Many times I found myself alone and crying. My best companion was my dog, Perky. He listened to me, showed compassion and empathy, without judging me. Though I was insecure, fortunately I was also unbelievably resilient.
So many times were told when were young,
Be quiet, stop talking, this isnt the time or place to laugh.
So when is?
One day while visiting friends of my parents, I came running to my dad crying that their children were ignoring me. BOO HOO!
He sat me down and told me that if I could make them laugh, they would want to play with me. Everyone loves to laugh.
It turned out that I was a natural laughter catalyst.
All I needed was permission to laugh, my fathers encouragement and my mothers strength.
Laughter was my way of releasing the everyday hurts, of being victimized while growing up.
(You remember how tough it was to fit in.)
I learned very young if I wanted to feel better all I had to do was laugh. No use crying over spilt milk.
You've heard the expressions, Laughter is the best medicine, or laugh it off, well even when I was young I knew how important it was to let go.
I never forgot those expressions and lived by them through the tough times and the good ones. So instead of crying, I laughed and regained my perspective on life in a very positive way.
In 2002 I started my journey to becoming a Holistic Practitioner delivering through spiritual guidance, Hands on Healing encompassing Reiki, CranioSacral Therapy and Touch for Health.
I was aware that I needed another technique to add to my personal healing tool box, but was not sure what that might be until 2010.
I started working at a SRH Health foods where Ive gained enormous knowledge of natural food supplements. I started a daily regime of supplementation to better my chances of a healthier lifestyle and to help others do the same thing.
It was at the same time I heard about Laughter Yoga, and started attending weekly sessions for the fun of it. There, I realized again how laughter could release pain, stress, frustration and loneliness. My missing tool had been found!
Laughter Yoga gave me the opportunity to be silly, be ego-free, tap into my child-like spirit, to be around others who love to laugh and to share this unique concept with those who had forgotten how to laugh.
In March, 2010 I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, accredited by Dr. Madan Katarias School of Laughter Yoga. In the past two years I founded and continue to facilitate Hamilton Grooves with Laughter Yoga, the Pied Piper of Laugh-a-Lot Program for school age children and Living Healthier Lifestyle Seminars through Laughter Yoga to profit and not for profit organizations.
I volunteer my time to run and lead Laughter sessions every second and fourth Tuesday night. I lead my classes outside at Sam Lawrence Park in Hamilton, Ontario while the weather is nice and when the temperature starts to drop, we continue to meet outdoors on Sunday afternoons, upon request. I feel a great need to be out in nature as much as possible. I love to make snow angels, throw snowballs, drink hot chocolate and catch snowflakes on my tongue.
Club members can tap into their child-like playfulness, exercise their imagination, release stress, boost their immune system, feel part of a positive community and dump depression, .
Debi, after a 10 week program at a seniors recreation centre is quoted as saying,
"I started doing Laughter Yoga a few months ago. I have multiple sclerosis and have limited mobility and this is one form of exercise that I can do. MS is an autoimmune disease that can lead to damage in virtually any part of the body. Your immune system attacks itself and leaves damage to the myelin sheath (cover over nerves) which short circuits the messages coming from the brain and spinal cord. I have trouble walking and using my right hand and get fatigued very easily. After a few classes of Laughter Yoga I found that I was able to sit up and get out of bed with ease compared to struggling beforehand.
I have also regained the feeling in my foot which has been numb for 6 yrs. I read that training your brain to be happy can create new neural pathways and now I believe it. Kathryn is amazing and has the most infectious laugh. I look forward to more laughter classes."
I have met many wonderful people who are motivating, encouraging, supportive, inspiring and happy. I love tapping into my happy inner child on a daily basis because miracles start to happen.
Dreams come true.
In November 2011, I introduced Laughter Yoga on the MSC Poesia cruise ship. In Key West, Florida I helped thousands of people laugh for no reason. (Well, I did have this corny chicken hat on my head in 90 degree weather.)
I had a huge desire to take the Certified Laughter Yoga teacher training so I could certify others to do what I do.
My dream of taking the teacher training with Laura Gentry, an ordained minister in Iowa, came true in October 2012 at the Assisi Heights Spirituality Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Laura has established a rewarding and fun-filled, part-time career in Laughter Yoga. As a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, my first Laughter Yoga Leader training was on June 29 and 30, 2013 and is ongoing every 2 months.
I've always encouraged people to laugh, be happier, but on a smaller scale. Now Im able to motivate, inspire and transform thousands of people, young and old, through my Laughter Yoga classes and seminars in both Canada and the USA.
I did a first session at a retirement home last week and the only man among all females had tears in his eyes while he was laughing. They all appeared to be having the time of their lives interacting with one another, laughing and having fun. At one point during the hour class they had the giggles so hard they were all red faced and teary eyed. It was wonderful watching them tap into their sillies, let go and have fun.
I was touched so deeply my heart was bursting. When the recreational therapist asked if they wanted a repeat class they all cheered. I took that for a yes.
I love my job and I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunities to laugh with so many incredible people!
Helping people to bring more laughter and joy into their everyday lives so they can live a healthier lifestyle has become my joy, my passion, my love.
