Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ode to Thanksgiving

How wonderful is it that we have a holiday dedicated exclusively to the act of giving Thanks!? A whole day dedicated to the celebration of gratitude, love, appreciation, family, and friends--how amazing is that!? Often we get caught up in the frenzied preparation of a monumental meal, or in the logistics of travelling in treacherous weather conditions to meet up with family, and we lose perspective of this opportunity--that we have an entire day set aside for counting our blessings! I have celebrated thirty-eight Thanksgivings in my life now, and certainly the feeling of gratitude is nothing new, but this is the first year in which I am feeling a staggering sense of awe at the miraculousness of this occasion. In short, I'm feeling thankful for Thanksgiving!

I made a trip to the grocery store today, not because I needed to purchase last minute ingredients for cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, but simply to take part in the hustle-and-bustle of holiday preparation and joyfully immerse myself in the human drama acted out on the stage that is the grocery store. As I walked into the store, I was immediately hit by the overwhelming significance of the occasion; here were hundreds of people busily engaged in preparing for tomorrow's meal, which for most of these people will be spent in the company of family or friends. On the surface, it appeared as though people were simply loading their carts with salad greens, sacks of potatoes, and canned pumpkin, but what was REALLY going on was nothing short of an outpouring of Love!

Yes, Thanksgiving is, in fact, a powerful expression of Love! Even if it ends up with family squabbles or if half the family ends up parked in front of the television for a football game, the whole point is that people DO make an effort to get together, to spend time with those they care about, and to prepare a bountiful meal as an expression of Thanks on this special day. It is a day of togetherness and abundance, of human connectedness and the comfort of ritual. Groceries may be purchased unconsciously, simply going through the motions of the tasks that need to be done, but the fact remains that the larger wheels are in motion, pulling people together on this day of celebration. There's something powerful that draws people together for this holiday (and others); it may be camouflaged as a sense of tradition or the appeal of Aunt Betty's famous pecan pie, but the underlying mechanism, I am certain, is that mysterious force that makes the wheels of the universe go 'round: Love.

Even the grocery store itself is a manifestation of Love! Just walk in to any supermarket and stop for a moment to take in the miraculousness, the staggering abundance of gifts from Mother Nature in the form of food. Veritable mountains of colorful produce catch our eye as we enter, yet often go unappreciated as we check items off our shopping list. But when one stops to marvel at the quantity and variety of produce and food products available to us, one can't help but be amazed by the unconditional Love that flows to us from our dear Earth, which continues to generate inconceivably huge amounts of food for us despite our unconscious abuse of her precious resources.

And from where does the Earth generate its remarkable ability to nourish us through food? All of the oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen molecules that organize as plant matter (which we, or animals, then eat) would do us no good without the warm, nourishing energy of sunlight! I am reminded of a favorite quote by the 14th-century Persian poet, Hafiz:

Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me."
Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.

That is, indeed, the epitome of unconditional Love. We're just a part of the flow of Love, the flow that originates in some mysterious source, flows through the sun, through the earth, through plants and animals, and through us as we connect with others--whether we are aware of it or not!

In the grocery store, or at mealtime, think about all of those people who have made it possible for us to have this wealth of food available to us. How is it possible that we can walk into the store and have apples from Washington, grapefruit from Texas, kiwifruit from New Zealand, turkeys from Arkansas, and boxed foods from all over the world, all right there ready for us to take home? Stop to take a look at all of the ingredients that go into a Thanksgiving meal, and read the labels to see where they originated. Wheat farmers harvested the grain that was made into bread; cranberry growers nurtured the plants that produced the berries for the cranberry sauce. Someone, somewhere, invented the machine that funnels the vast quantities of salt from the huge bins into individual salt shakers. For that matter, someone else invented the process of salt mining! Someone grew the cinnamon plant that ended up as ground cinnamon in your pie, and someone else oversaw the process of getting that ground cinnamon into a properly-labeled jar! Someone else even designed the label that is on that jar, someone else created the machine that produces the jars, and yet someone else invented the glue that affixes the label to the jar. Someone cut down the trees that made the cardboard that made the boxes that hauled the jars to the cinnamon-packaging factory, and someone else invented the technique that cleverly folds the cardboard into functional cartons!

