Monday, November 16, 2015

A Time For Sharing

“If I can see pain in your eyes then share with me your tears. 
If I can see joy in your eyes then share with me your smile.”

At times of great sorrow, terrible tragedy and immeasurable grief, we often feel powerless. We want to heal the hurt, relieve the suffering, even return to a time when we were unaware that such pain existed. We may try to tell ourselves that without the depths of sorrow we cannot achieve the heights of joy, yet those words are seldom a comfort. 

As the world reels from yet more unspeakable acts of depravity and cruelty and our emotions run from horror to anger to sorrow; and we may scream or cry or lapse into silence; let us not allow our humanity to be taken from us. Look into the eyes of the mourners and share the pain. Look into the eyes of your loved ones and share your love. Look into the eyes of those around you, and help each other bring back joy.

I share here a video I share often in my laughter wellness sessions. To me, it epitomizes the joy that can be obtained when we set aside our differences, experience something in common, and reach out to find joy.

The Dancing Video

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Baby Fat, Weight Loss, and Magic Socks

It has taken a couple of years, but I finally got rid of the baby fat. Most of it, anyway. And, OK, it has really taken a couple of decades. All it took was some dire warnings from my doctor, diet, exercise and a non-functioning thyroid. The thyroid has been non-functioning for a long time and I have dutifully been taking my thyroid hormone pills for years. What happened this year was the combination of losing weight and not eating within 3 hours of bedtime sent my thyroid hormone levels into the “overmedicated zone.” Now, with my body functions set on high speed, my blood pressure went up, I was beset with anxiety, and weight began to melt off me. This went on for 6 months as the doctor and I tried to reduce my dose of medication enough to match my weight loss and return my body to a “normal” state. The result was a total loss of between 30 and 35 pounds; which included a lot of my hair falling out, a lovely side effect of thyroid issues that I have experienced several times over the years.

Thankfully, things seemed to have balanced out, I am at a steady weight for a couple of months now, and my hair is slowly coming back. My blood pressure is great, no more meds for that. Still dealing with anxiety issues, but hopefully, that will fade away also.

So, finally, I can deal with the actual “fun” stuff associated with weight loss. Every week I have been looking at another drawer or armful of clothes, selling some of the few higher end things, and donating lots of stuff to Goodwill. Now that the cooler weather is here, I am still surprised when I pull a blazer or pair of pants out of the closet and realize they are huge on me. It has been hard to part with some of my favorites. 

Emptying out the undies drawer was an adventure. Let’s just say, for most of my adult life my bras have occupied a lot of real estate in the dresser. Their cup sizes represented letters not usually mentioned when one thinks of bra sizes. The straps of these bras were as thick and sturdy as some women’s belts, and many of them contained areas of gel padding and extra rows of hooks.  Out they went. Don’t misunderstand, their replacements still come from the “full figure” category, but no longer from the “available only online” area. Even my leggings, once stretched within millimeters of decency, now resemble skinny pants, and some can no longer be worn.  All this is to be expected when one goes down 2-4 sizes in clothes.

However, something strange is going on with my footwear. Several pairs of shoes are now flopping around on my feet. My actual shoe size hasn’t changed, so did my extra weight just stretch these shoes out somehow? I never noticed my feet actually being swollen or anything. And seriously, these are my FAVORITE shoes, and you just don’t get rid of favorite shoes. I’ve begun investing in heel pads and other such shoe accessories to try and keep them on my feet.

It is possible that the shoe problem is related somehow to what I have now recognized as my magic socks.  I work in an office; so having around 6 or 7 identical pairs of black trouser socks is a requirement. When they start wearing out around the toes I just replace them with another couple of pairs of the same socks. Recently, these socks have been performing tricks on me. As I am walking around the office, these socks start to move around. I can feel them sliding down my ankles into my shoes where they start to bunch up at the arch of my foot. When I look down at my feet, it looks like I am trying to smuggle tiny shar-peis in my shoes. If I don’t stop to pull them back up, my heels are soon bare and cold. Maybe you think I have stretched out these socks with my previously huge feet. However, that is not the case. They still have their shape and elasticity.  If I didn’t have my shoes on I think they would just keep sliding down until they fell off my feet completely.

The only logical conclusion is that after sticking with me through the past months of doctor visits, medication adjustments, test after test and sleepless nights, my socks have taken it upon themselves to give me some humor therapy. They must think this sliding off my feet bit is hilarious; the footwear equivalent of a whoopee cushion. Who knows what other items of clothing might join in on this? Already I have a couple of pairs of pants that keep trying to fall down if I don’t remember to belt them, and some shirts and dresses whose necklines keep trying to plunge to belly button level.

Ho Ho, Ha Ha, wardrobe, you got me! Now stop clowning around!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Laugh With Health

I have an old book called “Laugh With Health” by Manfred Urs Koch, that we often used as a reference when my kids were in school and they needed information on nutrition; especially what certain elements and vitamins did for the body. At the time it seemed an oddly titled book, nothing funny about it. I’ve since learned that it is a big seller from Australia, is all about nutrition, and it has been kept updated over the years. Still, the title doesn’t really explain what it is all about. Not unless you have been learning, as I have, all about laughter and the important role it plays in our health.

Through laughter yoga and laughter wellness training, I’ve felt first-hand the release of endorphins that comes with laughing. I’ve experienced the relaxing effects as laughter works both sides of my brain at the same time and pushes stress and anxiety to the side.  I’ve saved piles and piles of written material and research about healing humor and laughter. In a theoretical way, I have come to understand what it means to “laugh with health.”

This year, that understanding became even more personal and experiential. Since January, I have been on a health journey that, at for a time, robbed me of my laughter. At first I was unaware, thinking that I was just moving along, the same person I had always been. It wasn’t until my issues started to get better did I realize that I had not exactly been “myself.”  Recently, I’ve been told by some “you seem more like yourself lately.” The LOML and I have even been making note of the return of laughter to our daily discourse.

Most significant has been how I have noticed how much I get out of leading a laughter wellness session. This is something I took for granted in the past. Now, I stop and notice how pain-free I feel. I breathe deep and revel in the absence of anxiety and fear. I feel more like “me.” Suddenly, I know, on a deep physical, emotional and spiritual level, what it is to “Laugh with Health.” My goal now is to consciously keep laughter present in my life, whether it is a full laughter wellness workout, or a smile at today’s cartoons. I will not expect laughter or happiness to just fall on me from the universe, I will actively pursue it.

What are you doing to keep laughter present in your life?