The Fastest Spreading Contagion

While others now talk about a faster spreading mutation of the coronavirus, I thought I’d focus this post on what I see as perhaps the fastest spreading contagion of all. It’s often …

shared with best friends

seen in families
often in business headshots
and on the faces of those exploring nature

Can you guess? It’s a smile. And in a year full of challenge and uncertainty, I’m thankful for all the smiles given to me by friends, family, clients and you.

Among my smile spreading clients is Gianna, a five year old girl who, just a few weeks ago, gave me an early Christmas present – an entire hour of spontaneous smiles. Here’s a small sampling:

Sweet, right? Gianna inspired this blog post.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t thank one more person, Jen Vogus, and a very special community she created, AbleVoices.org, for keeping me inspired and listening and smiling this year.

Jen gave me a special gift last year, an invitation to serve on the first Board of Directors of AbleVoices.org. If not yet familiar with AbleVoices.org, consider visiting its website or reading about it in this month’s CostcoConnection magazine – https://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/202012/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=32#pg35.

So with which image will I close out my 2020 blog posts? Well of course, with one that is hopeful, contains a smile, and was taken on an AbleVoices outing Monday to a local assisted living facility. One of the AbleVoices’ photographers dressed up as Santa Claus, everyone else dressed as elves, and we went window to window sharing the music of the season and good cheer to the residents, all the while taking photographs and learning how to shoot in difficult lighting conditions.

Santa Eric, an AbleVoices photographer, is also coincidentally pictured in the Costco spread

Thank you Santa Eric for sharing your contagious smile. You exemplify all the many gifted and inspiring AbleVoices photographers!

The image above needs little explanation but I do want to share how it brings my year full circle. Last Christmas, Jen shared an op ed written by Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics and published in the Washington Post. Titled To Heal our Divisions, Listen to People with Disabilities, Shriver wrote about four attributes shared in the Special Olympics community: 1) “have faith in the goodness of every person;” 2) “look for common ground;” 3) “celebrate gifts;” and 4) “live from a place of truth and love.” Concerning this last attribute, he wrote: “[T]here is no ‘them’ or ‘us.’ There is just us. Everyone belongs. We are each vulnerable, starving for connection and searching for a way to be of service to each other. We solve problems best when we solve them together.”

Look at the last image again. Re-read Shriver’s words. I don’t know about you, but in these noisy times characterized by suffering, isolation and divisiveness, I think perhaps we should listen more intently to the quiet chorus of the able voices; follow their lead. Do we have to dress up as Santa? Nah, but we can wear a smile, do something good for one another, and move forward and together to a new and more harmonious day.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you share many smiles this holiday season and throughout the new year.

www.maryricephoto.com

4 Replies to “The Fastest Spreading Contagion”

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