Well, it has been a while.
16th April 2020 to be exact.
Who could have imagined that that would be my last newsletter?
That it would be the last ever ‘Let us Have a Joy in Instead’
I could never have imagined just how much I would tap into those memories but more of that later.
I do hope you have weathered this almighty storm with compassion and kindness to yourselves.
We lost our Uncle Davie, a good man through and through, his eldest daughter, our beautiful cousin Shirley Anne, and my love’s best friend and my number one fan dear wise Seth.
I hope that the losses you may have faced are becoming bearable with gentleness and love.
As I often say in Joyworks ‘We are where we are and that is ok’.
Many of you know that on 19th April, I contracted the coronavirus.
I fought hard to get better.
Time trundled on.
I had to make peace moment to moment that my once vivacious energy could not be reignited with a good night’s sleep, something nice to eat and a few days of doing nothing.
A few weeks doing nothing.
A few months doing nothing.
Over a year doing not very much.
Those of you reading this may identify with this.
Perhaps you have family or friends experiencing something similar.
One never imagines that the wellness that has always been lined up outside your door will someday be a lifetime away.
Although I might have been on my own, I have had a legion behind me showing me love and support.
With a legion of love behind you it is easier to find joy.
I was blessed to have plenty of techniques to tap into but more importantly dear ones to keep me on the healing path.
It was time for me to embrace them all.
It is so hard to narrow down – I am grateful for so much joy. You never know someday I might author a book- but for now
1.Allow the love in
My greatest joy has been simply to let love in.
How do you do that?
Let go of pride and ego.
Ask for help.
Take the help and ask for help again.
Then savour in it.
Allow others that beautiful feeling that you get when you give, allow them the immense pleasure of helping you.
By doing so you let others know that they too can ask for help.
Some in the Joyworks family had become dearest friends but others I had not seen for years.
Reflecting on the way it all panned out, it seemed to me that the ‘Joy-ins’ brought everyone together from the last thirteen years of facilitating events, workshops, and training and all that fun and love was magically turned back to me at my darkest hour.
I was an incredibly lucky girl.
A beautiful lady Shauna, who attended the very last ‘Joy In’ I did (and had been coming to Joyworks events for over a decade) set up a ‘Power of Eight’ healing group for me.
Sweet Natalie who trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader over 8 years ago (and doing wonderful things in the Highlands) rallied others in the Joyworks family together and every Monday night (in groups of eight) they set an intention for my healing.
Shauna then led others as they meditated on the intention – for months.
This still blows me away.
My bestie Hazey (who I met when I was presenting at Scotland’s First Happiness Conference) has not missed a day in all this time to send me uplifting quotes and ask me how my day has been.
I will forever thank the day that I picked up the phone and asked if she would like to join me for a cuppa all those years ago.
That is all it takes.
If you are feeling lonely.
Please just do it.
My Flower gal Gill of ‘Ya Dancer’ (who again I met at when she attended a Laughter Yoga Training) humped big bags of shopping up the steepest street in Glasgow. Yes, the mountain that is Gardener Street…
She did it for over a month for me.
And how I loved it when she sent me her playlists.
I would look in the mirror and dance with my hands to ‘Let the Sunshine in’ again and again.
Friends in a million.
Another dear friend Lisa (who- you have guessed it trained in Laughter Yoga with me) came and painted my nails while sitting out the back door to cheer me up.
She got Paolo’s birthday gifts for me and in July brought her massage table up and gave me powerful KCR treatments over the next four months.
The incredible force that is Isabel (Founder of Nemo Arts) never tired of sending me her creative endeavours to delight me.
I have watched Isabel since my late 20’s bring joy and work effortlessly to make life better for those most vulnerable.
You can imagine my happiness when she joined me on a Laughter Yoga Training a few years ago.
She said in one of the Joy In’s, ‘I want to do what you do!’
Yet, she has dedicated her entire life to just that and has an MBE to prove it.
Robert Burns famous quote can be so true for us at times.
‘Oh, for the gift of god to gie us to see ourselves as others see us’.
I am ever grateful for those days working on ‘Join the Dots’ and hope her inspired vision of a Creative Holistic Centre in Glasgow happens soon.
Misha (who came to one of the very first Joyworks events, then trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader 10 years on and is now a mummy) made a video with everyone from the Joy-ins laughing, reading poetry, and singing.
She continued to record songs for me that brought tears to my eyes.
What a voice she has and how talented she is, and I love seeing all the photographs of wee Kayden.
Eilidh a nurse, fellow bird whisperer and kindred spirit and I met when I was delivering sessions at the Sweat Festival in Glasgow.
