Monday 25 March 2013

Stop asking questions??

In life we grow through our constant quest for answers, that is part of who we are and what we strive towards - answers to all-important questions...

What DO we strive towards?

Knowledge, wisdom, being right, having power? Or simply the quest for peace of mind through answers to tranquile questions made up of how, why, when, who, what and question marks?

Three Mikkelsen Generations
As we get older the questions deepen and it is a different basis we add to asking but when we are young, we ask questions which are often easy for grown ups to answer based on the basic knowledge we all learn as we grow up.

However, what do we tell young people when we cannot answer their questions? 'You will find out when you get older'? 'Stop asking silly questions'? 'Grow up'?

Yup, this is the time we start growing up... but is it really so urgent to stop asking questions, just because our parents, teachers and family cannot answer them?

I believe that as part of our life-long lessons we need to be creative and explorative - not necessarily in a search or quest for something else but just to remain curious about life and all it offers. Afterall, we are here now - next time we may not remember the wisdom we harvested in this life...

So why all the questionning you may ask?

Last time I had a cold in 2011
Well, I had a cold brewing up in just a few days and I sat thinking about why it actually started... One of the things about colds (that is, of course, in my opinion) is that they strike when the immune system is somewhat faulty or slightly worn out.

I thought about the week gone by and I realised that I have been doing things that are in direct contradiction to what makes me buzz and feel great about working. I am getting to a point where I can understand why teachers burn out and want to find different routes to what they enjoy, teaching!

So, I found myself telling young people off and telling them what to do with a frown instead of a smile and that, my friends, is one way to kill my immune system off, I discovered.

Maybe I was not meant to go into schools and be a stand in for teachers on leave or in meetings? Another question... And the answer to me is quite obvious and extremely relevant, not just to me - I always say to young people that whatever they decide to do after they finish their studies, I hope they will go on to do exactly what they always wanted to do.

Growing up creates challenges to help you keep your mind set and focus your attention on what is important! Stop questionning your gut and start feeling it - ask the right questions right now!

Dream you life and live your dream!

Monday 18 March 2013

£2.50 for a missing pancake

In September 2012 Sainsbury's introduced a new brand of pancakes and in the knowledge that the young people who frequents my home had taken a liking to ready-made pancakes I decided to try them out.

Six pancakes in a pack, just like the old Sainsbury's brand...

My surprise was rather large when the package turned out to contain five pancakes only, and kind-hearted as I am (if I may say so myself) I decided to make the company aware of this calculation error just in case less good-natured people would discover the same number fault and complain. So, my email to them was in no way a complaint but more of a friendly note.

I forgot all about it because it was not an important issue in my life to walk around pondering on missing pancake number 6.

In February 2013 I received an email about the missing pancake issue and I was rather bemused that they even bothered after all that time. But setting things right they offered me a refund even though I insisted it wasn't a complaint and knowing they had read my message and looked into the matter was good enough for me - if they really insisted they could just send me an Easter Egg (or was that too cheeky?). Too cheeky it must have been because I received a cheque in the post...

I will not make companies aware of their non-serious but amusing errors anymore.

It was a sweet gesture that they offered a refund but a complete waste of time, money, cheque fees, and paper.

However, the essence is that some people care about the reputation of their brands and it is nice that they care enough to write back - an email is sufficient for me.

I hope that everyone will care as much about Laughter Yoga and its reputation as Rutland Foods cares about 6 Abra-Ca-Debora Pancakes or rather 1 of them.

I know I do!

The work I do is for the benefit of others and I always strive to deliver training and workshops in a way that recognises and supports each individual in a compassionate and respectful way.

And if ever someone has an issue with the work then it is up to me not to make excuses for someone being in a different frame of mind than me but accept that Laughter Yoga may not be for everyone.

I would refund a £2.50 pancake, too, metaphorically speaking.

Monday 11 March 2013

The Story of a Laughter Workshop

This week's post is slightly different from the past many weeks' blogposts because I would like to share with you the workshop I ran last week with The Regency Training Foundation and Headway.

It was really touching and brought back memories from my own family and our stories.

NB With reference data protection and contractual terms I cannot mention personal details, this is also the reason the photos are blurred except for my own picture being in focus.

I hope you will enjoy reading even if it is somewhat longer than the usual blog. I will be back with a lot of the usual 'Lotte-sense' next week...

Laughter with Headway

Working with adults with head or brain injury, physical or sensory disability suffered through accident, haemorrhage or stroke at Headway was an inspiring event and it is fair to say that it was a wonderful day spent in great company.

Over the autumn of 2012 Patricia O’Malley of The Regency Training Foundation had put all her energy into obtaining funding for the 6-week programme for re-building confidence in the community.

With a passion for helping vulnerable people in the community she dug into the paperwork and it paid off – the funding was awarded and the team working with Patricia and The Regency Training Foundation was excited about the opportunity that had opened through winning the bid.

Planning started and in February 2013 the programme kicked off with nine participants who had all been through the motion of losing part or even most of their mobility. Events such as strokes and other activity altering illnesses had affected their lives but instead of staying at home they wanted something special from life, they all wanted to engage with their peers and their communities.

