I'm telling you, this will save you.
It’s the reason I do what I do, it’s the reason I’ve written my books and will continue to write more.
Rob and I have a saying when we’re about to transform our health, but really want to go out with a bang. Like with a fat platter of nachos, followed up by Cold Stone Creamery. We call it “One last, one last,” and it’s probably why we haven’t come close to transforming our health, but enough about my failures.
This weekend is my “one last, one last” when it comes to literally doing nothing for days on end. After the launch of my second book I collapsed and I just can’t get my crap together. Nor do I want to. One last, one last of sleeping in, tending to my landscaping, running errands nice and slow whilst buying things I don’t really need and watching 90s movies at 1 PM.
I have an important opportunity coming up, a chance at something that could be huge and I don’t wanna blow it. I’ll also be performing at this incredible event in Alabama that I need to prepare for. It’s time to start writing again, practicing my speeches and begrudgingly doing Reels or TikTok and other things I highly resent.
And of course, there’s the vital task of getting my books in as many hands as possible. I WILL FORCE ALL OF YOU TO THOROUGHLY ENJOY AND LAUGH UNTIL YOU PEE AT MY BOOKS OR I WILL DIE TRYING.
It’s worth mentioning, I had a bit of mini-breakdown at the launch of my second book, that I dip into here, but will go into depth later when I make more sense of it. Two books within one year is almost unheard of and the pressure is like a swift kick to the jewels every 15 minutes. I don’t know what that actually feels like, but since my husband collapses when a stiff breeze wafts by his jewels, I imagine it ain’t great.
Anyway, I want to share with you something that I shared on Facebook a week or so ago. It’s something I think is important, and what we desperately need more of.
It has saved me during my darkest days.
The first thing that saves me daily in a broken world filled with pain, suffering and stress, is my close, intimate relationship with God. And my mom who I call an unhealthy amount of times per day.
And the second thing, or I guess third, that’s saves me, is a good old fashioned sense of humor. It’s the reason I do what I do, it’s the reason I’ve written my books and will continue to write more.
Not taking myself seriously is my super power. It really is. During times of sadness or depression, my mom says she always knows when I’m turning a corner because I start in on my self-deprecating humor and once we get to laughing we both know it’s time to move forward and get on with it. During one season, Rob and I went through a devastating financial loss and as a gift for my birthday, my sister gave me a Staub dutch oven. Those things ain’t cheap. As I was wailing about our circumstances to my mom, I cried, “I just want to be able to buy my own Staub!”
And now, every time one of us is down in the self-pity pits, one of us will shout, “I just want to buy my own Staub!” And we laugh and laugh and laugh.
David Sedaris said, “Everything is funny, eventually.” It’s true. Just give it a little time.
Learning to laugh at my imperfections and imperfect circumstances makes life more fun, and makes relationships with my loved ones easier. When I’m in a season where I don’t embrace humor, I’m far more dark, hopeless and miserable.
For instance, my husband and I got in a dumb fight this morning and he went into his office. After about thirty minutes or so, I walked in with a donut cushion from my post-birth and said, “Sweetheart? I brought you this in case you might still be a little butt-hurt.”
He tried to resist laughing, but it was impossible. We laughed. We moved on. Life’s so short, I just can’t stand spending any of it perpetually offended.
I learned to develop this muscle from my childhood. I’m the baby, by a lot, my sister is ten years older and my brother five. I did a lot of observing. Our dinners each night were basically comedy roasts. It’d be a new person each night and we’d imitate each other, laugh at how someone reacted to something, or whatever, and just go after it. We weren’t cruel, of course, we knew the boundaries of where we were safe to go without scraping a raw wound (most of the time, we aren’t perfect). But for the most part it was a free for all. And a key thing I observed was, the person getting roasted was laughing the loudest. Egging it on, adding to it. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," my dad would say, tears streaming down his face from laughter. "And then what'd I say?" It was an actual honor to be in the spotlight.
I find myself drawn to, and trust more, people who have a sense of humor about themselves and the often disappointing world we live in.
