Smiles are Contagious-GratiTuesday Guest Post

Hello everyone,

Welcome to GratiTuesday. I am grateful to Janis at Retirementally Challenged for inviting me to write a guest post for her blog.

Please join me this week at and see how powerful the gift of a smile is and how this simple act of kindness can change a persons life.

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic   -Laura Smith-

See the Smile of the Week over at Janis’ blog.



“the life”

Standing at the sink taking my first sip of coffee is heaven. Eyes closed, I lick the milky froth from my upper lip, take a deep breath, release it with a sigh, and repeat. My morning latte warms me as it travels down to my belly. After my third sip, I turn away from the sink. Staying true to my Morning Pages, I continue my sip, swallow, breathe routine while sitting outside writing. A robin, waiting for me to fill the feeder, forages on the grass close by.

Closing my eyes, I listen to the sounds of early morning. Today, it is mostly birds, the occasional car passing by, and the gentle clanking of plates cycling through the dishwasher.

It’s foggy. Mornings here usually are. The air is still, without even a whisper of a breeze. A small bird chases two crows across the sky. I love the peacefulness this time of day. It’s soothing and allows me to step into my morning slowly. There’s no rush.

I have over an hour before I must hurry my grandson out the door to summer school.

By 8:00 AM the contractor and his workers will be knocking at my door. They’ll be in and out all day. Progress on the bathroom had come to a screeching halt. The tile we chose is no longer available. We made a second selection, also, no longer available. Why don’t they pull the samples off the shelf if it is not going to be available? Frustrated, we choose again. It takes 3 days for the new tile to arrive.

In the meantime, the cabinet maker gives us a quote for the new vanity. I am shocked. Now, we must choose a less costly wood.

No matter. I’m sitting in my backyard, relaxing, listening to the sounds of morning.

Leaning back, I look up at the palms. The first inkling of a breeze flips the pages of my notebook. I sip my coffee, take a deep breath, exhale and wait for the day to begin.

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BTW: The contractor did not come again today.

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic     -Laura Smith-

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Smile of the Week






Mourning Pages

Coffee made, bird feeders filled. The sound of Mourning Doves cooing fills the air. Steel grey skies obscure the sun, the flowers of my bougainvillea flutter in the soft breeze. This morning, I am spending time sitting outside quietly reflecting and remembering my friend, Rick.

Rick, his wife Jessie, and their two daughters, Chelsi and Marissa, have been friends of our family for many years. He and my husband, Mike, go back as far as ages 10 and 12. We are family. These are the people we spent vacations with. We drank in the sunshine, (and plenty of Mai Tai’s) on Maui, snow skied in winter and water skied in summer. My fondest memory is of our many weekends camping at Lake Don Pedro, watching Rick and Mike banter while standing over the grill cooking breakfast or flipping burgers for everyone in camp.

Rick spent hours towing the kids around the lake and helped teach them to ski. He brought people together and was the one who called when too much time had passed. He never met a stranger. I can’t begin to imagine how many lives he touched. We were blessed to have had Rick in our lives.

Last week, I spent several days in the Sacramento area with Jessie. In between our remembrances, phone calls from friends offering their condolences, rummaging through papers, and making necessary arrangements we took time to do some light retail therapy and wander through the quaint town of Sutter Creek. Ethel, Marissa’s mother-in-law, joined us. At the Clothes Mine, we tried on a cheery assortment of post-royal wedding and fancy horseracing hats. I can imagine Rick and Mike, along with Ethel’s husband, sitting on a bench outside while we played dress up.

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Laura, Jessie, and Ethel at the Clothes Mine in Sutter Creek

Loss of a loved one is part of life and in time, we will embrace our new normal. Our family gatherings will look very different in the future, but Rick will always be with us in spirit, as I am sure someone will say, “Remember when Rick…” for years to come.

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Vaya con Dios, Rick, you will truly be missed.


Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic    -Laura Smith-


Smile of the Week- Rick Schriver


Solo Adventure

Recently, I took my first solo bike ride along the scenic California coastline between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. 17-Mile Drive with its breathtaking vistas and iconic landmarks hugs the rocky shoreline as it winds through awe-inspiring forests, golf courses, and multimillion-dollar homes.

Focusing mostly on the dramatic coastal views, I enjoyed playing tourist, stopping off at many points of interest along the way.

My senses came alive after I cycled through the forest at Spanish Bay, rounded a corner and Point Joe came into view. The smell of the ocean, the feel of the salt air on my skin, the pounding surf, and the beauty of the white-water cascading over the rocks invigorated me.


Point Joe

Natural beauty unfolds around every bend along this picturesque drive. Bird Rock is a sanctuary to countless shorebirds, harbor seals, and sea lions. White sand beaches provide favorable conditions for harbor seals during pupping season. Eye-catching seascapes meld into cypress groves. Spooky tree snags and a panoramic view draw many sightseers to Pescadero Point. The Lone Cypress rooted in its granite perch has defied Mother Nature and an arsons match for an estimated 250 years. Savoring each unique vista, I took close to three hours to make an out and back ride along the shore.

Nature’s Exclusive Art Show



The Lone Cypress

While beautiful, my adventure was not without incident. Almost done with my ride, my backside sore from sitting on a bicycle seat, I decided to walk for a bit. As I walked alongside the roadway, the pedals of my bike spun around and clipped me in the lower leg. (I’ll spare you the blood gushing details and photographs.) Thankfully, I still had water to wash the gashes in my leg and had remembered to pack my first aid kit.

