Category Archives: Humor

Kathy Buckley: A Deaf Woman’s Inspiring Story

When Kathy Buckley was 20 years old, she was peacefully sunbathing on the beach when a 3,500-pound lifeguard jeep ran over her. Being hearing impaired, she couldn’t hear it coming.

You wouldn’t think Buckley could find humor in that traumatic event. But you’d be wrong.

“Talk about not knowing what your job description is,” Buckley now jokes about the lifeguards driving the jeep in one of her comedy acts. Forever being teased for being “flat,” Buckley jokes that she relishes telling people she used to be a 44D before the jeep crushed her chest. She was in a wheelchair for two and a half years and doctors told her that she may never walk again. Buckley jokes that she couldn’t hear the doctors, so she walked right out of there.

That gives you an idea of how this powerhouse deaf comedienne and inspiring motivational speaker can poke fun at herself, her hearing loss, and the tragic events in her life.

kathy buckley book photoAnd there were many traumatic events in this woman’s life, including a misdiagnosis of mental retardation, being sexually abused as a child, poverty and homelessness, and being stricken with cancer – all before the age of 30. And no, this is not a novel with unbelieving plot twists, but a true story as Buckley shares in her New York Times bestselling autobiography, “If You Could Hear What I See.”

To be honest, even though Buckley has appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, HBO, and Entertainment Tonight, I had never heard of her. My oldest son, who works at a local college as an instructional computer support specialist for disabled students, attended a workshop where Buckley was a featured speaker. He enthusiastically shared her remarkable experiences with me. After doing a bit of research, I was so inspired by this woman.

Just so you know, this story has a happy ending. Not one to wallow in her misery, Buckley went on to become a female comic, wrote an award-winning and critically acclaimed one-woman show based on her life, guest starred in Touched by An Angel, and became a beloved motivational speaker in demand throughout the country.

In other words, she overcame adversity with a capital ‘A.’ She did so with such resilience, hope, courage, dignity – and a wonderful sense of humor – that I felt impelled to share her story with you. It will make you laugh and cry.

As Suze Orman says about Buckley: “Her courage will empower you.”

challenges aheadKathy’s Childhood and Life as a Young Adult

When Buckley was a child, her family noticed her inability to communicate but thought she was “slow” and would outgrow the problem. She remembers feeling frustrated trying to play games like hide and seek and musical chairs with children whose hearing was normal.

“By the time I’d hear someone say, ‘Hey, Kathy, come and get us,’ the game would be over,” she recalls on her website. “And musical chairs? There’s a game for a deaf kid.”

In second grade, it was finally determined that Buckley had a hearing loss. “And they call me slow?” she jokes now. Even with the diagnosis, teachers showed little patience and understanding and she was eventually transferred to a school for mentally and physically impaired children.

Her youth was filled with misunderstanding and misery. Buckley was sexually abused as a child and contemplated suicide during her teens. If all that weren’t enough, then she was run over by a lifeguard jeep as I mentioned at the beginning of the article. The jeep broke bones and crushed her chest. She experienced intermittent paralysis in her legs. In fact, it took Buckley almost five years to recover.

Buckley eventually packed up her car and drove out west. She parked on the ocean and lived out of her car for two months contemplating what her next step would be. However, before she could figure it out, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Some might say she has been cursed, but Buckley feels blessed.

Overcome Adversity

Kathy Turns Her Life Around

After all the hurdles in her young life, Buckley learned that a sense of humor could get her through the darkest of days. Turning that ability into a career, however, was pure happenstance.

Buckley never considered becoming a comedienne due to her speech impediment. But fate had other plans.

She met actress Geri Jewell, who has cerebral palsy and encouraged Kathy to be part of a contest called “Stand-up Comics Take a Stand” to raise money for the disease. Buckley took first place that night and placed fourth in the entire contest. “I got money for the kids and a career for me,” she says, laughing. “Two birds with one stone.”

She began touring the country playing in major comedy venues. Buckley’s hearing aids were eventually properly adjusted so she could hear the audience laugh at her jokes for the first time. When she stepped off stage, she wept with joy.

The rest is history. Now cancer-free, her zest for life and ability to buck the odds led to her career as a popular motivational speaker. In addition, she is the national spokesperson for No Limits, a non-profit organization which provides an after-school theater group and educational program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

If you want to learn more about Buckley, you can visit her website or watch part of her motivational and very funny speech on YouTube.

What We Can Learn

Buckley’s story touched me for a lot of reasons.

