Monday, May 9, 2016

LAUGH-FEST! LAUGH-FEST! YES! YES! YES!

OH WOW! The Laugh-Fest of the Midwest is almost here! You can almost hear the laughter ringing already. The great news is that we have the largest group registered for the fest we've ever had. And the even better news is that there is still a bit of space left for you and your friends. YAY!

The'll be a costume party and talent show this year!

I get it, you're busy. Who has time to register months in advance? So for those of you who haven't yet, pop right over to the Laugh-Fest page and register now. It is not too late! If money's tight, consider the Saturday only option or the discount housing. Those are both found on the mail-in form right here. If you'd rather use Paypal for those options, email me at laughinglauragentry@gmail.com so I can invoice you.

Experience the elation of laughter!

Why come to the Laugh-Fest of the Midwest? Because it is a laughter vacation. It will enable you to spend quality time with other people serious about happiness and you'll get loads of laughter, inspiration, delicious food and time in nature. It's a joy-lift waiting for you. What could be better? Listen to my podcast interview that has more about the Laugh-Fest here.

I also want to thank the presenters who have put in such effort to create amazing experiences and who are making the trip to Ferryville to share their wisdom with us. We are so grateful for their generosity of spirit. You'll want to be at the Laugh-Fest just to hang out with these laughter giants. Read about them all here.

Feel the bond of laughter connect hearts and minds

And let you forget, there are two pre-conference workshops you can take to expand your learning and delight. Learn about Celia's Laughter and the Voice workshop here and Lynda's Genius Play workshop here. These experiences are incredibly unique so take advantage of this opportunity if you can.

Ray Wojciechowski will be at the Laugh-Fest making his wildly popular balloon creations!
This year's festival theme is YES! so please say YES and be with us for a weekend you won't soon forget. TEEEEEHEE!


Saturday, May 7, 2016

GENUIS PLAY EXPERIENCE—A PRE-LAUGH-FEST WORKSHOP

The Laugh-Fest is almost here! I can feel the giggles ascending already. You're excited to be, aren't you? Oh, and guess what? You can still register here right now! 

You know it begins this Friday, May 13th, but what you might not know is that there is going to be an incredible pre-event workshop all day at the camp in Ferryville. It is called the Genius Play Experience and it is being led by none other than Lynda Tourloukis.


"What is Genius Play?" You ask. Genius Play is another new innovation by the amazing Lynda Tourloukis. She's always on the cutting edge and here's your opportunity to learn from her.



Genius Play is an intriguing and inspiring experience where we can discover fun facets and learn more capabilities than we thought. This is an exploration that is light-hearted and playfully activates your ability to yield the potential of what is possible.

Discover what abilities you are not using and refine a few that you are. This is FUN. There is LAUGHTER. And there is OMG!!!

Hurry and register today. More information and registration is available at: 

You can say YES! To Genius Play and to the Laugh-Fest of the Midwest. 



And remember this is not the only workshop going on this Friday! There is also Celia Faran's Laughter and the Voice workshop, which is sure to be a fascinating experience. Learn more here. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A FREE PODCAST SO YOU CAN LAUGH ALONG


I'm excited to announce an awesome Podcast all about laughter as a lifestyle. It is an interview I gave for the Joy Factor Podcast with Julie Hanson, Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. This free resource helps people to boost their joy with various wellness practices.

Julie Hanson explains the mission of The Joy Factor in this way:


My mission is to help you remember your birthright. You deserve joy in your life and in your relationships. Let’s help you claim that shall we?

In addition to being an LCMFT (Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist), and LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) I am a formally trained life coach and registered yoga teacher. I integrate the best of eastern and western schools of thought to help clients lead happier, more authentic lives. I am adept at the art of selecting an approach that fits the person or couple and strongly believe my clients have the inner resources to create the lives and relationships they want. My role is to act as a guide and strategist by offering direction, modeling new skills and sometimes simply holding the flashlight as the answers are discovered. My therapy clients include individuals, couples and families. I have taught hundreds of engaged couples how to prepare for marriage using an approach grounded in research, creativity and humor. I also regularly teach parenting and conflict management classes, relaxation groups, as well as a psychology of yoga and self-compassion workshops.


This interview is so much fun and I explain more about what will be happening at the upcoming Laugh-Fest of the Midwest. So please give it a listen here and share it with your friends! Thank you.






