Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

Archive for June, 2011

Just Numbers in Your Head

I used to subscribe to a magazine for women of a certain age (no, it wasn’t Seventeen) but I got so tired of the monthly advice on how to prevent looking old by adopting fashion and beauty trends of younger women. This reminds me of that old cliche from childhood, “If all the other kids are jumping off the roof, would you do it too?” Only in this case, the magazine insisted that I do it in 4″ stiletto strappy sandals and false eyelashes. And that I post my status to both Facebook and LinkedIn on the way down.

The best way not to let aging get you down is to stop thinking about how old you are and get on with your life. If you let a number stop you from doing something, wearing something, or thinking something, you’re letting math win. And that’s worse than letting the terrorists win.

On Monday, I gave a presentation to the Lions Club. I showed up wearing an above-the-knees black & white polka dot skirt and orange v-neck blouse. I know Lions — they’re mostly men in their 70s, 80s and 90s and I wanted to make sure the oldest stayed awake. (Side note: I once did a presentation at a nursing home and afterward a woman came up to me and gushed, “My husband didn’t fall asleep once!” High praise indeed.)  I was the younger woman and I got a free neck massage and dozens of great laughs out of the morning.

On Wednesday, I went to a comedy show in which several of my friends were performing, including Virginia Jones from Portland. I wore jeans and a casual, yet somewhat sexy shirt. I sat with the comedians, who ranged in age from 22 to 30-something.  I was the older woman and I got lots of laughs and lots of great conversation out of the evening.

If I’d said to myself, “I’m only 50, I don’t have anything in common with 80-year old men,” I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much with the Lions. If I’d said, “I’m over 50, I shouldn’t be out at 11:30 at night on a Wednesday hanging with people half my age,” I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much at the comedy club.

I have a quote on my office wall that says, “Some people pursue happiness, others create it.” If you want to create a happy life, forget your age. Act your strappy sandal size instead.

Photo Ops

I had my first colonoscopy last week and I have the photos to prove it. If I were Anthony Weiner, I’d send one to a stranger or post it as my new profile pic on Facebook.

The most distressing part of the procedure was reading the doctor’s notes afterward. Under “General constitution,” next to 5’7″, 149 pounds, she wrote “well-nourished.” Well-nourished? I dare her to lie down in a compromising position with her backside exposed and not look a little well-nourished herself! Besides, everyone knows the camera adds 10 lbs.

To add insult to injury, when I showed up in the procedure room, I hadn’t eaten for 38 hours (you have to stop eating solid food at 10 p.m. the day before the day before a colonoscopy and survive on nothing but clear liquids; for a few hours I wondered if Vodka counted. A quick phone call to the nurse on call assured me that it did NOT). I was definitely under-nourished. When the technician handed me the backless gown, I calculated its fiber content before putting it on.

On the other hand, there were really good drugs involved. I say this as a person whose heaviest drug use involves an estrogen patch and an occasional Ibuprofen. But a friend had told me she was partially awake during her colonoscopy and, in her comforting words, “It didn’t hurt at all. It just felt like a snake crawling through my intestines.” So when the doctor said she was going to put me completely under, I nodded and drooled like a junkie knowing her next fix is right around the corner.

I remember saying, “It might take a lot of drugs to knock me out because my mind never shuts…” The next thing I know I was being awakened by the smell of pizza and garlic bread. Okay, maybe the room smelled more of rubbing alcohol and fear, but I was just so happy to be finished and given the green light to eat again that I bolted from the room in my backless gown. I figured everyone there had already seen my well-nourished backside, so why bother getting dressed. I swear I heard a pie calling my name.

Tugged in Too Many Directions


I just got back from walking four dogs: Justin and Penny, my two dachshunds; Pumpkin, my daily doggy day care visitor; and Arrow, who is here for a 10-day sleep-away camp (although I can think of no other camps where the counselors allow the campers to sleep on top of them because they miss their parents).

Walking one dog is always a pleasure. I always know who is on the other end of the leash and what he or she wants, whether it’s to sniff every shrub along the way or to get the walk over as quickly as possible. Two dogs is a little more work, but not much, especially if they’re my two because I know that whenever Penny tugs at her leash she’s trying to eat something she shouldn’t and I know that unless I keep him in check,  Justin will attempt to walk down the center of the road (as if he’s been asked to walk the line by the K-9 cops to prove his sobriety).

With one or two dogs, the walk is mostly fun, with only a little stress (usually caused when a skateboarder rolls by. My two DO NOT like skateboards. Perhaps they get it from their mother).

Three dogs at least doubles the frustrations. First because with three, I have to have two of them leashed together with only three feet of play between then. Yes, it is kind of funny to me when Penny tries to jump the curb and Pumpkin flies up in the air unexpectedly, or vice-versa, but they’re not laughing. They long for freedom, I can see it in their eyes. Either that or they long for snacks. Those are very similar looks. And with three, I’m never really sure who’s where and what they’re doing.

Four dogs is craziness. No one is happy because they’re all on short leashes. One is trying to pee while another is dragging her down the street to chase the squirrel that just darted by. Justin is starting his jog home while Arrow wants to cower under a bush because some other dog somewhere on the planet is barking. And I’m yanking everyone and asking them why they can’t just all get along.

Why am I telling you this? Well, what better analogy for taking on too many things at a time (some of you know I am talking directly to you). Sure, maybe you can handle four dogs or four children or four projects at the same time, but is it any wonder you’re always frustrated and impatient? Have you noticed that you’re not having nearly as much fun as you used to? And that you yourself aren’t any fun anymore?

Arrow goes home next week. The week after, Pumpkin will have her mom home for summer break from school. I’ll be back to the days of two dogs — more freedom, more fun, and less cursing. I think I may just have to apply the philosophy of less to more of my life … and not just this summer.