It’s almost Halloween. And in today’s world, that means one thing. It’s Christmas season. Since most people I know (by people, I mean Twitter followers and bloggers) are itching to bring out the holiday joy, they’ve inspired me to start planning my gift shopping. It’s never too late, right? In this case, my gift receivers are not too tech-savvy or choosy. One particular person has hinted toward something to read on or something to tell him/her where to go. So in true holiday-before-we-are-even-ready spirit, I present to you some out-loud thoughts of a Christmas pre-shopper.
The benefit: As our surroundings change, some things stay the same. Curling up to enjoy a good book has never gone out of style. Only the method has changed. The nifty e-reader replaces the vacation book bag along with the hassle of carrying several books around. With more public venues offering wi-fi and the access to networks, e-readers are able to store thousands of books, newspapers and magazines for your reading pleasure.
• Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The biggest complaint for e-readers is the glare from sunlight that makes reading the screen challenging. The Paperwhite fixes that with a bright, white screen to keep the words in focus. It’s considered by experts as the best overall e-reader in the market. Older versions are available at an affordable price.
• Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight
The lightweight competitor to the Paperwhite, the GlowLight also provides plenty of light for reading as well as an rubber edge in case of any clumsy mishaps. It also holds up to 4 GBs of internal memory and eliminates page flashing (what happens to the screen when it refreshes: Think sudden bright light).
• Kobo Glo
A lightweight alternative to the main brands of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the Kobo Glo has a touch screen interface, an expansion slot for additional memory and compatibility with EPub files. With the Adobe DRM format available, users are able to read most e-book store-supported formats.
The benefit: It’s not your father’s road map located in the glove box. The GPS on your car’s dashboard might just be your best friend when you’re lost. Although the technology allows GPS to operate on your smartphone, these standalone devices provide audible driving directions as well as a large easy-to-read screen.
• Garmin Nuvi 3597LMTHD
Considered one of the best in market, the Nuvi comes in a thin metal frame with a five-inch screen. The voice command makes it easy to use and keeps your hands rightfully on the wheel. Even the directions speak in a real-world, conversational tone like “In a quarter-mile, turn left. Keep straight past the hotel and turn left at the light.”
• Magellan SmartGPS
This beefed-up GPS is in tune with all the latest networking such as wifi and Bluetooth connection. Applications like Yelp and Foursquare work hand-in-hand to provide downloaded, real-time traffic reports with fuel price data. If you have an iPhone, the SmartGPS app works for seamless integration.
• TomTom GO Live 1535M
Labeled under “keep-it-simple,” The TomTom GO Live 1535M blends together web applications like Trip Advisor and Google to provide pinpoint destination searches. In addition to its voice command and HD Traffic service, the Twitter app allows drivers to tweet the ETA without texting.
Those are just my initial thoughts, but who knows. Things could change before Thanksgiving.
Last Week: 12-2
DAMN, I’M GOOD. LET’S KEEP IT GOING!
PICKS ARE IN BOLD
(BYES: PHILADELPHIA, TAMPA BAY)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16
N.Y. JETS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19
ATLANTA FALCONS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 1:00 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 1:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. GIANTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DENVER BRONCOS * — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 20
HOUSTON TEXANS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 8:30 p.m.
I was interviewing a chief executive for a feature about female CEOs. During our conversation, she brought up the idea of “having it all”.
It’s all boiled down to flexibility.
The woman, who owns a waste management firm, said it is up to the individual to know what “all” is. She also narrowed it down to organization. That got me thinking about my own memes of “having it all” and achieving general success.
Being organized is essential in my line of work. I wouldn’t know how to manage if I wasn’t in order. I’m at the point where I treat it as a game. I have an app to manage my time for certain projects. It’s a race to get as much done in a small lot of time. Add the obsessive urge of me making lists and folders, it’s enough to keep me motivated and efficient.
But not every day’s the same. There are roadblocks and detours to get around. Organization is a daily mission, a mission of flexibility that exposes whether we have a Plan A, B, C and beyond. It’s a skill.
