“The premise of my talk is that life is made for joy. I’ll make the case and give the strategies needed to ‘unblock’ joy,” said Hannon, a syndicated columnist, whose advice column appears every Tuesday in the Lifestyle section of the MDJ.
She has also been a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, reaching 25 million listeners, and is known for her Georgia Public Radio stories.
The class promises to be entertaining and informative for women and men alike.
“I can’t do anything without humor. It’s just second nature to me. I am aiming to entertain and instruct but also to have a heavy dose of inspiration in the mix. It’s not going to be a normal dry lecture.
“It’s going to be part stand up, part performance, part straight teaching — all of it meant for people to understand how they can just be happier,” she said.
The class evolved from her advice column as well as her best-selling memoir, “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life,” named as one of the top 25 books all Georgians should read by Georgia Center for the Book.
“The column has been a great educational tool for me because every week people are writing in asking for advice on their different conundrums or quandaries. I see patterns,” she said.
The class provides a forum for an in-depth discussion of potential happiness.
“In the span of a column you can’t go super in-depth, so I thought I should do this expanded two-hour class that hits on the things I am seeing along with my readings and life experience that has shown me the everyday threats to our progress and happiness,” Hannon said.
Hannon analyzes the question of happiness against the backdrop of her own background that she describes as “coming up on wrong side of tracks in a family that was disintegrating, and the hard lessons learned and the realization that there was not enough darkness in the world to put out my one small candle. It deals with some gritty stuff very candidly,” said Hannon, who wrote in her memoir about growing up in Warner Robins.
Many often question how Hannon came out of her childhood full of joy.
“It surprises some people that I chose (happiness). I made a conscious decision that I would study the things going on around me and try something different. I could see as a kid what the adults around me were choosing to do was not working for them. There was a lot of misery, a lot of alcoholism, abuse, neglect — all kinds of things in this mix,” she said.
“I just decided that I don’t want that kind of life. I realized as a teenager that I really can access the great riches of life — things such as living with love and gratitude, being forgiving, being in service to others,” she explained.
These realizations described in her memoir gave way to Hannon’s huge following and the “Cracker Queen Way of Life” — for strong, real, Southern women, not a stereotypical Southern Belle.
Central to finding joy and contentment is Hannon’s sense of humor. She named the class She Who Laughs because as a child, and into her early 20s, people tried to silence her laugh.
“My Southern grandmother didn’t like that I was amused at things all the time. She introduced me as the grandchild who laughs at everything. It would be really disparaging the way she said it. My Northern grandmother said, ‘That cackle is going to get you kicked right out of college,’” said Hannon, named by Southern Living as “the funniest woman in Georgia.”
“(Laughter) turned into a real metaphor, a symbol for my voice. It’s taken on more significance in remembering who you really are, who you were born to be and being that. That is such a big part, a fundamental to a life of joy,” said the Powder Springs resident, who is married to Jim Kilgore.
Faith also played a significant part in Hannon’s resilience.
“I think something far bigger than me has helped me along to get me to this point. I’m sure of it,” she said.
With focus, the life of a true Cracker Queen came into alignment. “My life started looking a whole lot better,” she said.
Advance tickets are required.
This is an ideal event for small groups, clubs or other organizations. Hannon, a lover of history, will donate a portion of the proceeds from the class to the Marietta Museum of History.
Purchase tickets at shewholaughs.brownpapertickets.com.