Archive | April 2012

saving a bird

Saving a bird


Around 6:00 a.m. today, I leashed my two dogs for their morning walk through my trailer park. Tied to my motorized scooter, they get their daily exercise. It’s all very routine except for today. Tiny chirps caught my attention as I rolled by my mobile home. Bunched up among a pile of dried leaves sat an injured baby bird. Perhaps the bird fell out of a nearby nest. I don’t know. I scooped up the bird and put him in a little box. After my dog’s outing, I gave them a snack and headed for a nearby animal hospital in Tempe, AZ where I live. They open early. I asked if they would take the bird and end the suffering. No they would not. Astonished and disappointed, I drove to my vet’s office. The sign said they did not open for another half an hour. I tried another animal hospital I thought would be open. It was. They too would not accept the injured bird. Back I went to my vet, Pecan Grove in Tempe, and they accepted the bird.


Leaving the battered little bird chirping for help wasn’t an option. There are stray cats in my trailer park that probably would have eaten the bird. OK, the cats are trying to stay alive but I wanted a better option for the bird.


I am sad and dismayed that two large animal hospitals turned me away. Why I asked both of them. They didn’t have a veterinarian on board at the time. I asked if they could hold the bird until a vet came in. No.


What happened to compassion and kindness?


Union isn’t a four letter word

Unions have a place in society, although some detractors in the tea party shirk at the mere mention of the word union as if it is radioactive. Unions defend the rights of American workers and protect jobs. What’s wrong with that when so many jobs are outsourced or lost to cheap overseas labor? Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase earns a tidy annual salary of $23 million. John Stumpf takes in less at $17.9 million while Brian Moynihan works for a scant $8.1 million a year. Banks were bailed out in 2008 (courtesy of Uncle Sam) as a result of the mortgage crisis which they helped to engineer. Why didn’t the tea party yap then?


Yet politicians and tea baggers continue to rail against unions for competing for decent wages. I don’t get it. The tea party doesn’t want good wages too? Tea party politicians unload everything on unions such as the rising cost of health care, air fares, higher food prices, you name it. Blame those union folks. You remember them, the folks who brought you weekends off. Yeah, those people who fought for the 9 to 5 work day that’s now a relic of the past. Most workers put in 9 hour days with an hour for lunch, if they’re lucky. Yet tea baggers rarely complain about the mega millions reaped by Wall Street, even by failing companies. Wait, what’s wrong here? What happened to personal responsibility? Isn’t that a bedrock of the Republican Party? If students fail, it must be that union teacher’s fault. Disgruntled parents might even hire an attorney to sue the school, the teacher, and the state. There could be no other reason Johnny is failing. Right? But if a company fails, even after accepting generous tax subsidies, what happens? Nothing. They simply close down, lay off staff and leave. Doesn’t that bother the tea baggers? Isn’t that an example of “don’t tread on me?” I admit some unions are inflexible and make unrealistic demands. Yes, sometimes inept employees are retained due to union work rules. What about corporate behavior? Tea baggers don’t seem too concerned executives aren’t paying their fair share. They don’t seem concerned corporations hire lobbyists to write legislation that favors business. Tea baggers narrowly focus only on themselves and not the greater good. We do live in a diverse world. Unions are not the enemy. Greed, selfish behavior, arrogance, lack of information, and narrow minds are causing our downfall. Don’t place the blame squarely on the unions. There’s enough blame to spread around and that includes the tea baggers. They’re part of the game too.


I’ll get to politicians another time.


As long as people laugh they’re not killing each other says actor Alan Alda. Laughter is nothing new but there’s plenty new with laughter. Medical research suggests that laughter elevates mood, relieves stress and lowers blood pressure. So successful at healing laughter is now organized into a multi-national movement. What’s organized laughter all about and what’s in it for you?

In 1995 the medicinal benefits of laughter interested Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian physician. He asked strangers on a Mumbai street to laugh with him. That simple gesture ultimately created Laughter Yoga International ( Now 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries such as Jamaica, Bhutan, Austria, Canada and Jordan bring people together. Laughter conferences are held regularly in the US and around the world. Laughter motivates police forces in Viet Nam. Laughter in the Mexican and South American prisons helps inmates keep a positive focus while separated from family and friends for long stretches. Hospitals and congregate care facilities incorporate laughter for patients with serious diseases and/or injuries. A Midwestern pastor uses laughter in her Lutheran congregation.

In January 2010 my own world crashed due to a pending foreclosure. A pedestrian car accident in 1994 left me 100% disabled with brain and spine injuries. On the verge of homelessness I fretted about what I could afford on Social Security Disability. I had two scrappy dogs and was terrified of losing everything.

Then I found the monthly laughter group at Southwest Institute for Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe AZ. The free admission met my budget. I needed a reason to smile so I said why not? Led by certified laughter leader Linda Scharf, the group laughed for no reason. For an hour Scharf led us though a series of exercises that made us scream with laughter.

That night, I slept soundly for a change because I let go of so much pent up fear, frustration and anger. Since that first night, I only missed a few laughter groups. Each month, new people arrive including some with children, and familiar faces return. Now and then, attendees speak little or no English. That doesn’t matter because laughter is a universal language.

People attend laughter club out of curiosity or for deeply personal reasons like a death in the family, divorce, illness or mounting personal problems. Joan Pearlman, a regular laugher, works in the healing profession. “I enjoy laughter club because of the positive feelings and responses that I get and give to others.” The always cheerful Pearlman usually wears a jester hat for laughter club.

Laughter leader and cancer survivor Linda Scharf says laughter helped her endure tough times battling illness. A 2004 newspaper article about laughter clubs inspired her to take the two day laughter leader course. Ever since, she’s been leading laughter clubs in the Phoenix area. “I’ve yet to find any negative effects from laughter,” says Scharf.

Laughter clubs won’t create sorely needed jobs nor will it unite our bitterly divided Congress. It can however bring together strangers and friends for an hour of fun. Everyone benefits from an open attitude.

To find a laughter club year you, visit All that’s needed is the willingness to laugh for no reason.

P.S. I found a trailer park rental that accepted pets and I still love to laugh every day.