Big Belly LaughOK, my last blog was about tears of frustration. I get it, I really do, the roller coaster ride of living with a chronic illness. The hide under the covers day vs. the day you can smile, and then laugh and if you’re lucky, belly laugh until it hurts.

So this past weekend was a belly laugh weekend and I have to tell you, it felt so good, so needed, so incredibly liberating. Yes, liberating, because tears and frustration take hold of you and take away the smiles and the laughs. But I got them back.

csJuly29_2And it all started with good friends. We have these amazing two couples that live two hours away. They come spend a few days with us and we spend a few days with them every other month. One of the friends calls it “medicine” and it is. The reason? We just love to laugh and I mean really laugh. We laugh about silly things, about things from the past, the present and the future. We work at keeping our conversations positive. We don’t let health issues take over. We tell stories we have told before, we relive other times we have had together, we plan for the future, and most important we all become twelve years old.

The chemistry started on our first meeting and it has continued for sixteen years because it feels so good to be twelve every once in a while. It feels fabulous to laugh until your stomach hurts.

So how do you get there? You think of all your friends, the ones who like to smile and laugh and the ones who like to complain and then complain some more. And when you live with a chronic illness like RA you have a lot to complain about, but should you? This is where writing comes in. Instead of complaining to friends and family, write it out. Do your own blog and rant, rave, complain until you run out of complaints and then file it in a folder named appropriately “COMPLAINTS” and whenever you want to add to it, do so, with the privacy of your computer or your pad of paper and a pen. Just get your frustrations out so you have room for some laughs.

csJuly29_3Now that doesn’t mean you can’t reply to the question, “How are you?” with the truth, you can, but keep it short and simple.

“How are you?”

“Having a tough week, but this will pass.” And then instead of letting them ask the follow up question, “Why tough?” you keep talking with questions about them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. And if your friend answers with complaints and negativity, you change the subject, you control the conversation by introducing something fun, maybe even funny.

We can certainly gather funny things from the news these days to balance out all the tragedies. How? Watch the opening of Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon or David Letterman. I have to record it because I can’t stay awake that late. But laugh, you will get material to make your friends laugh right along with you.  Or read a funny book instead of a dark thriller.  Watch a tad of the gossip shows like ET, The Talk or TMZ. The craziness will give you silly, laughable material.

The trick is to forget about your issues for an hour, a day or a weekend and become twelve. Twelve year olds don’t stress, they play, they giggle, and they laugh. Even the incredible JA Kids I work with have terrible days and then voila! they are laughing and smiling once again on their JA roller coaster ride.

It’s magical.

It’s medicine.


It’s kicking RA and JA in the butt and saying,


“You’re not going to ruin my life. I can fight back with laughter!”