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Fall 2005 - Laughing at Sacred Cows

What We Expect Will Happen Till the Cows Go Home

"In the beginning there was nothing. God said, Let there be light! And there was light.
There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better." - Ellen DeGeneres


At our Friday night Ingathering after dinner we will invoke the directions and create our circle once again. We'll get acquainted or re-acquainted, and introduce the idea of laughing at (and with) Sacred Cows, especially those connected with organized religions and some forms of spirituality. The use of humor and laughter in healing wounds, both physical and spiritual, will be stressed this weekend, especially in our workshops. We'll share some anecdotes and jokes, maybe sing a song or two. Did we mention that we'll laugh a lot?

Did you celebrate World Laughter Day in May? Do you belong to a Laughter Club? It was news to us but we'll learn about it all when we gather Saturday morning right after breakfast with Sandra Herskowitz, Certified Laugh Leader, who will help us tone our laugh muscles and discover the healing power of laughter. Recommendation: Don't sleep late; nap later.

When we have caught our breath, Adele Alexandre will offer the first of two workshops on the use of humor to reduce stress in caring for others and ourselves, 'The Healing Power of Humor, Lightening Up with Laughter.' Space and workshop time will be set aside for the ongoing making and wearing of Silly Hats, and the creating of Sacred Cows from potatoes, sort of Mrs. Bovine Potato Heads. You will introduce your cow on Saturday night.

After lunch Adele will give a repeat workshop and there will be a workshop on the art of the clown, given by Ann Myers. She will teach us to laugh and enjoy the benefits of laughter while exploring our faces and features as we apply clown make up and find our smile lines. Bring a joke or a smile for the group.

It's also a long, long time from August to November. The retreat planning has already been blessed with serendipity and we anticipate more surprises. There will be time for rest, recreation, swimming, canoeing, and what-you-will.

Saturday night is for more fun and games: devising a Ritual of the Sacred Cow, naming our cows and placing them on the altar, presenting other fruits of our workshops, hearing a story from Jill Oldenski, and winding up with our very own Open Mike. Sorry Drummer Girls, 'not tonight Josephine,' too many other groups in residence. We will end Saturday evening with a campfire and marshmallows.

"If life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt."

Sunday morning after nine o'clock checkout time we will have our closing circle, laugh some more, evaluate our experiences, open the circle, send the cows home, and exit laughing.

Two nudists of Dover,
Being purple all over,
Were munched by a cow
When mistaken for clover.
- Ogden Nash


Kyle emailed Sandy to ask her for the bibliography so we could post it on our web site. This is a link to Sandy Herskowitz’s web site:
This is the link for the world laughter tour that she talked about:

If you email the webweaver with a request, you can get a link to a page of pictures from this retreat...

"One Christmas I lurked in corners nursing a twisted splinter in my foot, permitting no one to come near me. When Uncle Jack [a doctor] caught me, he kept me laughing about a preacher who hated going to church so much that every day he stood at his gate in his dressing-gown, smoking a hookah and delivering five-minute sermons to any passers-by who desired spiritual comfort. I interrupted to make Uncle Jack let me know when he would pull it out, but he held up a bloody splinter in a pair of tweezers and said he yanked it while I was laughing, that was what was known as relativity." - Scout Finch
from To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee


Kyle Pierson, St. Petersburg, the daughter of two Irish Catholic parents, showed signs of laughing at sacred cows even as a child. Her parents reported that she frequently annoyed the nuns with philosophical and silly questions. Eventually, she left Catholicism and found herself among the welcoming and irreverent .She has always identified with the Irish sense of humor. In her early career as a journalist, she favored stories highlighting the ironic and absurd. She believes sharpening her sense of humor may be the best advice anyone could give her for her latest transition to a middle school language arts teacher. Kyle has attended many Women & Religion retreats. This is her first time as co-leader.

Lynn Montgomery, Miami, was born into a Universalist Church parsonage and christened in the Odd Fellows Hall (don't ask) which may account for her long fascination with the connection between religion and comedy. She attended her first W&R retreat in 1993, "Stitching Together the Fabric of Our Lives" and has never looked back, but this is her first attempt at co-leading a retreat. Professionally Lynn has spent her life in the non-performing areas of theatre: stage, production, and business management in venues from Broadway to extremely-off-Broadway and in stock companies from West Palm Beach to Skowhegan, Maine. She wound up in Florida teaching theatre at the University of Miami.

A man that can't laugh at himself should be given a mirror.
-- From 'Irish Proverbs' Little Book of Ireland*

Adele Alexandre, Margate, is a Women's Wellness Writer and a trained Hypnotherapist. She will be using singing bowl meditation music, art and jokes to create healing and renewal.

Sandy Herskowitz, Treasure Island, is a Certified Laughter Leader. Sandy has spent most of her career working with abused and traumatized children and adults. In all the work she does, including her private psychotherapist practice, she integrates the power of laughter. She is committed to spreading the "World Laughter Peace Movement" whose slogan is "Think Globally, Laugh Locally".

Ann Myers, Redington Shores, has clowned for the Hospice SmileTeam for the past five years. She has trained with Hospice of the Suncoast and with Morton Plant Clown Teams, which is a special form of clowning that requires loving care directed at patients.

Child Care at This Retreat

Florida Women & Religion is committed to offering child care at retreats and conferences. We tried very hard to make the budget work for child care this time, but the registration fee we would have had to charge would make this retreat prohibitively expensive for too many women.

All child care costs, including room and board for two providers, a fee paid to each of them, and materials for the children to use, come from the registration fees charged to all attendees. We normally plan for 4-6 children for a retreat, many of them under age 8. DaySpring is a great place for kids, with walking trails, canoeing, swimming, exploring the river, etc., but a space that really requires two day care providers for 4-6 children. Because we only have 46 on-site spaces this time, the amount of money we can generate from registrations is insufficient to cover the costs of two child care providers.

We have developed a budget that will support having two girls aged 10-11, under the care of their parent with no other child care provider available. The registration fee for these two girls would be $85, and is available on a first come-first served basis. Girls 12 and over are also welcome, and they will be charged the full registration fee of $160 (due to DaySpring costs). The content of the general sessions and the workshops should be suitable for children, unless we get really raunchy with our jokes!

We will continue to strive to have child care available at retreats in the future. The more people we can accommodate at a retreat, the more revenue we can generate to pay for child care. We strongly encourage any mothers with children to join us in the Area Communicators' group, where these items are discussed, so that we can benefit from your recommendations.

Artisans' Bazaar

There will be space for up to five artisans to sell their wares at the retreat. Vendor spaces are reserved on a first come/first served basis. Vendors are requested to donate 10% of gross sales to Florida W & R. To reserve space, contact Carol Andros @ candros@tampabay.rr.com or 727-723-8280.


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