2015 AATH Humor Conference

If you’ve read my blog, you might know about my involvement with a great organization known as AATH, the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. They’re an organization that studies humor and applies it to everyday life. Last year, I attended my second AATH conference in Vincennes, IN and attended AATH’s Humor Academy. Yes, you can study humor and even get college credit for it. Last year I delivered a presentation on Twitter at their Humor Academy luncheon and had a great time at the conference.

Over the past year, I’ve studied in level one of AATH’s Humor Academy. As part of my studies, I kept a humor journal. I recently submitted an entry and got some great response from it. So great, they wanted to publish it. So head over to fellow AATH member Maia Aziz’s blog and check out my guest post The Gift of Laughter.

Oh, and by the way…if you’re anywhere near Philadelphia in May, you need to check out AATH’s 28th annual humor conference. You won’t meet a friendlier, funnier and more positive group of people anywhere.

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Use Your Brain

October 26, 2014

Chicago Ideas Week Brain Board via Ink Factory


The Brain is Wider than the Sky –Emily Dickinson

I’ve always had a fascination with the brain. It’s a part of the body, like the vast oceans, that are puzzling and filled with mystery and the unknown. Through science, we are learning more. But I’m not sure the brain gets the respect it deserves.

Last Sunday, I attended a session about the brain at Chicago Ideas Week. Comprised of talks from several notable speakers, this session resembled an afternoon of TED talks about the brain. Speakers included actress Marilu Henner, Columbia Professor of Psychology Carl Hart, Keck Graduate Institute Professor (and author) Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Sex author Kayt Sukel, University of California-San Diego Professor Patricia Smith Churchland and best selling author and doctor Deepak Chopra.

Sitting through the various discussions, there was no doubt that these were “heavy hitters” in the world of the brain and psychology. I enjoyed the talks as they really got me to not only think, but to think differently.

I found that some of the sessions felt too clinical, like a PhD student delivering a thesis. During moments like these, my mind wandered a bit and I felt like I needed a Cliff-Notes version of the talk.

One of the reasons I decided to check out the talk was Deepak Chopra. I’ve always admired and enjoyed his teaching which combines science and spirituality. While I found Chopra’s talk highly entertaining, I had hoped he could provide more scientific proof that meditation is good for the brain. I know it to be true when I’ve tried it, but what does science say? What did he have to say about it?

The highlight of the afternoon, for me, was Marilu Henner, the actress from television’s Taxi and author of the book Total Memory Makeover. Truth be told, I knew she was a Chicagoan who grew up close to where I did and that I used to love Taxi. I had heard vaguely that she had a pretty good memory, but had no idea she was one of twelve people documented with Highly Superior Autobiographic Memory.

Her talk was high energy and the pace was fast because she was cramming in a lot of great comment in a limited time. She talked about the four types of memory retrieval: horizontal, vertical, mushrooming and sporadic.

Listening to Henner, I remembered a college friend who always seemed to have a photographic memory of events in her life. I was always a bit envious of this ability to recall the past. Truthfully, I’m not sure I want to remember every detail of my life, but I did like Henner’s rationale why its good to have a strong memory:

“A strong autobiographical memory is our greatest defense against meaninglessness in our lives.”

At one point, an audience member threw out a random date more than 20 years ago. Henner was able to recall, with little hesitation, what she was doing that day.

All in all, I enjoyed Henner’s high-energy delivery and passion for her topic. I could feel it was important to her that her audience be able to remember more moments in their lives and I could appreciate the tips she gave us. Honestly, I could have easily watched her talk for an hour or more.

I have a feeling I won’t ever have a memory like Marilu Henner does, but I look forward to reading her book and implementing some of her tips so I can un-bury some of my memories.

Graphic recording this talk (at the top of this post) from The Ink Factory.

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If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I love to cook (see my earlier Cooking as a Spiritual Experience post). I would not consider myself a foodie (though I do like good food) and I am not a health nut. What I do like is that I can save myself a lot of money and eat meals that typically have a lot fewer calories and less salt than a typical meal at a restaurant. Cooking also allows me to be a little creative and use ingredients and flavors that I like.

I likely developed my “cooking at home” diet when money became tight. I realized that for the price of a “value meal” at a typical fast food burger joint, I could buy a pound of beef and make enough burgers for four meals. It’s also worth noting that when I was a caregiver for my mother I needed to cook with healthier ingredients, and most importantly, a lot less salt. During this time, I grew to like my food with less salt. Thankfully, cooking for myself is probably one of my best habits right now. Sure I still eat out once in a while, but eating in is in with me.

With this in mind, I really enjoyed stumbling upon the above video by Michael Pollan. It sums up my eating philosophy at this point in my life. I have also made a conscious decision to eat less, which seems to be giving me more energy.

If you’re tired of trying every diet in order to lose weight and feel better, consider simplifying your life and starting the “cook at home” diet. I did and it has been one of my best decisions.

How about you…have you made the conscious decision to cook for yourself and your family most of the time in favor of eating out? Or is your refrigerator mostly empty because you’d prefer to just eat out? I’d love to hear your feedback and if you’re happy with your decision.

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My Favorite Coffee Shop Experience

May 26, 2014

Note: This is a guest post that I wrote which originally appeared on www.adailyshotofcoffee.com back in June, 2010. As far as I know, the site is no longer operational. Coffee shops are well-known for being a community gathering place and a venue to meet friends and strangers. I typically go to a coffee shop to […]

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Taking the Social Media Plunge

April 22, 2014

If you’re a big Downton Abbey fan like me, you might remember a scene from an episode in the first season. Carson, the Head Butler, sits down to make his first phone call on a “strange” device known as the telephone. As he sits down, he stares at the phone with a strong sense of […]

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A Little Laughter…

March 17, 2014

Life is unpredictable…one minute it’s going great. The next minute, it’s filled with challenges and adversity. There’s so much about life we cannot control. And, as we learn in Victor Frankl’s A Man’s Search for Meaning and throughout our lives, we are always in control of one important thing: our attitude. I feel very fortunate […]

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The Passing of a Social Media Friend

February 10, 2014

In the world of social media, the word “friend” gets used quite a bit. Perhaps overused. Many of us get onto Facebook and Twitter to promote ourselves, our businesses, our causes, our points of view. If we’re lucky, we run into like-minded individuals who entertain, enlighten and make us laugh. In some cases, we get […]

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Weekend Musical Diversion: Collaboration

January 26, 2014

Aerosmith and Run DMC, Anthrax and Public Enemy, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas, Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. These are just some of music’s notable and unlikely collaborations. In these cases, and others like it, musicians come together from different musical genres and introduce their fans to a […]

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Book Review: Ctrl Alt Delete

January 7, 2014

As we celebrate the start of another year, many of us take time to reflect, create goals and make resolutions. The beginning of the year is a great time to do this and we feel like we have the opportunity for both a clean slate and a fresh start. While Mitch Joel’s book Ctrl Alt […]

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