Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Yes! We have done it. We’ve pulled off a spring retreat of laughter yoga in the beautiful hills of Ferryville, Wisconsin. It was amazing. Forty one people were involved in the event—some for the whole weekend, others for a day. They came from all over the Midwest and Doug, the Laugh Man, came from Mississippi!

We’ve decided that we ABSOLUTELY DO want it to become an annual event—basically a  laughter yoga conference of the Midwest. Next year, we’re hoping to gather for an even bigger, more delightful party and we hope you’ll join us. We even have a committee forming to plan it. Possible dates are: May 16-18 or March 14-16. Please e-mail me at to report your preference. Thanks! 

Meanwhile, let me tell you about this year’s retreat. It so wiped me out that I haven’t had a chance to post this blog until now. 

We gathered on Friday, April 19th and laughed pretty much nonstop until the afternoon of Sunday, April 21st. Here are some highlights:

• We had two full-blown laughter yoga sessions. One was led by LY Teachers Jill and Dan Johnson of Sioux Falls, SD on Friday night, and the other was led by Madison Laughter Club Teachers Mike Kueny, Nancy Greenwald, Michelle Erschen, and Beth Murphy on Sunday morning.
• We learned about how to laugh our way into mindfulness with easy and fun practices as taught by LY Teacher Deb Olson, R.N. 
• We picked up tips for leading laughter clubs and getting hired with a presentation by LY Teachers Kathy Wilkinson and Carolyn Christopher. 
• We laughed the Labyrinth and got gibberish blessings.
• We enjoyed laughing in the wood fired sauna.
• We laughed at Doug's laugh.
• We hiked in the hills (and some of us...we’re not naming lost).
• We laughed with our ancestors using a method called family constellations and asked them to support us in our endeavor to live joyfully.
• We watched a portion of the film Laughology and heard from the star, Doug Collins, about how his laugh has changed his life and the world for the better (and believe me, it touched us all deeply).
• We sang, danced, laughed and played games at our Saturday evening costume party (which is where most of the following pictures were taken).
• We made new friends and played together happily in our playgroups.
• We had campfires (where the bunny hop was also performed...along with all the silly songs we could remember).
• Some laughers invaded my church, Our Savior's Lutheran, on Sunday morning, thus bringing their joyful energy into the worship service.
• Four new Laughter Yoga Leaders graduated and were sent off to change the world with laughter.
• And at the end, all were awarded "The Most Valuable Laugher in the Universe" certificates because the universe is big enough for ALL of us to be the most 
valuable. And incidentally, we declared Ferryville the laughing center of the Universe. Who knew?

I’m note quite sure how we packed all of that into one weekend. But we did! And we all felt the benefit of joining together with so many positive, happy, laughing, singing, dancing people! So much love—oh, it made our hearts sing! I am so grateful for everyone's participation and I can't wait 'til next year.

the laughing name tags all ready to go

the laughing bird pens who greeted each laugher

Doug and me at the recording studio (we had to finish our CD before the retreat).

Doug at the Votive Candle Chapel at the Shine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (we took him there on our way down to the camp in Ferryville)

Doug inside the Votive Candle Chapel where he lit a candle and prayed for our retreat

during the laughing with our ancestors session I led

performing the laughing seven generations ritual

Carolyn saying hello to the pink elephant by blowing in my trunk

The group of young people who joined us from Milwaukee

here I am with Laughter Yoga Leader, Barb Flouro

the ever amazing LY Teacher, Carolyn Christopher

Can you find Waldo? How about the pink elephant?

Doug with the Johnsons

the ladies from Ladysmith, Wisconsin: Pat, Shirley and Barb, along with Doug and me

Doug getting ready to party!

LY Leader Lisa Weis and her foreign exchange student, Silvia laugh with the elephant

the loveable LY Teacher Kathy Wilkinson

here I am with LY Leader Carrie Hein Paredes (Carrie and I have been friends since childhood and the laughter yoga helped us find one another and reconnect in a magical way) 
Doug and Kathy

the Waldos are whispering sweet nothings into my big ears 
with LY Teacher Deb Olson, the fairy princess

The laughers who invaded my church on Sunday morning

A hilarious laughter meditation

More fun with costumes! (sorry about the cow suit, Kathy, I know I promised not to bring it this year!)

Kathy and Carolyn's presentation

Doug with Pastor Jenna, Laughter Yoga Leader, and her husband, Mike

Cheering in the center of the labrinth

Our whole group
an example of the Most Valuable Laugher awards...Doug wasn't the only one who got one! We all did!