Since I became a certified leader I have facilitated Laughter Yoga presentations in the Hamilton area as well as the greater Toronto area, the Haldimand-Norfolk District, the Niagara Peninsula and northern Ontario. I have led hundreds of innovative confidence-building, health and wellness events, career transition seminars for the corporate world, retirement homes, Gildas Club in Toronto, financial institutions, recreation centres, church functions, Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club and Community Living. Working with special needs is a passion that started sixteen years ago when I was an Educational Assistant for the Board of Education.
I feel I have been guided by a force greater than I, having being blessed in presenting to Alzheimers and Dystonia support groups, the Huntington Society of Canada, brain injury/cancer clinics, retreats, hospitals, hospices, women auxiliary groups and outside events at City Hall
A goal of mine within the school systems across Canada is to help eliminate bullying and to decrease stress, anxiety, burn outs and depression in colleges and universities.
A wonderful example of the power of laughter is Judy Mendleson, a grade 1 teacher, for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. She brought Laughter Yoga into her classroom and she discovered that laughter is a great building block to building confidence, compassion, team building skills and a great learning curve tool.
After my first laughter yoga session with Kathryn Kimmins I was so inspired and felt so much lighter and happier, I decided to try one of the laughter yoga exercises with my grade one students. I wanted to see if it made any difference to their concentration level and the mood of the room.
We were sitting in a circle when I asked one of my shy students a simple addition question. After the student answered correctly, I promptly replied fabulous, fabulous, great! The reaction I got was unexpected. Most of the students repeated the phrase, with great big smiles and the student who answered the addition question was beaming from ear to ear with the biggest smile on his face that I had ever seen. The whole atmosphere of the room changed and every single student sat on the carpet with one hand in the air waiting to answer my next addition question.
Since that experience, when I want to increase the positivity in the room or give a particular child an added boost to his/her confidence, I will use the phrase fabulous, fabulous, great! Its so popular now, that many of the children will initiate it themselves.
Dreams become more frequent when you are living the life you are meant to live.
In the Hamilton, ON, area, I have appeared on CTS Network television, CHCH, Hamilton Community News and Cable 14 News Hamilton where they interviewed me about the concept of Laughter Yoga and asked fellow laughers about the benefits they have been receiving. I even traveled to Oshawa to be a special guest on Rogers TV, Easter Monday, 2013.
Courtney Corbeil from McMasters radio station CFMU FM 93.3 invited me twice to be a guest speaker on her show talking about Laughter Yoga and its many benefits. I did an hour CBC radio show with Nina Hilger and Dzintars Cers along with Jill Robinson from Blog Talk Radio.
Beautiful things happen at community laughter clubs.
Friendships are made, problems are solved, attitudes are softened, and your creative juices start to flow.
Writing wasnt something I ever thought about doing, UNTIL .. Laughter Yoga came waltzing into my life.
Ive had introductory articles about Laughter Yoga published in ten different health magazines. My latest article, Heal Your Body and Mind with Laughter, in a Natural Facts magazine, published in Quebec traveled across Canada to Alberta. Within days of being in print I have been asked to fly out to do Certified Laughter Yoga leader trainings.
People are really starting to get that Laughter is the Best Medicine.
There are so many benefits to laughing and I plan to submit as many articles as there are magazines.
We all have our stories to share so people can relate to us at the heart level. When you show up, and pay attention to your audience, music happens.
Four virtues in which I live by are respect, sincerity, gentleness and supportiveness. This works well for me in being authentic.
Another dream of mine was to be on stage. I fantasized many standing ovations.
I had no idea what that might look like. I just knew from the bottom of my heart that this was what I desired. Acknowledgement is a very powerful motivator when you were growing up thinking you werent worthy.
2013 was a year to remember. I had the opportunity to spend a month spreading my wings in my first play called Green Being Green written by Peter Ormond for the Hamilton Fringe Festival. My part was Love and Laughter. How fitting! It was a combination of seven days and evenings. I was front and centre for five minutes each time while I was performing on stage.
I met many wonderful and inspiring people from this amazing experience.
Friends forever were made in the celebration of this play.
There are so many possibilities when you are empowered with laughter.
I am determined to follow Dr. Katarias example to bring Laughter Yoga sessions to those in detention centres and prisons
I love inspiring others. I love presenting, meeting new people, making people laugh and traveling. For anyone that has seen me speak or coach, they can quickly ascertain that this is my passion. I am one with an audience, humble, confident, entertaining, engaging, and determined to get people to tap into their inner child. This is what I was meant to do. This is so natural for me.
When you discover your passion there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
Live from your heart, love from your heart and laugh from your heart.
I encourage you to focus on YOU! Its your time to concentrate on you and what it is that you want most. A great way to start is to get focused, centered and be aware of what inspires you. Take some time now and uncover and ignite the genius inside you. Only you can get in your way. Everyone, including the universe, is standing by to answer your call and get on your band wagon. You are the conductor and the only one that can uncover your unique ability so it starts and ends with you.
My mission is to create laughter everywhere I go, every day, with everyone, beginning with the young to those who are young at heart in all walks of life. My goal is to create a world where people come together in harmony and peace, creating a lifetime of happiness and health for one and for all. My purpose is to lead by example so I can laugh forever in the minds of others. When you need to smile, laugh and even cry, all cathartic experiences, chek out my favourite you tube video, Validation. It will make you feel all good inside.
Now for my next dream, swimming with the dolphins, skydiving in Fiji and traveling the world laughing.