Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Healing Power of Laughter

Just a few weeks ago I moved everything I own from the town where I’ve lived my whole life, to my new home here in north Texas. Today, I’m thankful for the warm greetings I received from neighbors and co-workers, but I still remember that the “weather welcome” was not so warm. Nothing says, “Welcome to your western winter wonderland” like three snowfalls and a graupeling. I learned that what looked like a billion Styrofoam BB’s on my outdoor lawn furniture was actually strangely frozen snow pellets called graupel. I can laugh today – partly because the sun is shining again - but this Louisiana girl experienced a whole new kind of thrill ride as my car and I slid backwards down the driveway, then virtually tiptoed along the salted/sanded roads to my new job at the hospital and then home again.  

I’ve actually journeyed through a number of substantial transitions in my life. Who hasn’t, right? For me, each one has been its own learning experience and I’ve realized that God has consistently provided me with helpful lifelines that make them easier. So I thought I’d share a few.

Back to my recent ice trek. I needed support in the worst way that morning, so I called my friend back in the swamp (on my hands free phone, of course) and told her, “You are NOT going to believe what I’m doing right now! Driving to work in a snow storm, Girl, and ice and sand and stuff are piled up along both sides of the roads and…”

“What?!” she interrupted, “You can’t do that!  You just need to call and tell them you don’t know how to drive in those hazardous conditions!”

I laughed. “Oh, please. I can handle this. I just needed to hear you freak out. I feel better already. Now buckle your seat belt, we’ve got a ways to go.”

There’s no telling how many times she and I have called each other for support when one of us needed a little help or a little company.  I have some great friends.  Some are nurturing mothers and others are tail-kicking coaches. They are not the same people.  When I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, I’ve learned it’s important to call; it’s even more important to know which one to call.

One of the rewards of this transition is that I now live closer to two of my three delightful grandchildren. My 4-year-old grandson has the most vivid imagination and playing with him is like being coached by a Hollywood movie director. His favorite games always include super heroes like Batman, Spiderman, and firemen, and each has a complete wardrobe with masks, capes, hats and more.

“Mia,” he says, “Let’s pretember I’m Batman and you’re the Joker.”

And so it begins. I’m always the bad guy, which suits me just fine, except that I frequently break character with laughter, which brings an immediate frown from Spiderman who is very serious about his capturing and punishing the criminally inclined. Once, I banged my foot on the staircase while running from justice and I stopped to catch my breath and moan a bit.

“Mia, are you still pretembering?” he asked.

“No, I’m really injured here!”

“Well then, you need to call 911! And I’ll be the fireman and I’ll come get you and I’ll put you in the ambulance and take you to the hospital!” he said.

Laughter has a special healing power all its own. Surrounded by that kind of enthusiasm and joy, it’s easy to be distracted from the cares and uncertainties of the day. My friends, my family, and plenty of laughter have made this move so much easier.  There have been seasons of my life when I felt like my own superhero.  Maybe I wasn’t saving Metropolis, but I was just weary from my own problem-solving opportunities.  I’m learning that there is help available from people who aren’t necessarily dressed in tights and capes or wearing badges, and often these people are just as eager to lend help as I am to receive it.  And that’s good news.  Even better news is that once you’ve experienced the thrill of a superhero’s rescue, you’re then empowered to do the same for some other weary soul.  Hey!  Who knew?  Heroism is contagious!   And don’t forget your superpower, Laughter, can help keep troubles in perspective.  Transition, after all, is temporary.  

Suzan Betts is a registered nurse, certified in Breast Patient Navigation. She is the new Women’s Health Nurse Navigator for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano and is helping develop this premier program for Texas Health Resources. She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother of three perfect little angels. 

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