Anne Peterson

Healing words for wounded souls.

Why Perry Como and Bing Crosby were wrong

Radio 2I just have to say it. As much as I liked the song, “Catch a Falling Star,” and have teared up listening to “White Christmas,” Perry Como and Bing Crosby were wrong.

When they sang, “Let a Smile be Your Umbrella,” they went too far.

Whenever skies are gray,
Don`t worry or fret,
A smile will bring the sunshine,
And you`ll never get wet!

Wearing a smile has never kept me from getting soaked from the storms in my life.

As far as smiles, I have to say, I have seen some smiles that look like they are permanently attached. And I’ve seen other smiles slip off like ill-fitted galoshes.

I’m not a smile-hater; far from it. But come on! There’s a time for smiling, and a time for NOT smiling.

As a speaker, I have asked for feedback following one of my talks. Is my tone appropriate, my gestures? Shaking on the inside,  I waited for one volunteer’s verbal critique. She was both kind and direct.

“I thought your talk was great, you really held my interest.”

So far so good.

“But, I also noticed when you talk about painful experiences, you’re still smiling.”

And there it was. I was guilty of the very thing I hated. Inappropriate smiling.

Over time, I discovered why I did this. Worried my audience would get sad, I tried lightening my subject matter by smiling.

But instead of it helping them, it confused them. My face was disconnected from my heart. I was incongruent.

I’ve found, there are people in this world who know when to smile. They’re probably the same ones who know when to wear white.

For years, before I walked out of my house, I made sure every hair was in place. Then I’d put on my smile, no matter how I felt.

Why? Because it was acceptable, sometimes required.  And if I didn’t wear it? Then people might see me.

Inside Out

Don’t be fooled when you look at me,
things are not as they seem to be,
The smile I put on carefully,
does not reflect the inner me,
It cannot hide the pain inside,
So don’t be fooled when you look at me.

I’m thankful someone cared enough about me to mirror me. Or how would I ever know? Watching a video of myself, I recognized what I needed to change. I had to trust my audience, letting my words and tone carry them to the other side of my talk.

Smiles are great, everyone should own one. But there are special care directions for smiles:

  • Don’t let your smile fray around the edges.
  • Wash your smile carefully so it retains its shape. (It’s embarrassing when a smile is bigger than your face).
  • Make sure you always wear pockets when you wear your smile, so it can be tucked away, if need be.
  • Wearing a smile too much lessens its value. Cheapens it, if you will.

So, let me be clear, I do like the old tunes I heard coming from our white, Zenith radio on top our fridge. And I do like Mr. Como and Mr. Crosby.

I just long for authenticity. I want to know when I’m hurting, I’ll be accepted; with or without a smile.

And believe me, sometimes when I’m sitting with my grandsons or nestling my brand new granddaughter, my smile appears magically. And it’s real.

As little children, when we came home from church, we heard, “Take off your good clothes so they don’t get ruined.”

Smiles are good clothes.

We just need to know when to wear them, and when to put them in our pockets. Along with the falling stars.

About Anne Peterson

I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I'm not writing, I'm telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.

26 Replies

  1. Yes Ma’am… guilty as described. We just need to remember to be authentic. thanks for the reminder.

    1. Audrey,

      We’re all guilty at one time or another. One time I had been going through a difficult time and afterwards someone said to me, “Well, at least you’re smiling.”

      I read between the lines that I was more acceptable when I smiled. It was when I was going through the trial for my sister. I knew people were tired of it all, I knew I WAS. But still, I didn’t feel free to be where I was, after that.

    2. Audrey,
      Thanks for reading. I’m afraid it’s one of the things that goes against my grain – when someone is not authentic. But perhaps it’s because for years I wore a mask. It was a survival method I learned as a child, and one that seemed to be readily accepted by some.

  2. Good thought. In lots of ways it goes against what we constantly get told. But, I definitely agree with you that there are times where being authentic is far more important than having a smile on our faces.

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment. You’re right it does go against what we’re told. But, we’re told a lot of things in life, aren’t we?

  3. I’ve always hated being around people who seem artificially cheery all the time. It made me wonder what they were really like.

    Our culture, though, does have a hard time dealing with those who are very sad. I’ve had people avoid me when I was going through difficult times. I was crying in public.

    As Christians, though, we are told to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. We need both.

    Thanks for this article. I’m glad someone is articulating what I have felt.

    1. Eva,

      I’m all for rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep.
      Sometimes it’s hard to do that when you’re not where the other person is, but God can enable us to do it.

      I guess there have been times I’ve wondered if people really are as cheery as they seem.

      I’m not even saying we need to be sad, just not so happy, if that’s not how we feel.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments.

