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Just to Find a Smile - It's Not As Hard As You Think

Camille Strate

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Sometimes it seems so hard to find a reason to smile. Like there isn't one single thing that we can think of to make the corners of our mouth turn up. We look around at our lives and think, ‘geez. sure wish it were different, or better, or NOT this way’. From this place, it would seem impossible to find a smile, yes? Well, how about if we looked at things from another perspective? How about if we sat for just 5 minutes and counted all the many reasons why our lives ARE good? How about (ohmygoodness!) if we just stopped wishing and started living fully in the lives we already have? Sound silly? Well, let's just have a look, shall we?

Today, when I woke up, the pain in my body immediately began screaming. I lay there for a few moments and almost started my day as I have every other day for the past god-knows-how-many days. And then, like a wonderful little miracle, I looked out my window and saw this enormous spider web, perfectly spun and covered in dew drops. There in the center of it was a huge spider, sitting perfectly still, just waiting. She was waiting for her web to do it's job. So there she was, calmly trusting that the work she'd done in the dark would surely bring the feast she wanted for her daily meal. And there I was, laying in my bed NOT trusting that the work I'd done while asleep would surely bring what I needed to get up and go about my day. This struck me so clearly I actually laughed out loud. Startled the cat, woke the dog and scared off a little bird that was sitting on a branch just outside the window. It was, in that instant, so very clear to me. . . . find a smile? A piece of cake!

As this moment of clarity passed, I opted to lay still and watch the spider a while longer. As I did, my mind began to wander to all the many blessings I have in my world. My sister, who lives nearby, such a source of great joy to me. She and her children provide so much laughter and a sense of belonging. My critters, who I adore more than words can relay. The space in which I now live, green and splendid and spacious. The various ‘modern conveniences’ that make my life easier, like a computer and TV and indoor plumbing and hot running water. Food in the cupboards, fruit on the many trees in our yard, flowers and trees and hummingbirds. The Red Tailed hawks that live in the big oaks on the edge of the property, soaring high in the air currents, flashing their bright red tails as they go. The clothes in my closet. The bed on which I rest. The little purple truck that carries me to wherever I wish to go, without fail, without costing an arm and a leg! So many blessings! And, as I lay there thinking of all these things, the smile on my face grew larger. In no time at all, I'd forgotten the pain that nearly kept me from rising, and felt the flow of appreciation lubricate my joints so I could stand and make my way down the stairs. This process took all of about 5 minutes. Presto! Just like that, my body eased out of that horrible pain and into a state of grace.

The point of this little missive is merely to inspire you to take a few moments, regardless of what's going on, and just look at all your many blessings. Even when it seems there is no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, you may just find that your 5 minutes of appreciation will change all that. I say it all the time, and try my best to LIVE it, but the bottom line is that gratitude begets gratitude. When we live in a space of true appreciation, everything about our lives is made better. And, as strange as it seems, the more grateful we are for what we DO have, the more we then have to be grateful for. I know. . . I've said this many times before. But it seems to me to be worth repeating. Live in the Grace of Gratitude! Your Life depends on it!

Camille Strate is a writer and critter keeper living in the foothills of Southern California. Her passion for animals is her driving force, inspiring her to assist critters and their people with a new non-profit called The RAJA Project. This foundation will provide funding for elderly citizens, single parents and others who may find themselves in the ugly position of not being able to provide medical care to their critters when they need it most. For more information about The RAJA Project, please visit her site at


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