Personal charm

Jeff snapped this photo of Maggie and me at La Madeleine, Old Town Alexandria, July 2013.

Jeff took this photo of Maggie and me at La Madeleine, Old Town Alexandria, July 2013.

“There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament.” 
Henry Van Dyke

I’ve written here before about my friend Maggie and her family, and the happy memories I have of them that go back forty years — it’s hard for me to believe we first met in 1974!  Obviously, there’s a lot I love about her, but if I had to name one defining trait that sets her apart, it’s her ability to maintain and radiate a genuinely cheerful attitude.

As one might imagine, those years have given me countless opportunities to see Maggie in all kinds of situations.  Like all of us, she has faced her share of challenging circumstances, but I can’t remember a time when she was not able to muster a sense of humor about whatever was going on.  She’s quite practical and realistic, so her congeniality isn’t based on delusion or denial.  I think she simply discovered long ago that a sincere smile or a hearty laugh can go a long way toward improving almost any scenario.

Her upbeat demeanor is never more valuable than when she is helping others who are having some sort of difficulty, which is doubtless responsible for a good measure of her considerable professional success.  Because she’s keenly sensitive, she knows when to “weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh.” But it seems that no matter what I’m facing, I end up feeling like laughing when I’ve spent some time with Maggie.

Being with such people is a sure way to defeat despair, so I hope you have at least one or two in your life who shine as brightly as Maggie shines in mine.  I also hope we can learn from them how to reflect and spread such cheerfulness.  The world can always use more of that kind of charm.

One year ago today:

One of the great helps

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! What a sweet tribute to Maggie. She sounds marvelous. Now I’m curious what like of work she’s in. I agree that the characteristics you describe certainly will help one succeed in life and in career.
    I also like this photo of you, in one of my favorite colors, and wearing an “opera length” necklace. Is it one of your creations?
    Have a beautiful day! I wish you much laughter!

    • Susan, Maggie is a Dean at a dental school, and has been for many years (have originally served in that position at the U of Maryland, before being recruited by a different school where she became one of the founding directors). She was a dental student at 19, I think, before I ever met and dated Jeff (she’s just a bit younger than me, though she finished college before I did), being a sort of “prodigy” who got through school and college on an accelerated schedule. I was privileged (?) to attend gross anatomy lab with her during her school days, something I’ll never forget! So my friendship with her gave me a lot of experience that helped me understand Jeff’s work during the four long and difficult years it takes to get a DDS or DMD. Maggie quickly rose to a leadership position within the field of dentistry, and has stayed there ever since. And yes, I did make the necklace I am wearing in the photo; thanks for noticing.

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