One of my most influential bosses, whom the majority are women, have taught me the whole theory of organization and how to move on the fly. At the time, I thought it was a waste of time. One of my superiors had me make a list for every job responsibility bestowed upon me. Then, write a line-by-line description of every move . It was grueling as much as it was mundane.
The motto was, “write it as if a 12-year-old boy could read the instructions and do your job”. Not that my job was so pathetic that a pre-teen could do it (it wasn’t, it was awesome) but in short, the plan was to keep it simple.
I was doing it so much that before long I looked forward to chronicling my work. The decrease of stress and worry was immediate when I dove into work projects. I was engaged and wanting to improve. It lead to raises, more responsibility and job security. When my boss wanted to know what I did, all I needed was a chart or folder to put on her desk.
The ability to navigate my mission of flexibility has been one of my admiring professional qualities. I still have all the charts and folders I made along with other plots and procedure manual I’ve authored since then. It’s still helping me to find work and staying on top of workday.
What is your idea of “having it all”?
COMMENT BELOW, PRETTY PLEASE
Last Week: 11-4
“I’m back in the saddle, again… I’M BACK!!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: KANSAS CITY, NEW ORLEANS)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12
CHICAGO BEARS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
DENVER BRONCOS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 4:25 p.m.
DALLAS COWBOYS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 4:25 p.m.
N.Y. GIANTS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES * — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 8:30 p.m.
The hospital where she was a nurse for more than three decades had many pharmaceutical drug salesmen who’d visit to give away their widgets to remind them of the new drug of the day, Zantac. Back in the 80s before stress balls and coffee mugs, the notepads were the go-to item. The doctors and nurses used them often and it was great promotion.
Through time, those notepads were collected en masse and used up plenty of storage space in my attic (i.e. my old bedroom). One day, my mother did some spring cleaning and offered me a box of my childhood belongings. Those Zantac tablets were staring me in the face. But what could I use them for? The green and white lines lent themselves to some list making. Since it was December, I thought I could set up some goals for 2014: Pay off a debt; repair the house and outside; Create savings and checking; Learn a new skill; Keep in shape; Maintain and focus on my relationship; and Kill bad habits.
That was one sheet. What could I do with the rest?
It was January 1. I thought, ‘What would I need to even begin to tackle my list of goals for the year?” The good news was that I arrived at the answer. It was STRENGTH. The bad news: It was January 2. Why was it bad? That’s when I’d thought of the idea that has now become a part of routine for this calendar year. That day, I took the first word, STRENGTH and wrote an appropriate passage below it. Then the word, POTENTIAL on another sheet for the next day, and only posted the second on Facebook. The third word, COURAGE was posted on my Instagram account.
The goal was to provide some encouragement for myself to conquer my goals list, but it’s slowly turning into daily goal in of itself. I wake up, think of a word and the first thing that came in my head I would write or draw. It would take me no more than 15 minutes of my time to complete. It became an exercise of positivity that was enjoyable and revved my engine for the upcoming day. Day Three turned into Four, then Day 80, Day 160, Day 250 and on and on.
I don’t get too many likes for these words, and that’s alright. I’m not trying to be famous. But it’s enjoyable to see strangers, some more famous than others, randomly stumble along their accounts and see a word. I’d get a “cool” or “That’s what I’m talking about.” and other notes of encouragement. Hey, if it gives them some motivation or inspiration to go about their day, that’s fine with me.
I don’t know what this will end up being, but all I know is that it makes me happy to pass along a message to whomever every single day. That’s it!
I do this everyday. Check them out here:
What are some of the daily things you do that inspire or motivate? Comment below!
Here are my NFL picks for…
Last Week: 5-8
“What the hell happened last week. Batting 500 again!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: MIAMI, OAKLAND)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5
CHICAGO BEARS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.
HOUSTON TEXANS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT DETROIT LIONS — 1:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.
ST. LOUIS RAMS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. JETS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:25 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS * — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:30 p.m.
I’m a sucker for strange, out-of-this world stories. In this age of social media and limitless sources of information, you’d think there isn’t a tale that hasn’t been told already. But there’s always a nugget that surprisingly blows my mind.
