Laughter Where You Find It

Anyone who reads this blog knows I love laughter. (It’s even part of my name, Laugh2Learn.) You may also remember that I believe that there should be no invisible people (see my June 12, 2011 post) So last week while traveling in Oregon with my sister and brother-in-law, we ate at the Salty Dawg in Waldport. Our server was a wonderfully gregarious woman named Lorelei. She made us all laugh. At one point, she asked if we wanted anything else, and I told her if she would bring me a glass of water, I’d be so grateful I’d compose a poem for her. She promptly brought the water, and I ripped off a few lines of doggerel.

“I wrote a poem once,” said Lorelei.

With very little coaxing, and after reminding us that it was pretty outdated she recited:

 If Dreams Were But a Penny

If dreams were but a penny
what do i think I’d buy??
A night with Kevin Costner!!
Well. At least it’s worth a try.
If I can’t have Mr. Costner,
If he’s not within my reach.
Then let me have Sean Connery
with his sexy, broguish speech.
I cannot have Clint Eastwood
as already he is taken,
and Demi has got Bruce Willis
so that lust must be forsaken.
Since I cannot buy these men
for which i have the hots.
Then i shall take my penny
and make a purchase of Don Knotts!!!!!
Needless to say, we all got a very good laugh. I gave Lorelei my card, and asked her to email me the poem so I could post it on my blog.
So here’s to you Lorelei. Thank you for the wonderful time, the good food, and your poem.
And to the rest of you, take a moment to get to know those “invisible people” who serve your food. You will be richer for it, and you may even get a good poem and a great laugh.
And as for Don Knotts, you will never know what you missed!

Great Week, And an Invitation

Last week I spent a very enjoyable Tuesday with the Oklahoma City Region of the Indian Health Service. I think my clients must have enjoyed my presentations almost as much as I did. Not only did I get several nice compliments, but I was extremely honored when Area Director, Admiral Kevin Meeks presented me with a challenge coin. (Most of the participants at the conference were members of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which uses Naval ranks.)

Laugh2Learn presented two programs: Rx for Stress: Laughter + Control, and Difficult Conversations. One of the points we always make in the stress presentation is how important it is to learn to laugh at one’s self. Not only is the laughter helpful, but if  you can laugh at something stupid you did, that event loses its power to embarrass you and make you uncomfortable. So I’d like to invite you to share your stories. Please, if you have an event that you need to laugh at, post it as a reply to this blog.

I’ll start: Many, many years ago when I was in basic training in the United States Air Force, our Drill Instructor was Sgt. LaFrance. He was a very short man, who spoke with a distinct accent. On of his favorite habits was to come up close behind us while we were shaving and say, “Eew better get a mewve on.” or “Eew better mewve.” Several of us, myself  included, developed the ability to mimic the good sergeant’s accent. We would come up behind a shaving Airman, bend our knees so that our face was about at his shoulder blades and say, “Eew better get a  mewve on.” One morning, as I was doing my LaFrance imitation, I heard a voice behind me: “Eew better get a mewve on too.” Still bent at the knees, I turned and, for perhaps the first time, looked the diminutive sergeant in the face. Immediately he ran from the room; I’m convinced so that we couldn’t hear his laughter. Neither of us ever mentioned the incident, but none of us imitated him again.

So there  you have it. I can tell you that when I turned and saw the sergeant, I was embarrassed and frightened. The look my face must have been priceless. Now if you would be so kind, I’d love to hear your stories. Please reply.

Happy New Year


Thank all of you who have followed my posts this year and made suggestions. Here is a New Year’s wish for everyone.

Best always,



George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” As I do improv based training, I am constantly amazed at how eager adults are to play games. Even the most up tight executive seems to welcome the opportunity to engage in a few moments of frivolity. Of course at Laugh2Learn we combine playing with learning so we get added value from our play.

Here is a game you can play at work almost any time. It doesn’t require any tools and only takes a few minutes. In addition to just being fun, it will help you apply the “yes… and” principle and develop good relationships with coworkers. It’s called “Dr. Know It All,” and involves at least three players. The rules are quite simple. Some one asks a question and then speaking one word at a time, three people answer it. The first person says the first word of the answer the second the second the third the third and the first the fourth, and so on.