Thursday, April 28, 2016

LAUGHFEST INTERVIEWS—PART 10

The Laugh-Fest is almost upon us (May 13-15) and the excitement keeps building! (register here) We have an impossibly wonderful group of presenters this year who will be bringing our YES! theme to life. I've been highlighting many of them here at the blog. Today, I would like to introduce you to the incredible Judith Hitt.


Judith Hitt has a background in Nursing, Music and the healing arts. In 1995, she hosted Patch Adams to come to Vermont to give a presentation on the role of humor in  health and healing. From that time on, she was hooked and is a firm believer in bringing humor and joy into our lives, on all levels. Judith is also an ordained Buddhist Lama and Director of Saraswati Bhawan, a Buddhist organization in Lansing, Iowa. She teaches workshops and retreats on meditation, yoga and healing worldwide, and is on the faculty of the International Harp Therapy Program. She will lead a "Yes Breath" meditation on Friday night. Here's my interview with her.

LAURA: Judith, we are enthusiastic about the fact that you’ll be joining us for the Laugh-Fest. You are the first ordained Buddhist Lama to teach at this event and we think this will officially make you a Laughing Lama! Tee hee! So how did you decide to get involved this year?

JUDITH: I love the idea of being a Laughing Lama! When you invited me to participate and lead a meditation for the LaughFest, I just felt it was a great opportunity to connect with others who wish to bring joy into the world and in other people's lives. And—it is in my own backyard! How could I refuse?


LAURA: You and your husband lead retreats at the Saraswati Bhawan, a Buddhist organization and retreat center in the hills above the Mississippi River in Lansing, Iowa. Through this work, what have you learned about the importance of retreats?


JUDITH: In our tradition, retreats are an essential part of our practice and training. There are many kinds of practices and many levels of training. In a nutshell, retreat gives us a chance to look deeply at the inner workings of our minds—which includes our thoughts and emotions, and the repetitive habit patterns that keep us bound to this cyclic existence. In retreat, we are better able to connect with our true nature, which often becomes obscured in the stress and busyness of our daily lives. By learning how to tame the 'monkey mind,' as we like to call it, and untangle the deeply ingrained habit patterns of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; we become freed from our repetitive negative habits, and are better able to respond to life in a way that is beneficial to ourselves and others. Rather than just 'reacting' out of unconscious habit patterns, we can respond with wisdom.


LAURA: Indeed, learning healthier thought patterns is a goal of this laughing retreat. I understand that you have designed a creative “YES-BREATH” meditation for us to play with following the gigantic Laughter Yoga session we’ll enjoy on Friday night. What can we expect from this experience?


JUDITH: It will be a wonderful opportunity to integrate and settle all the beautiful laughter energy from the day. Breath is  life—we say 'yes' to life every time we inhale. We will breathe in the connections, love and joy that we experienced during the day, and bring it deep into our inner being, holding it like a treasure. We will use movement and sound with our breath to settle the energy into our inner being as a way to conclude our day and prepare for rest.


LAURA: It sounds truly magnificent. What fun it will be to share this experience with one another. As you know, the theme of the Laugh-Fest this year is “YES!” It is about affirming life, living joyfully and saying yes to all the things that bring us into that space of abundance. In your own life journey, how has saying yes been important to you? What insights would you like to share?


JUDITH: 'Yes' means to have confidence. It is the ultimate antidote to fear. It is our fears and hesitations that hold us back from experiencing our lives to the fullest and from living our true potential. By saying 'yes' to life, to what comes our way, we more readily enter the present moment—free from past conditioning and fear of the future unknowns. By saying 'yes' in any given moment, we enter the flow of the divine, the universe, as it unfolds before us. We become fearless, joyful, and open to new possibilities.


LAURA: YES! And now Judith, can you tell us what your hopes for the Laugh-Fest are?


JUDITH: To have fun and to connect with others in a meaningful way!


LAURA: Me too! I know we will do so. HA HA HA!



Judith Hitt (front row left) at the Lansing Laughter Club

Please join the Laughing Lama and the rest of the fabulous presenters and laughers at the 4th annual Laugh-Fest  of the Midwest May 13-15, 2016 in Ferryville, Wisconsin. You can register here! Remember that you can do Saturday only or choose to stay in the Frontier Village should you wish to attend at a discount. We are want you there! YAY!



