This is my tenth blog post! Hurrah! To celebrate TEN (and then the next ten and next ten, etc.), I thought I’d do a list of ten with a twist. The twist is that I start the list, and you finish it. In this case, I provide items 1-8, and you make suggestions for the remaining two. That’s fair, right?
My list this week consists of TEN things to do when you need an infusion of silliness, light-heartedness and laughter.
I have play-tested all of the items on the list below (and I do them often). I guarantee that they will crack you up if you embrace them and engage fully. I’m curious to hear what you experience, but for me, stepping into fun, ridiculous behaviors makes me feel free and light and open. This shakes me out of navel-gazing, pessimism, tunnel-vision, and faux high-stakes thinking. When I open to the silly, I feel more creative, and I’m a nicer person to be around. Taking a silly break is like putting credits in the sanity bank for me. Even better, all of the items below are most fabulous when you do them with another person. Being silly with others is a wonderful way to connect and to grow the love. Be free! Be silly! Be together! Laugh! (And make suggestions so I can complete the list!) Happy 10th blogiversary!
TEN SILLY EXERCISES FOR FUN AND LIBERATION
1. Draw faces on your body. Using a pen or washable maker, create a little character-face on your body. Give your character a name and a voice; then have a conversation. It’s most fun to draw the face on a body part that you can open and close (for the ‘mouth’) like your hand, belly button, chin, the crook of your elbow, etc. Or just draw smiley faces on the pads of your toes or fingers and wiggle them as they ‘talk’. Who needs a sock puppet when you can draw a puppet on your hand? Side note: In addition to making me laugh, this is also a useful strategy when faced with a stubborn child. My daughter is much more likely comply with the wishes of my hand puppet, Matilda.
2. Create ridiculous endearments or curses. Using your most syrupy sweet voice, say “I love you my [insert endearment].” So, “I luuuhhhve you, my little pumpkin nugget.” “I love you, my baby squid bottom.” “I love you, my darling fried worm.” Or, using your most melodramatic cursing voice, say “When the [insert something happening], your [insert something bad]” Examples: “When the geese return to roost, your cider will turn sour.” “When the baby crawls, your toes will fall off.” “When the sea turns black, your eight sons will ask for money.”
3. Dance like a robot, Irish clogger or ballerina. (This is assuming you are not a robot, Irish clogger or ballerina. If you are, then dance like someone else.) I highly recommend Herbie Hancock’s Rockit for the robot dance. Take a fun, over-the-top, performative approach to it. So instead of thinking, “Oh, I’m a crappy ballerina,” you could think “This is hilarious. I’ve never moved like this before.”
4. Have a silly face making contest. If you don’t have a person to join you, then make faces at yourself in the mirror. Very helpful when you are taking yourself too seriously. Count 1, 2, 3 — then make a face. Push yourself beyond the three faces you usually make, and try to use all of the 43 muscles in your face. Tip: The ugliest silly faces are usually the best and funniest, so don’t be afraid to go for the gargolye-look. Perhaps it’s best not to do this on a first date.
5. Change the words to a song or make up a song. Occasionally, to jolly myself out of a grumpy mood, I’ll sing a made-up song about whatever is making me grumpy; the tune is usually meandering and tone-deaf-sounding, but it makes me laugh. “I hate doing dishes. I sure doooooo hate themmmm, ohhh yeah, etc.” Or you can insert new lyrics — “Old MacDonald had a junky car. EE-I, EE-I, O. And on that junky car, he had a flat tire. EE-I, EE-I, O. With a psst, psst, here and a psst, psst, there, etc.” I know a couple who re-routes arguments by singing to each other opera-style. Singing “You are driving me craaaazzzy!” as Pavarotti can lighten the mood and still get the message across.
6. Do something wrong. For this one, you really need another person to witness (and inadvertently play along). Make sure it’s someone who’ll appreciate the humor afterwards. The idea is to do something embarrassing and pretend not to notice. Your face is a good place to start. Get some food or a pen mark on your face; smear your makeup; have your hair stick up oddly; cover your front tooth with a spinach leaf. And then talk with someone as though you have no awareness of your ‘look.’ The fun is seeing the other person’s reaction and (in)ability to deal with the situation. Other ideas: leave your zipper undone, wear two different shoes, mis-button your shirt, fall down and then hop back up like nothing happened, call the person the wrong name, refer to an object with the wrong word or a made-up word. My husband recently tricked me this way by substituting William Shakeman for William Shakespeare; I got totally flustered as I tried to determine whether I should correct him. He has a Masters degree in Literature so I should have known he was pulling my leg, but his straight-faced delivery totally fooled me.
8. Play the Up My Bum game. (You can substitute other words for bum, like butt or nose, depending on your audience and comfort level with crassness.) It’s a rhythmic rhyming game. I wish I could voice it for you instead of trying to type it, but it goes like this…”I’ve got a [insert something] up my bum, I’ve got a [insert something else] up my bum.” It doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to rhyme. If you are playing with someone else, then you say the first sentence and the other person completes your rhyme. Examples: “I’ve got a picture FRAME up my bum. I’ve got a typhoon RAIN up my bum.” “I’ve got a green baNANa up my bum. I’ve got a Hawaiian caBANa up my bum.” “I’ve got a foot PRINT up my bum. I’ve got a 5K SPRINT up my bum.” You get the idea.
9. How about you? What do you suggest as a moment of silly fun and liberation?
10. And what else?
Did you try any of the items on the list? Did they make you feel silly and free?