One of my former daughter-in-law’s relatives, Long, is deaf. We hired Long to do some work remodeling our house and were frustrated with our attempts to communicate with him. Shortly afterward, an opportunity came up through our religion to take an American Sign Language (ASL) course to do volunteer work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing, help the deaf learn about the Bible, and join a sign language congregation. My husband and I immediately signed up.

We were finally able to talk to Long and discover what a great guy and cool dude he is as we got to know him better. In the course of these events, we have been privileged to become friends with several deaf people. Many of their stories of overcoming challenges is inspiring.

On top of that, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, my oldest son works with disabled college students including the deaf and hard-of-hearing. My youngest son and his wife both work as interpreters for the deaf at the same local college. So, our family feels a special connection to this inspiring story. But even if you don’t know anyone who is deaf, Buckley’s story teaches us so much.

How many of us will face such overwhelming odds?  Yet, Buckley considers herself blessed since all of her challenges taught her so much about life and have served as a tool to help others.

Taking personal responsibility for her life was another key to happiness. “I was pissed off at the world because they deserved it after everything they had done to me,” she recalls in an interview for The Examiner. She was living a life filled with loneliness, rejection, bitterness and resentment. Then, a realization hit her. The negativity that filled her life “was of my own making,” she says. “My thoughts and words had become my enemy, my limitation, my disability.”

“Life is quite simple, I learned,” she continues, noting that we all have the gift of choice which is unlimited. “It was me who was making it so much more difficult. I could choose to be happy or sad. And happy seems to bring more elements to my life.”

She learned to refuse the negative labels people had put on her during her lifetime. The basic message she received from others was: “You can’t, you won’t, you’re ugly, you’re broken, you’re retarded, you’re unlovable, you’re too tall, you’re flat.”

“The best gift given to me was my hearing loss. God gave me this gift so I don’t have to listen to half of the bull****,” she says. Joking aside, Buckley has learned to love herself as the beautiful, intelligent survivor she is – although she confesses that she is flat as she points to her chest with mock horror.

Gotta love this woman!

“You have to change your life,” she says passionately in one of her speeches. “Don’t get comfortable with what you already know. Get comfortable with what you can learn, what you can challenge, how you can grow…it is up to you to make your own transformation, it’s up to you to make your contribution, it is up to you to fill your heart with joy, it is up to you to find your bliss.”

Love that! No matter what obstacles, setbacks, or heartbreaks you may encounter on your life journey, keep Buckley’s story and words of wisdom in mind, then just watch doors of possibilities open.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jokes That Make You Laugh

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you read my blog, you know that I’m a firm believer that laughter increases happiness and joy and has positive effects on our health and well-being.

You also probably know that I’m a professional writer. One of my latest projects was editing a humorous book for Col. Charles H. Booth, Jr., known to his friends and family as “Chuck.”

Chuck is 95-years-old, although you’d never guess it. Sharp as a tack and full of energy. He survived as a combat pilot during World War II and has seven children, 19 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, four stepchildren, and seven step-grandchildren.

This businessman and philanthropist  has many friends that send him emails full of jokes and decided he would take the best of them and publish his very first book.

Here is one of the many jokes from his book, The World’s Funniest Internet Jokes, especially timely with New Year’s Eve just around the corner:

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ALCOHOL WARNINGS:

Due to the increasing products liability litigation, American liquor manufacturers have accepted the FDA’s suggestion that the following warning labels be placed immediately on all varieties of alcohol containers:

WARNING:  Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an idiot.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you’re whispering when you are not.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to wake up with breath that could knock a buzzard off a dead animal one hundred yards away.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause an influx in the time-space continuum, whereby small (and sometimes large) gaps of time may seem to disappear.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to assault you.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can hold a logical conversation with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, handsomer, and smarter than some really, really big guy named Psycho Bob.

Did Chuck make you chuckle? If you want to read more jokes from his fabulous book, you can check it out on Amazon.

So not it’s your turn. What’s your favorite joke? Please share in the comments below!

 

Top 10 Movies to Make You Feel Happy

Sometimes when you’re feeling down, there’s no better cure than a favorite, classic, make-you-smile movie.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My taste in movies has changed over the years. As a teen, I grew up on movies like Jaws, Poseidon Adventure, and Alien and couldn’t get enough of those adrenaline pumping thrillers – that are actually tame by today’s standards.