Saturday, April 16, 2016

LAUGHTER & THE VOICE WORKSHOP

Exciting news: On the day the Laugh-Fest begins, May 13, you can come early and take a full-day workshop with Celia! She will be offering an interactive experience called Laughter & The Voice.

Your voice is an amazing instrument. It is always with you. Come and uncover your “consistent instrument” through vocal games & discovery. Celia will guide the group through imaginative play  & exercises that will leave you with a new appreciation for this incredible expressive part of you called your voice. Expect to become more present in your body & vocal singing or speech expression whether you want to lead singing circles, audition for American Idol, or simply rock out behind your steering wheel with the windows up. We will play & sing together. You might even have a fantastic time!



Celia has been performing for over 30 years with training in stage speech & vocal singing. She currently tours the nation as a singer/songwriter/comedienne and is also a recording artist with 13 recordings to date. Celia teaches vocal workshops as well as private voice in person or via the internet. She specializes in guiding singers to finding new tones & soundscapes they didn't even know they had. www.celiaonline.com.


Increase your fun & learning by adding this workshop to your Laugh-Fest experience! The workshop runs on Friday, May 13, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Sugar Creek Bible Camp in Ferryville, Wisconsin.  If you would like to come early and stay over Thursday night at the camp, you can arrange that with me, Laughing Laura (email: laughinglauragentry@gmail.com).

Fee: $149 — Laugh-Fest attendees can register for just $99!
Contact Celia Farran to register:
Celia@Celiaonline.com

Pssst: Check out Celia's interview about the Laugh-Fest here.

Oh, and there is still time to register for the amazing Laugh-Fest of the Midwest! You will want to seize this incredible opportunity to gather with laughers from around the country for a rollicking good time in the hills of Wisconsin this May.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

LAUGHFEST INTERVIEWS—PART 9


Celia Farran is a singer/songwriter with 10 albums. She's also a comedienne and Laughter Yoga Teacher. Celia has written a Laugh-Fest theme song and will play a concert for us on Saturday night and at church on Sunday morning. Here's her interview.

LAURA: Celia, we are so excited to have you back at Laugh-Fest—this year as a presenter! First of all, I’d like to talk about the theme song you wrote for us and we are thrilled. Can you tell us about your creative process with it?

CELIA: Well, there I was about to do my yoga practice and I got a text from YOU asking if I had any songs about the power of saying “Yes”.  I gave it a quick think and realized that I didn’t have any songs like that but it sure would be great if I did.  Then the chorus came to me immediately.  I texted you back within a few minutes to let you know that I had written the song.  You texted back by saying “You are some kind of amazing.”  Over the next day I rounded out the song and recorded it and now we have a theme song titled “Yes to Life” that we can sing together at Laugh-Fest.  I think it is safe to say that this song happened because I said “Yes”! Click below to hear it.



LAURA: This song is going to be a part of our conference throughout. I’m sure everyone will return home after a rejuvenating weekend with your song playing through their heads. What a fun way to remember the experience! Tell me, what meaning does this theme of saying YES mean to you personally?

CELIA:  I am a firm believer in positive thinking and am a student of the New Thought material shared in Centers for Spiritual Living (I’m usually singing at a Unity or a Center for Spiritual Living somewhere every Sunday).  I believe that what I focus on increases.  I prefer to call in what I am desiring by saying “yes” to it rather than looking at what I don’t want by saying “no”. This opens me up to receive all the goodness that I can handle.  Laughter does this inherently without thought or analysis.  Laughter and Singing are my favorite forms of saying “Yes”.  

LAURA: You are going to be doing a short concert for the Laugh-Festers on Saturday night as part of our costume party. Tell us what we can expect.

CELIA:  I like to mix things up when I do a concert.  I like to combine the silly with the sacred.  Music & Laughter are perfect partners.  It might be best for me to include some of my “bio” info here to help folks get a sense of what I do when I take the stage:
Singer/Songwriter/Comedienne Celia has been described as “A cross between an Earthy Enya, Joan Baez, and Tina Fey.” She dishes up the most delicious concoction of the silly and sacred delighting audiences across the nation. In addition to having the kind of silky smooth voice often associated with classic Celtic Singers, such as “Celtic Woman”, Celia excels at comedy. She often transforms right on stage into one or more of her alter-egos-whose antics typically leave the audience howling with laughter. With powerful, heart-felt vocals and wacky comedic improvisations, the audience never knows what will happen with Celia on stage.



