Go ahead, laugh it up!
Yesterday morning, as I was delivering produce to one of our buyers, a catastrophe happened. Now let me preface this by saying, it was 5:30 in the morning. Let me also say that ripe tomatoes, don't bounce. Today's PCT's- Positive CJ Thoughts, will center on laughter and why this simple action is so necessary.
One of my jobs for the farm, other than mindless weeding, is to deliver to an aggregation center that will be picked up later and distributed to the individual or school that ordered from our Co-Op. Most days, this isn't an issue, unless they remove the key from the lock box, change the code or some other administrative issue. Yesterday morning, in the misty haze of the predawn hours, I stood with a cart at my side in the parking lot. I'd already put several bags of colored peppers and a large crate of lettuce on/in said cart. As I started to add the tomatoes, it decided to make a break for it and began rolling away from me…toward the street.
Cat like reflexes have never been my strong point so, as I reached for the menace on wheels, it caught the corner of the tomato box in my hand and sent our gorgeous, red tomatoes tumbling to the ground. Several rolled out of the box as I'm trying to hold on and grab the huge crate of lettuce. I successfully kept that escapee from realizing freedom. One of the tomatoes was the lone, successful runaway and rolled into the street while several of its brother and sisters, hid under my truck. Go ahead, laugh. I had to. It was the only thing that prevented me from not throwing my hands up in frustration and say words that my wife would give me the evil eye for…and then and make me put extra money in the collection plate on Sunday.
I then took a deep breath and pushed the cart around to the front of my vehicle where it could be secured and detained by the muscle of the engine block. Several of the tomatoes were still fine in the box, others…not so much.
I walked into the street and picked up the runaway before attempting a retrieval mission for the others. Unfortunately, they rolled far enough beneath my vehicle, that I had to get on my belly and crawl under it. About this time, a car drove through the lot on its way to the main street. I'm sure they're still trying to figure out what the heck some nut was doing belly crawling under their vehicle in the market lot at 5:30 in the morning. One way or another, I'm sure there was laughter involved. Once all the fugitives had been apprehended, I completed the delivery. I knew I had one more task, telling my wife about it.
The woman has married me twice, she knows things are just going to happen. I'm not sure she was going to laugh, but I hoped so.
She asks very little of me and the fact that I screwed this up, was not lost on me. I was kind and waited until I was fairly sure she was out of bed and possibly had a cup of coffee in hand. I am a BORN Murphy and I've come to expect that things are NOT going to go as planned. My sanity, or what's left of it, only survives because I can laugh (and say bad words when my wife isn't there to scold me).
You've heard the expression "Laughter is the best medicine."
Study after study shows this to be true, when you laugh, good things happen to your body. It releases feel good endorphins, it helps relieve stress, strengthens your immune system, relaxes muscles and a host of other things.
Now, I've seen people do the homicidal maniac laugh…craziness is not what I'm talking about. My mind jumps to Jack Nicholas in the movie 'The Shining.' Although come to think of it, maybe if we'd laugh more, there might be less homicidal maniacs in the world.
With all that being said, the laughter I'm talking about is the kind that makes you light headed and tingly all over. That deep laugh that makes your cheeks and sides hurt as well as releases all those feel good endorphins.
Laughter and crying are often considered to be polar opposites. However, beneath the surface, they have striking similarities. Both actions release needed endorphins and help reduce stress. I can tell you that I have both laughed until I've cried and cried until I've laughed. Each completely necessary. Television shows, movies and theatrical productions are created to release that spontaneous release of emotions. The same is true of crying. Think I'm crazy, turn on the Lifetime or Hallmark Channel. Watch a few hours of that and you'll feel like doing one or the other.
I love comedy. Some people are naturally funny and make me laugh easily. Lately, I've been watching a newswoman Kristin Hampton of WBTV, Charlotte, North Carolina. She does a "Product Test It Tuesday" that never fails to leave me in stitches wiping at the tears. The most recent video she did was to cover up her 'forehead' hickies that resulted from her previous testing of an 'age defying' product that she got from the 'Zon'. These are just screen shots of the videos. The links are included later.
She does these live videos from her 'carfice' that 'Mean Kim' banished her to. One that I doubled over in laughter and actually shed tears, was when she tested 'magnetic eyelashes'. Folks, THIS woman needs her own comedy show. SHE IS HYSTERICAL. I hope she never, ever stops doing it. For those of you on Facebook…CHECK HER OUT. She also has some videos on YouTube. Trust me on this, it's worth your time..
