A Smile



A Smile



I made a conscious decision this past week to smile. I even removed my mask when out walking, so passers-by could welcome my “good morning/good evening” smile, with one in return.


And, it happened. Every single time.


Never has there been a more important time for a smile.


We have all read or heard about the positive effects of a smile. Those lips, upturned at the sides, help build new neuron pathways in the brain and stimulate a dopamine response. This response, we are told, improves energy, mood and alertness, among other things.


The positives are many, but perhaps, more importantly, if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back.


I woke this morning, Saturday, not wanting to get out of bed. I felt like shit. The cortisone for my lupus hadn’t kicked in, and a smile was the last thing on my mind.  I also thought of the many millions of others out there thinking similarly, especially in these difficult times.


I sent a message to the family’s WhatsApp, saying “I hope everyone is smiling”. I assumed they all thought I was. I wasn’t. I was still in pain and still in bed. Instead of being up and about, getting our breakfast, Marshall was attempting it. “What am I having?”, “Where is the bread?” “Where is the Nutribullet machine?” “What goes in it?” “Where is the newspaper?” My responses could not possibly have been heard one flight of stairs above, let alone remembered, so I reluctantly got up.


Seeing Marshall’s breakfast–making/memory–loss efforts initially triggered a response that I’ve become all too accustomed to this past year, and one that I’ve been trying to change. Trying very hard to change. So, as soon as the frustration hit me, I decided to smile. I went up to him, faced him front on, and smiled. He seemed a little surprised, but smiled back!


WhatsApp then beeped. One sister remarked how nice it was that I hoped everyone was smiling. Another sent a lovely image of a dog with a big smile on its dial, and then another sent this:


Crack many a smile

Upon your dial

To trigger the brain

To make in the main

Hormones happy and gay

So we’re not led astray

By viruses & Trumps

Which leave us in the dumps!


What more can I say!


I’m still smiling.



About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com


  1. Juie Cattlin says

    Really lovely story, Jan dear, especially for these strange virus times.
    Made me think of one of my very favourite songs – both music and lyrics!!

    Julie xxxx

    “Smile” is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, inspired by Puccini’s Tosca. John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954.

    Smile though your heart is aching
    Smile even though it’s breaking
    When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
    If you smile through your fear and sorrow
    Smile and maybe tomorrow
    You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.
    Light up your face with gladness
    Hide every trace of sadness
    Although a tear may be ever so near
    That’s the time you must keep on trying
    Smile, what’s the use of crying?
    You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
    If you just smile
    That’s the time you must keep on trying
    Smile, what’s the use of crying?
    You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
    If you just smile.

  2. Frank Taylor says

    Thanks Jan (and Juie) – just loved it.
    Yes, I’ve practiced the smile technique, and it works.
    Really, really works.
    Thanks again

  3. go you Jan for being courageous
    smile smile smile
    from polly

  4. Stab Punt Jim Johnson says

    HI Juie Cattlin
    Reminded me as an 8 year old kid in 1942 walking 4 miles to school, or where ever else one was going you acknowledged with a smile and-or a hand wave as a greeting when you crossed paths with someone in a vehicle, walking or riding. It was the country thing to do. We were not aloud to accept a ride in a car.

    Stab Punt Jim Johnson

  5. Judy Courtin says

    I’m smiling so bloody much my face is hurting….
    Jude xx

  6. Julie cattlin says

    Perhaps we should go on YouTube and find Nat Cole singing ‘Smile’. It’s is SO beautiful.


  7. Poignant Jan made us think huge respect and admiration for you xxx

  8. Neil Anderson says

    Sounds like you have developed a secret weapon to get us through this crisis. Simple but effective. A visual reminder to others that we Australians are a lot better off than in other countries. So chin up.
    To develop your secret weapon while you were busy caring for Marshall gives you even more credit and it will be well-received at the patent-office.
    I saw Lady Gaga singing ‘Smile’ as she opened the concert featuring all the stars. It was the perfect song and she surprised me how well she handled that 40’s song. It was very Judy Garland-like.
    All the best Jan. I have been wondering how you have been going.

  9. Ross Treverton says


  10. Ross Treverton says

    Always smiling Jan and glad you are too!

  11. Thank you one and all for your very kind comments.

    With a smile, keep well

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