Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Don't Underestimate The Power of Laughter. It Could Save Your Life

Humor is the great thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away.  Mark Twain

When was the last time you laughed--that doubled over, belly shaking, tear jerking surrender to feeling good laugh? You know--that thing kids do and we need to do everyday. It touches your very soul. And it's fun. So why don't we deliberately pursue laughter or create things to laugh at instead of waiting until we happen to see or hear something funny? Maybe we're just so caught up in the burdens of daily living that we forget that valuable gift that could literally change our life.

I think most people know laughter is good for you, but maybe not to the extent it's vital to physical, mental, and emotional health. Laughter has a long line of benefits. It exercises stomach muscles, lowers blood pressure, gets the heart pumping, reduces pain, aids the immune system, helps memory and sleep, reduces stress, calms anxiety, triggers dopamine, and more and more. It's also contagious and brings people together. Even smiling affects us in positive ways. What a happy pill for good health.

Maybe you've heard of Norman Cousins who wrote The Anatomy of an Illness in which he documented his successful journey from terminal illness to health using laughter for healing. He left the hospital and created funny scenarios for laughter, like Groucho Marx movies. And he spent much of each day laughing. His case contributed to alternative medicine and inspired research into the benefits of laughter in illness and pain management.

You don't have to wait until you feel like laughing to laugh. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America use various forms of laughter therapy. One exercise to cause laughter is to put your fingertips on your cheekbones, chest or lower abdomen and make "ha ha" or "hee hee" sounds until you feel vibrations through your body. I've tried it, and it really works. Had me laughing in no time. They also use Laughter Yoga in which several laughter exercises are incorporated into a yoga discipline.

God must have known I'd need a sense of humor and the ability to laugh, because I've been aware of that gift my whole life. It has brought me through some tough times, and I'm still learning how to use it more effectively. I'd like to share a poem I wrote in 2001 about laughter.

Although I hurt a lot inside,
I sometimes joke and find a laugh.
It comes from yet another place
Along my weary path.
It usually comes up suddenly,
And takes its rightful place.
It stays around a little while
And fills the empty space.
Laughter drives away the tears,
And calms the hurt below.
It frees my soul to feel alive
Where I think angels go.
God knew I'd need this useful tool
To lift me high above the dark,
So I can see the truth of life,
And find that vital spark.
Thank you, Lord, for quips and giggles,
For making light of strife and pain, 
For finding fun in spite of trial
To find my joyful way again.

So don't wait for something funny to turn up. Create your laughs--everyday--everyday. Watch some funny movies, listen to music. The Chipmunk Song always makes me laugh. Do the "ha ha" and "hee hee" thing. And feel health, peace, and joy happily moving through your body, mind, and spirit. Picture your inner child having fun laughing out loud, rejoicing in life. Celebrate yourself with a good hearty laugh.

I wish you the joy of laughter in all your days.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How Many Storms Does It Take To Knock You Down? And How Do You Get Up?

Do you get hit with problems that feel like a storm just ripped through your life and knocked you to the ground? They can pertain to any area of your life, like loss of a loved one, a job, money, relationships, illness, etc. Sometimes they come one after the other, and drag us down. We get back up, but with each one the getting up becomes more difficult. And a wounded heart can't take one more slice with the knife. So there's no point in getting up again. Why not go to bed, pull the covers over your head, and just vegetate.

I wonder about this phenomenon. It's been said that our thoughts create our life. And I believe that. But I wonder about times we seem to get caught in crap that somebody else created, and we're thrown flat on our butt wondering what happened. Do we unknowingly attract those situations with our thoughts? Are we like the bull in a china shop, wandering around not looking where we're stepping?

Sometimes it may take only one storm to finally do you in. I knew a man who spent his work-life dedicated to the architectural firm where he designed beautiful buildings and took pride in his work. Then when he turned 60, the younger men in the company moved him to a cubicle in the basement and gave him few assignments. His beautiful buildings remained tall in the city, but at age 62, already dealing with a heart condition, his broken heart killed him. Did he create that situation?

I also know a woman who enjoyed a relationship with a treasured friend for many years. They went through storms together, and weathered a few misunderstandings, but they helped each other through each one. Their friendship appeared strong until a new friend entered the picture with devious intent and replaced her in the friendship. The woman was trashed, and the relationship with her treasured friend ended. When she lost her friend, she was already experiencing several storms at once. Could her weakened emotional state have attracted this heart breaking experience to her?

We may never understand precisely why or how certain situations enter our life, but we can create important changes with inner work to create or attract what we do want, and work on our subconscious belief system to prevent a lot of what we don't want.

