Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Healing Times in Between

Many years ago, while interviewing psychotherapist Randi Gunther for a magazine article, I was struck by something she said about dealing with adversity -- and her words have stayed with me, through many dark moments, in the decades since.

She said that a vital life coping skill was "learning to laugh in the times in between your pain -- which makes you stronger for the next pain." And I have found that to be so. Laughing between the pain, experiencing joy in the midst of sorrow, a mini-summer in the middle of winter is incredibly life-enhacing.

I was reminded of this while visiting my dear friend Mary and her husband John at their beach condo north of L.A. this past week. Their lives revolve around a growing array of health challenges that John is facing and their days are far from easy. Yet there is love and joy in their home because they never lose sight of what they have shared and still share together and because they are so very good at finding small pleasures and laughing a lot between the challenges and the pain.

There are the joking, fun moments that John has with his remarkable care buddy Jesse, who, between the more ordinary caregiving duties, spends some time with John sitting on the condo's ocean view balcony, enjoying the sight and sound of the surf as well as some excellent cigars.

                                            John with Jesse enjoying their cigars

There are the moments of tenderness when Mary and John look at each other with love and reassurance that, as challenging as their life can be these days, life together is still very good.

                                  Mary and John during lunch in Santa Barbara          

And there are adventures together. This past Wednesday, Mary decided to drive north with all of us to celebrate Jesse's birthday at a secluded and wonderful restaurant on Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara.

We sat outside and enjoyed seafood lunches while watching surfers, frolicking dogs and delighted small children splash in the chilly surf. We smiled when we saw the restaurant's shaded "Dog Parking Station" and made friends with a sweet Golden Retriever named Babaloo who was parked there. We toasted Jesse, laughed a lot and basked in the sunshine.

                                      Our table with a view of Hendry's beach

                                       Mary enjoying the sun and ocean air

               "Please! No singing waiters!" was Jesse's only birthday request      

     Savoring a sunny day at the beach with dear friends keeps me smiling 

                          Babaloo chills out at the restaurant's Dog Parking Post     

It was summer in February, a delightful respite from daily realities, a special time shared with very dear friends.

And our wonderful time together reminded me anew that laughing between the pain makes pain easier to bear and keeps joy and laughter in life, no matter how challenging our days.


  1. Love, laughter, and joy are an unbeatable combination in meeting life's challenges. I have found that to be true time and time again.

    Those pictures are terrific and a joy to look at.

  2. We all have some resiliency, that positive feeling that things will get better, and those of us who have practiced such skills in our youth, continue to do so in our old age. I know my husband is constantly looking for the silver lining especially when he feels things are closing in on him. I, on the other hand, have to work a bit harder. I do tend to be practical, like my mother was, going through what needs to be done; and this practical skill of taking care of things has helped me cope when things got really rough.

    Thanks for such an inspiring post, K.

  3. Some folks just know how to live and enjoy doing so! They're quite inspirational.

  4. So, so true! My dad has this wonderful ability, and it has kept him going through many hard times since his serious stroke over five years ago. He tries to find as much as he can to kid and laugh about, and while it doesn't change his situation, it makes it far more bearable. He has given me such a good example to follow.

  5. I love this quote:"learning to laugh in the times in between your pain -- which makes you stronger for the next pain." I like it so much, I've copied it and pasted it to a page of quotes I've collected from other bloggers.

    There is so much wisdom here. I think if we remember to savor the joy in the moments and laugh, we truly are strong for the next thing life throws at us.

    You look great by the way. Time in the sun with friends agrees with you.

  6. So true. We do need to laugh . Talking is always good. Sharing thoughts and feelings very helpful.
    After all we are all the same. It's just that our troubles happen at different times. So when another went through what you did , you understand and vs.
    Sometimes just knowing another understands helps a lot and the burden becomes lighter.

  7. I totally agree. Laughter is great exercise and strengthens our pain deflecting muscles. I believe those who can laugh live longer and better. Quite a marvelous drug.
    So glad your friends are partaking of available joys and dealing so well with life's not so fun times.
    Loved the happy picture of you. Great smile.

  8. Such a wise post Kathleen....I couldn't agree more. One must always try to find "joy amongst the pain".

    Good day to you,


  9. An important truth, Kathy. Too often we confuse happiness and joy and while it's not always easy to be happy amidst pain, the kind of joy you describe is always possible. That must have been a wonderful day for you all.

  10. Dear Kathy, I so agree with you that laughter is necessary for living grace-full-y. I can't imagine getting through life without a sense of humor. Indeed, a sense of the ridiculous. This posting will touch many lives I believe. Peace.

  11. This is wonderful in so many ways. And yes, it goes to savoring every single minute in every single day. They won't all be good, but you grab at the ones that are!

  12. They are lucky that they have each other. I face the future alone.