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Smiling With Your Eyes
The original item was published from February 16, 2021 11:19 AM to April 30, 2021 9:55 AM
If eyes are the window into a person’s soul, then smiles are the window into their hearts. Smiling is a uniquely human trait and so important to creating and maintaining the connections us humans thrive off. I miss toothy grins and silly smirks, beautiful beams and every smile in between. So much of the human connection felt in daily face-to-face interaction has been lost because of the need to wear masks. It is a disappointing side effect to COVID pandemic prevention.
But humans are an adaptable bunch, and my coworkers and I are not ones to dwell in disappointment. At TDRPD we have been lucky enough to continue to have many reasons to smile throughout the pandemic, even if only through a mask. We are solution-orientated and use our positivity and creativity to adapt in ways we may not have thought possible this time last year. This mindset has encouraged me to find an acceptable (albeit inadequate) alternative to smiling - the smize.
Smizing, a term coined by supermodel Tyra Banks, is to smile with your eyes. It is the word given to the extra wrinkles that show up in the corners of your eyes and the twinkle that appears in your eyeballs. If paying particular attention, smizing can be seen in every smile, but can frequently be missed in a quick contact. Which is why I focus on my daily interactions and make sure to exaggerate my smize. I want people to know that I feel their struggle and share in their happiness. That I am a warm soul that they can trust. That I will do my best to spread joy and facilitate reprieve from this virus.
I embellish my smize on a regular basis throughout the day. I smize at the parents during drop off and pick up at the Community Arts Center. I smize with my coworkers when discussing the latest COVID related adjustments. I smize at a child when they tell me the best part of their week is the youth hockey program. I smize when a preschooler shows me their favorite stuffy. I smize walking down the street, at the grocery check-out, when getting a cup of coffee and with my friends in a drive-by hangout. Heck, I even find myself smizing with my family at the dinner table! It has become an opportunity for me to express my joy and have people feel my warmth.
Working at the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District gives me a lot to smile about. We have had the chance throughout this pandemic to provide what people need: a natural escape, interaction with others, time away to prioritize self or work, childcare and recreation opportunities. People are grateful for our presence and we are grateful for theirs. I am happy to be a part of this organization, and I want everyone to know it. So, I squint my eyes, lift my cheekbones, and shine my smile right on through my smize, and I’ll probably do it long after the day COVID is just a memory.
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