Friday 22nd October 2021

Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

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Welcome to Life This Week in 2021. I am so glad you are joining us. Every Monday for 51 weeks this is the place to connect, to share, to add, to comment and to meet-up virtually with many! Love this community. Thank you for being one very important part. If you are new here, extra big welcome. The optional prompts for the weeks ahead are found on the home page. Denyse.


For the past three years I set a word of the year for me to live by. I admit I found this both a blessing and a curse. Ha! It was more the former than the latter. I did say to myself in November:I think I will leave trying to live with a word of the year in 2021′

Then on 30th November for my 71st Birthday my dear husband wrote this to me on the card’s envelope:

There it was. A word to live with and by, and as many who read here know I do love having my smile. So now you know!


Why “SMILE”?

  • A smile is a valuable form of communication and connection.
  • I know for some people smiles can be hard to manage depending on the time and circumstances and not everyone is a ‘smiler’. That is what makes the world go round, we are all different.
  • I too do not like being told “smile!!”. Umm. No, unless I have the emotions that warrant a smile, I may be able to slightly fake it but truly I prefer the genuine smile.
  • I know there are many more muscles used in the face to frown and far fewer to smile and that can be a suggestion as a mood lifter.
  • In fact, the old adage of ‘fake it till you make it’ can work as a psychological tool at times. Try it.

Some Thoughts on Smiling.

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”

– Dalai Lama

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

– Dr. Seuss

“The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.” – Bryant H. McGill

“ of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

My Friends Shared Here About Smiles and Smiling After This Request From Me.

  • Reading random acts of kindness
  • My dog Lucky makes me smile all the time
  • You make me smile. Especially now with your beautiful new smile x
  • At this moment in time, seeing (and hearing) the delight as my 2 year old granddaughter experiences the beach. It starts as we prepare, then as she sees the water in the distance and then peaks as she plays in the water. Her pure happiness and joy at life in general makes me smile.
  • My adult kids, watching them live their lives makes me smile x
  • Snowflakes Music Ice cream Love Energy
  • Babies laughing
  • My garden


The Story of My Smile.

It’s said we often don’t know how much we appreciate something until it’s gone. I agree.

Regular readers here will know that I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer in the top area of my mouth and this page tells the whole story.

The loss of what I counted on as something unique to me and special, oh so special, my smile was something that I came to terms with over time. I had to.

However, the length of time it took for me to get my smile back was fourteen long, arduous, surgery and treatment filled months.

The day I got to see what  my new  smile would look like nearly brought me to tears. It was like being reunited with an old but changed new friend.

Under each of the photos here I have added some commentary connecting the word S M I L E to:

  • why I smile(d)
  • the story behind the smile
  • what can make me smile
  • appreciation for my team who gave me back my smile


That’s the story of my smile and why I chose the word for 2021. Actually I now think the word chose me. In a way, it was from my husband’s compliment and then this. I found a letter he never sent but he sure did proudly share with me and I have permission to share now here.

From B about my smile: written in 2018.

ABC Recording Studio, William St., SYDNEY.

I would dearly love to record a song for my wife of 48 years. I first encountered her at the Tamworth RSL Club where we were attending a Teacher’s Conference. Seated at the same table that evening, I was immediately struck by her smile. Since then, we have combined to produce two great children and eight adorable grandchildren.

Two years ago that smile was seriously threatened by a most unusually rare squamous cell cancer in her mouth. However, thanks to the brilliant intervention of an unusually rare surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown, Prof Jonathan Clark, she now has a new palate hewn from leg flesh and bone. Now that unusually rare smile has returned even more vibrant than before.

So, the song I would like, with your wonderful help, to dedicate to her is the Carpenters’ “Sweet Sweet Smile”!


Of course, smiling is contagious and I do this as much as I can when I am out and about to show my appreciation for others.

It is made harder by the addition of the mask thanks (no thanks) to COVID19 but I will still smile with my eyes and use words of appreciation where I can.

I hope your year has begun well.

Do you choose a word for the year?

I will review the word I had for 2020 in a future post.

Thanks for being here!


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  1. That note from your husband is beautiful (and not just because he has lovely handwriting)!
    As for being told to smile… I can’t even count how many times people (OK men) have told me to smile, either because I have a very sad “resting” face, or just because? It’s infuriating.
    Awww, that letter that B never sent melted my heart. How beautiful. You’ve got a good one there (and so does he).

    • Oh Kat, I loved this and read it to B! Thank you kindly.

      I agree with the ‘men’ telling ‘women’ to smile. I know it is very confronting and controlling!!