Someone, somewhere, is working in a factory that cans green beans by the gazillion, ensuring that the cans are properly boxed in cases and loaded onto palettes, which will be moved by someone else who is driving a forklift, and then a truck driver will transport the cases of canned goods to a distribution center, and then someone else will unload the boxes and ensure that they are sent to your grocery store, and then a store clerk will take the cans out of the boxes and place them on the shelves for you to purchase. Do you have any idea how many people were involved in all of the millions of steps that made Thanksgiving (or any given meal, or any given product) possible? And then, stop to think: What if the person who cuts you off in traffic is a guy who is part of the process that makes it possible for you to buy milk on whatever day you want to buy it, or the gal who oversees the electrical power grid that ensures that we have electricity for our refrigerators, freezers, and lights?

My point is... We are all interconnected! We so easily forget this, but the economic reality alone is startling evidence that we all impact other people in some way or another, directly or indirectly, and we have created a vast web of interconnectedness. And when we are able to zoom out our perspective and SEE the web, to take notice, to cultivate awareness, there is a profound sense of compassion, connectedness, appreciation, and gratitude that emerges.

So on this Thanksgiving holiday, take a moment to dwell in the undercurrent of Love that pulls us together with others on this day. Take time to appreciate the sheer abundance of food that Mother Nature provides, and marvel at the energetic Life Force that flows through the sun, through the plants, through the food chain, and into us, giving us the ability to think, move, breathe, dance, sing, and laugh! Take a minute to recognize all of the people, known and unknown, who have contributed to the comforts in your experience, whatever they may be. Find a way to connect with those who may be or feel isolated from the flow of abundance and connectedness, and let the nourishing sense of the interconnected web flow through you and into them. Imagine yourself as a conduit for the endless wellspring of Love, and look for opportunities to practice being an expression of unconditional Love. (You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how good it feels!). And of course, take the opportunity to count your blessings (Literally! See how high you can count! It'll take more than one day to mention them all! :), to hug your loved ones, and to feel, truly and deeply feel, the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Let this be the year in which Thanksgiving becomes no longer a single day on the calendar, but a way of life; let this holiday be the spark that transforms "Thanks Giving" into "Thanks Living."

Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday and every day, and know that You Are Loved!

With endless love and appreciation for you all,

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Make it for Maggie" Fundraiser

"Very good, very good, YAY!"

These words echoed through the room as nearly thirty women gathered in the spirit of joy and love to participate in a special Laughter Yoga session as part of the fundraising event called "Make it for Maggie." The project originated as part of Maggie's Month, a philanthropy project intended to get families involved in working together on things that make a difference in the world. My good friends Tracy and Kat took this idea one step further, orchestrating an amazing community event that involved many, many families, and many, many people!

The idea was this: a couple of dozen women volunteered their time and skills to teach classes in their particular area of expertise. Kat and Tracy organized the classes in a venue which allowed for multiple classes to be ongoing simultaneously, then sold tickets to the full day's events. For $15 you could come and take as many classes as you wanted, all day! All of the proceeds went directly to Maggie for her medical treatments.

I was honored to be a part of this amazing event, and taught two classes during the day. I made my debut as a raw food instructor, demonstrating (among other things) how to lovingly massage kale leaves (yes, you read that correctly: massaging vegetables. ha ha ha!) to break down the tough cellulose fibers and create a stunningly beautiful, tender, healthy, and delicious raw kale salad! Beet and apple salad and raw energy bars rounded out the vibrantly colorful and tasty menu, and I had a fantastic time sharing my experiences with raw, living food!

My second class was, of course, a wildly fun Laughter Yoga session. More than twenty five women joined me on the stage (!) for a fun-filled hour of joyful expression through laughter.

Maggie, age four, is undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy as part of her treatment for cerebral palsy. And so one of the exercises we did was hyperbaric laughter therapy, in which we envisioned laughter molecules infusing every cell of our bodies, just as the 100% oxygen chamber infuses oxygen into the body during the pressurized treatments. Laughter molecules, indeed! Ha ha ha!

