Laughter Heals!

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What! Laugh!  Laugh Often!  Too many folks believe that there is not anything funny about life or the life they are living … especially if you are sick.  While I was going through cancer treatment I found that laughing was one of the best healing resources that I had access to.  It is during the one time in your life when you think there isn’t a darn thing to laugh about that you need to laugh the most.  Believe me when I say that humor helps to keep you from falling into the biggest danger pit … depression.  Too survive, choose to enjoy the moments of laughter.

I am beginning to believe that my new reputation is that of a crazy lady because of the humor I post on Facebook daily.  I choose to do this because I really do believe that a person needs to laugh at least once a day.  It’s my little way of helping out my friends in a small way to enjoy life.  I hope that everyone enjoys my posts and are laughing! Besides there is way too much negative and hateful stuff on Facebook that is meant to bring us down!

I love true stories that teach us lessons we need to hear.  I have a notebook full of great stories.  So here goes a good one.  Many years ago, American author Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill”. He was actually given six months to live. He could see that worry, depression and anger in his life was contributing to his ill health, and perhaps helped cause, his disease. He wondered, “If illness can be caused by negativity, can wellness be created by positivity?” He decided to make an experiment of himself. Laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew so he began to rent all the funny movies he could and read funny stories. One of his favorite TV shows was “Candid Camera.”  His pain was so great that many nights he could not sleep. Then he discovered that laughing for 10 solid minutes relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep. He fully recovered from his illness and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. He wrote a book about his experiment entitled “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing.” He fully credits laughter for his recovery.

Like Norman Cousins, I too believe that laughter and being positive just might be the reason that I’m still handing around in pretty decent health.  My own cancer diagnosis of one of the most aggressive cancers, could have definitely brought me down.  But we, as a family, chose to be positive at all stages of the game and use laughter as a coping mechanism.  I’m sure that the folks at Duke University Cancer Center thinks the Talbot Clan is a bit strange from all the laughter, singing and noises coming out of my examination rooms while we waited for the doctors!  I’m not saying that laughter cured me (because TNBC is really not curable), but it definitely has been an overall positive effect on my health.

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Too many people think that laughter is a waste of time. They say it is a luxury, a frivolity, something to indulge in only every so often. Nothing could be further from the truth. Laughter is essential to our well-being, to our aliveness, to bringing us joy. If we are not well, laughter can help us get well. If we are well, laughter helps us stay that way.   I’m not saying you should start creepily chuckling whenever life gets tough and ignore the tragedy or sadness completely (but creepy laughing is fun) — but the balance you choose can be the difference between victory and defeat … positive or negative outcomes. In times of pain and struggles, remember that humor is your friend.  Even the Savior said “that man is that he might have joy!”  Laughter does brings joy!

So my medical advice to you today using my Doctorate Degree from Google University  …  add laughter to your day!  It’s the best therapy ever and truly good for the soul. It costs nothing to laugh and it has so many benefits to your health and attitude about life. To gain these benefits, I try to make it a point to laugh each day.

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Let me share with you my favorite illustration of laughter.  I’m showing my age but do you remember the classic episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Chuckles Bites the Dust.”  In that episode, Mary and her WJM-TV coworkers attend the funeral of Chuckles the Clown.  Chuckles is a character on the station who unexpectedly dies after grand marshaling a circus parade dressed as a peanut. Mary spends most of the episode chastising her coworkers for making jokes about the situation. But during Chuckles’ funeral, Mary starts laughing and can’t stop. When the preacher delivering the eulogy sees Mary, he tells her, “Don’t try to hold it back. Laugh for Chuckles!” At that point, Mary bursts into hysterical sobbing. I believe it is one of the best TV episodes of all time for more than its humor; it points out an irony of life … when faced with stress or sadness, we can laugh and we can cry.

