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Despite life’s stresses, consultant relied on humor

The 11th meeting of the Shakespeare Club’s 2020-21 year was held earlier this month with 15 members attending via Zoom. Following a brief business meeting, President Mary Croxton introduced Mary Jane Covley-Walker, who presented a paper on acclaimed speaker, author, and international stress expert Loretta LaRoche.

Covley-Walker pointed out that Loretta LaRoche is an amazing woman who uses wit and humor to deal with everyday situations. She uses words in clever and humorous ways.

But where did she get her humor and wit from? Perhaps from her grandmother Francesca. Her grandmother was a large part of her life. LaRoche grew up in Brooklyn; her childhood was filled with family, food, and eccentric characters. Her Mom and Dad worked, so Loretta was left in the care of her grandparents Francesca and Lorenzo. Her grandparents had a bakery and spaghetti store and they loved to cook.

When her parents divorced, her mom moved to the suburbs with her new husband Victor Frank. Loretta’s father was a depressed person who lived in his own hell. Her stepfather, Victor Frank, was often hell itself. Loretta would often go to her own room after dinner and enter the world of imagination. She began to use humor as a way of softening the blows of a dysfunctional family. She would have her friends in hysterics as she mimicked the vicious fights between her mom and stepfather. Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in a fight for self-preservation.

There were tough times for LaRoche in her adult life. After marriage and three children, she chose to divorce her husband. She cleaned house for a woman in exchange for a room to live in with her youngest son. The two older children moved to Long Island to live with her mother. Juggling jobs, moving around and penniless, she tried to see the funny side in all of this.

Loretta remarried and began to change. She taught aerobics and began to talk about “Humor Potential in Life.”

So began her journey to share her inspirational humor on everyday life with irreverent wit. Opportunity knocked and she opened the door. PBS called and a TV special was born.

For over 30 years, Loretta has been using her irreverent humor on her audiences. She uses humor to reframe a stressful situation. She captures a new perspective on difficult parts of life.

LaRoche has an innate sense of the absurd. Her wit, wisdom and humor are a common-sense view of life that leaves audiences inspired, motivated and roaring with laughter.

She is a leader in stress management. She is a stress consultant and lecturer. She helps clients to use humor to detoxify and de-stress their relationships. One constant in life is that things happen — and usually when you’re not in the mood for them. LaRoche encourages people to turn a negative situation into a positive one and look at it differently, realizing that we can draw humor or gain valuable insights from something that initially appears to be annoying, sad, or even devastating. She believes that each person has the power to decide how to interpret stressful events with humor, wisdom, and compassion, and to accept the situation for what it is.

Stress is an essential part of life. We’re all going to worry to some extent, but you can determine how much you let stress control life. Perception is everything and the issue is how to manage it. You can do something about stress. You can take a humorous approach to lighten the boredom and give yourself the perspective to make rational plans to deal with stress. Her grandfather Lorenzo was an optimist. When food was scarce, he would say, “Tonight we are having lamb stew without the lamb.”

You are the only one, LaRoche believes, who can make yourself happy. Thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings create your behavior. In order to see the humor in anything, you must stand outside yourself in the position of a compassionate witness. She tells her audience that they can turn a crisis into triumph by laughing in its face. People, she believes, need to enjoy life in the moment.

LaRoche tells her audiences that they can take the sting out of stress by accepting what they can’t change, changing what they can, and laughing at the rest.

Joy is an attitude, she believes. Joy is the inner song you play throughout the day.

Humor is one of the most natural ways to reframe. It forces the mind to loosen its grip and opens it to new understanding.

Wow. Success. She has been hired by IBM, The New York Times, Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, US Department of Labor and NASA to lecture on defeating stress. For 30 years she has traveled the country sharing her insights and making audiences laugh. She gives more than 100 lectures a year. She has written more than 18 books dealing with stress management. She is worth almost $1 million.

At the next meeting of the Fredonia Shakespeare Club, Michele Starwalt-Woods will speak on Karen Volpe Preston.

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