She then attended a very special Laughter Yoga Training in Edinburgh, and her bubbly nature was appreciated by everyone when she assisted on the last training in Glasgow in February 2020.
In fact, it was because of Eilidh that my sisters were able to organise for me to visit the Assessment Centre.
We had no idea it existed, it was a week after being discharged from hospital and my doctor wanted me to go back there.
However, thanks to Eilidh we had an appointment at the centre.
I made it downstairs, and a min-bus came to pick only me up.
Shining and smiling eyes greeted me so kindly and softly.
Arm after arm showed me the way into the doctor’s room.
I had tests and was relieved to know the symptoms I was experiencing were what health professionals were seeing and that I could go home to my healing bubble.
And last but certainly not least, let me tell you about our Superman Martin!
I first met Martin around 2009.
A Mental Health Lecturer at Napier University then, he was one of the staff who took part in NHS Lothian’s Wellness Day.
Over the next few years, it did not matter where the public event was, he would arrive on his bike to join in!
I was always so relieved when I saw his face.
I knew it was going to be a good event.
He then attended over 12 or 13 training weekends in between facilitating and co-facilitating Joyworks events for me with Lyndsay, Caroline, and Steph.
He set up his own Laughter Club at the University and is now retired in the Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
Everyone who attends the training always loves Martin and gets so much out of his presence.
I should be paying him to attend the Laughter Yoga Trainings!
We cannot wait to be in his presence again.
Natalie tells me that there was around twenty-five in the initial ‘Power of Eight’.
If you are reading this and were involved do reach out so I can thank you personally.
Participants state how life-changing our Laugher Yoga Training has been for them.
The overflowing love and care I have experienced over this time and the strength I have found in myself has been life-changing for me.
I so want to tell you more about how I was lucky enough to meet and let the love in from dear , Natalie, Pat, Linda, Caroline and Romayne but that is for another time.
You must be reading and thinking I am delivering a speech at the Oscars!
Thank you all for the most beautiful cards, flowers, and videos throughout this tricky time.
Whether they popped through my inbox or post-box they made me feel I was never alone.
My family may have been in Ayrshire but, of course they loved me back to health every step of the way too.
My wee beautiful niece Mollie and her kind boyfriend Jay drove up and took me down to Ayrshire to see my sister Shona and family and brought me home again over the last seventeen months on five incredibly special occasions.
Shona conquered her fear of driving to Glasgow to bring me her special homemade lentil soup two days in a row and bags and bags of shopping when I was at my worst.
In July 2021 it had been over a year since I had seen my close family, and the sun shone kindly on us as I pinched myself that I was finally there.
The next time I made it home was in September. All the healing work had paid off and we all got to be together again to attend my stunning wee cousin’s fairy-tale wedding.
My sister Laura and my parents in another lifetime dear Akka and Anna made it feel like they were in my pocket although they lived a world away.
They gently guided me and offered me regular lightning bolts of wisdom and joining forces together got me back on the Ayurveda path.
This itself just like meeting them has been life-changing -but more of that another time.
When he finally got out of Italy to be by side in July 2020, the love of my life, my dear Paolo nursed me back to better health before returning to the States in September.
He was supposed to be away until Christmas last year, but such are the times, we are living in.
We have become voices in love, a year apart.
How he has listened to my woes patiently.
I do not feel I have been a good patient at all, but he still says I am his joy.
His Joyful Wolfie.
He will be home for this Christmas but continues to send me a love song to wake up to each morning.
Those of you who have attended events will know about having a morning song to set your day off nicely.
I rejoice in the days I can dance to them.
And I need another room to house all the beautiful cards he has sent me with his love Haikus in them!
Dearest Jackie and Tim, our cupids had contracted coronavirus a month earlier than I did and sent me a beautiful peace plant.
I am happy to say they are both doing well now and so is the plant!
As it grows so do I.
I wink at it often.
Jackie has been so truly kind and generous throughout this all as has Ms Young her mum. She has always made me feel like her daughter too.
Even though the twins and were wee torags! Family friends from my childhood are indeed a blessing.
My Witches Elly, Kaz and Tracey and Nicola from the days when I worked at Scottish Opera over 20 years ago were a lifeline and still are.
They have brought me home cooked food, shopping, endless gifts and recorded songs and voice exercises.
Each of them has sat on my tenement steps inside my close for short blethers.
As time progressed, they joined me out the ‘back bit,’ until we could go to Dowanhill park nearby.
Finally, this month Elly and I got to sit outside Cafe Monza again.
In 2019 I was so lucky to travel the world with my Paolo.
