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For Your Well Being: Humor, Health & Happiness

October 19, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 20

Dear Friends,

One of the most frequent requests I get is for speakers who will “please make our ladies laugh.” They want mascara-smudging, belly-laughing, stress-busting, face-breaking gales of laughter. They’re always clear that they don’t mean one-liner or two-liner jokes. They mean stories (and speakers) their audience can relate with. They often say, “Oh, and we want a little message, too …”  In all actuality, message or not, the laughter part delivers scientifically proven health benefits all by itself. The truth is, however, no speaker worth her one-page would admit to not having a message.

So, we’ve been expanding our selection of humor speakers, as many of our clients have already hired some of our favorite laugh ladies like Sue Kirby, Jana Stanfield, Deb Gauldin and Sandy Queen for their women’s events. And I also want to add that I know for sure that all of our speakers use and value humor in their presentations. They know the power of humor in helping people relax and learn.

By Popular Demand

 “Healthier, Happier Lives”

Humor took center stage at two recent client events in Georgia and New York. Coliseum Health System in Macon, Georgia, has been doing their annual women’s event in September for eight years. “In the past, we’ve brought in a big name health author,” Robin Parker, Marketing Assistant for Coliseum, said. “This year, we decided to try something different. We read about Deb DiSandro in Barbara’s e-news and thought she sounded like a lot of fun. So, we decided to feature our local physicians and cap things off with Deb DiSandro. It was a great decision!”

“We’ve done this event for the exposure for the hospital, of course, but it’s also a way to give back to the community. We hold it outside in a huge white tent on the lawn of Northside Coliseum Hospital, which has a lovely rolling hills campus. It’s always a beautiful September day in Macon so the setting is gorgeous. We have white linens and china and a catered lunch by Natalia’s, which is the finest restaurant in Macon. So the day is really a treat for the ladies.

“We just started charging a fee ($15) a few years ago. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that charging that minimal amount so that they’re registered and have paid for the event, insures their attendance.”

In the morning, the local physicians discussed heart disease, cancer, gynecology and diabetes from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.  The luncheon started at 11:30 followed by Deb – “Dr. Slightly Off”– presenting her strategies for success with a mix of comedy and creativity from noon to 1 p.m.

“We just thoroughly enjoyed going in this direction, having our serious local physicians and then bringing some humor into the program,” Robin said. “Deb lightened the entire event and the audience gave her rave reviews. From genuine laughter to sentimental tears, they were uplifted by her words. Her message of using laughter to help keep the body healthy is a valuable one. I loved her energy and enthusiasm. She was just like another Mom and she was super easy to work with.”

And here’s another interesting twist. Their women’s event is held on Friday, and then they turn the tent into a Family Health Day on Saturday. It’s all free with health screenings, food and children’s activities. “We had everything – 25 different screenings. We screened 1,000 people. It was a huge success,” Robin said.

A couple of weeks later in Albany, New York, the theme for St. Peter’s Health Care Services’ Celebration of Women conference was “Learning, Laughing . . . A Healthier, Happier You.” It appears we have a universal theme going here. And, isn’t that what we’d all like more of every day – health, happiness, humor, learning, laughing? St. Peter’s event was sold out with over 400 attendees. I’d say if you’re looking for a successful theme, this is one you could borrow. I don’t think anyone has copyright protection on it!

St. Peter’s held their event on a Thursday afternoon in October, starting at 3:15 with health screenings, health exhibits and shopping vendors. Then they had two sessions of special interest.

“Healthcare professionals shared the latest medical information on topics ranging from heart disease and joint injuries, to headaches and sleep disorders, to fitness and foot health,” said Marilyn Crowther, St. Peter’s Women’s & Children’s community nurse educator. “We expanded these sessions due to the tremendous turnout we’ve had in the past. We also had free health screenings and complementary therapies, as well as more exhibits than previous years.”

She said their late afternoon/evening format allows women to attend in a way that fits their schedule, including many hospital personnel.

“Some people come for the whole event and others come as soon as they can get away from work or other commitments. They may take advantage of an afternoon session, get a screening or visit the exhibits and shop. Some come just for the evening dinner and keynote speaker. It’s a formula that works so we’ve stuck with it while tweaking it to respond to our attendees requests.”

The event is led by St. Peter’s Women’s & Children’s Services, and supported by numerous departments including the Auxiliary, Breast Center, Cancer Care Center, Cardiac & Vascular Center and Corporate Communications. Pre-registration was required and cost was $40 per person ($30 for St. Peter’s Health Care Services employees and Auxiliary members) and included afternoon sessions, dinner and the keynote presentation.

“The Celebration of Women program was created to help women make positive changes in their lives and inspire them to be their best,” said Kim Kendrick, Corporate Communications Assistant at St. Peter’s Hospital. “Our goal is to create a culture of excellence in women’s health by sharing important clinical information, hosting community wellness programs and organizing educational events for women.

“We hope that by doing this, we can inspire women to live longer and better, and to encourage laughter and learning over the course of a lifetime.”

That’s exactly what Mary Feeley, CSP, the Provocateur, promised and delivered to their audience in her after-dinner keynote, “The Humor Advantage.”

Mary’s been there, done that. Having worked in the corporate world for twenty-two years, from front line to executive level positions in sales, marketing public relations and customer service, she knows the in’s, out’s and upside-downs of people. And, particularly, the challenges of getting along. Having also been an award-winning stand-up comedian, she knows how to put everyday happenings into perspective and bring out the humor. This was evident by the hearty laughter and standing ovation she received in Albany.

Mary’s message zeroed in on how humor can help make you a healthier, happier person and especially how it impacts learning and overcoming the four emotions human beings feel – fear, embarrassment, lack of trust and feeling stupid.

Can you relate? I can.

“One of the benefits of humor is its inherent power to transform the negative to the positive,” Mary says. “Viewing life’s challenges with the humorous perspective of irony and absurdity promotes a positive attitude by neutralizing emotionally charged events.

“For example, I was flying in a terrible storm and the landing was very rough,” Mary said in relating how it works. “All the passengers were very stressed and fearful. After the safe landing, the flight attendant calmly announced, ‘Welcome to Kansas City…I apologize for the bumpy landing, however, it was not the plane’s fault or the pilot’s fault…it was the asphalt.’ Everyone on the plane responded in the loudness and length of laughter that former standup comics, like myself, ache for. The flight attendant could not control or change what happened. However, using the humor advantage, she reframed the negative perception of this experience into a positive experience. Her humor diffused the fear and created a powerful and positive image for herself, the crew, the airline and the flying experience.

“Humor puts the women in a relaxed state, gets them receptive,” Kim said. “They’re enjoying themselves and learning important ways to change their lives. It works.”

“Mary is someone just like you or me,” Kim continued. “She drives home the point that we all have annoying things happen to us. We can choose to let those things ruin our day, or we can choose to be happy despite those things. It’s a choice – and life is much better when we’re laughing.”

As one attendee wrote on her evaluation, “Excellent – humor is what we need.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Reminder: Raising Funds for Ghana Breast Cancer Clinic

In our last issue, we wrote about a breast cancer clinic in Ghana that is in need of equipment and supplies. I made a commitment to donate $100 from every booking we make this month. So far, this has been a light booking month. Can you help us change that, so we can make a nice donation to the women of Ghana? We appreciate your business any time of year, but during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it would be particularly meaningful. Or just send a donation to me at The Speak Well Being Group, and I’ll include it in our group donation. Thank you very much!

And just for the fun of it, in the spirit of this issue, here’s a photo of my perennial Halloween costume, Tutu Barbi (this was taken about 4 years ago when I surprised my new boyfriend, now my husband, at his door on Halloween). You should have seen his face! Get out and have some fun this Halloween. Create some amusement for your loved ones with a little whimsical mischief. Trick or Treat!

Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

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