6 Unexpected Benefits Of Smiling: Enhance Your Face Value

benefits of smiling

Even when the occasional Lyme-induced brain fog causes me to forget what I was thinking two seconds before I’ll not soon forget what happened one wintery day when we lived in Mt Vernon. Our two middle kiddos, both redheads, lost teeth at school the same day.

The nurse gave them one of those little plastic tooth necklaces to keep their teeth safe until they got home and could show me before placing them under their pillow for the Tooth Fairy to collect that night before leaving a little treasure behind.

Cooper and Maddie are originals (as you can probably see in the photo below).

You know how twins have their own language (cryptophasia)?

Well I’ve often said these two speak their own middle child language. And they do.

They have such a rapport with each other and they’ll say things to each other no one else

health benefits of smiling
Toothy smiles, turtlenecks and ginger love.

seems to understand. And then they’ll bust out laughing. Yes, they’re hilarious. And so much fun.

I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the red hair. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll never forget those giant toothy (yet, partially toothless) grins, the turtlenecks they were wearing because it was so cold that day and the tooth necklaces around their necks.


Smiling and laughing come naturally to children, but as we get older do we get more serious? Or do we still remember how to laugh with the reckless abandon of a child?

Even though adult life changes as we have bills to pay, bosses to please and families to support don’t forget…you’re only as old as you feel.

Smiling and laughing on a daily basis is not only acceptable, but it might be just what the doctor ordered.

6 Unexpected Benefits Of Smiling

1. Reduces Stress And Anxiety

When you smile the pituitary gland releases chemical endorphins throughout the body. These neurotransmitters naturally lower our stress and cause us to feel happier…and who doesn’t love that?!

2. Stimulate The Immune System

Smiling causes your body to make white blood cells which fight off illness. A 2015 study showed laughter therapy boosted the immune response in women who had just given birth to babies. (1)

3. Makes You Appear More Approachable

Smiling makes you more confidant and attractive to others.

A smile is welcoming and shows other people you’re open to interacting.

4. Increased Longevity

A 2010 study found that positive emotions, such as smiling are directly linked to an increased life span. (2)

5. A Better Mood

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, try smiling because it just might help. Findings of a 2010 study reported that when you make yourself smile when you’re feeling sad emotions it improves your state of mind and helps you view life more positively. (3)

6. Improved Relationships

benefits of smiling
Our Drew (who is now 20) smiling as a little guy.

People who smile a lot are often likable, and this can positively impact your relationships. Positive emotions are associated with more successful interactions and happiness in marriage.

The Takeaway

Whether young or old, the benefits of smiling for your health and relationships are too many to count.

The simple act of putting a smile on your face can boost your mood and positively affect your day. People will find you even more likable when you show off those pearly whites and flash them a smile. 🙂

What benefits have you experienced from smiling? Any funny stories to tell?

Please share in the comment section below…I love hearing from you!

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Disappointment Hack: When You Want A Swimming Pool But Get A Dirt Road

disappointment hack

disappointment hack
The obligatory back to school photo… So maybe summer break could have been a little longer?

This was the first day of school. The boys are heading back to college soon, and now with David and the girls at school every day it’s just me and our Boston Terrier, Max.

So after getting the kids to school this morning Max and I headed out for a walk around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, we barely made it out of the driveway because Max was having trouble walking on our new road.

So our neighborhood recently got a chip and seal road and it was hurting Max’s feet to walk. This little dog who normally lives for his walks had the most distressed expression on his face.

Sad, right!? Poor puppy. So we headed back inside.

Now some of you may be thinking Max should toughen up, or perhaps he’s too delicate, and maybe you’re right. (He is our baby after all.) But I’ve never seen him pass up a walk. He’s usually pulling me because he’s so excited.

We live in a sprawling neighborhood in the country, made complete with beautiful rolling hills and fields of wildflowers.

Every dog’s dream.

Until now.

How It All Happeneddisappointment hack

Let me preface this next part by saying we love our neighborhood and our neighbors. We simply have different opinions about how our money should be spent.

So here is what happened with the road situation: Over a year ago a few members of our neighborhood decided we needed to repair the road due to a few minor cracks. Overall the asphalt road was in good repair and was smooth to drive on.

So we all voted whether we agreed that the repairs were necessary. Needless to say, we along with others didn’t vote for it, but we were (apparently) outnumbered.

When you have two kids in college and two on the way let’s just say your financial priorities are a bit different from someone who is retired.

We were given an estimate of the repairs and everyone was to pay their part (even those who didn’t think it necessary).

Because that’s how a Homeowner’s Association works.

Which was a bummer because, to us and our kids, a neighborhood swimming pool would have been a much better use of the money.

The benefits of a neighborhood pool include

  • health and fitness
  • a great place to socialize and get to know the neighbors better
  • a fun place for the kids to spend time (and stay out of trouble)

But those in charge of the project decided they wanted a chip and seal road. (In other parts of the country you might say “tar and chip“). It’s basically a low-cost alternative to asphalt. It’s made by spreading a layer of toxic, messy tar then covering that with rough gravel.

