L is for Laughter

Yes, I've actually done presentations in these shoes

Yes, I’ve actually done presentations in these shoes

Did you hear the one about?…

The focus on the benefits of laughter began in earnest with Norman Cousins’ memoir, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Norman who’d been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a painful spine condition, discovered that a regimen of comedy films like Marx Brothers and episodes of Candid Camera made him feel better. He said that 10 minutes of laughter allowed him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.

Scientists attribute the benefits of laughter primarily to its ability to combat the physical and emotional characteristics of chronic stress, which have been shown to suppress the body’s immunity.

The Health Benefits of Laughter
Laughter reduces stress by increasing the body’s secretion of growth hormone, which, in turn, has a positive effect on immunity. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response.

Laughter decreases the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two of the worst culprits in weakening the immune system. Studies suggest that similar to exercise, laughter releases endorphins that the body uses to fight pain and depression.

Len, Peter and Laurie Laughing

Len, Peter and Laurie Laughing

Research done at the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that “Laughter is similar to exercise in that it decreases blood pressure, increases muscle flexion, improves the overall performance of the heart’s muscular functions, and possibly wards off heart disease.”

Roberta Gold, recreation and humor therapist based in California said, “The physiological processes the body undergoes during laughter are relaxing. Your circulatory system works better, you oxygenate your blood better, and you feel better afterward, physiologically and emotionally. The benefits of comedy aren’t just physical. While laughter improves the body’s physiological processes, a sense of humor is paramount to mental health. Laughter stimulates positive emotions and encourages a more positive outlook.”

Research at the University of North Carolina determined that a positive mental state—such as one brought on by humor—increases open-mindedness, creativity, and the capacity to adapt to change.

Experts also speculate that a sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with higher levels of “emotional intelligence” which determines a person’s ability to handle their feelings and understand the emotional states of others.

Karen and Peter Cracking Up!

Karen and Peter Cracking Up!

Humor has also been linked to improved test scores. In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, researchers divided students in a graduate biostatistics class into 2 groups. They administered identical exams to each group, except that one set of tests had humorous instructions. Students who received the amusing exam scored significantly higher than those with the ordinary directions.

Laughter decreases blood pressure, normalizes heart rate, and increases appetite. To top it off, it’s a great workout that helps the lungs breathe better and keeps muscles in the diaphragm, abdomen, respiratory tract, face, legs, and back healthy.

According to a study released by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2000 meeting, laughter and an active sense of humor may also help to prevent heart and artery disease.

The University of Maryland Medical Center studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After viewing, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedies behaved normally, expanding and contracting easily. However, the blood vessels in people who watched the dramas tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.

One study of people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended an intentionally tedious lecture. The next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.

Laurie & Len know how to have a fun time!

Laurie & Len know how to have a fun time!

How does it work?
Scientists speculate that humor stimulates the brain’s reward center in the same ways as SEX and CHOCOLATE. In turn, this reward center secretes 2 hormones into the brain: dopamine and serotonin. Also known as happiness molecules, these are anti-stress chemicals associated with the feeling of happiness. As we grow older, the production of these chemicals in the body decreases, so laughing becomes all the more important with increasing age.

As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I can share this fact with certainty: of the 206 bones in the human body, the most important one is the funny bone. Laughter is indeed the best medicine!

When was the last time you enjoyed side-splitting laughter?

 

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

H is for Heart

Listen with your Heart by Laurie Buchanan

Sandcast artwork made by Donna Arendt for Laurie

Literally – our heart is an amazing pump. Approximately the size of your fist, and weighing less than 1 pound, it circulates approximately 6 quarts of blood throughout the body 3 times every minute. An adult’s heart pumps (re-circulates) nearly 4,000 gallons of blood each day through blood vessels. If these could be laid end-to-end, they would cover a distance of about 60,000 miles!

Symbolically – the heart represents different things to different people; somewhat “in the eye of the beholder,” so to speak. One interpretation that seems to transcend language and culture is that the heart symbolizes love, charity, and compassion.

For me the heart is a container where I hold sacred spaceHeartLight.

Whether I’m at the end of a paper letter or email correspondence my closing is always “Listen with your heart.” It’s my perspective that the heart is the intersection of thinking (logic) and feeling (emotion). When these two powerful aspects of self are healthy and used in conjunction with each other, we function from a place of wisdom—the heart. This brings clarity in decision-making, removes drudgery, and adds exponentially to joy in the abundance factor.

It’s my perspective that we shouldn’t lead with our heart and only follow our emotions. Nor should we lead with our head and only follow logic. Rather, we should use the powerful combination of both and listen with our heart.

Author, Judith Campbell said, “When your heart speaks, take good notes.”

What is your heart telling you?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com.

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Have you ever been told you couldn’t, or wouldn’t, but you did?

Where there's a will, there's a way, by Laurie Buchanan

Have you ever been told:
– You couldn’t lose the weight
– You couldn’t run the marathon
– You couldn’t quit smoking
– You wouldn’t amount to anything
– You couldn’t have a baby
– Your head is a receptacle for silly ideas
– You couldn’t get a business loan because you wouldn’t make a go of it
– You couldn’t write a book, and if you did, you couldn’t get it published
– You wouldn’t make a good parent
– You wouldn’t live more than 5-months because you have cancer taking over your body, and you responded (like my friend, Ted) with a beautiful, robust, health-filled life!

What have you been told you couldn’t, or wouldn’t – but you did anyway?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be used in part, or in whole, without written permission from Laurie Buchanan.

