How do I look?

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

Over the past three weeks I had the intention of writing whilst I unhurriedly made my way through the charming streets of Paris. However, there was simply too much to see and too much to savour and in this instance crème brulee and chocolate mousse simply won out. Not to mention the Pantheon, Saint Chapelle, Monet’s gardens and all the sumptuous iconic sites, book stalls, and tea houses of this extraordinary city.

I love to observe and had time to do so sitting in cute little cafés whilst tapping into my school French! I was constantly in awe (and sometimes in shock) of how people carry themselves both physically and emotionally. What can you see when you observe? What attracts you to another?

As always, travelling is about the people you meet. It is about those special moments when a smile lifts your heart and knowledge is exchanged. Whether one is donned in Chanel or Dior, nothing is more attractive than a smile! And it was a 6-year-old’s smile that connected me to Paris.

I was sitting in a café nestled alongside a little boy and his mother. I noticed the child when I entered the café. The waitresses were pouring affection upon him and he was chatty, bright and exuberant with large inquisitive eyes and a personality of sunshine. As I was chatting away to my friend opposite me, the boy’s mother politely interrupted our conversation to say that her child, Noa, would like to say how lovely my ear-rings were. I turned around to him and melted into his big smile and replied how thankful I was for the compliment. With that he asked permission to kiss me! (They mature early in France!). And alas a friendship was borne!

Thus followed an animated conversation with Moira and Noa and a consequent day spent together learning about life in France. Nothing was too much trouble….fun, laughter, hospitality and kindness! It’s moments like these that make your stay so wonderful. The photo above is of Moira’s children. You can see the delight and joy in these little beings.

Only yesterday I had a new student express to me that one of the things she wanted to gain from yoga was ‘to smile’ more often. Of course by being internally peaceful and happy one will then exude warmth and in turn connect positively with those around them.

I know I am always talking about smiling and the expression one carries, but I realize more and more how important it is for us to become mobile portraits of ‘joie de vivre’, the exultation of spirit.

“Look up not down; smile don’t frown; live with grace, gratitude and kindness” Annemaree

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Be Beautiful

Feel beautiful; surround yourself with beauty; live in beauty; seek the beauty in yourself; seek the beauty in others; add beauty to those around you; and think beautifully.

I rang a friend on Friday to wish her happy birthday and she told me that her brother had died of a massive heart attack in the early hours of the morning.  No warning.

That same week a truly lovely woman whom I had been teaching yoga, left this world.  And, in the same week I heard news that an aunt of mine had died.

Again I reflect.  We are so busy balancing on the precarious tight-rope of life that we fail to stop and notice the beauty.  We rush, run, sprint through the hours, worry, self-recriminate and dilute the day with our angst and mundane utterances. Sometimes we stop to take a deep breath, but mostly we don’t.

We must not lose the opportunity to see something that is beautiful or to feel a moment of splendour…..for do we know the day when we will leave here too?

And beauty abounds all around us.

I awoke this morning, very early when it was still dark.  The birds were just starting to welcome the dawn.  I draped my gorgeous white blanket across my shoulders, lit a candle and sat listening to the beauty around me.  A cacophony of sweet sounds wrapped in stillness.

My breakfast looked beautiful and tasted as such.

I made sure that I rang a friend just to say ‘hello’.

I asked my negative thoughts if they would consider going elsewhere today?

I noticed the beauty in my students as I taught them yoga this morning and realized how blessed I am to do what I love.

I actually stopped to admire some of the gorgeous photography I have on my walls.

I plucked a small flower and it is now sitting in front of me.

I absorbed the sunshine and bought myself a gift.

I smiled.

I felt the vibrations of beauty flow through me and realized that my awareness of beauty surpasses my mind and aims directly at my heart.

Don’t be too busy to finish this piece…..take a deep breath and read the tale that found me today too.

It’s amazing how your heart-felt intentions come back to you dressed in words.

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space.  Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages.  Otherwise there was no reminder of human life.  My companion and I were alone with the stars:  the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon.  It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators.  But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.  ~Rachel Carson

 

Smile!

I often reflect upon an experience I had in India a couple of years ago.

I was walking along the street in a small beach resort in Kerala, the south of India, and I noticed a man standing on one leg (he only had one leg).  He was holding a large cluster of balloons for sale.

He shouted out to me “hey, I remember you, you were here last February!”  That was true, but a year had passed and I was so shocked that he remembered, that I was stopped in my tracks.

I went up to him and asked “How do you remember me?”  His reply humbled me to the very core.  He said…”I remember you because every time you walked by you would smile at me”.

Here I was traipsing around the world (on two legs) and here he was limited to a tiny spot and probably had never left this village.

The lesson is in the ‘smile’ and how much they can mean to those with whom you share them.

How do you feel when someone smiles at you?  Just smiles, without any discernible motive, just simply smiles – offering you the gifts of affection and recognition?  You feel warm and for that brief moment, you feel  ‘noticed’.

How do you feel when you smile at someone?  A smile shows for a split second that you care, you share and you acknowledge.  It makes you feel happy too….doesn’t it?

‘A smile costs nothing’ and is of particular value when you know that the person you are directing your smile to – needs it so very badly.  The more desolate a being seems, the more potent and valuable the gift.

Leave a trail of smiles behind throughout your life.  Smile inwardly and smile outwardly. Smile every day for no particular reason. Who knows, your smiles may become contagious. One by one these smiles may be passed on and soon we shall all be smiling.

A SMILE

A smile costs nothing, but it creates much.

 It enriches those who receive

without impoverishing those who give.

 It happens in a flash,

and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

 None are so rich that they can get along without it,

and none are so poor but are richer for a smile.

 It creates happiness in the home,

fosters goodwill in a business,

and is the countersign of friends.

 It is rest to the weary,

daylight to the discouraged,

sunshine to the sad,

and nature’s best antidote for trouble.

It cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen,

for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody

‘til it is given away.

 And if it ever happens

that some people should be too tired to give you a smile,

why not leave one of yours?

 For nobody needs a smile so much

as those who have none left to give.

by Author Unknown