The pressures of life have been heavy lately. I’m talking about one of those seasons when it feels like the walls are crushing inward and sucking the very oxygen out of my world. The places I normally can re-create are dry and lacking. Sleep has become challenging due to physical life transitions that have become yet another obstacle along my path. Responsibilities unyielding, burdens unforgiving, needs overwhelming, and commitments unrelenting fill my days. Joy has been in short supply as of late.

I’ve lived long enough to hold the perspective and understand that these days will pass, a new season will come forth, and that joy comes in the morning. I am not depressed or discouraged, but I am a realist. Tough deals abound. I just keep working through my to-do list and putting one foot in front of the other. I just keep – well, to quote Nemo – I just keep swimming.

A few weeks ago I was tagged in a post on Facebook that my old high school was inviting all alumni cheerleaders to participate in the homecoming game this year. My first response to this information was laughter. I mean, out loud, cracking up laughing. Certain this was not for those of us who cheered in the (cough) the 1980s, I replied to the post. Turns out the whole thing was legit and girls I cheered with back in the day were planning to participate. Still laughing, I promised to think about it.

Unfortunately, the homecoming game was the same night as the kick-off (no pun intended) to our fall conference at church. Once I saw the calendar conflict, responsible Dawn said no to spontaneous Dawn. We’d already paid for the conference, which is always a fun and refreshing time with my church family. Normally, I just make a decision and move on. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about the chance to hang with former cheer friends and step back in time when life seemed carefree.

In very uncharacteristic fashion, last night I ditched the responsible path and went to the Triad Knights homecoming game to cheer along with other alumni. And, I’m so glad I did! I forgot that laughter is good for the soul. Good, hard, laughter with people who love you for no particular reason at all except that you share a past.

We can’t wear our uniforms anymore, but we were young, silly, and carefree if only for a little bit last night. It had been 30 years since I last cheered a football game and I had zero recall of the motions to our school’s fight song. Not to mention, barely being able to lift the waif of the teenager into a stunt! We rocked it….(well, maybe not)…..but, that’s how this is going down in my memory. And, I laughed a long time with friends I’ve known forever who share this phase of life with me.

Life is hard, but laughter is an antidote! Why don’t I active that more? Proverbs 17:22 says “a merry heart is a good medicine.” I’ve got to remember to push back with joy. I’ve got to be more spontaneous and a little less responsible. I’ve got to spend more time hanging with friends and not so much time in the “just keep swimming mode”.