It was a cold December afternoon and the sun had already gone below the tree line.  I noticed the ground was muddy and wet and had the feeling the sun doesn’t shine here much. Any effort to get a fire going failed due to lack of dry materials. When we called to reserve the campsite, they said "No need, nobody’s picnicking in December" and we thought lucky us, we’ll got the place to ourselves! A great idea in theory - but overall, I’m glad we know now what not to do. We know lots of things not to do. 

It was the day after Prom and we scheduled the potluck style picnic for what turns out is an absurd length of time, given the cold. Plus, it was much too early after a late night at Prom. The picnic site was a mile down a paved public trail with people walking by. Besides the cold and the somewhat sketchy location for lighting up joints, I had a great time with the small group of fellow Ganja Goddesses. We reminisced of the previous night's PROM (and other Getaways where we'd connected) and chatted about what’s to come in the New Year. Like how our next family reunion will be indoors!

Without a fire, and hours to go, someone suggested we try Laughing Yoga. Laughing, for me, is both therapeutic and impulsive. I am curious about anything yoga, so when the words Laughing Yoga were suggested to me as a means for increasing my internal temperature, I was immediately intrigued. Two words I have a deep residing love for together in one mysterious activity - where do I sign up? The teacher (one of our tribe) and a few other Ganja Goddesses gathered around in a circle in the middle of the picnic area and began lighting a joint and connecting to the earth and to our breath. Then, what followed, was a series of standing postures, hand gestures, chanting and belly laughs. I found out quickly the harder I fake laughed, the harder I would actually real laugh. The chanting got me to my far-too-culty breaking point just in time for more belly laughs to defuse the feelings of insanity. 

Miss Bliss was standing directly across from me in the circle and I found a trifecta of hilarity between the cult-like chanting, laughing at myself, and locking eyes with a hysterically laughing MB. I laughed as loud as I could, projecting as much as I could into the space around us. I felt insane. And it felt good. A quick glance to the people on the path confirmed my suspicion: they were indeed, all watching. I moved on, thankful to be one of the laughing lunatics. All the moments wasted worrying what people thought of me came out from the depths of my belly in the form of a chuckle. 

As we were finishing our last round of literal belly laughs, what sounded like fireworks began crackling behind me. My mind raced: fireworks? Gunshots? I turn around and see the top of an enormous tree slowly succumbing to gravity.  Tickling the surrounding branches of it's comrades all the way down. The smell of the freshly exposed tree-trunk insides filled the air like a whole bottle of pine oil was being diffused from the heavens around us. I breathe in the smell as deeply as I can through my nose for as long as I can. And in that moment my laughter peeks out in the form of a real buddha smile. I am grateful for everything that felt like a burden, hurdle, or missed opportunity that has led me to this place of pure joy. Then, in true Ganja Goddess spirit, we shared a joint to bookend the experience. 

Stay laughing,

Kelli Valentine