Joy…

I recently watched the film ‘Joy’ starring Jennifer Lawrence & Robert de Niro.
For those who haven’t watched the film yet – here it is in a nutshell:
Joy is a divorced mother working as a booking clerk. She lives together with her children, her mother, grandmother, sister and ex-husband, while constantly trying to juggle the household and make it right for everyone. Her parents are divorced and argue each time they get to see each other.
When Joy was younger, she would be the creative one of the family, creating artistic features out of paper. But because of the reality of her life, she was forced to abandon her creative spirit in order to earn a living.

One day, however, this creative spirit was reawaken, while she attempts to mop up a mess, and cuts her hands on the broken glass while wringing the mop.
Joy invented a super Mop with which you can wring without having to use your hands. Initially Joy struggled to attract customers but was then discovered by a TV show, which boosted her sales figures and she became a Millionaire.

For me personally, the bottom-line of this film was that while Joy was leaving her creative spirit in the closet in order to ‘earn’ a living and to ‘fit’ in, she didn’t really achieve anything. She worked as a clerk and was responsible for the whole family. The film clearly illustrates, that firstly she wasn’t happy and secondly she was not progressing in any aspect in her life. The moment she let her creative spirit come back into her life, however, everything changed like a whirlwind.
Sure at the beginning she struggled to sell her product, to ‘convince’ customers of its quality and benefits. Her family would doubt her, the manufacture attempted to rip her off…BUT Joy had faith and believe in herself. She knew her product is great, helpful, unique and groundbreaking. She knew a lot of woman will benefit and appreciate her super mop. And there was no way back.

Now how does this film relate to me, Gudrun Christine Fritz and my venture ‘The Magic Mad Hat’ you might ask?!
When I was young, I loved to perform, BUT, like Joy, I constantly was told that you cannot make a living with performing or any other type of art.
So, like Joy, I had to leave my creative spirit in the closet and went to work in various offices for different companies, while not being able to identify myself with that world. Needless to say, I had never managed to stay in a role for a long period of time.
The Moment I had entered the world of comedy, my creative spirit was unleashed and I found my meaning in life once again.
Admittedly, all the games, exercises as well as the performances (for me especially) certainly have had a therapeutic effect on me, and the whole experience has turned my life around.
So much so, that I now run ‘The Magic Mad Hat’ comedy school specialized for seniors and people with dementia.
Like Joy, I am now in the process of demonstrating the benefits of my great service (the games & exercises used in comedy), to the wider community.
Like Joy I know I am offering a great, helpful, unique and groundbreaking service to seniors and people with dementia.
Why is it so great, helpful, unique and groundbreaking? How does it differ to any other art therapy, you might ask?

It is NOT a therapy, it might have a ‘therapeutically’ effect on the person, but what I am offering is fun games and creative interaction while everyone is treated as equal.
In my sessions there is no sentiment of pity and no one is a patient; everyone can just BE themselves.
In my point of view, every ‘disability’ is an ability waiting to come out, if you allow everyone a moment of freedom of self expression. There are no strict rules and therefore no ‘failures’. But most importantly it is meant to be fun and therefore to lighten up the spirit. The seniors are allowed to be loud, move and while being in the present moment, it enables everyone to leave lifelong struggles and infiltrated behaviour concepts behind. For one hour all participants can feel free to be just themselves.

When Joy first demonstrated her new invented Super Mop on a parking lot, women would just pass by her, not giving her any time of the day, until her sister spoke up, advertising the great new product.
My ‘magic sister’ was Richard Norman (Millman Resource Center), who was open minded enough to give my venture a chance. None of us knew how it would be received by the residents and it has become a weekly hour of joy, laughter and progress.
There was no need to ‘convince’ the participants as they loved the session from day one onward. The positive ‘side-effect’ has been an enormous progression in their spontaneous reaction, verbal interaction and creative thinking.
The seniors are eager to explore more, they are animated to practice different games as well as they lightening up while laughing and felling young again.
Every group so far, loved the sessions, so much so, that some have demanded for me to come back.
I am aware, that the management of care homes, community center, day centers and other institutions have to follow many rules in order to be allowed to hire a new activity. Some require proof of its effectiveness. So I would like to quote following:
‘The long-term evidence that humor is effective in treating cancer and other diseases is based on reports of individuals. Since humor therapy does not involve an expensive pill that can be patented by a pharmaceutical company, there is no significant funding source for an expensive, long-term scientific study of the effectiveness of humor therapy (despite thousands of years of documented human awareness of the healthy benefits of being merry). However, recent short-term clinical studies have demonstrated that laughter has many immediate benefits that include positive physiological changes and an overall sense of well being. All of our emotions and moods directly effect our immune system. A sense of humor allows us to perceive and appreciate the silly incongruities of life, and provides healthy moments of joy and delight. Positive emotions trigger neurochemical changes that reduce the immunosuppressive effects of stress.’ (Read more: http://www.joyfulaging.com/HumorTherapy.htm)

In a nutshell – Humor, fun & creative interaction is balm on your soul; it’s a healing energy improving your quality of life.
It is good for everyone.
The seniors in our society have contributed their fair share, for us to have the good life we have now. They all worked hard, some experienced the Second World War, brought up children and paid their tax. Now they all have reached a point of their life, where they just want to enjoy what they have got left. They want to be able to laugh and be allowed to be ‘silly’ like children.
And this is exactly what I am offering. I am offering fun, interactive & creative sessions, in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
Through the ‘Magic Mad Hat’ my creative spirit can be alive again. It is my super mop, with which I am aiming to make a creative living – a living beneficial to me as much as to others.
Like Joy, I would like to offer a more joyful way of being.

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