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Exercising your face!

That night in particular is very vivid in my memory. The day before I packed for the long-awaited trip, I sat in my room thinking about the trip I had planned for years.

Despite this, I felt pure fear and not excitement. Tossing and turning, I almost took my laptop to see if I could cancel the tickets. There was, however, something that stopped me.

Getting ready to leave for the airport at 5.30 am, I woke up around 4 a.m. to pack and get ready. When I began to wait at the bus station for the next bus to arrive in two minutes, I kept asking myself what the heck I was doing.

My bus pulled into the stop on time and I spent the rest of the ride finding the right bus stops and train stations until I boarded my plane. In the blink of an eye, I'm in a country I've never been to before. Still, I was anxious as I kept my bag as close as possible to me inside the airport walls.

As I made my way to the train terminals from the airport, I stopped and sat on my suitcase, trying desperately to access the internet. As you might expect, technology has a mind of its own when you need it most. I might have just had a stress-induced frown on my face, but a stranger approached me and asked if I was OK. The man smiled, but my mental state got in the way of rational thought.

As a way to establish my expectations of getting into trouble, I had ripped out a piece of paper and drawn the route to my stay just before leaving home. I reached into my backpack to find the paper and it was only then that the man realized I was basically lost.

He handed me a bottle of water from the vending machine. Afterward, he drew on the same piece of paper all the other information I had to get to my stay until I was clear about what to do. As he wished me a happy holiday, he smiled and welcomed me to the country.

Then, I picked up my bag and made my way down to the station. As I rode the train, I took far too many pictures of the view that I learned was nothing short of breathtaking. For the first time in three days, I was at peace.

As I was passing a few of the stops, I checked the paper and realized he had added a few places near my stay that I should see. My smile radiated as I too melted into the beautiful backdrop which I found empowering like the fresh air around me.

A woman my grandmother's age sat across from me. Throughout, she smiled until I returned the smile. In reply, she told me she had also first come to the country at my age and asked me if it was the first time I was there.

I left soon after and bid farewell to another stranger with a contagious smile. Only this time, I began to notice a pattern.

When I arrived at my accommodation, they told me to wait so they could prepare my room. A beautiful table with a view of the city was offered to me upon my arrival and I was very happy to accept. In fact, I was sent extra treats as I was sitting there including hot chocolate, chocolate cake, and tarts since I mentioned I wanted to try the famous hot chocolate.

It occurred to me as I sat there that I assumed that because we don't smile enough, when we do, it's an anomaly. Strangers smiling? When did it become weird? Ideally, we would just smile, which is just our simplest way to communicate happiness and comfort. I somehow managed to embrace the moment when those smiles overcame all my worries about solo travel. My mind was swept away to a simpler era, which was refreshing!

So, this one is for smiling more. Because when we smile more, incredible things happen.


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