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Why Laughter Lines are More Important Than Worry Lines

Why Laughter Lines are More Important Than Worry Lines 2560 1805 Jason Stadtlander

Last Thursday marks my forty-seventh trip around the sun. I’m not normally one to fuss too much over birthdays, though I’ll admit that I like to be a little spoiled on my birthday. Ten years back I decided that I would never work another birthday and so far I have been able to hold true to that. As I see it, you only have so many birthdays in this life and I would prefer to remember those birthdays as days that I relaxed and spent time for myself. It is the one day a year that I think is appropriate to be selfish.

That being said, I started mine off with a morning Yoga with instructor Kristen, someone I had never taken a class with before. Unbeknownst to me, my son had conspired with our regular instructor Jennifer about my birthday and halfway in, Kristen said “It’s time to do some birthday planks.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and it was exactly what I needed (the planks and the laughter). There is something to be said about the practice of yoga. Many people do not understand that it is much more than just poses that make you look like a contortionist. It is a mindset. It is about focusing on the present and embracing the energy of life in that present. I know, I know, I too thought that was all a bunch of bull before I started doing it. But it is amazing what a difference taking a moment in our lives to just breathe and focusing on that breath can make.

This year has shown us all the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit. Much of our [created] world is a toxic environment for the human soul and spirit. Everywhere we turn there is negativity in the news, negativity in politics, negativity in finances, mass shootings, and atrocities too horrendous to look at.

I have never been one that was big on inspirational speaking, writing, or thinking. Nor have I listened to much in the way of motivational content. My father was always very big on being positive, listening to speakers like Zig Ziggler, and even to this day he responds to “How are you doing?” with “I’m great, but I’ll get better.” I always felt it was a bunch of fluffy nonsense and I really wanted to have no part of it. Yeah, I know – Mr. Negativity. Not really though, I wasn’t being negative, I just didn’t feel the need to be “falsely positive”, it felt fake and I didn’t like being fake. But the reality is, if I allow myself to only show how I truly feel (while being inundated with all the negativity of the world), it’s much easier to be down, despondent, or negative. So I am going to focus the next several posts on the positive in the world.


I have vowed this birthday, to focus on the positive. This isn’t about ignoring the negative and turning a blind eye to the horrible things around us. I’m not going to be fake about it, I’m not going to “put on a happy face” when I am having a horrible day. But I will choose to listen to the news less (unless they magically decide to start focusing on the positive in the world). I’m going to surround myself with those who love me and who I love in return. I’m going to see the brightness of the day rather than the shadows. I will see the good things my children are doing and focus less on things that they are not doing. I will reach out to my family and friends and talk to them and be there for them when they need me. I will try to be less judgmental and more open-minded. I will embrace the positive changes in the world… things that can affect not only myself but the world my children live in long after I’m gone.

Because the reality of all this is, we need to laugh. We need to love. And laughter lines are truly better than worry lines, not for the looks, but for the experiences that create them.

The Greatest Gift I Ever Received

The Greatest Gift I Ever Received 958 960 Jason Stadtlander

Tomorrow is my birthday and as I do with every birthday, I take a look around my world and think about what makes my life amazing, what inspires me and what a blessing it is to be another year older.

My 4th Birthday

This year I’m thinking about the greatest gift I have ever received. The first birthday I can remember was my fourth birthday when I received a rake, hoe and shovel set from my paternal grandmother. I spent hours digging up our yard – which I’m sure my parents loved. On my twelfth birthday I got a Trek mountain bike which I used for my newspaper route and did several TOSRV bike tours with my father.


The Birth of my First Son

My two greatest gifts however weren’t really birthday gifts, though one was around my birthday. The first I received almost eleven years ago and the second I received almost two years later; my two boys.

I had no experience with children at all before I had them, but always knew I wanted kids. I had never so much as changed a diaper prior to my first son. By the time my second son rolled in the door, I asked myself what I was so stressed about with the first. Then came the amazing little moments, such as the one below where my youngest son made “alphabet soup” for the family.


I can’t remember how many times I went into my children’s room to hear them having “little conversations” about stuffed animals, dinosaurs and Legos. Conversations so innocent they are the purest form of communication. Love so unfiltered and honest that it is touched directly from Heaven. There is a purity in their statements “I love you, daddy.”, even now, that drives deeper into me than anyone else has ever done.

There may be an unspoken “civic responsibility” about having children, the idea that you are replacing your generation with a new one, but being a parent is so much more than that. Seeing their minds grow from only recognizing a human face, to playing with danging toys, to splashing in the tub, to drawing, to telling stories and now my children are creating their worlds with their writings and their stories. They are slowly becoming self-functioning members of society.

They are the greatest, most amazing gifts I have ever received and the most breathtaking experience I have ever had. I may be a writer, an IT professional, a voiceover artist, and an artist, but the one thing I am the proudest of – is being a father.


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