Of course, it wasn't the first or the last image of me laughing in photos. When there's a photo taken, I'm frequently the one with my eyes squeezed shut and my mouth wide open or my teeth bared because I laugh a lot. And over the years I've come to think differently about my image in photos where I'm laughing. Is it a prettily posed selfie showing all of my best angles? Nope not even a little. But it is a true representation of who I am. I love to laugh; I believe it is the joy of my soul bubbling up and overflowing. So if you see photos of me or spend time with me, be prepared to see my eyelids and my uvula (that thing that hangs down from the roof of your mouth) a lot.
One of the first things that attracted me to my husband Jim was the fact he made me laugh. He made me laugh so much, I married him. One of the things I find the most delightful about my son Tanner is his sense of humor. He's funny and we laugh a lot together. I see the same thing with his girlfriend - the two of them make each other laugh, and I totally get why they've chosen each other. My family laughs a lot together, too. We've laughed through joy, embarrassment, sickness, fun, pain, poignancy, and tragedy because even in sadness there is something to laugh about. My father, who died in February, was one of the funniest people I knew (often in a corny dad humor kind of way). He had a tremendous sense of humor, and my favorite photos of my parents are when they were laughing together.
But I love laughter more than anything because it makes me feel good. Laughing brings me into the moment. Regardless of my mental state before I started to laugh, as soon as I start i feel fantastic. It brings me joy, and it connects me to others.
Most of my closest friends over the years are people I can laugh with. On a recent road trip to Northern California with my friends Kristen and Kasci, we spent a lot of the hours we logged in the car laughing. My family is getting together this weekend to remember my dad (and scatter his ashes), and much of our time will be marked with laughter.
In the practice of Nia, one of the things they teach white belts involves somatic training that includes spending 60 seconds lying on the floor laughing and 60 seconds sitting and laughing. At first, it feels forced but after a few seconds, the fake laughter becomes genuine, and I am sitting among a group of souls laughing at absolutely nothing other than laughter.
Laughter is beautiful. It is the voice of your soul. Laughter brings joy. It connects you to others. Laughter allows you to be present-time focused. It calms, de-stresses, and reminds you of lightness even in the midst of darkness. Laughter is, I believe, a spiritual practice because when you laugh, you connect for that moment with the joy that is who you truly are in your soul and when you laugh with others, it connects your soul to theirs. Laughter is beautiful and if that's how I'm going to appear in a lot of photos, I'm okay with that.