What are YOU storing for winter?

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While riding our bikes through the Heartland, we see lots (and lots!) of silos. For you city slickers who may not know what a silo is, they’re ginormous storage structures for silages and high-moisture grains used for livestock feeds.

[Discussion while bicycling]

“Len, you know that today, right now—this moment—is our life, right?”

“Yes Laurie.”

“You know how those farmers are storing food for their livestock for the winter months?”

“Yes Laurie.”

“Are you drinking it all in—tucking these memories into your heart like a treasure for this winter when it’s 40-degrees below and we can’t get outside?”

“No Laurie.”

“Well, why not?”

“Because you’re taking dozens of photographs and will show them to me over and over again. I won’t possibly be able to forget!”

“Len?”

“Laurie, if you stop pedaling one more time we’re gonna have a domestic.”

“Yes Len.”

As we came around a bend in the road we averted our eyes because right there on the side of the bike path was a farmland hussy—a topless silo!

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Emerald Eyes, Isles, and Stones

Raw Emerald

One of my friends, Donna Jill Witty, recently returned from North Carolina where part of her time was spent gem mining near Ashville. Much to my surprise and delight, she gifted me with three raw pieces: emerald, sapphire, and citrine. Since green is my favorite color, emerald is the gemstone that I chose to highlight in this post.

But first, please follow this LINK so that I can introduce you to Donna Jill Witty and her amazing artwork. I’m tickled to share that she was featured in the current (summer 2010) edition of the American Artist Watercolor magazine. The article, Mixing Careful Planning with Spontaneity, starts on page 42.

Emerald
The frequency of Emerald is said to enhance harmony, joy, cleansing, abundance, clairvoyance, memory, and faith. It provides inspiration and helps those in need of balance, healing, and infinite patience. It also benefits intuition, intellect, communication, decision-making, and promotes truthfulness and honesty. It motivates the possessor to give love and wisdom to others. Emerald is used to enhance intuitive awareness and to bring forth manifestation. It’s a stone of protection and is associated with the heart chakra.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

A Chair for your Derrière? Take a Stand!

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Do you sit too much?

In an editorial published in the January 2010 publication of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Elin Ekblom-Bak of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences said that authorities need to highlight the dangers of sitting. “After four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals because the genes that regulate the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down.”

Tim Armstrong, a physical activity expert at the World Health Organization said that people who exercise every day—but still spend a lot of time sitting—might get more benefit if that exercise were spread across the day, rather than in a single session.

A new Australian study by Melbourne-based Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, in conjunction with health insurer Medibank Private, has alarming findings about the simple act of sitting down: It’s dangerous, particularly at work and watching TV.

The study was published in the American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report in January of this year. They said that the theory of sedentary lifestyle being bad for you isn’t new, but that the findings in this study are alarming.

Australian researchers tracked the lifestyle habits of 8,800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the television daily was associated with:

An 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

A 9 percent increased risk of cancer death.

An 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related death.

Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death.

This association held regardless of other independent and common cardiovascular disease risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, unhealthy diet, excessive waist circumference, and leisure-time exercises.

Len stands—all day. There are stand-up desks. And there are pub tables. As you can see in the final photo, Len’s preference is the latter. A good choice, as he burns an extra several hundred calories per day just by taking a stand!

If you’d like to find out how many calories you burn per day doing certain activities—including standing—simply follow this LINK to the AOL Health page and use their “Calories Burned” feature.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved. 

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

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Do you remember the 1969 romantic comedy — If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium — with Suzaqnne Pleshette and Ian McShane?

Well, pretend for a moment that I’m Suzanne Pleshette and Len is Ian McShane. We strapped our bicycles on the back of our car and left Crystal Lake, Illinois at 5am and headed for historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

After stopping for breakfast in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, we continued on and arrived in Cedarburg at just before 9am. We were on the Ozaukee Interurban Trail by 9:10am, headed for Belgium, Wisconsinthe village with a heart.

On the way, Len was almost hit by a fawn. No, Len didn’t almost hit a fawn; a fawn almost hit Len. The itty-bitty fellow flew out of the bushes on the left side of the trail and came to a dead stop next to Len, eyeing him up-and-down. Then took off at top speed into the bushes on the other side of the trail. We could see his mama grazing about a quarter mile away.

Our first big stop was at Sauk Harbor in Port Washington — this was the 10 mile mark on the ride — where we got caught in a pretty good rain shower. In the photographs, you’ll see the gazebo that we stayed under until things cleared off a bit (the photo was taken on sunny the return journey).

Then we continued on to Belgium. This was the 20 mile mark. However, we did and extra two miles riding around looking for lunch. The search was well worth it.  We found Crissy’s Now and Then Pub. The food was beyond delicious!

By the time we finished lunch, the clouds had cleared off and the return journey was hot and beautiful. The lushness of the surrounding farm land was not lost on us. Every now and then we’d be enveloped by a wave of sweet clover scent.

We arrived back in Cedarburg exhausted, having riden a round trip of 41.45 miles. My legs were wobbling so much that I had to hug a tree to remain standing and get some stability back. In so doing, I got sap on my shirt. When we got home I Googled how to get tree sap out of clothes. Peanut butterit worked like a charm!

According to Len’s bike computer our actual riding time was 4 hours and 36 minutes. We averaged 9 miles per hour, with 18.32 miles per hour being our fastest speed.

I hope you enjoyed the journey — we had fun doing the pedaling for you.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.