(Literally as I was doing uh…research…for this blog, I laughed so hard my coworkers looked in on me while I was watching her 'nose hole hair remover' video) to make sure I was okay.
I DO NOT recommend you ever try that one, it might even be dangerous according to some information I saw. Actually, I don't know that I'd recommend any of the products she tests, but I laughed until I lost my breath.
You see, for twenty-five years, I've seen indescribably horrible things I hope no one ever has to.
Sadly, I know my sister and brother firefighters around the world, will see even worse in the years to come. The world has changed so much since I took my oath, and in many ways, not for the better. I think back to September 11, 2001.
When the World Trade Center towers fell, we lost not only those who worked in the building, but 343 of my fellow emergency service workers that rushed in to help evacuate and attempt to extinguish what would be, their last fire.
I can remember watching news coverage after the collapse and hearing one particular eerie sound that haunts me to this day, the sound of hundreds of PASS devices. These devices are attached to a firefighter's air packs.
When the individual wearing that air pack fails to move for THIRTY seconds, a shrill alarm sounds. This enables other firefighters to hear the distress signal and find the downed firefighter. It's the rectangular box with the gauge and the red button in this picture.
As the news panned the area, I could hear them. Hundreds of them, their shrill distress call screamed out into the dust filled air. Most of firefighters would never be found. The reporters were confused about what the sound was, but I knew and so did any firefighter that watched the coverage that day. It's part of my equipment and the only thing that resides on a fire truck for my personal safety and not that of the public's. It's a sound firefighters dread hearing when their has been a mayday call.
I spiraled into anger, and grief thinking about the families of those firefighters. Police officers, EMT's and other emergency service personnel would never again go home at the end of shift. The numbers poured in and the faces of the lost began showing up on billboards, walls and telephone poles. The television and newspapers began releasing the names and faces of the dead. I found myself completely glued to a sliver of information as to what had happened. And then…I needed a break and it actually felt wrong to need it. It felt like I owed it to those who died, to remember what happened. I needed to laugh. I flipped through the channels and past the horrendous images. I finally stopped on something unexpected, a Carol Burnette special. It was the 44th anniversary of her show that started, ironically, on Sept 11, 1967. It took me back to all those Saturday nights watching Carol, Vickie, Harvey, and Tim as they cracked up the audience, and themselves. It was like MaMaw up in heaven was directing the powers that be to bring the little girl she'd called 'Peaches', up out of those depths of despair.
I felt guilty laughing, knowing so many weren't. I also knew it would be a long time before many of them ever would again. After the show, I slept. Exhausted and feeling a little bit lighter, I could let go.
As twisted as it may sound, most of the family funerals I've been to, end up being more like reunions. People sitting around with fond memories. The ones I love the most are the ones that make us laugh until those tears pour down our cheeks, only they aren't tears of sadness. They celebrate the life of the one that has passed on. The laughter rings of the gratefulness we feel having been present at the side-splitting events. Yes, plenty of sadness comes out in those tears as well, but the stories we tell keep them alive. The laughter makes us remember them with deep affection. Of course, those funerals also normally turn into some embarrassing story about something I did and the laughter rolls again.
I've had 911 calls that have left me shaking my head and stifling the laughter that tried so badly to bubble to the surface. I've often had to hide my mouth turn my back. Every time I've said, 'well now I've seen it all', something would top it. Many years ago, we got a call for a man stuck in a chimney…right before Christmas.
It wasn't quite Christmas Eve, but close enough. Even the dispatcher was having a hard time giving me the information and I couldn't find the professional side of me to save my soul. I asked if he had a white beard and red suit. The dispatcher was unable to come back with a reply. I heard the radio click a few times as if they'd hit the mic to respond, but thought better of it. When we arrived on the scene, we had to make our way through holiday revelers who invited us to join the party. I asked if they were aware that someone was trapped in their chimney? They told me yes and that he'd been there for a while but…the party had to go on. Let's just say the guy that was stuck had been 'partying' for a good while and had several reasons why he'd gone headfirst into an unused chimney. Lucky for him. We pulled the guy out and I'm pretty sure, he went back to the party.
