Back in May, Dionne Lister and I recorded one of our podcasts. What listeners didn’t hear what how Dionne shot through the countdown, and how I was unable to do the intro because I was laughing too hard. In fact, I laughed so hard I snorted for the first time on-air. When I finally calmed down, what followed was three or four minutes of me begging Dionne to stop the recording and start it over. Which she finally did.
Why did I want to re-record? Because I thought my full-throttle laugh was idiotic.
Which is flat-out bullshit.
You see, year ago, some moron had told me that my real laugh was horrible, especially when I snorted. And I very stupidly listened to them. I allowed this hateful person to influence me in a hugely negative way, and by extension, rob me of the joy I have at living.
Dionne, proving once again she’s one of the dearest friends of my life sent both the podcast we recorded along with the small clip of me laughing hysterically on to our producer, Damien. Who then proceeded to ask me why in the world I didn’t want people to hear my laugh. Later on that day, Damien sent me a “mash-up” of our podcast, with several bits of various podcasts put together. The lead off bit? Me laughing and snorting. So I sent it to a friend of mine who’s known for their honesty. Their response? “I was having a really shit day. I listened to that? I’m in a much better mood. Thank you for sending that to me.”
Time to re-think perceptions, folks.
If you’ve read me or listened to my podcast for any length of time, then you know I have three kids. And while I’ve learned many things about myself as a parent, I’ve learned even more about life from my three kids. One afternoon last spring, I went to pick my daughter up from school. I watched as she and her friends tackled one another with full-body hugs, squeezing one another in their joy in finding someone they loved in this world. And the other moms and myself started discussing what life would be like if as adults, when we saw our friends? We dropped our bags and ran and tackled one another.
At which point do we let go of the joy of simply living in this world? How often do we actually just stop and enjoy singular moments for the beauty they hold? How often do we hold back in fear– fear of being laughed at, stared at, pointed at? And worse, fear of being judged. Why be fearful of people judging us for experiencing pure joy in life? Anyone who would judge you for that? They’ve obviously got a stick crammed very far up their ass.
So after that one podcast? I stopped holding back and let my laugh just go. And an amazing thing happened: I started getting comments on Facebook and Twitter about how infectious listeners thought my laugh was, how much they enjoyed hearing it. In one very hilarious comment, a listener told me that every time I snort? He does a shot of vodka. Which has led to the TweepNation drinking game, something that makes me feel oddly proud.
It’s a sad fact of life that life is hard: there are bills to pay, children to potty train, flu and cold season to wade through and painful losses we all have to face. There’s enough bullshit in the world, why not take a lesson from our children in how to truly live with full-on joy.
And it’s been a learning curve for me. I’ve got damn good intentions, but I still tend to get tripped up on my own feet as I navigate rediscovering my own joy. A few months ago, a friend was in town visiting, and we toured Art Walk Dallas together. Reaching a garden, I fell back on my usual bad habit of blasting through everything, and was about to power through the garden to get to the next bit when my friend asked, “Don’t you ever stop and just take a few seconds to smell the roses?” So I stopped, sat down on one of the chairs, and just took a few moments with my good friend.
It’s my natural tendency to have things scheduled, because with three children to care for, I have to have a schedule in place. But in my down time, I need to remember that I wasn’t always a mom. Motherhood came twenty-seven years after I came into the world. Out to dinner with my dear friend David last week, before we left his apartment, he asked me what I wanted to do that evening. And I simply said, “I don’t care. I just want to spend time with my friend.” Which we did. And after a wonderful night spent laughing, eating what should be named the world’s most delicious pizza (seriously, it is obscene how yummy it is… I even fell off my no-cheese wagon), and having a few drinks, we went to leave the bar we frequent, only to find that Big Bird and Sponge Bob Square Pants were hanging out across the street. So we ran over, not caring how it looked to have two 30-somethings running across the street, holding hands like they were five, and caught up with the two characters and had our photos taken. We got some looks from pedestrians, but guess what? I don’t care. In twenty years, I’m going to look back on a night of laughter that ended in a way neither one of us could have ever guessed it would. Me smiling on a street corner with two children’s characters arms around me. Even now, I’m laughing in memory.
Here’s to rediscovering joy my friends. And what that rediscovery brings with it.
~Amber Jerome Norrgard