Celia often uses sophisticated “looping” technology to perform duets, trios, and even larger ensembles with herself. Nothing is pre-recorded. She lays down a track then using the looping technology harmonizes with herself — all live and in real time. The result is an amazing listening experience for the audience.

Celia has opened for notable authors: Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson & Dr. Masaru Emoto, provided live music for the Off-Broadway production of “Rum & Vodka, & has received a “Best Storytelling CD” nomination for “Irish Tales” by the International Just Plain Folks Awards (The Grassroots of Grammies). Her “Symbol” song has been named the “Anthem for the Veteran Pentacle Quest” in support of Religious tolerance & acceptance.

Celia is from Wisconsin and calls Prescott, AZ home. She is currently touring with her 10th album, “Letting Go". No matter how many times you think you’ve seen Celia, you can never predict what she will do and how deeply she can reach into the soul of an audience.  Celia’s range of styles and entertainment is far more than a concert. It is more like a full Cabaret.

“Go out of your way to see her. You won’t be disappointed.” Rick’s CafĂ© Magazine

“Celia’s music calls women to their glory and men to their hearts.” 
Marianne Williamson, Author “A Return to Love”

“Celia is an ambrosia of vitality flowing from sweet to sass with the utmost of grace.” Gemma, “A Million Voice Choir”



LAURA: Incredible! We are so fortunate to have you at the Laugh-Fest. Additionally, you’ll be playing music at the church field trip to Lansing, Iowa on Sunday morning. What is that performance going to entail?

CELIA: I have a great deal of Peaceful, Spiritual, and Meditation Music that I typically share at churches.  I expect I will probably play our theme song “Yes to Life” for sure as well!  I hear your services are filled with play…so I might get a bit playful too.  

LAURA: Celia, you are also a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher. How did you decide to get into Laughter Yoga and what has it done for you in your life?

CELIA: As a singer and comedienne I have witnessed the powerful healing transformation of laughter on rooms of people who don’t know each other when they walk in.  It is a magic I can’t even begin to describe.  When I heard that there was this thing called Laugher Yoga I decided that I wanted to become a Laughter Yoga Leader.  I manifested an awesome opportunity to get my training right in my own living room when I was living in Santa Fe, NM in 2009.  I was certified by Khristine Baker and exchanged the cost of the training for providing her a venue to teach in!  I then started combining my Laughter Training with my Vocal training and began offering workshops called “Laughter & the Voice”.  I will be offering this workshop on Friday before the Fest begins.  

LAURA: That's right! And this is new news so blog readers, please take note of this exciting opportunity! Oh, and Celia, I understand you do a Laughter Party on the phone. What's that all about?

CELIA: In July of 2014 I started a Laughter Party on the Phone and during one of those calls I got inspired to become a Laughter Yoga Teacher so that I could certify others.  In December 2014 I did my Teacher Training with Jeffrey Briar in California.  Dedicating myself to a daily laughter practice has resulted in many positive changes including raising my immune level (I never get sick anymore), raising my emotional intelligence (I’m a much happier person-very little bothers me), and building laughter friendships with people all over the country.

If anyone is interested in joining us for Laughter Party on the phone the call in information can be found at the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LaughterParty/
It is FREE!

LAURA: Yes, it is free! How awesome is that! What are some things that inspire you?

CELIA:  I have to say that everything inspires me.  I get creative ideas all day long every day.  I have more songs wanting to get sung and recorded than I can count.  I love creating funny material as well as peaceful spiritual material.  I also feel moved to write songs that make a real difference and I have had the unique opportunity to offer up the art of the song to literally change history.  I feel it is the responsibility of creative artists not just to entertain but also to pull the truth (as we see it) from our experiences and bring it through to our art.  I’m a big fan of what Woody Guthrie says…(Paraphrased)..”It’s not how good a song is…it’s what good a song DOES.”.

LAURA: What are your hopes for the Laugh-Fest?

CELIA: I had such a fantastic time last year at Laugh-Fest.  It’s a truly remarkable experience to spend a weekend with adults who are ready and willing to Play!  Just thinking about the good times to be had makes me smile!  I look forward to staying on site this year and making deeper connections with new and old friends.  I hope I get to have as much fun or more than I did last year!

LAURA: I can't wait!!  Thanks, Celia. 



