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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Spring Sings

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year.  All those beautiful flowers blooming, baby everythings everywhere you look (finally got some GORGEOUS broods of cygnets at the local lake – I just want to squeeze them!), blue skies and glorious sunshine (well, some of the time anyway…so far we’ve had a pretty cold and wet Spring).  I love how the evenings change – there’s that particular feeling in the air.  The feeling of change and of warmth coming.  The days are longer and the mornings brighter.

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My garden, such as it is, also changes with the coming of Spring.  The majority of my plants are in pots – I just haven’t had the money or energy to create a proper garden yet.  I mostly have weeds.  Lots of weeds.  I’m a bit ashamed of them, to be honest.  My neighbour’s gardens are all pristine, well-manicured and tidy.  Mine is the feral one.  I try not to look at it.  My back has been playing up such a lot lately that I daren’t do any weeding or any activity that requires much bending in the garden.  So, weeds it is.

This weekend I was surprised to find this glorious bloom in my courtyard.  An Apostle’s Iris.  So pretty!  I got this plant about 18 months ago at a Quiz Night and had no idea what it was.  I figured it was probably an iris of some kinds, but I wasn’t sure.  I have neglected it totally and haven’t even repotted it into a decent sized pot.  Then, yesterday morning, this beautiful flower appeared.  The plant also has a baby that has taken root in another pot, so I’ll have two plants soon.  Yay!

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My pelargoniums are always cooperative and do very well, even with my slack gardening efforts.  I have had this one for a few years and the flowers are just gorgeous.  So bright and cheerful, and long-lasting.  I’ve taken lots of cuttings over the years and so the original plant is now growing in lots of different pots and other people’s gardens!

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I often go for a little walk during my lunch break and the bushland nearby has lots of pretty natives (and a few non-native interlopers) blooming.  I love the bright and cheery wattle – I don’t suffer from hay fever like so many other people – and the colour is always so lovely against the greens and browns of the bush.

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I believe this lovely purple climber is called “Happy Wanderer”.  It’s from the pea family, so it creates its own food by bringing nitrogen to the soil.  It’s so pretty.

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This bright pink beauty is a type of wild geranium.  It grows pretty prolifically and is common around coastal areas as it is very hardy and doesn’t mind a bit of salt air.

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And then we have good old freesias.  I LOVE the smell of them.  I pick lots and lots in Spring time and have them in the library.  Their scent is so gorgeous and fresh.  They are not a native, and in some states are considered a pest.  So I can pick as many as I like 🙂  I even had them in my wedding bouquet, a million years ago.  They make me happy.

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The best thing about Spring, besides the flowers and baby critters, is the promise of Summer.  THAT is my favourite season.  The heat, the sunshine, the balmy nights (that everyone else complains about but I love because it’s warm, warm, warm) and the blue skies.  But, Spring is a pretty close second.  It’s Mother Nature’s party time, her extended prom night, her chance to show off a bit.

Do you have a favourite season?  Does spring bring you joy or does it spell runny-nosed-sneezy-wheezy hay fever hell for you?

Either way, hope you’ve got some spring in your step today (or some Autumn Attitude for our Northern Hemisphere pals!) 🙂