Smile, Laugh, Hug, Repeat

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

Times are so hard right now.  Tempers are short, nerves are frayed.  We feel edgy, agitated, hypersensitive.  It’s no wonder, with a global pandemic going on two years.  Our work, our kids’ schools, and everybody’s lives are disrupted in more complex ways than we can wrap our heads around. 

And yet, through it all, we persist. For many of us, it’s not been all bad. We slowed down, reassessed, reprioritized, and emerged with a deeper understanding and appreciation for more simple sources of fulfillment in life. If anything, it’s the connections gained from pandemic living that have saved us, and the disconnections that threaten us most.

Even after the acute scourge of COVID, we will still encounter hardships—strains on our patience with one another, acts of nature out of our control, more short tempers and frayed nerves, relationships at risk. How can we fortify ourselves and one another against despair and withdrawal? We can throw ourselves into work, which may hold us up if our jobs are full of meaning. We can numb with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and other high risk behaviors.

We need something to fan the flames, however small, of hope and optimism—the faith that we will be okay, that we can handle whatever comes, as long as we do it together. I feel so blessed with such amazing people in my life, friends and family alike. Every day I marvel at how I got so lucky. I’m also reminded that I have a hand in these wonderful connections—I cultivate them on purpose. I learned how from my mom, and I see my kids growing in their skills.

To exercise good humor, find joy, and connect with people through that which uplifts—jokes, memes, comedy, and the like—I think we sometimes underestimate the vital importance of these practices in daily life. It’s too easy to get sucked into darkness, to lose the light. But it’s always there, however faint or dim, if we look. We can always find something to smile and laugh about. We can always offer each other a warm embrace (especially if we are vaccinated, masked, and asymptomatic, and even if we are not).

It’s how we share love, and that’s what keeps us going. When we meet people, even if our own mood is sour, we can choose to smile. That one offer of connection can set the path of any encounter on an upward trajectory, lifting all involved. We can share a funny—oh hey look, I wrote about this for NaBloPoMo last year! 😀 Besides The Big Bang Theory and Nathan Pyle, this year I also recommend Awkward Yeti, Upworthy, and any source that offers joy without judgment.

Let’s all hold each other in a little more light, love, fun, and grace, eh? 

In case you have not had your dose today, I just saw this on Facebook now; please enjoy and pass it on:

This starts my 22nd year of teaching middle school. Yesterday was quite possibly one of the most impactful days I have ever had.

I tried a new activity called “The Baggage Activity”. I asked the kids what it meant to have baggage and they mostly said it was hurtful stuff you carry around on your shoulders.

I asked them to write down on a piece of paper what was bothering them, what was heavy on their heart, what was hurting them, etc. No names were to be on a paper. They wadded the paper up, and threw it across the room.

They picked up a piece of paper and took turns reading out loud what their classmate wrote. After a student read a paper, I asked who wrote that, and if they cared to share.

I’m here to tell you, I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up and about and shared with the class.

Things like suicide, parents in prison, drugs in their family, being left by their parents, death, cancer, losing pets (one said their gerbil died cause it was fat, we giggled😁) and on and on.

The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough. The person who shared (if they chose to tell us it was them) would cry sometimes too. It was an emotionally draining day, but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.

This bag hangs by my door to remind them that we all have baggage. We will leave it at the door. As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back.

I am honored to be their teacher.

via: Karen Wunderlich Loewe / Facebook

Originally posted in 2019

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