaviors like smoking, drugs or sex ever, ever, ever. They won’t have depressed or suicidal thoughts. They will avoid bullies at school and online. They will be self-confident and self-loving and avoid eating disorders.
They will be strong, mighty girls who can lean in at any table. And they will have empathy and compassion, because each night, we do our best to make it through another make your own burrito bowl.
I wonder if there are any studies of what happens to us mom’s as we suffer go through this phase?