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“Ladies, it’s so sad when I speak at events and see the bitter downturn of older women’s mouths. It looks completely like a cynical upside-down smile. Have you seen it?” I hear myself saying this at my performances in front of numerous female audiences.

So, this happened to me. I still see my reflection in the mirror of the shopping centre. I come to a halt and take three steps back, and there I am stunned by the woman in the mirror as I look at her staring back at me! How on earth did gravity pull down the corners of your mouth along with your breasts and knees, Wanda?  Right there, I decide that trying to be a firmer 50-plus with mouth corners that get no exercise is pointless.

And ladies, that’s the crux of getting old with gentleness, peace, and being free from a past’s dark corners and bumpy roads. You have to keep smiling, keep practising smiling, choose to smile. As Paul writes: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13 NIV

Conversations about hardship and pain, bitterness and unforgiveness, lost dreams, disappointments, and broken relationships make the law of Newton a reality in your mind. What you cherish and embrace in your heart manifests in your appearance, how you look at life, and whether you activate a smile on someone else’s face when you cannot smile yourself.

My mom had Bell’s Palsy at the age of 48. Her face never recovered, and it was the last time she could smile. I felt as if I had lost her, but her sense of humour and the choice to “celebrate” the good in people made others smile, and her heart rejoiced amidst her devastating 13-year cancer journey that would follow. You can smile, regardless. IT’S A CHOICE. If you choose to smile today over all the beauty of your past, your future gets a second breath today. 

So come on, friend!

Stand up now, walk to your bathroom mirror, turn on the light in the dark corners of your heart and go fetch that sense of humour of yours. Stick it like stars around the corners of your mouth and let it sparkle every time you greet someone. Then see a rainbow full of stars above your head. Take your Botox money and go and buy flowers for the ladies in the nursing home, and discover a new science, the science stronger than Newton’s gravity, that pulls the corners of your mouth upwards.

Think about this:

When was the last time you smiled?

When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and saw yourself smiling?

When was the last time you complimented someone without using the word “beautiful”?

 When was the last time you saw your years of holding on amidst difficult circumstances, show through all the folds and wrinkles, and quietly smiled because you know you are a much stronger woman today?

When we get older, we don’t become “ugly” or “old”. We just look different from when we were 20, given the years your feet walked the second mile, or your knees now creased, kneeling before God, your wrinkled hands helping with dishwashing shortly after the birth of your grandchild, and scrubbing floors with love in your children’s first apartment, stained sports clothes soaked in Jik, and hips sometimes aching because you rolled around too much on the grass with your grandchild.

If you look back on this with bitterness and life fatigue, I want to urge you to do the following exercise:

 An old-fashioned tip: (It’s simple and won’t cost you anything):

Go and lie on your back on the grass. See the blue sky, smell the grass, hear the birds, and just start laughing. You’ll see how your stomach muscles start contracting on their own, and everything just becomes funny. Wave at your worried neighbours who are peering over the wall. Look for the strange faces that forming in the clouds and then … find yourself in the clouds like someone who is looking down on you and laughing, until the tears of healing finally roll down your cheeks.

Move forward, with your curled mouth turned upward. Make this your mantra: “I will only smile about the past, laugh out loud in the present, and give the future to God.” And friend, believe me, this is a very good tip! It’s important to sometimes just relax and appreciate the simple things in life, like the nature around us and the joy of laughter. It can help improve our mental and emotional well-being and help us better handle the challenges of life. A positive attitude and a mantra like the one I suggested can also be very helpful in keeping our focus on the positive and helping us achieve our goals with more confidence and resilience.

Find meaning in this: “The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus means that one day everything sad will become untrue.” 

J.R.R Tolkien 

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