Life was not always easy for Joan Rivers, but in her struggle to balance her life as a comedian with her role as a mother and wife, she had one thing going for her. Joan liked to laugh.
It was humor that took her through the toughest times in her life.
Joan made jokes about issues that others considered taboo: Her husband's suicide. Her plastic surgery. Her weight. Her so-called lack of sex appeal. Her husband's one leg.
For Joan, it was work that fulfilled her, the pursuit of laughter. Joan never relaxed, always looking for the next and better punchline, according to her obituary. It was a trait that kept Joan in the limelight -- even at age 81.
During a brief time in the 1980s, Joan's career seemed in shambles. She even became estranged from her daughter. Struggling with grief, Joan made jokes: "Think positive. Make a list. One, I don't life in Bosnia. Two, I never dated O.J."
In the end, it wasn't just Joan's ability to laugh at herself that I found admirable. It was the close relationship she eventually formed with her daughter, the way she eased Melissa into show business and the way she was proud for the world to see her as a mother and career woman.
When your morning routine goes awry, your client gives you grief or you have an argument with your spouse, kid or boss, think about Joan. Would she melt down, or laugh it off? Would she say it is just too hard to overcome the setbacks that life throws your way? Or, would she turn up the raunchy humor and pursue on?
The New York Times says, that around Joan's 80th birthday when an interviewer asked her whether she planned to retire, there was no laughter in her voice as she replied, "And do what?"
Clearly, it wasn't fame and fortune that Joan was after. She drew fulfillment from an audience that enveloped her in laughter.
R.I.P. Joan and may we all incorporate the lessons you taught us into our work life balancing acts. If we follow your lead, we will know what fulfills us in life, use laughter to release stress, and never give up when the going gets tough.