10.2008 Smile Chicago: Dear Bren, I was running some errands in the rain today when I spotted one of your paintings (the cutest little blue guy, sporting a big smile and a pair of red antennae). I stood there a minute and read and re-read the note, making sure it was really OK to take it--and then yoink! it was mine. Not only that, but then as I kept walking down the street, I smiled at someone who (now that I see your photo on the site) might have been you. Thank you for the painting, and for putting a smile on my face! I will keep up my end of the deal! What a wonderful way to put good energy into the world. I feel so lucky. xo Anne

10.2008 Smile Chicago: Thank you for brightening my return to work on this rainy Chicago day!! I will take very good care of my whimsical little guy. And, ironically I AM a SMILER!!! and I will definitely pay it forward over and over again. Susan

10.2008 Smile Chicago: I'm a 19 year old college student who lives in Chicago. I recently pinky promised my mom that her and I would run the Chicago Marathon together next year (We've already come up with a name that is more than apt, Team "Dear God let's never do this again"). So I was out on a jog when I stumbled upon one of your paintings. I glanced at the bench in disbelief. I had heard of this project before and couldn't believe my luck. I had a problem though. I had just started my run and still had about a mile to go. Do I take it and risk ruining it by clutching it tightly? Or do I leave it and if it's here on the way back it's meant to be. I made a deal with myself. Smile at everyone on the rest of my run and if it's still here you can take it. If it's gone, at least you smiled. Well I imagine I looked pretty funny sprinting down Columbus with a smile plastered on my face, but when I got back it was still resting just where you left it. I was so happy. I snatched it up and skipped home. My mother is a notorious stranger smiler. She always told me to greet people you meet, even if you're just passing on the sidewalk. When I was younger it annoyed me so much. I didn't understand why I had to do it and I thought my mom was weird for insisting that my brothers and I comply. I don't know these people and they don't say hi to me so why do I have to say anything to them? She always said "Its just what humans do." I never understood that. What was it that humans did? The humans I saw passing on the street didn't smile or even acknowledge one another. It wasn't until I was older that I realized how lucky I am to have such an amazing person to call my mother. She taught us to be human and compassionate no matter what we're doing or where we're going. It's human to find a connection with another living being no matter how fleeting or insignificant it may seem. Her favorite saying is "The best things in life aren't things." But I imagine she'll like the painting when I give it to her next week. My older brother and I are going on a backpacking trip around the world this summer. We've scrimped and saved enough to just get by and maybe be able to eat every once in a while. But I'll be sure to smile at every one I see. Thanks for all your great work. I admire your strength and determination to spread love and respect in the world. Laura