He had planned that in 2020 we would be in Greece, Italy and 2021 Sri Lanka and India.
In fact, two years ago today, we would be meeting in Bangkok.
Last Christmas, three of the Witches and I walked round the block (as I held on to the fences and wall).
I can tell you it was just as special.
Each visit has reminded me that it does not matter how long it was since you last saw them – old friends are the grandest friends always.
Kindest neighbours Anne, Tracy and Louise continue to bring bits and bobs when needed and are my White Street family.
The level of thoughtfulness and generosity that has been shown to me from my family, my love, friends, and organisations -Rainbow Valley and Epilepsy Futures deserves a special mention continues to overwhelm me.
Attending Rainbow Valley’s online sessions in those early days- this time- as a participant was deeply moving after all the years of Joyworks culminating the ‘Seven Steps to Health’ Retreats at Ardoch.
The memories from those days and my Rainbow Valley Family have lifted me so.
Walking into Ardoch was like coming home.
Lindsay, Phil, Betty, and Karen -the dream team welcomed me with such warmth and love before we got to meet and play with Rainbow Valley Heroes and transform the endothelium!
The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Scientists have proven that the magnitude of change seen in the endothelium from laughter is like the benefit in aerobic activity.
Phil used to have to help me out with the pronunciation and so it became a running joke.
It was fitting and a privilege that very first online event I did in August 2020 was with Rainbow Valley.
It meant the world that Lindsay trusted me to do a grand job.
My confidence was reignited.
I was back!
In one of the last ‘Joy in’s’ before I got ill, I had asked everyone to write a love letter to themselves and post it.
In the next session I mused at how surprised I was that my love letter to myself described the ways I helped others and the beautiful people who loved me.
I loved myself because of who loved me and what I did for others.
Looking back on this is profound.
There are still days I self-bargain with my body for better health, but even on the days when I am not 100% successful, I am always aware of just how loved I am.
Even when I am resting on the couch doing nothing.
Can you today just sit doing nothing and bask in how loved you are?
2.Tap into beautiful memories
This week after a seventeen-month absence I will re-join the world of social media.
How freeing it has been to just be away from the influence and noise of it all.
However, I do use it for the joy!
Each morning I savour happy times by clicking on ‘memories’ section on Facebook (you don’t need to go onto Facebook for it) I then send the memories to loved ones so they too can have a feel-good moment.
I have loved ordering Free Prints of favourite times and peeps and plastered them all around my fridge and using the iPhone app I love making movies to send too!
On our only Facetime since then in dear Isabel showed off all her and her late son’s works of art.
She had framed them all around her home.
They were magnificent.
Talking about precious memories in the past and exciting plans to distract when things are tough is a wonderful practise and how it changes mood instantly.
All it takes it a little awareness – therein lies the work -for me anyway!
Yale University has scientifically proven the benefits of this technique and calls it ‘Savouring.’
Those Abraham Hicks fans will know it as Appreciation Rampages and Pre-paving and those Christians among you will know it as ‘Counting Your Blessings’.
It is a perfect way to train ourselves on how we see the world – to see it as a place of belonging and connection rather than feeling weighed down.
Using memories of when I was 100% healthy and happy for visualisations has been astonishing for healing.
I often talked about the scientific research around visualisations, but I can now personally vouch for this technique to improve physical health too.
Dancing in a shimmery blue incredible ball gown kindly gifted to be by dear Lindsay at the Rainbow Valley Ball and kicking off the Conference in Vienna are two of my work favourites that I have been using before online events.
I was lucky to deliver a high-profile online event last week and it was a remarkable success!
What would your top three visualisations be?
What have you got to lose?
I am in wonderment that I have so many to choose from -thanks to all of you.
I had experienced the healing benefits in the early days with the ‘Power of Eight’ but as time went on, I had forgotten just how powerful they were.
Three months ago, I started using them consistently.
I was able to go with one of my oldest friends to her new home in Perth.
We even went shopping!
I drove to Kelvingrove Park (for the first time in over a year) and boogied with my friend Gill to ‘Young at Heart.’
And we are.
3.Find a way to give
On days I physically could not get down the stairs, to get outside, I fed the birds from the window.
On better days I went downstairs and what once I knew as the bin sheds became a little bit of paradise.
I cannot tell you the heart-singing joy it gives me.
At that time, it made me feel useful and less vulnerable.
It made me so happy that they had chosen my turf!
Now I marvel at how intimately I know them.
When I am lucky enough to hear the robin sing, the fragile wee mite it is, it really makes my day and I bore everyone to tears by going on about it!
And we are never really giving simply receiving. Right?
Laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine