Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Reruns: Smile Therapy

(original post-date: May 12, 2010)

I’m the first to admit that I’m a person of many moods. I’m not like the “united states of Tara” or anything, I’m just… I don’t know, emotional. I feel what I feel, you know?

My ex-husband, who had a great sense of humor, used to deal with my moodiness by sharing an adage from his homestate. “It’s like we used to say about the weather in Michigan,” he’d tell me. “If you don’t like it, just wait ten minutes.”

Being old enough now to understand my rhythms, I appreciate that my ex was onto something. My mood (particularly if it is a negative one) is unlikely to last. My life just never sucks that much, and so I have no reason to drop into irretrievable doldrums. When I’m in a low mood, I pretty much only need a little pick-me-up. And because I’m in a low mood, I need for that pick-me-up to be provided by someone else.

As prescriptions go, this seems like a fabulously affordable solution. Don’t need to wait for 2014, when universal healthcare kicks in! Oh no, just give me one other person – one other contagiously cheerful person. That’s all I need.

But that also is the caveat. I am self-employed, you see. And so I spend a good part of my day at home alone. I spend a good part of my day sitting at my computer. If I have a co-worker at all, it’s the radio, and if my co-worker can be identified as a downer, it’s only because I’m hooked on NPR. (Let’s face it, the real news is not exactly uplifting these days.)

I’ve been self-employed now for ten years, but this is not the first go-round with independent work. I also took a stab at it from 96 to 97 or so. At the time of that first stab, I had no artistic outlets and so I was at risk of being particularly morose. The isolation did a number on me. A painful number. I remember once, running some errands in the middle of a weekday. I had gone into a store and I happened upon a conversation between a father and his small son. Hearing their dialogue made me smile, and when I smiled, I also made a mental note: “That felt good.”

Yup. Smiling felt good.

I don’t want to think how long it must have been since my last smile, but the fact that I felt it and appreciated how it changed the contours of my mood speaks volumes. The fact that I felt it indicates that, like a good stretch, it was a body maneuver that needed to happen and was long overdue.

These days, there’s more art in my life, and that brings me joy. There also are more friends with whom I share art. There are more friends who know the artist in me.

Still, though, there are days when the isolation gets heavy. When working alone threatens to turn me into Michigan’s worst cold front. But I know what to do in those moments. I just smile. And, cheesy as it sounds, I feel better instantly.


Corinna said...

this brought a smile to my face...and it did feel pretty good :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You're correct. Smiles work wonders in the "pick me up" department. You sound like a lady well in tune with her own moods and rhythms, and that's a good thing. :)

This post brought me back to the saying, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." There is some truth to that!

Kristy said...

We NEED social interaction, even us most loner-types. I have a high threshold for being alone and self entertaining, but there comes a point when you need interaction. I felt very lonely during maternity leave and realized how stay at home moms must feel sometimes.

Mister D said...

Nice happy blog love the smiles chat - not enough smiles these days maybe because the world seems to be getting a chill.

Sioux said...

All you have to do to hook up with a friend who knows there's an artist inside you is get onto your blog...We ALL know you're an artist!

Jayne Martin said...

You need a Chihuahua. Seriously. You've met Dixie. Can you imagine being in doldrums around that face? Or you could get a horse... Yeah, stick with the Chihuahua. :)

Donna B said...

A smile and a friend who understands and acknowleges the artist within is just about as good as it gets!

Anonymous said...

I agree, a smile can make you feel great in an instant.I have just waved goodbye to my little grandsons (5 weeks and 6 months)and can safely say that smiling at them and being given a beautiful smile back is the best feeling in the world! (Cheesey but true) :-)

Linda Medrano said...

It's funny you mention this. A fairly upscale supermarket chain opened in our area. Everyone who works there smiles and is friendly. They honestly treat all customers like well liked neighbors. And I swear, when I see them leave the store after their shift, they still have a smile on their face. In other words, faking it can make it turn real in this case.

Martha Mawson said...

A smile is a wonderful sight and a wonderful feeling. As Charlie Chaplin penned, "When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by. Just smile..."

(And Deborah, I concur. A smile from my granddaughter - who happens to be named after Katie - is the best antidepressant in the world.)

Jayne Martin said...

Somewhere it was written, or maybe spoken, or maybe I even imagined it, but I recall a saying that goes something like this: "If you don't feel the way you want, act the way you want to feel." I think it must be a cousin to "Fake it till you make it." Either way, a smile seems like a very good start, my fellow work-at-home-alone friend.