Although I still enjoy an adventurous sci-fi movie, I shy away from all those violent movies that mimic today’s harsh realities. Give me an old-fashioned, nostalgic, feel-good movie or a comedy that makes me laugh out loud instead.

In an earlier blog, I listed my favorite 15 songs that make me feel happy along with the benefits of music if you want to check it out. Today, I’ll share my list of top 10 movies that never fail to chase the blues away and lighten the day:

1.       Captain Ron

Captain RonMaybe it’s because my husband and I love to sail, but this movie never fails to crack us up.  The funny Martin Short plays the main character who inherits a sailboat formerly owned by Clark Gable. The family can make money on the boat if they sail it from a Caribbean island and deliver the relic in good condition to a yacht broker in Miami. His wife is against the idea until their 16-year-old airhead daughter announces her engagement. So off they go with crazy, one-eyed Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell, guiding their trip. Of course, hilarity and family bonding ensues.

2.       The Shawshank Redemption

shawshank redemptionBased on a Stephen King novella, this movie features the wonderfully talented Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The touching and inspiring tale is based on an innocent man, Andy, sentenced for life for the murder of his wife and her lover. Although he is introduced to the harsh realities of prison early on, Andy never gives up. He is able to bring dignity and self-worth to some of the other inmates and manages to find small moments of serenity and gratitude even in dire circumstances. Most inspiring of all, this resilient man never, never gives up hope.

3.       The Blind Side

blindsideWho doesn’t love this heartwarming true story of a young homeless football player who is able to miraculously turn his life around with the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, Leigh Anne finds Big Mike wandering aimlessly without a coat on a cold night and becomes his strongest supporter. The film shows what is possible when you open up your heart to generously help someone in need and what can be accomplished when someone wholeheartedly believes in you.

4.       Up

upIn ode to my grandchildren, I’m including an animated film that is funny and wonderfully heart touching. This cartoon features a grumpy old widower who rediscovers his joy in life with the help of an earnest kid that won’t give up on him and a lovable talking dog. This beautifully written story proves that you’re never too old to take a risk and it’s never too late to have an exciting adventure. In fact, a kid’s movie is the perfect way to get in touch with your inner child and forget life’s troubles. Some of my other favorites include Despicable Me, Toy Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Shrek, and Mary Poppins.

 5.       Overboard

overboardA beautiful, snobby, and cruel heiress named Joanna (Goldie Hawn), screws over a widowed carpenter with four kids named Dean (Kurt Russell). When Joanna falls overboard and suffers from amnesia, her husband takes advantage of the situation to rid himself of his demanding wife while Dean plots revenge and claims her as his wife. Watching the spoiled Joanna deal with four rowdy boys living in a shack convinced by Dean that previously she was a fat slut who ”jumped his bones” the first night they met in the parking lot of a Seven-Eleven tickles my funny bone every time. “I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it?” she asks at one point. “I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil.” Of course, it all has a happy ending. Fun stuff.

6.       The Sound of Music

sound of musicNow it’s time to share my all-time favorite movie as a child. I must have driven my Mom crazy singing Edelweiss and My Favorite Things from this enchanting classic. Julie Andrews was my idol. The romance between the stern Captain and the free-spirited Maria, their daring escape from the Nazis, along with all those adorable children mesmerized me. To this day, whenever I see this playing on TV, I can’t resist watching.

7.       The Family Man

family manCritics called this movie predictable, but I loved the message. The film reminded me of Parenthood which also helps us appreciate the importance of family.  Nicolas Cage plays a materialistic, self-involved investment broker who wakes up to find himself in an alternative reality married to his college sweetheart along with a couple of kids. At first he is horrified that his sports car has been exchanged for a mini-van. Then the whole family thing begins to grow on him. This movie asks the question – are you living a life consistent with your values?

8.       Blazing Saddles

blazing saddlesMel Brook’s silly spoof of Westerns about a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) and his sidekick (Gene Wilder) coming to an all-white town is a classic comedy from the 70s. Add several eccentric characters including Madeline Kahn mimicking Marlene Deitrich, a bigoted preacher, a lecherous governor played by Brooks himself, and an Indian chief who speaks Yiddish to the mix. Yes, this movies is in bad taste, vulgar, crude, and absolutely scandalous with its racial humor, but it’s also funny! If you want to watch another hilarious slapstick spoof that changed movies forever, try Airplane!

