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Smile – a free gift you can give to anyone

.When you’re passing someone on the street and they take a minute to look you in the eye and SMILE… that is undeniably priceless. Who knows what that person is dealing with at that moment in their head or has facing them in the rest of the day or week. You have that one opportunity to be a light.

Smiling Dog Face |
Meet Chance. The happiest pup!
Lady Smiles on Swing in Ecuador |
Lorna says traveling the world makes her smile.

Am I right? You know exactly what I mean. Not only are smiles free, but they are easy to share, and have enormous impact on everyone it touches. So, you may be asking, why in the world am I writing about a simple thing such as a smile.


Well, I’ve already presented the way it affects others when we share a smile. However, I also want to share on what it does for us in our own person.

Science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.

It’s a pretty backwards idea, isn’t it? Happiness is what makes us smile; how can the reverse also be true? The fact is, as Dr. Isha Gupta a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explains, a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”

In other words, smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy which can then spur actual feelings of happiness. READ MORE HERE.

Smiling Girl on Slide |
Little Clara makes her Grandma smile.

BAM! In addition, as if this wasn’t enough here’s more:

Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including (source):

Husband and Wife Smile Through Life's Ups & Downs |
Terri says, “Going through a ‘season’ of sadness, illness, trials & tribulations and knowing that God was holding our hands through it all.
Little Girl with Rabbit Hutch |
Diane says her two daughters bring her smiles.


Okay, so some of you know my recent story of health issues. At the present I’ve made it through four mini strokes that have yet to have the cause diagnosed. My most recent occurrence was New Year’s Day. Not the way I wanted to start off my year, but I’m focusing on that I.AM.HERE. Near the end of the month I had a scare that had me thinking I was having heart attack symptoms.

My breath was taken away, my body was flooding with blood after, and 911 was called. An ambulance showed up quickly and did an EKG to say that nothing was amiss that they could tell, but my blood pressure was skyrocketing.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces in Emergency Room |

They decided to take me in to run tests to see what happened. On the way in, I am asked many questions and in my goofy way, I always have a smile. Seriously, I don’t know how to not smile. I’ve been told all my life that I smile too much. How is that possible?


When I arrived at the hospital, I couldn’t help smiling and waving at folks that I passed. I had a moment of self-talk, “What are you doing silly? You are supposed to be freaking out and here you are smiling at people. They’ll think you’re nuts.” I can’t help that I trust Jesus so much.

Oh, and my admitting nurse was a barrel of laughs. gee. She made me out to be a lazy, nut. Apparently she was having a rough day because the ER was full, a lady is screaming “help”, another man yelling, “don’t touch me.” I silently pray for the nurse and all involved.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces and her ER visit to find source of strokes |

After several tests, they didn’t find any clots or heart issues, but diagnosed me with pelvic congestion syndrome. You see, after 6 children, I have my fair share of varicosities in my legs, and pelvic area. This test showed I have many on the inside as well. Remember, I had subchorionic hematomas in several of my pregnancies and even one took my daughter too soon.

I questioned the doctors, just like I did the cardiologist weeks before, could the clots be coming from my varicosities? They said is was possible, but very unlikely. At 3 am they tell me I can go home. However, I had to come back in a couple of hours for an ultrasound to check on those issues in my pelvis.


While home, I reviewed the report on my ER visit. Here’s what it read:

Hospital ER Report |

Did you catch that? Dizziness and GIDDINESS! ahahahahaha! I told you they would think me crazy. I died laughing at home. Hilarious! I always tell myself that no matter what I’m facing, I would always hold a joy in my heart that the doctors, nurses, and everyone around me could see. The joy of the Lord. This song nails it.


Then, the next day I had to have my ECHO sonogram and carotid scan. Yet another drive an hour away. Talk about tired with only 3 hours of sleep. Off we go and I go through the test gamut. First, I had the ECHO, a 45 minute test. They are filleting my heart by image after image and looking for defects. Also, because of my TIA’s (strokes), I need to have a bubble test performed to see if I have a hole in the wall in my heart that separates chambers.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces at Cleveland Clinic with Smile |

While prepping me for yet another IV, the nurses discuss the possibility of one of their papers being chosen to be presented at an official gathering in Denver. The nurse made a joke that she would bring back gummy bears as a gift on her return. The other nurse didn’t catch the joke, but after she a moment both giggled. I had no idea what they were talking about. However, they said do you know what we’re talking about? My reply caused them to explain that marijuana is legal in Denver and they offer it in gummy bear form. They were JOKING folks. They made me smile!

