How To Have Hemorrhoids, I Mean Humor

 

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Cats and children have a way of making me laugh out loud. But when I don’t have cats or children around, I rely on my family and friends to offer lighthearted moments. But too many times they have life struggles, or daily mundane tasks, that keep them from feeling humorous. So we don’t laugh. We zero in on our troubles.

With all the articles and studies telling us that humor and laughter helps improve psychological and physical health, I think more humor in our life would be a good thing. But it’s not easy laughing when you feel bogged down with have-to’s, must-do’s, to-do’s, and most importantly, hair-do’s. Bad hair days aside, I don’t see the humor very often in my everyday life.

For example. It’s hard to laugh while applying for a home equity loan unless you find humor in the myriad of people you talk to on the phone who tell you their particular responsibilities don’t handle your banking needs. “Oh, that’s not my department, you want Mr. Fisker, just a moment while I transfer you.” The line disconnects and you hear a dial tone. You call back (being the persistent person you are). More transfers and finally you’re put through to Mr. Fisker’s line. You sit on hold for twenty minutes, then suddenly Mr. Fisker’s pre-recorded voicemail greeting bursts on the line, announcing he can’t take your call. He’s on another line or stepped away from his office. You know very well he’s munching a donut, guzzling the iced coconut mocha macchiato he bought on his break and way too involved in Candy Crush to answer. Some might laugh at the waste of time companies put us through. I could laugh it off too. I don’t. I prefer to slam the phone down very hard so Jerry knows I’m upset. I say to Jerry, “I can’t believe the headache I have! Jerry, you have no idea how much pain the bank has just put me through. I’m going to bed.”

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Sometimes I find humor when I’m not looking for it. Like today. I typed “how to have…” in Google’s search box and before I could finish typing the word “humor,” Google thought it would impress me and finish the sentence for me. It flashed “how to have hemorrhoids removed.” Google! You read my mind. Of course! Yes! Not humor, but hemorrhoids. That’s exactly what I was going to type. How perceptive.

If someone says to me, “I’ve got a joke, it’s so funny,” – I immediately think, “I’ll be the judge of that,” and then I never laugh at the joke because my expectations are too high. Tell me a joke that’s not funny and then I’ll want, and even try, to laugh.

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It’s hard to define what’s funny. Author George Orwell wrote, “A thing is funny when−in some way that is not actually offensive or frightening−it upsets the established order.” In other words, people find things funny that surprise them and forces them to think of things in a new way.

Some books claim to be funny and really are. Ellen DeGeneres wrote, My Point…And I Do have One. I read it a long time ago, so I can’t be clear on the specifics. In one chapter she hopes for a quarter inch more space in her airline seat and during that same flight she tells a nun she’s going to hit her. I don’t remember why or what the nun did. But I remember laughing out loud and that’s what’s important.

I laugh whenever I read a book by Anne Lamott. She says what’s on her mind and she can be serious and insightful as well as funny.  I don’t think she threatens nuns, however.

As a kid, I laughed at every I Love Lucy episode. Who doesn’t think a loaf of bread the size of a canoe jutting headlong from the oven and into the wall isn’t funny?

Apparently Jerry. “I never liked Lucy,” he says, “she’s like the Three Stooges and she’s just silly and not funny.”

“Uh, no Jerry, Lucy is not like the Three Stooges. She doesn’t grunt ‘yut, yut,’ and then boink someone on the head with her fist. She has comedic talent.”

lucy nose on fire

A few days after I defended Lucy, I watched a TV documentary on her life and was surprised to learn she wasn’t funny in her real life. She needed the writer’s words to become Lucy Ricardo. For some reason, that disturbed me.

Even so, Lucy did a lot of good with her writer-directed antics, like lighting her putty nose on fire or wrestling in a vat of grapes. Norman Cousins wrote a book in 1979 titled Anatomy of an Illness describing how watching comedic movies helped him recover from a serious and painful illness.

