Chatting in Chattanooga

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Laughter: Hello Again

By Tammy Rinehart

I love the month of March for many reasons: it’s my birthday and anyone who knows me understands how important birthdays are to me. Not just my birthday but yours too! My mom would start the same mantra every year, “Just one month until your birthday,Tam.” Just hearing her say it created an excitement. It wasn’t about presents but just the fact that it was special to her and my dad. As I got older, I loved March because it’s also my dad’s birthday. Daddy taught me so much about accepting myself and others. I’m an only child, and my family is very small, and yet I learned so much about communication, connection and the importance of laughter at an early age. I learned that bringing lizards into the house got a reaction every time and placing a rubber snake under my mom's pillow so that only a tiny part of the tail could be seen just before bed would send her screaming. My favorite memory was sprawling out over the stairs and throwing my crutches across the room, pretending to be lifeless as my mom came downstairs. Yes, I got a spanking that I still remember to this day for that one. Just thinking about those times brings a smile to my face. For the record, my daddy coached me along the way when it came to the acts of true comedic genius. Families are part of our story – they give you a start. The best advice I’ve gotten to date, “Life is not about what you are born with or without, but what you make of it – and you get to decide what kind of life you have.”

Life is challenging for all of us, but laughter is the best medicine for the getting through the tough stuff in our lives. As many of you know, I’m still dealing with my mom’s death, and I have often wondered if I’d ever laugh again. Honestly, when people tell you “one day you’ll laugh again,” it can feel hollow but given enough time, acceptance does come. Status update: I had some great laughs this month, thanks in part to some of you. I went to the beach this month and laughed hysterically as the wind blew my potato chips off the plate only to have the birds come and swoop in for my food. All I could think about was Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds.” We all had a good laugh when my birthday cake fell too!

Birthday celebrations are my favorite because with the exception of a precious few, I am the youngest among my tribe of good people and because they are older they have come to realize that there’s not much I haven’t thought of when it comes to practical jokes and revenge. I laugh at new rituals of smearing my name on the birthday cake before it’s cut because it’s bad to cut through your name. Thank you for this lesson. I laugh at Mexican hats, lasagna chips, special sauce and a Bonsai tree named Jeannie. I laughed each time I received a call, or text with a song for Mama T. I laugh with my friends with no hair to blow in the wind.

I’ve also managed to laugh at my brackets for March Madness--these games are intense. These 1-point leads are a killer. Please tell me I’m not the only one that yells at the TV. Anybody with me? I laugh when my husband raises his eyebrow at me and reminds me that the referee cannot hear me. I accept and laugh at the fact that my neighbors see me in pajama pants on the way to the mailbox – I do not wear them to Walmart or the grocery store.

I laughed until I cried after I dodged a former manager from many years ago during a lunch date with a friend. People really do leave bad managers not the job, God answers my prayer and finally moved said manager along! I smiled when I thought of the good managers that helped make my career one of the bright spots in my life.

I laugh when I think of my friends who know what I’m thinking just by the look on my face or the tone of my text. I laugh when my people say “wait, don’t bless my heart” because they think I’m not sincere. I laugh because I have friends who care enough to decorate or show up for a particular cause or function. Let’s remember to laugh a little more with the ones we love and the ones who love us.

#laugh #laughter #smile #behappy #laughterisbestmedicine #birthday #happiness #marchmadness #friends

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