I've also been on some pretty strange things that were on fire. None weirder than when I stepped off the engine at a reported structure fire, to have my crew report to me that they'd put out the fire…a coffin fire.
I gave them the head tilt, squinty look and asked them to repeat. They informed me that the residence had a coffin on the porch and that someone had set it on fire. This I had to see. I got on the porch and, low and behold, there sat what remained of a coffin. When I asked the residents about it, they told me they'd had a Halloween party several years ago and had never been able to get rid of it, so they made a coffee table out of it on the front porch. The suspicion was that a neighbor up the street thought they were devil worshipers and decided to get rid of the coffin one way or the other. I couldn't help it, I laughed but so did the owner.
There was no major damage to the porch but I had a hell of a time finding something that would fit the description on our prepacked fire reports. Fear not, both of those incidents will at some point make it into my new 'Five Points Series' about the adventure of my heroine, Sheriff Chance Fitzsimmons.
It takes special talent to write comedy because there is no body language to play off and physical comedy must be written in a way that describes and conveys the humor. Some of my absolute favorite books have been ones that I had to literally get out of bed in order to keep from waking my loving wife because of my laughter. Layce Gardner and Saxon Bennett, Robin Alexander, and a recent one by AJ Adaire have written books that have done just that. As much as I love to read romance and adventure, I LOVE to read comedy because I need to laugh.
I will fully admit that I can't take a drink while reading the works of these authors. I can tell you, beer, coffee, tea, and juice burns like hell coming out your nose. Trust me on this.
Finally, I laugh at myself. When life gets too serious, when the burden seems too heavy to bear, and the obstacle too immovable, I laugh as much as I can. I have to or I'll lose my mind and possibly my humanity. My wife and I spend a great deal of time laughing at our niece and nephews. They truly bring us the greatest stress relief ever.
As I've told you, I'm a Murphy by birth. That fact alone leads to many embarrassing, hapless, and head shaking incidences. I can't change a law that is written into my DNA. All I can do is hold my sides and laugh as to say 'anything that can go wrong will, at the worst possible moment". Two days before my wedding, I got stung on the pulse point of my wrist. My left hand swelled to the point I didn't think we'd get my ring on.
I also rolled the ATV over on myself trying to pull grapevine out of the trees to make our wedding arch. I was able to reach my phone to send a text to my wife. "I'm all right but bring the tractor down by the Christmas trees ASAP." I can laugh about it now because it's the story of my life and I chose to laugh more than cry. She even made me laugh at our wedding, even though I was close to tears -of joy- during it.
(Sidebar, ask my wife, I'm a softy and cry at the drop of a hat so I need to do a lot of laughing to counteract it.)
I have a friend who is a prosecutor. She has a season pass to Disney because she needs to go to the happiest place on earth to dull all she's seen. The joy and laughter she gets from riding roller coasters, seeing people dressed up like Disney Characters and stepping away from the unbelievable things humans do to one another, keeps her sane. I can't blame her. I get that from going home and having my nephew Richard ride by one of my front porch windows on his Big Wheel and stop to place an order "through the drive thru".
Home is my happy place where I can laugh at the antics of my cat as he acts like a dog and growls at the doorbell.
I try to put humor in my books as well to share a bit of the laughter with someone else. Most of the time, it's in the dialogue banter I write. I hope my readers enjoy it just as much as I do. It's an integral part of who I am and I don't know that I am capable of leaving it out. It's how I live, it's how I work, and it's how I play.
So…go ahead, laugh it up. As Charlie Chaplin said "Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain." Couldn't we all use a little less pain in our life? I certainly could. Now, I wonder what product from the 'Zon' Kristin will test next week? Whatever it is, the humor she'll put in the report, will have me crying with laughter I have no doubt. Until then, thank God for YouTube and the video about the dog who wants a kitten.
Or Kristin trying to get into her car when someone parked too close.
And….I shouldn't have thought about that with coffee in my mouth. BUT YOU should watch it, I promise you won't regret it.
Not much new to report on The Bucket List. Edits still in progress. If you'd like to read about my Goldie Winning Debut novel, 'frame by frame', you can do so and find links to purchase it at the following site.
At Desert Palm Press' sight, you can also download a FREE additional Christmas novella-
'Christmas Eve at Laurel's Meadow' that falls in between the last chapter and the epilogue of 'frame by frame' at this link.