Years ago when I was a sophomore in high school, two senior girls approached me as I was grabbing books from my locker. "You are always smiling," one of them stated. Uncertain where this was going, I smiled and nodded. "See, she's smiling," the same girl said. The other girl nodded in agreement. "I'll bet you can't go five minutes without smiling," she said, challenging me. Forcing a frown, I assured both girls that I could avoid smiling for that long. I lost the bet about 3 minutes later. I can't remember now what inspired the smile, but I do remember that I couldn't help it. It just bubbled out. "Ha, I knew it," the first girl accused. Laughing, she and her friend went on their merry way, leaving me feeling a bit confused. Was it a bad thing to be cheerful? Shrugging, I decided not to worry about it. Those two girls didn't know me. They didn't understand the tough year I had been enduring, nor the challenges I had faced. Things were far from good at home--my father had developed some health problems and he was often irrational about silly things. It was also the year that I gained my testimony and there had been some overwhelming trials as I had journeyed down that path. I had learned along the way that I much preferred laughter over tears, and tried to surround myself with inspiring quotes, pictures, and music. I'm still that way. I love surrounding myself with items that inspire or make me smile. Home is indeed my sanctuary--a place to recharge my batteries when life has been less than pleasant. Here I can relax and unwind, and smile. ;) Numerous birds hang out in our trees, and I enjoy hearing them sing throughout the day. Colorful finches nibble at the seeds in our bird-feeder. Hummingbirds frequent our flowers and a special liquid feeder we've hung up just for them. On my walls are pictures of family members and friends. Varied keepsakes line the top of my piano. Inspiring and whimsical plaques are wonderful reminders of what is important. In short, these items bring comfort and perspective. They remind me who I am, and who I'm trying to be. And most of them inspire smiles. About 3-4 years ago, my husband and I met up with two of my closest friends from my high school days. We met inside what used to be the drugstore that my dad had managed in the small town of Ashton. It has since been remodeled into a charming pizzeria/sandwich shop, and the old-fashioned soda fountain has been maintained, complete with the tasty treats I used to make for customers years ago--shakes, malts, floats, etc. We had a wonderful visit as my friends and I reminisced about our adventures years ago. What impressed my husband the most was how much we laughed as we talked. We had all been through some tough things, but we could find the humor in those experiences, and tried to focus on the positive, rather than dwell on the negative. I suspect that is one of the great challenges of our current time--focusing on the positive things that are taking place. It's easy to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds us. Watching the news is often less than inspiring these days. I find that I have to watch an old silly comedy before I go to bed at night to shake off the gloom. I also take comfort in reading the scriptures before winding down for the night. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that it's okay to smile! It's a great thing if you can find a reason to laugh in the midst of hardship. When we were young, my siblings and I often endured watching a silly show entitled, "Hee Haw." Our father loved it and he was trying to share his enthusiasm. It wasn't my favorite, but there were some golden moments, like this set of lyrics that we often sang later on when life was less than fun. They are as follows: Gloom, despair, and agony on me Deep, dark depression, excessive misery If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all Gloom, despair, and agony on me! (written by: Buck Owens & Roy Clark) As my siblings and I made fun of this song, it always made us smile. I'm sure our exaggerated performances were inspiring. Regardless, it was a great way to snap out of feeling sorry for ourselves. ;) So, on days when you find yourself feeling a little down, find those things that make you smile. Realize it's better than okay to be cheerful. Be the bright spot in someone else's day. It will make all the difference in this troubled world.
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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