1. Accept where you are now--in a storm, coming out of one, or just want to learn to avoid some in the future. Quiet your mind and listen to your inner Voice for answers.
2. Clarify: Ask your inner self what meaning stormy situations have in your life. What's really going on with you. And allow yourself to feel your feelings.
3. There's power in self-awareness. Without judgment, examine the following:
    A. Become aware of your conscious thought processes. Are you generally a positive or negative thinker? Do you expect trouble to follow you--or not? How do you see yourself as a person?
    B. Examine your negative childhood messages. ie You don't deserve anything, you're selfish, you're boring, no one wants to hear you, etc.
    C. Look for behavior patterns. ie Are you outgoing or timid? Do you finish what you start? Do you often get angry? Are you trustworthy? etc.
    D. What are you afraid of? ie People won't like you, you'll sound stupid, you won't measure up, etc.
4. Once you've become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, keep what you want, and change what you don't want, if anything. What do you want to be, have, and do? Know what you want to create in your self and your life, and begin creating.
5. Ask the Universe for what you want. And know in your deepest being that it's already yours. Just be open and receptive to receive your blessings.

Life is not without storms. But as you grow, they will be fewer, and you will have all you need to get back up and move forward. Think, practice your changes, and trust in your ability to flow with the Universe. And accept and love your beautiful self.

I wish you happy creating.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Saying Goodbye With Memories

Have you ever lost a loved one? Or do you know someone who has? It leaves an empty place in your life, so maybe you turn to those heartfelt memories to get you through. That's what I'm doing today, and I hope you'll allow me to share some memories about my brother, Lee, who made his transition last week.

Life is for making memories, and we made lots of them. My mother was widowed when my older brother Jackie was 11, I was 6, and Lee was 3. She took a bar waitress job in the Starlight Bar down the street for $1.00 per night plus tips, and sometimes she took us with her to work. We'd eat potato chips, drink soda pop, and listen to her sing on the mic when she wasn't busy. Then Jackie took us home at bedtime.

For some reason until Lee started school, Mama called him Boy. That's when Aunt Ruth said he should have a name, and he became Lee. We were Depression kids in Detroit, and most of the country knew what it felt like to be hungry. Every month our landlady took us to get free groceries, and Boy hopped in the wagon, yelling and waving to everyone on the way to the food bank. But when the wagon was full, his little legs ran beside it, helping us pull it all the way home.

When Boy had scarlet fever, he and Mama were quarantined, and the doctor came everyday without charge. Jackie and I stayed with our aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I remember standing outside the window with the family making faces to cheer up my little brother. He looked so pitiful.

One day Jackie and I found Boy outside counting pennies and nickels. Wow. That was a lot of money. He said he found it in the back of our chair where the piano player from the Starlight Bar sat when he visited Mama. Change fell from his pocket and lodged in the back of the chair. So from then on, every time someone came to the apartment, Boy led them to that chair and shared the loot with Jackie and me for candy and movies.

Lee was 8 years old when we moved back to Florida where Aunt Edna had 6 Toy Manchester Terriers, and Lee loved all of them. When he was in junior high school, his love for animals brought us a wonderful surprise. We moved to Daytona Beach with Aunt Dell and more cousins, and the morning we left, Lee talked Mama into letting him ride in the back of the truck. Then when we arrived and went to unload the truck, a shiny black nose peaked out from under a blanket. Mama jumped, and Lee said, "It' just a dog, Mama. I had to sneak down and get him last night from where they chained him and beat him. I couldn't leave him there." "Well, that's stealing," she answered. Lee grinned. "Oh, no, Mama. God doesn't care. He's glad I rescued him." Shep ran in the ocean with us, got sprayed with a skunk, and showed his gratitude for many free and happy years with us. In Lee's later years, he and Ginny had a Golden Retriever named Sunny they dearly loved.

Later we moved back to DeLand where Lee played football and rekindled relationships. One in particular was Ginny Sullivan. They fell in love and married after high school graduation when Lee joined the Army. They had 3 children and spent 62 happy years together. He graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a Trust Auditor for Barnett Banks, later headed the Trust Auditing Division of Florida National Banks, and was very active in his field.

I'm proud of Lee's accomplishments, but when I remember him, I remember the person he was. He complained when he saw a person or animal abused, he bitched about the unfairness in the world, he criticized injustice, and had no patience in a traffic jam. And he was one of the most loving, kind, gentle souls I've ever known. And one of the most loved by all who knew him. I smile when I remember he always said I was his favorite sister. I'm the only one, so that claim is special to me.

I love you, and I'll always miss you, Lee. Thank you for so many beautiful memories.

And thank you all for listening. You are a blessing.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Recognizing And Healing Your Loneliness

It's ironic...the subject I chose for today's blog post. Last night I lost my brother. He passed away and left a hole in my heart that will need to heal. It's never easy, but now I'll have to experience my loneliness, let it be for awhile, and then let it go. I love you, my brother, and I'll miss you always.

