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I spy joy in a helping hand

A helping hand

Driving home from work yesterday I saw a wonderful act of kindness between strangers.  Sitting at a light in the 97 degree heat I noticed the car next to me had its hazard lights flashing.  I let out a sympathetic “bummer”.

My sympathy soon turned to awe as the car in front of me pulled ahead of the stalled vehicle and stopped.  The driver and passenger got out, the passenger got in the driver’s seat and the driver came back to the stalled vehicle and said something to the people in it. The passenger of the stalled car got out and the two men stood behind the car until the light turned green, then they began to push. They got the car through the light and off to the side of the road, where the first car was waiting for them.

It made me feel so good I couldn’t help but smile and wave.  And quickly take this photo with my phone.

It’s so nice to see a kind act between strangers.  And it reminded me that such kindness is more common than we think.  In fact, it happens all the time.  We just aren’t always right there to see it.  When we are fortunate enough to witness kindnesses in the moment it’s a really good idea to pay close attention to them, and soak up all the goodness you can.  I truly believe it has more anti-oxidant powers than blueberries and acai combined, squared and then squared again.

Wheatgrass, step aside.

July 9, 2010   1 Comment

I spy joy in a tattoo

Joy Tattoo

As I was talking to a new co-worker today, I spied a tattoo on her wrist.  Not just any tattoo–a joy tattoo.

And not only is it a joy tattoo, it’s a pretty, swirly, joy tattoo.

Gotta admit, I was slightly envious.

Maybe it’s a phase I’m going through. I’ve been feeling the desire to surround myself with positive words and affirmations. I put up colorful squares in my office affirming ‘yes’, ‘love your life’, ‘joy’, ‘begin’.  I’ve got a pendant declaring ‘settle for more’, and one that says ‘divine’. I’ve got a simple, silver band I can hardly stand to take off my finger that reminds me ‘everything is possible’.  And when I saw Tab’s tattoo today I just got giddy. She has a friend (or is it a sister?) with a tattoo that says ‘believe’ in the same writing.  Wow. How cool is that?

One of my friends thinks it’s a bit much–me with the positive word fixation.  But to be perfectly honest, it makes me feel better. Every time I read one of the cards or pieces of jewelry saying yes to joy and possibility, those positive thoughts reverberate in my mind. The more I see / read /feel it, the more I like it and the more I crave it.

Hello, my name is Michele Larsen and I’m a joy addict. I habitually smile and laugh. And I even squeal with delight on occasion. If you come near me you’re likely to get hugged.


Hugs, anyone?

January 16, 2010   6 Comments

Joy quote: the secret to living the life of your dreams

Joy (in sand) mml 2009

Joy (in sand) mml 2009

The secret to living the life of your dreams, is to start living the life of your dreams, at once, to any degree that you possibly can.

– Mike Dooley, Notes From The Universe

If I had a dime for every time I felt like I had to wait for something to begin living my dream life, I’d be pretty darn rich.  I still catch myself feeling that way often, even though I know better.

I have to remind myself that I don’t have to recreate the Big Bang. I can begin small, bit by little bit.  The real power isn’t in the magnitude of the action, it’s in taking action. To any degree I possibly can.

My dream life is spending my days spreading joy, optimism and inspiration to millions.  It’s the millions part that trips me up. But, today I blog (one little bit), tomorrow I’ll greet the teachers at my kids’ school with smiles and hugs (another little bit), and the day after that I’ll perform a random act of kindness (yet another little bit). Eventually, all my little bits will turn into millions of people.

That will be a pretty sweet day.  I hope I realize it when it happens.

October 13, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in asking for what we want



My daughter has got a mind of her own.  It’s one of the many things I love about her.

This morning, when I asked her what she wanted for breakfast her reply was a definitive, “Toast with butter, toasted.  And LOTS of butter!”

I had to laugh.  Toast, by definition, is toasted.  And it usually comes with butter.  But Taryn wanted to make sure she got just what she wanted, so she asked for it twice.  Toast with butter. Toasted. With LOTS of butter.

I can laugh all I want, but this six-year-old has got a thing or two (thousand) to teach me.

  • when you want something, ask for it
  • if you want it just the way you like it, be CLEAR when you ask
  • don’t be afraid to ask twice–just in case
  • it helps a little if you smile and have cute pigtails

You can bet when I made that toast (toasted) that I heaped all kinds of butter on it.  And I smiled the whole time.

September 21, 2009   2 Comments

I spy joy in titles

Director of Smiles

Director of Smiles

Titles are interesting things.  Technically a descriptor, they also tend to create a sort of social hierarchy; ranking a person’s position, and consequently their value,  in the company.  At least, this is the traditional model.  Some (dare I say most?) companies–and people–take titles very seriously.  Every once in a while I see a company break the mold, if only around the edges.  Umpqua Bank, it turns out, is one of those companies.

On a mission to pick up donated items for goodie bags, I was distracted by a digital picture frame on the reception desk in the downtown Portland offices of Umpqua Bank.  It was scrolling images of community service by groups of employees.  Below it was a glass block proudly stating “Director of Smiles.”  Instantly, I smiled.  Uncontrollably.  In sheer delight I asked Bev Masters, the woman sitting there who was in fact full of smiles, if that was her real title.  Sure enough.  She even pulled out her name tag in verification.  I was almost giddy.  For a good 20 minutes afterward, even.

It occurs to me that while I am increasingly skeptical of titles, I hold immense value in this one.  Director of Smiles.  I’m certain Ms. Masters feels happier each and every time she sees those words following her name.  How could she not?  Just learning that somewhere there really is a Director of Smiles lightened my day considerably; and I don’t have any idea what she does all day.

I would wager that every person who sees that beautiful block of glass can’t help but grin and feel a little lighter than they did just moments before.  And a ripple of joy and smiles must inevitably follow.  If that’s all Ms. Masters does all day, I’d say she has one of the most powerful jobs I know of.

August 6, 2009   1 Comment

I spy joy in socks

Happy socks
Happy socks

Walking down the street watching leaves fall from trees, I spied these colorful and mismatched socks poking out from some of the most fun shoes I’ve seen in a long time.  Immediately it brought a smile to my face.  I walked by, then stopped and turned around, emboldened by this lingering smile, and asked this joyous woman if I could snap a shot of her happy feet. 

I wonder if she has any idea that she’s spreading joy just by what she chooses to wear on her feet.  If you happen to see socks like this walking around downtown Portland, be sure to let her know. 

November 4, 2008   1 Comment