In all, the day was a remarkable success, raising enough money for several treatments for Maggie and bringing together a talented, caring, wonderful group of women for a memorable day. Tracy and Kat, you are an inspiration to us all; thank you so much for organizing this fantastic event! My world has been expanded by you and by the spunky spirit of Maggie, her mom, and their journey.

I am reminded of a quote by Leo Tolstoy: "The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity." Indeed, this is why we are here, to contribute in some way, big or small, to making a difference in the lives of others.

Laugh on, my friends!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Laughter By the Falls

Pictured here is the Snake River as it passes through downtown Idaho Falls; the falls here are THE Idaho Falls! On sunny, warm days, our laughter club meets on the Greenbelt amidst the trees pictured on the right side of the above photo. Amazingly, we had lovely warm weather today and laughed outdoors in the grass--even without jackets! Extraordinary autumn weather...what a gift!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crazy Hat Day!

This week's Laughter Club was "Crazy Hat Day", gearing up for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Idaho Laughter is ON!

Yahoo! The "Laughter By the Falls" Lunchtime Laughter Club has officially launched! There were eight of us for the inaugural session last Tuesday, and today, the second session, twenty two of us laughed together in the sunshine! (The above photo doesn't include those who had to dash back to work immediately following the session.)

While there are hundreds of laughter clubs in the U.S., and thousands of laughter clubs around the world in more than 65 countries, there was not--until last week--a laughter club in Idaho. What a joy to remedy THAT situation! Here we come!

We've been blessed with idyllic autumn weather thus far--a blessing from the laughter gods, I say, haha!--and have been soaking up the sunshine in the park along the river in downtown Idaho Falls. (The location is the southwest corner of the intersection of Memorial Drive and E Street, just where Riverside Drive turns into E Street.)

Laughter yoga incorporates laughter exercises with yoga breathing techniques, and the sky's the limit when it comes to inventing laughter exercises! Today, among other things, I took us on an imaginary field trip to celebrate fall harvest. We mentally traveled to a farm, where we smelled flowers, discovered we were allergic to those flowers (ah-ah-ah-CHOO-hahahaha!), picked apples (reaching for the top of the tree, naturally), hauled heavy pumpkins from a pumpkin patch, chased the chickens that had gotten out of the coop, and then, for the grand finale, we pretended we WERE the chickens. This last exercise had me laughing so hard I could hardly stand up. I don't know about you, but I'd venture that you haven't lived until you have been in a group of people strutting around a public park making chicken sounds and flapping your elbows like wings. HAHAHAHAHA! It was hilarity, indeed. Even now, hours later, I am rendered nearly incapable of typing as I double over with uncontrolled laughter at the memory of the scene.... { *snort* ~ *tears streaming down cheeks* ~ HAHAHA!}

My favorite activity today, though, was the "celebrity" laughter, in which we formed two lines about six feet apart, as though we were lining the red carpet. One by one, we took turns walking through the "crowd", reveling in the applause, while the rest of us cheered and whooped and clapped wildly with genuine appreciation and joy! Talk about affirming--what a feeling to be celebrated in this way, for no reason other than just being YOU! Wow! I wish I could create this kind of "laughter line" for everyone in the world; wouldn't it be amazing if EVERYONE could feel this kind of love and appreciation from everyone else?

The laughter yoga session today concluded with a marvelous laughter meditation, as pictured here:

...and then a guided relaxation, which was once again enhanced by the delicious warmth of the sun's rays on our faces as we melted into the earth.

Oh, my, what a wonderful day. Simply perfect! Come join us next week--every Tuesday at noon--for another fun-filled hour! Next week's theme: Halloween! Ho ho ha ha ha!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Press Release : Laughter Yoga comes to Idaho Falls


Laughter Yoga comes to Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls, Idaho, October 6, 2010— Laughter Yoga, an exercise and health regimen that is sweeping the world and has spread to more than 65 countries, has come to Idaho Falls! Free Laughter Yoga sessions will be held every Tuesday at noon on the Greenbelt, near the corner of Riverside and Memorial Drive.