Hospitals and Cancer Centers offer laughter therapy programs based on studies that reveal laughter helps reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones, and boost the immune system.

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Here are some suggestions on how to have hemorrhoids. I mean humor.

1.      Learn to laugh at yourself. When you accidentally fall flat on your face, sprawled out on the floor looking like a turkey about to be stuffed, laugh at yourself. Ha, ha, I’m down here looking for my contact lens. Or I wanted a better look at the design on this floor. Or be honest, “Hey, people, the cooking wine causes me to be a little tipsy!”

2.      Actively look for a laugh every day. It’s the UPS guy at the door and he rings your doorbell and hurries back to his truck. You open the door and wave to him as he speeds off. What’s funny about that? Nothing. So look somewhere else for your laugh. Your good friend Phyllis sent you an e-mail and stated the event you wanted to attend will soon be posted on a website. She writes, “Keep your eyes peeled, but not like onions or carrots.” Now that’s funny.

3.      Learn a variety of jokes. Practice these semi-humorous starter jokes. You’ll want to start out slow and work your way up to the really hilarious jokes (to be learned at a later date.)

Starter joke 1.

Wife: “I look fat. Can you give me a compliment?”

Husband: “You have perfect eyesight.”

Starter joke 2.

A man telephoned the airlines and asked, “How long does it take to fly to Boston?”

The clerk said, “…just a minute…”

“Thank you,” the man said and hung up.

 

Doesn't this look fun?

Doesn’t this look fun? This lady just tried calling her bank and was kept on hold for two hours. Jump it off!

4. Get a bouncy house. Now I’ve never had a bouncy house, but I know if I had one I would laugh, guaranteed. If the bank put me through misery by transferring my calls to a hundred people and then placed me on hold, I would hang up and go outside and jump in my bouncy house. Why isn’t it mandatory that we all have a bouncy house in our backyard? I know it would help me handle life better.

 

 

♥♥♥βω

“Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one’s fellow human beings.” – Maya Angelou

 

 

 

I Choose This, No That, No, Maybe This One?

 

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered “Such-and-Such” meal at a restaurant and regretted it once the dish is served. The regret occurs when I glance at the dish my dinner companion ordered. It looks so much tastier than mine. Things get even worse for me if the dinner companion expresses sheer joy at every bite. “Ooooh,” and “ahhhhhhh,” the person says with eyes closed and a blissful smile.  My “Such-and-Such” dish tastes “so-so” and so I don’t appreciate hearing of the deliciousness I’m missing out on. (Hint to future dinner companions.)

We often have to live with our decisions and I wouldn’t mind this at all if I always made the right one. But living with the wrong decision means living with regret. I hate regret.

I have some decisions to make that will affect Jerry and me. It’s hard to know which way to go, so I put it off.

Jerry said, “Bronwyn, write down the pros and cons of each choice. When you see it in writing, you’ll know what to do.”

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I followed Jerry’s advice and it turned out I had just about as many pros as cons for each.  I loved the pros and hated the cons and didn’t feel any closer to a choice.

I’d like for Jerry to make the decision, but he says, “This is your decision. You’re on your own.” He knows if he decides for me, I might (perhaps, maybe) say, “What a bad decision you made, Jerry,” when things don’t work out.

In the past when I’ve struggled with a decision, I’ve imagined I’m giving advice to someone who has the same decision to make. For some reason—I don’t know why—I’m better at helping imaginary people make decisions than helping myself. I admit, I hate it when the imaginary person argues with me and tells me why my suggested choice is a loser.

I’ve stopped talking to imaginary people. They don’t listen.

Dr. Phil says, “Sometimes you have to make the right decision, and sometimes you have to make the decision right.”

How does one make a bad decision right? Say you make the decision to sell everything you own, move to Alaska and open a dog-sledding excursion business. Once there, you realize you don’t like the shivering, teeth-chattering feeling as you holler “mush” in slushy snow. The dogs eat more dog food than you planned in your budget and the customers complain of bumpy, downhill rides and demand a refund.

