Happy New Year! (almost...)

🌨️ We started our last newsletter celebrating a snow day, but based on the last week, that was a bit premature. ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️

Hope you had a great Christmas if you celebrate it, and a good holiday with family and friends if your tradition is different. Doesn't matter what you celebrate as the common thread in all celebrations is smiling faces. Turns out it's universal. Everyone does it.

In this issue, we wrap up 2022 with a personal story about doing good and the smiles it generates, and we catch up on the news from our friends taking action during this Holiday Season.

Smile! 🥰

The power of a smile for 2023

As this year is coming to a close, I want to share a recent personal story with you. One that I thought initially was inconsequential, but one that turned out to be magical.

It all started with my biking buddy and good friend Neil, asking me if I wanted to help him and his wife Sue, make a video for Bakersville, the animated Gingerbread Village, that they help create (along with 12 other volunteers) every Christmas time in Port Perry. (As a matter of  fact, this year marks the 25th anniversary for the display which is located in the Scugog Memorial Library.)

“We were looking at the Sick Kids Hospital donation catalogue, and got thinking about the kids stuck in the hospital over Christmas, and wondering what we could do to make their lives just a bit more enjoyable at this time of the year... and we thought, what if we could bring Bakersville to them and put a smile on their faces for even a brief moment,” Neil says to me. And this is where the idea of a Bakersville video comes in.

So the next thing you know, Sue is in contact with Sick Kids, and Neil is at my side as a production assistant, and we are shooting videos of the gingerbread houses in Bakersville - with big smiles on our faces as visitors were coming in to visit the display.

A couple of days later, the final video was posted on YouTube and delivered (via the cloud) and shared in a number of wards for the children to see in the hospital. The feedback was immediate: they loved it!

All I could think of is how many kids were smiling while they were watching it. Amazing!  What had started out as hopeful wish from a couple in Port Perry, had now become a smile making moment for kids, 75 km away, who couldn't be home this Christmas. How powerful is that?

And it got me thinking... there's got to be some science behind smiling... what does a smile do to both the giver and the receiver of a smile? And sure enough, turns out smiling is a very powerful force as we now have the data to prove it!

Here are the top psychological and social benefits of smiling:

1. Smiling can help you live longer
According to the Harvard Medical School, optimism — which is linked to smiling — is associated with a lower risk of early death from cancer and infection.

2. Smiling changes your brain chemistry
When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules that are meant to protect you from stress. These molecules help neurons in your brain talk to each other. Also, when you smile, your brain sends out dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. This natural, feel-good mix of chemicals that your brain makes, makes you happier and more relaxed. It can even slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.

3. Smiling makes you more attractive
You don't have to plan a workout or wear fancy clothes. A study done at a university in Scotland found that people who smiled and made eye contact were always rated as more attractive than those who didn't.

4. Smiling is contagious
When someone smiles at you, you are conditioned, both behaviorally and psychologically, to smile back. Or, when you're happy, you have to make a conscious effort to stop the smile that wants to spread across your face.

Bottom line, smiling is something we do naturally.
A smile is all it takes to make someone's day better.
A smile is all it takes to make a difference in the world.

And as Sue and Neil probably knew before they started on this project, one smile can have a big effect that goes far beyond the people around us.

So keep this in mind as 2022 comes to a close, and doom and gloom is everywhere in the news, (except here on Durham Life!)

Let's kick off 2023 with a big contagious smile that spreads across Durham Region.
I've got a smile on my face just thinking about this!

Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for your support going forward.
And... keep on smiling!

Oh, almost forgot... here's the video that created those smiles... 😎

And here's something else that makes people smile: Christmas lights!

Most municipalities in Durham Region have gone all out this year with Christmas Light displays. If you get a chance, get out there and enjoy them... they'll make you smile!

Here's a video of  Whitby's “Lights the Night and Holiday Festival” at their Rossland Road HQ. It started on November 25 and goes to January 5th. You can enjoy 100,000 lights and illuminated ground displays that transform different areas in Whitby. 🎄

And in Uxbridge, this is the 15th Anniversary of the Optimist's Club of Uxbridge Fantasy of Lights. If you've never been, it's well worth the short drive to Elgin Park in Uxbridge and drive-thru this magical display... as you smile the whole way!
(This video was for the 2020 edition, but will give you a great overview of the Fantasy of Lights event.)

Good News “Updates” from people inspired to take Action!

  • 🍳 🥓 🥞 🥯 Last week, Grace Sturman, from Bowmanville had a Christmas morning Breakfast at St. Paul's United Church and despite the poor weather, over 60 people enjoyed the great breakfast her team put on. No word yet if this is to become an annual event. Thank You Grace! 💖
  • ❄️ 🥾🧥 ☃️ Nathan Bailey the man on a "Sole Mission" made a couple of deliveries... one to a women's shelter, and one to a men's shelter. He was also out to make donations to a few people who needed them on the street. Thank You Nathan! 👏
Ready for delivery!

Great events in #ourDurhamLife you might have missed...

  • Feed The Need in Durham - Food Drive in Pickering
    We reported on FTND's Hunger Report in our last newsletter, and now we have a video of their food drive in Pickering which they co-hosted with CBC Toronto's “Sounds of the Season” - they collected over 800 KG of donated food!

For the complete listing of Events happening in Durham Region, please visit our Community Events page on our website: DurhamLife.ca

You can also post and submit your events on our site, and we encourage you to do so, and spread the word about our events page.

The Last Words...

As we reflect on the year, let's foster moments for stillness, solitude and gratitude as we acknowledge ourselves with compassion and how far we have come without judgement.

It's always good to remember that you are seen, you are appreciated, you are loved, you are valued, you are enough. Life is not happening to you - life is happening for you.

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Until next time... do good!

MiKe D