Of course, this kind of thing can’t thrive in unhealthy, unloving family dynamics, and I don’t recommend anyone try this at your next office meeting or amongst strangers. I mean, establish some trust and rapport first, don’t be weird. I only mention it because the lighthearted playfulness I grew up in was instrumental in developing my sense of humor and learning the skill of “lightening up.” To realize the world doesn’t revolve around me. That I am, in fact, imperfect, yet a child of God, worthy of love and precious. Even though I don’t close cabinets or drawers and go to the bathroom with the door open.
Again, let me reiterate. I’m not talking about bullying or cruelty. That’s not funny and the vast majority of us know the difference, okay? Don’t @ me with examples of abuse. That isn’t what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a willingness to find humor in the things that annoy us. A willingness to discover the flaw in ourselves as we stew on the flaws of something or someone else. A willingness to acknowledge we might be a teensy bit unhinged about something and then having a good laugh at our silliness.
I’m telling you, it’s saved me.
Laughter not only heals our body, literally, it also gives us hope. If we can laugh at it or during it, we can survive it. We’ll be okay.
A sense of humor is one of my most prized possessions.
Of course, tragedy and loss happen in this life. None of us will escape it. And there are seasons where we must grieve, all the way through. There are no short cuts.
But for most of us, those seasons have breaks in-between. And during those breaks we should fight for as much laughter, peace and joy as we can.
In my proposal for my first book We’ll Laugh About This (Someday) I said, “When we sweat the small stuff AND the big stuff, it’s a life of constant sweating, and since deodorant apparently gives us cancer now, that’s the last thing we need.”
(The deodorant that actually works anyway. I’m sorry, but that $10 all natural nonsense gives me pit stains the size of serving platters.)
I can be an adoring, loving mother, and still poke fun at the stress and constant stimulus of parenting. I can be in a strong, loving marriage, and still poke fun at the fact my husband seems to clean the kitchen as if he’s blind folded. I can still be a confident woman and admit I went too hard on the Thin Mints and now my pajama pants are tight and since nothing is worse than tight pajama pants, I've lost the will to carry on. In fact, I believe a sense of humor about imperfections in our lives and relationships reveals emotional health, competence, and confidence because we are picking at a nugget of truth in an exaggerated way, and when we do so, we (and others) are free to laugh at the absurdity of the human condition. We can take a deep breath, because our lives are imperfect too. And just like that - we aren’t so alone.
It’s just not that serious.
The culturally endorsed demonstration and demand of perfection, the oozing of self-righteousness, judgement and a constant desire to take people down a peg who are enjoying their lives reveals, well, at least in my view - a true, deep suffering. Often of many kinds and varieties.
But let’s not get into that or I’ll be here all day. I guess what I’m saying is— laughter, peace and joy are precious, irreplaceable gifts. They are a lit flame in a dark room, bright, powerful, but vulnerable, and need protecting. If it’s gonna blow out out, let it be by the gust of something truly devastating, not some joke you see on Facebook, a line in a movie, or a person who cuts you off in traffic then slows down below the speed limit. Okay the last one’s impossible - those people are sociopaths.
Fight for a sense of humor, my sweet friend. Even in a dark hour.
I’m telling you, it’ll save you.
Anna, I love this so much! I agree with you 100%. There's another quote by... Michael Che I think it was? In his latest standup special? Something to the effect of, you can either be a person who makes comedy and out of dark things (making the world feel less heavy), or you can make lighthearted things really dark. (I'm going to go check my reference on that because I'm floundering, but that was the idea.) The point is, we so desperately need more of the former!
(I also very much relate to being broke with a dutch oven obsession, lol!) Two books in a year. You are crazy and a total inspiration.
A girl currently housesitting for her best friend who has not one but TWO gorgeous Staubs in that exclusive La Mer color from Williams Sonoma, sigh
Oh! If only so many young people will learn this. A sense of humor and God's help are what gets you through the tough times. And there WILL be tough times. Love this, Anna!