Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lenin for Christmas

Every December, Rockefeller Center in New York City, is ablaze with holiday spirit. In years past, I have enjoyed watching the ice skaters whirling around the outdoor rink, like a Norman Rockwell painting. In Greenwood there is the annual lighting of the large outdoor Christmas tree. But in Fremont, where fun and laughter reign supreme, we sport our seven - ton statue of Lenin dressed up in holiday lights. Come check him out some evening this month when you need some alternative holiday fun!

Photo: Wikimedia

Monday, December 14, 2009


2009 is the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo Lunar Landing and in celebration I’ve been immersing myself in all things Apollo: Michael Collins’ book “Carrying the Fire”, the HBO special “From the Earth to the Moon” and Ron Howard’s movie “In the Shadow of the Moon”. One of the best pieces I uncovered was Pete Conrad’s first words as he descended onto the surface of the moon – “Whoopee!” We all know what Neil Armstrong said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Apollo 12 arrived next, and as the world awaited what astronaut Conrad would say, we got a great dose of his sense of fun and humor. Wikipedia says “He described himself as the first man to dance on the moon.” They say that particular crew of three, Pete Conrad, Al Bean and Dick Gordon, bonded the most of any crew that flew together in space. They even drove matching gold Corvettes. Laughter bonds, even in space. It’s a beautiful thing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baseball Fun

When the Mariners were in the absolute pits a couple of years ago, one of the worst teams in baseball, I wrote a letter to the Seattle Times sports editor, suggesting they try a new tack: Have some fun. Since they were all in such misery about their losing streak, what did they have to lose? My baseball friend Rex told me they’d never publish such a silly suggestion.

I quoted Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins, at the time considered “the best pitcher in baseball”, as saying “It’s all about having fun.” I said that cracking the whip was just adding more angst, more pressure. I suggested trying something radical – lightening up and having a good time and seeing what happens. Release the outcome and be in the moment, in the zone, as they say. It’s a game after all.

Well, behold the Mariners this past year! Griffey came back. And he brought with him his light-hearted sense of camaraderie. They started having fun. They were lightening up. They were being more playful. We’ve even seen Griffey tickling Ichiro on the field. Tickling! And they started winning again. They did a huge turn around.

Maybe there’s a place for fun and games in baseball. Maybe play and laughter can yield some pretty solid positive results. What better place to use laughter than on a team, capitalizing on the bonding spirit to enhance performance.

Even more amazing, they did indeed publish my letter to the editor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Laughter Clears the Lungs

Well it happened again last night. Leading a laughter yoga program for a group of parents, when we were finished, one participant reported to me, that even though she didn’t know her lungs were clogged before she began the session, now at the end she realized her lungs were clear. Congestion she didn’t even know was there, until we began laughing, started breaking up.

Laughter is a combination of deep inhalations and full exhalations. This rhythm acts to clear the lungs of congestion. I’ve seen it repeatedly. Someone will start coughing during the session, an indication of this process beginning.

I once had a regular laughter club member with scleroderma, a disease characterized with the build-up of skin tissue. She also reported that her lungs would clear after our laughter sessions.