The free sessions, open to the public, combine laughter with yoga breathing exercises for a one-hour workout session that includes 30 minutes of laughter. “Laughter truly is the best medicine,” says Anne Timpany, Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and leader of the laughter sessions. “We all know that laughing feels good, and now scientific research is revealing the full range of physical and mental health benefits that come from the practice of laughter.”

Laughter Yoga is a wellness workout that enables people to laugh as a form of exercise. “Adults often realize that they just don’t laugh as frequently as they did as children,” says Timpany. “With Laughter Yoga, we are choosing to laugh, rather than leaving laughter to chance. And what people find is that contagious laughter erupts very quickly, bringing light-hearted levity and joy to the group within minutes.”

To bring together people who want more laughter in their lives, Timpany has founded the “Laughter by the Falls” Laughter Club, in which free Laughter Yoga sessions will be held weekly. Free laughter club sessions are the heart of the Laughter Yoga movement, which originated in India in 1995 when a medical doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria, came up with the idea to start a laughter club so that people could experience the health benefits of laughter. Since then, more than ten thousand laughter clubs have been formed around the world. Laughter clubs provide a rich social network that cultivates emotional wellness and a sense of connectedness that is key for human happiness.

The “Laughter by the Falls” Laughter Club and free laughter sessions are open to everyone. “Come as you are,” says Timpany. “No yoga experience is needed. All you need to bring is a willingness to laugh and have fun. If you’re not sure, just come by and observe for a little bit—you can giggle from the sidelines if you prefer, no commitment required.”

“Laughter by the Falls” will be held every Tuesday at noon, beginning October 12, 2010. Weather permitting, the laughter sessions will be held outdoors on the Greenbelt near the corner of Riverside Drive and Memorial Drive. On inclement weather days, the group will move half a block east to the Unitarian Universalist Church on 555 E Street and meet in the lower level yoga room.

Timpany recently completed training with Dr. Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga, and will be scheduling additional Laughter Yoga classes, workshops, and programs throughout eastern Idaho this fall. For more information, call 208-351-1241 or email , or visit More information about Laughter Yoga is available at

Idaho's First Laughter Club!

I am extraordinarily pleased to announce that Idaho, at last, will have a Laughter Club! The "Laughter on the Falls" Lunchtime Laughter Club will meet on Tuesdays at Noon on the Greenbelt in Idaho Falls, beginning October 12! We'll meet near the corner of Riverside Drive and Memorial Ave for outdoor Laughter Yoga sessions--free and open to the public! The inclement weather location will be half a block away at the UU Church, 555 E Street, in the lower level yoga room.

There are more than ten thousand Laughter Clubs worldwide, in more than 65 countries. Here is the list of laughter clubs in the US; HOORAY to see Idaho on the list at last! Read more about Laughter Clubs on the Laughter Yoga website here....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Levity Project Comes to Idaho Falls!

Previously, I mentioned the Levity Project's "Grocery Store Dancing" micro-movement; now, it's coming to Idaho Falls!

Meet me at Fred Meyer grocery store on Northgate Mile on Tuesday, October 5, at 5:30 p.m. and dance with me in the aisles--just for fun! This town is in serious need of some levity, so let's get our groove on! Come one, come all, and bring your friends! The more, the merrier. (Volunteers to hold the video camera are also needed, so if you or someone you know feels like observing from a safe distance, come anyway and you can shoot the video! Thanks!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Living "Namaste"

I've been attempting to put into words the powerful effect that Laughter Yoga has had on my outlook and experience of life; here's a first shot at articulating this profound shift of awareness. (Update: this story has also been posted on the Laughter Yoga website.)

~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~

When I first heard about Laughter Yoga, I knew immediately that it was something that I must do; it resonated with every cell in my body! But at the time, I didn't know that Laughter Yoga would answer a deep question I'd been pondering, a question with life-altering effects. Last winter, I had set out to explore what it really means to live the word "Namaste." We hear it often and say it fairly casually, but as I thought about what it really meant ("the Divine in me sees the Divine in you"), I realized that I had truly experienced this deeper awareness only occasionally in flickering moments here and there, while the rest of the time it remained an intellectual concept, relegated to the mind and oft-forgotten. And so I decided that I wanted to genuinely learn what it would be to live my life as an authentic expression of "Namaste."