  4. It’s true, while I don’t want to see people going around all grumpy and self-pitying all the time, I still want to know when they are sad so I can be a good friend to them and share their burdens. When people are constantly smiling, you kind of feel like they’re hiding something.

    1. Kathleen,

      Thanks for reading. I just think sometimes when people are always smiling they do not seem authentic.
      I don’t believe we should be self-pitying. And I’m not a fan of grumpy either. I guess I just question at times those who seem over the top happy.

  5. Hi Anne I loved this post. For some it is their natural gift, for others it is hard work. Beautiful descriptive writing Anne as always you weave a strong tale and leave the reader with something to think about, it did make me smile when you mentioned your grand children.

    1. Kath,
      Thanks for reading. And for your encouraging words. I enjoyed working on this one and went over it till I liked how it sounded.

      Jude, Charlie and Ruth. Three reasons for me to smile. And if I’m not with them, I have so many pictures to remind me of how much I love them.

  6. I liked it Anne. I appreciate a smile, There are times when a smile just does not fit.

    1. Jody,
      Thanks for reading. Yes, you’re right. Sometimes a smile is not the right thing at all.
      And yet, when it is, it’s wonderful.

  7. Anne, this is a beautiful and wise post!

    I love the simily between smiles and Sunday clothes, especially since we also as children took good care or our church clothes, all the way down to the bare essentials. I remember, beginning to take them off even before we entered the house. We shook any dusted off, let them air, and put them away until next time. I still do it. This way my clothes are never worn out and I can wear them for many years just by changing an accessory or two.

    Smiles and optimism are great as long as they are not fake. And of course, as you said, it is not good to go around with long faces all the time, not for us and not for those we live with or meet, but to carry a permanent smile is more draing than the pain itself.

    It was wise and courageous of you to involve your audience, especially since you yourself, and in extension we, are reminded that we don’t fool anyone by pretending, rather confuse them.

    Feeling everything very deeply…good, bad, beautiful, inspirational, spiritual, cultural….I very easily cry. I would give a lecture to parents and children during a religious or ethnic holiday while teaching or directing the Greek school and become so emotional I would cry. My tears would touch others in profound ways; my smiles would mean a lot to them as well.

    Even through your pain, you always have something to teach. Thank you for that. I will tell my physical friends about your allusion of “smiles” to “church clothes.” They will apprecieate it as well. We’ll pray for you!

    Love and Light to you and your family!
    Bank sunchine for cloudy days!

    1. Katina,
      What thoughtful comments you made. I’m glad it resonated with you. We used to have to change our school clothes as well, for the same reason you mentioned. So our clothes would last longer. I really enjoyed writing that piece.

      1. I enjoyed reading it as well, Anne!

        Funny how we find more common things between us. The same with our school clothes as well. We also had a sets of clothes for the house, that had been meanded over and over again. We would never think of wearing them even to play in the neighborhood, and we would never dream of going to bed with nothing other than our nightgowns.

        Seems both our mothers were great, proud, and wise women, who loved, lived, and practiced order, tidines, beauty, and comfort in their households during very difficult times. I feel blessed I had such a good model in my life and I am sure you do as well.

        So sorry you had to go through all that other painful stuff!
        Wishing you all the healling in the world!

        1. Thanks Katina. I do need healing, and am thankful healing is one of God’s specialties.

  8. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some % to force the message home a little bit, however instead of that, that is magnificent blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  9. Bing Crosby is the best!

  10. Great post Anne! People are drawn to authenticity – it gives them permission to be real and helps them realize they don’t have to ‘have it all together.’ I don’t know anyone who does: we’re all works in progress. Thanks for sharing your heart and your smile. Praying for you. God bless~

    1. Maria,
      Thanks for taking the time to read it. As much as people are drawn to authenticity, there are still some who wear masks, not letting anyone see past their smiles. I once had a friend who observed another friend. She told me,”See _______. I would never share with her.” Curious I asked her why. Her response was,”She never shows any weakness at all, but acts like she always has things under control.” Perhaps that’s why we can all relate to Paul who let us see his struggles.

  11. Anne Peterson Green

    My first time to read your blog. Enjoyed it! One Anne Peterson to another. I married a Green so am now Anne Peterson Green. 76 years old living in Hoover, Alabama. Eight grandchildren!

    1. Anne,
      Thanks for reading. Glad you liked it. I have three grandchildren, one of them a brand new granddaughter who will be 3 weeks old in a couple of days. Thanks for stopping by, Anne.

  12. Hi Anne i know you are busy I have nominated you for the The best moment award but will understand if you don’t pass it on, just know how inspired I am by your writing.

    1. Kath,
      I’m not familiar with that award. Any award for that matter. But can I tell you how much your note meant to me. I want my writing to touch others. Thanks.

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