It’s Time To Lighten Up With Laughter

“Humor is a prelude to faith and Laughter is the beginning of prayer.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

The world can certainly be a very negative, draining place, especially these days, and it can rob us all of joy and peace, IF we allow it to. It’s quite easy to get sucked into drama and dialogue that is ultimately destructive for those who participate, regardless of topic. Add our own personal challenges, along with those of our special children, and the end result can be one hot mess! We can easily become jaded and frustrated with situations and people that are beyond our control. Everyone experiences these moments of course, and we can expect more of the same in the future. The key is not to remain “stuck in the muck” indefinitely… Somehow for our own well being, as well as for those around us, especially our children, it behooves us to move forward and to “ let go” of those people and things which don’t enrich our lives in meaningful ways. Self forgiveness is also a very important part of self care that is imperative, I find, especially as I get older. All of us have and will continue to make mistakes for as long as we live, but if we can learn something from them, then there was a purpose for them to happen in the first place. Being true to ourselves is also essential and is the highest form of self respect. We can always simultaneously be respectful of others as well: we can choose to “agree to disagree” and recognize that this is OK and to be expected. Not everyone has to be our best friend, yet, we can still treat others different from ourselves with the same kindness and respect that we would hope to receive. Besides, we special parents already have too much going on at home with our kids to be sucked into situations that won’t matter days or weeks from now. It’s just not worth it!

I have found throughout my life, but especially since Brian was born, that cultivating a sense of humor and laughing often have been absolutely essential for my sanity/well being, and have also made all the difference in terms of how I live my life. Yes, there are indeed a lot of heartbreaking tragedies that happen each day. Each one of us will face personal adversities and will be knocked down for the count . I think it’s safe to say that most special parents feel that way as they raise their disabled children; it’s a very mixed bag of intense joy and sorrow that will last for a lifetime. Special families will always have hardships to face with their kids, some of which are beyond overwhelming.. That’s a harsh reality that I often struggle with, especially in moments of exhaustion, which is why having a sense of humor in the midst of these inevitable trials can make things a lot more bearable! Belly laughs, you know, the ones that make you cry and your stomach muscles hurt, is a powerful balm for the mind and heart. You feel mentally and physically better after experiencing one! I like to think of people and things that make me laugh and lighthearted. THIS is where I choose to place my focus, then my troubles don’t dominate my thoughts and are more manageable.

Today’s world certainly gives us many reasons to automatically become negative in our thinking, leaving no room for other healthier alternatives. It is tempting to take the bait, in light of Covid 19, family stressors, and the upcoming Winter. Collectively, these things have the power to really take us down and keep us “trapped”. It’s a horrible physical and mental place to reside in! One day this past May, I had literally opened my kitchen window, stuck my head outside, and let out my best primal scream out of frustration. Like the rest of the world, I was also so sick of being inside at home for so long and was feeling quite depressed . It actually felt quite good to release that stress, very therapeutic as a matter of fact, but certainly not a long term solution to my problem. To avoid primal screaming ( or much worse) from becoming a regular habit, I needed to think of alternative ways in which to handle my difficult circumstances while in the midst of them. Laughter and humor is a sure way to make things a lot better and it always has throughout my life. There is always at least something to make me laugh and very often multiple things. It’s all just a matter of desire and perspective!

There are humorous/ funny things that I can use daily to help me “ lighten up” and laugh, even in the midst of adversities. I encourage you to find those things that make you laugh, no matter what your circumstances are. It will make all the difference in your life perspective when you choose humor and laughter. Coping in general is so much easier with a sense of humor and detaching from problems that have the potential to consume your life is one of the many rewards. I especially love to watch funny movies, TV shows, and be with people who are upbeat and can make me laugh. Who doesn’t? We all know such programs and individuals and should take advantage of the gifts that they offer. Even better, is when we can offer the same sense of humor back to a friend who may really need it. Humor and laughter can be very contagious and should be something this is shared. Laughter is also medically proven to improve your health by releasing endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals, which are directly related to one’s well being. It’s amazing how our bodies are wired to heal and for wellness if we are willing to respond to the cues that are provided for our benefit. There are additional physical/ emotional and mental benefits to laughter, perhaps ones you have never considered before..

Reasons To Laugh A Lot! 🤣

1. When you laugh the immune system is boosted- a huge plus, especially right now with concern over Covid and other illnesses.