It wasn't until I began doing Laughter Yoga that my experience of living "Namaste" began to come alive in a big way. Laughter, as it turns out, is a natural yet powerful means of connecting with others, and laughing while intentionally making eye contact with people is profoundly transformative! By the time I finished Laughter Yoga Teacher training in Albuquerque in August, I discovered with awe and amazement that group laughter had given me the experience I had sought. Five days of playfulness, hearty laughter, and eye contact with the 40+ members of my new laughing family gave me first-hand sustained experiential knowledge of what it truly feels like to look at someone and see only their Divine nature, to celebrate their beauty and uniqueness, to elicit the best from them, and to feel the power of their creative potential waiting to be unleashed. The simple practice of laughter had pierced the illusory veil of my mind and its perception of separateness, and had opened the doorway to Oneness!

The power of daily laughter continues to sustain this new way of being in the world. Everywhere I go, I find myself laughing and looking into the eyes of everyone I encounter, and continue to be delightedly surprised to discover the eyes of the Divine looking back at me (whether or not the other person is laughing, too)! As a result of Laughter Yoga, old barriers have crumbled and my heart has exploded--unable to contain the torrential flow of love that is pouring through me and into the world--and I am forever changed. Laughter has given me the gift of an open heart--a gift that keeps on giving in infinite forms, to every person I meet!

I have no doubt that my purpose in life--the whole point of being alive--is to spread laughter and joy, and I'm so grateful that Laughter Yoga exists as a structured means for doing so. Laughter Yoga is truly a gift to humanity; to join the Laughter Yoga family and be a part of this incredible transformation of humankind is exhilarating beyond words!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gibberish and My Opera Debut

Have I told you yet about speaking gibberish? That's right, babbling nonsensical syllables. (Fibbu la dempo zee diligoo swarfles!)

Gibberish is... well, gibberish is a gateway to bliss, if you ask me! Ha ha!

However, I must admit that when I first heard about gibberish during my initial Laughter Yoga leader training, I was skeptical. The thought of babbling nonsense made me cringe, in fact! We did an exercise in which we practiced speaking gibberish, and when I opened my mouth to speak, nothing came out!

It turns out that language is typically associated with the left hemisphere of our brain, and so when we speak words, the sounds must first be generated in that part of the brain (called the "Broca's Area" of the left frontal lobe) that recalls grammar and vocabulary.

So what happens when we try to speak gibberish? We are employing the physical mechanisms of speech, using the vocal cords and mouth, but bypassing the language center of the brain. I don't know the precise physiology of the process, but I can speak from experience when I say that speaking nonsensical syllables somehow releases the grip of the left-brain on one's life, and opens up the creative, intuitive spontaneous flow of the right-brain experience! I would even go so far as to say that gibberish is a tool that can unlock a whole new perspective on life. But don't take my word for it; try it for yourself!

At first, I had difficulty creating gibberish syllables. The left brain had a fairly firm grip on my speech habits, as it does for most of us, I think. My solution was to pay closer attention to my toddler son, Cedar, who was 20 months old at the time.

"A goh dully godully goh," he said. I repeated it.

He continued. "Mek. Boo. Weh."

Got it. I was getting the hang of this. Before long, I was able to utter a few syllables, and then the flood gates opened: "A goo dully wempo la skoovitty bee!" Hey, that felt really good on the tongue!

Still, when my Laughter Yoga instructor shared that she'd had an "all-gibberish" birthday party, in which only gibberish was allowed for the entire evening, I must confess I didn't really get it. You wouldn't know what anyone was saying! What would be fun about that? I wondered.

Fast forward to Albuquerque and my week of Laughter Yoga teacher training. Gibberish prevailed! We had gibberish dialogues and group gibberish discussions and even a bit of formal instruction. Oh, this was getting fun.

There was one classmate, however, for whom gibberish seemed completely inaccessible. Working in a very left-brain dominant career by day, Joel had never been able to release the hold that the left brain had on his speech, and so no sounds came out whenever he tried to speak gibberish. I could relate!