After dressing my wounds, I got back on my bike and rode down a dirt path that ran alongside the road. Suddenly, I felt my front tire hit a soft spot, my handlebars shifted to the left. The slo-mo version of the next couple of seconds went something like this. I kept pedaling and quickly shifted my weight to the back of my bike, but my tire was stuck in the muck. As my bike started to tip toward the left, thoughts raced through my head. ‘No, no, no!  Don’t fall. Oh my God, those guys in the truck are watching me.’ Kerplunk! Down I went. ‘Oh, the grass is so soft and damp. I’m okay. Good thing these berry vines don’t have stickers yet. I’m okay. I’d better jump up and let the guys in the truck know I’m okay.” I was on a slight incline (or would that be a decline) and struggled to get up. The truck slowly passed me by. Finally finding my footing, I jumped up, looked down the road where they were still watching in their rearview mirrors and waved, “I’m Okay!” and they drove on. Funny how many things go through your mind in a matter of a few seconds.

I had to laugh. How silly I must have looked.

Surrounded by natural beauty, I was in an introspective mood. I felt good and proud of myself. I was on my own, on my bike, going somewhere and doing something I’d never done before, and had weathered my minor mishaps with my sense of humor intact. You know what? I am okay!

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic.     -Laura Smith-

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Avengers: Infinity War

Sunday is date day. My husband and I generally take a hike, piddle around the house, then go out for dinner.  Last Sunday we changed it up a bit. I’ve been wanting to see Avengers: Infinity War, and, I wanted to see it on the big screen.

Going to see this film is unusual on five counts. First, we have not been to a movie theater together since seeing the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in November of 2000. Besides the noise, sticky seats and floors, there’s no particular reason. There have been many great films over the years, it just never occurs to us to go see a movie in a theater when it will be coming to TV soon.

Second, I don’t consider myself a Marvel Movie nerd, but for some reason, I wanted to see this film. Maybe, it had something to do with the “Three Chris’,” Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor), Chris Evans (aka Captain America), and Chris Pratt (aka Star-Lord). I will say, I have watched several Marvel films in the comfort of my own home.  Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and quite possibly a few more. Hmmm, maybe I am a Marvel nerd after all. Who knew.


These tickets will be kept in my memorabilia stash

I loved this film! Avengers: Infinity War, has a blockbuster cast, its share of one-liners, cameo appearances, audience favorites (Captain America and Thor), massive over the top Comic Book action, deception, depth, and surprises.

When the screen went black and the credits began to roll, the audience sat in stunned silence. I’ve don’t believe I’ve ever experienced a theater full of people so shocked and confused at what had just happened. A collective unspoken, “What? Wait. That’s it? But…” filled the auditorium. No one moved.

This brings us to the third unusual regard. My husband and I actually discussed the movie on our way home, throughout the afternoon, and during date night dinner.

Fourth, here I am writing about. That never happens.

Fifth, I have to wait a full year for Avengers 4 to hit theaters. You can bet this Marvel nerd will be there. I didn’t even consider that for Batman, but then he’s not a Marvel character.

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic     -Laura Smith-

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Smiles of the Week


Last June, after reading about how plastic refuse is polluting the Pacific Ocean, I published a post about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  According to one news source, the patch is more than twice the size of Texas (three times the size of France). Much of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is attributed to plastic water bottles. At that time, I discovered I was using over a thousand plastic water bottles a year. Just me, a thousand plastic water bottles a year! Wanting to help do something to lessen the amount of plastic going into the Pacific Ocean, I challenged myself to stop using single-use plastic water bottles. I realize this is just one small effort compared to the millions of water bottles floating in the Pacific Ocean, but I needed to start somewhere.

I bought an inexpensive Brita Water Filtration System and started using a reusable water bottle. I am happy to report, I can count less than 10 instances when I used or did not reuse a single-use plastic water bottle.

On the local level, in an effort to minimize plastics ending up in the ocean, many restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula have replaced plastic straws with environmentally friendly paper straws and have replaced single-use carryout bags with recycled paper bags.

On the other end of the spectrum, when reading information put out by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, (see link below) I learned many of our beauty products (think exfoliation) contain microbeads, made from plastic. When we rinse these microbeads off our faces they end up in the ocean causing more pollution.

This Earth Day, I’m recommitting to using reusable water bottles or reusing single-use water bottles. I’m committed to refusing plastic straws in restaurants and using reusable flatware instead of plastic utensils. (confused?) I’m also going to change out any of my beauty products that use plastic microbeads. I believe I have found my volunteering niche and starting next week I’ll be looking into a place to volunteer my services in an effort to contribute to this cause.

I hope you’ll click on the link below to see what you can do to help save our oceans.

To see images of our Great Pacific Garbage Patch and learn its effects on the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful creatures that live in and around it, open the link below. These photos speak for themselves.

Please help keep the Pacific Ocean clean.


Ho’okipa Beach Maui, Hawaii

For more on Brita Water Filtration Systems visit

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic   -Laura Smith-

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Smile of the Week

Loving The Fifty Something

Hi All

This week I want to thank Samantha for inviting me to write a guest post for her “Amazing Over 50’s” blog segment. Samantha is an amazing blogger who encourages and inspires mid-lifers to stay active, live life to the fullest, and quite possibly step out of their comfort zones.

Check out our post and Sam’s blog at the link below.

Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic  -Laura Smith-

Photo Challenge

I thought I’d do something different and participate in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme for this weeks challenge is  Rise/Set an exploration of our favorite sunrises and/or sunsets.

Sunrise is my favorite time of day. I don’t know if the picture of the Nebraska skyline below, painted by my Great Uncle Art, is the reason I love sunrise, but I have always loved this painting.




Dawn of a new day

Whispering softly to me

“There are no mistakes.”





“Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic”–Laura Smith


Smile of the Week