Story

The Smile Revolution Story

It’s been two years since the fall. Not a fall from grace, but an actual fall. A fall that led me to grace and to the discovery of the 11th commandment.

My internal gremlin very loudly condemned me as I rushed to meet my husband and grandsons at the aquarium. “Why was I always late?”

I decided to take a short cut through the crowd, but tripped and flew through the air, landing so hard that my earrings fell out of my ears. I blame the Shape-ups tennis shoes which launched me forward.

I knew I had broken bones when I fell, and my assumption was correct. I broke my left hand, my right radial bone, and crushed the bones in my wrist that were protected by a metal plate.

Yes – a metal plate. You see my hand had been operated on three times before. Five years ago, in 2014, my finger and wrist tendons ruptured in my arthritic right hand.

My fingers hung like a marionette with broken strings. Who knew this could happen to fingers?

I had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years. The damage of the disease, the effect of over 20 years on steroids, and, I believe, playing too much Rachmaninoff, led to my tendons’ destruction. As a pianist, I would have protected my fingers if I had known this could happen. As a professor for 20 years, I had carried heavy textbooks and the strain of daily abuse contributed to this catastrophe.

I returned to Mayo and told my favorite hand surgeon Dr. Anthony Smith, that I had destroyed his masterpiece. He couldn’t operate or set the radial bone until the surgery was approved ten days later. I was in unbelievable pain and kept re-injuring the break when I would lean upon my arm, forgetting that it was broken.


“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

-Lord Byron

I was furious with myself. I have never experienced so much anger or felt such self-hate. The fall led me to dark places within my soul and I raged at my stupidity.

It was the end of a extremely painful day in which I had grown more depressed and isolated by the hour. As I was leaving my very cluttered overstuffed closet, I began to wonder why I was so depressed. I realized that I had not been around people. As an extrovert, I need to be around people in order to be energized.

I had the thought, “Why am I in so much pain? “ Immediately, I answered myself, “You haven’t smiled at anyone”. Then the command came like a voice  from heaven, “Then smile, dammit!”

This heavenly command powerfully mandated that  if I am to survive, I had to revolt against the dark by smiling. The urgency and importance of this act was made clear that day. I desperately needed to smile.

The Smile Revolution Smile Balloon

As a psychology professor, I had often taught students about the positive effects of smiling and how just putting a pencil in one’s mouth to elevate the corners of one’s lips can elevate one’s mood.

Since the fall, I keep a sign that says “Smile Dammit!” in my room to remind me on days when I wake up in pain or with fatigue that I must smile.  It is the 11th commandment.

I began the Smile Revolution and I have passed out over 1500 smiles on a stick. Passing out smiles to people who look down or lonely, gives me great joy. I have had many Divine Appointments in this smile crusade. I especially enjoy smile bombing at a drive-thru or in a restaurant. The energy changes  and suddenly there is joy. Smiles create hope and tell people that they are seen.

Battling chronic illnesses and broken bones can make me feel frustrated and  angry. But I must trust the divine plan to rise up. I must hope. I must dance on broken feet, if need be, in order to seek joy and give hope to others

So next time you find yourself sad, fatigued, in pain, or in loss, smile. For a smile brings hope, hope brings joy and joy brings strength. Sometimes a smile may be all that you have to give.

Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Grin with gladness and overcome through gratitude. Become a revolutionary. Join the smile revolution and revolt against pessimism and pain.

Pass your smile on to another person. (The pattern for the smile is on the site here). See how far your smile will  go. A smile transmits love to another person. Change the world one smile at a time. May we overcome through love and smiles. Viva La smile revolution!