In the words that my granddaughter Katie would use … “Mammie (that’s what my grandchildren call me), laughter has been scientifically proven as a very powerful force. When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins and dopamine … you know: nature’s feel-good chemicals. And … We can better cope with stress, find hope, and see problems in new ways.”  I love to kid with that girl … she’s so darn smart!

My advice is to always surround yourself with happy positive people and those who also make you laugh with them, at them or at yourself. My mother used to say that if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

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Charlie Chaplin wisely observed that “A day without laughter is a day wasted!” Good Ole Charlie knew what he was talking about.  His life was punctuated with so many struggles and losses, yet he managed to be remarkably strong and made a career as a brilliant comedy actor.  I have a picture in my bedroom that reminds me of this every morning! The photo has the words “The MOST wasted of all Days is ONE without LAUGHTER!”

I am so very thankful that my Heavenly Father gave me a good sense of humor.  It has sure gotten me through so many times when life could have held me back in a deep hole.  Right before my sister passed away, she helped those of us sitting around the Hospice room with laughter so many times.  I can still hear her answer the nurse’s question of “how’s your pain?”  My sister would look at me and answer … “I don’t know … ask her … she sitting over there (as she always pointed at me)!”  Cathy was one of the biggest “happifier” that I ever met!  I love and miss her dearly! 

One of my very favorite quotes that reminds me to laugh and to seek joy in my life came from Jimmy Valvano in what I call his “Don’t Ever Give Up” speech.  Here’s the quote:  “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think! You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”  These words have always inspired me!

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A friend sent me this cartoon last week.  I thought it was so funny … and so true.  Priorities … each day make laughter  a priority too!  Each day can bring hope and joy … it’s really up to you and your attitude!  I choose to laugh often!  Just saying…

 

Lessons from Life

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In a couple of days I will be 72 years old … WOW, I am old!  At this age, I wish that I had known some of things I have learned over my life just a bit earlier.

One of my all-time favorite books is “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out into the Real World” by Maria Shriver.  When I purchased the book my immediate thoughts were … come on Maria, the real world … what would you know about the real world?  Maria grew up a Kennedy and married one of the biggest movie stars of all time! That aside, it got me thinking: What are some things I wish I would have known before going out into the real world? So, here are three of mine:Phyllis 1

  • Life isn’t fair. My mom’s favorite come-back line.  What did she know?  I remember thinking that I would grow up and show her that those who work hard and do what is right are the real winners.  Well I guess she showed me!  Life isn’t fair!  Too many times the bad guy wins.  People play favorites.  Good people die young.  Good people get really sick.  Good people get dumped on every day. Even President John F. Kennedy realized this fact of life when he said: “Life isn’t fair.  It never was and never will be!”  It’s hard to accept but we should still strive to do our best, work hard, dream big, and above all … do what is right!  Life is hard! And do it definitely isn’t fair.  That fact really hurts like hell sometimes.  But if you focus on what is within your power to change for the better, you can be happy even if it isn’t fair!.

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  • Pleasing others gets you nothing. Most of the time, people liking or disliking you has nothing to do whatsoever with sensible thought. Some people will dislike you, no matter how well you have done, and others will love you unconditionally no matter what you have done. We tip toe around life by doing things in order to please others, not because it’s what we believe in. We go through days thinking about how other people might be judging us. How are these pants going to make me look? What will my friends think if I spoke out? Are those people talking about me behind my back? Just remember that it’s better to be loved by a few people you care about than to be liked by everyone.  Forget about worrying about what other people might be thinking about you.  They aren’t concerned about you.  They are way too busy worrying about what you and other folks think of them.

Mistakes & Failures

  • Mistakes and failures are actually good. Failure is not the end of the world.  People seldom care that you fail … they have their own challenges and lives to worry about. Success in life comes from not giving up despite mistakes and failure. It comes from being persistent. Negative experiences, mistakes and failure can sometimes be even better than a success because it teaches you something totally new, something that success could never teach you. Whenever you have a negative experience ask yourself: where is the opportunity or blessing in this? One negative experience can – with time – help you create many very positive experiences. Remember that first time you tried to ride your bike … you fell off, bruised your knee and cried a bit. But you got up, brushed yourself off and got on that bike again and eventually you learned how to ride it. If you just use that same perseverance instead of giving up after you fail, you will learn and experience more success. Remember that mistakes are proof that you are at least trying!  Folks are always telling me that we learn from our mistakes.  Well if that is true … I decided that I should soon be a genius with all the mistakes I have made in life!  Mistakes are your greatest teachers!

