Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Author Ruth Kaiser: Be Porous, Not Teflon

It’s my pleasure to be a part of author Ruth Kaiser's WOW Blog Tour for her children's picture book, THE SMILEY BOOK OF COLORS.

Ruth’s delightful book will have you grinning from ear to ear after one peek inside. The text is all about being optimistic and the photographs are, well...Smileys. Hidden Smileys, that is. For instance, did you ever look at your dinner plate and notice that the dash of applesauce, pile of corn and hotdog were making a Smiley face at you? Ruth did! And she used the Smileys she found everywhere to illustrate her book (divided by color, of course)! 

Ruth joins us today to ‘Be Porous, not Teflon.’

Pan Smiley
Pan Smiley

If you go through life with a Teflon coating, you miss out. So often it’s a matter of incorrectly thinking we have too much to do to take the extra time to enjoy our surroundings. Too much to do? That supposition deserves a second look. 

Where does: choosing how you live, so as to have a life filled with pleasure and happiness, rank on your TO DO list? For most of us, sadly, it might not even make it onto our list at all. As parents is that the lesson we want to teach our kids? Should we model a life where drudgery rules and playfulness is squelched in the name of efficiency. Maybe that's the way we are living, but don't we all want better for our kids? You, and the way you enjoy life (or not), are the best indicators of how your children will handle their adult lives. 

And honestly, I would argue that much of what one misses/lets slip by unnoticed, takes little or no extra time.

Macaroni and Cheese Smiley
Macaroni and Cheese Smiley

* Paying attention to how good macaroni and cheese tastes - no extra time.  
* Listening to the neat-o sound the sprinkler makes - no extra time. 
* Taking note of how nice a slippery bar of soap feels as it glides along your face - no extra time.      
* Inhaling deeply the smell of fresh laundry as you switch a load from washer to dryer - no extra time. 

Truck Stuck on the Side of the Road Smiley (1)
Did you miss Upside Down Truck Stuck at the Side of the Road Smiley?
Share these sensual pleasures with your children. Try never to miss the opportunity to point out and talk with them about cool stuff that you see, feel or smell. As you do so, you will experience the stimulus so much more strongly. So will they. 

Noticing all the cool things which are always surrounding you, is a wonderful habit to pass along to them! And as an added bonus, in no time they'll be pointing out cool things for you to notice. 

Rock Smiley, 7
Don't walk past Rock Smiley without returning his grin!

OK, so the chatting about all the cool things you notice, does take time. What else were you planning? Perhaps to be on your phone? Or maybe deep in a day dream? Both of those activities leave your child waiting for you to tune back into them and their life. Don't ever forget that your day to day responsibilities, errands, To Do's, chores, etc....that's their childhood!!

Cell Phone Smiley, 2 Phone Smiley

And if it's not the time crunch that causes us to miss noticing a thousand small pleasures a day, it's often that our mind is distracted. We miss the here and now as we replay the past or fret about the future. We’ve all experienced spending too much time thinking and rethinking a subject. I’m suggesting that you turn off that virtual video loop that plays endlessly in your head. But, you have to decide to pull yourself into the here and now. Noticing life, noticing Spontaneous Smileys, is an excellent way to turn off the distracting, internal chatter. 

Be porous. Soak up every delicious, fragrant, soft, beautiful moment. Eat your strawberries slowly. Pay attention to just how good the tingly toothpaste and scratchy toothbrush feel on your gums. When you step out the front door each morning, inhale deeply, there’s bound to be something interesting on the wind. Even a stinky smell is interesting! Appreciate how great it feels to scratch an itch or rub a tired muscle. Search for the beauty and the joy in the objects and activities of your life. It’s there, always. You just have to decide to notice!

Strawberry Smiley, 3
Strawberry Smiley

And, if you think there’s nothing beautiful to enjoy in the places you inhabit each day, I challenge you to look again. Rusty stuff=beautiful. Water running in the gutter=beautiful. The flicker of the light in a subway tunnel=beautiful. Peeling paint=you guessed it, also beautiful. All so beautiful.
Pink Potty Peeling Paint Smiley
Peeling Paint Smiley in a Very Pink Potty 

Smile. Be Happy.

Ruth, thanks for visiting today and giving us a different look at how to be happy. After reading THE SMILEY BOOK OF COLORS I’ve started looking at ordinary objects in a whole new light.

This book will make preschoolers giggle, older children want to borrow your camera and go on a Smiley hunt, and adult grin. The best part is, every photo of a Smiley uploaded to Ruth's website "earns" $1 to be donated to Operation Smile, which pays for surgeries for children with facial deformities such as cleft palate. The Spontaneous Smiley has funded 18 surgeries so far, one Smiley at a time. 

Now a bit about Ruth. She is proud to be a self-proclaimed, happy-go-lucky, cockeyed optimist. Also known as a Pollyanna, a goofball, and little Miss Sunshine, Ruth is an easy breezy, cup runneth over, top of the world, outgoing, people loving, fun seeking gal. This perky gregarious, cracking herself up child at heart is filled with gratitude every minute of every day!
She is mom to three of the greatest kids ever who, even though they are all out in the world pretending to be grown-ups, will always be her babies. To pay for all those kids’ college tuitions, Ruth owns a small chain of preschools called TOT DROP where for 18 years she has been known and loved as “Teacher Ruth” by hundreds of preschoolers and their parents. To quote one of her mommies, “Everyone should have a ‘Teacher Ruth’ in their life!”
Although completely allergic to cats, she is also completely enamored with them. So Philbert, Noodle, Rooster, and Mr. Simon have the run of the house and Ruth sits on a plastic chair and washes her hands a hundred times a day.
Ruth studied art at the University of California at Berkeley, but really believes that everyone is an artist. With excitement she proclaims, “How cool is it that the Internet has given us all an avenue to share our art!”
Ruth is also running a special contest for a signed copy of THE SMILEY BOOK OF COLOR on her website to be awarded on the last day of the tour which is tomorrow, April 19. To enter this contest, just snap a pic of a Smiley and upload it to her website. To be entered in the contest, be sure to enter the word “WOW” in the box marked “Smiley Title” when you upload your photo. 

For more on Ruth and her writing, you can find her on Twitter @SpontaneSmiley, on Facebook, visit her blog, stop by her website, find Do You See What I See? A Smile Video on YouTube, and there’s even a Spontaneous Smiley Song. 

Have found any smileys in unusual or usual objects today? Thanks so much for stopping by. Remember to smile. 


  1. Ruth, thanks again for guest blogging. Your book is a delight and you've given me a new way of looking at everything around me. Wishing you much success with your work.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Ruth.

    Ruth - Thanks for reaching out to children and to the child in all of us. Anyone who encourages a child to pick up a book is doing a very good thing. You're right too about being open to everything we experience. It's a way to really stay alive.


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