The six week course of confidence building, communication, time management, anger management, stress and anxiety busting and laughter therapy was an opportunity to learn skills to bring them back in action and take their lives back.

Laughter Therapy – this is where I come into the picture...

On 5th March I ventured up to Bedford with Patricia, with butterflies in my stomach, excitement as I was about to meet the group who Patricia and other consultants had worked and connected with for four weeks already, and I was also slightly concerned that a three hour laughter session could prove to be a challenge that was one hour too long.

But was I wrong?!?! I could not have imagined the group even if I had tried based on any information – there was no hard work, grumpiness, introverted attitudes or the likes – there was a group of people who wanted something special – not just from the laughter session but from the whole programme, and they had already started their journey!

How to kick off the laughter session?

My head was spinning, I have run many laughter workshops but it was important to do this one well because I was not the only business involved and there was more at stake than my own reputation. Added to this pressure which I set up myself of course, was the fact that the press would be around in the afternoon to interview a few of the participants as well as Patricia in her role as Founder and Project Manager of The Regency Training Foundation.

Concerns seemed so pitiful, though, when people’s lives are on the line and all there is, truly is the contribution and the life changing experience you can provide at facilitator. I was halfway expecting cynical and bitter faces – who would never expect or even accept that their lives have changed so dramatically and may never ever be as they were before the brain injury. Again I’m pleased I was only halfway expecting it because these attitudes only exist if you expect them fully and if you don’t then you have a world of opportunity and wonderful faces that may break into smiles any minute.

Starting the day with an introduction to highlight the fact that we don’t need a reason to laugh and that we can in fact laugh at anything, we are not our names or addresses even though we use these labels to identify with – we can laugh at ourselves and it doesn’t even hurt. ‘My name is Lotte – hahahaha – and I live in St. Albans – hahahaha’, a short version of the traditional Laughter Yoga Training introduction went down well and there were lots of laughs and giggles, a few heads shaking and a bit of suppressed laughter, all very good, very good yeah!

The one-hour morning session was full of talk, background, reasons, benefits, with lots of little chuckles, breaths, laughs and happy sighs interspersed to ensure people didn’t nod off. It was fun and lively and it seemed to be at the right pace.

Laughter Kirtan – call and response exercise before lunch... now, where do I start and finish?!?! What great fun! Why does it work? It works, not just because it is fun but because it makes people listen, respond, exercise their faces, laugh, clap, use their brain but not in a thinking way. We finished the day with a messed up Laughter Kirtan exercise where I couldn’t quite keep it together with a straight smiling face but did it matter? Not the least, laughter was readily available on everyone’s lips by then. 

There is no doubt one of my favourite Laughter Yoga exercises is Mental Flossing as it is a great way to clear the three misconceptions of laughter, i.e. we have to be happy, have a reason, and have a sense of humour to laugh – none of it is true when you know Laughter Yoga, and Mental Floss Laughter clears those thoughts beautifully. 

They must have thought I was mad...but it was great fun. 

What worked was laughter exercises and more laughter exercises – we did all the great foundation exercises, rude-noise-laughter-cream, slurpy-hot-soup, naughty-milkshake-splash, and lots more. 

People love playing, laughing and having a good time no matter where they are in their lives. Singing, laughing, clapping, playing, grounding – all of it worked and the three hours went by in what seemed a fraction of the time. Amazing what you can achieve when you are having fun. 

I received fantastic feedback but the best of it was all the smiling faces, the chatting, the laughs, the bye-bye, and the lives changed with a laugh – nothing can outweigh the feeling of having made a difference. 

The group was lovely and amazing, and I love working with people who get it just as much as people who may not get it at first – because who knows what happens when they get to think of it!

Monday 4 March 2013

Welling yourself

Welling yourself... what a great expression!

Thank you, it was just what I needed.

And it is all about doing for you what feels good and nurturing. Just like the little seeds and bulbs and lovely nature 'things' have nurtured themselves over winter and now jump out in the open - I'm sure if they had arms they would stretch out with a big 'TADAAAAA!' but that's just what I think when I look at the blossoming world.

We are all so busy with our lives up until the moment when spring is springing as it does best and we start to notice there is life...

Beautiful life - outside our minds!

And so it comes about that it is time to bring the loveliness and bewonderment into your own life through...welling yourself!

It may be in the sense of adding a morning laugh or two, or having a nice manicure, facial, massage, spa day - or simply being a boyfriend or a girlfriend and sharing a bit of luscious love and affection.

It is the time where romance grows out of simply feeling a sense of spring!

What a wonderful world - something so simple that not even human beings are set above nature's instinct but merely responds to the ingrained essential instinct for suvival - very deeply rooted...

It is amazing to be part of a world that turns and with every turn there is hope, love, joy and nature. Expressed in the words of Heather Small 'the world is mine and belongs to me' - not in a selfish way but in the sense that I am the only one stopping me from having the experience of life and it is right there at my feet, ready to grab hold of and enjoy. I do think it is rather fantastic.

Welling yourself then?

As long as it makes you feel good, anything goes - just like with Gibberish...

Remember that you are in charge and the choice is in your hands and mind! You know what to choose.

Love it out and laugh out loud - life is here and now! CHI