Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Something to Laugh About

It's amazing how quickly one's mood can go from happy and lighthearted to grumpy and agitated. I woke this morning feeling down and trapped. I assume it is the thought of 3 hours of Vitamin C this morning and 8 hours tomorrow at the oncologist that has something to do with it. However, I also noticed that I feel somewhat stuck. It's hard to make plans to go anywhere, and I find it depressing just staying in the condo. As much as I love it, the walls are beginning to close in.

Lauren and I did make plans to go away Columbus weekend. We're going to Denver with my friend Barbara from SF and Ann from PA. Thierry and I will most certainly take Curlew out again, and at some point, will get up to NYC. Its just that in the back of my mind is always a question of how I'll be feeling. I guess this is what you have to learn to live with when you depend on chemo for your survival.

I was flipping through a book that a friend gave me by Robert Schimmel, a story of how humor got him through his non-hodgkins lymphoma treatments. I generally avoid books about cancer and cancer survivors – they tend to depress me. I did read Lance Armstrong's book, “It's not about the Bike”, which I did enjoy, but for the most part, I really don't want to know what others have gone through, who lived and who didn't, etc. I felt very bad and unappreciative when my friend gave me a book of stories by various cancer sufferers/survivors. Intuitively she asked me if it would be something I would enjoy. Since she asked I was able to express my feelings to her.

At any rate, I read his list of lessons learned. One of the items on his list was to have a sense of humor, no matter what. I think about this often, especially when I am curled up on the sofa with my face smushed in the pillow feeling like a zombie. My sister told me that when she was going through her treatments years ago, she tried to maintain a sense of humor and looked up the joke of the day – I think on the Internet.

I used to think I had a sense of humor – but somewhere along the way lost it? Maybe I just imagined I had one, because I remember a dream from years ago – during a stressful time, when my neighbor/friend/former boss Edith LaRosa, long ago deceased, talked to me in a dream. I remember the dream vividly and won't go into the details, but she told me to stop taking everything so seriously. She said I was always too serious. I was one of those people who thought about everything to the point of overkill, often taking people's remarks personally. During my working days I would dwell on my mistakes and spend countless hours rehashing conversations and wondering if I said the right thing.

My gmail address is iwanaberma, for Erma Bombeck. Remember her? She used to write a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer (possibly nationally published). She passed away many years ago. I always wanted to be able to look at life as she did, noticing the ironies in things people said, in words, in everyday life, and writing about them in a way that always brought a smile or a chuckle.

So, how does one go about acquiring a sense of humor? Do you subscribe to joke of the day? Watch the Comedy Channel? Does it require that you listen more, question more, observe more – and think a lot less? How do you (my reader) maintain a sense of humor?

Today I will try to find things to laugh about – and turn this day into a good one.


Barbara Gruenwald said...

Ok, that's a tough one. When I was finished with my treatments, I was told by friends that I needed to be less serious...still trying. Mary, I've always thought you had a great sense of humor - picture comes to mind of you karate chopping a melon with a butcher knife in the Hill House kitchen (think this was a Saturday Night Live imitation). Anyway, I'm not much help and am turning this question over to John. He as you know has a degenerative illness, but still is able to maintain his great sense of humor. I do admire this, just not sure how it's done! More to come......

Mary B said...

I remember that afternoon - Samurai Housewife. I thought Doug was going to have a stroke when I started weilding the knife!

Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jean said...

Everything has a funny side to it. You just have to look for the humor and let yourself go and laugh.

Anonymous said...

It's taken me till Saturday to respond to your question about sense of humor. Says a lot about me and my tendency to analyze things and see the serious side of things first. So Mary, thx for helping me realize that I need to develop my sense of humor, look on the lighter side of life and go with the flow. Another words, just enjoy life and the gifts that are in the world every day.

One thing I already do know is that it's easy to laugh when I am around my friends, because then it's OK to be just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

Jeans right everything has a funny side.
Oh and by the way did my mom happen to tell you in your dream if she hid any money anywhere in the house....Just wondering.
see... there is humor everywhere.
Like Ann said ya just have to be sillY!!!

Mary B said...

Unfortunately, your mom did not say anything about hidden money!