Try laughing in between the everyday stresses

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Unfortunately, it?s too easy to let today?s bad economy, budget cuts and job downsizing, to name a few nation-wide problems, make us anxious. The more we hear distressing news about the sad financial conditions of the federal, state down to the city level, the more we need to make relieving stress an everyday priority. Week after week, we describe on The News Messenger front page new challenges for the city of Lincoln, i.e. challenges that make residents? lives harder. Those challenges include a General Fund deficit, increased gang activity and eliminated school positions. Of course, our responsibility as the local newspaper is to present those challenges. It?s a responsibility we don?t take lightly because we want to help residents learn, and when necessary, adjust to current concerns. But sometimes it?s just refreshing to take a break from all the stresses. With that said, I have to remind myself to do that. I must make several mental notes to myself, for example, to make time to plant some cheery spring flowers in my garden without worrying about, for example, traffic a new development may bring to the area. It?s simply playtime in my garden. Or I have to break away from watching the morning TV newscasts to walk the dogs and enjoy the warmer temperature without being annoyed about the broken beer bottles at the alley between 1st and 3rd Streets. OK, maybe I?ll still be annoyed about the increased gang-related activity in the alleyway. This week, I?m not writing about local politics or cutting more city services because of fiscal deficits. Because sometimes we need to take a short break. To relax and to take time to enjoy the gift of being alive. We can?t take ourselves seriously 100 percent of the time. So I was amused to see Lincoln City Councilman Paul Joiner?s recent post on the online Good Neighbors of Lincoln Facebook group of 2,520 members. On April 26, a day and a half after Joiner joked with City Clerk Patricia Avila at the City Council meeting, Joiner apologized for the following comment. ?Can you have the City Clerk not ask questions that a council member is about to ask,? Joiner joked at the April 24 meeting. That comment was made after Avila clarified that fees being discussed in a staff report on special events referred to outdoor spaces instead of indoor facilities. Many City Council audience members giggled and Avila smiled in response to the comment. City Council meetings do not usually elicit laughs. It was nice to have a light and spontaneous moment that council members, city staff and audience members could enjoy together. Joiner, who often posts on Good Neighbors of Lincoln, must have had second thoughts about his funny quip made at the council meeting. In his April 26 Good Neighbors post, Joiner wrote, ?? Please know that the City Clerk is a good friend and, for better or worse, I decided to give her a hard time ... I was not serious and she took the comment in the spirit it was intend(ed). I apologize to her and to anyone else who may have been offended by what may have been an ill timed attempt at humor.? Joiner shouldn?t apologize. Five residents responded that day to his post, saying that it was a humorous remark. Those positive responses generated 24 likes. And Avila was fine with the comment. ?I didn?t take it personally because I knew Paul was kidding,? the city clerk said. ?I did hear from some residents that said it did not come across the airwaves very well and wondered if I had walked out of the room. That just goes to show you that the camera does add 10 pounds!? In recent years, I?ve read medical stories that say laughter is healthy. The prestigious Mayo Clinic agrees. Laughter?s short-term effects include helping you relax and reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Laughter?s long-term effects include improving your immune system, relieving pain and increasing your personal satisfaction. I?m a firm believer that we need to laugh more, every day. Now if only I could find a way to find the humor while I weed, and re-weed, my front yard.