9.       You’ve Got Mail

you've got mailIf you’re in the mood for a romantic feel-good comedy, you can’t go wrong with this update of The Shop Around the Corner (1940). This film has a couple of my favorite actors in their heyday – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and is directed by the talented Nora Ephron. Maybe it’s because I love bookstores or maybe it’s the innocent romance, but I find this movie delightful. By the way, I’m also a sucker for Sleepless in Seattle.

10.   Arsenic and Old Lace

arsenicMy Mom introduced me to old 1940s movies as a kid and this one is hysterical. Okay, the premise doesn’t sound funny since it’s about two old aunts who have a nasty little habit of killing single old men. But with Raymond Massy playing the escaped murderer and his cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and best of all, Cary Grant trying to clean up the sordid affair as he learns his family is insane on his wedding day – and you have some funny stuff.  Another movie that never fails to make me laugh is Auntie Mame (1958). Love it!

So there you go. I’ve shared some of my favorites, but I’d love to hear what movies make you instantly feel better. What movies did I forget to include in my list? Please share your choices in the comments below!

Speaking of Guilty Pleasures

I’ve been following some of the other boomer bloggers and connected with another writer, Linda Biggs, from across the pond who was published on Boomer Cafe like myself. Yesterday, she published my latest article on Music and Happiness on her blog and today, I’d like to share a fun article from her blog on guilty pleasures. We all a need a few of those to bring us a bit of joy and happiness, right?

You too can follow Linda Biggs on her blog at Penguin’s Waddle

Here is the list of her top ten guilty pleasures (by the way, I share Numbers 1 (except I prefer white), 2, and 7 along with watching The Bachelor, playing Candy Crush, and eating too many Skinny Cows). Read her amusing article below and then share with me your guilty pleasures! 

Speaking of Guilty Pleasures…Here’s My Top Ten

……and I demand to know yours too. 

Anyway, back on track.  Here’s my list….

1.  Red wine.
It’s good for you in small quantities.  I like to try it out twice to see if the first small quantity worked.

2.  Chocolate.
But you know this already and it’s probably on your own list.  Dark chocolate is good for you in small quantities. I like to try it out twice to see if the first small quantity worked.  I think I said that about red wine too.  Well, you have to make sure.

3.  Sleeping.
I shouldn’t feel guilty about this, but I do.  I can nap for England, sometimes three times a day.  Grumpy Trousers must be so bored.  It’s no wonder he retreats into his man-cave!

4. BBC Radio 4. 
No longer a guilty pleasure.  Just a complete and utter pleasure.  If you haven’t indulged yet I suggest you tune in for their play and book readings.  I’ve often sat in the supermarket car park listening to the end of something rivetting.  Can’t possibly go shopping until I know who’s done it!

5.  Burlesque.
I absolutely LOVE burlesque.  Done properly it’s not in the least but rude, but it IS cheeky and mischievous, not to mention hilarious.  It’s also beautiful, and very tasteful.

6.  Guys with deep toned, posh voices
I have been known to fall apart at the seams, rendering me a gibbering wreck when in conversation with such a man.  He ends up talking to himself!

7. Liam Neeson
He’s tall, he’s Irish. He’s good looking. That’s all.

8. Facebook and Twitter
I’m not addicted to FB or Twitter.  I visit my own pages on there 2-3 times a week for catch-ups with chums etc.  I like to take a look at my Penguins Waddle page most days though in case a follower has commented.  They don’t very often but I live in hope.

9.  Buying music
I can’t help it.  I hear it, I like it, I have to have it.  There and then.  Thank goodness for Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.

10.  Kindle books
Aside from my photography stuff, Kindle books are my biggest indulgence.  As with buying music, I see an appealing ad for a Kindle book and it has to be bought there and then.  I rarely buy expensive ones however.  The prices I pay vary from £1.99 to absolutely free.  I’ve had some brilliant books for those prices, but they are now stacking up in the Kindle. I need a nice long holiday to be able to catch up on the reading.

I have FAR more guilty pleasures than the ones I’ve mentioned.  Maybe I’ll list numbers 11-20 another time.

C’mon, off-load some of your own guilty pleasures here.  There can’t be just me, surely?

How to Bring More Humor and Joy to Your Life

“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” Charlie Chaplin said wisely.

EWE TUBE
Neal. / Foter / CC BY

In my last blog, I discussed all the benefits of bringing some humor into your life. Laughing, or even simply smiling or feeling amused, benefits our health and increases our happiness.

