A dear friend and colleague with whom I sometimes co-present to teachers and administrators is my biggest comedy fan. She laughs at all my silly jokes that I embed into my presentation. I ask a question, no one raises their hand to answer and I subtly remind them it wasn't meant to be a rhetorical question. She giggles.
She told me I should slow down my timing of those little ditties to give everyone a chance to laugh before I continue. I listened intently to what she was saying (like those comedians listen to Wanda Sykes give them feedback on "Last Comic Standing"), then responded, "But I'm not doing a comedy routine. I'm teaching about teaching. It's really okay if the participants don't laugh in the same way they do on a sitcom, right?"
But inevitably, after each day of training, someone will mention to me, through the evaluations we get back, that they like the way humor is woven into the presentation. "It makes the day fly by" some will say. So, laughter is a good thing, right?
I've just started taking golf lessons. Dave and I met the golf pro who would be tackling the unique challenge of trying to get me to contort my wrists, stick out my bottom, keep my head still, and twist my mid-section to where my belt buckle (I don't even wear a belt!) faces my "target". As we were walking back to the car, I looked at Dave and said, "She didn't crack a smile." Dave replied, "She seems very serious about her work." I answered, "I think my goal will be to make her smile.....even laugh....during my first lesson." Dave replied in his dry tone, "I think that should maybe not be your top goal."
When, in the first lesson, she talked about how doing these head-down drills with four golf balls (In which I remarkably resemble a waddling duck---an uncoordinated one, at that), she said, "Good, this is to commit that feel to muscle memory", I quipped, "I just need a virtual memory system like a DVR system in which I could play back the 'right' stance". She looked at me and without missing a beat said, "We don't have that. Try again." Sheesh. Like Robin Williams says to the lady at the Employment Office, "There was a time when I found myself funny, but today you have proven me wrong."
Well, yesterday's lesson was going along swimmingly (and by that, I mean I waffled between wanting to jump for joy when a ball sailed onto the driving range and wanting to jump up and down screaming because I felt I couldn't hit the ball to save my life), when my instructor said, "You are just this close to awesome." (Wow, I'm not even sure how to respond to that) "Let's work with your pitching wedge now." I walked over to my golf bag and peered in, hoping to see a club that jumped up and announced its role as pitching wedge. The pro called, "It should have a 'W' or 'P' on it". Hmmmm....I thought. I see numbers on all of them....except, "I don't see that one. Maybe we didn't buy a pitching wedge." She starts to make her way over, saying, "You should have it. A 'P' or a 'W'?" I shook my head. Nope, all I have is one with an 'E' on it." She looked, then pulled out that club and turned it so I, the educator, could see, "That's a 'W'," and then......she laughed. Well, there you go, I thought. I did it. I achieved my goal. I think she was still laughing when we finished the lesson.
Is there a time and place for laughter? Does it lighten the mood? Does it help rather than hurt?
Just for today, perhaps we can be aware of times that laughter is a source of comfort for us and for those around us. It can build relationships if it is not used in hurtful ways.
Happy laughing and communicating!
I was a youth group advisor for many years---one of the best gigs in my life. One of the sweet 7th grade girls in our group (who, by the way, is now married and has a one-year old daughter---nothing quite like pics on facebook of her party to make a person feel REALLY old!) had a fairly loud voice. She was vibrant, exuberant, and her dad used to tell her, "Jessy, low tones" when it would get to be too much in a restaurant or perhaps during a church service. I got so tickled with that, it became a thing we would all say to each other when anyone's decibel level exceeded the norm.
Some people share every thought and every feeling and every vacation photo and every recipe and every pedicure and with the world, and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow us to do just that (not to mention blogging, thank you). I read something the other day that one of the top ten posts people write on facebook is their "bored" status. What? Has being bored actually become significant enough to warrant a facebook post?
Couple the volume and the "I share everything" attitude and you have a recipe for disaster. Trust me, I sat in front of it on a 3 1/2 hour flight the other evening. As the very young couple boarded the plane, they were both talking at a volume that suggested they had just exited a Def Leppard concert (anyone else going to break into a little "Pour Some Sugar on Me" now? You're welcome). I turned to my seatmate, a lovely gentleman who fit in his seat (a bonus!), and said, "I'm sorry to tell you this but they will sitting behind us. I'm a magnet for that profile." He laughed....until loud couple sat down in the seats right behind us. Seatmate turned to me and, with a mix of awe and derision in his voice, said, "Wow". "I know", I replied. "It's a gift and a curse"
And so it began.....for everyone within 10 rows or so to hear:
Loud Husband (LH): I can't believe we didn't get Boarding Group 2.