ECHO Cardiogram Test |


Anyhow, they are performing the bubble test that has to be done at just the right time to see if a bubble passes through my heart wall. The tech had to be up on the bed behind me because of my position having to be on the bed and where my IV was located. They started the saline injection and then had to do it again. On the second time, the saline syringe popped off and sprayed a burst.

The ultrasound tech squealed as she got sprinkled and I laughed. After the initial shock of what just happened, they began to giggle too. I piped up, “and she didn’t even have gummy bears!!” hahahaha!!

Remember my comic relief when the ophthalmologist told me I was having strokes? Such a needed relief at just the right time. A SMILE. God is so good and knows me so well. Good news is that both tests came back as good as could be. Frustrating is finding out what’s the cause of my issues.

“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” Proverbs 15:13


By the grace of God I have been able to become friends with wonderful people far and wide through the internet. One such awesome friend is Sam from Raggedy Bits. She has been a smile in my day, and a reassuring friend all while her home country is burning around her in Australia. She has had a major stroke in her past that left her in rehabilitation and dealing with vertigo as well. After I told her my pelvic congestion diagnosis, she said we are twins.

She has a huge clot in her leg into her pelvis, plus other clots that have formed because of it. Her and I both feel like we’re walking time bombs, with her having the shorter end of the stick for sure. There was the connection I needed to hear…that my gut feeling my varicosities in my legs and pelvis are my source of trouble. Now to get the doctors on board.


In my initial visit with the cardiologist, I tried to tell him I had vertigo. He blew me off and equated it to me being tall (I’ve been told that my whole life). I also approached him about my varicosities being in pain from the January 1st stroke and they hadn’t been before. He said I need to see about ablation and kinda blew me off again.

Then, after my pelvic diagnosis, I had to call the hospital to find out results even though they said someone would call. Because I am an outpatient test referred by the ER, it made things difficult. They had no answers for me, so I asked for the number of the ob/gyn doctor who could read the results.

Next, that doctor’s office say I have to come in to get results and need to be a patient. grrr…I’m getting mad. Then, the cardiologist’s office called to tell me my tests were all showing no heart issues. I asked the next steps, they said nothing. Like…the cardiologist wasn’t going to do any follow-up, etc. I informed them of the ER visit and that changed the tune of things.

Back to another hour’s drive to see what, if anything, there’s anything to do next. This week I wear a heart monitor for 24 hours to see if any arrhythmia shows up. I’m still waiting the results on that.However, as for the other issues, the doctor did listen this time. I’m headed down the path to figure out my vertigo and varicose issues with a neurology appointment.


During this whole time I’m facing all this, people keep telling me that I have to be eaten up inside and I need to rest and relax. I become baffled a bit because I’m not. I wake up with a song in my heart and sing as I’m getting out of bed. My mornings start off with Scripture, singing songs and dancing. Lemme tell ya, I love to dance and sing. Now that I have vertigo my dancing is much more euphoric. haha! I am tipsy and dizzy, but letting it all go to God. Yes, I’m the only nut working at 5 am at my desk while dancing and singing in my seat.  Maybe you’ll see me on stage one day. (those are blue light filtering glasses I’m wearing. 😀 )

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces smile at work in the morning |

Am I ever knocked out of my joy? Yes, sometimes. I miss being me, being normal, being a mama who doesn’t cause her kids stress and worry. They’ve been through similar trials in our family past and are so strong. Believe me, I have enough other things on my plate to be an instant downer. However, I’m choosing that unsurpassable joy.


Maybe you are just not sure what this all means for you. Well, you have a choice. You can do yourself a lifetime of health benefits by sharing smiles with all you encounter. Be the difference. Be the one that sees that silver lining. Most of all, give your woes and doubts to God. He’s waiting with open arms to carry it all for you.

Kids Smile in Kitchen | #prodigalpieces
Four beautiful reasons for Sarah to smile.
Cute boy hamming it up. |
Cute grandson hamming it up to make his granny smile.

When you checkout at the store, reveal those pearly whites to the cashier. Or when you are waiting at the doctor’s office, flash a beaming beautiful smile to the receptionist and those around you. It will lighten the whole room making folks wonder why you are so joyful. It’s contagious and can bring those endorphins and sighs of relief.

Girl with Dog Smile |
Little Pukadog has crossed the rainbow bridge, but brings smiles still to the whole family.