2. Physical pain can be reduced with laughter. I found this to be 100% true during post-surgical recoveries and chemo infusions. I read funny books, watched humorous shows, and actually found myself in funny situations with various medical personnel and patients during these otherwise very difficult times. The laughter helped so much!

3. Laughter can enhance organ function, when you take in deep oxygen, especially with belly laughs! 🤣🤣

4. Hearty laughter decreases blood pressure and heart rate. ❤️❤️😊😊

5. Laughter is a mood-enhancer, uplifting, game changer. I would never go anywhere without it!

6. Laughter can cultivate a great sense of humor and who doesn’t want that, especially in current times?

7. The “feel good “ chemical, Serotonin, is increased in the brain when we laugh, which leads to stress reduction and relaxation of muscles.

8. Laughter also reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Laughter is truly the best medicine!

9. Laughter provides an emotional connection with others and is often the glue that keeps us together in our relationships. Having a sense of humor and finding reasons to laugh has made all the difference for my husband and I, especially during these unprecedented times. Otherwise, let’s face it, it would be too difficult to be home together long term like this!

10. Laughter is a contagion that you DO want to share with others! So many of us are struggling for various reasons right now and need hope, support, and quite frankly a good laugh to get us through the tough times. We all benefit when we can laugh at ourselves or together with others. I honestly would put laughter right up there in the number one position with love and very often the two are intertwined. 🤣❤️

As the holiday season approaches, there are many reasons to feel sorrow and despair, especially this year. This is certainly understandable and actually necessary, to feel the disappointment, anger, and grief over losses in our lives. Like you, I have experienced less than desirable circumstances and have had to go through the inevitable passage of pain in order to be free on the other side of my sadness. Laughter and humor have always been my constant companions through every hardship, though, and always will be..

Wishing you and your loved ones many reasons to always choose laughter and humor, even when there are as just as many reasons to cry and give up. May the laughter that you seek be a blessing to your heart, mind, and spirit. Share the laughter and be the humorous bright spot in someone’s day, for you may be exactly what that special parent who is struggling with their son or daughter needs at that very moment. Be the Laughter, Humor, and Hope!❤️🤣❤️🤣❤️🤣

Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊

100 Reasons To Be Grateful

I think the month of November should be declared “Gratitude Month”, a perfect segue to Thanksgiving in just a few weeks. In these particularly tumultuous times, we can all benefit from being grateful and exercising gratitude. It’s very easy to become ungrateful when things don’t go our way, or when we take for granted the riches that we do possess, because the end result when we do go down this path will be dissatisfaction and emptiness. This is particularly true when we acquire material possessions; the initial allure of having something new can be very exciting, but eventually these things loose their luster. We yearn for more “things” to fill us up until the next inevitable void that follows. We think the next new item, relationship, etc. will change the outcome, but it doesn’t happen, regardless of how often we try. It’s actually the definition of insanity when you really think about it: doing the same thing over and over again and still getting the same result, despite your conviction that things will definitely be different this time! I know that I have been certainly guilty of doing this on many occasions!

We eventually learn that “the void” we feel is actually a spiritual one, so no amount of possessions will ever satisfy the heart because it was never meant to in the first place! Heart and spiritual contentment comes from more concrete and lasting treasures that are priceless, ageless, and enduring. We have the opportunity to choose these gifts, which result in gratitude and a peace that fills the empty vacuum that each one of us possess. When given a choice, I will seek peace and contentment, for personal experience tells me that theses things are way more rewarding and enduring than material possessions. Don’t get me wrong- I love nice things just like everyone else- who doesn’t?! I just don’t place my hope or main focus on earthly treasures that are fleeting and will one day be gone and ultimately won’t matter. I have learned throughout my lifetime, that it is definitely possible to be grateful , regardless of how much or little I possess. Yes, it is a conscious choice and it is NOT always an easy one to make, but is it worth it? I would say with whole-hearted conviction: 💯 ABSOLUTELY! It is from this mindful place, that an “attitude of gratitude” is possible and where my top “100 Things I Grateful For” comes from:

100 Things I Am Grateful For

1. My Christian Faith- God’s love and grace help me to endure this earthly race- the rhyming here was just incidental, lol

2. My Family- To be blessed with a good family, both immediate and extended.

3. My Friends- Life is sweeter, funnier, and more bearable with friends- I am so fortunate to have the ones I do!

4. Brian’s Extended Special Needs Family- From the moment Brian was born, Jim and I have met many incredible special families, medical and educational professionals, as well as dedicated volunteers who have supported and guided us throughout this special needs journey. I thank God daily for all of them!

