A Smile Usually Generates Another Smile


From the heart…
A smile usually generates another smile.

My husband Pete had traveled to Hawaii with his dad, mom, and three brothers once a year since he was ten years old. After we were married I joined the tradition, and once we had kids, they came along too. Sadly, as the years passed, Pete’s mom and dad became less able to travel the distance and accompany us. So we carried on the tradition as a family of four. We never balked at getting on the huge 747 to travel the nine, ten, or thirteen hours (depending where we lived), to get over the Pacific Ocean and finally reach that tropical island heat of Waikiki, which felt like our second home.

I always made sure I was ready for the heat before I left the plane. About an hour before landing, I would walk down the crowded aisle dressed in my typical travel “uniform” of black sweats and sporty long-sleeved shirt to the closet-like bathroom. There I would change into island-wear: sundress and flip flops. (This California native does have a sundress or two….) I would enter the tiny bathroom looking like Hazel, the old school marm in my “uniform”, but emerged looking like Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” in my cute dress and flips. The transformation made me physically and mentally ready to start our vacation. 

When I first joined the Najarian family on Oahu, we usually stayed above Duke’s Barefoot Bar in Waikiki. The Outrigger on the Beach Hotel was convenient, clean, and perfect for our needs. We loved it. It was owned by Richard Kelly, a friend of my father-in-law, who always gave us the royal treatment. But as the years passed, so did our enthusiasm for being on the crowded Waikiki beaches. So we tried Maui and loved that as well. But in 2013, we decided to go back to Oahu, but this time to stay on the North Shore. We stayed in a nice house that was in a cluster of two others that are all very typical beach homes--on stilts, with big windows, and a huge deck that overlooks the ocean. 

Under the stilted homes you will find all-things activity--snorkeling gear, boogie boards, chairs, bikes--there is enough there to entertain guests for all three homes. One afternoon while getting beach chairs, I heard some guy come up from behind us to say hi. He starts chatting. I hear his accent and quickly interrupt.  “Are you from Minnesota?”, I ask. I expected the guy to answer, “you betcha.” He didn’t say that, but sure enough, the guy, named Bob, was from Minnesota. I knew it! 

“Where in Minnesota do you live?” Of course I have to know.


“Shut the front door!!! So do we!” I’m dying that this is happening. 

Turns out he and his family were staying in one of the other two homes. Our vacation times overlapped only by half a day, but he said he’d like to introduce me to his wife tomorrow before they left. 

Early the next morning I was standing on our deck soaking up as much sun as I could, and I saw that they were loading up. Pete and I say hi, and Bob insists on bringing his wife up to our deck for an introduction. She seems reserved and doesn’t talk much, but has a smile that would light up a room with those beautiful teeth. 

“Hi, I’m Lisa Najarian.” I’m a hugger, so I give her a big squeeze.

“Hi, I’m Paula.” She kinda laughs a little like she is shocked I am hugging her since I don’t even know her. 

I start blabbing--as usual--and somehow we are talking about my battle with Lyme disease and how I want to start a foundation. She is a good listener. She is incredibly engaged and those are the kind of people, in particular women, that I want to be around. 

We talk for about 15 minutes and I suggest that when we are back home, we get together sometime since she expressed interest in volunteering for my future foundation. 

Four years after that deck meeting, Paula is now one of my best friends. She is my right-hand girl for my foundation and with a degree in English, she is the editor for all these My Girlfriendships blogs you are reading. She doesn’t have a plethora of girlfriends and certainly didn’t need any new ones as she has told me, but that day something was different. Was it the sunshine? Had it been raining, I wouldn’t have been on the deck and we could’ve missed the opportunity to meet. Was it the tropical heat? Was it Bob pushing her to meet someone new? 

I believe there is always a reason people move into our lives. And I believe in smiles. I believe they invite another smile. I am thankful she smiled...and I smiled right back. Love you Paula!! 

I love that you were with me today. See you tomorrow!


Lisa A.K.A. Loopie

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