Kinship in a Grin and a Nod

A runner jogged up the boardwalk
from the other direction and got caught
behind three laughing young women
and a dog stretched to the end of his leash
across the width of the boardwalk, oblivious 
to the runner behind them, and oblivious
to me in front of them. The runner stopped
and waited and caught my eye and smiled
and I smiled back as I halted for the trio
and their dog to move past me. Then when
we were both finally able to move again,
the runner and I acknowledged our kinship
with a grin and a nod, and continued on
our respective journeys along the boardwalk
in the sunshine on a sunny autumn day.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Totally Took Me By Surprise

So when I was getting ready to pull out of the Sisters Espresso parking lot the other day another person got out of his truck and started walking up to the espresso stand. He looked serious and grim. From appearances he was pretty much everything I’m not: male; tall; young; of a different ethnicity. And as I was thinking these thoughts, and feeling a little intimidated by the serious expression on his face, he glanced my direction. Without thought I smiled at him through the car window – and he smiled this beautiful charming smile back at me – totally took me by surprise!

He made my day.

As I Wait for My Breve

So I’m at Fred Meyer’s waiting to get my breve. This woman comes into the produce section next to the Starbuck’s stand. I’m sort of fascinated by what she’s wearing – what looks like a towel with flaps is wrapped around her head, and she’s got this really loose, comfortable top and what looks sort of like jammy bottoms, but not really. She glances my way and I smile at her. She’s hesitant to smile back. And that’s okay.

I turn my attention back to the espresso stand. But I catch some abrupt movement out of the corner of my eye and turn my attention back to the comfortably-clad woman. A bunch of grapes have fallen out of a grape bag she’s holding and she’s a little flustered by this. I come over to help – crouch down and start picking grapes up for her and handing them to her – I’m in no hurry – my breve isn’t ready, yet – I have time.

“Oh! Thank you! Thank you!” she says, in what I’m guessing is a Spanish accent. I smile at her – and this time she smiles back.

And then my breve is ready.

The end.

Smile Experiment

“And Love is reflected in love…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve been wanting to share this experience, but I haven’t been sure how to go about it without looking like I am full of myself or something. So maybe I should start this post in this way: I am nothing special to look at –  I am a stubby middle-aged woman, generally seen in schleppy clothes and walking shoes when I’m out running errands. I might have been called “pretty” when I was younger – but these days I look more like Cinderella’s fairy godmother than Cinderella. And I’m cool with that.

So a few months ago, on my lunch break at work, I put on my old walking shoes and ambled down into town in quest of something to eat. I don’t remember now what I was thinking about as I was walking, but it must have been something happy because I, apparently, had a smile on my face. A young man, approaching from the other direction, said he’d seen the smile on my face from a block away. He said  he’d felt himself pulled to me so he could wish me a good day and let me know that my smile had put him in a good mood.

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

I thought of that experience again last week when I was grocery-shopping at the local supermarket. I was in a funk when I began my shopping. I no longer recall what had put me in this funk, but I remember feeling really tired and cranky. Coincidentally, everyone else I encountered seemed to be feeling less than jolly, too. As I rounded an aisle I saw a woman whose face looked particularly drawn and tired. My heart went out to her and I found myself summoning a smile for her. As soon as she saw my smile, she returned a dazzling one back to me. I could see the lines on her face literally lifting in front of my eyes. I felt the lines on my own face lifting, too.

I still had the smile on my face when a man turned his cart into my aisle and glanced my direction. And now HIS face turned up into a friendly grin. I decided to keep the smile on my face as I continued with my shopping – sort of conducting an informal experiment. And, sure enough, just as I had predicted would happen, every single person I encountered whilst wearing my smile, smiled back at me in a friendly, cheerful way. It was like magic.

I think people WANT to be nice to each other, you know. I think they’re looking for an opportunity to smile at other people and be kind to them – even stubby, middle-aged ladies.

But I should probably do a lot more smile experimentation to make sure my hypothesis is correct, right? 🙂

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”
– Mary Baker Eddy


Groucho Karen





Freeway Friends

Two hour drive on the freeway through clogged-up traffic yesterday. Husband driving, God bless him. So I sit and look out my window and watch people. This happens to be one of my favorite activities. I’m curious about folks. I wonder about them – where are they going? Why? How do they feel about driving? What strategy do they use to stay calm as they drive through traffic jams?

We’re in the far left – in the commuter lane – and I notice this brown delivery truck two lanes over to the right. The driver has his window down and I wonder about this until I notice that he’s smoking – and then I realize he must be trying to keep the smoke out of the cabin. My heart goes out to him – I’m thinking he must be cold with the window down like that. And suddenly he turns and looks right at me. I smile at him, and he smiles back and waves. This, I decide, is a very cool way to spend one’s time.

So now I’m looking around for my next victim of friendliness. And – boom! – I see him right away! A state patrol car is moving into the lane next to us. I smile and wave, and he gets a kind of surprised look on his face, then smiles at me, and returns the wave before pulling forward and ahead of us.

Now we’re moving like molasses through the thick of a traffic jam. A car with Canadian license plates is coming up on our left. The driver – a friendly young man smiling one of those beautiful smiles you might see in a Coca-Cola commercial indicates that he has a question, and my son rolls down his window, “How do I get to Seattle?” the man asks. My son points to the Space Needle coming up on the right, and answers with a grin,”You’re there!” The man thanks the son, waves and smiles his Coca-Cola smile, and moves forward in his lane.

Sometimes one meets the nicest people on the freeway. 🙂

Okay, I know soda pop is not good for one’s teeth or one’s waistline and I don’t often drink it – but I cannot help myself – I love this commercial (from 1971) –