How do you make it right if you’re too broke to relocate to Hawaii?

This man regrets his decision to move to Alaska and open a dog-sledding excursion business. The dogs also regret his decision.

This man regrets his decision to move to Alaska and open a dog-sledding excursion business. 

I came across an article by Dr. Phil in which he suggests the majority of decisions people make are based on fear rather than desire. He offers the example of choosing “Mr. Right Now” for fear of never finding “Mr. Right.”

“Your self-worth is not a matter of wins versus losses,” he writes.[i] “It’s an inherent God-given quality, so don’t catastrophize the consequences of your decisions.” He sums up, “You’ll never get ahead by playing it safe.”

I have faced a lot of fears in the past ten years and those particular fears no longer control me. But fears will hide in other areas of your life that you never considered. And when fears take control, they make you live a boring life.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on living a boring life held hostage by fear.

And I think that sounds like a decision.

boring life

[i] Dr. Phil, “Dr. Phil: The Four Letter Word That Can Ruin Your Life.” The Huffington Post 11/11/2013

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Kohl's Ranch Lodge

We Don’t Have Wild Parties (Often)

 

You would definitely want to ask these party-goers for a damage deposit. I hope the cat with the lampshade on his head has a designated driver.

You would definitely want to ask these party-goers for a damage deposit. I hope the cat with the lampshade on his head has a designated driver. (Or is that a flower pot?)

“I’ve added a $100 deposit to your bill. It will be returned to you when you check out, provided there isn’t any damage to your room,” says the front desk clerk at the Kohl’s Ranch Lodge in Payson, Arizona.

I reply in a kidding way, “We don’t have any wild parties planned. However, we are celebrating our wedding anniversary. Even so, we’ll probably not damage the room.”

The clerk, a woman in her twenties, smirks as if to say, “We’ll see how well you behave after we check your room upon departure.”

After checking in at the front desk, Jerry and I haul our luggage to room 135. We had thought we would stay in a cabin. Turns out, it’s a cabin-like room inside a log lodge.  The room comes with the amenities of most hotel rooms; packets of coffee, tiny shampoo and soaps, and a small bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid in the mini-kitchen. Jerry says, “Don’t touch any of it. The staff might use it against us to keep our deposit.”

We decide to spend the afternoon hiking along the creek in the Tonto National Forest that surrounds the lodge. “I’m not in the mood to hike,” Jerry says. “It’s too hot.”

“We’ll walk along the trail by the creek and not hike,” I tell Jerry. To this suggestion, he agrees.

The mountains in Arizona enjoy a cooler climate than the Phoenix area. When we left our home in the desert, the temperature soared to 111-degrees.  The 90-plus temperature we now experience in the mountains is certainly a nice reprieve but still not ideal for hiking.

Before leaving for our “walk”  to the creek, Jerry glances out the back window and says, “Wow, did you see the lightening?”

Thunder suddenly detonates so loudly it shakes the log furniture in our room.

More lightening lights up the sky, and rain comes down with a fury. Then, as if to punish us further, it hails. Jerry and I watch marble-sized balls of ice slam into the lawn and leapfrog over one another. Hail pummels the Adirondack chairs on our deck. So much for us lounging outside on the deck, unless we want a painful massage of ice balls.

BUH-BOOM! More thunder, and rain puddles grow into mini-lakes in a matter of minutes.

“I love this rain,” Jerry says. “It’s so much cooler now.”

This is our view from our room. Maybe we won't go hiking on the trail.

This is our view from our room. Maybe we won’t go hiking on the trail.

We relax indoors while viewing the merciless rain saturate the world outside. I laugh and say to Jerry, “We had rain almost every day when we lived in Washington. We weren’t fascinated then. Now we’re sitting here watching it in amazement like it’s a show.”

With our plans derailed, we head for the Zane Grey Steakhouse and Saloon, a restaurant inside the lodge adorned in old rifles from cowboy days and western-themed stained glass windows. The window at our booth depicts cowboys playing (or cheating) in a game of Poker.

