Monday, November 29, 2010

A Friend's Passing

My friend Oceana passed away last Sunday surrounded by love.

I’ve been crying. And determined to use this as an inspiration to live life more fully.

Oceana was a very special person and I was honored to know her.

She attended our laughter club only once, but she was fully supportive of it, posting its existence on her website, and reminding me at times about my laughter. Such as the time I was referred to as a “professional laugher” by our writing teacher, a very comical title to all of us. When I laughed at someone else’s humorous writing, the writer in question was told that didn’t count, because I laugh at everything. We all laughed at that.

Next week is the celebration of Oceana’s life. I hope to be able to laugh as much as cry.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than life ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Half-Full Half-Empty

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to be grateful.

Once I made my gratitude ritual a daily practice, my attitude towards myself and my life, became so much more positive.

It’s amazing how much there is in one day to be grateful for. Immediately your life appears full and you feel yourself rich.

We all know that we can look at the positive or we can look at the negative. When looking at the positive brings so many more benefits, it’s clear which way to go. It just takes some conscious effort sometimes.

I know people who complain regularly. I know it’s a habit. And I can see how they make themselves miserable. We all need to process life’s challenges. But processing and processing and processing leaves you stranded in the dark.

And the dark is not a place where laughter resides.

Celebrate Life! It will bring you more laughter. Laughter will flow naturally, effortlessly. It’s all in the attitude. It’s not in life’s circumstances.

Photo: Stock.xchnge

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Joy of Socks

In my exploration of the subject, laughter in education, I came across a book titled “If They’re Laughing, They Just Might be Listening” by Elaine Lundberg and Cheryl Miller Thurston.

One of their suggestions for teachers is to develop a personal trademark – an item to consistently employ as a method of engaging students, and bringing more fun and laughter into the classroom. Because I often lead programs on laughter to seniors in retirement communities, I thought I’d give it a try with silly socks.

I found a website called, The Joy of Socks, and ordered 3 pairs – piano socks, planet socks and of course bright yellow smiley socks. What was supposed to bring some lightness into the lives of others, quickly became a source of play and laughter in my own life.

I now start my day deciding which pair of silly socks I’m going to wear. My partner laughs when he sees them. Walking down the street people smile. Others laugh at my feet. After working at only one nursing home, since developing this sock trademark, it already became a routine geared toward my own enjoyment.

I now own socks with dragonflies, monkeys, chili peppers, socks with rainbow stars and stripes, socks that mimic ballet shoes. Even designer socks by Laurel Birch with giraffes on them. I bought my partner his own DaVinci socks, socks with palm trees, tropical fish and saxophones. It lights up his day and adds more fun to both our lives.

It truly is the little things in life. When I’m feeling stressed, all I have to do is look down at my feet and smile.

Photo: Rex in his jazz socks

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Iphigenia, Play and Laughter

Ben Hur, Iphigenia and Mimi Moonshadow. They are the neighborhood cars.

We’ve had more fun and laughter over the naming of our cars, though none of us knew it at the time.

Ben Hur is the ’63 Dodge Wagon next door owned by my great neighbor Helen. Her son named him so because of his protruding chariot-like diamond-shaped hubcaps.

Iphigenia is our brand new Indigo Blue Scion XD. She needed a majestic name. She’s going to bring us faithfully wherever we need to go.

Mimi Moonshadow is her sister across the street, the Light Gray Scion XB. Mimi’s got an energetic fun-loving owner. It’s perfect.

People often ask me how to bring more laughter into their lives, and one response I give, is to play more. Create an environment where laughter naturally flows – a laugh-ready environment. Use humor with the everyday things of life. Opportunities for play and laughter are everywhere. As Plato said, “Life must be lived as play”.

I only wonder what Ben Hur and Iphigenia do together at night while we’re all sleeping. (They’re parked side by side in adjacent driveways.) Helen assures me they’re having deep philosophical conversations.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comedians Keep Us Sane

Comedians don’t hold back. They’ll say anything. They know they can. Comedians tell it like it is. Politicians are laid bare, a difficult place to sit. We love it.

Funny woman Joy Behar reveals that Joe Biden once confessed to her, that he is far more afraid of going on Jon Stewart’s show than on Meet the Press. (from Marlo Thomas’s book Growing Up Laughing)

Jon Stewart hails this week from Washington DC, ending his week of taping The Daily Show, with a Rally to Restore Sanity. There were estimated to be more than 200,000 there. Wow!

Coupled with Stephen Colbert, the rally morphed into the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear, as they bantered back and forth about said subject.

They offered a bus ride to DC, to a politically diverse group of people, and then made a parody of the fact that they could discuss their political differences without shouting.

The rally opened with a benediction from Father Guido Sarducci in a black and white zebra striped suit, offering such reasonable statements as “Muslums and Jews both don’t eat pork. Let’s build on that.” Sam Waterson recited Stephen Colbert’s goofy fear poem. The former Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf, sang his old classic “Peace Train”, only to be interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne’s discordant strains of “music”. Back and forth they went interrupting each other, eventually leaving the stage arm in arm.

Sanity awards were given out, one to the Venezuelan baseball player who graciously accepted an umpire’s call, that otherwise would have put him in baseball historical fame for pitching a no-hitter.

Fear awards were given out, one to the major television networks who wouldn’t come and cover the rally.

Jon’s keynote speech morphed into a debate between Jon’s sanity talk vs. Stephen’s fear mongering with such statements as “Reason is how mankind has advanced” vs. “If Eve had had a reality fear of snakes, I could go naked everywhere now”. Jon introduced a new thing to fear “corpomyte”, something he borrowed from Star Trek. R2D2 made an appearance as a representative of a sane, not-scary, robot. “There’s a blender who has its eye on you backstage”.

Jon gave a sincere thank you to all at the end, reminding us that we work together all the time to get things done. “People do impossible things together everyday through little reasonable compromises.”

Comedy for Political Sanity. I like it.