Friday, October 29, 2021


Spreading Joy and Smiles

All photos by Bill Slavin

Bill (husband) decided one morning to start each day with a smile. He walked into the dining room and greeted me with a grin. We laughed.

Bill's gesture reminded me of the words of a middle school counselor. She had recommended to one of her students to go to bed with a smile on her face, no matter what, because she knew that this small act could help the student change how she felt about her life.

Still grinning, Bill and I turned and watched the goofy ring-necked doves who crowd into our too-small bird feeder. They flap, dance, peck, and bump against each other to ensure their chance at the seed.

The doves reminded me of a recent conversation with friends. We talked about taking dance lessons. Both couples had tried lessons to help each other around the floor. Dance instructors expected students to dance with the other people in the class as well as their own partners. Our friends said that they both danced better with the other people than they did with each other. We did too.

Another friend took lessons with his daughter right before her wedding to be sure that he didn't step all over her feet.

Bill and I took the same classes over and over again: swing, salsa/cha-cha, Texas two-step, even the tango. We wandered into classes in San Francisco, Danville, and Walnut Creek looking for the answer to our two left feet. We practiced our steps at large holiday parties. Bill liked to be in the middle of the dance floor, in the thick of the swaying bodies. I much preferred the edges, having had my feet stepped on by too many big, bone-crushing feet of other dancers too close to us.

We even had a moment of fame during our tango class. The instructor knew a local TV newscaster who came to the class with a camera crew to film the class learning this dramatic, intricate dance. The reporter interviewed the group on camera, which would have been hidden away in the news except that the snippet aired just before the annual Oscar ceremony. We heard about our star-studded performance from everyone we knew. We grinned (or was that a grimace?) at their surprise at seeing us on TV. Here we were with our two left feet on display for all our world to see. Swans, we were never meant to be.


Karen Hannah, through the Postcard Underground blog site, has a group of people sending out postcards of gratitude to people who are working to make a difference. I signed up immediately. 

I've been sending postcards to political leaders, sometimes thanking them, sometimes chastising them for not being the kind of people we need in leadership positions. I've been sending postcards to voters. I send postcards to friends and exchange postcards with artists and writers. Now I can have a way to say thank you to people across the country who want to help others. 

Places to sign up to send postcards:

The Postcard Underground

Jennifer Benioff's Love Notes

Louise Gales' heART Exchange

Jenifer Hoffman's Citizens of Conscience

To brighten your day, check out Reasons to be Cheerful, a new online magazine that heralds solutions to problems. Today's headline: How One Woman Protected Millions of Acres:


  1. From Cheryl by email: Always lovely.

    Love and appreciate Bill’s photos.

    And love the idea of waking up with a smile. I think Jim and I do that most of the time. My Mom always said, “You have two choices. You can be happy or you can be sad”. We walked a lot, she did not drive, so we would walk from four blocks below East 14th Street, now International Boulevard, to San Leandro or to the Diamond District in Oakland to shop. Sometimes we would take the bus. She would always smile at strangers. I asked her why and she would always say, “They didn’t have a smile so I gave them one of mine”. I was a “Mama’s Girl” and I miss her very much. And her greatest gift to my Brother and me was that we both knew how deeply she loved us. Priceless.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl, for your kind comments. And you could easily start writing a memoir about you and your mom. Would love to read more!

  2. Bill's photos of dancing doves, and your wonderful descriptions of dancing adventures with him brought a smile to my face!

    1. Thank you, Teresa, I was hoping the two together would make people smile.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.