The window at our table, We think the woman is helping the cowboy to cheat.

The window at our table. We think the woman is helping the cowboy to cheat.

Sean, our waiter, wishes us a “happy anniversary” after we tell him we’re celebrating. Sean tells us he moved to Payson four months ago and plans to marry his fiancé on Halloween.

When Sean brings us the bill, he says he’ll see us again at breakfast as he works the morning shift too. I decide to tip extra well so he’s not irritated with us at breakfast and decides to slip hot sauce in our coffee.

Sean, our waiter, regaled us with his amusing and interesting personality. He was one of the highlights of our trip.

Sean, our waiter, regaled us with his amusing and interesting personality. He was one of the highlights of our trip.

After dinner, we decide to go on our walk by the creek since it stopped raining and we still have some daylight. Our shoes squish and gush in red, oozing mud as we head toward the trail leading to the creek. We come to a fenced area where the trail abruptly ends keeping us from going any further.

“I can hear the creek,” Jerry says.

“It appears we’re not going to see it, so we might as well enjoy listening to it,” I say.  With the pine-scented forest getting darker as the sun sets, we head back to the lodge.

This is the creek we didn't get to see, only hear from afar.

This is the creek we didn’t get to see, only hear from afar.

“Let’s get in the Jacuzzi,” I say. Jerry agrees. We pass by the Jacuzzi all lit up in an inviting neon blue. Wisps of steam rise from the frothing water like smoke signals telling us, “Come in. It’s so nice here.”

“Look!” Jerry says and points to a sign announcing the pool area is closed due to safety concerns.

My imagined vision of strolling in the woods beside a babbling creek while listening to the birds sing vanished when we couldn’t find the trail. Now my hope of relaxing in frothing warm water under the starry night sky has vanished as well.

The quote “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” comes to mind.

God laugh

The next day Jerry and I stop at the antique shops in town. One is closed with the sign reading: “Open some Fridays.” We tour a replica of Zane Grey’s cabin (the real one burned to the ground). The tour guide talks about the life of the famed author of Western novels with such suspense and detail, Jerry and I find ourselves sudden Zane Grey fans. Jerry stops at the gift shop and buys one of Grey’s books for five bucks.

Although the tour of Zane Grey’s cabin turned out to be a wonderful surprise, I still felt committed to not returning for any future anniversaries. “Next year Jerry, we’re celebrating our wedding anniversary at The Phoenician in Scottsdale or somewhere in Hawaii,” I say. Of course, these two locations also have rain, so I don’t know what I’m thinking other than more luxury and less cabin.

Jerry says, “I liked coming here. We had a change of scenery. We went from scrubby desert to green trees. We had a change in temperature. We had something new to explore. Plus, I know a lot more history of the area.”

“I guess it wouldn’t be an adventure if everything were predictable,” I say.

Life

When we check out at the Lodge, I ask the young man at the front desk, “Do you want to check our room to make sure it isn’t damaged so we can have our $100 deposit returned?”

He says, “Oh, that $100 deposit is just to make your visit easier in the event you want to charge your meals to your room. I took it off. It’s gone.”

As we roll our luggage out the door, the sun shines a blissful 84-degrees. A family laughs and splashes in the swimming pool’s clear, blue water glinting in the morning light. They’ll probably hike down to the creek later, rest on a rock and listen to the birds sing.

I’m learning, though, that the best moments in life are often the ones unplanned…that is, if we let go of our expectations. And that’s the hard part.

 

Going home. Good-bye Payson.

Going home. Good-bye Payson.

 

♥♥♥βω

Interesting facts. *Zane Grey’s first name was Pearl (you can understand why he preferred his middle name Zane); Zane Grey was a dentist who became a millionaire writing stories; Tonto means foolish in Spanish and so when Jerry and I visited the Tonto National Forest, we were visiting the Foolish Forest.

the end.

What You Don’t Expect at a Mexican Restaurant (or maybe you do!)