To transform the emptiness of loneliness to the fullness of aloneness. Ah, that is the secret of life. Sunita Khosla

We all know what loneliness feels like. But each of us perceives this emotion in our own unique way. Some even equate loneliness with being alone. But the two are different. Loneliness is suffering, while solitude of itself is simply being alone and need not create loneliness. It may sound strange, but both can offer opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth.

Loneliness involves a sense of loss and/or separation, and may come from many sources; loss of a loved one, divorce, the empty nest, illness, isolation, rejection, loss of a job, retirement, etc. Maybe you've always been lonely, and you don't know why. It just feels like a piece of your heart is missing. For some people, loneliness is the result of a childhood experience that left them feeling unloved and alone.

When I was 6 years old, my father died, and it left a hole in my heart that was filled with loneliness. For most of my life, I suspected that was where my loneliness came from and I fought it, even though I knew that resisting something strengthens its presence. Then a couple years ago, I was so tired of the fight, I just let it be and looked for a way to let it go. That's when I found an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner who helped me release it. I will always miss my father, but I no longer feel that deep pain I lived with for so many years. from this experience my inner child learned that she's okay with her daddy's arms around her, and I became freer to be me.

We live in two worlds, the inner and the outer, and we can find help in the outer. But the letting go must ultimately come from within. Accept your loneliness as where you are now. Then it's no longer your enemy, but a possible step to something new and wonderful. Loneliness can bring a letting go of old ways and limiting beliefs; it can lead to freedom and purpose; and it can be used to transform your life.

Sometimes when a person is lonely, they're afraid to be alone. But alone time can help free you from loneliness. It can be a time to get to know yourself better, and find ways to release your loneliness. Give yourself what alone time you need.

1. Determine the reason for your loneliness. What loss have you experienced in your life? Tangible or intangible? Is it from your childhood? When did it happen?
2. It's important to allow yourself to grieve your loss and accept, yes accept, where you are now. The pain may be deep, but give it the time you need to feel your feelings. Don't fight loneliness. Let it be for now.
3. When you're ready to release the loneliness, use intention with commitment. Find help in the outer and ways within to let it go. Talk to your loneliness, tell it how you feel, give it permission to leave. Bless it with peace, and release it.
4. Ask yourself what you can learn from this experience. How can you grow from it?
5. Use this time alone to go within and communicate with Spirit--you have never been separated from this inner love and comfort. Then reach out to others with love from your heart. Loneliness will have nowhere to live, and it will leave you.

You are not that wounded child you feel inside. Understanding what a glorious creation you are, in spite of your losses from whatever source, can leave you free to experience the love, joy, and peace that have always been yours to claim.

I wish

you love and peace in your heart.


Monday, June 1, 2015

My Chosen Path

 A Poem To Ponder

I chose a path when I was young.
I saw it in my mind.
And the way was clear for me to find
The wonders of my world.
I saw the years that lay ahead
With eager
arms outstretched.
And in my trusting heart was etched
The vision of my life.

But then, as I began my walk,
Clear and bright and sweet.
I felt strange boulders neath my feet
Begin to change my path.
I tried my best to stay on track,
To keep my footing true.
But then great strong winds blew,
And tossed me in the air.

I didn't know which way to go.
I got confused, and angry too.
What was a helpless child to do
On such a road as this?
I kicked and screamed, but I was lost.
How could my chosen way be gone?
How could I have been so wrong
To miss my rightful path?

Did faulty judgment change my steps,
And take my dreams from view?
Or was there something else there too
That stole it all away?
And then one day in deep despair
When hope was all but spent.
I saw a glimpse of truth that lent
A quiver in my soul.

A still small voice from deep within
Said look with wiser eyes.
Turn from the appearance, and realize
The truth of who you are.
I pondered over these strange words.
And stretched my mind to see.
Could there be yet a path for me
To be myself again?

I reached down deep to find the faith
I'd lost in younger years.
And raised my glance through drying tears
To see the other side.
When suddenly I saw it there
Beyond my tangled web.
Shining in a wondrous light that said
Come walk again.

I saw the place, my chosen path.
Clear and bright and sweet.
And I felt a breeze beneath my feet
That set my path anew.
I slowly smiled with careful step
To move on this new ground.
And started now to move around
Those pitfalls in my way.

Now I meet the boulders on the road.
They're always there, you see.
But knowing now the truth of me
Protects and guides my course.
So now I rise above the storms,
Or dodge the puddles in their place.
To be a master of my space.
On this, the path where I belong.

I wish you happiness on your path.