For instance, the profile of the most remote island in the world, Tristan da Cunha piqued my interest since returning home from my vacation with beach sand still in my shoes. I thought St. Pete was secluded. This South Atlantic island, 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, isn’t sand and palm trees. It enjoys an obscene amount of rainfall (up to 26 days’ worth), has no hotels, no safe swimming locales while sitting on an active volcano.
If you’re feeling to get your über-travel on, you have to be prepared, for real. The island’s visitors web page keeps it 100 from the jump:
“You can’t just turn up in Cape Town and jump on a ship to Tristan da Cunha.”
First of all, you’d need to ask your employer for some time off, approximately 20-30 days at least, since it takes nearly a week to get there by boat (Oh yeah, did I mention there’s no airport on the island?). Plus, there are only a handful of sailings per year. You have to be serious about visiting. Some travelers stay for months at a time and become part of the community of nearly 300 people; time enough to explore all the trails and wildlife.
Second, you’ll need permission. The Island Council is Tristan da Cunha’s elected body. You want to visit? You literally have to ask them. They give the “yay” or “nay”.
Most who visit the island are of the medical, teaching or religious profession as well as avid hikers, writers and filmmakers. Suffice to say, if your “Why” answer is “To chill with my homies in a far away land,” you’re probably not making the cut.
Stretching 7.5 miles in diameter, the island hosts many tours such as to the four neighboring islands, the Tristan Settlement and the island’s top, Queen Mary’s Peak.
Its most noteworthy event was its near demise when a volcanic eruption destroyed the island in 1961. All of the residents escaped then returned two years later to rebuild their homes. The event is even commemorated in Tristan de Cunha’s postal stamp.
Interestingly enough, Tristan is considered a lover’s paradise (it is nicknamed “The Love Island”). In the summertime at Queen Mary’s Peak, the summit crater thaws into a heart-shaped lake.
It is said that the islanders often return there to be married. The residents of Tristan were known to be shy. So, the way they’d show affection was toward the pastime of knitting “Love Socks”. If a man was interested in a woman, he would bring a gift and sit with her family. In return, she would knit him a pair of socks. The stripes on the socks would gauge how much she’d like the guy. Two large stripes were akin to “Yeah, you’re cute,” and two large stripes plus six small stripes were “I sooo want to get with you!” Love Socks and other interesting items are sold in the island’s souvenir shop.
P.S. My good friend Chris Miller shares many tidbits of the interesting on his blog, The Lonely Typewriter. Check it out!
Last Week: 8-8
“Same as before… stinking up the joint!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: ARIZONA, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, DENVER, SEATTLE, ST. LOUIS)
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
N.Y. GIANTS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (LONDON) — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 8:30 p.m.
The Amygdala (ah-mig-da-la) is a son of a bitch. But it’s your friend… your almond-shaped friend. It’s only looking out for you just like a protective mother. But like her, the amygdala can take protecting to another level.
Referred to as the lizard brain, the amygdala is responsible your flight or fight responses, but mainly flight. Its main function is to control your emotions and motivations. The amygdala keeps a tally on your fear, anger and negativity for the most part. It’s literarily the voice inside your head telling you to “don’t do it,” “think about it,” or “what will (so-and-so) say/think about this?”.
One trick the amygdala performs is the art of combining your memories with your certain response to those events (i.e. how you felt when the bully punched you in the stomach on your way to Drama class or when Suzie Shakespeare said no when you asked her to prom).
It compartmentalizes every emotion and stores them in the appropriate areas of your brain for later use (i.e. “Hey Michael, you remember when “that” happen, WE WON’T BE FOOLED AGAIN!!!).
The amygdala is also why we can figure out what we were doing/smelling/eating/listening to when we heard two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, when O.J. was acquitted or when you crashed into that fire hydrant.
The downside is that too much of the amygdala thinking can lead to some bad habits such as obsessing over trivial matters, becoming too critical and just making excuses for yourself.