 

healing

Last night I sat at a booth in a Mexican restaurant with two girlfriends, whom ~ for the purposes of their protection ~ I’ll call Sunshine and Sunflower.

We chatted away, munching on tortilla chips, and laughing at our good fortune of enjoying girlfriend therapy, which is so much cheaper than other kinds of therapy. Not to mention, so much safer. (Insanity is not good for the health of others.) Besides, what professional counselor lets you chomp on tortilla chips and salsa during a counseling session?

I noticed two clean-cut, young men approach our table. They had a confident manner, attired in white shirts, black slacks, and short-cropped haircuts. One wore a tool belt apron with the handle of a pump protruding from a pocket.

My first thought, and Sunshine’s too, was, “Oh no! They’re the managers. They’re about to ask us to leave since we’ve finished eating and we’re occupying the table for longer than the management desires. They want the table for continued revenue.”

“Would you like a balloon animal?” one of the young men asks.

What? I tried to readjust my thinking −from the happy knowledge we could continue our occupation of the table to the perplexing knowledge of a balloon animal offer.

balloon animal

Or two boys in a Mexican restaurant.

“How old are you?” Sunflowers asks. (As an aside, Sunflower has a very sweet and curious nature.)

“I’m fifteen,” says the blond boy. The dark-headed boy chimes in, “I’m sixteen.”

“You look a little older than that,” Sunflower says.

“I’m six-foot,” says the blond boy, making sure we understand his height gives the impression of an older gentleman.

“How much do you charge?” I ask.

“We work for tips,” the boys say in unison.

Sunflower tells them she has young boys at home and she’ll take whatever balloon animals boys prefer.

“Boys like aliens,” says the blond boy as he pumps air into long, skinny balloons. He twists tube-like balloons that makes a slightly annoying screech sound. He forms the alien’s feet and legs. Screee-eeech.

“How did it work out that you make balloon animals and balloon aliens at this restaurant?” asks Sunflower.

The boys explain the summer jobs they had hoped to get at the local movie theater fell through. They needed work and so they came up with the balloon business. The restaurant gave them permission to entertain their customers for tips.

balloon quote

At this, the boys hand us their business cards. They tell us they do parties at $50 an hour (hint, hint!)

The business card features a cougar balloon animal, along with the blond boy’s name and phone number. The slogan at the bottom states, “Your Balloon Twister.”

Soon the boys present Sunflower with two sci-fi balloon aliens with spooky eyes and holding balloon ray guns. In addition, the blond boy has fashioned a balloon poodle and gives that to Sunflower.

“My kids will love these,” she says and hands cash to Balloon Twister.

“How did you learn to make balloon animals?” I ask, impressed with their work.

“The University of You Tube,” Blond Balloon Boy says with a grin.

Even though Sunshine or I didn’t ask for a balloon animal, we hand cash to the boys to help support their newfound business. (As an aside, Sunshine has a very generous nature.)

Here’s why I mention the balloon incident that happened last night. These two boys could have been disgruntled over missing out on the summer job at the movie theater. They could have stayed home and played video games while puffing on cigarettes. (Ok, I admit. I thought adding the mental picture of smoking cigarettes made it seem more dramatic.)

Rather than giving up, the boys got together and brainstormed a money-making idea. They studied You Tube, bought balloons, an air pump, and business cards.

It reminds me that no matter what disappointing situation we find ourselves in, we can turn it around and make it work for us.

It’s more than “necessity is the mother of invention” or “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s about an idea that may seem crazy, but believing it will work. Who knows where their balloon business might lead? Walt Disney got his start at an early age by selling his drawings to his neighbors.

crazy clown lady

Now, with that said.

Who would like a balloon animal? Bronwyn’s Balloon Business will be in operation soon.

 

 

♥♥♥βω

 

insomnia5

The Nights I Waltzed in My Orange Muu Muu

Seated in the doctor’s lobby, I fill out the medical forms inquiring every aspect of my health history. That done, I flip through a magazine called Phoenix Home and Garden. I get lost in the pictures of gorgeous gardens with waterfalls and gurgling fountains and pergolas smothered in lush green vines. Finally, I’m called.