5. My health- I have had some ups and downs healthwise over the years, but am so lucky to be in good health at the moment- priceless!

6. My life experiences: education, work, and travel. I had the opportunity to try different careers, as well as travel, with a good education. I look forward to future travels and other life adventures!

7. Hot coffee-a definite daily MUST!

8. Chardonnay- chilled, please!

9. Chocolate 😊👍🏻

10. Belly Laughs

11. Sunsets- NEVER sunrises, I generally sleep through those, lol

12. Hiking/walks

13. Hot showers

14. Clean clothes

15. Brian’s smiles and deep hugs 😊😊😘😘

16. Sleep, which is definitely underrated!

17. To be an American🇺🇸

18. Home-cooked food

19. Ice cream 🍦

20. Fresh air

21. Music

22. Beautiful singing voices

23. Children’s laughter

24. Solitude

25. Tears

26. Modern Medicine

27. The sound of the school bus when it arrives to take Brian to school! 🎉😊👍🏻

28. Fresh Flowers

29. Baked Bread

30. Italian Food – my favorite!

31. Campfires

32. My home

33. Scented candles

34. Prayers

35. The Beach

36. Air travel

37. My Mom’s advice ❤️❤️

38. My Dad’s guidance – even from Heaven now❤️❤️

39. Heaven- my eternal home

40. A good read

41. Jokes- all kinds, especially the practical ones! 🤣

42. Grace and Wisdom

43. A sense of humor- an elixir for whatever ails you!

44. Leftovers 😊👍🏻

45. Netflix- especially during Covid!

46. Fall Foliage

47. Dairy Queen Blizzards

48. My church community

49. Serendipity

50. Random acts of kindness

51. Peace

52. Choices

53. Freedom

54. Comedy

55. Opportunities

56. Writing as catharsis

57. Hope

58. Costco- no joke! What a store!

59. Snow on the trees

60. A roaring fireplace

61. Hair color – a necessary self-indulgence

62. Handwritten letters/cards

63. Facebook- especially for social connection during these isolating times

64. iPads, iPhones – the technology is amazing for everyone, especially the disabled!

65. The future and the possibilities it holds

66. A shoulder- both to lean and cry on

67. Cherry cheesecake

68. My 5 senses, which are definitely changing as I age, but still working! 😊👍🏻

69. My teeth – so far, I have all my original ones! 😁

70. Opportunities to share time, resources, and hope with others

71. Meaningful conversations

72. A regular routine, especially right now!

73. Brian’s joy when he accomplishes something and knows it!

74. Respite ❤️❤️❤️❤️

75. People who believe in Brian and are determined to help him learn, despite the challenges that he presents. #EternallyGrateful

76. A big slice of chocolate cake

77. Water- the ultimate life source for everything

78. Being Jim’s Wife

79. Being Brian’s Mom

80. Great neighbors

81. Reliable and fair-priced contractors

82. The ability to experience and express a range of emotions: joy, sorrow, love, anger, etc

83. Adversity that has made me stronger and a more compassionate person

84. Naps- whenever I can take one!

85. Last minute travel adventures

86. Mercy

87. Forgiveness

88. Each new day, aka, new opportunities

89. Honesty

90. Flannel sheets

91. Breakfast in bed

92. Meditation

93. A positive attitude

94. The ability to learn from my mistakes

95. Girls Nites Out! ( or mornings/afternoons)

96. I’m never to old to learn something new

97. A good cry

98. Physical exercise

99. Words of encouragement

100. Inspiration- it’s all around us!

I’m sure you can come up with your own gratitude list and would encourage you to do so! It’s not only a good exercise for the mind, but it’s also a wonderful reminder that there are always things to be grateful for, despite these uncertain times that may tell us otherwise. I pray all of us can maintain an attitude of gratitude through the trials and tribulations of life, for it is truly our best defense against despair. May you and your loved ones be blessed abundantly with the things that truly matter- Happy Early Thanksgiving! Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