But as we all know, day-to-day life drags us down and a good laugh can seem a million miles away. So how can we lighten up and bring more humor into our lives?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • You know what tickles your funny bone. Watch a silly sitcom, listen to a stand-up comedy routine, or laugh at an absurd situation in your life. For example, I’ve started collecting jokes about getting older, pictures of animals that crack me up, and menopausal musings on my Pinterest account. That way, I have something handy for a quick laugh when I’m having a way-too-serious day.
  • Unleash your silly. Act like a kid and tell a silly joke, wear a silly hat, make a silly face, or just think silly thoughts. I saw this quote, “Live a life of love, honesty, appreciation, kindness, and strength. Sprinkled with a little silliness.” Yeah! Let’s bring silly back!
  • Share your humor with others. Everyone needs more laughter in their lives, so spread it around. Memorize something that makes you laugh – make it tasteful and be sensitive to what’s not funny – and crack a joke or try to be a little more witty. Share something funny that happened to you during the day with a workmate, friend, or family member.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re funnier than you think. Didn’t we love Jennifer Lawrence when she suffered every actor’s worst nightmare and tripped on the way to receive her award at last year’s Oscar show and then proceeded to make a joke out of it? “You guys are just standing up because I fell and it’s embarrassing, but thank-you,” she said and smiled. At Sunday’s Oscar show, whoops, she did it again, and stumbled over a cone getting out of the limo. She could still laugh about it. Copy that sense of humor. Take my word for it, life will go so much better and you’ll have so much more fun if you can just develop the habit of snickering at yourself.
  • You know that song by Olly Murs, “Just Smile?” Do that. Research has confirmed that smiling makes you feel better. Each time you curve your lips upward you throw a feel-good party for your brain. You’ll also look better while you’re smiling – and I’m not just saying that to flatter you. Studies show that when you smile, people treat you differently because they look at you as more attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. So force yourself to think of something funny and just smile, baby!
  • Hang out with funny people. Laughter is contagious. In past blogs, I’ve written about the benefits of having positive people in your life. If they giggle a lot, all the better!

There you have it. Now get out there and yukk it up!

Humor an Important Key to Happiness

Humor Tool for HappinessI forgot what a wonderful tool humor is for happiness.

Recently, I was hired to write funny articles about menopause. When you’ve been writing professionally for over 20 years, sometimes you’re forced to take on jobs that absolutely suck the creativity out of you just to make ends meet.

However, as I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I have the luxury of being a bit more selective about my clients and work. I immediately connected with my new client. Being about the same age and menopausal, we had a lot in common. But besides that, she just sounded like a lot of fun. A hoot. So I agreed to blog for her new site, albeit with a little bit of trepidation, since I haven’t done a lot of humorous writing before. But hey, if something scares you a little, that probably means you should give it a shot.

Guess what? I’m having a blast. I’m giggling all day thinking about various subjects to tackle and cracking myself up as I write the pieces.

Although I know researchers are learning more and more about humor’s positive effects on our health and well-being, I wasn’t really making much of an effort to bring laughter and humor into my life. That was a mistake.

Just consider a few of the benefits. Laughter actually produces changes in the biochemistry of our brain and hormone system. That means having a sense of humor can improve our immune system, help dissolve stress, and increase our relaxation response. In fact, a good laugh can relax our muscles for up to 45 minutes after we’ve finished chuckling. There’s an increase in dopamine – the pleasure center of our brain – and on top of that, laughter produces endorphin, feel-good chemicals that can even temporarily reduce pain. Another advantage for us boomers is that telling jokes can help improve our memories and, as I’m discovering, increase our creativity.

Laughter can also help lighten our burdens.  If we can find a way to be amused about a stressful situation, humor will force us to take a step back and observe, to change our perspective, and provide a little distance and relief from our problems. Laughing helps us not to take ourselves so seriously, to let go of resentments, and be less defensive. Not only does humor give us a break from pain and frustration but it can also give us courage, strength, and resilience.

Another great thing is that humor can strengthen our relationships with spouses, children, family members, friends, and co-workers. Sharing laughs with others builds a positive bond, helps us let go of our inhibitions, and fosters a deeper emotional connection. Laughter unites us with our loved ones during difficult times.

Let’s face it, giggling just makes us feel better. Best of all, laughter is fun and absolutely free. You don’t even have to laugh at loud. Even being quietly amused or smiling can bring on some of these wonderful benefits.

The thing is, I used to be funny (at least I think I was) but I’ve gotten WAY to serious lately. So how can we incorporate more laughter and humor in our lives? Stay tuned for my next blog and I’ll share some ideas with you.