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

Funny Helps

NaBloPomo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

“Your quarantine nickname = how you feel right now + the last thing you ate.”

Hello, my name is Tired Toast.  Please meet my Facebook friends Anxious Carrot, Determined Wasabi Pea, Vexed Guacamole, Chilly Gingersnap, Perky Wontons, Grumpy Curry, Happy Nachos, and Bored Dried Cherries.  Welcome to the quarantine buffet, where we commune and relax.  Bring what ya’ got, just who you are, no matter your condition.  We don’t care how you smell.  You have a seat at the table here.  But ya gotta play nice; no food fights.

One of my leaders acknowledged this week that whereas we used to refill on weekends, these days our tanks never get all the way full before the next week starts.  I take my analogies seriously, so I contemplated this one.  It depends on the weekend, I think.  If I can avoid overscheduling and the sun shines, I can get mostly back to F.  But no doubt, I head into weekends ‘way more empty now than I used to.

Small funnies help.  They’re the perfect combination of low effort, instant connection, and mood boost.

What made you smile and laugh out loud today?

I recommend The Big Bang Theory—any episode of the twelve seasons (it’s syndicated).  I’ve seen every one multiple times, and I still love every minute.  Friends with nerds—what could be better??  When I’m old and demented, park me in a recliner with a tub of ice cream and BBT on loop, and I’ll die happy.  If you’re looking for funny to share, check out Nathan Pyle and his fun-speaking blue beings. 

Formidable forces ride toward us.  We’ll all need our humorous wits about us now.

Kevin Kline, POTUS, and Death

NaBloPoMo 2018:  What I’m Learning

***NO, I do not wish death on the president.***

Have you seen Dave, the movie about the temp agency owner kidnapped by the Secret Service to impersonate the president, and then forced to prolong the charade after the president dies unexpectedly?  It’s one of my favorite movies, and I love Kevin Kline, who plays Dave/POTUS.  There is just something so genuine and relatable about him and his character in this film.

I just finished listening to “Have a Nice Day,” an Audible* Original, written by Billy Crystal and Quinton Peoples.  It was recorded in front of a live audience, and once again Kevin Kline plays POTUS.  He brings the same lovable qualities to this role as he did to “Dave.”  Annette Benning plays FLOTUS, and Billy Crystal plays the angel of death with an anxiety disorder.  With more than a couple fun plot twists and the familiar voices of performers we know and love, I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up!

I appreciate humor more and more.  No other genre can tackle the hardest things about life and help us laugh about them, hold them a little more lightly, and continue with a slightly lighter heart.  Thinking about the immediacy and permanence of death can be frightening and acutely uncomfortable.  But it also often puts things in clear perspective, and it liberates.

It’s been both a dense and unproductive holiday weekend, relative to my lofty expectations.  Inspiration both overflows and stalls, thus no post last night.  Consider this to be the make-up assignment.  I have learned that true to my #1 trait as defined by the Gallup Strengths Finder 2.0 nine years ago, I have been inputting disproportionately and not leaving enough time to process, integrate, and synthesize.  But that’s okay, because little plays like “Have a Nice Day” help me reset.  I can forgive myself for falling off the NaBloPoMo wagon for a day.  Now I can regroup and catch up.  I’m so excited to share my learnings here!

My goal was to sit down, write, and publish this post before I started feeling cold from sitting in sweaty, post workout clothes.  Almost there!  If you have about 75 minutes, I highly recommend listening to this short, endearing little play.  Let me know what you think!


*I have no financial interests in any people, companies, or products mentioned here.