Here is a brief demonstration:

My 9/11 Reflections

Like many other American churches, on Sunday, September 11, 2011, my home church Grace Episcopal cathedral of Topeka will hold a 9/11 memorial service. Unlike most churches, for our service we have invited the Topeka Islamic Center, and Temple Beth Shalom to join us. In 2001 these three faith communities joined for a prayer service. I am so proud of our parish for this inclusive approach. Imagine, Christians, Jews and Muslims praying together in Topeka Kansas.

It reminds me that the terrorist of 9/11 didn’t do what they did because they were Arabs, nor because they were Muslim. They did what they did because they “knew the truth,” with such certainty that anyone who disagreed with them was not only wrong, but evil, and if evil, worthy of death.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols also knew the truth.

Several years ago, I wrote and created a “live” John Brown performance. After 9-11 I quit doing it because I realized that the only difference between John Brown and the 9-11 terrorists was the name they called their God, and the cause they believed in. I had seen John Brown as a hero because I agree that slavery is evil. But I realized that like John Brown, the 9-11 terrorists believed their acts were justified because they believed  what they saw as Western Imperialism is evil. They also believed they were doing God’s will. Basically the people we should fear are not Muslims, or for that matter Christians, but anybody who is so convinced they are right they believe those who disagree with them are evil; that the end justifies any means.

So are we to accept injustice in the world and do nothing? absolutely not. Dr. Martin Luther King tells how to deal with injustice in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, read it again.

Final thought: September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. The following Saturday a Senior Class performance was scheduled. Several people asked me if I would cancel it. I didn’t for three reasons.

  •  One: “The show must go on;”
  • Two: I felt that cancelling the show was what the terrorists would have wanted. They wanted to disturb us and interrupt our lives. I was unwilling to give them that victory.
  • Thee: Laughter heals

We had a small house, and there were almost as many people on stage as in the house. But we laughed. Oh how we laughed. Take that terrorists!

Laugh is not my middle name, but my first  name.

Finally, I truly believe every thing I have written here is true. If you disagree with me, more power to you. I may be wrong.

Wise Leadership at the UMKC School of Nursing

Friday I did a training session for PhD nursing students at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Nursing.

UMKC School of Nursing

The session was successful and I think I have a satisfied client. But what I’d like to talk about today is my admiration for the leadership at UMKC School of Nursing. When I walked in and made contact with the receptionist, she was very positive, upbeat and helpful. That gave me a clue that there was a good workplace culture there. Before the day was over I understood why.

Shortly before my session with the students was to begin, my contact asked me if it would be ok to include staff in the session. “Of course,” I replied. Shortly staff members began filing into the room. One of them was a very elegant, professional looking woman.

“You’re not a student, are you?” I asked.

“No,” She replied, “I’m the Dean.”

Wow. Before long all of us, students, faculty, staff (including the dean) and yours truly were laughing and learning together. In that classroom we were equals.

That kind of leadership explains why staff are so cheerful and productive.

Congratulations Dean Lacey-Haun, and Associate Dean Patricia Kelly.

Laugh Quest

Few doubt the health benefits of laughter, but where do you find something to laugh about? Answer: It’s everywhere. Some humor takes little or no effort. All the signs on signspotting, required no more work that an eye for the absurd, and a camera.

On the other hand some work very hard to create humor. A great example of hours of work to create a few seconds of absolute hilarity is this clip you can find on You Tube: I can’t get enough of it.

In my keynote, “Rx For Stress: Laughter + Control” I point out that my humor antennae are so sharp that I even managed to get a laugh while lying on  my urologist’s examination table. As I lay there I noticed a rack of pamphlets:

I began laughing and when the nurse came back in she asked what was so funny. I pointed to the rack and said: “Why are those people smiling?” She joined my laughter and said, “Those aren’t patients, those are the doctors.”

If you take a minute to study the individual pamphlets closely you may find another chuckle. For example, does the woman with “Frequent Bladder Urges” look entirely comfortable? And why does the “Erectile Disfunction” dude have his hand in his lap?

Laughter is everywhere, you just have to be looking for it. And if you happen to choose a training session with Laugh2Learn, you will find it chock full of good healthy laughter, as well as learning. If not, or if you are not completely satisfied, you owe me nothing.

What have you got to lose?