One day during a break, I walked past him in the hall and heard that he was singing a little vocal warmup arpeggio, "Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" Always eager to sing with people, I joined in. As we got to talking about the fun of singing "ha ha ha" as a warmup for a laughter session, it occurred to me -- hey! Why not try singing gibberish syllables? Singing is a right brain activity, so perhaps that would break through the hold of the left brain...?

I started singing some gibberish and invited Joel to join. Lo and behold, it worked! Nonsense syllables began to flow from his mouth--voila! In the giddiness of this discovery, we broke into song and sang an impromptu gibberish duet. Ohh, it was fun. After a few more rounds, we decided to add our new act to the upcoming Talent Night roster.

And so it was that I had, at last, my operatic debut. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: Gibberish Opera!

Joel and I performed a glorious gibberish rendition of La donna รจ mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto. I am not kidding when I tell you that I have never had so much fun in my entire life! Gibberish opera! I've found my calling! HA HA HA HA HA!

As it turned out, we also had the privilege of attending an All-Gibberish party being held in the next room as part of the Laughter Yoga Conference. Imagine, if you can, seventy five people (many in costume) speaking only gibberish and gesticulating wildly. (I was about to write that there are no words to describe this effect, but... that's kind of the point, isn't it! HA HA HA!) It was just magical, really. When we left the room and returned to the realm of "normal" speech, I felt oddly stiff and somehow deprived. I would have much preferred to speak gibberish the whole night!

Gibberish is quite the fascinating phenomenon, I've discovered. It requires one to be so much more emotive than when we use traditional words, and so there's more intonation, facial cues, and body language through which to express oneself. In addition, it is a more spontaneous form of expression than language, in that you can't plan ahead what you are going to say! You just open your mouth and see what comes out. In this sense it anchors you firmly into the Now, the absolute present moment, and thus gibberish becomes a form of active meditation.

How to bypass the thinking mind? Speak gibberish.

How to be completely present in this moment? Speak gibberish.

How to access the depths of joy within yourself? Speak gibberish.


I might also add that gibberish has one more very practical benefit: it is a very effective telemarketer deterrent! HA HA HA!

Last month while visiting my parents, the phone rang and the caller ID indicated that it was a telemarketer. My mom groaned. I said "no problem! I'll take care of it!" I picked up the phone and answered "Kerflooga femzy? La skoo! Shaylu va bimitty jugalo vwem, sha lemti koshoo gwa mentwuffle ess toop!" And on and on and on. I am pretty sure that they won't call back. HA!

As for me, I am now in a perpetual search for opportunities to sing gibberish harmony! Shemphoo lee portemmo gla moo vwenda lim, cha logotu dimfle, la shwendula vim!

Who's in?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding Happiness

On my flight home from Minnesota yesterday, I noticed that the cocktail napkins handed out by the flight attendants were advertisements for Coca-Cola, the ad slogan being "Open Happiness."

Wait a minute, I thought. Happiness is found within a bottle of caffeinated high fructose corn syrup augmented with phosphoric acid? That is some truly slick advertising.

Upon returning home, I checked out the Coke website and found that they actually do believe this:

"Throughout its history, Coca-Cola has always tried to express a refreshingly positive view of the world," said Joe Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial leadership officer, The Coca-Cola Company. "Open Happiness builds on that heritage, recognizing that even with the difficulties and stress of modern-day life there still are opportunities, every day, to find a moment to recognize life's simple pleasures. This new campaign reminds people that Coke is always there to offer that small moment of fun and refreshment when you need it."

Well. I am sure that opening a cold Coke does bring fleeting moments of happiness to some. But what happens when your Coke bottle is empty? Or you don't have the spare change handy to buy a bottle of happiness? Or you forget to be mindful of the happiness in the bottle, and guzzle the fizzy beverage unconsciously?

And then there's the question of motive. Does Coca-Cola really have your happiness in mind, or are they just wanting to sell more Coke? Again, from their website:

The new campaign will continue to invite people to bring positivity, optimism and fun into their lives through engaging creative and an updated message. The campaign also was developed to provide a clear role for Coca-Cola, setting the stage for a rich in-store and shopper experience.