      I have a resting bitch/cranky woman face. I also smile more these days I guess as I have a million more reasons to do so!!

      I think we both have good ones, hey!


  2. You have a lovely and contagious smile and of course it’s more poignant given your history.

    I used to get nice comments about my smile but stopped smiling in pics etc several years ago as my teeth feel like they’re not very white any more and I’m kinda self-conscious about it. I do the no-teeth-showing smirk instead!

    • Thanks so much Deb. I love your smile actually. I saw some very smily pics of you over the hols and thought how broad and lovely and genuine it is! So, maybe …’s not as you thought.

      I admit that my teeth back before the bridge was added in 2011 were not in great shape for smiling but I did. After the bridge, it helped me have confidence to smile more…but as it turned out what it was hiding in 2017 was…the reason all of that part of my mouth came out.

      Sigh. I do feel very fortunate to have come through all I did with this smile…and no cancer so it’s a reason for even more smiles I guess!


  3. I don’t think I’ve seen a photo of you not smiling Denyse. I’m not sure people would recognise you without a smile on your face. A happy face. You’re right in noticing the lack of smiles when the mouth is covered by a mask….happened down here but people soon got the knack of eye smiling.
    I’m one of those who can’t smile on demand- not that I’m a ‘miserable so and so’ I just like to smile when I see fit. Posed photos of me look awful- they just don’t look right – I’m more inclined to prefer the ‘serene’ look
    It’s a great #woty for you (and for those around you who will benefit from it)

    • Oh Cathy, how kind of you. Thank you.

      My husband is of the same view as you. So photos with him or of him need to be taken quickly or with the idea there might be one or two out of a bunch.

      I respect this view of course but for me, as it was for my late Mum, we seem to be able to smile “in most circumstances”. My eldest granddaughter is like me and my Mum we always say.

      I too do the eye smiling thing and practised it waaaay before masks when I literally wouldn’t open my mouth which was so disfigured (under re-construction!) and was quite confronting…even to me,

      Good to see you back here!


  4. A perfect word for you Denyse because you have a lovely smile and like Cathy I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of you not smiling – even after surgery!!! Thanks for making me smile today as I read your post and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your smiles throughout 2021. Thanks for linking up and don’t forget to pop over and link up with Leanne and I for our ‘one-off’ WOTY link up #lifethisweek

    • Ah so lovely of you to say and remember, Sue.

      I guess, along with being able to talk, the ability to smile “in some way” was my first instinct in recovery mode.

      I am so glad we have connected and yes, I did link up too.

      I reviewed my previous words of the year for myself last night and probably will post about those in future Life This Week posts.


  5. I love your word Denyse and the reasons behind it. That note from B is just lovely! It’s a great WOTY for you!

    Did the song get recorded at the ABC Recording Studio? I enjoyed that show so much 🙂

    I am known in my family for my ‘Debbie Smile’ and am proud of this ability! Those quotes are fabulous too especially the one don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened’, we say that whenever we say goodbye to our daughter in the UK, we never know when we will see her again, especially now so we try to look on the bright side.

    Lovely to be back with your for #Lifethisweek – thanks 🙂

    • Thanks Debbie, that is lovely of you to say.

      No, Bernard never sent the letter but he loved the show…and he is a muso in his own way playing piano, keyboard and guitars. He even composed a song for and about me in our brief courtship days!! Neither of us can remember it well of course.

      Smiling, and with the right energy behind it is such a powerful communication tool as we both know from our teaching years. That is a lovely reminder too, of how to leave the family…as you have so much and continue to do.

      Glad to be back. I liked the short break but pleased to be back refreshed for 2021.


  6. Happy New Year, Denyse! Smile is a wonderful word. Thank you for sharing your husband’s loving notes and your photos. I hope 2021 brings you many beautiful moments and smiles. I’ll start hosting a weekly blog social called Weekend Coffee Share on January 8th. Details in my post. Everyone is welcome to join. I hope to see you there when you can. #lifethisweek

    • Thank you so much Natalie. I did read of your link up and wrote a post as I was inspired to do so.

      I like the sound of this opportunity and will join in when I am able to, definitely this Friday!!

      Your good wishes are always appreciated as is your kindness.


  7. Happy New Year Denyse. I love your word Smile and think it’s perfect for you. I also love your smiley photos. I’m one of those people who struggle to smile at the camera. Most times I look a bit stupid but your smile is beautiful.

    • Thank you Jennifer for your good wishes but gee you are doing this blog and typing thing with the challenge of a broken arm.