My three lessons aren’t the positive things anyone would like to focus on, but they are true. These were lessons that I learned after getting into the real world. We need to be aware of the bad things in life and choose to stay positive through tough times.  It’s sometimes hard to do, but you be a whole bunch better with positive thoughts. That’s why I say that life is worth living no matter how expensive or painful the lessons I’ve had to learn. Life is good and I know that I can still make it better! I’m so glad that I learned these life lessons. I hope you can live and learn too!

Just saying …

One Day More

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“Let each thing you would do, say or intend be like that of a dying person.” – Marcus Aurelius

I love that quote!

My daughter Kimbo taught a lesson at church a few weeks ago entitled “One Day More.”  She posed the question: “What would you do if you only had one day to live?”  This hit home because I have been thinking a lot lately about my actions, reactions, and thoughts.  After her lesson, I asked myself if my actions are the same now that I have been given more time since my Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) diagnosis in May 2012.  TNBC is very aggressive and has a poor prognosis compared to other types of breast cancer.  A large percentage of people with TNBC have a re-occurrence within the first three years.  I just passed my six year mark of being declared NED (No evidence of disease) and my doctors at Duke consider me one of their success stories.  Yes … I have been granted more time for the second time in my life … the first was in 1964 when I had to have an emergency “Venous Cutdown” after after a surgical procedure because I was hemorrhaging and in shock!

We know death is inevitable … we just don’t know when it’s our turn.  This is one thing in life that affects each one of us … whether we are rich, poor, gay, straight, Christian, Atheist, black or white … in the end, none of us survive in this life.  If we lived everyday with this in mind, I believe it would change our actions, reactions, and thoughts. I know that every moment counts … but I still need to remind myself every once in a while that the small stuff really doesn’t matter.

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Let me ask a few questions… If you knew that it was the last time you would ever speak to your friend, relative, or neighbor, would you change the conversation? If you knew you’d be seeing them for the last time, how would you feel? How would you interact with them? Would you grumble, complain, criticize, hold grudges, have a chip on your shoulder?  Would you gossip about others? Would a big car, a nice house, a high-paying job, a cool computer, the newest iPhone, or nice clothes really matter?  I’m not saying they aren’t important … but just ask yourself if they would matter on your last day on earth.

If you were going to die tomorrow, how would that change things for you? Would you let go of the petty stuff you hold on to? Would your priorities change? Would your thoughts change?

What would matter to you? I know what would matter to me!  If I knew it was my last day to be alive (and it could be!) I would cherish every moment.  I would love my family and friends and take time to be with them.  I would live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest. I wouldn’t waste a moment worrying about things that are out of my control.  I would just appreciate the moments I have been given.  That is what I’ve tried my best to do since May 19, 2012.

When was the last time you told your family and friends that you love them, or spent quality time with them? If you are going to die tomorrow and you are given just one phone call, who would you call and what would you say? … What are you waiting for? … Go call them now! (I do not mean text them either!)

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I challenge you to live like every second is your last. Life is already too short, there is no need to waste our precious time. Live, love, appreciate, and be in the moment. Let go of all the negative thoughts, grudges, hate, gossip, and worry because after all, if it was your last day, those things would not matter. So… make time for the things that do matter. If you give your best effort to live this way, you will be happy.

This life that you have been granted by a loving Heavenly Father is a gift.  A gift to be cherished.  Enjoy it now … to the fullest.  Do what matters now! Live every day like it will be your very last! Didn’t someone make a hit song about that?

Just saying ….