A Smile for the New Year?

Hope you are having great holidays! After all, Santa did visit me and I got a long-requested home-constructed hand rail built up the back stairs into my garden, in order to increase safety at our home. Now I can garden away in the spring. I’m truly grateful to my talented partner, and excited each day to go outside and up the stairs in safety, to appreciate the progress in our back yard! Plus, it’s great exercise!

I also implemented walking as a major part of my strategy to keep waist-trim and my weight under control (way back in 2003 and more recently 1.5 yrs ago, more  devotedly six days a week; I am now walking, and swimming three times a week, to help me get over a back spasm). It works for both, and is a nice adjunct to any corset waist-training program or “diet” for the New Year!

On my daily walks, however, I have noticed that people I pass smile less and less frequently.

Shame.

Smiling actually has some benefits to exercise, albeit to more vigorous exercise. Still, I believe it would benefit anyone who walks, even if there in no scientific evidence of such, to reach out verbally and to smile at those one passes. It takes some courage to interrupt–well, you know, texting walkers who seem to live in their own little egotistical world, oblivious to the beauty of nature and the outdoors or to anyone coming along their path.

Today is a glorious San Francisco summer-like day. Really — it’s like summer weather here in the low 60s (while much of the country suffers from huge piles of snow and freezing weather). I had to change to a summer t-shirt for my walk, removing my silk long underwear, fleece top, and down vest! I was sweating by the time I got back from the 1.5 mile walk, but truly loved the trip!

However, if anyone smiles along the way, it seems to be me. If anyone says “hello” or “how are you?,” it’s usually me. Half the folks I pass are walking while texting–one of my main complaints these days. Half of half of those almost plow into me as they pass, more or less oblivious to my coming and my going. I guess they think they own the sidewalk.

The worst of the worst are mothers (always in our neighborhood it’s the moms or nannies, even) who are pushing a baby in a stroller, while they text away–even when they cross intersections. True, intersections are sort of peaceful along the route to the park and back that I take, but cars come nonetheless. I always wonder how those moms would feel if a car careered around a corner and decimated the carriage and its precious contents while the mom texted? Apparently, the possibility of risk and death escapes these moms. Unbelievable.

I recently read that smiling while running actually improves efficiency 2.78 percent as a group in a research study published in September’s Physiology of Sport and Exercise (see “Grinner’s Circle” by Gretchen Reynolds in the NYTimes magazine, 12 10 17). But they can’t be false smiles. Grinning sincerely and often near a race’s end works better, rather than continuously during it. This is the first scientific evidence to support the idea that smiling can help us exercise!

I’m not advocating taking a 20 minute walk while grinning from ear to ear the whole time.

But I am advocating reaching out to others by initiating a quick smile and a “hello” loud enough to interrupt texting, and to cause eye-to-eye contact, rather than downcast eyes as folks try to avoid contact.

To me it’s a very sad recent change in my neighborhood. We call our neighborhood in San Francisco a “village” (it has that flavor), but it’s changed over the 40 yrs. I have lived here. It no longer has a village feel, mainly because hardly anyone is friendly any more.

I think I’ll add “to smile and say hello” to every single walker I pass (sometimes they don’t even know what to say, they are so surprised!!) during my daily walks in 2018. It seems worthy goal and worthy New Year’s Resolution, plus a simple, do-able goal as well.

I can’t change the world, but I can do my part to live an example that used to be true in our village.  Maybe you can join me in your area of the country?

 

Model: training student Barbara, modeling a corset by Sheri for ROMANTASY)

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