Fran Joseph - A Profile

Fran J Joseph, USA
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Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:17:19

Hi there. My name is Fran Joseph and I live in Burlington Vermont, USA. I was certified as a Laughter Yoga Leader in 2008 and as a Teacher in Interlaken Switzerland in 2009. It really hasn’t been that long and yet, because Laughter Yoga (LY) feels so right, like a new friend who has taken up residence in my heart, time has been rendered meaningless. LY has become an integral part of who I am, not just something I do. It is working transformative magic in my life.

I believe that LY found me as much as I found LY. And I am willing to bet I’m not the only one who believes that about his/her LY experience. I moved to Vermont five years ago when my husband, Stan and I were planning to marry. In moving to where Stan already lived, I left behind friends, work I loved (as the director of an organization that supports frail elders and their families), and the pleasure and solace that living by the ocean offered me – the place I had chosen to live following the death of my partner ten years before. All at once I had moved, changed jobs, renovated a house, planned a wedding and married into a wonderful and complex family. Initially, I took it all up with driving determination, without giving myself time to even breathe or to acknowledge the vast changes I had made. I didn’t consider that even if changes are freely chosen and positively weighted, they still need space and time to be honored. The job I accepted was just work to me, a way to make the money we needed to pay our bills. It wasn’t enlivening and I couldn’t see the impact of my endeavors. I wanted to quit but couldn’t figure out an exit strategy. Two years later I started experiencing panic attacks and had to leave my job. The exit strategy had found me. I felt lost and overwhelmed. Clearly, I needed to take time to rest while I realigned my heart and sense of self. During this time I considered several career options. None resonated.

Here is where LY entered my life. I received an email announcing a LY leader training in Burlington offered by Jen Matthews and Kate Asch, two LY teachers who live in California. It piqued my interest but I wasn’t sure - I had never heard of LY. The idea stayed with me though and so when a few days later my step-daughter told me about the same training, I knew it was something I wanted to explore.

Well, I loved it. Jen and Kate are inspirational teachers and Dr. Kataria’s work, philosophy and vision felt simpatico with my own beliefs and passions. I began with what I knew and loved; I searched for and found opportunities to bring LY to elders. Some venues were more successful than others. Mainly though, it felt like doors opening to me and it fit. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to meet Dr. Kataria.  Who was this man? Was he for real? It was important to me to know this.

I decided to travel from Finland, where I spend time each spring, to Switzerland to study with Dr. Kataria. Teacher training in Interlaken was intense, challenging and wonderful. My heart opens when I think about my experience there and the people I met. I love them all. And I can tell you now that Dr. Kataria and Madhuri are genuine, warm, and earnest in their belief that LY can heal the world. They really do walk the walk.

Teaching others about all the possibilities LY offers for health, fun, exercise and joy awakens my passions. It has given me something valuable to share with my new community in Vermont. I feel inspired and hopeful when I see people responding with open-hearted appreciation and the realization that LY can change so much in their lives. I love watching as people let go and play together more freely during LY sessions.

I lead a social LY club that has met weekly since July 2009. It is growing slowly. This week our theme was “off the grid” laughter yoga – riding bicycles and horses,  washing clothes on rocks by the river, cooking soup together in a communal kettle – and when it was done, of course, we did “hot soup” laughter. There is so much creativity and willingness to play. We have started composing LY lyrics to existing songs – inspired by Dr. Kataria’s videos from Australia. We are even practicing them in rounds, hoping to create a video to share once we practice a bit more.

In December, I taught my first two day, Leader Training for AmeriCorps Volunteers (the USA’s domestic Peace Corps) who work with elders in Vermont. In 2008, I facilitated a LY session in Hong Kong for eighty professionals who work with elders. I led a LY session at an international social work conference in Oct. 2009 and facilitated a LY session for Stan’s graduate social work class. In April, I will present LY to physicians at a Burlington Geriatrics conference and in May at a workshop for family caregivers.

Lately opportunities have been presenting themselves to me – some on a fee-for-service basis, some requests for free presentations. I am trying to accommodate a balance between both without taking on too much at one time. I think I must be opening myself to doing more and the universe is responding. It reinforces my trust that I am just where I need to be.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:17:19 )
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