things that make me smile – humans of new york

collecting rocks HONY

She was collecting rocks. (Photo by Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York)

I’ve been vaguely aware of the Humans of New York project for a while now, I guess. My sister has posted some of the photos on her Facebook page in recent months, and I’ve liked what she’s posted (both literally and in the Facebook sense of the word). However, like many of you who are on Facebook, I already “like” too many pages and have “unliked” several of them in the past year because I simply don’t have time to read the posts. Also, the last few months have been kind of crazy/busy, with me trying to adjust to this latest phase of my life, so I hadn’t really looked any further into this photographer’s wonderful project, even though it intrigued me.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, my sister re-posted this photo, and I fell in love. The little girl’s joy made me smile from head to toe. She was the embodiment of joy, and yesterday I needed to be reminded of joy. I immediately re-posted the photo, and then I went to the Humans of New York Facebook page and “liked” it, so that I wouldn’t miss a single one of the posts going forward. Then I spent a chunk of time going back through earlier posts.

The photos are not extraordinary by themselves, but the stories/quotes that go with them are. Funny, poignant, sad—combined with the photos, they create portraits of their subjects that remind us that we are, all of us, gloriously human, that we all have stories to tell, that we all contribute to the rich fabric of life.

I loved this photo so much that I re-posted it today, just in case someone might have missed it. Then I decided to share it here. We all need to be reminded of joy now and then. I hope this photo does that for you.

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things that make me smile – singin’ in the rain…

I beg your indulgence as I pay tribute to my favorite dancer ever, Gene Kelly. His combination of grace, athleticism, humor and downright joy gave me (still gives me) many hours of pleasure and inspiration. Years ago, when I was filling out a questionnaire at a seminar, one of the questions was “If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?” I was still dancing at the time, and Gene Kelly was the first name that popped into my head. Of course, in my fantasy, lunch would have been followed by dancing with the “Marlon Brando of Screen Dance”.

Gene Kelly would have been 100 years old today, and, thanks to the magic of film, his dancing will continue to inspire generations to come. I never tire of watching the title number from Singin’ in the Rain. When it’s over…well, the lyrics say it all: “What a glorious feeling—I’m happy again!”

So…who inspires you? Do you need a little dose of that energy today? If it’s a musician/singer, listen to his/her/their music. If it’s an author, make a cup of coffee and spend some time with his/her words. Take it in, soak it up, let it fill you. Then go out and inspire someone else with your own brand of awesomeness.  :)

things that make me smile – walking in memphis

I don’t know what year it was when my brother introduced me to Marc Cohn and “Walking in Memphis”, but the song grabbed me by the soul the very first time I heard it. I’ve listened to it countless times since and never tire of it. I’ve even used it for big, sweeping, leap combinations in modern dance classes.

Every time I hear the first few piano notes, my mouth stretches into an involuntary smile, my eyes crinkling and my heart lifting in recognition of an old, well-loved friend. Cohn’s voice and the lyrics and the rolling rhythm and the piano playing all come together in some sort of magical, alchemical mix that never fails to take me to my happy place.

The tune that soothes your spirit may be different from the one that eases mine, but whatever music is balm to your soul, be sure to give yourself the gift of taking the time to listen and enjoy and absorb the healing and renewal that it offers. For me, this one is always a sure thing; I hope you enjoy it, too.

things that make me smile – cheyenne

Cheyenne came to live with us when she was a year old. This sweet little dust-mop terrier mutt (all 12 pounds of her) belonged to my husband’s sister’s family, and we’d met and fallen in love with her one weekend when we were visiting his parents. As we were leaving, we even joked to my sister-in-law, “If you ever want to get rid of this dog, let us know.” A month later, Betsy called, saying they couldn’t take her with them to their new home, so it was meant to be. Continue reading

things that make me smile ~flash mobs

I know I’m a little biased, having danced for a living for a big chunk of my adult life, but I’ve always thought that the world would be a happier, more peaceful place if everybody danced. It doesn’t matter what kind of dance—swing dance, square dance, hip hop, ballet, tap, jazz—or how “good” you are, there’s a place you go when the music takes over your body. I’ve touched that place, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before or since….joy, pure and simple.

When the inner dancer and the outer dancer become one, dancing can be transcendent… Continue reading

things that make me smile – the gardening life

my north carolina garden in spring

From my mid-teens throughout much of my adult life, the thing that got me up in the mornings and lulled me to sleep at night was dance. Whether performing, choreographing, teaching, or writing about it—I ate, breathed, and slept dance. Then I began to garden. Continue reading

things that make me smile – darcey in the snow

I got to thinking about the things that make me smile a couple of days ago, and my dog, Darcey, is at the top of my list, so I decided to post this photo that I took of her a couple of winters ago. By professional photography standards, it isn’t a great photo, but it’s one of my favorite shots of Darcey. I love the smile on her face, which is pretty much always there and never fails to make my day better. I also love that, by the time I took the shot, she was practically out of the frame, which expresses so well her exuberant, always-on-the-go personality. (That’s her buddy, Sage, in the background, who also appears in an earlier post about Darcey.)

So…what (or who) always makes you smile?