I believe the hope was because it’s summer that we would have blazing hot weather that would bake the gravel into the tar, but that hasn’t happened, at least not yet. Since they did the road we haven’t had the hot August weather that’s typical for Missouri.

So it’s dusty and the gravel is loose, like a dirt road. When you drive on it the gravel goes flying. It’s a far cry from the smooth blacktop road we used to enjoy.

But, it would make for a good movie scene.

Like a no holds barred sort of Thelma and Louise we’re bustin’ outa’ this town sorta’ scene. The rebels (without a cause) roar down the dusty dirt road, car top down, hair flyin’ everywhere, tunes cranked up.

You get the picture.

Needless to say the asphalt road we had before had a few minor bumps and cracks but was much better than this, but you can’t win them all, right?!

Disappointment Hack 101

We teach our kids how to deal with disappointment and roll with the punches. But when things don’t turn out how we’d hoped do we take our own advice? (I’m asking myself here too.)

Here are some tips that can help you cope when things don’t go the way you’d hoped.

  1. Deal with emotions. Allow yourself to feel your feelings (like Maddie is doing in the back to school photo above) and don’t stuff them down. Once you’ve processed them it is easier to move forward.
  2. See the big picture. Consider that people are unique and have differing perspectives and opinions. Keep an open mind and allow them to have space. Don’t try to control others.
  3. Don’t expect perfection. People are not perfect so don’t expect them to be. When you are flexible with others and don’t get uptight about your schedule it takes the pressure off and encourages a more relaxed vibe and atmosphere.
  4. Move forward. Accept that disappointment and frustration are part of life. But they are also opportunities for growth. Learn to accept things you cannot change and address the aspects you can.
  5. Write a blog post about it. Do you see what I did there? 🙂

The Takeaway

Disappointment is a part of life. Whether you want a swimming pool and get a dirt road or you’re dealing with something bigger and more life-changing, learning to deal with life’s frustrations is essential. Practicing the tips I shared above will help build resilience and strength through life’s struggles.

How do you deal with frustration and disappointment?

Please share your thoughts and tips below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!

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The Signs, Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease

signs symptoms and stages of Lyme disease

Lyme disease continues to be a hot topic in the news, likely because it is increasing at an alarming rate due to climate changes and other factors.

Between 2004 and 2009 reported cases of Lyme disease rose 94%.

And the number of cases continue to rise today.

Fortunately, people are starting to take notice of this disturbing trend.

But, if Lyme disease continues to spread, often unrecognized and untreated, it won’t take long before everyone either knows someone who has it, or they have it themself.

Lyme is now much more common than AIDS, West Nile Virus, and other vector-borne illnesses.

Knowing what to look out for is crucial.

I’ve been living with late-stage chronic Lyme for the past 5 years. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this horrible illness and believe prevention is essential.

I’m going to share the signs, symptoms, and stages of Lyme disease below so you know what to watch for. I truly hope this will help you protect yourself and your loved ones.

signs, symptoms and stages of Lyme diseaseSigns Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease

1. Early Localized Lyme Disease (1 to 4 weeks)

This stage can develop from days to weeks after becoming infected.

Symptoms may include:

  • Rashes – Less that 50% of Lyme patients remember developing a rash. Sometimes the rash looks like a bulls-eye. This is referred to as erythema migrans (EM). It is a myth that you must  have this rash to have Lyme disease (1). I did not ever see a bull-eye rash, but have developed a number of unusual red and splotchy rashes since the tick bites (for more on rashes, keep reading below).
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills, fatigue, headache, pain or stiffness in the neck and swollen lymph nodes (2).
  • Nausea, dizziness and vomiting

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection (1 to 4 months)

This stage develops when the disease is not found and/or treated properly soon after infection. At this point the infection can begin to affect the joints, heart, nervous system and skin.

Symptoms may include:

  • More rashes that start to appear in different parts of the body due to the infection spreading
  • Paralysis of the facial muscles, or Bell’s Palsy
  • Fainting
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Painful, swollen joints, such as the knees
  • Heart palpitations or Lyme carditis
  • Conjunctivitis, or pink eye
  • Meningitis – swelling of the brain

Stage 3: Late Persistent Lyme Disease, Or Chronic Lyme

Failure to treat Lyme promptly can cause damage to the brain, joints and nervous system. This is the most serious stage.

Symptoms may include:

  • Extreme exhaustion which is not relieved by sleeping or resting
  • Inability to control facial muscles
  • Heart problems, such as pericarditis
  • Tingling and numbness of the hands and feet
  • Arthritis, often in the larger joints, such as the knees
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusionsigns symptoms and stages of Lyme disease
  • Difficulty thinking or reasoning
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Getting lost, even in familiar areas
  • Anxiety, panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Sensitivity to sound, light and smells
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Mood swings, depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Migrating joint and muscle pain
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Vision difficulties
  • Weight gain or loss
  • “Air hunger”
  • Pain in the chest or ribs
  • “Heart block”
  • Neck pain, stiffness and cracking
  • Night sweats
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Heart murmur or valve prolapse
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Menstrual irregularity

The Takeaway

This list of signs, symptoms and stages of Lyme disease is not exhaustive. I’ve talked to a lot of people with Lyme and many of our symptoms are similar, but others are different.

