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

The Naked Cowboy and Clint Eastwood

You know her as Bethsheba Celebration Goddess, I’ve known her for many years as Beth, Saturday evening she was Calamity Beth. No matter what name she’s using, she’s the best theme party-planner-chef on the planet (and an amazing gardener, botanical whiz-kid, to boot!).

Calamity Beth and Doc Buchanan

Saturday evening was Calamity Beth’s annual hoedown. This year the theme was Cowboys — Shoot Out at the BJ Corral. One year in advance she announces what the next theme is going to be so there’s no excuse for not wearing the proper attire. However, in this case, the temperature was 92 degrees before the heat index was figured in, hence …

The Naked Cowboy

The Naked Cowboy

Saucy Cindy cops a feel!

Saucy Cindy Copped a Feel

Then before things could get Good, Bad, or UglyClint Eastwood arrived, packin’ heat!

Clint Eastwood from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Calamity Beth had Wanted Posters of each and every outlaw guest.

Calamity Beth had Wanted Posters of Each and Every Guest

No details were spared …

Down to the Last Detail

We ate delicious chili out of tin cans …

We ate Chili out of Tin Cans

A great time was had by all!

A Great Time Was Had By All

Len and I had to leave early because of a rise-and-shine bike ride, but rumor has it that next year’s theme is Elvis!

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

The Dog Blotter – A Tail of Woe

Laurie at the Scene of the Crime by Len Buchanan

Laurie at the Scene of the Crime by Len Buchanan

Friday, July 9. Straight-up Noon. I’m sitting in my office at HolEssence when my hackles go up. Hmmm, I wonder. What’s going on? I make my way to the back of our building and look out the glass door. There’s a cobalt blue, Pontiac Torrent parked in our small parking lot. All of the windows are down half-way, but there’s no human.

There is, however, a black and white dog with his tongue hanging out. I ask Len to check Google for the temperature outside. “It’s 85.5 degrees outside,” he says.

It’s “Sidewalk Sale” days in historic downtown Crystal Lake., It’s clear to me that someone had a difficult time finding parking on the crowded streets and decided to park in one of our spots – and leave their dog unattended on a miserably hot day.

I head to the basement.

“What are you doing?” Len asks.

“I’m getting a bowl of water.”

“Laurie Jean, you could get bit.”

“I’ll take my chances Mr. B.”

[I don’t actually see this, but I feel Len roll his eyes at me.]

I make my way out to the car, talking to the dog as I approach. He’s a bit skittish as I reach the bowl of water in through the window. He nervously takes a test lick, then eagerly laps several tongue-fulls  Wagging his tail, he thanks me.

My razor-sharp mind quickly deduces that the owner is female. She’s not only been irresponsible enough to leave her dog in a deathtrap, but she’s left her purse on the front passenger seat. I swear I can hear the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz singing, “If I only had a brain.” 

I motion Len outside and ask him to call Animal Control. An officer in a large, white panel van, amber light-bar flashing on top, pulls in. I quickly bring him up to speed. He says, “It’s obvious she didn’t leave any food or water in the car for the dog. You understand that even though she’s left the windows down, it’s at least 10 degrees hotter inside the vehicle, don’t you?”

“Yes sir, I’m aware of that. And I’m pretty pissed. Just to let you know.”

He knocks on the back doors of the closest businesses looking for the perp (that’s short for perpetrator, for those of you who are new to crime).

Not at Joe’s Barber Shop. Not at Material Girl (a fabric store). And not at Le Petit Marche (the local bakery).

The officer gets back in the Animal Control van and calls the police. An officer arrives within 5-minutes. I keep giving Hunter water. When the Animal Control officer returns I say, “I’ve given him a lot of water. Pretty soon he’s going to pee on her seats.”

“It’ll serve her right,” he says.

The police officer is parked behind the perp in the event she shows up and wants to skedaddle. His light-bar’s flashing too. The back side of HolEssence looks like a murder scene, [only there’s no blood, no body, and no crime tape].

More water for Hunter (now I’m secretly hoping he’ll pee on her seats).

The police officer asks me if want to press charges for unlawful parking when she arrives. “Damn straight,” I reply.

Eyebrow raised, he looks at me askance and says, “Maybe you’d better go inside, in the event of an altercation.”

I know full well he’s concerned I’m going to scold the person who’s responsible for this.

Inside HolEssence I pace, looking out the treatment room window where I can observe, without being seen.

Len says, “Mrs. Kravitz, what are you doing?” (Remember Mrs. Kravitz from years ago? She was the nosey neighbor on Bewitched).

“I want to see what’s going on. Ohhhhh, here she comes now!

I see a fashionably dressed young woman (early 30’s) sheepishly approach the car, tail between her legs. I can read lips well enough to see that she’s saying, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t intend to be gone that long.”

I see two officers not taken in by sorrowful eyes—probably batting behind her dark sunglasses—and coy pout.

“Way to go, fellas!” I mentally shout, as I jump and fist-punch the air!

I see each of them hand her a piece of paper. The policeman is undoubtedly giving her a ticket for unlawful parking. The Animal Control officer is handing her some type of citation – hopefully there’s a fine associated with it. 

The squad car pulls away first. The perp’s vehicle is next; followed by the Animal Control van.

As they’re driving away I shout to Len, “Oh crap!

What is it now, Mrs. Kravitz?

“I didn’t take any pictures!” I wail; knowing full well that Kathy Drue, Jeff Stroud, and Terrill Welch would have had her mug shot and fingerprinted by now!

So even though I didn’t catch the real-time action, the photo is of the crime scene—the parking space, the sign that clearly says the parking is only for HolEssence customers, and the water bowl I used to quench Hunter’s thirst.  

The moral of the story?

Never be afraid to take a BITE out of crime!

Listen with your heart,  Laurie Buchanan

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

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.


I can see from the tag on the dog’s collar that his name is “Hunter.” He looks to be half Dalmatian and half French bulldog. Without my glasses I can only make out a 708 area code. That means the city – as in Chicago. We’re at least 1.5 hours north by car.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Inner Gardening by Laurie Buchanan

Inner Gardening by Laurie Buchanan

My friend Sandi is a Master Gardener. Not strange then, that last week we were talking about gardening. But not your typical gardening. We were talking about woe-is-me gardening; the type that some people cultivate in their inner landscape that yields a bumper crop of weeds including self-pity, short-sightedness, fear, lack, low self-esteem and complacency.

That same week I shared with Terrill of Creative Potager, a quote by Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of organic architecture. He said,

The reality of a building is the space within. And what you put into that space will affect how you live in it and what you become. Don’t clutter the place with stuff that does not ennoble it.” 

His point is that it’s the details that express the whole. I believe this is equally true of our inner landscape; our inner garden. If we want to live a life that’s positive, uplifting, constructive and healing, it’s here that we need to cultivate a bumper crop of emotions, feelings and values such as peace of mind, compassion, joy, courage, gratitude and humor.


So tell me, how does your garden grow?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All rights reserved