Time for a laugh? You must be joking!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A while back I attended a laughter workshop, which was as strange as it sounds. Trying to force a laugh alongside sceptical colleagues produced more grimaces than grins. I now know that the opposite of funny is not ‘serious’ - but ‘gut-wrenchingly awkward’.

Still, I wouldn’t have attended at all if I wasn’t convinced that I need to laugh more. Is there any more blissful feeling than losing it in laughter? That helpless, life-affirming release of a really belting giggle - unless, as has happened to me more times than I can recall, the giggles come at an awkward time and have more than an tinge of hysteria to them. I really shouldn’t have laughed at the friend who wet her knickers when she was poised at the top of the slide, turning it into an impromptu waterfall.

I once read a quote ‘that a wasted day is one in which we haven’t laughed’, which hit home hard. I have many faults, and high on the list is a tendency to take myself and life itself far too seriously. The evidence was there right in front of me: having once signed up to receive a joke a day (alongside the other positive thoughts for the day that I mention in Have the Best Year of Your Life) I’d got into the habit of deleting the vast majority without reading them.

Me? Time for a laugh? You must be joking!


Prescription for laughter

It seems to me that one characteristic of a best year must be to laugh more. That when I write about an expanded life I also mean expanding our lungs,  to breath more deeply, slow down, and laugh loud and long whenever we get the chance.

So this week I vowed never again to simply delete those daily funnies but to take a few moments out to swallow my embarrassment,  have a laugh, and annoy the heck out of those around me who are trying to concentrate. After all, infecting them with laughter is likely to do us all more good than the more usual cough and cold infections we share.

What’s more, I’m going to do what I haven’t yet done in this blog and let you in on the joke too. Below, I’m replaying a few of the lines that had me guffawing into the serious office silence the other day. They’re taken from the notes typed up by medical secretaries. Allegedly. Do pass them on, and do repay the favour by sharing your jokes with the rest of us…

The following quotes were taken from actual medical records dictated by physicians.
1.    The patient has no previous history of suicides.
2.    Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.
3. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with
only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was
very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year..
6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to
be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life
until she got a divorce.
19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our care for physical therapy.
20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
23. Skin: somewhat pale, but present.
24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
25. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.
26. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
27. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
28. The patient was in his usual state of good health until his
airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.
29. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
30. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate
directions in early December.
31. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should
sit on the abdomen and I agree.
32. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job
as a stockbroker instead.
33. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he
was feeling better.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 03/24 at 08:54 AM
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“Do you know how fast you are going?”

Monday, March 14, 2011

I’ve always admired, even been a little in awe of, Sandra. From the first moment I met her at the Heal Your Life workshop training programme it was clear she was someone who made things happen around her. It was impossible to be anything other than energised and upbeat in her generous company and inspired by her conviction of the role she could play in supporting others in their growth.

And I was right. It’s been five years since we lined up together to collect our certificates and celebrate becoming accredited teachers of Louise Hay’s programmes. Five years in which while I’ve been slowly expanding my workshop and writing activities, Sandra’s name has constantly cropped up, sharing ideas and resources with the rest of us, sharing her skills with a growing number of those in need of healing.

But the measure of a successful teacher is, I’ve come to see, someone who is also still learning. So it was wonderful to see Sandra’s byline on an article in the latest Heal Your Life newsletter and find her confessing to having got caught up in a spiral pretty familiar to the rest of us: when the drive to make a difference and do everything well flips over into ‘speeding’ - that unconscious living that is the very opposite of mindfulness.

Below, I reprint her article, with grateful thanks to both Sandra and Heart Inspired Presentations, who’d be delighted to send you the monthly newsletter. You can subscribe here

Stop!  Look and Listen - the story of Speedy Sandra


I was recently reminded that this command, “Stop! Look and Listen” just may be one of those “rules,” that I learned as a child, of about three years old, that does still serve me.  It’s funny how the Universe reminds us of these things every now and again. 


Every time I lead a Love Yourself Heal Your Life class, the journey of change begins for the participants; as well as, myself.  This story is the perfect example.   


One of the things that I really pride myself upon is being in the moment.  Living fully present.  Being really engaged in Life.  Feeling feelings.  Being awake and aware.  Just really living Life in all its splendor.  Ah, that is so delicious.  Until, I began operating unconsciously without even realizing it.  Ugh.


Oh, the signs started pouring in.  The Universe was trying to tell me, slow down and do things more mindfully.  However, I was not awake.  You see, I was just busily and hurriedly getting things done.  Wow, was I an accomplishing maniac.  Go me!


I was getting up earlier and earlier.  I was taking on one thing after another.  I would check three things off my “to-do” list and add on four more.  To better balance my life, I resigned from a part-time job.  Then, I immediately rushed off to staff an intensive weekend.  Raced back home feeling good about my (helpful) self and raced back out the door (after checking many things off my list) to an overnight escape with my husband.  Upon return, with two luggage bags now unpacked, I put on my proverbial running shoes once again to an overnight pj party.  Goodness, look at me go! I was working out, getting things done, helping others, spending time with family and friends, and ... I was moving so fast, I was “out of my body,” so to speak.