Loud Wife (LW): I know. Your status isn't worth s*** on this airline, apparently.
LH: I'm calling them when we get to Houston and telling them they screwed up bigtime.
LW: That little man at the gate didn't know your status, I guess.
LH: (heavy sigh, then the volume actually increases, if that is possible) They'll hear about it for sure, you can bet on it.
LW: Geez, I just can't believe it!
And so it went, for another 10 minutes or so....
My dear seatmate turns to me and whispers, "Can you imagine them buying a house?"
We both shuddered.
"Low tones", I whispered, to no one in particular.
I actually consider that phenomenon every bit of pollution that other air contaminants are, maybe even more so.
Perhaps if we had a volume control that set off every time we got above a particular level....I think it would beep or maybe say in Jessy's dad's voice, "Low tones"
But, alas, as Dave reminded me later, "People like that would never self-monitor. They WANT people to hear them."
Aha! Good point.
Just for today, perhaps we can monitor and adjust our volume, on the off-chance we don't need everyone in a 25 foot radius hearing us talk about our frustrations with airlines, our mother, our latest meal, etc.
Happy Communicating (in low tones)
What is funny to you?
Dave and I periodically talk about this---why does he laugh at certain movies and I laugh at others?
Watching "Last Comic Standing" brings about the topic, as well. Who do we find amusing? To what comedic skills are we drawn?
I've blogged before about sitcoms with laugh tracks as in "Three's Company" in which there are always misunderstandings. I watch those and want to stick a fork in my eye. But other people cackle like there is nothing funnier on earth.
My best friends from college (Kelly and Robin) and I could sit in a room and simply tell stories about what happened the day before (or we can do it now and talk about things that happened 30 years ago) and crack ourselves up until our eyes water (and as we get older, we all worry about laughing this hard for other reasons besides our eyes). But those stories might not be the least bit funny to those around us, although we can't for the life of us imagine why.
What's funny to you?
How about things kids say? Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby (along with countless others) made careers off of the stuff kids say. I just read this one:
“When I was little my dad told me Jesus was there with us in the room. I didn’t understand, so I asked, ‘Daddy, are you Jesus?’ He laughed and said no. Still confused, I then asked, ‘Daddy, am I Jesus?’”
That may tickle your funny bone---maybe not.
How about "The Three Stooges"? I think it is ridiculous that they hit each other on the head but some people find that brand of slapstick humor the best.
Misunderstandings never fail to crack me up. After finishing my preliminary exams for my doctoral program, I texted my husband using voice-to-text to say, "I am now officially a doctoral candidate" and hit "send". What came up was "I am now officially a doctoral can of debt." He wrote back and said, "I know ---go out and make some money!"
Practical jokes either make us cringe or we love them---in which camp do you fall?
Self-deprecating comedians like Rodney Dangerfield endeared us since they were willing to make fun of themselves.
A dear friend of mine and I still share one-liners from Mitch Hedberg, a comedian who passed away in 2005---one-liners like: "A severed foot is the ultimate stocking-stuffer"
Which brings up another brand of humor---dark, morbid or gallows humor.
Many emergency workers (hospital, EMT, firefighters, police officers) say they have to make light of really tough scenarios in order to make it through their dark days.
What makes you laugh?
Humor is one of the ways in which we communicate and build relationships with others.
I would love to hear your favorite funny movie, one-liner or joke (if appropriate for general public)---that precludes a couple of you, I know.
Just for today, find what makes you laugh and enjoy!!!
The topography in Arizona is gorgeous---the rattlesnakes, not so much.
Having three Labrador Retrievers who think everyone is their friend, we decided to get them rattlesnake trained. A month ago, we took them to the training location, at which the aversion trainer used a shock collar to teach the girls to avoid the pesky rattlesnakes. The drill goes something like this:
1. You take your dog to sniff a rattlesnake-scented towel (who doesn't want that new fragrance--Eau du Rattlesnake?), after which they are supposed to quit sniffing the towel (one of our girls rolled on it and didn't want to leave it) and walk towards a live rattlesnake without rattles.
2. As soon as your dog moves close to the rattlesnake, the trainer applies shock to the collar and the dog yips, jumps, or tries to run away or some other unpleasant reaction.