Whether it’s exercising or trying to figure out a project at home or work, there is always some seed of doubt waiting to grow (“I can’t do this,” “This is way too hard,” “What did I get myself into?”). The amygdala, out of concern and safety, whispers these lines consistently. With every setback, it grows louder and louder until your brain goes back to reference any minor or major failure to make you feel it’s okay to quit or delay things for a while.
That, my friend, is procrastination and it keeps you from succeeding. But there’s good news. It works the other way. A string of little successes can reinforce all of the mental triggers for future references when challenged in a similar situation (i.e. you don’t put your hand over the fire because you’ll get burned or the healthy feeling you’ll have when you decide not to pick up that cigarette).
I guess I’m simplifying, but that’s the short and skinny of our maternal friend, Amygdala. You can find a more technical analysis here.
Plus, here’s a nifty video about the lizard brain and ways to conquer it.
What are some of the ways that you conquer your lizard brain? Comment below!
WEEK 3 PICKS
Last Week: 7-9
“Back to Life, Back to Reality…”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS– 1:00 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — 1:00 p.m.
HOUSTON TEXANS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
DALLAS COWBOYS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 4:05 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 4:25 p.m.
DENVER BRONCOS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 4:25 p.m.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
CHICAGO BEARS AT N.Y. JETS — 8:30 p.m.
The names and locations are fictional, the directions are in bold but the car is mine and stories are true, sort of.
There are old houses and trendy eateries with gluten-free selections littered across this storied neighborhood with the original bricks paved onto the roads. It’s bumpy every time I’m here.
My first ride, Michelle cascaded toward the car. I wanted to take a picture to pique any paparazzi interest she might have while in her driveway. Sliding inside, she raised her finger to adjust her sunglasses then proceeded to do her best Audrey Hepburn.
“I want to pick up my friend. She is right around the corner when you get to Literary.” You look much different with a mustache, Michael.
I remembered then by doing this line of work, they’ll know what I look like as well as my car. I almost felt like a celebrity, too.
This is what I got it in for, other than the extra cash: Serving people. Driving is exciting. Communicating with others is what I do for a salary. Combining the two is a dream job, I guess.
Everybody is thankful for my presence. The drunker, the more grateful they become. But today, I figured I could help a damsel in distress who needs to get to work.
Coming off the left turn from Literary Street, Michelle and I discussed the remaining time of summer and cookouts that were rained out. She had an impromptu party to plan and needed a cleaner for her home.
She was in luck. Her friend, Rachel, a petite flower with a charming nose ring and calming voice, had a cousin who was a housekeeper. Her prices were cheap too.
We stopped outside Rachel’s home as she flowed off her front porch as Michelle did minus the pageant wave. She nestled into my front seat and lean into a solid Anne Hathaway pose.
“It’s best to get on Harmony, it’s a one-way, then left on Morrison Ave.”
Accountants at a boutique store on the far West side, the ladies described their work through the wrath of their manager who doesn’t listen effectively enough for Rachel’s tastes.
I told her when I was hired, I’m going to China for a month, then a weeding in Chicago. So, I needed September and some of October off. She just looked at me and said, “Okay”. She is just there because someone owed her a favor. Uggghh. She is so difficult.
Using her iPhone as a mirror to review her brushstrokes, Michelle nodded in agreement and explained to Rachel that life was easier during their days as baristas. The nose ring slightly tilted as Rachel chuckled then turned to me to drop some knowledge.
You know… you can tell a lot about a person when they order coffee.
With a few blocks from our destination, she grabbed my attention.
Black women always want extra caramel. No matter what, never fails! Old school people like black coffee and are to the point with you. But if there’s a guy who wants anything and everything with decaf, they’re either gay or an asshole.
After I called her out on her generalizations, she offered proof of her findings.
Oh! I tested my theory. There was this guy who went crazy with demands for decaf. He asked for my number and we went out on a date. He was a big time prick.
“You’ll want to make a left here…”
I thought I’d give him another shot. That time, I was drunk when he picked me up. We went to a bowling alley, drank some more and he still was an asshole.