"Open Happiness is designed to work at every level -- from national advertising all the way down to coolers and store shelves, with a clear call to action at the point of purchase," continued Tripodi. "The combination of inspirational marketing and in-store execution in collaboration with our bottling partners worldwide will ensure we continue to reinvigorate the sparkling category."

Reinvigorate the sparkling category?!?!? What on earth does that mean, anyway? And does anyone actually believe that a "rich shopper experience" comes from seeing brightly-colored ad campaigns and responding to a "clear call to action at the point of purchase"?

If you are looking for a "rich in-store experience", check this out! Now THAT's what I call a shopping experience that reinvigorates your own sparkle! It really is that simple; we have the power to create our own rich experiences through the power of choice. Choose to laugh; choose to dance; choose to smile at everyone! No need to depend upon consumer products to deliver happiness; instead, we can tap in to our inner spirit of laughter and discover a source of unending joy!

I don't know how long it will take, but my vision is that one day in the future, airline cocktail napkins will continue to deliver messages about finding happiness, but rather than using carbonated soft drinks as the medium, the happiness message will be delivered via creative and playful laughter exercises! The flight attendants will be trained laughter yoga leaders, and each flight will include mirthful sessions of giggling fun! Passengers will arrive at their destination feeling refreshed and energized, and the energy flowing out of the planes upon arrival will fill the city with invigorating waves of friendly smiles!

People may dismiss this kind of vision as nonsensical or impossible, but I'm willing to bet that the Wright Brothers received that kind of response back in their day as well. A century ago, the idea of millions of people flying around the sky at 500 mph while sipping fizzy beverages would have been considered ridiculous, too!

So, we must start somewhere. I'm off to dance my way through the grocery store; who wants to join me?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Laughing on the Shore

While staying at the lodge on the north shore of Lake Superior, I did a short laughter session with family--just for the joy of it! Ahh, laughing outdoors, filling the beach with the sound of laughter... there is something very freeing about it!

Laughing daily is no longer optional, I've discovered. I have to laugh every day, or it feels like something is amiss in the world. There is no doubt that laughter has a profound, even if subtle, impact on one's physiological and mental wellbeing!

But don't take my word for it -- come laugh with me and find out for yourself!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Impromptu Laughter Session

A few days after becoming a Laughter Yoga teacher, I traveled to Minnesota to visit family and to spend a holiday weekend on the north shore of Lake Superior. I hadn't yet formally established a laughter club, but was eager to begin laughing with people right away, so I decided to round up a few people to see if we could have an impromptu laughter session. During breakfast, I went around the dining room in the lodge where we were staying and struck up conversations with people at other tables, inviting them to join me after their meal to laugh with me in the solarium.

Three people decided to join the fun, and considering I'd only invited about a dozen to begin with, I thought this was a wonderful success! Together with my mom and sister-in-law, we had a group of six people laughing and playing.

It was an interesting exercise, leading a laughter session while holding onto Cedar. He was not about to let go of mom in the midst of this obvious craziness, so I did what I could with one hand while holding him on my hip with my other.

Cedar didn't seem to be overly amused with the laughter antics; unbeknownst to me, he was apparently picking his nose during much of the session!

After awhile he was comfortable enough that I could set him down, but he didn't go far:

Nonetheless, we all had a fantastic laughter session and the three who joined us became instant friends for the weekend. This is what I enjoy most about laughter; when you've laughed with someone, you become friends for life! Now, let's laugh together!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Talent Night Hijinx

We concluded our week of Laughter Yoga Teacher Training with a costume night and a talent night show, which turned out to be the most hilarious and impressive collection of creativity I've ever been part of!

For my act, I stood on my head, danced with my legs, sang a song, and recited a limerick:

There once was a teacher named Anne,
who said "on my head shall I stand!"
She went upside-down
and looked all around,
and promptly fell onto her can!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher!

I've just finished Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher training with Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga. What an incredible week!

Of all of the awards, diplomas, and honors I've ever received, the Laughter Yoga teacher certification is the most meaningful, life-changing, and hilarious one ever. Here's a photo from "graduation":