During this morning's meditation I found myself smiling for no reason. Well that's not entirely true. There was a reason - a thousand and more reasons to smile and as I smiled I felt happiness and peace.
When I was 11 years old, my cousin Billy told me that I was way too serious for an 11 year old. There was a lot I was dealing with and at the time did not have much to smile or be light hearted about. Thank God though that my physical therapist, Miss Holly, had the wisdom to read Dr. Seuss to me before every painful physical therapy session as I recovered from paralytic polio. She would have me recite The Cat in the Hat or Horton Hears a Who or any of the other wonderful tales of whimsy that Dr. Seuss wove to delight the hearts of children of all ages back to her as she coaxed my muscles and nerves back to health.
Recently, I am harnessing the power of humor to support my healing. I love clips from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that appear in my Facebook feed. The other night, Tom and I decided to watch the Tonight Show on nbc.com. I can't wait to see him with Barbara Streisand tonight. Tom and I can now encourage each other to laugh with life and to not take things too seriously. Nothing like a wonderful belly laugh to end a tense moment. We are able to tease each other and know that the teasing comes from a place of love.
It's fun to play with puns on Facebook with my friend Gail. Double entendres and quick witted fingers fly in a stream that brings smiles and groans to all.
Norman Cousins was a pioneer with being able to document the healing power of humor and laughter. Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies' capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor's genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient's talent was in mobilizing his body's own natural resources, proving what an effective healing tool the mind can be. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.
Robin Williams brought the character of Patch Adams to life. Art imitates life as Robin Williams brought love and laughter to heal and bless the lives of all those who knew him. Patch Adams knows the important role that silliness and laughter play in healing and he continues his work today on a global scale.
My cousin Billy was right. I was too serious for an 11 year old but now at 60 years old I've developed the ability to smile, to feel deep belly laughs and to not take myself too seriously. Oscar Wilde said it best:
Years ago Bernie Siegel,MD would give a talk and then his wife Bobbie would close out his talk with a string of wonderful jokes. Her parting words at each conference was, "She who laughs lasts."
Here's something that's sure to bring a smile to your face - the worst version of Let it Go from Frozen compliments of Ellen Degeneres:
"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.
I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales at Amazon to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.