For more information about Celia or to find out how you can register for the pre-conference workshop with her, please visit her Web site: www.celiaonline.com.

Tomorrow (April Fool's Day) is the last day to get the early bird special for the Laugh-Fest! If you mail your form in (click here for that), just make sure it is postmarked by April 1. Otherwise, sign up online with Paypal at the LaughFest Page. YAY!



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

LAUGHFEST INTERVIEWS—PART 8



Teddy Widdel was an art educator for 24 years then became a healthcare and wellness coordinator, weight watcher leader and a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher. She is a marketing director for Bickford Assisted Living where their motto is "enriching happiness" through which she is able to spread laughter all over the state. Teddy enthusiastically teaches laughter to ages 9-90 and provides them with the tools of laughter so they can reduce stress, relieve pain, exercise mind and body, and heighten energy!  She is a motivational speaker who has a unique program which gives you the "HAPPY TOOLS" you will need to laugh every day and through every circumstance! Here is my interview with her.

LAURA: Teddy, I’m soooooo elated that you will be back for the Laugh-Fest this year! You were a part of the Laughter Yoga Teacher class, which was held five years ago at Sugar Creek Bible Camp that decided to start the Laugh-Fest. Thanks for the inspiration! It sure was a wonderful time, wasn’t it? Now you are a Laughter Yoga Teacher offering classes of your own. What’s it been like to teach Laughter Yoga and offer professional programs of laughter?

TEDDY: I have trained and certified people in Laughter Yoga and I speak to people from all walks of life.  I teach at the YMCA, children and seniors. I laugh with people at Senior Centers. I even made the auditors and accountants at the three major universities in Iowa laugh and “spray” laughter on one another!  They reminded me that everyone needs to laugh and can if someone gives them permission!

Teddy laughing with seniors

LAURA: That’s awesome! Teddy, you are such a joyful person. Can you tell us about your own personal journey to become the person you are today? How has Laughter Yoga helped, healed and empowered you?

TEDDY: The week I was going to get certified in Laughter Yoga my husband of 26 years asked me for a divorce and I lost my job. Little did I know it, but Laughter Yoga the tool God had for me to get through the next two years of my life! It has not only helped me survive—it has helped me thrive! Now I have a whole new career in Laughter Yoga and I am married to the funniest man ever who actually proposed to me after attending his first Laughter Yoga event.  He joined my Parkinson's support group and sprayed laughter on them like an elephant and he was a hit!  

LAURA: I understand you just got back from California where you trained as a motivational speaker. Can you tell us about that?

TEDDY: Yes! Arvee Robinson is a professional speaker trainer and I went there to be trained after meeting her at an event in Waterloo, Iowa.  She gave me direction and guidance to perfect my speaking and I have templates and DVDs to incorporate my speaking to any topic I need to present.  I am now a Professional Speaker—a dream I have always wanted!  

LAURA: And you are such an engaging speaker, Teddy! Congratulations on taking your speaking career to the next level. At the Laugh-Fest you will be sharing your “HAPPY TOOLS” lecture with us. Would you give us a sneak preview of that presentation?

TEDDY: The secret tool I will teach is HAPPY.........that's all I can say for now...shhhhh it is a secret.

LAURA: Ha ha! I guess you have to come to the Laugh-Fest to learn the Happy Tools from Teddy. :) But can you give some advise for someone who is out there who might be really struggling—wanting to laugh but not having the motivation or strength to do so? How can you turn the corner and learn to laugh again?

TEDDY: Just laugh. It changes everything. Lay in bed each morning and burst out with a “ha” then a “haha” and then a “hahaha”! By laughing intentionally, you are making a choice to get up and be powerful NOT pitiful!  No one will join you on the pity pot but they will join you on the party pot! Haha!

LAURA: As I’ve said, I’m over-the-moon that you’ll be coming back to the Laugh-Fest this year. What are your hopes for this year’s event?

TEDDY: I expect to eat, drink and be merry with my laughing friends from the past and my new friends I will soon meet!  I can't wait to share the laughter and become the best the person I can be. YES!

Teddy at the Laugh-Fest two years ago (back row, second from right)

Laugh with and learn from Teddy and all the other amazing presenters/leaders at the 4th annual Laugh-Fest of the Midwest May 13-15 in Ferryville, Wisconsin. Register before April 1 and get the early bird discount! Click here to learn more.