3. Next, you walk your dog over to a bucket of rattlesnakes with rattles (the goal was to teach the dog to not just listen for the sound of the rattles but also to be aware of the smell). I must admit that Dave and I did very well with this aversion training---we wanted nothing to do with the bucket of snakes. :)
4. Again, as soon as your dog gets close to the bucket o' rattlers, the trainer applies a stiff shock to the collar. Your dog yelps, jumps, or both.
5. The last part is the "test"----you walk your dog past a rattlesnake that is lying in the middle of the roadway and the trainer "checks' their reaction. He noted increased heart rate, nervous-jumpy gait and tension-filled face---oh wait, that was from the humans. No, seriously, the dogs all alerted by completely turning the other way or jumping a bit as soon as they saw the rattlesnake in the middle of the road. Test passed. No more shock.
Fast forward to last night when Dave and I walked the girls on the golf course near our home. Beautiful summer evening in Tucson (translated, that means it finally cooled down to 99 degrees by 7:00 but the sunset is stunning!), and all of a sudden, Dave stops dead in his tracks and says, "Isn't that a rattlesnake?" and points to the biggest, ugliest, anaconda-looking creature I had ever seen. In truth, it was about 4 feet long and looked a bit like this:
Here's the problem---while Dave's alerting skills were spot-on, the three yellow Labs were still saying NOTHING! They were actually much more interested in the bunnies that were hopping from one end of the 17th fairway to the other.
"Why are you not alerting us?" Dave asked our oldest, a bit severely.
"You just had the aversion training a month ago!" I scolded our youngest.
No answer. Except the thunk, thunk, thunk of her tail as she watched a baby bunny hop-hop-hop into the sagebrush.
Dave took our middle girl even closer to the snake (not completely sure about the wisdom of that move, but I understand the motivation) to see if she would get the scent.
"Worthless!" Dave remarked as L.N. cocked her head to the side. Maybe "worthless" sounds like "biscuit" in dog language.
What's the lesson, here? Besides, of course, the need for follow-up rattlesnake aversion training?
We count on the use of non-verbal behavior and "alerts" in communicating with others, so much so we are nervous and frustrated when we don't get it.
This is one of the perils of the use of email. As a school principal, I could write a quick email to say to a teacher, "Could you come by and talk with me during your planning period?" and inevitably, i would get a phone call 10 seconds after I pressed "send"---"Is everything okay? Did something happen? Did a parent call you?" No, no, no I would try to reassure the worried teacher. It might have been some grant for which I thought they might want to apply. Or I wanted to let them know their carpet would be cleaned the next week.
But without the assistance of tone of voice or non-verbal communication, a vague email like that could freak people out. Imagine the difference if I catch the teacher in the hallway, smile and say, "Hey can you stop by for a second during your planning time? I have a quick question." They see my smile, they can see I am relaxed and all of that "alerts" them that this is a non-threatening request.
Maybe just for today, we can remember that non-verbal communication, body language, and tone of voice make a huge difference in our communication (and the secondary lesson may be: make sure your rattlesnake aversion training "took" and get an update if it didn't). :)
The laugh tracks on sitcoms always made me crazy, even as a little girl. It almost hurt my ears.
But that isn't the only thing that was difficult about sitcoms. There always seemed to be a misunderstanding that could have easily been resolved if one of the parties would just stop walking into another room. Most evident was Three's Company, in which one of Jack's girls would walk out the one door just as Jack was coming in the other door. STOP! I wanted to scream to them. If someone would just stay still, they wouldn't have this silly farce of missing one another, both literally and proverbially. But then again, we wouldn't have had several of those episodes of Three's Company then, and what a great loss that would have been.
I was in a meeting the other day, in a room that had two doors right next to one another. One participant had gotten up to go to the restroom and when she came back, the door had locked. Someone heard her struggling and got up to open the door. But in the meantime, the gal had gone to the other door to come in an alternate way. The "helper" opened the locked door, looked both ways then walked in the hallway to try to find who had been knocking and struggling at the door. Now, one more victim was locked out. It was a comedy of errors, to say the least. The other participants began to giggle. I did not. It made me crazy!!
My theory was, "If everyone would just stand still for a minute, this could all be resolved."
Well, there it is....for me, if I can just be still, often the craziness of whatever is going on can be allowed to get un-crazy.
Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God"
I have never had any trouble with the "know that" He "is God" part. The part I struggle with? BE STILL
A dear friend of mine (and Mama in Christ) began putting this on each email or letter she would write me. It has become my unofficial mantra, and I need it every day!!
Being still can solve a myriad of problems, not the least of which is the going out the in door when someone is looking for you at the out door.
Perhaps, just for today, we can still the craziness enough to stop the swinging doors and coming in the out door.