      I am so sorry. Breaks and being somewhat incapacitated remind us of our frailties and that we need another one in our life to help us out. My broken leg, from a fall down our driveway in 2003, incapacitated me for 6 weeks following the surgery. I hated that!

      I send you good healing wishes too.


  8. Happy New Year Denyse and that word choice is flipping PERFECT! I love it! (as an aside, I’m actually on brief this week…shock horror!)

  9. Happy New Year Denyse. You have a beautiful smile so it is a very appropriate word for you. My sons and I had braces and the big reveal was always emotional – to see the lovely smile that straight teeth causes! It would have been a much bigger deal for you to finally get your smile back. Thank God for those medical professionals that can cure cancer and give us a reason to smile. Regards, Christina

    • Thanks so much for your good wishes Christina.

      Yes, that reveal was a surprise. Glad you understood. They had told me of others’ tears.

      I am turning around my attitude to mouth and teeth care this year with feelings and words of gratitude for how clever my team is and how my mouth is going. It is a chore but from what my prosthodontist tells me, this twice daily care is keeping everything clean and in good condition.


  10. Thanks Denyse for linking up with Leanne and I. I’m so enjoying reading everyone’s take on WOTY and excited to read everyone’s journey in 2021. xx

  11. Hi Denyse, I love that you chose Smile – it’s so much a part of who you are and your journey over the last few years. I think it fits well with all the changes that 2020 has brought into our lives too – because if we don’t smile through the tough times, then they can defeat us. Keep smiling and I’m excited to see where 2021 leads (it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it) x

    • Yes indeed they would defeat us. It is always good to find something big or small or even in between in tough times to smile.

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Leanne.

      Yes, this year will be different. In a way I think 2020 prepared us for life being changed. It sure was and still is here in NSW anyway!


  12. PS. I’ve updated the post I’ve linked so it’s a little more positive… x

  13. I think that is a perfect choice of word for you – not just for 2021 either 🙂 I do have something in mind for words which strolled into my head after I said I wasn’t going it, but I haven’t written about them yet. Maybe in a few weeks.

    • Oh I am smiling seeing your name here again after quite an absence Vanessa and know there was so much happening for you then that blogging must have been the last thing on the list.

      Welcome back.

      Glad you love the word.

      Look forward to reading what you come up with too in the future.


  14. Happy New Year Denyse! I love your word and I think it’s perfect given the story behind it as well! Looking forward to seeing it play out this year

    • Thanks so much Sanch. Happy New Year AND View to YOU! Love where you are living.

      Smile…guess I cannot live without it.


  15. I miss seeing everyone’s smiles! I find that most people won’t even make eye contact since we began wearing masks but I still smile at everyone even if they can’t see it. My word of the year is embrace… but my post about it isn’t going to be up on my blog until Wednesday.

    • Yes I so agree, I do too Joanne.

      However learning to make ‘smiles with the eyes’ if I can. Love your word.

      If my link up remains open to match your Wednesday do link it or if not leave it till next week.


  16. You have such a lovely smile Denyse!

    Curated By Jennifer

    • Thanks so much Jennifer. Commenting on my blog post is much appreciated as it’s a condition of the link up, so delighted you have!

      Happy New Year!


  17. Denyse, you could not have picked a better word for 2021. It is so personal to YOU and your story. I look forward to reading more about you and your smile this year. I read one time that when we smile, our brain releases feel-good hormones, even if we are faking the smile. I sometimes use that when I am tired during a run! 🙂

    • Thank you so much Laurie for your kind words.

      Yes I too read that about smiling which is why the fake smile is even OK as our brains can be tricked.

      Good on you for finding that it works on your run!


  18. HI Denyse, thank you for welcoming me to this group. Thank you for sharing your deeply personal story. How wonderful that your WOTY was inspired by your husband. I have a theory I try to test in stores, I do not let wearing a mask stop me from smiling at people. Part of it is testing the theory that even if people can’t see your smile, it shows in the eyes. And it’s what I do, so mask or not, I am going to smile at strangers (assuming no red flags) in the hopes that a smile from a stranger may lift their day somehow.

    Blessings and thanks, Michele

    • Lovely to have you here Michele, it is a kind and inclusive community of bloggers from around Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and India.

      You are right about trying out the smiles behind the mask. Why not? It may make someone’s very dull day that wee bit brighter.

      Thanks for the kind words about my smile and the inspiration.

      Look forward to connecting more here over time.


  19. I love everything about this. I will think of you every time I hear The Carpenters Sweet Sweet Smile And you definitely made me smile today.