I come from a 'good-hearted' but challenged family of 7 children, a creative/vaudeville-type funny dad who worked 42 years for the Bethlehem Steel Co., and a mom who left her nursing career early on - to raise 7 children. My mom, as was her father, brothers and my dad's dad and a brother - were challenged with alcohol addiction.
A dark humor comment I make is: Our last name translates to Grape Vineyard (landowners). I always say - I guess the family got used to drinking too much of the wine!
In 1967, OH THE IRONY OF IT ALL (more dark humor) my oldest (honors graduating, U.S. State Dept. office manager job) sister Dolly - returned home to attend college. She intended to become a foreign correspondent. She was hit by a repeat offender drunk driver - and she was never the same again - nor was my family. Already dealing with the dysfunctionality/challenges of my mom's frustration with life, etc - we now had a front-left-lobe, brain damaged - NEW VERSION of Dolly come back into our home after a year.
She had to learn to walk and talk all over again. We - 6 other kids and parents had to GET TO KNOW this new - 'monster' (as a child this was the only way I could describe her) who had returned to us. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SURROGATE MOTHER - BIG SISTER 'DOLLY?' As an adult, I became her Power of Attorney to fight for her rights, as she is now in a nursing home at age 64.
Ironically - this incident SOBERED my mother, who then turned to obsession with Religion, Hands on Healing and attempts at Exorcising the Demons from my sister. (Coping mechanisms are interesting things.)
So - we had to learn and adapt to all this on our own. We had no outside help. As a result of the emotional absence of my parents - I was sexually assaulted by my brothers.
It took me till age 28 to feel safe enough to pick up a phone and call Rape Crisis for help. I had just purchased my first home - quite a feat for what I had gone through! That got the ball rolling - I am VERY GRATEFUL I got into one-on-one, group and 12 Step program counseling. Never having used drugs nor alcohol - 'comfort food' had become my drug of choice.
I am grateful after years of 'clearing my head' and 'healing my heart' that at age 49 - I had an AH! HA HA HA! moment! I forgave my brother(s), my mother and now see THE GIFT OF ALL LIFE EXPRESSION! I went from a fear of insects (especially bees, etc.) and can now allow them to walk freely on me or buzz near me. I picked up a lightning bug for the first time in my life - this past Summer! I now see the MAGNIFICENCE of life!
Part of my healing was learning healthy socialization through 12 step programs. Learning to talk, write, listen, and speak up for myself. FUNNY, IRONIC that I should hear a woman talk about World Laughter Tour, Co. and Steve Wilson - which got me to be a Certified Laughter Leader! How appropriate that HIS take on Laughter in groups was centered on HEALTHY SOCIALIZATION!
It fit me like a perfect pair of shoes! I became a Certified Laughter Leader, WLT in May 2008. I officially TOOK IT ON THE ROAD through my WWW.LAFOLOT.COM business in May 2009 - after my AH! HA HA! MOMENT! I couldn't MOVE FORWARD until I forgave those I felt had abused me - and stopped HIDING and living in fear for having SPOKEN UP after the family's dark secrets.
FUNNY thing - my healing is helping the family heal. My mantra was: "I choose to feel what I need to heal; I choose to face what I need to replace." I saw that I need to EMBRACE and be GRATEFUL for ALL PARTS of my LIFE rather than trying to hide or stamp out any parts. It was MY LIFE! It had made me into the strong, empowered woman I had become!
Now - to make a long story short - I call myself an OUTLOOK SHIFT ENGINEER! Through Positive Outlook Shifts and Laughter Wellness talks - I help others to MAKE THEIR LIVES A LITTLE BRIGHTER AND HEALTHIER!
I do it with mirth, merriment and FUN, SILLY tools I've created, like: DRIVE YOURSELF HAPPY! and TIME 2 LAUGH! as well as my HA HA HELEN SMILE CAMPAIGN to get people healthy using Healthy Trigger Tools while they are out and about! In the process, they brighten themselves and others one tool at a time!
My motto is LIVE LIFE! LAUGH OFTEN!
My colors - IRONICALLY - for my bumper display are YELLOW background with BLACK lettering! The colors of a BEE!
I use my HELENOFLAFOLOT You Tube channel to create humorist characters to motivate, inspire, uplift and get people to have OUTLOOK SHIFTS!
I wrote a book about stereotypes, bias and prejudice and how to MAKE LIFE A SONG! Appreciate Life in ALL its forms of expression! It is called: 'Life is a Song in the Key of Love or Growing Up With the Embarrassment of Prejudice".
I make fun, yet inspiring T-SHIRTS to help spread my message! I even had my church's Reverend buy my: FLASH! ...someone a SMILE! t-shirt! Gotta have a sense of humor to be a minister!
So! One smile, one laugh, one Outlook Shift at a time - I tell people: I TEACH WHAT I NEED TO LEARN; I SHARE BECAUSE I CARE!
I left my State Government job of 28 1/2 years to 'get out of the work cubicle' and 1) help my brain damaged sister get settled in a nursing home, and become her power of attorney; and 2) start to use my Healed, Healthy, self to help others through Motivational Speaking and Laughter Wellness.
I took on two part-time jobs as a cashier and greeting card maintenance/order person to supplement my early retirement income while I SHIFT gears and downsize, to build my business.
I make MUCH USE of the VERY GOOD! VERY GOOD! YEAH! cheer to uplift others, let others know how great they are JUST FOR BEING who they are! I give out CHEERING FLAGS and STRESS RELIEVER pinwheels in my "Laughter? Let's Get Serious!" programs as Self-Esteem and Stress Release tools. The flags are to cheer themselves and others on! The pinwheels are referred to as: Adult, Professional, Stress-reliever Tools - to be used to take a deeeep breath - hold - and blow out slowly - getting the thrill of letting out the inner-child and watching the colorful pinwheel spin! *smile!
When I am out and about on a daily basis or at my part-time jobs, I openly speak to people, smile, and share cheers! I DRIVE MYSELF and others HAPPY by putting on my clown nose ( I keep it in my car) - when I'm at traffic stop lights. I turn to the left or right, and smile with the nose on. It AWAKES the other drivers and LIGHTENS them up as well as myself. Sometimes I get to see a smiling kid in the vehicles childseat - while the parent roles down the window for them to wave at me.
One smile, one cheer, one laugh at a time - getting people to see life from a PHresh perspective. That's me!
I hand out yellow bookmarks instead of business cards, that contain a carricature of Ha Ha Helen, a note on the back about my SMILE CAMPAIGN and earning points, as well as a positive statement on the front of the bookmark - such as: GIVE A SMILE! GET A SMILE!
I am know for wearing metallic, tinsel-horned, deely-bobber headbands - which when seen - automatically get folks to smile or laugh! You can see this in my photo I attached. I do many laughter programs for non-profit groups as well as corporate programs.
Thanks for taking time to 'read my story'. I deeply appreciate your cause.