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One of my favorite quotes from Meister Eckhart Tolle is, “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘Thank you,’ that will be enough.” I believe this to be true with all my heart.

I also believe, from experience, that when a smile crosses my face, it changes me.  I know there are scientific studies out there that prove this, but personally, I go by how I feel.  Smiles, or a good belly laugh, are ways I re-boot my entire being.

I talk a lot about how my pups teach me simple, practical life lessons.  One is paying attention to the smile, or laughter, they bring me during our walks together for instance.

Some days their behavior is so hilarious, I double over laughing.  The way they tease and jest with one another, knock each other down, or playfully growl and bark at each other, is an absolutely wonderful “walking” experience.  At times, Frank will zoom so fast, he’ll stop suddenly and throw up.  He doesn’t miss a beat.  He gets right back in the game as if he just sneezed instead of actually losing his lunch.  Their combined playfulness, and all-in innocence, breaks down all the “stuff” I carry with me throughout my caregiving day and allows me to experience life with simplicity and humility and sometimes even a bit of joy!

What Is True For Me:   Visiting Mom is difficult on my heart, but remembering what I feel and have experienced from walks with the dogs, reminds me to walk into my visits with Mom knowing I will smile.  This knowing softens my state of mind.

And sure enough, I smile when Mom greets me with her smile.  We smile when we find her glasses, or her cane or her wallet.  We laugh when we’re deliberating the answer to a crossword puzzle question.  We laugh when I share pup stories, like the look they give me when it’s too stormy outside and they decide they’d rather ask for the key to the outhouse instead of going outside to do their business. I smile when I greet her friends in the hallway where she lives.

All smiles are genuine yet bittersweet because, more often than not, I wind up falling apart when I’m in the car driving home.

I take the good with the sad because all emotions make up my human side, and all of it combined, as Meister Tolle would appreciate, I am thankful for.   So, don’t under estimate the power of a smile.  Try and count them, or pay attention to, how many smiles you give in just one hour. See what crosses your path:  a bird, a cat, someone in the grocery line or at a stop light.  It takes a fraction of a second to lose the opportunity to give a smile to some one, or some thing.  Don’t let that second go by without giving that smile…..then be sure and remember to say “Thank you.”