My friend, if you are struggling with an illness and the doctors have been unable to help you, you may want to consider this list to help you rule out (or in) Lyme disease, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors or live in a tick-infested area.

And of course, if you know you’ve been bit by a tick, mosquito, etc and aren’t feeling well, please get yourself checked out immediately.

Here is a list of doctors who specialize in treating Lyme patients. I would highly recommend starting here.

Do you have any of these symptoms? Or do you have an unexplained illness and can’t seem to get answers?

Please share your comments below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!

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Finally, the information provided in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, prevent, diagnose or cure any disease or health problem.

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8 Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills: Your Friends And Family Will Love You For It


Having good communication skills is vitally important in many areas of life. Yet it is sometimes, dare I say, neglected.

Whether at the office with co-workers, socializing with friends or at home with family learning how to communicate effectively is essential to developing good relationships with others. Not only can improved communication help you enhance your relationships, but it can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

So, whether you’re a beginner with much room for improvement or a pro, here are eight steps you can take to develop amazing communication skills.

8 Tips To Improve Your Communication Skills

1. Listening is key.

Do you remember Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” ad campaign?

It turns out there’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing happens, “with or without your consent“. Hearing is passive and doesn’t require any effort on your part.

On the other hand, listening requires concentration and attention. You must consciously choose to listen.

Everyone wants to know they are being heard. So really listen to what the other person is saying without interrupting.

And without formulating a response in your head.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree‘s Eric Barker outlines the basics of active listening:

  • “Listen to what they say. Don’t interrupt, disagree or “evaluate.”

  • Nod your head, and make brief acknowledging comments like “yes” and “uh-huh.”

  • Without being awkward, repeat back the gist of what they just said, from their frame of reference.

  • Inquire. Ask questions that show you’ve been paying attention and that move the discussion forward.”

2. Eliminate distractions.

Put down your cell phone, shut your laptop, turn off the T.V. or whatever it is that might distract you from giving the other person your undivided attention.

This not only helps you pay better attention, but shows the other person you’re focused on them and what they have to say.

3. Pay attention to your body language.

Avoid sending out negative signals through negative body language such as tapping your feet nervously, avoiding eye contact and crossing your arms.

Instead, use open body language. Keep your arms uncrossed with palms up. Maintain good eye contact. And smile (when appropriate).

This positive body language sends the message that you’re approachable and interested in what the other person has to say.

4. Consider who you’re talking to.

For example, if you’re talking to your best friend it’s fine to use informal language, including slang.

If you’re a twin, you may enjoy “twin talk” with your identical sibling. No one else will understand what you’re saying but you two will, and that’s all that matters.

And if you’re conversing with your boss, it’s generally best to keep that in mind too. To sum up this tip, simply try to keep the other person’s perspective in mind.

5. Ask questions and paraphrase.communication

So I’ve been told I ask a lot of questions.

I’ve also been told curiosity killed the cat.

But I digress…

Ask questions to clarify your understanding of what the other person said.

Also, paraphrasing is a great tool to use to show the other person that you’re really listening. Here’s an example: “So Sam, what I’m hearing is that you’d prefer to go to the conference next week?”

6. Don’t finish other people’s sentences.

I know it can be tempting to “help” people when they’re struggling for a word or thought, but please avoid this temptation.

I admit I’ve done this before, usually thinking I’m being helpful, but simply put, it’s just not.

When you finish another person’s sentence, you’re actually stealing power from them in the conversation by taking over, and this never feels good or garners either of you the respect you wish for.

7. Avoid being judgmental.

Some conversations are fun and easy. Often this is because we feel comfortable and perhaps know the other person or have things in common.

But even the most difficult conversations can have successful resolutions.

It’s essential to put aside judgement and criticism about the other person if we want to be good communicators.

8. Be assertive and set boundaries.

Developing an assertive communication style has many benefits, especially when it comes to your health. According to www.anxietybc.com, assertive communication:

“can help you to relate to others more genuinely, with less anxiety and resentment. It also gives you more control over your life, and reduces feelings of helplessness. Furthermore, it allows OTHER people the right to live their lives.”

Assertiveness is based on mutual respect, which is an essential skill when communicating.

It’s also important to keep in mind that assertiveness is completely different from aggressiveness (or passive aggression).  The aim of aggressive behavior is to control and dominate others.

On the other hand, AnxietyBC points out assertive behavior is:

“the honest expression of one’s own needs, wants and feelings, while respecting those of the other person. When you communicate assertively, your manner is non-threatening and non-judgmental, and you take responsibility for your own actions.”

According to The Mayo Clinic, learning to be more assertive is a healthy skill which can help you control feelings of anger and stress, while boosting your self-respect.

The Takeaway

Learning and implementing excellent communication skills can help you be more successful in life. Knowing how to effectively communicate is an essential part of improving your relationships at work, with friends and family. And having these skills can help you enjoy better health and less stress and anxiety.

Do you have thoughts or more tips to share about being a better communicator?

Please share them below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!

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