New Year, New Laughs

I laugh loudest when I laugh with friends. When my laughter is among the trusted individuals who laugh with me. It is my mission to help create an environment where I am able to laugh loud, where there is trust and confidence... for only then can we freely laugh at ourselves.

"As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh. Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward, until we are not merely belly laughing but rather body laughing.

Laughter has been a part of the human mode of expression since before evolution granted us the art of speech. Through it, we connected with allies while demonstrating our connection with people we didn't know. In the present, laughter allows us to enjoy positive shared experiences with strangers and loved ones alike. Yet solitary laughter carries with it its own slew of benefits. An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life's ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts. Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally feared. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.

It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Our laughter then resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile." Madisyn Taylor, Daily Om

Sincerely,

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Emotional Vampires

The holidays, the time of year we are blessed to be around family. The time of year that we look forward to; making memories with our children, taking pictures and creating traditions. Some moms might agree that this time of year can also be very taxing. Being around family isn't always a favorite...and is there anyone who doesn't have the crazy uncle or aunt? Or the cousin that NOBODY wants to be around but everyone invites anyway... because, well, it's Christmas?

I found this essay to be relevant and helpful, and so, rather than rewording something that was already so well written, I would simply share it with you all. I hope you glean from it all that I did during this time of year. Sometimes breaking bread with family can lead us to a broken heart. Just know you aren't alone... somewhere across the city is another mom overcooking her ham and wishing her kids would stop dunking their breadcrumbs in their iced water.... So here is Madisyn Taylor's bit on relationships with vampires. 

"Relationships are always an energy exchange. To stay feeling our best, we must ask ourselves: Who gives us energy? Who saps it? It's important to be surrounded by supportive, heart-centered people who make us feel safe and secure. It's equally important to pinpoint the emotional vampires, who, whether they intend to or not, leech our energy.

To protect your sensitivity, it's imperative to name and combat these emotional vampires. They're everywhere: coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends. Most of us haven't been educated about draining people or how to emancipate ourselves from their clutches, requisite social skills for everyone desiring freedom. Emotional draining is a touchy subject. We don't know how to tactfully address our needs without alienating others. The result: We get tongue-tied, or destructively passive. We ignore the SOS from our gut that screams, "Beware!" Or, quaking in our boots, we're so afraid of the faux pas of appearing "impolite" that we become martyrs in lieu of being respectfully assertive. We don't speak out because we don't want to be seen as "difficult" or uncaring.

Vampires do more than drain our physical energy. The super-malignant ones can make you believe you're an unworthy, unlovable wretch who doesn't deserve better. The subtler species inflict damage that's more of a slow burn. Smaller digs here and there can make you feel bad about yourself such as, "Dear, I see you've put on a few pounds" or "It's not lady-like to interrupt." In a flash, they've zapped you by prodding areas of shaky self-worth.

This is my credo for vampires: Their antics are unacceptable; you must develop a successful plan for coping with them. I deeply believe in the merciful message of The Lord's Prayer to "forgive people their trespasses," but I'm also a proponent of preventing the unconscious or mean-spirited from trespassing against us. Taking a stand against draining people is a form of self-care and canny communication that you must practice to give your freedom legs."

I will add that maybe I wasn't always willing to give my freedom legs...until the vampires had to break bread with my babies. Food for thought over the next few weeks. Don't be afraid to "lay low" and avoid the heartache that can sometimes come from toxic family and friends. You aren't alone.

And now, eggnog and caroling... and a lot of jingling all the way!

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org