Owning a Small Business vs. Retail Memes

I own a bookstore. That’s right. I own and operate an independent bookstore and I don’t hate myself.
Things I will tell you:

1. Print books are not going extinct.
2. Amazon is not a threat to me, especially since I use it as a selling platform.
3. It is not okay to ask me how my business is doing. Do you ask that of every store you walk in? No? Then don’t here.
4. eBooks are not a threat to me. You can buy them at my store’s website.
5. Publishers set the prices of the books. I can’t alter them unless I’m marking them down. But since I also can’t mark them up based on supply and demand, they’re going to remain at retail until they are worth less money to my bottom line.

Now that the bookstore specific things are out of the way, I’d like to point out some things about owning a retail store and how small business is drastically different than corporations.

Every customer can make or break my day, even my month. Each purchase is important. I don’t have investors, savings, or lenders to fall back on. Banks aren’t exactly giving out money to start up bookstores, or start up anything, right now. That means I can’t kick anyone out of my store. Even at 7:59 PM. There is no closing the door early. There are no sick days, no paid vacation, no medical leave. So time is literally money.
Time that could be spent letting customers browse or time that the lights are ticking the electric meter outside.
When you are at Starbucks and they are mopping the floor at 9:45, remember me, who will wait until after close to do those tasks that can add over an hour to my work day because I don’t want to literally sweep customers out of my store.

Small businesses have to cultivate relationships with every customer. Which is also true of corporations.
I have to answer every question, look for every answer, because it doesn’t reflect on me as an “employee” it reflects on me as a business. There are only three people who work in my store (5 with seasonals). Chances are if there is an issue with one customer and one employee, bad word of mouth could lose the business untold amounts of customers. It will be less likely to be written off on the employee or the customer, but Books & Banter as a retailer.
Let it be known, if you berate my staff, I will ask you to leave. But if you berate me, I have to suck it up. I can’t tell you how many times disrespectful things have been said of my person and instead of say what’s on my mind I have to smile and shrug. Every customer interaction is important. Walmart won’t miss you, but I will. I cannot afford to have a customer have a bad experience, even if it’s his or her fault, because what they say or post on social media could have devastating consequences.

Recently, I said, “Owning a small business is like winning ‘King of the Mountain’ every day, only getting your eyes pecked out while you’re up there.”

When I see all these memes about retail and missing out on weekends or dealing with terrible customers or bosses, I have to laugh. I’ve bought books for my store before food for myself. I don’t wear shoes sometimes because my feet hurt from being on them more than 12 hours a day. I’ve heard terrible things about my dreadlocks, my store, my prices.
There is a wonderful lady who gave me the biggest piece of business advice I’ve ever heard. “When you own a business, the customer is your boss. You think you don’t have one, but you do. They ask where you are, why you’re not open, and tell you how to run things. You just have to know how to handle it.”
She owns a dry cleaners and alteration shop in town. She worked and stayed open through her husband having cancer and passing away, the new realtor ripping apart the plaza and tearing down everyone’s signs and people thought they were closed, and now, the plaza slowly but surely losing all their storefronts (including ours).
If someone says something negative about my store, it is hard to not take it personally. I select the stock, I invite artists to display their work, I do most of the cleaning, I hire the staff, I set the hours we’re open and closed, I pay for everything out of my pocket because it goes to the business before my bank account. If you don’t like something, chances are I do. 
Opening a small business is rewarding. I don’t have to run things by “corporate” I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck about “procedures” (just breathing down my neck about money all day every day), I get to make the major decisions.
But at the end of the day, I can’t do any of it if no one wants to buy my books. It’s a market. Ultimately, if you hate working retail, you can get another job. If I’m looking for another job, it’s because my store failed. My dreams failed. My hard work didn’t pay off.

Shopping small has a bigger impact than what we see. It puts more money in the local economy. It creates jobs, locally. Any smart bookstore or other local shop invests in the community. Sure, I read a book to kids every month and secretly hope that their parents buy something while their kid is distracted for a minute. But I’m also reading to that kid. I love all my little customers. I love certain of my big customers too. There are lots of big chains that say they care. But how much can they, really? If their employees are burned out, doing the bare minimum, getting abused by customers and supervisors, how does that really translate locally?

My blood, sweat, and tears are all over this store. I just mopped them up before you came in.

Advertisements

I Have Nothing To Show For My Life

If you ask me where I’m from, I will doubtless tell you about Northern Virginia. It is a singular place. It’s an even more singular place to grow up. In the midst of a largely transient community there is a sub culture of standbys who make their presence known by consistency and nothing more.

I grew up in a place where friends moved away. No one stayed anywhere long. Except for a handful of us, it seemed.
If you moved over even a few streets to a different neighborhood it felt like it could change the outcome of your whole life. You went to a different school, had different friends, and because the high schools each had specialized programs and drew certain students in from different parts of the county the makeup of each place became very distinct.
Each high school had its own reputation. Good or bad. It didn’t matter where you went though, there was a school with richer, whiter, kids calling your school “ghetto”.
I didn’t have many white friends when I was in elementary school. I’m still not sure why. Maybe because I was a standby, a regular, my father wasn’t an officer or a contractor. He was enlisted and because of my sister being an “exceptional family member” and the choice for his transfers always seeming to point overseas or to stay, we stayed.
I stayed for 22 years.
My friends didn’t seem to notice I was white until I moved to a different middle school than them. There, everyone noticed everything about me. My ugly haircut. My shy manner. My terrible clothes.
Let’s just say, I didn’t hit my stride for a while.
I learned in middle school that I needed to be angry to survive. I needed to be mean. In high school I learned that I needed to stay angry and question everything.
The pace of life just got faster as I let academics and extra curriculars swallow my time. After graduating, work added itself to the dizzying spiral of events that consumed every waking moment. I would get up and leave the house for the day, all day.
Even though I was living on my own, I barely got to enjoy time to myself. Doing and achieving was too important and I was behind.

It wasn’t until a series of traumas ripped the track out from under me and sent my train wreck of a life over the edge of an unscalable cliff that I came to a screeching halt.
During each event everything that I thought was important would tumble out of reach and I’d spend the lulls between them being scattered picking up what fell just to lose grip again.

During this time, I got married, lost jobs, got jobs, lost my savings, dropped out of college, and lost a ton of friends. The last five years have been full of failing at almost every kind of existing.

I didn’t realize that I was still angry. The effects of my surroundings had done little to soften the rage incurred by my childhood.

Do you ever forget to breathe? You don’t notice you’re holding your breath until you have to gasp for air. It isn’t the absence of oxygen that reminds you, it’s when you’re body decides to breathe in. It’s the presence of the new air that makes it click that breathing has somehow switched over to manual without your noticing.

That’s what it has been like to live in Oklahoma. I didn’t realize how many years I spent balling my fists, holding my breath, tensing my shoulders; until I learned to let go.

Sure, I still get mad. But I’m not in a constant state of being angry. I actually relax every once in a while. I don’t fight for one-sided friendships. I don’t get hung up on things. I just move on and move past. To some people this seems like I’m giving up too easily. But I’m not. I’ve fought long and hard enough. Relationships that aren’t working don’t have to work. Sure, I look like a jerk for cutting off contact. But it isn’t mine to maintain. Nothing is just mine to maintain. I’m tired of toiling in a garden that everyone eats from but no one wants to weed or prune.

If there is a fable that reminds me of Northern Virginia, it isn’t “The Tortoise and the Hare”. Though, it could stand to slow down. Instead, it’s the Hen and the Bread. She sets out to make a loaf of bread and keeps asking the same question in different contexts.
“Who will help me sow the wheat?”
“Who will help me harvest the wheat?”
“Who will help me grind the wheat?”
So on and so forth.

Who will help me?

Everyone wants to help her eat the bread, but no one wants to help her get to the end result.
I grew up in a world where we were taught to work hard and fast to have bread. To have something to show; a degree, a job, a house, a new car. But it was never enough. It’s never been enough for me. I constantly fight the urge to think I’m not working hard enough because I don’t have enough followers, enough published work, a “proper education”, the right credentials, the stamina to do more be more have more.

But being chronically ill has (painfully) taught me that life isn’t about what I have to show.

Doug and I joke that if someone broke into our house they would be very disappointed. The other night, while walking the dog, I smiled and said hello to a guy wearing what could have been a mugger uniform. I didn’t even think to be scared. Even if I had my purse and he was out to steal anything he’d maybe get two bucks and a stick of Burt’s Bees. Two bucks in change and Burt’s Bees of questionable origin.

I’m not saying that moving to a different part of the country has solved my problems. It hasn’t. I’m also not saying that you should smile at everyone walking outside my store at 10 PM.
But living here has shifted my perspective. Here, I heard Doug ask an old friend how a high school classmate was doing. The response?
“As well as a guy without a family, I guess.”

Everywhere wants you to have something to show. In Oklahoma, it’s a family, a house, whatever. Back in Virginia, it was a degree and a job, and the extras.

I have none of the above. Talk to me when my store is paid up, my books are selling, and I have a family. I’ll still tell you I have nothing to show for my life. Chances are there will be something else I wish I was doing, I wish I had done, or I wish I had.

Without GOD, this is all meaningless. I don’t get to see the eternal consequences of my life without Him. Without Jesus, without a reason, I have nothing. Without the worth apportioned to me by Christ’s death for me, I am worth nothing eternally. I’m a flash in the pan. So why make more people? Why try to make myself into something “more”? What consequence does my life have if at the end of it I’m just dead? Sure, you can be altruistic and say that the ripples of my life flow ever onward and impact the lives of those after me. But selfishly? That doesn’t mean much to me unless it’s for a reason and that reason is eternal.
There is no life in the temporal. Scriptures say that eternity has been written on the hearts of man. Of course it has. Why would we even think about what happens after we die if it wasn’t? There is no reason to care.

I will never have anything to show for my life. But I do want GOD to have something to show for it. So I will keep improving, keep doing good, keep loving, keep sowing wheat and making bread; because He will help. It isn’t my life. It’s GOD’s.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/155918164/”>Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Chronic Fatigue and PTSD

Yesterday I did second interviews for our seasonals at the bookstore. There is, like with every job I hold, a time when I have to explain certain things to bosses or to, now, employees.
Since I’ve spent the better part of the last four years either hiding the fact that I was sleeping when I wasn’t doing compulsory things like work and school or being more and more bedridden and unable to do compulsory things like work and school it isn’t a conversation I’ve had more than a few times.
Thankfully, I’m on a good patch and I seem to be able to do more than I have in a while. Hence, all the working.
But, it doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days.
During interviews, I told both applicants, that sometimes I’m quirky to work with, I may have unexpected absences or Doug may tell them that I’m sleeping in the office. It was and is usually easier to just tell people that I have chronic fatigue and hear a little simper than the weirdness that can result from saying it’s because I have PTSD.
A lot of people don’t make the connection that mental illness takes a physical toll.
My doctor back home once explained that I’m exhausted all the time because it’s like I have all these people in a backpack and I carry them around. Like Luke on Degobah, but with more around 100 Yodas than one.
DiD is extra tiring. I genuinely feel multiple things at one time. I can be angry, sad, content, even happy, all at once. Because I have severed aspects of myself, my psyche can have lots of independent thoughts and feelings sometimes at full force. It can look like a very intense mood swing, and it is, but it’s another part of my brain participating rather than my feelings really changing. (Super confusing right?)
I’ve had to say goodbye to more than one job because of simple fatigue. If I worked one day, I couldn’t get out of bed the next. People have told me more than once that I should get on disability, that it will help my financial troubles. But at 24, the legal fight and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to own the business anymore really voids that as an option.
So I keep going. Because what am I supposed to do? Give up? Lay in bed wailing all day? Okay, sometimes I do just lay in bed all day.
But another thing that most people don’t realize about people with PTSD is that our rest isn’t always, restful. Nightmares, night terrors, hyper vigilance, obsessive thoughts, and restless bodies can rob our sleep of it’s usefulness. It isn’t uncommon to feel as if you haven’t slept at all. Well, and sometimes, you don’t sleep.
When I dissociate and can’t move or speak, I often look like I’m sleeping, but I’m not; I just can’t tell my body to do anything.
On top of our minds getting in the way of rest we need our medication can be a big factor. All of my meds have sleepy side effects. Once, when I changed dosages (not medications, even) I was up for 36 hours straight. I can barely be up for eight hours at a time. That felt like a circle of hell.

If you have someone in your life that struggles with chronic fatigue know that when they say they are tired, they really really mean it. Those of us who deal with this know what it means to push our bodies to failure. It isn’t fun.
We have a love hate relationship with naps and don’t think it’s cute when people around us “wish they could sleep that much”. I would gladly trade some hours of sleep for participating in life.
So whether it’s PTSD, an autoimmune disorder, bipolar, cancer, or anything else you can or can’t see; help us out. Wake us up at our bus stop, be nice, and ignore our dark circles.

Rett Syndrome

That’s my niece, Kaya. She was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome this year.

She is a sweet, loving, and affectionate girl. When my sister, Linda, noticed that Kaya was having trouble communicating it began the long journey to the eventual diagnosis that she has Rett.

For those of you who don’t know know what it is, Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder almost entirely exclusive to girls. Her development has been stunted and eventually what little development she has gained, she will lose. The loss of motor skills is called Apraxia.
She can begin to have issues with breathing, obsessive hand movements, trouble sleeping, and already she struggles to communicate what she needs.
Despite how many difficulties she faces in a day, she is an amazing little girl. Kaya is patient with her little sister, waits for Linda to understand what she is trying to ask for, and loving to everyone.
Understanding the comprehensive abilities of girls with Rett is unable to be exact because they cannot communicate what they understand. But most seem to grasp a lot more of what they experience than they can express.

Because it is a sporadic mutation of a gene Rett does not discriminate with respect to race or ethnicity. It affects about 10,000-15,000 thousand girls.
I am confident that a cure for Rett can be found in my niece’s lifetime.

If you find yourself inclined you can email RethinkTrauma@gmail.com to order a shirt, a bracelet, or donate directly to a Rett fundraiser. We would be more than happy to help you learn more ways you can become involved.
Thank you.

Lack of Participation Award

2014-02-08-anxiety

Since moving to a new state, I have had to expend a lot of energy making new friends.

I’ve also been trying to maintain connections with other meaningful people in my life.

Turns out, I do not have the stamina.

I have grown increasingly more leery toward people. I don’t trust easily anyway, but it has become nearly impossible. I want to run away from everyone and towards no one.
But apparently, human interaction is important. Really freaking difficult, but important. So for all this writing about loneliness and human interaction and trying to be friends with people has been an exhaustive test of my resolve to fight back against social anxiety and not just hide under the covers. Being a natural extrovert has not helped any of this.

What do you do? How do you overcome all the fear and anxiety and regrets of friendships that haven’t worked out?

The Ubiquity of Loneliness

My last post about loneliness was met with a loud cry of solidarity. Which left me with the question:
Why are so many people lonely?

There are so many ways to connect. But we don’t. Not really anyway.

We “like” what people are doing or we comment on how others are spending their time, but we aren’t interacting more than giving them a notification on their social network of choice.

I’ve had so many conversations with people recently about how alone they feel. It’s not as if these are the kind of folks who spend their days cooped up in their houses. These are individuals with “lives”; they go to school, work, church, and consider themselves to have friends.
Yet, they all have the same complaint: Others don’t reach out.

So, if the majority of people aren’t trying to include people in their life in meaningful ways and the majority of people also feel lonely, where is the overlap?

In my previous post, Loneliness and the Lost Art of Friendship, I point to the lack of meaningful connection for those of us whose schedules preclude pre-packaged interaction that comes with structured activities like groups and clubs; pretty much, if you show up to the same place I show up to at the same time I show up- we’re friends.

I also make mention of the fact that we may be lonely because we’re looking the wrong direction.
We think certain people owe us their effort because…why?
Because we know their name? Because you have similar schedules? Because your kids get along?

I’ve been wondering recently why I think certain people should be contacting me.

The hardest part? Realizing that no one owes me anything. No one owes me their attention. No one owes me their time.

All the energy that I put out waving my arms and begging for attention is my energy.

When it comes to loneliness, I’ve come to a difficult question: Who is waving their arms at me?
I’ve wondered the same about those who have voiced they are also lonely. Is anyone waving their arms at them? Is anyone vying for their attention? Are we just looking at the wrong people, going to the wrong places, or ignoring those who would happily call themselves our friend?

I am super guilty of ignoring waving arms.

Since that post, I’ve been looking around and I’ve noticed when I ask someone to hang out that I have wrongfully put on some sort of social back burner they will happily make time for me. We all have these acquaintances, our second or even third string friends. The last to be invited to intimate gatherings and the first to be cut from a trimmed-up guest list.

I’m not as alone as I feel. I’ve quit trying to be part of some kind of club. Cliques exist as adults same as in school and I have put so much time and effort trying to be part of my perceived, “in-crowd” or the people it “makes sense” for me to be friends with that I have shamefully ignored or passed over those who are seeking me out. I’ve said, “If they won’t be my friends than no one will”. How ridiculous is that?

Like any good coach, if your first string is leaving you high and dry on the field, bench ’em and if they don’t improve in the off season, you may need to cut them from the team.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3256859352/”>Rosaura Ochoa</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Loneliness and the Lost Art of Friendship

1270308_663576531554_1542433927_o

Doug and I usually feel desperately alone.

We work, a lot. 60 plus hours a week we’re at our store. Yet, we can still find time and move our schedules to try to make seeing people an option. Sometimes we make plans and it doesn’t work out and it sucks. Things happen.
What is interesting to me is how much time Doug and I collectively spend seeking people out and yet we’re still lonely. How many messages we’ve sent that got no reply, how many calls we’ve made that were never returned, or plans that simply didn’t get rescheduled.
We show up to parties and kind of remember that we like certain people and that they like us but we only ever get to interact within the shallow situation of group dynamics.  Plus, it feels really pathetic to be the one to ask people all the time to be around us and we can only take so many no’s before we close off entirely and embrace the lie that no one wants to be our friends.
We don’t have any deep relationships with friends who are physically close to us. Door after door seems to have been closed in our face and when we ask friends who’ve moved away, they understand enough to sympathize, but we can’t drive three hours on a Friday to see them and then open the store Saturday.

I should land somewhere, I know, and here it is:
Friendship has become a lost discipline.

Creating lasting relationships is, quite frankly, something that our generation has neither the patience nor tenacity for. I look at people who look like they have lots of friends, groups of people who get together and have fun, and I find a common denominator: scheduled activity. 
Doug and I have a schedule that requires we be occupied when others have  free time. We’re a store, we can’t be open Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM because we wouldn’t make any money. We’d lose an entire chunk of the market we serve.
What this has created in our tiny world of acquaintances is an anomaly. We can’t make it to birthday parties, cook outs, small group, Sunday church services, or other structured functions where people check their friendship boxes off one by one.
In a world where going out for coffee is thrown around like the thing people do I have seen very little coffee come my way lately.

Friendship requires that you forge a relationship with someone. If I just saw my husband at parties and on Sunday morning people would think our marriage was failing. Why is it okay for your friends? Is the, “Hi, how are you?”, in passing before you move on to the game of Cards Against Humanity spread out on the table in front of everyone really enough to know how they are?

Doug and I have hit a wall this month that feels insurmountable. So many pieces have been crumbling for so long that the big rocks are starting to fall and no one knows. Because no one has asked. Our friends literally don’t know how we are. 
Like I said, there are only so many times that you can beg for someone to hang out with you before you give up.

The discipline of relationships is often brought up in marriage counseling. But I wonder why it is that we are so content to have shallow friendships?
I am not out to have as many friends as my schedule can hold, but I am out to have someone I can call and meet up with without it feeling like I am an inconvenience or hearing about all the things they have to do instead of hangout with me.

My challenge, if you feel this way, is to look at the people who are contacting you. There must be someone. Or, look at the amount of times you’ve asked to see someone and got blown off or never rescheduled.

Maybe someone is waiting for you to reach out to them, too.

But if you’ve emailed, text-ed, and called and still haven’t gotten a response- I’d move on. There is someone who wants to be friends with you, it may not be who you thought.
Flex your friendship muscles instead of curl up again.

Instead of succumbing to the weight of the loneliness that we feel in the friendship department, we’ve been trying to make a point to see people around us that we know are solid friends. We’ve also made the rule that if we have instigated seeing someone three times without them responding or making an active effort for it to work, we’re done. We won’t beg. If they don’t want to see us, there must be a reason and we can’t fix it if they won’t talk to us, so the ball is pretty squarely in his or her court.

 

Also, it’s really embarrassing to admit that you’re lonely, let alone that both you and your spouse are lonely. We love each other, but I’m pretty sure somewhere in the hierarchy of needs  friends exist- our marriage isn’t failing because we’re tired of only seeing each other for 16 hours a day every day.

 

 

 

Sexual Abuse and Hygiene

 

 

Diane Langberg’s book, On the Threshold of Hope, is full of wise and healing advice. So much so, that I couldn’t actually get past a particular chapter.
Turns out, there are things even I would rather not face head on.

What a lot of survivors won’t tell you is that we fight a seemingly endless battle against ourselves. Sometimes, it manifests in ways that are particularly embarrassing. So, as someone who started this to bring things like this to light. Here goes:

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I struggle with hygiene. 

I used to think that I was weird and gross and that there was enough deodorant and mouthwash to make up for it. I didn’t see my unwillingness to bathe more than (yes) two or three times a week and stints of un-brushed teeth as anything more than a personal quirk. Furthermore, I didn’t think it had anything to do with my inability to develop healthy eating habits or structured work out time. I just considered those things, well, American. Except, I restricted my food intake instead of eating too much too often.

Then Diane set me straight.

There at the beginning of a chapter (I’m not telling you so you can’t skip it), was an answer I was not expecting or looking for.

Survivors often struggle with healthy self-care because they blame their bodies for the abuse.

“If I wasn’t a girl, it wouldn’t have happened”
“If I wasn’t _____ I could have stopped it”
“If I wasn’t wearing ______ I would have been left alone”
“If I didn’t look this way, I wouldn’t have been abused/assaulted/raped”

Dangit, Diane.

I was hoping to coast through life unwashed and rarely shaved and poorly nourished because it was just a thing. Not a-thing-that-comes-from-abuse.

Turns out I’m not weird for getting super anxious about showering or washing my face. I’m not peculiar for forgetting to brush my teeth. I’m not uncommon in the world of women who have survived.
I need to forgive my body. It didn’t betray me, my abusers did. They preyed on me. What I look like made little difference. I wasn’t sexy when I was four. I wasn’t asking for anything when I was assaulted as a young adult. It isn’t my fault, it isn’t my body’s fault. It doesn’t matter what I was wearing or doing when I was abused. I didn’t choose to be raped, someone chose to rape me.

Someone else made a decision about my body.

There. If you are a survivor, don’t feel weird anymore. You aren’t alone. Baby wipes will never stop being your friend. I’ve even abandoned covering my hairy legs in the summer.
Setting a healthy routine is difficult. But it’s okay. Talk to someone about it. If you are a caregiver, ask the person you love if they are feeling weird about this stuff.
You aren’t alone.
This may seem like a smaller problem than flashbacks or nightmares or panic attacks, but that doesn’t make it less important. It’s just one more way that you aren’t by yourself in this and another thing to help you get better and not just get by.

Forgive your body. It isn’t to blame and neither are you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/4489411222/”>@Doug88888</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

PTSD and Laughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was during a one act competition my junior year that I ironically won an award for playing a young actress who was struggling with dissociative identity disorder.

I had no idea what was waiting in my mind. Looking at this picture I see a very different version of myself. But I don’t feel like she is any younger than I am. Just another me floating along the non-linear expanse of my existence.
I don’t say these things to be poetic. I say them because DiD is a very surreal disorder. One minute you are there, another minute you aren’t, it’s hard to describe, hard to understand, and painful to experience. 

But, there I am, with a bra on my head. 

“I wear this on my head as to keep from weeping”, is the quote that my friend Sarah Jones chose to include in the description of the photograph. It’s true. I was saying all kinds of things that day. I thought I was going to pass out from stress. I was having serious anxiety issues and didn’t know what to do. 
So, I put a bra on my head. My bra. With comically large cups sitting on my head I tried to hold onto the ridiculous, so that the dam of the terrifying didn’t burst.

In my life, few things are more important than laughter. The love and grace of GOD are just above it on the list of my needs. Doug’s love and support is sandwiched between, I guess. 

So many things in my world are scary. So many things make me anxious. So many things seem to go wrong on a daily basis. So much of me feels broken beyond repair. 

But when I laugh I feel for an instant, light. 

I forget the weight of trying. The struggle of maintaining. The sorrow of my woundedness is absent when I laugh. 
Laughing is a necessary part of my day. No, it doesn’t actually make anything better. It doesn’t heal anything or solve anything. But it helps me survive. 
GOD said to me once,

If you smile, it is to My Glory. If you laugh, it is to My Glory.

What He meant was that I’m not a person who has reason to smile or laugh. But HE gives me reasons. He puts blessings in my life to give me a fleeting moment of happiness. 
I don’t want you to glean from this that GOD is all about making you happy. 
GOD wants you to be content with where you are, if it is His Will. But the GOD who knew that the platypus was going to happen, the GOD who decided farts were a good idea; He loves you too much to not send a laugh your way every once in a while.

Put on a funny movie. Read the cartoons. Pull your grandpa’s finger. Read Anna Kendrick’s Twitter. Watch cat videos. Do something to make yourself laugh.

It’s important.