This is when the Universe started sending me those signs. 


All of a sudden, the harmonic balancer went out in my car.  Really? Who knew a car had one.  Well, I did because my other car had this part go out on it too.  Then, I drew a card from my favorite angel deck.  The message was that I needed to balance my giving and receiving.  Interesting!


I kept on . . .


Next, I dart out the door to take a class at the gym.  This was a new addition to my calendar and I was so excited to be going.  I jumped into my car and raced off to class.  In doing so, I realized that I was headed in the wrong direction.  Of course I was.  In that moment, I was not present whatsoever.  Rather than me living my life, my life was living me.  I had become unconscious. 


Continuing on in my haze, I picked up my phone and began to record my daily voicemail message.  “Hi, you’ve reached the office of the Happy Goddess . . . what a beautiful day it is . . .”  Yep.  Beautiful, indeed.  As I hung up the phone, I LOOKed to see Officer Brown standing in the middle of the road waving me into a driveway to issue me a ticket.  And, there was no smile to greet me. 


His question to me has even greater meaning than he will ever know, “Do you know how fast you were going?”  No.  I didn’t.  All I knew was that my car was spitting and sputtering, trying to slow me down, and I was pushing through faster and faster to “get there.”


Where in the world is there?

Today, I appreciate the lesson.  When I began this recent class, I was (and still am) open to change.  As we began to look at messages discerning what works for us and what doesn’t, I now know that my lesson is to Stop! Look and listen.  Maybe this resonates with you, too?

 
Today I decide to live in the moment and to savor it ♥


Also, that I have a choice to live my life rather than it living me.  The way to do that is by choosing to take things a bit more slowly and mindfully.  To open up my eyes, ears and heart even more to live in the moment.  Yes! And so it is, as Louise says. 


©2009 - 20111, Heart Inspired Presentations, LLC.


Links
Sandra’s blogThe happy goddess blog
Heart Inspired Presentations

Posted by Jane Matthews on 03/14 at 05:08 PM
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Out of Africa, out of the ordinary

Monday, March 07, 2011

For International Women’s Day I promised to blog about a woman who inspired me.The difficulty, of course, is not getting down to writing a post but to choose just one. Those of you who are reading Have the Best Year of Your Life will already know the names of some of the many teachers and writers whose work continues to inspire my own.

But some of life’s best teachers don’t even know that’s what they are and the woman I’ve chosen to celebrate falls firmly into that category - a teacher by example rather than intention (indeed, looking back over her life it’s doubtful she would have even considered herself a success).

Long before I opened my first self-help book I had fallen deeply in love with the writing of Isak Dinesen, the Danish writer who travelled to Africa to start a coffee farm - and who is better known to most of us by her real name, Karen Blixen, her life portrayed by Meryl Streep in the film Out of Africa.

Karen Blixen’s descriptions of the African landscape and the characters who inhabit it are exquisite. Read them to be transported back to a time and place of endless space, and colour and movement, where ‘everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom’.

Woven into her storytelling of Africa are the truths she discovers about the nature of her life and its in her Letters from Africa 1914-1931 that I have often heard her speaking across almost a century to me.

Live an honest life, she urges, having discovered what that meant for her by leaving the constraints of the Danish society she grew up in to invent a new life on another continent. “The longer I live, I think that what matters most to me is truth; I do not think that anyone can be happy except in conditions that, consciously or instinctively, they have chosen as the expression of their true nature.”

See the beauty and fascination of life in all its shapes and colours, no matter how many challenges are thrown in your way, she writes. “I believe that life demands of us that we love it, not merely certain sides of it and not only one’s own ideas and ideals, but life itself in all its forms, before it will give us anything in return, and when you mention my philosophy of life, I have no other than that; I feel that the people, despite lack of talent and ability, who have this love, get so much more out of their existence…”

Her own challenges were many: illness, the death in a plane crash of the love of her life, Denys Finch Hatton, and, ultimately, the failure of her farm, leaving her ‘ruined’. Yet even then she is able to write to her brother Thomas “...you must not think that I am frightfully depressed and see everything in a tragic light. That is not at all the case; on the contrary, I think that these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one foes around worrying over are of no importance whatsoever.”


Finally, to Thomas again, congratulating him on being awarded the Victoria Cross, “there are many great and beautiful arts in the world, but the greatest of all is the art of living. Go on living beautifully!!”

I love that notion best of all. That, as her own life showed, a beautiful life doesn’t have to be a perfect or ‘successful’ or lived according to anyone else’s rules. It only has to be one in which we never lose our love for it, our trying to get it right, and our commitment to getting up and going on.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 03/07 at 04:56 PM
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