“Pull into this driveway…”
Valid, I said. An asshole is an asshole. The ladies granted me sincere salutations and were on their way. Maybe the next time I enter a Starbucks, I’ll order black coffee with extra caramel.
What does coffee say about you? Leave a comment!
Last Week: 11-5
Best start ever. In history. Yay me!
Picks are in bold
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 8:25 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.
DALLAS COWBOYS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m
ST. LOUIS RAMS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:05 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:25 p.m.
N.Y. JETS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 4:25 p.m.
HOUSTON TEXANS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.
CHICAGO BEARS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 8:30 p.m.
“You should smile more.”
This is what I hear often. I particularly don’t like my smile. I have two enormous, over-bitten front choppers that are uncomfortably separated. When I do smile, one might suspect a linebacker is coming to fill my A-gap for a tackle. Also, it doesn’t help I’m 6’3ish” 200-plus lbs. with eyes that pierce steel.
Although I’m a jovial person, my facial features tell otherwise. I’m mistaken for cruel or at least menacing at first glance. Hygiene-wise, I’m on top of my game with my teeth. My problem is conveying happiness to the initial stranger. There are several ways I’m trying to communicate my inner happiness for the whole world to see.
Practice, practice, practice
My smile is one of the original qualities I possess. If I’m going to perfect this train wreck, I got to practice in front of a mirror until I can’t get it wrong. At least I know what I’m working with, so I’m going with a lot of looks here.
The one on the right is known as the standard “Duchenne smile“. It’s the gold standard of smiles. When we do it right and with feeling, the only stressed parts of our face should be the cheeks and corners of our eyes. Although they’re easy to fake, it’s generally a tell of genuine enjoyment. Like this chick below. See how happy she looks…
The second shot known as “teeging” where my mouth is slightly open while my tongue is pressed against my teeth. I call it my “Yes, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, please” look.
My third and “THERE’S MORE BP&J?!? I LOVE YOU!” pose is an example of the LOL smile where—at it’s maximum—my happy vein would pop out in the middle of my big forehead. In test driving these positions, one thing I’ve learned is to recognize how my face feels when I’m truly smiling and memorize it. Doing this, I figured out that I often smile with my eyes but the rest of my face doesn’t follow suit. In order to get the full effect, I often try to go for an “eyes-only” approach. It works well when you want to express pleasure without actually screaming “WOO-HOO!”.
I’m not saying cheese!
The exact origin of how this started is debatable, but understandable. When you say cheese, your cheeks expand and your pearly whites show, but the end result looks forced. I’ve found uttering words that end with an “uh” sound such as “yoga” and “mocha” work well.
But old habits die hard. So here’s a trick. When the person taking the pictures yells, “Say Cheese,” reply in a condescending manner “Nooo”. The slow motion of your diction will retract you cheeks back into the smile you’ve always wanted. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Find your happy place
While taking these three photos, I was thinking of how amazing it was when man first combined peanut butter and jam which made me all tickled inside, thus causing me elation. Thinking happy thoughts does lead to more smiling, but this could also be the case of the egg leading the chicken. Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling makes us happier humans which takes us to our happy place (and happy vein). But watch out… a frown can have the same effect.
Speaking of which, you know that adage “it takes more muscles to frown than to smile”? Well, someone may have been lying to you. On average, we use the same amount of muscles to do both. The difference is in our zygomatic major muscle. That’s the one we flex when we smile. Chances are, we humans are more smilers than frowners. With any muscle, the more we work it, the stronger it becomes. Thus frowning may appear to be a tad bit harder due to inactivity.
Learning to smile is so simple but becoming cognizant of how it’s perceived is just one of the many life-hackish improvements I’m undergoing. After all, it promotes trust and a better understanding of my fellow humans. It’s just one of those small things that can lead to big opportunities.
And that’ll put a smile on my face.
We start fresh. New Season: New Beginning
WEEK 1 – My predictions are in BOLD
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 8:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 1:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 1:00 p.m.
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:25 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 8:30 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
N.Y. GIANTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 7:10 p.m.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 10:20 p.m.