Everyone, everyday is facing something. Whether it’s an exciting time, depressing time, or just plain nerves about the unknown. Our society has become heavy in most instances and I, personally, want to be different. To shine from the inside out even when I should be down. I will SMILE. 😀

There’s always a reason to always choose joy. There’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy. Smile when you think you can’t, smile, get up and dance. Smile, there’s a bigger plan. And you’ve got a reason to smile, when you think you can’t. Smile, just clap your hands. Smile, there’s a bigger plan. You’ve got a reason to SMILE. ~ Sidewalk Prophets (video above)

Are you with me? Share with us what makes you smile, how you keep your head up, and finish strong. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. Send me an email or reach out in some form. Also, thank you to all who shared your beautiful smiles with us today.

Also, pin and share to spread that smile we all need. Many face trials and despair. Just think of how you can change their lives and yours.

Go on and has health benefits for you and all you show your pearly whites too. Read all about it at Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #smile #health #happiness

To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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In addition, more reasons for you to SMILE:

How I choose joy in all circumstances. It ain't easy, but there is hope | Head to Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #joy #life #stress #guilt #fear #health #debtAre you facing trials that are knocking you down? Health, finances, relationships...they can run our lives OR we can proclaim, "I AM AN OVERCOMER". No one has to stand alone. Detail at #prodigalpieces #health #finance #relationships #prodigalpieces #family

22 replies on “Smile – a free gift you can give to anyone”

I think there’s a reason why the Lord made it so that we use fewer muscles to smile than to frown.😁 You have a beautiful smile, thank you for using it. Praying for you.

A smile is the best beauty trick that exists! Thank you for that reminder. I have always been told I have a beautiful smile and I try to remember to show it often. Somedays are easier than others, as you know. Prayers for answers to your health issues and solutions to them so that you can live your beautiful life. I thank God for your witness. I thought of “This Little Light of Mine, I”m Gonna Let It Shine!” when i read this post. May you feel God’s blessings and my well wishes.

I am just catching up with your ordeal. You know I have a soft spot for heart patients. Keep up with all the appointments and aftercare. Obey ythe doctors and their instructions. I am sure you all do these things. Sorry I have been very busy lately. I will be thinking about you and praying for you. I know there is a life giving work of God behind your journey. Hugs my friend.

Thanks for such an inspirational message. I try to smile more at people. Sometimes they act surprised and smile back. It’s much better than frowning. I pray you will get answers about your health. I know God is listening. Your faith is an inspiration to all.

Praying for answers to your scary situation! Have they done ultrasounds on both legs? Looking for clots and for circulatory issues? Think that would be a wise move.

Larissa, your story takes me back to my hospital ER visit. I was just told I had deep vein thrombosis and multiple pulmonary emboli in both lungs. A short cry after the shock, but then I kidded with my nurses. I’m pretty sure they wondered about my frame of mine, but honestly I just was overcome by this huge sense of calm. I was no longer afraid. I told you recently that I was wearing the monitor for a week. Just got back from the followup and I was told it was Supraventricular tachycardia and atrial contractions. I’ve always known I had PVC’s but these were different they tell me. However, nothing at all that I need to worry about , and I pray you get really good news as well. p.s. I always smile at people. And I can tell by the look on their face that they weren’t expecting it. I usually get a smile back, and that’s nice. God be with you!

WOW!! I’m so glad you were able to smile through all your troubles, and that you got an answer to your troubles. Smiles…the most beautiful thing we can ever wear. Praying for you!! 😀

When all of life overwhelms me, with its tragedies and troubles, I remember my oldest son’s excitement as he explained finally understanding, after 6 months of listening to the Bible and recorded sermons for 8-10 hours a day at his factory job, his realization that we have one and only one responsibility: to bring glory to God. That’s it. I find much peace and joy in the simplicity of that, when all is confusion.
Years ago, my baby brother sent me a link to a sermon he’d just heard. It was on “casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you”. I’d never realized before the depth of that. I do not need to worry or fear about ANYTHING, because He is ready and willing to do it FOR me. Oh what relief! I smile so much more now! I’m so grateful that I had that to get me through a child with cancer and all the other stuff life holds. 😊
I’ll keep praying for you, you keep smiling. 😁😁😁

Yes! I couldn’t agree with you more, Becky! 😀 I often tell my children that I feel like I’m 10 people wrapped up in one with so many things I wanted to do with my life. I trust in God’s plan and His ways and it all just seems to fade away. Smiling!

We have one life to live and we can choose how we respond to it. Larissa being positive is the way that God wants us to see life and its crazy situations. I am so glad that you have Sam for support she is one amazing lady.

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