When I was a junior in high school, my French teacher called Momma. While I had hoped she would share the news of my good grades, that wasn’t the case. She wanted to let Momma know I’d taken on the role of Class Clown, giving an extra effort to make sure my classmates had humor in their lives. Momma didn’t take to well to that, and she certainly didn’t find it funny. Momma’s reaction to my misbehavior terrified Ms. Fields. I believe my teacher was afraid for my life after disclosing the news to my Momma, who she knew well, having taught both of my older sisters. So much so, that she tried telling Momma that I wasn’t the only one acting up in class. It’s just too bad Momma wasn’t their Momma too, or they too, would have been subject to the discipline I received. It was simple: “Stop. If I get another phone call, you are off the basketball team.” Momma didn’t believe in the three strikes rule. She always said, “it only takes one time to do anything right.” That second call never came, and I got a certificate from Mrs.Fields for good behavior at the end of the semester; a sort of thank you for stopping the disruption of my class with your jokes and silliness.
Over the years, Momma has had to help me learn how and when to utilize my strongest skills and talents. Be a leader. Leaders aren’t bossy. Take pride in your work. Don’t put your name on anything that doesn’t represent your values. Do it right-not fast. Take your time. Don’t rush quality. Do your best. Don’t half do anything. Know when to say what. Timing is everything. Eventually, I learned how to use my humor for good and not disruption. In college, I used it to win a stand up comedy contest and won myself $200.00. I’ve always loved making people laugh, and thanks to Momma, I know that nobody finds disruption funny.
As I’ve matured and endured adulthood, laughter has become very important to me. It’s no different than making sure that I allow myself a good heart washing (cry) when l need one. It’s all about being tender enough to feel AND heal. I’ve used humor to break the tension in a room where everyone was clearly uncomfortable. There’s no greater joy than watching a frown become a smile, a burrowed brow relax, and tears fall from the eyes of someone who has a smile on their face. We all need a good dose of laughter and we need it routinely. Because everything doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be so serious all the time. I’ve yet to find that doom and gloom and grumpiness brings any joy to anyone’s heart.
But laughter can change a tone, open a heart, break the ice, and lower cortisol levels. It’s an important part of living life to the fullest extent possible. My conversations with Momma or my sisters are rarely without laughter. We always find a way to get a good laugh in, and I may or may not be the ring leader in cracking jokes. It’s not being funny that I enjoy; it’s making other people laugh that gives me great joy because I know it will give them the very same.
In a world where every social media feeds and news reel are often filled with all things serious, sad, and some downright scary, we need more laughter in our lives. We need to do the things and spend time with the people who put joy in our hearts. I’m convinced that allowing ourselves to feel joy plays a significant role in our ability to handle tough times, challenges, and move forward with resilience when we most need it. It’s how we stay hopeful and push ourselves to get through what we go through, because we know that joy is always on the other side of struggle.
In this phase of life, I’m not trying to avoid crying. I just want to laugh equally as much, because life is too short to not spend as much of it as possible with a smile on my face and joy in my heart!
Y’all be easy,