Nessim and I


DAY 85

Every afternoon Nessim greets me with a massive smile and a booming hello, how are you? I’m not his greatest customer. Really I’m not. Usually I pop in for a packet of mints or a packet of jelly snakes for a meeting. Some days I buy a tattslotto ticket for fun from him. But it doesn’t seem to matter to Nessim; he is always genuinely happy to see me. That bursting out of your skin happy. And he’s always up for a quick chat. But what often takes me by surprise is his insight into me and his other customers.

He will introduce people to one another and let you know what their speciality is. “This is Will and he is an accountant. So when you win tattslotto you come and speak with him – yes?” It’s not if we win tattslotto. He seems to think one day everyone will win big. It’s just a matter of time.

One day he introduced me to a group of people hanging around the counter in the late afternoon. “This girl works with the nicest people I have ever met. Truly. They help young people and they are good people; very good people.” You know when you hear a compliment that is totally unexpected, you blush and stutter something? Yep, that was me, I was both proud of the team I work with and really chuffed that he had noticed.

Then I took a minute and thought. Wow Nessim really notices us. Actually, he notices everyone. He makes everyone feel a bit special. From the homeless looking guy that somehow manages to scrape enough together for his morning paper to the guy that works building yachts…to me. I don’t think I have ever seen him not make time, not smile his warm generous smile, or laugh his Buddha belly laugh. Even when he was robbed a few years ago, he stood on the pavement and shook his head with a smile. “Ah, I’m happy I wasn’t hurt. It’s just money, what can you do.” he said. I think I was more upset than he was.

Nessim got me thinking about how such a small action like a smile or a few minutes of your day can make all the difference in the world for someone. I know that there are some days that I have felt tired and grumpy~ready to pack up my bat and ball and go home! Nessim somehow reminds me that the world is still a good place, just with his simple laughing welcome.

It’s funny how our role models can come from some unexpected places. They are not always the massive game changers with the big public profiles. Sometimes they are the every day folk that we bump up against in our day to day lives.

Sometimes your role model may be your mum, your friend or your teacher. Some days they may be a complete stranger. Or in my case, the beautiful older Egyptian man in the local shop, who treats me as if I may be dead before midnight every day…

“Every single time you help somebody stand up you are helping humanity rise.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

5 quick tiny tips to help you smile


DAY 84

Some days we all feel sad. Perhaps we’re sick. Perhaps we are overworked and just plain tired. Sometimes shitty stuff can happen. It’s not the end of the world but it feels like everything is going wrong. Or perhaps something major has happened in your world and you are struggling to find the good.

So to help a little here are my 5 tiny tips to help you smile.

  • Call your best friend. The one who always makes you feel a bit better about yourself and the world around you. Even if you only have five minutes – call her.
  • Go for a 3 minute walk around the block or into your own garden. Get yourself outside in the sun or the snow and walk. Remind yourself about what is good in your world. In fact challenge yourself to find 10 things on your walk to make you smile. The next door neighbour’s cat. Little people walking in all their Winter gear. Flowers. Birds making nests. Sunshine on your face.
  • Find your favourite song right now. Pump up the music on your ipod and sing at the top of your lungs. Or just dance. Imagine that you are playing in the band and air-guitar the flip out of it!
  • Eat chocolate. Because there is never a time when chocolate can’t make you smile.
  • Hug it out. Hug your dog, your cat, your pet turtle. Hug your best friend or your partner. Hug your kids and your grandkids. Hug your blanket and your pillow. Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to feel a little down. Take a little time to nurture yourself and remind yourself of all of the beautiful people and animals (and fluffy toys) who love you back.

You’re in a good place.

It’s going to be ok.

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
― Paul Simon


Meeting strangers in the shadows


3rd January 2014


Three days in and I have already stumbled across an awkward fact: I have been living a sort of half life, barely breathing and for the most part in the shadows.

Following my enlightening day yesterday with Fred, I resolved this morning to be present with every person I met today. My plan was to focus, breathe and where appropriate, smile, when I met someone.

It turns out that it is rarely inappropriate to smile at someone. Or so I found today. Perhaps if I was hanging around a funeral home it might not be the most socially acceptable behaviour to trot around between the viewing parlours with a huge smile on my face.

But today, I found that looking people in the eye and smiling genuinely led to more unexpected outcomes. The genuine bit is important. People can smell fake a mile away. If you are genuine, people feel your energy and warmth through your body language.

Today it occurred to me that I have been missing something pretty significant in the way I live. I seem to work through my day, ticking off the boxes and rushing from one thing to another. It’s rare that I stop and savour the day. By that I mean, savour everything that happens in my day: the people, the food, the joy of actually living and breathing. It’s more of the ‘being present’ stuff, but today I endeavoured to step it up a little. Today I wanted to really see the people around me. And I have to say that I was pretty surprised at what I haven’t been seeing.

I am surrounded by interesting and amazing people! Seriously! I suspect I have been all along – they didn’t just pop up around me today. By the end of the day I received some solid financial advice, had some heartfelt conversations, was told that I am part of the nicest group of people in the community (this by a man who I didn’t think knew our names), had a few smiles back, a friend cry on my shoulder, was given a free coffee, and was hugged…quite a bit actually. It was a busy day. It was also a day full of wonder and moments that I am seriously grateful for.

All I have done is stop and think that if this person was dead before midnight, then I want to make the most of the time I have with them. Sometimes this can only be a fragile few minutes. Sometimes it’s hours. Today I even had a text message. My intention is the same whether I am with a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger. I’m finding myself stopping and considering my responses more carefully. I’m looking for opportunities to make the other persons experience, even if it is just for a few minutes, something special. Something meaningful.

Today I did this with a smile, and it led to some unexpected and beautiful moments. It also led to some unexpected realisations. If this is what happens when you live in the present, what exactly have I been doing all this time? And what exactly is possible in this life. After all, I have only been living like this for three days.

I also have to laugh at my naivety on day one, thinking I would need some strict boundaries to protect myself. The truth is that the more I try to give the more I am learning about my own life and the more I seem to be getting back.

As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”