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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Quote for the Day : Sunshine & Smiles

“…What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable…”

— Joseph Addison

 

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Mis-Beehaving

My Mum has a gorgeous garden.  She keeps it looking lovely, but also endeavours to make it as water-saving and bee/bird-friendly as possible.  She has lots of natives combined with more traditional, cottage garden plants.  It’s not easy having a nice garden in WA.  The Summers are so hot and even in the “wetter” months things can dry out. A couple of years ago, Mum got a landscaper in to help her design an eco-friendly (but still beautiful) garden that she could maintain herself and continue to work on.  She’s only a pensioner, my Mum, so it was all done on a strict budget, saving money where possible (the landscaper was brilliant).

What she ended up with is a low-maintenance garden that is pretty all year round and makes the most of every season.  It is also very welcoming to native birds and bees and the odd frog or two.  Mum’s been very keen on attracting the native Blue Banded Bee, a cute little species of bee that lives a solitary life, with the females building their nests in singular burrows, in mud or soft mortar (or you can build them a little house, like THESE).  They don’t create large stores of honey, so they are not suitable for honey production.  BBBs don’t mind having close neighbours, in fact they will often build their nests right next door to another bee, although they still do not behave in a “colony” kind of way.

They are excellent pollinators, using the “buzz” method, which means they grasp the flower and basically give it a good shake, by shivering their flight muscles, or banging their head on the flower (yes, really).  This releases the pollen, which is hidden in tiny capsules.  Many flowers require this type of pollination, so blue banded bees are very necessary to the continuation of several plant species.

While they do have a mild sting, BBBs are not very aggressive.  They move very quickly and can hover, unlike most other bees.  They are a total pain to photograph (ha ha) because they don’t stay still for long, and move at a much faster pace than regular bees, zipping around in a blur that causes the photographer (ie me) to swear a lot and dance around the garden, yelling “Keep still, dammit!”

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see the bee, hovering about, in the centre of the photo.

They are attracted primarily to white or blue flowers (possibly because it is better for camouflage) and are particularly good at pollinating tomatoes, eggplants and kiwifruit apparently.  So much so, there are plans to use them as greenhouse bees for large-scale tomato production.

BBBs are small critters, about 11mm in length, and have bands of iridescent pale blue-almost white on their abdomens.  When they fly, they look like a little flash of blue.
At night, the males cling to  plant stems, like tiny little chickens roosting for the night 🙂

Bees, in general, are so important to the well-being of the planet.  We should look after them and give them happy habitats and clean environments.   I personally love the little critters (probably because I have never been stung!) and enjoy watching them and their behaviour.  I find if you just let them get on with their business, they will stay out of yours.  Blue Banded Bees are really nice to watch and because they are not aggressive, you can get up close and personal with them, plus there is no risk of being attacked by a swarm!

You can find out more info about the Blue Banded Bee HERE

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Finally – a perfect shot!  It took me probably an hour to get this little guy to stay still long enough for me to take his photo.  Look at those amazing antennae and perfect stripes!
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Quote for the Day : Bees

“… the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot… If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee’s temper… Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved…”

— Sue Monk Kidd : The Secret Life of Bees

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Kings Park – Everlastings

Kings Park – Everlastings

It is Wildflower Season here in Western Australia and there are some gorgeous blooms popping up everywhere.  On a recent outing to the Botanic Gardens at Kings Park, with our visitor from the UK, we were treated to carpets of glorious Everlasting flowers in every shade of pink, yellow and orange. They are just beautiful, epitomising Spring and all its joyful, sunshiney goodness.  They are such happy flowers, with their papery petals and luscious hues.  Just look at the colours here – a small sample of the beauties on display:

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Pretty princess pink!

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The bees love them too 🙂

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Like a fiery sunset!

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This one reminds me of Coconut Ice…

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More pinks…

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Love this little bee.  Look at him!  So greedy!  Look at all that pollen he’s collected!  He certainly is the bee’s knees! 🙂

We saw so many beautiful flowers and plants on this chilly, but sunny, Spring day.  More pics to follow in upcoming posts.  I really must get some crafting done but I haven’t been in the mood, plus I have barely been spending any time at home anyway.  I had rent inspection this week, so I had to tidy up and get cleaning – after that I don’t want to make a mess ha ha.  It won’t take long until chaos reigns supreme again though, knowing me.  I am hopeless.  It’s why you love me, right?

Hope your day has been bright and sunshiney 🙂