The doctor, a nice-looking young man who could easily moonlight as a fashion model for Esquire, glances over my forms.

“You have insomnia?”

“I had insomnia,” I say, “I’m not dealing with it now.” (Insomnia had nothing to do with the reason I was seeing the doctor. But he wanted to focus on it.)

“Have you ever tried testosterone?” he asks. “It relieves insomnia in 95% of cases.”

“No. That’s one thing I didn’t try. Doesn’t that cause facial hair?”

“Yes,” he says with a wry, mischievous grin.

Did he expect me to say, “Well, so nice to know! Give me a big, fat shot of it!”

I explain again, “I no longer have insomnia. At least not now.”

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For several months or more I dealt with sleepless nights. I appreciated everyone’s suggestions for a cure. A friend proposed I exercise in the morning, rather than the afternoon. But the only exercise I had the energy to do in the morning was to place an English muffin in the toaster and push the lever down.

One of my favorite librarians (I have two) recommended a magnesium drink called Calm. She said this quite calmly and told me she drank it before bed and it worked splendidly. But Calm for me was anything but that. Calm had the side effect of gastrointestinal difficulties and so I didn’t experience calm.

I tried Zzzquil, and later a prescription medication called Trazodone. Both produced the kind of tormented headaches that make you want to hit your head on the wall. Repeatedly.

My hair stylist told me to try melatonin. “Why put poison in your body, when you can use something natural.” He said this while dumping lots of unnatural chemicals on my hair.

A friend stood by lavender oil as the best treatment for insomnia.

People wondered if I had stress and worry.

The only worry I had was…I couldn’t sleep.

insomnia

As my sleepless nights continued, I would lie in bed and try to entertain myself by remembering funny things people have said. Of course, laughter is not conducive to sleep, but it did keep me from complete boredom at 2, 3, and 4 a.m.

In addition, I thought of places I’d like to live and designed houses I would live in. I loved the mansion I designed for my Maui residence. I had a beautiful patio overlooking the ocean. I can’t remember now, but I probably waltzed on the patio in my hot orange muu muu, stopping on occasion to call aloha to the people down below.

insomnia2

When I dragged myself out of bed in the morning, feeling dead tired, Jerry would look at my wild-eyed composure and ask hesitantly, “Did you sleep well?”

“NO!” I would reply. At this, Jerry would smile graciously and slowly back away. When distance between us seemed safe, he would turn and race to the garage.

Sometimes we hate to admit it. But we know the cause of the problem all along, but prefer to ignore it.

“Jerry, I think I need to stop drinking coffee during the day,” I confessed one day. “I think that’s why I can’t sleep.”

“Oh,” he said as he took a long sip of his coffee in the barrel-sized, blue coffee mug he purchased at Disneyland. “Coffee doesn’t affect me,” he said. Slurrrrp.

Jerry likes his coffee on the weak and tepid side. I like mine so strong and hot, it slaps you in the face and yells, “Wake up!” The difference in our coffee preferences proposed a serious “domestic” issue in our household, so we solved it by purchasing two coffeemakers. When we make coffee at the same time, it’s like dueling coffeemakers, bubbling and spouting “I am strong!” and “I am weak!” in unison.

 

coffee insomniaYesterday Jerry and I had a late lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. It’s the kind of place with serve-yourself beverages. Jerry and I like to have coffee at this restaurant because they offer real, almost-like-Seattle coffee, not the Arizona-style reminiscent of watered-down motor oil. Jerry, the thoughtful husband that he is, knows that I love the coffee at this place and filled my cup along with his.

I had planned to suffer and have decaf. But the caffeinated coffee Jerry placed before me tempted me. Steam from the cup did a hypnotic dance and beckoned.

I drank it. Slurrrp. Slurrrp.

Even so, I slept well last night.

No testosterone needed for now, (thank goodness).

good night

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